Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks

I offer thanks today for all the good I have in my life.  

I am so grateful to God for putting in my path so many wonderful people who are so good to me.  My caretakers who provide me with help so that I can stay home as long as possible.   My doctors who work so hard to keep my complicated health issues organized and who do it with warmth and compassion.  Professionals who have helped me with business issues, without judgment or criticism.
But most of all I am thankful for those of you who are so good to me on an everyday basis.   Those of you who offer me empathy and encouragement and unconditional love, you are what keep me going.  You all keep me from folding under the weight of everything I have lost and make me appreciate everything I still have. 
That is my Thanks Giving.


Words my loved ones live by:

1 Corinthians 13


13 1 What if I could speak all languages of humans
 and of angels?
If I did not love others, I would be nothing more
than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
What if I could prophesy and understand all secrets
 and all knowledge?
And what if I had faith that moved mountains?
I would be nothing, unless I loved others.
What if I gave away all that I owned
and let myself be burned alive?
I would gain nothing, unless I loved others.
Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful,
 proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.
Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful,
 and trusting.
Love never fails!  Everyone who prophesies will stop,
and unknown languages will no longer  be spoken.
All that we know will be forgotten.
We don’t know everything, and our prophecies
are not complete. 10 But what is perfect will someday appear,
and what isn’t perfect will then disappear.
11 When we were children, we thought and reasoned
 as children do. But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways.
12 Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture
in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face.
We don’t know everything, but then we will,
just as God completely understands us.
13 For now there are faith, hope, and love.
But of these three, the greatest is love.


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Friday, October 31, 2014

Wanted: Extended Life, with a Side of Laughter

I started my blog in 2008 with great trepidation.  Doing research on the pit falls of writing online, I came across a very funny essay entitled “How to Dissuade Yourself from Writing a Blog”.  It pretty much assured you that what you would write would be utter drek that no one would ever read.  Or, if through some miracle they actually found your blog, they would laugh themselves sick at your ineptitude.  Naturally, I believed I would be an exception to these rules.  So I took the plunge.

At first I was focused on losing weight for my son’s upcoming wedding.  So I wrote about swimming at the local health club and what I ate for breakfast.  Riveting stuff, right?  The words were stilted and formal, dull as dishwater.  Painful to read now, especially since because of immobility and medications I have gained about another zillion pounds.  Then I fell and broke my shoulder.  It was the kind of injury that simply consumes you.  So that is what I started writing about.  The craziness of the fall, the insanity of trying to obtain the care I needed, it all just poured out.  And it poured out in my own way, almost a sort of stream of consciousness.  My readership jumped by over 100.  A friend once gave me the most incredible, touching compliment.  We hadn’t seen each other in ages.  After chatting for the first time in over a year, as we said goodbye I said to her “It has been so good to hear your voice!”  She replied “I hear yours every time I read your blog.”   I could not have asked for higher praise and affirmation.

I began to think in Blogese.  Everything was potential fodder for my posts.   I was lucky enough to be able to attend two separate blogging conferences, great opportunities to network and keep up enthusiasm.  Always on the lookout for potential content, I composed posts in my head all the time.   My motto was one that I had seen on a novelty t-shirt:  “I am SO bogging this!”  Although it was never, ever my intention to exact revenge on people who had treated me poorly.  Well, except perhaps when I was laid off by those incompetent nitwits (long story, read about it here ).   Writing about negative experiences in my own life could possibly be perceived as resentful and/or vengeful, but, again, it was not my plan to deliberately hurt anyone.  The stories of our lives reflect ups but also downs.  Unfortunately, writing about painful incidences can have the appearance of good guy (me) vs. bad guy (them).  I have tried very hard to take ownership for my actions and life choices, to acknowledge when I have been an ass or totally wrong.  I have also tried to be fair to those who have hurt me, working very hard to present a balanced picture, as no one is purely good or bad.  And I have worked hard at understanding and presenting what I have perceived as their motivation. However, for the most part I tried to put a lighthearted spin on my incredibly eventful life, as there are few things I enjoy more than making people laugh.   And while I love to laugh, I didn’t realize quite the impact I had made in that department.

My darling friend Christine recently hosted a small, informal get together to honor my 60th birthday.  She put a journal on the table and asked people to write comments in it, either a note on how we had met or a fond memory.  As I read through this treasure afterwards, one thing jumped out at me.  Nearly every single person stated one thing they loved about me was how I made them laugh.   I was amazed and touched.   And saddened.  Because I simply don’t feel very funny anymore. Having been virtually housebound and isolated for the past two years, I find it harder and harder to hold a lucid conversation, never mind be funny.  It was hard to laugh at MS.  It is even harder to laugh at metastatic cancer.   Being aware that MS had the very real potential of significantly shortening my life was painful enough.  But having cancer that cannot be cured is devastating. 

I was stunned to note I have written fewer than ten posts this year, opposed to an average of over 50 a year in the past.   But writing is what I am meant to do, a need rather than a want.  Despite some recent criticism by people I love, I have to keep on writing.  Not only is it good for me as an expression of what I am, I get feedback from people, publicly and privately, who tell me how much my words mean to them.  I have to believe that is one of the reasons I am here, one of the ways I can make a difference.   

I am trying hard to live my remaining life to the fullest.  I pray constantly for dignity, courage and, if possible, duration.  I pray for discernment of what meaning my life was intended to take.  I have finally obtained my new power wheelchair.  Now I have to figure out how to get out more.  I want to volunteer where I can.  I want to create a charitable foundation to provide opportunities for people who have encountered crises, to help them over humps the way so many have helped me.   I want to give back, to have a positive impact on this world.  And I want, no, I need, laughter to be part of my life again.



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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Now We Are…Sixty?!?

Gosh.  How on earth did that happen?!?!

At any rate, Happy Happy Birthday to me and to Bruce (Springsteen, of course) whose b-day precedes mine by a few years but follows mine by a few days.  How is that for a riddle?  Extremely lame?  Yes, I agree, but what can I tell you, I AM lame.  ha ha ha ha   I know, I know I am hopelessly corny.  Happy birthday Bruce and thanks for being a remarkable entertainer and human being.  I know some people consider him controversial, but there cannot be any argument about the abundant good works he does, many of which go unknown.

A retrospective on The Boss:

As for me, it has been quite a sextet of decades, that is for sure.    I have had amazing experiences, 
ups and downs.  While the hard stuff has been extraordinarily challenging, the good has been so spectacular that it far outweighs the bad. Most of the good has revolved around my children.  I was blessed to be mother to four cherished human beings.  In ways they will never know, they have provided me with moments of such pure, sparkling joy that I am literally left without words.  Those times, some simply seconds of an exquisite baby smile or a spontaneous, merry hug, shine up through the years.  I hug these memories to myself. They are my treasure.

Even though every day brings struggles, I have so much to be grateful for.  It is hard, especially when I’m dealing with a lot of pain.  But during the hard times, I pray and then I list for myself the things I am so lucky to have.  My darling grandchildren and my wonderful, generous friends.  I still have a roof over my head, although I am not sure for how much longer.  Then there are the little things.  A perfect cup of tea.  A good book.  The tactile satisfaction of embroidery, like painting with thread.  The soft murmur of rain.  My little dog who wants nothing more than to be adored and my even littler cat who is a constant source of irritation but she is unfailingly attentive and as a result it is hard to dislike her.

I miss my mother particularly on my birthday.   We had a fractious relationship for much of my life, but we were so different we were bound to clash.  I was not what my mom had wanted or expected in a daughter, I had wildly divergent values and goals from hers.  I simply bewildered her at times.  As I got much older I made an effort to understand her and not deliberately provoke her by challenging her ideals and taste, as I had for such a long time.  My sister and I had many a good cackle in private, but I was truly sorry I had disappointed her and then rubbed her nose in it.  I talk to her all the time now, telling her how much I regret our lost time.  I believe she is watching over us from her place in Heaven, where she is healed and happy.  Believing she is happy and at peace at last gives me great satisfaction.  But more than anything I wish she was still here. 

One thing I have been especially grateful for has been the opportunity to express myself through this blog.  Writing has been one of the most rewarding things in my life.  The sheer pleasure of stringing words together in a way that appeals to people has been a delight.  Sadly, someone I love deeply and whose opinion matters to me, recently told me that they considered my blog something hateful and destructive to our family. I have never deliberately done anything to offend anyone I love, so I was stunned to hear this.  The idea that something I was having such fun with unknowingly caused hard feelings just sucked the spirit right out of me  The accusation has tainted what had previously been such source of pleasure and I have had a hard time finding my way back to writing.  But I am trying and also trying to be attentive to anything someone might find objectionable.

Moving on….

What could be nicer than a window seat and a book on a rainy day?   
I have amended A. A. Milne’s sweet poem.  My bit, with abject apologies to Mr. Milne, is added in bold.

Now We Are Six 
When I was One,
I had just begun.
When I was Two,
I was nearly new.
When I was Three
I was hardly me.
When I was Four,
I was not much more.
When I was Five,
I was just alive.
But now I am Six,
I'm as clever as clever,
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.
Then came some more
Although never a bore.
Decades happily full
Eventful, without any lull.
Ten then twenty then thirty
School, wed, babies, much glee.
Forty cheerfully came
With much of the same.
Fifty arrived with unwelcome news
An illness, alas, would give me the blues.
Now we are sixty, struggling and stressing.
But the Lord, dear friends and loved ones surround me with blessing.    

I am so happy to be here still.  Happy Birthday, me!


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Monday, July 21, 2014

I'm Just Peachy, Thank You

I have been inundated with telemarketing calls lately.  So when I saw the 877 number come up on the caller ID a few minutes ago, I ignored it.  I didn't feel like coping with yet another individual from a third world country trying to persuade me, in broken English, to change electricity providers.

Instead I heard a pre-recorded message from Wegman's Supermarket.  They were advising me that several varieties of fruit, including peaches, were being recalled due to a possible listeria bacterial contamination.  What was I doing as I listened to that message?  I was in the middle of eating a peach that had been purchased at Wegman's.

I finished it anyway.  I figured, in for a penny, in for pound.  I have already had about a dozen peaches in the past 2 weeks, so the damage was already done.

With incredible generosity, Wegman's  has advised us to "visit the service desk at one of its stores for a full refund which will be determined by the customer's estimated count of product discarded."  I guess we're just SOL if we've already been poisoned by the product that was previously consumed.

It is pretty bad that I may have fed the recalled fruit to my precious three year old granddaughter.  And I am immuno-compromised.  It could be catastrophic for either of us to develop this brutal bacterial infection. While I suppose it is a good thing to be advised of the recall, it really freaks me out that Wegman's knows that I bought their peaches.  It is truly creepy that I can be traced by the groceries I buy.

 Now, is it my imagination, or am I feeling queasy...


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Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Tanning Retrospective

Not to be lazy or anything...ok, well maybe I am a tad bit lazy, but I am digging up some of my older posts, especially ones that received a few laughs in the past.  Posts I intended to be funny, I might add.

Someone was recently admiring a picture of our family at my son's wedding and they complimented my dress.  I tried to respond politely, but I was not overly fond of that dress.  For one thing, I had not lost the weight I wanted and was no comparison to the mother of the bride, who was not only a lovely person but was thin and drop dead gorgeous.  Her dress was stunning.  Mine was too, but for different reasons.  None positive.

I have super white skin and the beige of the dress gave me the pallor of a wasting disease without any actual wasting.  So I got the brilliant idea of going to a tanning salon.  The ensuing is a description of my first visit, which I originally posted in 2008:

I cannot believe that I now have any experience with this subject, which in the past I have expressed nothing but disdain for.

Disdain, that is, until I tried on a dress that made me appear to be an illustration from “Ghosts of America”. My skin looked like the white underbelly of a fish, blending with the beige of the dress to create the understated yet hideous fashion statement of having a wasting disease.

My daughters go to the tanning salon on a regular basis. “Isn’t it relaxing?” asked Mary Kate.



Why sure.

Here are some of my relaxing thoughts:

Gosh this is loud.

This is really scary.

Is it supposed to be this loud?

Maybe the bed is broken.

I wonder if the girl remembered to set the timer.

Maybe the timer is broken.

Do I have enough bronzer on? I think I don’t have enough bronzer on.

Maybe I have too much bronzer on.

Maybe I will turn orange.

I think she forgot to set the timer.

Gosh it’s getting hot.

Is hair flammable?

I am positive she forgot to set the timer.

Could this bed be defective?

Maybe it’s defective and has freakishly strong UV rays.

Maybe I am going to burst into flames any minute. Starting with my hair.

Agh!! Agh!!! I am going to end up in the burn center swathed in bandages and loaded with IV pain killers.

Actually, now that I mention it, that last part doesn’t sound too bad.

She forgot to set the timer!! I know it, I know it!!! I am going to be immolated, I know it!!! My children will gaze sadly at my charred remains, hold each other and say “I hope she left some money.”

The whole store will burn down and it will be all my fault. It will be known as the “The Great Tanning Disaster of 2008” and will have my name inexorably linked to it because it will turn out I had some weird genetic predisposition to spontaneous combustion when exposed to a tanning bed.

I will not only die a horrible death, but an embarrassing one too.

CLICK!!!!!!! The machine snaps off. Phew!!! I am alive, unscathed and, um… pink.

Alrighty then!   All set for my next fry, errrr, rather, relaxing, session tomorrow.   Can’t wait.  :(


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