Focus

It’s amazing to me that it’s been six months since I’ve posted here.  So much of my focus has changed in this six months that I wonder if I’ll ever get back to who I was even a year ago.  I am now focused on pain.  How much pain on a scale of 1 to 10?  Where is the pain located?  What quality does it have?  Sharp?  Dull?  Ache?  Lightening bolt?  I really wish I could have a different focus for my life.  Maybe I will again.  Maybe they will be able to bring relief with a surgery or a shot in my neck or something.  Maybe I won’t be forced to live this way the rest of my life.

The pain is not due to an illness or injury.  Nope, not for me.  This pain is due to congenital narrowing of the vertebrae in my neck.  At least what the neurologists have told me.  Surgery may be the answer.  I’ll see the neurosurgeon in a couple of months I suppose.  That’s what the girl in the neurologist’s office said as I was leaving.  They will set me up with an appointment in early July.

And for now I wait.  I plan my days around probable pain levels.  For example:  I plan dinners that require little attention as standing at the stove hurts by the time it’s time to cook.  I have to plan activities for early in my day because by 2 or 3 I’m exhausted from being in pain.  Just sitting in a straight backed chair for an hour is enough to ruin the rest of my day.  So I end up feeling like a jack in the box or a yo-yo from all the getting up and sitting down and changing position every 20 minutes or so just so I don’t hurt.  I have no pain medicine other than gabapentin and it only gets me this far.  I miss the days of Percocet.  At least I got a few more hours out of my day when I had it.

And now it’s time to move to the other room or suffer with back spasms.

I will regain my ability to have a life.  I will!

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Fear

Rabbit paid a visit the other night and the moon has been quite strong in my spirit this week.  My intuition is working overtime.  Perhaps some self fulfilling prophecy is playing out as well.

When I saw this rabbit I knew there was a message for me.  I got online and searched out rabbit medicine and got a large jump in my intuition.  Bells went off in my mind when I read the part about rabbit symbolizing fear in our lives.

It seems that since that evening I have been processing old fears.  I’ve been asking the really deep questions about why I have the fears that I have.  Where did they come from?  How do I heal the hurts they inflicted?  How do I overcome my fears once and for all?

The latest fear to raise it’s head is the fear of being alone.  Who will care for me in my old age?  Where will I live?  Where do I want to live?  Combine this with the fear of being poor and the fear of not being the smartest person I know and you have a mess in my head.

It feels as if all of my deepest childhood fears are coming to the fore at once.  Fear is asking to be healed this time.  But is it healthy to do away with fear?  Doesn’t healthy fear serve a purpose in our lives?  Is there such a thing as healthy fear?

I have been taught that fear is the opposite of trust all my life.  I’ve been taught that fear is the opposite of love.  I’ve been taught to trust God and share His love with one and all all my life.  There was no room for any fear in that.  But is there any healthy middle ground between no fear and being consumed by fear?

What is rabbit trying to tell me?

Turning of the wheel

I have been thinking of the shortening of the days, of the turning of the seasons.  It is not yet Winter, but definitely not Summer.  I really love Autumn in North West Texas.  I want to spend my days in the sun listening to the wind in the leaves and my nights pondering the heavens.  But the shortening of the days is not all happiness and light.  Not at all.

The days are shortening.  It feels as if part of my life is shrinking while another, more isolated, part of my life is expanding.  My thoughts turn to night and processing all that has happened in recent history.  I think more on my ancestors and what life must have been like for them out here in the “wild west” in the 1800s.  I listen to the bumps in the night and realize that as the days are shortening, so is my life.  I have been pondering my eventual demise.

I’m not exactly depressed, though my thoughts are darkening.  I am assessing and evaluating.  I’m pulling inside into my memories and emotions in order to understand my life and myself.  I feel this state of mind fits the season as much as dancing in the leaves.

I realized, this morning, that my world is shrinking.  Even as I am able to converse with someone on the other side of the world, my physical world is much smaller than I am used to it being.  Now I am unlikely to be more than 30 miles from my home whereas in times past you might find me on the coast in upstate Washington for Thanksgiving and Las Angeles for the Fourth of July.  In between I might have been to each coast four or five times.  I have long identified as a gypsy, a wanderer.  This is no longer true in the physical sense.

Unless I have a doctor’s appointment, or we visit family, I go more than six blocks from my house maybe twice a month.  That puts me being beyond a mile radius from my house 26 days a year, more or less a day or two.  I miss the travel, the exploration, the new experiences.  My life is shrinking in other ways too.

On a normal day I encounter three or four other humans.  This is including telephone calls.  I never was one for having a lot of friends.  But I had a lot of acquaintances that I saw on at least a weekly basis.  This was mostly because of my work and Melissa’s school activities.  That, combined with a large group of family and friends, led me to become accustomed to having a lot of people around a lot of the time.  This is quite the change for me.  To be this isolated is frightening.  I find myself much more dependent on the few friends I do have.  There is one in this town, other than my husband, that I feel I can depend on being there for me if I need someone.  I guess that’s been the case for most of my life, but I find myself coming to the Autumn of my life needing more friends.

I feel the need for social interactions as the nights lengthen.  My darling husband tries to be supportive of me.  He really tries to take care of me.  But he and I don’t seem to be able to figure out how to meet my need for long rambling conversations.  I am seeking ways to have more social interaction with women I might be able to form a friendship with based on common interests.  Church does not strike me as the place for me to do that.  I moved away from the church many years ago.  It began by the time I was 12.  A fitness club might offer me a chance to meet others, but I am so out of shape I need to start with simply walking and stretching, and I don’t really have the finances to pay for a membership.  Finances prevent me from seeking out other classes I might be interested in taking.  Most of my interests are rather expensive in the supplies department.  I can’t begin to figure how much it would cost to start painting again.  Where am I to meet these potential friends?

What plans can I make during the long nights to come that will help me reach my goals come next harvest?  What seeds do I want to plant come Spring?  What bulbs need to be going in the ground now for my garden of life to be blooming with the thaw?

Yes, I believe I enjoy Autumn with it’s descent into darkness.

Change in the wind

It’s been about three months since I posted here.  I haven’t been spending as much time writing as I had in past months.  I haven’t been as focused on the past these last few months.  Much has happened.  A lot has changed in my life in the last six months or so and writing about my past just isn’t working for me at this time.  I may return to that some day, and I have much that I’ve written and not posted here.

I’m not more focused on what I can do to make what’s left of my life the best life I can make it.  I’ve not been given any set amount of time left.  It’s not like I have cancer or some other new medical diagnosis, though there may be some in the near future.  I spend a great amount of my day just managing symptoms of degenerative disc disease and diabetes, not to mention my emotional disorders.

I want to spend more time focusing on what I am still able to do.  What can I do, today, to make my life better?  How can I improve things?  Simply focusing on the changes that are happening TO me is not getting me anywhere other than more and more discouraged.  I’m going to try focusing on the future, what I want that to look like, and how to get there.  I want to focus on the good things in life and what I have to be thankful for.  I want to find something to fill my time that also fills me with a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  I have a few ideas percolating in my brain, but nothing is near fruition.  I’m in the planning and dreaming stage rather than the acting and performing stage.

 

Reeling

The father of my daughter is dying.  I got the call this morning that he has been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and given six months or less to live.  We knew he had hepatitis C for years, but it’s now progressed to this point and there is only one hope left for a longer life and that’s a liver transplant.  He’s not interested in that and just wants to take care of a few things before he leaves this world.  He’s got time to get his remaining tasks completed and I hope he does accomplish his goals.  I pray his passing is as pain free as possible and that he goes peacefully.  This would be the best hope for everyone involved.

I understand the need to be supportive for my daughter.  I understand her reaching out to me at this time seeking emotional support.  I somewhat understand my daughter’s grandfather reaching out to me.  He’s always thought of me as a daughter and it’s only natural to want to connect with me as he ponders loosing his only child.  It’s also natural he would seek to have me be the one telling my daughter what’s going on.

I really don’t understand this man, the “father” of my child, reaching out to me.  He called me a few minutes ago and we spoke for about an hour before my daughter called and we ended the conversation.  I don’t understand why he’s not got other, closer, friends who could be supportive to him in this time.  I understand him needing to talk and share his feelings with someone, but why me?  Why am I the one he calls first?  Why am I the one he tells all his crazy plans?  Surely one of his dope smoking friends would be more suited to his purposes.

Long story short, it looks like in the next few months I’m going to have to be strong for my daughter and her grandfather.  I’m going to have to plan to attend yet another funeral of someone passing far too young.  I’m going to end up being more of an emotional support for a man I consider my second father.  I pray that I have the resources and skills needed to meet these and other challenges.

I miss my kids.

I miss my kids. I began having “kids” when I was around 12. At the time, I thought of those little kids who followed me about calling my name were little pesky brats. I was not interested in the opinion of mere children. I was more focused on becoming a teen and in fitting in with my peers. I never did really fit in at the time, but that was my focus.

I miss my step-children and their children in general. I specifically miss Debra and Cory. They were very helpful to me, and Debra was a good friend. I knew I could count on both of them in any time of need. Now I find I simply miss spending time with them. It would be nice to have some younger, able bodied adults of both sexes around to help out around here, but it would also be nice to have a friend that I could hang out and visit with.

I miss being younger and able bodied myself. I find life limiting my abilities and I resist giving in to the limits my body tries to place on me. I can’t wait until the tell me what my MRI results indicate. I know that there is something of interest in my lumbar area, but I cannot make out what the report says. Maybe I can print it and find out that way. The images are not clear on the computer. Worst case scenario I have to wait until I see the neurologist again in a couple of weeks.

I miss when life was simple enough that I could get most of my answers right away. I miss being able to do whatever I want whenever I want. I miss having the money to travel and visit family and friends. I miss having the money to keep my property up to the standard I would prefer. I miss being able to vacuum my house all in one day, and do more housework on top of that. I miss being able to keep the laundry done for 8 or 9 people. I simply do not have the physical strength or endurance to do all these things.

I am thankful for the internet and Facebook. I enjoy reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Some of my newer friends are actually some of those pesky little kids from my past. We were not friends back when we knew each other before, but we are becoming friends today, now that we are closer in developmental tasks and interests. We enjoy talking about the old times but we also enjoy getting to know about each other’s lives today. We discuss children and grandchildren, dreams and hopes. We share holidays and birthdays and vacations as well as family get togethers. It’s nice to have friends like that. I just wish I had more friends that I can actually sit down with and have coffee or tea, or even dinner.

I miss having a mentor. I think I may have one that is a few years older than me, but only time will reveal the future. I spent a very nice couple of hours one recent evening just catching up with and visiting with my friend Trudy. She’s a real blessing in my life. The way we met might be a surprise to some, but she is becoming a great friend to me, at least in my opinion.

On Writing

This whole writing thing is turning out to be quite therapeutic. I have been told for years that I should write my life story. I tried to do just that many times, never quite getting past a page or two on the written page. When I decided to just write whatever I wanted to write about at the moment is when I really began making progress.
I write my memories. I write my fears. I write my dreams and hopes. I write my love and my anger. I write my life story. I write poetry, sometimes. I write essays about various topics that interest me. I write short stories from my life.

I write to process my thoughts. It helps me to really define what I think and believe. It helps me to evaluate various options presented to me by life. It helps me to feel a sense of connection to humanity. It allows me to communicate my deepest self with whomever chooses to read my writings.
I used to write letters only to burn them. I knew they would be burned before anyone had a chance to read them. They were supposed to help me release emotions connected with various events in my life. It never really did help me all that much. Burning those letters just erased my thoughts. I didn’t resolve anything. I simply took it out, looked at it, and put it back away in another place in my memory. This type of writing, writing to be read, is much more liberating.
Writing with the thought of perhaps, one day, having a reader has changed me in profound ways. Where I used to try to keep a diary, but quit because someone might find it and read it, now I write the same sorts of things with the hope that one day someone will read them and somehow be touched by my experience and effort.
I write to record events from my life. I write to record my memories. I hope to, sometime in the future, share pleasant memories and profound thoughts. I hope to, some day, share my photographs with people as well. I write to remember things to discuss with my therapist or my husband, or sometimes someone else. I write to share the events of my childhood with future generations. Maybe one of my children or grandchildren will find this and read it.
I try to protect the identity of those I talk about in my writings. I try to not name any places or people, unless the place is so large as to allow anonymity or the name is so common to not give away any specific person. I know that my identity will be clear to anyone who reads what I write. I know that if someone who knows me well reads what I write they will know some of the unnamed characters that I write about.

I try to keep in mind the emotions of those mentioned as well as the emotions of the reader. I don’t want to hurt anyone with my writing. I simply write to purge myself of long buried emotions and baggage and to, hopefully, offer someone else a bit of hope when they find themselves in a dark patch of life.
Writing has given me a window into myself and the way my mind works. It helps me to see what I think about and how I talk to myself. It helps me to see the ways in which I falter and fail to reach my goals of being the best person I can be. Writing also helps me to identify areas in which I have unrealistic expectations. If I were a perfect person, in a perfect world these wouldn’t be issues at all, but I am not perfect and this is not a perfect world.
I sometimes wonder if all those people from my past who told me to write my life story really knew what they were asking of me. I wonder if any of them have actually tried to sit down and write their life stories. I know it’s irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but I still wonder. I wonder if other people wonder about the same sorts of things that I wonder about. Writing allows me to get all this out of my system so to speak.
I know that oft times I discover myself in my writing. I will allow myself to just write whatever comes to mind and eventually, if I continue writing long enough, something comes out that I didn’t know about myself. Sometimes the act of free writing allows me to regain memories as well as make up stories that are quite revealing about my thinking.

The subjects that I am repeatedly drawn back to are the ones that have marked me the most deeply in some way. Light is one of those subjects. I write a lot about what I see and that’s intimately dependent on light. I also write a lot about what I hear. The sounds around me fascinate me at times.
My attention span wavers too much, and my interests vary so much, that it’s difficult if not impossible for me to sit down and write a typical biographical narrative. I write for a few minutes and then do something else for a few minutes or hours and when I return to writing my mindset is quite different than it was when I stopped writing last. Sometimes I can pick the train of thought back up, and sometimes I can’t. I often find that I’ve written all I wanted on that subject for now and declare the piece finished. I can go months without writing anything other than a shopping list, and then there are days I can’t seem to stop writing. I write when the muse strikes.
I tend to be in a very free state of mind when I write. I am in a good place spiritually and emotionally when I set down to write. I usually end in a good state of mind as well. Sometimes I become quite upset and have to write several things before I can calm myself and return to a healthy stable frame of mind. Sometimes I trigger PTSD types of reactions in myself, just by my thoughts. I write those out and sometimes I share them with my therapist and husband. Sometimes I keep these things for myself and sometimes I decide to include them in “the book.”
I believe I am writing a book, possibly illustrated with photographs I’ve taken. Sometimes the photographs actually inspire what I write. Sometimes my writing leads me to go looking for a picture with my camera a constant companion. My photography is much like my writing in that I take pictures sometimes to see what I capture and other times I’m looking for a certain feel or light. Sometimes I want a picture to accompany something I’ve written and sometimes it’s to document an emotion I’m feeling.

Uncertainty

Many think that uncertainty is a bad thing.  They want to know what has happened, what is happening and what will happen.  They want to know for sure what was, is and will be.  They feel uncomfortable when they can’t pin things down.

Sometimes I agree.  But there are times that I feel uncertainty is a good thing.  I like not knowing about that surprise party for my birthday.  I like not knowing what tomorrow holds.  I enjoy the anticipation of finding or experiencing something unexpected.

Most of the time I think that absolute certainty is boring.  I don’t want to know for sure what will happen tomorrow.  I do want to believe that it will be a good day.  I do want to believe I will be healthy and that I’ll have the money to meet my obligations.  But I enjoy not knowing exactly what will be.

Things I wish

I wish I had enough money to either repair my house or buy one closer to my husband’s work.

I wish my daughter was having better luck in getting her life off the ground.

I wish my friends lived closer to me.

I wish I felt more like the 50 year old I am rather than a teen still trying to figure things out.

I wish my parents were still alive.

I wish I’d paid better attention when I was in school.

I wish I’d taken better care of my body.

I wish there were no wars.

I wish people could look past their differences to see that we’re all much more alike than dissimilar.

I wish there were no homeless or starving.

I wish I felt more connected.

I wish suffering and pain didn’t exist.

I wish I knew what I want to be when I finally grow up.

I write because…

I write because I feel I have something to share.

I write because I want to establish a connection with my readers.

I write because I want to encourage others to keep on trying, even in the face of difficulty.

I write because I want to find others who can relate to what I share.

I write because it helps me process my thoughts.

I write because it lets me relieve some of the darkness in my soul.

I write because I love words and want to get better at expressing myself through them.

I write because it helps me explore different options and their possible outcomes.

I write because it helps me clarify what I think and believe.  Putting something into words forces me to more clearly define my thoughts and beliefs.