Tag Archives: Does this strike you fuzzy?

Memory Lane

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A particularly quiet therapy session early this afternoon had my therapist ask “Are you quiet because you are tired from not sleeping?”  Apparently I’m normally a chatter box!   Truth is, I have not been sleeping.   This is not unfamiliar territory for me, though it is distressing.    I am taking my meds, I am trying to get to bed at a reasonable time each night, but sleep doesn’t come knocking til 6, 7 or 8am.  A couple years ago when I was going through a particularly hard time mentally, nights filled with insomnia, a friend said to me “Fatigue makes cowards out of all of us”.    I am revisiting that statement today, nodding my head in agreement.   I made it to therapy today, did some important errands and now going to pay a few bills…  This is all I am expecting of myself today.  Hopefully I will be able to retire early tonight with heavy eyes and an ability to sleep.    I think insomnia is why I like being knocked out with anesthesia so much.   Count backwards from 100….by the time you hit 98, 97, GONEZO!

Contended with some unexpected traffic jams resulting in a longer trip home, through the small town, communities where I grew up.    Looking through the memories of a child, but eyes of an adult.   I shared my memories with Lilly, as she sat in the back of the jeep looking like she was listening.  The fields which once spanned my comprehension now seem small, quaint.  The names of childhood friends popped up without effort as we passed the homes where they once lived.  How can I remember these things, and forget what I had for breakfast, or if I had breakfast?

I attach feelings to music, to places, not particularly to things, and smells, smells are an immediate recognition of whatever it served to remind me of.    Feeling lately like I’m failing cognitively, it was just what I needed to give myself some reassurance that I have not lost it all …. completely!    Yep, this was a ride down memory lane.   I am a country girl, middle child of 5, who grew up in a small town in New Hampshire.   My world is not merely as small as it once was, larger from the observation of a youngster.  Life seemed so much simpler.  Good God, I’m sounding like “We walked 5 miles home, without shoes”….  The appreciation and gratitude encouragement speech which sadly, was true and more sad, that we needed reminding of our luxuries.

I cannot watch the commercials on television about starving children, or abused animals.   It keeps me up at night.  When they come on I mute the television and go in the other room.   Sarah McClaughlin offered a song years ago to the cause and to this day I still cannot listen to the song.    I cannot watch the news, and certainly not in the evening, if I am looking to get some shut eye.     I wonder what my grandparents would say if they were to hear the commercials now, or the programs, or see all the violence that the news dispels to us.   Yesterday, as I was shoveling, I was thinking about the one popular and repetitive ad for Viagra “If you have an errection for longer than 4 hours…”, yesterday I filled in the blanks with “Go to the emergency room immediately, and if you can shovel snow, come see me!”   Not sure the correlation there, but I found it comical.

How about the commercials that depict a perfect family, or happy couples who fill the Christmas tree with gold, diamonds and more?    Sorry, no one has the perfect family, and happy couples are a minority these days.   It is so nice to see happy people together, it is contagious and reminds me of times in my life when alone time was something that happened every few weeks.   Now, single, self employed, and struggling with isolation, the beginning of the three headed beast of depression, I do get lonely, I do long for touch, but I’m not willing to do anything to change my situation.

“A course in miracles”, Marianne Williamson “Return to Love”, so many self help, recovery books I have read simplify and identify the two directions (choices) we have that can change our entire life……. Either you are walking towards fear, or walking towards love.   When it comes to relationships, I defensively, once unconsciously clung tight to Fear Avenue.   I still do, today, but I am edging closer and closer to the embassy to love.   At 52 I realize, boring is good.   Boring means consistency, accountability, dependability.    There is much truth in women liking “bad boys”, at least for me.   I have nothing left in ambition, desire to travel this road anymore.   Fear of being hurt has me wear a cloak of armoire which is slowly being dismantled.    I want to be in a relationship, I want to feel safe, thus willing to trust another with my heart.   I know it will take one very patient special man.   I love the song by Train “Bruises”….. ‘we’ve all got bruises’.  

I guess I’ve rambled on enough for this one post.  I am grateful to have learned, through travesties, self preservation.    I share only what I want others to know, only those things that I am comfortable sharing.   A natural survivor mode that came late in life for me.    “You wear your heart on your sleeve”, something that I heard over and over in my life.  I guess I still do, but no where near the depth that I once did.   I am grateful for maturity, I am grateful for growth.  I am grateful for my ability to be alone, one with myself, I am good company.  I am also grateful for the desire, and inching towards Love.    Fear sucks.

In honesty, I have offered you this part of me….  in hopes that my sharing will help another….   xo!

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First major snowstorm of the season!

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I slipped my “extreme weather snow boots” from LL Bean on, tucking the cuffs of my sweat pants into the boots.   Pulled the hood of my sweatshirt up over my head and ponytail, tied that into place, threw on my barn coat (also LL Bean…. both of these are at least 12 years old and look like they are only a couple of years old), and workmen’s gloves.    Each boot weighs a minimum of five pounds, I swear, and when they are on your feet, well, multiply x two!   Off I go…

I start cleaning off my front porch, steps, walkway.   Not doing too badly, until I back into the corner where the rose bushes overgrew into the railing.  I thought they were so pretty there, I left them.  Well, they’re not so pretty when you back into them, they get tangled around my ankles and clinging to my butt which, fortunately was covered with the canvas of the barn coat.   After getting myself out of this predicament, I let Lilly out.  She hates the snow, but she loves being outside.  I figured she would hang on the porch, watch me work, and be blissful.  Instead she runs to the stairs, jumps and jumps into snow that is 4″ shy of covering her entirely.  There she was, with her raspberry colored wool sweater, stuck.  She looks back at me… HELP MOMMA!   I go and rescue her, put her back on the porch, start shoveling the walkway.   It’s heavy snow, in areas near the driveway where it had started to melt some, there was slush.   “I love New England, I love New England, I love New England”… I kept telling myself with every shovel full of snow.  My jeep is plowed in, not that that will be a problem, but getting to it will be a challenge.

I make it to the driveway, now it’s time to shovel out the mailbox.   This is slush, then heavy snow.   “I love my life, I love my life, I love my life”…I kept telling myself with every shovel full of slush.

As I walk towards the rear walkway, well, what was a walkway yesterday, I looked to my right.  I forgot to move my gas grill yesterday in preparation for the storm.  It is plowed in.   Now I’m upset.     How the hell am I ever going to salvage it?  I wanted to blame the snow plower but come on… this is MY deal.  I’m upset with myself for forgetting to move it.

I decide it’s time to take a break, which is unheard of in my family.  You just work work work until you drop.  While I was drinking a glass of water, rubbing the pain out of my knees and back I started to think about Brody and how humorous he was in the snow.  Particularly right after a storm that dumped lots of that white stuff!.   He kept me entertained while I shoveled.   Oh how I miss that boy.   He was one extraordinary dog, he was my boy, he was my Brody.   It will be a year next month since I put him to sleep.  He was ready though, he let me know a couple of days before.  My Brody.

I trudge into my house, drink a cold glass of water and rest in preparation for the next chapter of snow removal.  “I love the winter, I love the winter, I love the winter” I kept telling myself as I rubbed the pain out of my back and knees.      I start to think about what I can do for myself that would make this easier.   Part of my therapy has been focusing on being nice to myself, being kind to myself, being forgiving of myself.    This is the beginning of a long 3-4 months of snow storms, I have to get my head into a good space with this or it will be a miserable winter.

I sat down at the computer, pull up facebook and message my neighbor.  “May I hire Joe to shovel my back walkway?”   A few minutes later when I hung up the phone from talking to my mom “Donna, do what you can, but remember, the more you get done today the easier it will be as it will freeze”…. I hear a knock on my door.   It is my neighbor, Michelle.  Her and Joe (and Corbin, an all American boy boy!) had already shoveled my back walkway, do I need help with anything else?   I look up, “Thank you God, thank you for nice neighbors”.   By the time I got my boots on and went back outside Joe had crawled over a 5′ high pile of snow.  He shoveled out the grill, pulled it back to the tree, where it fairs well for the winter, back away from ground that needs snow plowing.   They wouldn’t take any money, were happy to help me.   Many times Michelle had said to me “If you ever need anything we are just up back”.   I sit smiling, I sit with my chest full of warmth at the kindness, the help shown to me.  Thank you Michelle & Joe, and thank you Corbin!

It’s time to clean off the jeep and pull it out into the driveway.   This didn’t seem like much of a task now that I knew the shoveling was all done.    I wipe off what I can, the jeep is too high to get it off the roof, so I usually will go on a back road and let it blow off before I go on a main road, but that isn’t always doable.   Main roads are plowed first, of course.     I get into my jeep, put the key in the ignition, put it in 4 wheel drive, reverse.  I go forward a couple of feet, put it in reverse again, go back a few feet, go forward and with a humungous smile on my face I drove right through the 30-40″ of snow that the plow had left.   “I love my jeep, I love my jeep, I love my jeep!” I kept telling myself followed by “I love my neighbors, I love my neighbors, I love my neighbors”.

After kicking off my boots, throwing my wet and balled with snow sweats over the shower curtain, I am now snuggled in with my furried kids.  I am going to try to forgive myself for sleeping in so late, for having a sink full of dishes that need to be done and a pile of laundry that I was going to do yesterday.   “I love myself, I love myself, I love myself” I kept telling myself, as I was kind and forgave myself for being human.

As I look out the window with a glass of juice in hand, my lips curl up at the sides.   Snow?  Snow?  Snow?   BRING IT ON!  Well, Okay, could you wait a couple weeks?????  “I love New England, I love New England, I love New England”….

 

Bitch, Bitch… the bitch is me!

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The electric blanket was turned on at 6:50pm.  I am cranky, well, bitchy actually.  It started with a gift card last night that I spent 2.5 hours trying to place an order.  Error messages started with the gift card number, then to the name on my debit card, frosted with “time out”, then a new one to “call customer service” which I did, and was on hold for at least 15 minutes and hung up.  Who needs this crap?  Honestly, I am never going to their website again.

I had therapy today, but when I got there my therapist was out sick.  I’m sure she tried calling me to let me know, my voicemail box is full and I haven’t listened to my messages in days… it’s my fault.    She wouldn’t not notify me.  One day, perhaps, I will get better at this crap.

I needed to return $30 worth of stuff at Walmart.  I expected a long waiting line.  Well, it was not only a long waiting line but a mother with two children in front of me.  One kid was screaming, she was getting all the attention “Honey if you stop crying I will buy you a toy”…  My God, I would’ve gotten back handed when I was that age and were acting out in a store.   The other child was picking his nose and eating it.  Yeah, I know, gross.   I looked the other way for several minutes until I glanced and saw his finger had disappeared up his nose to the second knuckle.  I then had to watch….for sure he’ll either find gold or touch his brain!

The Dupreytren’s Contracture in my hands has progressed to a point where I am having a hard time holding onto things, carrying things.   The sheath around the tendon should be like chiffon, mine is like leather.  I cannot open my hands all the way, and while I have read online on numerous websites that it isn’t painful, that isn’t true with me.  If I try to put my hand down flat on a table, clap, or anything close I about drop to my knees.   I have lost so much strength in my hands, it is frustrating and frankly frigan annoying.   I’m sure I’ll have to have another surgery, at least on my right hand, the left I can live with, it isn’t my dominant hand.  I was constantly dropping things today, change at the store, the gas pump, grocery bags, beads, mail, the worst being a large plastic cup full of rootbeer.   Nice mess!

My eldest cat, Jennifur, peed somewhere in my bedroom, I could smell it when I went up to turn the blanket on.  Could not find where, so I am facing this when I head to bed which will be VERY shortly.

We all have days like these, I kept putting one foot in front of the other, kept going…  I am exiting this frustrating day early… tomorrow will be better…..  How was your day?

 

Childhood in rural New England….

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Childhood in rural New England....

With the preparation for my Christmas Open House behind me, and my butt dragging today, this is about the only thing I accomplished. I saw this old sled at an antique shop… had already painted the plywood skate. I envisioned this a couple of weeks ago but haven’t had the time nor energy to do it. Today, I threw it all together and I’m happy with the outcome. Rural New England living, depicting my childhood, and what we used to do over Christmas vacation. I am too young to remember bed pans…. so don’t even go there!

Today I shuffled around…beading, crocheting…working up some children’s mittens in wool to felt, only did half of one today, my concentration level was off Lord only knows where. It was a nice relaxing day, though. Tomorrow I jump right back into busyness prepping for a teaching gig this weekend…should be fun.

I have been motivated and inspired by Dr. Wayne Dyer since my early 20’s. Have always found him amazing. Now, with little time or ability (concentration) to read, I have befriended him, Louise Hays on facebook. Their daily affirmations are sensational. These people are so advanced in the spiritual and positive vibes, words, teachings in life, I admire them deeply.
If you haven’t already done so, you may want to friend them…. the knowledge that is shared, cost free to us, is truly a gift.

I guess I won’t be watching “Criminal Minds” past 5pm. Last night I expected to crash when my head hit the pillow. Instead I kept waking myself up, thinking their was someone in my house, in my room. The scarves and robe draped over the door depicted a very tall, broad man with a cape… The reflection of the lamp kept me looking over my shoulder at a burglar with a mask on…. Oh how my imagination runs wild, particularly when I’m plum tuckered out. Finally around 6am I fell fast asleep and got a few hours sleep.

I guess I’ll go crochet for a while. I’m hoping to hit the hay early and get some quality sleep.

Hope you had a great day! ♥

Just do it…..

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With my jeans cutting at my waist, I took another bite out of the Dunkin Donuts I was eating… YES, INSANE… and thought to myself “I need to lose weight.  I repeated it as I slurped it down with a Coolatta…”I need to lose weight”.

I am my own worst enemy, I think we all are.  I know I would be independently wealthy if I could come up with a formula, a way to get so many of us out of the nasty cycle of “Knowing and not doing”.   I get inspired or motivated for a couple days, then it disappears as the sweets pass through my digestive system. 

Beating myself up doesn’t work, it only serves to rear me more poundage!   I definitely have that one down.  So… what?   What is it going to take to stop me from eating compulsively?   I have come to view addiction entirely different than I once did.   I know what it is like to not be able to stop, being out of control with a substance, mine being food.  Frankly, it sucks.

When I turned 50 I felt like a million bucks.  I had lost weight, was exercising…at 52 I am once again fighting the battle of the bulge.   I have acknowledged where I am, I’m not happy with myself, but I am also not going to make it my New Years Resolution to lose weight.  It’s NOT happening.   My New Years resolution may differ slightly, but it will always be “obtain and maintain peace and serenity”.   Huh, I guess feeling good about my physical self certainly can play a part in that, right?

I have an eating disorder.  I have had one since I was 15.   I will not share the manner in which I lose control, I will however share with you the thought process that powers this.  So many (too many to write), I will number them or bullet them.

1.  I walk into a room and peruse the room.  Am I the fattest in the room?  On the plane?  In a restaurant?

2. Well, maybe THESE jeans will look good on me….

3. Is this outfit thinning?

4. What am I going to eat for lunch (as I take my last bite of breakfast)?

5. Why can’t I be normal?  I look at thin people and watch them, watch them eat, watch what they do… Why can’t I be one of “them”?

6. Okay, I’m going to put some Velcro on the ceiling of my bedroom , that way when I jump off the bed to fit into these jeans my hair will stick and it will remind me to eat well that day!

7.  What are they thinking?  How fat and unattractive I am?

8.  I don’t want this person, or that person to see me, I don’t want ANYONE to see me….. isolation

9. If I lose this weight….. fill in the blanks with ANYTHING!   I will feel better, I will look better, My refrigerator will smell better…. yada yada…   Everything “good” is contingent on my losing weight.

10.  Well, I’ve already blown in this morning, I might as well eat what I want today, tonight.

11.  I can’t go here… or there…. I’ve got nothing to wear and….I don’t want anyone to see me

12.  I must be premenstrual, you know, bloating  (It has been 12 years since I menstruated).  YES too much info….. Laugh with me

13.  I’ll start tomorrow

14.  Well, I didn’t get french fries with my order, I’m eating better!

15. Always looking for the magical outfit that makes me feel good about myself, makes me like how I look….

16. I need to take my scale in for an alignment…. it’s off

17.  If I could eliminate the stress in my life, I would get thin

18.  I use food to cope

19.  I can’t help myself

20.  If I can eat ___________ one more time, I’ll be happy.    (Ate it everyday that week)

21.  Is what I am ordering to eat suggesting to dinner guests that I overeat?

22.  I don’t want to do anything today, I just want to put on my comfortable sweats and hide from the world.

23.  If I have eggnog in the fridge it will help me get out of bed tomorrow morning.

24.  The damn dryer…. !

25.  Pretty up the face, throw on the jewelry…. I look good!

26. But my mother doesn’t make these pies often…and what if she dies and I can’t ever eat them again? Go ahead… LAUGH It is hysterical!

27. I’m just not meant to  be thin

28.  Thin is a four letter word

29.  I can’t afford to buy healthy foods

30. “Do I look okay?”

Okay, I’m going to stop there simply because I could go on all night.  I can come up with 1000 thoughts that go through my head on this topic weekly.   I understand, now, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the sex addict…who cannot stop.    I am a food addict. 

Here are some things that I have learned this year.  (Yes, this year)

1. I am ALWAYS the fattest girl in the room, on the plane, in a restaurant… because that is all I see for myself

2. There is not any pair of jeans that will make me feel thin

3. There is no outfit that will ever make me look as thin as I want to be unless I am thin wearing it!

4.  I am driven by food.   I live to eat, not eat to live

5. It is up to me to make choices that will help me get thin and stay thin.   Sure, someone else may have the benefit of a faster metabolism but that isn’t all that keeps them healthy.

6.  I weight too much for the Velcro to hold me up off the floor

7.  Looking anywhere else but within myself is not going to feed my soul.  It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.  Someone can think I’m as wonderful as chocolate (notice the reference) but unless I feel good about myself, it means bo diddley.

8.   I don’t want anyone to see me, and I don’t want to be held accountable for my choices (in food)

9.   Here’s the deal….  If I make my happiness all contingent on being thin I will never find true happiness

10. Okay, so I screwed up this morning.   I can get on track at lunchtime, or I can eat the thousand pounds of candy and gain more

11.  I have a whole closet of clothes that I can no longer wear.  I refuse to buy new clothes.  I have maybe 8-10 articles of clothing I can wear right now.   Perhaps this will “help motivate me”….. Please, I look to everything to motivate me….  NO!  I don’t have appropriate clothes, so I cannot go!

12.  Menopause….deal with it baby!

13. I will start right now.  I will set a date and get excited to begin that day

14.  The only thing truly healthy to eat at McDonalds, Wendy’s or Dunkin Donuts is nothing!

15. There is NO magical outfit that will make me look and FEEL the way I want to feel unless I am thin….. PERIOD!

16. I do not need to know how much I weigh, but I do need accountability.   Someone ELSE weigh and measure me??????

17.  Hmmm how do I eliminate stress?  Divorce, murder….?

18.  I may think that food helps me cope, but it doesn’t.  It is a myriad.  I use food to “escape”

19.  I CAN help myself, I am the only one who can…. what will I do first?

20.  Deprivation only leads to bingeing

21.  Ummmm, I can order a salad and diet soda and it is MY WEIGHT that is going to give me away, not what I eat in front of someone!

22.  I want to participate in my life, in society…

23.  Eggnog WILL inspire me to get out of bed in the morning…. and go back after indulging!

24.  My pants, my sleeves are shorter because I am heavier…. FACT

25.  There is a difference between wearing jewelry or makeup because I like it, and wearing it to hide behind it.

26.  Um…. Stocking up (in eating pies) now will not get me thin later….

27.  I can be thin, I have to make changes for that to happen

28.  FAT may not be a 4 letter word but it is one powerfully negative word, noun

29.  I either pay now (good food) or later (doctors)

30.  Of course my family and friends aren’t going to say “You look like shit, your gut is hanging over your jeans, by the way, nobody wears white socks anymore, you need a gps to find your third chin.

Humorously written, sadly true.  My thoughts are consumed with food, fat.    I remember when I had lost 30 lbs was on my way to being thin (which I did achieve, but didn’t maintain) I couldn’t believe how much time I had by not THINKING about or wishing I was thin!  The truth is, it is very hard to motivate ourselves, to find inspiration to give up what brings us comfort, what tastes good.   There is no magic pill, vitamin, outfit, one thing that we will not gain from!  

I want to lose weight because my knees hurt, because I want to feel better about myself, because I want to look better, because I want to be healthier, because I love myself………………………………………………..”JUST DO IT” -Nike…….

 

 

 

Chaotic, crazy…. my Christmas Open House!

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For the past week I have been cramming for my Christmas Open House.  Every year I do this.  When I had the large studio with gift shoppe in the front we would have a grand Christmas Show in which my friend Mark and I would blast music (Laura Branigan, Cher…) NO!  Not Christmas tunes, we needed motivation, drive…. we needed beat!     It was always a fun weekend.  By the time we closed Sunday night, I would fall fast asleep in a chair, on the couch, or on the floor with my Brody boy.  
Since moving my studio to my home, I have it in my house, two nights.  This year it is Sunday and Monday.  

Every year I panic, I call my friend Harry, I tell him I don’t have enough, then I tell him it’s not good enough, then I tell him I’m worried that no one will like my things, that I will disappoint them.  And THEN I will say to him…. “Why do I do this to myself?????”  Speaking of the show, not the wind of idiocy that is spinning in my head, expelling through my tongue to Harry’s ears.      Every year he listens, every year he says “Calm down, breathe”.  Every year he says “Donna, you do this every year and it is always a success”… I mumble, I sometimes cry.  Anxiety….fear…..insecurity…..   Of course then there is the pricing.   I have underpriced my stuff for so long, I can no longer do it nor do I think I should.  See?  I do believe in my abilities, I do believe my work is nice… but when the whirlwind of doubt comes in, I end up calling Harry once again.    Every year the cost of supplies goes up, every year I hate raising the price but no one seems to say anything, they look at me and roll their eyes…

I think my biggest fear is that it will be disappointing to my guests.    I don’t want to let them down, I want them to come with great enthusiasm and leave happy, excited, pleased.    

Every year my studio is turned upside down, canvas everywhere, brushes everywhere, ornaments, beads, florals…and somehow when the show opens, everything looks nice.      I then wonder… is this the year I fail?   And then I ask myself, can I really fail if I’m doing my best?  These are my friends who are coming, not Hallmark Design team.    We shall see, we shall see… and I shall report, if I survive this! 🙂

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to follow tradition, I need to call Harry!   ♥

A macarel faced Santa???????????

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You may want to buy a lottery or ticket… a small miracle happened against the odds.  I am up at 5:30am!  This is the time I usually go to bed.   It is rather nice to hear the pitter patter of rain on my window, have all the animals asleep and wondering what the heck it is I’m doing up… and watching Ed Harris in “The Abyss”.  Great movie, great acting and one hot guy!   I wrote this on my facebook wall the other day… If I ever learned that Ed Harris wears carharrts I would have a stroke… Love guys wearing carharrts and love him!

So arising this early the cats, while disoriented, automatically wanted to be fed.  I stumble to the pantry, oh no, I’m out of canned food, had planned to get it today.  As I was rummaging around to find anything that will appease their appetites I found a can of what I thought was “chicken”….  I opened it, the stench coming from it had each of my nostrils opened to about the size of a nickel.   It was “Chub Mackerel”.   It made me sick, and when I put some down on the cats plate…THEY RAN AWAY FROM IT!    Proof that forgetting my reading glasses when going grocery shopping not a good thing.

I’m up this early to work on finishing projects I’ll be selling at my Christmas Open house.    It has been noted that some artists paint those who are close to them, like eyes, noses, etc. when painting Santa Clauses.  Also, scent is the strongest sense that brings back memories, opens up the realm to channeling for some.  Well, I think I am going to throw the mackerel out the back door.  Can you imagine a mackerel faced santa????????? Good god.

I just finished my Lucky Charms… they’re magically delicious… until you run out of charms!    Every week I have been buying a different cereal, obviously not particularly healthy ones.  Last week I had Super Sugar Crisps, the week before Cheerios.  I think next week I am going to get Shredded Wheat.    Choosing a healthier cereal is truly an accident!

Walking into my art room this morning I laughed at the containers of beads, ornaments strategically placed on the floor.   This room is right off my front entrance.  Screw the security alarms, this is mine.   There is no way someone could get in and walk around them without tripping or any of the animals hearing!   Can’t you see the Mackarel Santa flying on in the air and landing on his keastah in a bucket of beads?

Off to go paint, have a wonderful day!

The angry stage of grief….

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This morning when I walked out to my car I was surprised to see my rubbish still there.  We are fortunate to have pickup.  Well, I looked up at my neighbors, no rubbish, another neighbor…no rubbish…. What the heck?  I go about my day, full of errands, first order of business was Fed Ex, second was Motor Vehicle Department which is always a joy.  Well, guess what????  We didn’t have to wait in line and what I thought was going to be about $80 turned out to be $20!!!  Wohooooo.  Our local satellite office has such nice women working there.  Much different from the headquarters…most are stoic, never smile and have the personality of a slab of meat….

Never knowing what I am going to discuss in therapy, today’s was a shocker to me.  I suppose because I just postponed an oncology appointment to January.   My therapist was quiet, listened, asking only a few questions, one being “When was the last time you spoke about this so intimately?   My answer….  At least four years, then I thought about it…. never.  I have never shared the traumatic details, the emotional weight of going thru breast cancer, two different types, in fact.  Tears flowed down my cheeks a couple of times, as I recalled more moments with my kid sisters treatment.  The topic then turned to recollections of my own journey.   In three words it would be “It fucking sucks”.  Mine was spread out almost 2 years because of complications, infections, yada, yada.  The emotional part I don’t think I have ever dealt with.  I did what I needed to do, got through it all with a sense of humor and with the help of friends who brought me to appointments, stayed with me through surgeries, helped out as they could.   My mother moved in with me for a couple of months, which actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  She was a tremendous help.   Given that my brother was diagnosed with two different types of cancer 2 weeks to the day that I was, and having drastic exploratory and corrective surgery, she was running the roads from my house to his.

Whenever I would feel down, discouraged, someone appeared in front of me that changed my perspective.  I remember one woman, had an arm removed, had a bone in her back removed, and she was determined to stay alive, keep fighting.   What the hell do I have to complain about?  Still, I had loss that I wasn’t addressing. Fibromyalgia complicated things.  It sucked, but I tried to keep a positive attitude and also educate other women through my journey.   I realized today something significant about my being a cancer survivor.  I have never gotten angry about it.   I bounced through the other four stages of grief, but I never got angry.   Perhaps that is why I am visiting this topic now.  I am starting to feel angry, four years after diagnosis, two years after treatment and reconstruction.   Anger is something I don’t know how to do.   I am pretty easy going, let a lot go by, but when I get angry it is hard for me to get out of it.   When my sister died, I was so angry that I couldn’t even stand myself.    A few months later my older sister called me and said something like “Donna, I love you, and I believe you need help with this, with coping.  Will you please consider getting help?” I did. I did. Ironically the psychiatrist who was assigned to me inpatient was the same psychiatrist I had seen for years.   After an evaluation, he said to me… “Donna, for as long as you have been my patient you have struggled with suicidal tendencies, ideation, thoughts…  Well, you have made progress.  You are no longer suicidal you are homicidal!  He was joking, of course.  The point he was making, however, was growth.  I was no longer harming myself or punishing myself for God knows what, I was angry, I was angry with Cancer, I was angry with God, I was angry at everything. I was lost in my anger.

I am now angry for my own journey.   What the hell did I ever do to deserve this?   Why did this happen to me, to my family?  I had convinced myself, well I still believe, that part of the reason was to educate women on early prevention, detection.  With the large number of women I encounter I could possibly help others.   Still, I’d rather have just educated them on painting, but this journey quickly became a side cart to wherever I was, wherever I went. I do not wish, nor will I stay in this anger.  I cannot possibly be angry, peaceful and serene simultaneously.  I have come so far, I have learned so much, I have gone through enough that I just want peace.  I want peace and serenity.   No matter how much weight I gain, or lack of exercise I get… my New Years Resolution for the rest of my life will be “Peace and Serenity”.    It has been a long journey to get here.  I still have shaky times when it flies out the window, but I have reminders all over my house.  The physical pain I feel on a daily basis reminds me, too, that all I can do is my best, that I have walked through the jungle jims of hell, and I am still here.  All I want is peace, peace and serenity.  I wouldn’t wish this journey on anyone, but I wouldn’t trade my personal growth for anything in the world!

My sister gave both my brother and I a medallion.  It means much to both of us.  This was the only thing my brother wanted to take from his car, the only thing he was worried about.  The other day I thought about mine and wondered where it was.  I hadn’t seen it in a couple of months.  Hmm, I’ll have to look for it when I get home.  Well, a few minutes later I pick my mother up at her apartment and she says “Hold out your hand, I have something for you.  I found it in the car, cleaned it up for you”…it was my medallion. I smiled, looked up and said “Thank you!” I am always given what I need.  I am always given what I need.  The timeliness of this is not uncommon in my life.   It’s rather nice, spiritually validating to me.

Saint Peregrine is on the front, and on the back, engraved artfully, beautifully reads this:

CANCER IS LIMITED
It cannot cripple love It cannot shatter hope It cannot corrode faith It cannot eat away peace It cannot destroy confidence It cannot shut out memories It cannot silence courage It cannot invade the soul It cannot reduce eternal life It cannot quench the spirit It cannot lessen the power of the Resurrection.

I will leave you with one of many comical episodes that I went through when I was doing all I could to fight this disease.   When I came home from the hospital after my second surgery (bilateral mastectomies, reconstruction), I was on some very heavy pain meds.   Two friends had stopped over to visit, mom made them lunch and they were sitting in the kitchen.   My mom asked me to come out and sit and try to eat something and visit with Robin and Bob. I did. A couple minutes into the conversation my friend Robin asked “Now what exactly did they do to you?”  I explained that they cut out the nipple and go from there.   She asked “Well, what did they do with your nipples?”   I looked at her and responded very quickly “They sewed them on my ass for traction!”   My mother said “It’s time for a nap!”

Oh and PS….. As I drove back into town approaching my humble abode I noticed my neighbors rubbish was out…. Um…. I guess I put it out a day early!

Tis the shopping season

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It’s hard to believe that in a few hours December comes rolling in.   Still, as I looked outside today, the bare trees, the grey skies, felt the cold against my skin, winter is here.  Winter is amongst us now.   There may not be snow on the ground yet (therefore I can still drop to my knees on the ground and Thank God for that!) but even the smell of winter fills the air.  Christmas lights are popping up here and there, trucks and cars rolling by with Christmas trees on their roofs, the bed of their truck.  Yes, retail Christmas is now in line with reality!

A week from today I turn 52.   Unbelievable.   FIFTY TWO!   Sing with me “In 1492….” Oh wait, that’s Columbus!  Yah, now it is said Columbus was a traitor, or a theft, or whatever.   Honestly, I wish we could just let things be instead of drudging up whatever crap we can on another.   Guess what?????????   Ask the Indians!

What I like about the holiday season is what goes on in my heart.  Even if I swear I will not celebrate, I just want it to pass by without acknowledging it, my heart always comes to feel the season…the season of giving!

I remember how exciting it was to see Christmas lights when I was little.  I remember believing in Santa Claus!    He made his presence known by the footprints in flour on the floor in our living room.  We would always leave him cookies and they would be gone except one, with a bite out of it.  

I have some fond memories of holidays.   It seemed each year we kids would get up earlier and earlier.   My brother woke us all up at 4am one Christmas morning to tell us all the things that Santa had brought us.   We weren’t allowed to open anything but our stockings until everyone was up.  When we went to wake up mom and dad we were told, for the first time, “GO BACK TO BED!”     That was also the same year that my brother thought everything was for him.   “Oh look!  My teddy bear!”…. it was for Karla.  “Oh look!  My hockey sticks!”  One was for Darlene…  The only thing he didn’t stake claim to was the four tires under the tree for me for my turquoise beloved Subaru!  I wish Santa still brought me tires!

For years I would take my nephews Christmas shopping.   Ajay would want McDonald’s for dinner, Alex wanted Burger King, so we would drive through both (a couple exits away from each other).  Then we would go shopping for their mom and dad (their parents always gave them money to spend but they usually ended up spending more!).    After their shopping was done they could shop for themselves and pick out their present from Aunt Donna.   It always seemed that my sister, Darlene, had a camera on us, as she lived 3 hours away in NH and would call that night at the perfect time, back when cell phones were installed in cars and huge in size!   The boys would always be excited to hear from her, they adored her, and her, they.   It was a wonderful tradition, unfortunately things happened, it fell by the wayside.   They usually had in their minds what they wanted to get their mom and dad.    One year it was a new car… we had to renegotiate that one!  I loved this time with them.  I think we all looked forward to it.   I know their parents did!   A night home alone!

This year is the first Christmas in 13-14 years without Brody, my handsome Australian shepherd.   He LOVED the snow.   The past few years it seemed the older I get the older winter gets, the first snow would bring a smile to my face and pure happiness to my Brody.  Last year, knowing he was failing, I made extra big of it.  We went for a hike in the woods, which he loved, and spent time outside so he could roll down the hill on his back.  I’m grateful I did that.   He had more fur than I had brains (well almost!) evident by all the tumbleweeds of Brody hair in my house.  There was no vacuum cleaner that could keep up… or perhaps I’m remembering that wrong… perhaps momma didn’t care to vacuum everyday!    Losing animals is so hard, but I know what a wonderful life he had, and I hold onto that when my heart strings are pulled.  He really did live a privileged life, and he deserved it.   Lilly, well little Lilly has very little fur… unlike Brody’s it grows and grows and I have to cut it.   She also shivers when she goes outside so I made her a raspberry colored wool turtleneck sweater.   Forgive me if I’ve already shared this… sign of my age!   She’s a sweet sweet dog, she is also a very stubborn dog.   Lately she has been waiting for me to “invite” her to come downstairs, or to come into the kitchen to get fed.   Yes, I have a little princess pup who this morning was very upset with me, and rejected my wanting to give her some loving because SHE was not the first order of business this morning…the phone was!   When I hung up and called for her she turned her head the other way.   I couldn’t help but laugh.    Brody used to rule me, he was a very demanding and strong willed dog, I found it hard to get work done when he was here because he wanted to go swimming, or hiking, or play Frisbee, or chase tennis balls.  Seldom would he take no for an answer.  I refuse to allow Lilly to run the household…and it is about my changing, not her…. “No is a full sentence”.

Well, how that I’ve rambled on I’m going to turn in, to a well heated bed with a vaporizer on high with Vicks steaming out.   Yeah, first cold, sinus infection, whatever of the season.   I’m hoping that this is not a precursor for what will come, last winter I was sick all but 3 weeks of it, I hope it will not be repeated.     Will do my best to ascertain that will not happen.

Another year that I just shook my head at Black Friday, though I will admit, I love it when our local Walmart is open 24 hours for Christmas as I take advantage of this and not only do Christmas shopping but grocery shopping at 2am.

Good night!

 

Twas the day after Thanksgiving and all through my life….

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Yesterday I celebrated Thanksgiving with my mother, brother, niece and my brothers girlfriend.   We had a delicious meal, and enjoyed a quiet day visiting, laughing, smiling and of course…eating.  The night  before I spent a couple of hours working on a gratitude list that was long and sincere.   I think that may have also been my blog, not sure.    It is so helpful to have a positive outlook, to look at the good in every situation not the bad, not the painful.  And there really is good things in everything, if I am willing to open up my mind and heart to such.   Yesterday I shed no tears, I lived in the moment and when thoughts of painful things came, I acknowledge them, but did not give them power to consume me, to take from me this day.   Acknowledged and then dismissed.   I am learning that there is a huge difference in acknowledging and blocking.  Blocking just gets stored in a denial room that eventually comes back to bite me in the ass.  It gets full, then explodes.  I have learned this with meditation.  When your mind drifts, acknowledge, then return to center focus.    I am very pleased to say that it worked, and I am grateful that I had such a wonderful day.  I have so much to be grateful for, and so much I am grateful for, and I’m sure much that I’m not even aware of.

Yesterday was my oldest sister Karen’s, birthday.   Karen died last May of ovarian cancer.  Karen’s story is traumatic, tragic, and yet in spite of all, she touched the lives of many many people.   As she lay, dying, people came and went for the 5 days it took for this disease to take her life from day of diagnosis.   My family was in awe of the constant stream of visitors, the stories, the love that my sister spread throughout her life.  An exceptional person in spite of live altering, changing medical event that reared her both mentally and physically handicapped.  It didn’t however change her ability or desire to love and be loved.  Karen’s life had purpose, and we all loved her very much.  

A few decades ago today my father, whom I love dearly, announced to us, the day after Thanksgiving that he was leaving our mother after a 27 year marriage.  Shock, denial, even at 18 I was affected harshly.   I started to question everything that I thought was real.  Is this real?  Is this a facet? My eyes no longer looked forward but backwards, to try to understand and identify clues, cues.  They always moved from side to side in constant vigil to alert myself of any potential painful peril.  When your parents divorce, it is devastating.  No matter what age you are, it affects you and can play havoc with your self confidence, with trust and a handful of other things.  Today I accept my family for who they are and the choices they have made for themselves, I will, however, never forget when my parents were together and we were one big family.  I grew up the middle of five children.  A large family, four siblings.  I loved having many siblings.

In the 80′s I decided to get married the day after Thanksgiving to try to bring back some happiness to the holiday.   That marriage lasted 10 years and is really not worth even discussing.   I learned much, and I am grateful, now, that it didn’t work out.  It also meant another painful anniversary for this holiday time.

A few years ago today (or the day after Thanksgiving)  I sat with my youngest sister, Darlene, and her partner at Norris Cotton Cancer Center (Dartmouth/Hitchcock) in Hanover, NH waiting for her oncologist to come in and tell us the latest status of her ovarian cancer, how the chemotherapy was working, what results came from the many radiation treatments she had.  My sister was diagnosed just five months before with Stage 3B ovarian cancer, she also had uteran cancer.   For the first couple of months her cancer was classified as “unknown origin”.,  This is not good.   If they don’t know where it started they don’t know how to treat it.   She and per partner would travel an hour and a half from their home on Lake Winnipausakee for her treatments, which were daily for the first few months, and when I was not staying at her house, I would meet them there to be with her for her treatment.   Her cancer had been found when she was having a hysterectomy at her small local hospital.  They were unequipped and inexperienced for what they found.  They did their best, then referred her to Dartmouth.   Upon her first appointment at Dartmouth we walked in, I was holding one hand, her partner was holding the other.   A treatment plan was developed and so began her radiation, then shortly thereafter, her chemotherapy.  The first time she had chemotherapy we were all feeling anxious, sad, until we walked into the chemotherapy area.  There, to our right, was a young child, probably 5 years old, bald, receiving intravenous treatment.  We assumed it was his parents with him, and they smiled as we entered and they saw us.   We smiled, as much as we could, and walked a few insets down to a more private area.  We all looked at each other, couldn’t speak.  After a minute or two Darlene said “Well, that certainly puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?”  We all cried.  “I may only be 38 but I have had 38 years here, that boy can’t be anymore than 5″.   The nurses came, explained how it worked, were watching her closely because a persons first time is the most critical in terms of how their body will react to the drugs.    Each visit we would hold our breath until we were told she could have treatment that day, it was all dependent on her blood results.   Every four weeks she would meet with her oncologist before her treatment, to say we held our breath until we heard the results was an understatement.  Fear is an entity of it’s own.  ”Your tumor is shrinking”… you could hear us all inhale then exhale deeply, loudly.   She met with her surgical oncologist with whom I was hearing different things from what my sister and her partner heard.  He was speaking about her treatment in “short term”.  I knew what this meant.  I had to leave the room as I knew my sister and her partner weren’t hearing what was said.   I excused myself, ran out into the waiting area and vomited.  A nurse came over, sat with me as I stared at the stone faced wall.  My eyes were following the mortar lines, as my head, my heart were trying to hear what the nurse was saying.  She was a lovely woman, she was so compassionate, and sat with me handed me kleenex until I gained enough composure to see my sister.   The doctor looked at them with surprise, he hadn’t realized that she hadn’t been told that Ovarian Cancer is a death sentence, at least hers was.  He was shocked as he started to talk and they looked at him, blankly, and he realized, they either had not been told or not yet accepted, even acknowledged that this was a possibility.  The day before we had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  They had ordered in from “The Turkey Farm” I believe, a full dinner that was incredibly and surprisingly delicious.   We had a nice day, were all a bit anxious about the consultation/update the next day, but hoped that we would receive good news.   We did not.  The Dr. entered the room and his first words were “I do not have good news for you”.  I gulped and watched my sisters jaw set still, in preparation for the blow.  Her partner was right beside her, holding her hand, rubbing her arm and back.  “There is nothing more we can do for you, Darlene”.   It was as if an entity of its own came in and wrapped our minds with misunderstanding, denial, with truth.   Her partner asked “Doctor, what does this mean?”   We all knew what it meant, but it was too painful, too quick, too awful to accept, let alone face.  “You have a terminal illness, Darlene.  There is no cure, nothing more we can offer you but to treat your pain”.   My sisters partners partner turned white, her eyes rolled up into her head and she passed out.  Darlene grabbed for her, I helped, as we got her to a chair until consciousness.  I ran out into the waiting room, crying, my fiancée was out waiting for us.  I said “Come, come quick”.   The strength my sister conveyed was one of pure love.  She was worried about her partner, she was worried about me and how we were accepting the news.   There is nothing to accept, this just isn’t happening.   After Jim came in and the doctor had left, and her partner was safe and conscious, I quickly slipped out of the treatment room and found her oncologists office.  I didn’t knock, though his door was open.  I walked right in, disgusted with the manner in which he delivered the news.  “How long does she have to live?” I asked.   He said “Everyone wants to live longer, we are all going to die”.  “HOW LONG does she have to live?”   “No more than 3  months”.   I slowly walked back to the room, now in fully engaged tears.  I had to gain my composure, I have to be strong for my sister.    I left my car at the hospital and drove Darlene and Amy back to Winnipasaukee.  Jim, my fiancée, who had lost sobriety and picked up drinking, but heavily, the week Darlene was diagnosed, had “something he had to do”.  We all knew what that was.  He would meet us back at the lake.  We were having a horrific snow storm that day.  Though driving my sisters 4 wheel drive vehicle, we went only 35-45 mph.   I think back on this now and I believe that was God’s way of allowing us to get home safely.   If it hadn’t been snowing I probably would have driven like a bat out of hell, but perhaps not.  I drove as my sister and her partner were embraced in each others arms, crying.   About 30 minutes into the trip home Darlene said “Donna?”  ”Yeah?”  “I’m sorry that Jim isn’t able to be here for you”.    Tears…. she was worried about me, this beautiful person who was just told she was going to die had concerns for her loved ones, not herself.   I am crying now as I think about this.  What an amazing person she was.  What an absolutely incredibly exceptional person Darlene was.  I miss her so much.  My love for her continues to grow, it is an incredible thing.   I remember thinking “How am I supposed to stop loving her?”  Truth is, you don’t.  You never do.   Time helps you learn to coexist with this loss, with this hole in your heart, but it never goes away fully.  It fades a bit here and there, once you’ve past the initial grieving stage, which is different for everybody.   It becomes “easier” (for lack of a better word, perhaps “softer”) as time goes on, and as this happened my love for her grew deeper, stronger.   We never stop loving them.

The story continues for a few months, just like it started a few months before this day, the day after Thanksgiving.  But this day, I will never forget, I would like to, but I cannot.   I thought about it yesterday and took solace in knowing, I was there for her.   I couldn’t change it, I couldn’t cure her, but I was there for her.  That was the most I could do, and I was there for her.   The more I remembered the deeper I inhaled and exhaled unconsciously.   I am a survivor.  Yes, I am a breast cancer survivor, but I am also the survivor of ovarian cancer.  The disease that took the lives of my oldest and youngest sisters.   I believe that anyone who walks through the journey with their loved one, and those many who unfortunately don’t make it…. we are all survivors.   

Yesterday I celebrated Thanksgiving with some of my family.   My sister lives in NC, so we didn’t see her, but I know that wherever any of us were celebrating this holiday, we gave thanks for the existence of these two lives, souls.  These women we loved.

Thank you God, for my life.  Thank you my ability to be there for my sister(s) and even for the long, painful trek of grief, betrayal, pain.   I learned empathy, I learned perspective, with each passing experience I became stronger, to my own surprise.  Stronger but not harder or bitter, to which I am grateful.   I have and continue to learn the facts of life, some harsh, some painful, but all, beautiful.  I am grateful, I am very grateful.  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone….. celebrate all that you are thankful for