As I sit here, at the kitchen table, I find myself in a similar situation to that of one of my teenage cousins. For homework over February break, her English teacher had given the following assignment (paraphrased):
Write a short story on any topic of your choice. The story must be at least 1 and ½ pages long, but can be longer.
Choice? The freedom to choose is a good thing, right?
I recently learned that I have been dubbed, “the writer in the family”. As such, my cousin requested my help with this particular assignment. Specifically, she needed assistance with settling on a topic. Now, I’m not up-to-date with what teens are interested in these days—or what they find inspiring—so I asked her:
What was the last book that you read? What kind of books do you like to read?
Personally, I find this assignment—despite its simplicity—a little overwhelming. It’s extremely similar to the process of penning a blog entry. There is a plethora of topics that I could write about, could share…and, yet, when it comes time to write, I’ve got nothing. I thought, that if I asked myself the questions that I’d asked her, maybe I’d come up with a subject for this entry.
The truth is, I haven’t read a book from cover-to-cover in a very long time. I’m currently reading my way through three different books (a guide for writing Christian Fiction, a novel by Janet Evanovich, and a tome that leans toward cultural anthropology).
My cousin listed books that I’m unfamiliar with…yet another indication that I’m behind the times. I tried to play it cool, disguise my lack of knowledge, and asked:
What was the last TV show that you watched?
She replied, “The Vampire Diaries”.
I’M FAMILIAR WITH “THE VAMPIRE DIARIES”! In fact, I was in LOVE with that show circa 2010-2012.
She listed some other television shows, too…but I had no idea what they were/that they even existed. I think she sensed that I was clueless this time, as she quickly explained, “they’re all about love”.
Love. We were sitting beside the window in our grandfather’s hospital room. There were at least 10 other family members in that room—all there to visit Grandpa.
Grandpa is not doing well.
Nearing the end of his life on this earth, actually.
In a month. In a year. The date doesn’t really matter. Death is imminent for all of us, but closer for him.
Love. Love brought us there. Love inspires us to help one another (even with impossible English assignments). Love prompts us to share our experiences with others.
The God that I believe in, is love. He is hope. He is merciful. And, when we lose Grandpa, He is going to be right there, with all of us.
“What about a Hallmark movie?!” My cousin gasped, excited. “I could write something like a Hallmark movie!”
“Yeah,” I smiled, agreeing with her, “that’s a good idea.”
Thank you, Dear Readers, for your presence here today. Your prayers, love and light have (and still do!) mean so much to me. May you feel loved and appreciated today and every day.
If you were a kid in the mid to late 1990’s, and you were lucky enough to be home from school on-time, you may have watched a cartoon entitled, “Gargoyles”. If you were anything like I was during my late-elementary school years, you would have fallen in love with this show!
I mean, what’s not to love? It was the perfect blend of science and sorcery. And, the characters! They were amazing and so memorable! I mean, come on, who wouldn’t want to be fierce like Demona, flying away with a haunting screech and glowing, scarlet eyes?
For those of you who were not 90’s kids, and missed out on this cartoon, gargoyles (according to the show) were an ancient race of mythical beings that had wings, talons, tails and immense strength. The clan that the cartoon features originated in medieval Scotland. There, the clan protected a human castle. Although ferocious and nearly invincible at night, the gargoyles turned to stone during the day—a change that left them vulnerable. This was more than just an inconvenience or a commercial break; being stone during the day, when humanity was wide awake, made the gargoyles easy targets. A sledge hammer, a catapult, a mace…any of these tools/weapons could shatter a gargoyle and end its life.
Defending and protecting the castle by night would make one think that the castle’s inhabitants would return the favor and guard the gargoyles by day. Sadly, the humans were no match for a Viking raiding party and the conniving plans of a traitor among their own ranks. After the destruction and loss that they endured during the Viking raid, the remaining six gargoyles were turned into stone for 1000 years by the Magus (read: court sorcerer).
The gargoyle’s tale doesn’t end there, though.
The gargoyles—and the castle’s ruins—were airlifted to New York City by a multi-millionaire, David Xanatos. Xanatos is intrigued by gargoyle lore, and the spell that could not be broken “until the castle rises above the clouds”. When the spell is broken, thanks to Xanatos’ efforts, the gargoyles must learn how to survive in a modern, and fast-paced city.
That’s a lot of backstory, right? In the writing biz, that’s called, “backstory/information dumping”, and you should NEVER, EVER do it. So why am I doing it now? Well, Dear Readers, you know me well enough to know that when I break writing rules, it’s to make a point.
Despite the constant danger/possibility that I wasn’t going to be home from school in time to watch “Gargoyles”, my infatuation with them continued to grow. In fact, between episodes, I started making my own gargoyles out of discarded cardboard.
Some of these home-made gargoyles were modeled after the cartoon’s characters, but I didn’t stop creating them after I replicated Goliath, Hudson, Bronx, Broadway, Lexington and Brooklyn. Oh, no. I created my own gargoyles—over 100 of them. And, for every gargoyle that I made for myself, I’d make an identical one for my brother.
Turning cardboard into gargoyles was so much fun!
It is in this hobby, I think, that my roots as a writer can be found. The creative process went well beyond drawing a gargoyle on cardboard, coloring and cutting it out—it also included naming and developing a unique backstory for every single one of them.
I am sad to say, that as it often goes with the pastimes of childhood, my cardboard gargoyles are no more….
Thanks to Disney+, though, I can re-watch “Gargoyles”!
In viewing these episodes again, I have learned a bit about my memory’s capabilities and its limitations. It surprises me, still, when I can randomly recall the next scene or the entrance of a new character. My opinion of the cartoon has not changed; I find it amusing and even educational. As a child, I was oblivious to these carefully constructed lessons, as an adult viewer, however, I’m in awe of them and how seamlessly they are incorporated.
As the cartoon series begins, the gargoyles decide that NYC is their new home. As such, they must “serve and protect” the city’s residents. It is, after all, the “gargoyle way”. This philosophy conjures visions of hard-working police officers, yet, it’s also something that we each aspire to in our own lives. To help family, friends, and the communities that we live in, isn’t that important?
Now, the gargoyle’s new community—a fictionalized version of the Big Apple—is riddled with violent business take-overs and high-tech weaponry. When not out on patrol, some clan members enjoy watching TV. Unfortunately, the clan soon finds itself in direct combat with the television personalities that they have come to adore.
As spoken by Hudson: “Maybe we shouldn’t believe everything that we see on the TV”.
In the beginning, neither Broadway nor Hudson can read. They don’t think they’re missing out on anything—they do have a television set, after all. After the kerfuffle with their favorite celebrities, and chance encounters with other humans that convey how precious the written word is, both Broadway and Hudson decide to take the plunge and learn how to read.
By the second season, a new theme emerges: cultural preservation. The importance of honoring one’s traditions and culture is highlighted in Goliath’s travels to Japan. There, our hero meets Japanese gargoyles who are trying to preserve their belief system, BUSHIDO, by teaching it to their own young as well as to the humans that they protect. This belief system values honor, fairness, and like Goliath’s clan, incorporates, “to serve and protect”. Not only is it a code for gargoyle warriors, it’s a dictum by which to live.
After writing all of this, and re-watching season one and two (thank goodness there’s a season three!), I would like to tell Little Laura to hang on to those cardboard gargoyles just a bit longer. There was such joy in creating and sharing them! Sure, our culture tells us that as we age, we out-grow our former hobbies and must abandon them.
But, maybe, that’s wrong….
Age shouldn’t stop us from pursuing what brings us joy, what inspires us to share. Although I will not be recycling empty cereal boxes by making another clan of cardboard gargoyles—I do believe that utilizing the same artistic skills that created those gargoyles in the first place, should have a place in my adult life.
If you find joy, try to keep it.
Try to share it.
Let the shape of it evolve as you do.
Thank you, Dear Readers, for your presence here. May you find child-like joy in something today!
Well, the first one. Having had cancer twice, albeit biologically the same cancer, this is a two-book project.
For this first book, I am using a journal from 2012. I will need other sources to cover 2010 – 2012. Good news is, younger me liked to journal and older me is a bit of a hoarder.
In 2012, I was in Course V of my treatment: Maintenance. Maintenance was the last and longest course. As I read through this journal, I am astonished by the range of emotions that I experienced. Anger. Depression. Extreme Anxiety. And, then, back again—in no particular order. These entries are not particularly flattering. I question the readability of this tome. It’s serious material, though…and I don’t plan on editing anything other than spelling, grammar and names.
That’s right. Everyone involved in cancer #1—that appears in that journal—is getting a brand-new name (with the exception of my parents and brother).
Why would I want to share the contents of my personal journal?
1 – I feel as though I am being called to do so. I really do think that this is part of God’s plan for me. I mean, I had those awful experiences for a reason, right?
2 – It’s Exposure Therapy. I carry these memories with me every single day and relive them, every night, when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) comes to call. Exposure Therapy asks the patient to confront the triggering event in hopes of slowly desensitizing him/her to it. Will it work? I guess I’ll find out….
3 – My experience might actually help someone else, someone traveling this same road. The societal norm of “grinning and bearing” it, needs to be debunked. Honesty might help some other young adult survivor to feel more comfortable with their emotions. As a cancer survivor, are you allowed to feel anger, sadness, anxiety? Yes. Absolutely. You do, however, need to dig your way out of those emotions, eventually, for your own well-being.
This attempt to document my own journey through cancer experience #1, has invoked panic. I know it is all in the past. I know it can’t hurt me anymore. Yet, it still feels real,
“fresh”, to some extent.
While working on this project, the need for levity has become apparent to me. As the adage goes, “laughter is the best medicine”.
So where can we find levity? Everywhere!
The easiest place for me to find it is by simply watching the dogs. Luna and Berkley, whenever they are outside, enjoy roughhousing. In this picture, a whispered conference has just concluded and they’re clearly “up to no good”:
Indoors, it’s Luna’s flatulence that evokes laughter. She has no shame. She’s also not one of those dogs that turns around, surprised, that she has farted. She knows what she’s doing.
Farts, in general, are often a source of amusement in our house. Yeah, it’s not exactly polite behavior, but it happens. And, sometimes, the necessary reaction is to let the dogs outside and open a window (talking about you Berkley with your “silent but deadly” farts).
I’ve never caught Alderaan farting, but I have captured some sassy-pants attitude:
Less smelly sources of levity include parody. This “Life is Good” t-shirt always brings a smile to my face:
It’s funny, mostly because it’s true. It is impossible to open a jar of peanut butter in this house without acquiring an audience.
I am finding, too, that gratitude has a positive impact on me while I work on this project. For instance, every morning, as the sun rises, I cannot help but be thankful for another new day.
Sometimes, it’s smaller things, like the daily calendar (featuring dogs and inspirational quotes) that a friend gave to us for Christmas. This quote, in particular, has made me reflect on life and how I live it:
“Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans.
It is lovely to be silly at the right moment.”
Thank you, Dear Readers, for your presence here today. Thank you for the prayers, light and love that you have given me over the years. I hope that each of you finds a reason to smile and laugh today.
All of nature knew that something was coming. The chipmunk—the one which insults the dogs on a daily basis—announced it with a long, shrill rattle. The birds, upon hearing this warning, disappeared into the evergreen depths of the cedar hedge.
When the weather reports confirmed that, yes, inclement weather was on its way, we humans set to work stocking our cupboards with non-perishable food. We bought gallon jugs of spring water. Rock salt was also a sought-after item.
My own journey to find candles (because we don’t have a generator, and if the power goes out, we’re going to need something to see by) led me to a small Christian Supply Store.
The store was bright, welcoming. Praise songs, played through hidden speakers, filled the air with cheerful music. The middle aisle, and three of the shop’s walls, were lined with various versions of the Bible, Daily Devotionals, and Christian Fiction. There was only one register and only one employee—an elderly lady with a lovely smile.
The grapevine had reported that the store sold reasonably-priced candles. There weren’t many candles available, save for some packages of Advent candles. I have always wanted my own Advent wreath! To say that I am enamored by these purple and pink candles is an understatement. They give life to childhood memories of Sunday services devoted to the coming of the Messiah. They fill my ears with Christmas carols. By their light, I am comforted.
I may have originally visited the store for candles, but I spent nearly 45-minutes browsing through the bookshelves. There were so many fascinating titles and beautiful covers. I’m a bookworm—I notice these things! And, really, can anyone expect a bookworm to pass up the opportunity to buy a book for $2? I came home with two books, two packages of Advent candles, and two (very) large white candles that are probably meant for the alter.
The eve of the icing event was spent filling every deep pot and bucket that we own with water.
The natural gas fireplace was turned on. All of the dishes were cleaned and the laundry hamper was emptied. No loose ends. Nothing left to do that required electricity. I went to bed with a flashlight on my bedside table. Berkley and Alderaan kept me warm while Luna, once again, claimed the spare bed as her own.
Fortunately, we made it through the night without losing power. We woke up to a world glistening with ice.
The lead-line of Luna’s puppy-hood was encased with ice, completely unusable.
Our backyard, thankfully, is fenced in so that Luna and Berkley can run free. They didn’t do much running, as the icy lawn crunched, cracked and creaked underneath them.
There is beauty in ice-laden branches—but also great danger. I experienced my first Icestorm when I was in 5th grade. At first, it was magical. School was canceled on my birthday! But, then, the reality of life without electricity settled in. I discovered, rather quickly, that I liked light, daily showers, and toilets that flush. My day-dreams of living during the time of the “Little House on the Prairie” books, were quickly shattered—just like so many of the trees in my parents’ backyard.
As I write this—high noon on Sunday—we still have electricity. Should any additional ice or snow weigh down the power lines, we have water. We have candles. We have food.
We have each other.
Thank you, Dear Readers, for your presence here today. Your prayers, light and love mean so much to me. I hope, that those of you experiencing this weather phenomenon, are safe, warm, and well-fed.
Where did Christmas 2019 go? One minute we were decorating our tree (with our signature blend of home-made ornaments and Star Wars collectibles), and the next moment we were carrying discarded wrapping paper and boxes out to the recycling bin.
I was so excited for Christmas, and it certainly lived up to my expectations. My big present from the hubby this year was a new washing machine. I know, that may not sound overly exciting to some people, but I was thrilled to be given a machine that wasn’t going to constantly screech errors at me!
Christmas for me, and many others, though, isn’t solely about the gifts.
It’s about family—sitting at my parents’ dining room table—as my father said “Grace” over the delicious meal that my mother had prepared.
It’s about attending Christmas Eve service—listening to the readings, singing along to both new and old Christmas hymns, while the candles in the sanctuary flicker, painting the walls gold and making the windows gleam.
Christmas is about embracing church family and thanking God that, yes, I can hug these wonderful, inspiring people again! I couldn’t do that a year ago. I definitely couldn’t do it two years ago when my immune system was infantile.
Yet, here I am, with only a few days left of 2019, and I’m grateful to still be here.
There was never a guarantee that I would survive Cancer #1 or Cancer #2. Neither of those experiences were easy—this last one took a lot out of me. I’m still recovering. In fact, it’ll probably take all of 2020 to feel halfway human.
According to my oncologist, the most common complaint among allogenic transplant recipients is fatigue. It’s not the kind of fatigue that you can sleep off. Neither caffeine nor sugar will help. You simply have to endure this fatigue; sometimes miserably, and sometimes proactively with appropriate amounts of physical and mental activity.
With all of that said, I am sure that you, Dear Readers, have an inkling as to what my goals for 2020 will be.
Before I was diagnosed with Relapsed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2017, I maintained a daily, rigorous yoga practice. It was borderline Power Yoga.
As the tumor in my lumbar spine grew, I eventually lost all of the strength and flexibility that I had gained through yoga.
I’ve been taking baby-steps toward my former level of athleticism—utilizing chair yoga, restorative yoga and trauma yoga. I will continue doing these forms of yoga until I am ready for Power Yoga. By June, I intend to be doing The Wheel again!
Also, in 2020, I will keep my mind busy with a self-created reading list (comprised mostly of books that I already own but haven’t had a chance to actually read). I’ll continue learning new languages via Duo Lingo. Currently, I’m studying Norwegian. Jeg elsker det (I love it)! Additionally, I will retrain my sometimes chemo-foggy brain through dusting off my GRE practice book and revisiting vocabulary, analogy and complex mathematical lessons. Each lesson is similar to a puzzle piece—revealing parts of the old me that existed pre-cancer.
Finally, I intend to keep the Christmas spirit alive throughout the new year. The first step in this multi-faceted plan, is to leave our Christmas decorations (except, maybe, for the tree, which is already losing a superfluous number of needles) up until Epiphany. According to the Christian calendar, Epiphany is traditionally celebrated on January 6th and marks the moment when the Wisemen (aka Magi) find Jesus.
I mean, come on! It’s only December 30th! The Wisemen haven’t even made it to Bethlehem yet! The Christmas lights will glow in this house until that manger is discovered!
Of course, keeping the Christmas spirit alive involves a lot more than leaving decorations up. It requires us to practice kindness, generosity and gratitude on a daily basis. It might also take the form of small, but thoughtful, acts of friendship, such as writing letters and sending them off via snail mail. For me, part of it will consist of visiting cafes with friends—all to drink a cup of coffee and to talk awhile.
Thank you, Dear Readers, for your presence here today. Thank you for your prayers, love and light. I do hope that 2020 is kind to each of you!
I’m so excited about this Christmas season! I hope you are feeling the magic of the holidays, too, Dear Readers.
Our decorations are dispersed throughout the house, so that nearly every room has something “merry and bright” in it. I enjoy decorating—even if it accentuates the fact that our house is quite dusty. I guess that happens when you have three fur-babies running around….
The babes and I are easily infatuated by Christmas lights and cute, corny Christmas movies.
Oh! And Christmas carols! Berkley, is by far, the most appreciative of my singing. He’ll stop what he’s doing, and look up at me like this:
This year, Christmas is extra special, as my husband and I will be going to Christmas Eve service with my parents and my brother. There is nothing quite as beautiful as singing “Silent Night”, while the entire congregation holds flickering candles.
I have missed Advent, again—which means I have missed poignant readings from the Bible, inspiring sermons, and some of my favorite seasonal songs such as, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. I have, however, been reading the Gospel of Luke each morning. I started this practice on December 1st.
There are 24 chapters in Luke and, as you know, Christmas Eve is the 24th day of December. I can’t take credit for this idea; a Facebook friend shared it. I loved the idea so much, that I knew that I had to do it! It’s been a great reminder of what—exactly—we’re celebrating each Christmas.
Reading through Luke, day by day, reminds me of Jars of Clay’s Christmas song, “Bethlehem Town”. At one point, the song says, “and did the stars shine much brighter that night, you gave birth to the death that would bring us to life”. It’s such a thought-provoking and powerful statement. We need to remember—always—that although Christmas arrives and passes quickly, the gift that we were given in Jesus, so long ago, is always available. Every moment, of every single day.
To that end, I do hope that each of you are enjoying the holiday season. Be wary of the rush. Try to stay grounded in the moment. Spend time with friends and family. Laugh. Frost some cookies. Watch “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and sing “Frosty the Snowman” at the top of your lungs! Enjoy this season while it’s here.
Thank you, Dear Readers, for your presence here today. Thank you for all of your prayers, love and light. You have carried me through so much! You are, Dear Readers, a gift to me.
I am writing this post on the very last day of November! How did we get here? I feel as though I might have whiplash from how fast this month has flown by. The past thirty days have been a blur—save for the beautiful moments that I was blessed with experiencing.
We spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. It was a relaxed (and may I say tasty?) holiday. It was raining when we arrived on Wednesday the 27th and the wind picked up at night. The wind was so harsh, in fact, that it reminded me of the ocean’s waves scouring the shoreline.
Luna and Berkley came with us. We discovered that Berkley is really great with kids—even allowing our youngest niece to lay her head on him for a prolonged length of time. The pair cuddled happily on the couch while Luna appropriated her grandmother’s recliner:
Of course, all of this did not go unnoticed by their magnificent uncle, Sherlock:
Sherlock is a large, gorgeous boy, and he keeps an eye on everything—especially his canine relatives.
In addition to the great company and delicious food on Thanksgiving Day, I was introduced to “Diamond Dotz”. I’ve been searching for a relaxing, creative outlet—and, thanks to my mother-in-law, I now have one!
“Diamond Dotz” is similar to paint-by-number crafts, but instead of paint, the artist uses tiny dots included in a kit. The dots stick to an adhesive fabric design with the use of specialized tools and wax. The craft requires patience and forethought, but the results are stunning!
I also enjoyed coloring with our youngest niece. I’ve never colored with gel pens before, but I think we both enjoyed creating bright (and glittery) art. Later in the afternoon, I played UNO (for the first time…I think it was the first time anyways) with that same niece and her brother. Let me tell you, they were stiff competition!
Finally, what is Thanksgiving without a football game? As Buffalo Bills fans, this year’s game was rather uplifting. It’s nice to see the underdog take home a win.
If this month—or, more accurately, the moments I remember of it—has taught me anything, it’s to live fully in the present moment. Cherish the time spent with the people you love. For instance, earlier in November, I had an opportunity to visit my mom at a craft sale where she was selling her beautiful, deco-mesh wreaths. Our time together means so much to me.
Cherishing every moment, to me, also means capturing quiet, but dazzling scenes like this one:
Remember these experiences—as well as the look on your feline’s face as you write a blog entry—instead of cuddling with him.
Once again, Dear Readers, thank you for your presence here today. Thank you for all of the prayers, love and light that you send my way. It leaves me speechless. I hope that you each experience many wonderful moments as the holiday season enfolds!
I love watching snow fall—it’s magical, making everything new and bright. Autumn’s leaves that you never got around to raking? Can’t see them now! Withered perennials? Taking a much-deserved nap underneath a heavy, white blanket. Summer’s bunnies? Not gone! Easily found by following their tracks into the cedar hedge.
Although falling snow often takes my breath away with its beauty, I had forgotten how wonderful it is to play in! Thanks to Luna and Berkley, though, the exhilaration of snow days (and playing in the snow) has resurfaced.
Berkley, a southern gentleman from Texas, was not impressed with the snow:
In fact, he refused to leave the shelter of the porch. It took Luna several attempts to convince him that the snow is “really great”.
Once on the ground, and with Luna leading the way, Berkley became a snow aficionado. The pair race each other, making snow flurries of their own. They’re swift and undeterred by the cold. Every once in a while, they slow down and regroup—usually in a joint effort to sniff out the resident chipmunk.
All of the excitement that the snowy backyard offers, makes shepherding the pair back indoors difficult. When they do finally come inside, they’re exhausted, and quick to cuddle in whatever patch of sunshine that they can find.
Alderaan may not play in the snow like his canine siblings, but he seemingly enjoys watching it fall from his warm perch beside the office window.
Aldie concentrates on the snow flakes, as if trying to discern where they came from and how long they’ll stay. That is, when he’s not napping in my computer chair:
I was not ready for winter to arrive so soon, Dear Readers, but I will make the best of it.
Christmas music playing? Check.
Lighting our natural gas fireplace? Check.
Snuggling on the couch with my pups while watching a Christmas movie? Yeah, we’ve done that—and we’ll keep doing that, until we run out of movies to watch!
As always, Dear Readers, thank you for your presence here today. Thank you for all of the prayers, love and light that you send my way. I hope you have a Luna, or a Berkley, in your life—to remind you of just how much fun the snow can be.
I’ve watched the Halloween movie, “Hocus Pocus” multiple times. It is a classic, after all. Never before, though, has it made me tear up.
If you’re familiar with the film, you’re probably wondering what, exactly, triggered my tears. Most of the movie is rather comedic—but the end, oh the end.
The characters, Thackery Binx (a young man who was transformed into a cat because he tried to rescue his sister from the witchy Sanderson Sisters) and Dani (a young girl who the witches are currently after), are to blame for this outpouring of emotion.
Dani knows Thackery as the black cat named, Binx. She adores him! He’s her best friend for a short time.
But, then, Thackery is released from the witches’ curse. No longer is he Dani’s furry bestie, his soul takes the image of his once human form. The audience can interpret this as a joyous occasion. Thackery has been imprisoned in the form of a cat for 300 years! He’s free!
Perhaps sensing his eminent departure, Dani starts to cry. Thackery, a thoughtful teenager, doesn’t leave the little girl in tears. He promises to always watch over her.
HOW CAN YOU NOT CRY ABOUT THAT?!?!?
Okay, so I have a soft spot for pets. And, while I realize that Binx wasn’t truly a pet, I can imagine just how much it hurt to let him go.
Two of my fur babies, Luna and Berkley, were sitting on the couch with me when I started crying over the movie’s ending.
I’m fairly certain that they thought I was crazy for crying over a movie—and a cat, no less.
It makes sense, though, to feel emotional on Halloween; it is followed by All Saints Day and, then, All Souls Day. Both of these days prompt us to think about those that have passed. Those that we miss. Those, like Binx, who may be watching over us, and guiding us.
I can’t say that Luna and Berkley are watching out for me. In fact, I think they’re trying to stop me from leaving the house. I mean, look at this blockade:
I am grateful for them, all the same. They make me laugh. They provide comfort when I’m feeling anxious. Even when they’re behaving poorly, they make my heart happy.
We have entered the month of gratitude—a practice that I’ve neglected for far too long. Sure, I can make excuses for it. My gratitude journal is no longer in a convenient spot (Berkley likes to chew, so it had to be moved). It is a choice, though, not to record my blessings. It is also a choice, to resume that habit. Thus, as November progresses, I will choose to record my many blessings once again.
Thank you, Dear Readers, for your presence here today. Please continue to send love and light as I have a procedure on Friday that I am not looking forward to. I will spare you the details, just know that prayers and good vibes are welcomed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Currently, Dear Readers, the solar mobile that I love (and you’ve seen in multiple blog posts), is hanging from our mantle. We brought it inside, just before last Thursday’s fierce wind and rain. What a storm!
As the wind shook the cedars, I couldn’t help but think, “these are the winds of change”. The few deciduous trees that we have on our property are now bare-limbed. There are citrine-colored leaves blanketing the backyard.
What has changed?
A lot, actually.
First, on October 8th, I had an appointment in Burlington. This appointment focused primarily on the fact that I am post-menopausal.
There are, of course, consequences for being simultaneously my age and post-menopausal. The most significant is bone density loss. While hormone replacement therapy can help, I have to be an active participant in maintaining my bone health. Weight-bearing exercises are crucial to supporting our bones, and, as such, the specialist that I saw recommended that I try walking, running and/or dancing.
Well, walking is a bit impossible when you live on a busy road that doesn’t have sidewalks or much in the way of shoulders. Running? Ha! I haven’t been able to run since Cancer Number One in 2010. Dancing? Although I would love to return to the English Country Dancing club, I’m still quite wary of being so close to strangers. Germs, you know?
I’m not, however, interested in experiencing bone density loss—so I found a virtually free solution—I became a mall walker!
The mall unlocks its main entrances at approximately 6am. I remember, from my days as an assistant manager, seeing a steady stream of mall walkers pass by the store’s gated door in the mornings. I never thought that I would become one, but this past Friday, at about 7:50am, I did! I put my leg braces on and drove over to the mall. I walked its entire floor plan twice, varying my speed in order to challenge my cardiovascular system. I know two laps around the mall doesn’t sound like much—but everyone has to start somewhere.
Now, for Boston. I’m fully vaccinated! It went something like this: 15 vials of blood drawn, a great appointment with a member of my transplant team, followed by my two-year old shots. These were live virus vaccines—the first that I had had post-transplant.
We returned home after 11pm. I took my hoodie off and discovered that my left arm was swollen. It was so swollen, in fact, that it looked like it belonged to someone else. I spent the next day nauseous and in pain. I would rate that nausea as being on par with nausea caused by chemotherapy.
It took three days for my arm to “deflate”.
When I recovered, I celebrated by decorating for Autumn/Halloween:
I’m not short, per se, but there are things that I can’t reach from the floor. This, Dear Readers, is the exact moment that having a tall husband comes in handy.
The fur babies had varied reactions to the change in décor. Every once in a while, you can catch Luna looking up at this guy, confused:
It happens to me, too. I’m not accustomed to seeing a “pop of color” in my kitchen. Nor am I accustomed to seeing these “just because” beauties:
Every time I see these flowers, it’s like discovering a new and wonderful surprise. It makes me smile, from ear-to-ear.
So, what do you do after “the winds of change” have stopped shaking the cedars? Do you rake up the fallen leaves? Mourn the trees’ bare limbs? Or, do you dig through the “junk” drawer for a new battery, put it in the mobile, and ask your tall husband to hang it back up on the porch—all so it can illuminate the night as it once did?
I think you know which option I have chosen.
Thank you, Dear Readers, for your presence here today. Thank you for your prayers, warm wishes, and light. I’m two-years-old and fully vaccinated now—and that wouldn’t have happened without your kindness, your positive energy, and all of the times that you bent God’s ear, talking about me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.