Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Settling into Summer

Here it is mid July already. How can this be?? I am taking a little break from my normal routine of blogging and being attached to social media.  I haven't cut it out all together but have drastically reduced time spent in social media land. I must say, it is a welcome relief.  Instead, I am enjoying connecting with my people the "old fashioned" way of person to person.  Leaning in and listening and sharing life together are refreshing and comforting.  Holding hands, exchanging hugs, and laughing along side one another invite heart to heart conversations.  

I have been blessed this past month to just take in each precious moment with dear friends and family without a forced agenda full of expectations. This has been good for both me and my family.  It has given us time to just be together in the simplist of ways.  We are breathing in the calm and peaceful rhythms of grace---gifts from God.  Praise Him.  

There have been quiet,unspoken miracles made from our messes.  Prayers answered.  Beauty from ashes.   The sacred simple. 

Here are just a few glimpses of my summertime moments--- sipping iced tea on the porch.  Dancing with Fourth of July sparklers.  Watching a fireworks display.  Eating way too much delicious ice cream.  Walking out in nature.  Standing in awe of the vastness of our universe by viewing the moon and the stars.  Laughing silly at our family game nights.  Catching fireflies. Chasing childhood memories.  Celebrating family milestones with a party.  Planting flowers.  Watching flowers grow.  Relaxing instead of doing.  Prioritizing the need for rest first instead of last. 
  
How is your summer unfolding?   Have you noticed a different flow and rhythm to your days?  Have you given yourself permission to relax and turn off a little social media?  

Wishing and praying you have the opportunity to take time to watch the flowers grow.  












Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Surviving at Sea

The sound of the waves with their rhythmic ebb and flow beckons me to come closer.   

My bare feet, cold and full of seaweed and pebbles, squish into the wet, brown sand. 

I hesitate---not sure if I really desire to leave the peace and calm of the shore. I step ever so slowly and cautiously into the frigid, murky waters of the Long Island Sound. 

Curiosity and courage move my feet forward as the water becomes deeper and colder. I swim. And swim. And swim. 

I soon grow weary from swimming. The ocean is vast---it makes me feel so small. Looking around, I see no one. I feel scared and alone. 

My body starts to naturally tread water. I breathe the ocean air while trying not to panic. Instinctively my body alternates between swimming and floating on my back. I question why I ever left the safety of the shore.  

Before I realize it, I am in the middle of a storm at sea with the treacherous waves and hot, beating sun overtaking my body. It is terrifying. I am trying to save myself. 

I thirst. The water is salty and not fit to drink. I am hungry. I have no food.  My body is wracked with pain from head to toe. 

The waves are relentless and keep pulling me under.  

All is black.  I can't find any light. 

Where are the life boats? Where is help when I desperately need it? 

I cry out in prayer to God to save me! Heal me! Please take away the awful pain and darkness of this experience! Please! I can't take it anymore. 

My screams of terror and desperation are not heard in the middle of this gigantic ocean. Or are they?

My body is in so much distress, and I am pushed beyond my limits. Or so I think.  

The sea becomes stormier and scarier by the minute. I am pulled under time and time again thinking surely I will be taking my last breath.  For good.  

This is it. I feel it. Lost at sea. 

Wait---I have so much more living to do! Please God, help me. Save me from myself!!

Then, far off in the distance, I see a light. 

The waves calm down and I begin swimming toward the light. 

I forget about my weary, thirsty, hungry, and sun-burned body. I keep swimming, not by my own strength, but by God's grace.  

As the light appears closer so do the glimpses of a shoreline. Muffled voices cry out to me. I am giddy with excitement! I smile. Swim. Laugh. And swim some more.  

Help is on the horizon! God IS saving me! He is sending me a miracle. 

People are running into the ocean to save me. They care for me. They love me. 

Yes, I have a lot more living to do. 

New hopes, new dreams, new God-sized purposes to fulfill. 

After seven very long years at sea, I am braver, stronger, and wiser. I know how to better care for myself whether in the midst of a raging sea or on the calm, sandy shore. 

This intentional knowing serves me well. 

Without my new found faith in our Almighty God, I would have remained in the darkness.  

He continues to sustain me on and off the shore. 

I did not choose this incredible and chaotic journey.  

It chose me. 


 

 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Sweetness After the Storm

Greetings, June!  I am happy to be welcoming in a new month and a sunny day for a change around here.  June is the start of summer and the beginning of another rhythm and flow to this season of life and activity. For me, I am sure ready to bid farewell to the month of May.  

Transitions into any season wreak havoc on my body and spirit.  This Spring was no exception unfortunately. It was the pits for me!!  Between the pollen and the rapid barometer pressure shifts as well as the crazy temperature fluctuations, I felt doomed.  I should have stayed in bed with the covers pulled over my aching head.  Oh, that's right, I mostly did. Ugh.  But as life moves on, I didn't really want to miss a moment of it.  I get much more frustrated and lonely when bed is where I must stay.  

Last night was a whopper of a loud thunderstorm, and I felt it was kind of a good way to end May.  By morning the air and sky were clearing, the temps normalized, the birds were sweetly chirping, and my outside plants and flowers received heaven's rains. It was all good. 

As I took my brief late morning stroll around the neighborhood, the sun shown brightly and the bees and the butterflies were busy about their day's work among the flowers.  I noticed how green the grass looked and it reminded me of the green of Ireland. A true peace washed over my body and soul.  A peace that had alluded me for some time now.   I felt refreshed and renewed.  

I thanked my Creator for the reprieve and temporary calm after the wicked storms of which I have been enduring.  

Definitely, there is a sweetness after the storm. 

I pray for all of you, my friends, to experience some of that sweetness too!  


Since June is headache and migraine awareness month, I will again this year be posting some facts about the disease and try and shed some light on it.  I will continue to share my personal story as well.  


 


 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wake up. Get up. Show up.

It is Monday and the start of a new week.   I am waking up. Getting up. Showing up.  I am stepping into this week with a new determination of body, mind, and spirit to get going once again---No. Matter. What.   For this past month, I have felt beaten up, torn and tattered from my battle with chronic M. It has left me wounded as though "IT" has had the upper hand.  Ugh.  Many various triggers have been involved which have been completely out of my control.   Unfortunately, this is my reality with this illness. The message is loud and clear, thank you very much. 

 Many family and friends and well meaning folks ask me "why" all the latest trouble.  I am on a continuous roller coaster of highs and lows which leaves me drained to no end.   It is what it is.   I try and mange the illness the best way possible, but "IT" is always a moving target.  There is no simple answer to give.  Acceptance of my reality is the best gift I can give to myself.  This doesn't mean giving in or giving up trying to live the best life possible amidst the circumstances, it means having the faith to persevere along the rocky road.  I love my life and desire to live it to the fullest for which God has purposed me.  

Many lessons learned along the way as well as many gifts received are treasured indeed.  As I said before, I am humbled and grateful.  

I feel deep gratitude for another day to wake up, get up, and show up.  I don't how far I will travel or what I will get accomplished, but I do know with the Lord's constant help and mercy, I will walk in faith and seize every opportunity to reach out and encourage someone who needs a little help. 

I will close with a few insightful words of A.B. Simpson who wrote in my daily reflection book, Streams in the Desert.  

"The pressure of hard places makes us value life.  Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man.  The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others and fits us to help and sympathize with them...  Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves."  

It is my hope and prayer for you that in your trials, both great and small, you will be able to navigate the stormy seas and stay aboard the mighty ship until it reaches the calm shores of peace.  


 

 
 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Letting go

Lately I have been struggling with letting go.  This struggle is certainly not new to me, but sometimes I feel its tug-of-war more harshly.  Springtime seems to be the perfect season to declutter drawers and clean out closets and purge the unnecessary junk in my life.  This process of cleaning out and letting go is one which reaps freedom both physically and emotionally.   I get that.  I really do.  I have learned from my Buddhist sister that holding onto attachments is not healthy.  The older I become, the more I realize this to be quite true.  

For the past six months or so, I have had a front row seat to watching closely the way my Buddhist sister and neighbor has been quietly and calmly going about the business of cleaning out, giving away, and preparing to move states away from CT.  Her concentrated and focused effort in the tedious task has been inspiring to watch.   As her house contents became less and less chaotic, her soul grew more contented and peaceful.   It was obvious to many around her.  She actually shared in conversations details about the process and what it felt like as she was preparing her home and heart to move from her dwelling of twenty years to begin a new adventure.   

Sharing in her personal journey of departure has been a sacred time for me as well.  For months, I, too, have been practicing the discipline of detaching on several levels.  In reality, my friend has greatly motivated me to get to my own house and dig in and start really thinking about needs vs. wants.  What is necessary to keep vs. what can I part with so that others may live better?  Over the twenty some years of living in our current house, I think we have collected too much, and a lot of "stuff" just sits.  Ugh.  This doesn't feel like freedom to me.  Instead, it feels burdensome.  

On an emotional level, the process of letting go is more related to how can I simplify my daily living that better fits my daily-ness of chronic M?   This is a big task and not to be taken lightly.  It is a personal decision carefully tailored to fit my needs within the boundaries of my family and social life.  (Yes, I do still have somewhat of a social life!)  As I learn to continually let go of what no longer serves me in my current health status, boy, what a freedom I discover.  Big time.  To be honest, this is where I have my deepest struggle.  I "want" to have certain aspects of my "old life" back.  Some days I find myself totally sad and attached to my "easier" days of DOING. That being said, I am being refined in the fire day by day.  

The Good Shepherd continually calls me to Him so that He can can give me eyes of faith to discern His Wisdom and true Peace. Letting go from attachments of this world allows much more space for the Holy Spirit to guide me all the days of my life.  

With a bittersweet heart, I am letting go of my dear friend and neighbor who has lived across the street from me for twenty years.  We will communicate and share life across the miles as many friendships often do. We are spiritual sisters who share Christianity and Buddhism in our journey of life. I thank her for all she has taught to me over the years.  She is a very wise lady.  

We will luckily have the ability to walk and talk via FaceTime!  How wonderful is that?!  Encouragement and love are always meant to be shared no matter how close or how far away.   I cherish the blessings of my true friendships no matter where they may dwell or no matter how often I am in their physical presence.  Love you all, my special ladies! ❤️❤️❤️

I dedicate this post to sweet Nelum--- may God grant you His Peace and His Light on your paths yet untraveled.  

 
 

 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring Awakenings

As the season of Spring brings new life, hope, and renewal, so does turning another year older bring me new possibilities of moving forward in my personal journey.  This April I turned 53, and I am not afraid to tell my age one bit.  I am thankful for everyday that God gives me breath on this side of heaven. The older I get, the less I am concerned about age and the perverbial fountain of youth.  Hooey on that stuff!  One thing that life with chronic M constantly teaches me is to definitely NOT sweat the small, silly things. Embracing the beauty and goodness around me is what keeps me focused on the positive even on days when it may be really difficult. Life is all about fully living in this present moment and paying attention to it. 

Being aware of my surroundings is like going on a daily treasure hunt for me.  I am like a crazy woman scouting our yard and neighborhood with my iPhone snapping pictures of all the gorgeous signs of new life.  The trees, bushes, flowers and plants are bursting forth with blossoms of brilliant colors and deep shades of green. The squirrels and the chipmunks are running around busily and full of life as they seem to almost play tag games with one another.  My heart is always happy when I see my favorite bunnies hopping about the yard chewing on grass trying not to be seen. My ears are in tuned to the various birds tweeting and singing as they are constantly eating at our bird feeder.  They are my "outside pets " which are really easy to care for!  The adorable woodpecker is comical and provides me entertainment while I sit at the kitchen table and view his antics out the window. 

It is apparent that the interior work of Winter is now bearing sweet fruit.  I don't want to miss a second of it because it passes so quickly and then the newness of the fragile transition is gone...

There is a hymn that I grew up singing that I believe captures the essence of my message.  It is beautiful.  I invite you to listen and pause just for a little and give praise and gratitude for all the gifts and blessings which surround us.    

Happy Earth Day to all! 

Here is the link to the hymn by John Rutter. 


 
 
 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Happy Anniversary to me

Many milestones in life both great and small, as well as the seemingly in-between, are often marked by anniversaries.  For many varied reasons, important dates are remembered.  They can have happy memories attached to them like romantic events, birthdays, religious ceremonies, graduations, achievement awards, and the like.  However, some anniversaries may be more somber and carry with them a heaviness of the heart. These may involve the passing of a loved one, leaving good friends for a far-a-way move, or even remembering a tragic historical event like 9/11.  No matter the circumstances surrounding the anniversaries, they help us keep track of the rhythm and flow of the seasons.  

March 29, 2017, I marked my one year anniversary of my first health visit to my world renowned headache specialist.  For me ( and my family) this was actually a big deal.  You may think that is kind of weird or a bit overboard, but not so.   I was all grins and giggles for the day! 😊😉   When I stepped into his quiet and very courteous office last year, I was impressed from the start.  The waiting room lights were dimmed.  There was no music or loud TV blaring.  The office managers spoke in whispers behind the glass window with warm, friendly smiles.  Really?  Was this place for real??   Yes it was, and praise be to God for it!!  I knew help was on the way.  

In reality, Dr. G's care of me has changed my life and how I now live and manage my chronic M.  I had tried six ways to Sunday looking for the right care until God placed the opportunity right in my path.  I am slowly stepping back into my own shoes (or should I say Texas boots) once again.  It is nothing less than a miracle.  Dr. G is another critical care health provider along with my cranial sacral, massage, and yoga therapists who are helping me climb new mountains of HOPE.  I am grateful from the bottom of my heart.  

You might be wondering just how did I celebrate this exciting one year anniversary?  Flowers? No, too smelly.  Candy? No, only good dark chocolate counts.  A yummy lunch out?  No, my hubby had to return to work.  Give up?   What a better way to celebrate than receiving 31 Botox injections all over my head and neck!!  Silly, now why didn't you think of that? Lol. 

All is well, and I feel stable-ish at this moment.  I am getting used to the treatments now and look forward to them as I know they will help me feel "better".   It is daily management of many symptoms that are complicated and debilitating but research is underway all the time.   The second part to my exciting anniversary is that I am being enrolled into a new research study by my specialist and a team of other great minds who are clinically looking at patients and their responses to certain "data".  Of course this is secret now. I feel like I am a spy of sorts.  Kinda fun.  

Do you celebrate special anniversaries both great and small?  Joyful and sorrowful?   How does celebrating make you feel?   Maybe today or in the near future you might remember someone who may be in need of your assistance in helping them remember a special anniversary in their lives.