Saturday, April 14, 2018

I Am Not What Fear Says

What went wrong today? It was a lovely, warm, sunny day. All my preparations had been done for the upcoming author event. Little gift bags were colorfully put together; a big basket and afghan also completed for a giveaway. People were kind and by all rights, nothing should have been negative.

Why then did I falter so terribly? My palms sweated, my hands and voice shook. My throat dried up and felt as if it was closing on me. Darn body! I couldn't trust myself to give a good talk. All the other authors did excellent in my opinion. We had been kind and courteous to one another, listening as our fellow authors spoke. But when it came for my own turn at speaking, I completely dropped the ball today.

Life is like that sometimes. No matter the preparation. No matter how confident we feel, how good we put ourselves together, something can sneak in and loosen the best laid plans. The enemy wants nothing more than to rob us of our joy, or hit us at our most vulnerable. For me, it has always been about insecurity. I have often felt I will never measure up to others. They do everything better than me.

It had been a rough work week. Our boss has been on the warpath with several office changes. I had felt stressed to the point of not sleeping well. I had a bloody nose that wouldn't quit the other morning and I scared myself to death with it. Just an all around yucky week. I am the type of person who enjoys having something to look forward to. So it was with happy anticipation that I began planning to make the author event something special. I had all of the perfect words to say. The blog I was going to read from was heartfelt and the writing, good.

But there I stood at the head of a room filled with women and I began the comparison game. If I had stayed in the moment, if I'd have spoken from my heart as I had wanted, I think I would have had the confidence I needed. But the minute I tried to turn the page I was reading and my fingers wouldn't work, the old voice of "you are failing; you aren't good enough; you are making mistakes" kept nagging at me. My own voice croaked like a frog, and I stumbled and stuttered over what I wanted to say.

Did anyone notice? I was sure they all did. I felt certain that they were wondering why they ever invited me in the first place. After all, I only sold one book to top it all off.

Tonight I'm going to pick myself up, dust myself off, and know that I did my best. Though fear stood solidly before me, and lies tormented me, I am NOT what fear says I am. I am bold, confident, redeemed, loved, accepted and worthy. I am what God says.

When you find yourself in such a moment; when fear beckons and calls you nasty names, plug your ears, sing a great worship song, and remember "Whose" you are.

Friday, March 30, 2018

I Can Truly Imagine

I want so much for my children. I want them to have good health, happiness, and blessings. More than anything, I want them to know what a relationship with Jesus is like. They were brought up in an era that questions everything. And questions can be a good or bad thing. But they also seem to be a little more skeptical of what is holy and good sometimes. They seem to confusion religion with what really is relationship.

I can't blame them because our faith always taught us that doing good and being good would earn eternal points. God seemed like a big nasty teacher, one that would pounce on you and give you a good smack with his almighty ruler when you got the answer to one of His questions wrong.

The God I've come to know is nothing like that. I am so grateful for my church's messages and music and how they've shown me what a loving God's grace is all about. Prayer is so very real to me now, and it's something that I cannot go a day without. My conversations with God are friendly and real. I can speak with Him about everything that is in my heart or on my mind.

This Easter I wanted to do something special with my son. I thought we could go to the Good Friday church service together. It had been a very long time that he'd come with me to church. He agreed to dinner and church, and I secretly glowed. But then something else hit me strongly. That nudging of the Holy Spirit. The new movie "I Can Only Imagine" is playing in our local theaters right now too, and I wondered if perhaps this was more of what I was looking for with my son. Visuals seem to resonate strongly with him. He had loved the movie "The Shack" and gotten much from it, he had said. So I gave him the choice: dinner and church, or dinner and an inspirational movie. He chose the movie.

If you haven't seen it, may I suggest "I Can Only Imagine." It's a true story of Bart Millard, the lead singer of Mercy Me. His journey was difficult at the hands of an abusive father. He could not realize his talent and passion until he came to grips with some very hard truths. This movie was real and powerful. Though we may not have suffered abuse as this man did, we all have our own areas of pain and suffering. My own was with my mother's mental illness when I was a child. All of a sudden it hit me; I should write more from my heart and pain. Not to make my mother look bad, but to make God shine. This is what Bart Millard did: he was able to tell a story, but not glorify the bad so much as give glory to the One who can make all things--all people, new.

When the movie was over, my son leaned over and said, "Wow, that was amazing. Everyone should see this movie. You didn't tell me it was a tear jerker, though." I glowed. This one-on-one moment with my son was priceless. Being able to discuss the Lord for a few minutes with him, and for him to have sat there in awe as the story unfolded before us, showed me that God had indeed answered my prayer for the day. I don't know my son's heart. And I worry that he isn't where I think he should be in a walk with God. But God assures me in the quietness of my soul, that all is well. He has everything in the palm of His hand. It will be His timing, not mine.

Today, another seed was planted. God will water it with His word. And I can only imagine where the journey will lead.

(Top photo courtesy of David Hoffman)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Birthday Letter to My Father

Dear Dad:

I wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you  today. It's your birthday. I remember how much you enjoyed this day. You loved the little fuss that was made over you. The fact that Mom would bake a homemade cake, and we would place that one big candle in the middle for you to wish on. I wonder what your wishes were through the years.

 It hasn't been the same since you left us, but we are managing. I know you wouldn't want us to grieve too much, but some days are more difficult than others.

I listened to your favorite piece of music tonight after work, Dad. "The Emperor Waltz." Sometimes I can picture you dancing to it. Sometimes, I dance with you.

 I dream about you, Dad. It is so good to see you and I always wake up content, knowing that we spent a little more time together. Please visit me again soon.

Dad, my brother and son are so much like you. I can see you in them every time I talk to them. They have the qualities you passed along--a quiet strength and a good heart. I know I am a lot like you too. I find myself saying your silly phrases and it warms my heart.

I don't know how you celebrate a  birthday in Heaven, Dad. I guess it's all very different. But I can imagine who is at the party!

You were my knight in shining armor when I was little. You were the one constant in a turbulent sea. You showed strength with your simple ways and humor.

The time you spent with me when I was a child will be something I carry in my heart forever. I can remember the Crystal Radio kit we built together, the wood burning craft that made Mom worry that I might get burned. I picture us painting little miniature football players in my first electronic football game. I see you making plaster statues for me. I remember asking you questions during football games, and how you patiently answered them.

You were the best role model to my son, Dad. All the quality time you gave him when he was little, building blocks and towers for him to knock over and the crafts made out of clay. And the little plastic bowling set as you patiently set up pins and played over and over, just one more time. He was so proud of showcasing you in his YouTube videos, and his fans really loved seeing "Lamp" play. He really misses you too. And I know there are days he has a hard time. Won't you visit him in his dreams from time to time?

In closing, I want to wish you a Happy Birthday. I want to thank you from my heart for being the best man I ever knew. I want to ask you to keep us all in your heart and prayers. And give everyone a big hug from all of us.

I miss you so much, Dad. And I love you.

Your little Tenya

Sunday, February 4, 2018

For the Love of a Dog

Maya, smiling.

The bond between human and pet. It's beautiful. Many of us have stories from our childhood of our beloved dogs or cats, stories that almost seem incredible. Dog walks miles to be reunited with family. Or, cat shows up one year after it disappeared.

Last night I dreamed for the first time about a dog that had been with my family for many years. Her name was Maya and she was a beautiful Husky. She stayed with my parents for many years and the bond became unbreakable. Dad had been a heart patient, so walking Maya was a daily ritual for his health, but we knew that he secretly loved it too. How proud Dad was to walk alongside such a gorgeous creature. And that dog, sensing that our father had limitations, would choose to walk carefully beside him, always at Dad's pace. She understood his commands during their jaunts, and I know she kept our father healthier for this daily exercise they shared.

Mom loved her even more if that was possible. Our mother was the St. Francis of the family. Every stray animal, hurt bird, or furry casualty on the side of the road, she was the type to cry over their plight. She bonded with every pet we'd ever owned, and each of them loved her right back in turn. Maya was a faithful companion to Mom. Especially after our father passed away, that dog would be just inches from wherever mother sat. And even with her dementia, Mom treated that dog in the most loving ways.

When Maya got sick last year and my brother had to make a most difficult decision, I was worried how Mom would take it. I swear that our mother went downhill quickly right after Maya departed. She lost a true spark of living after that, and was never the same.

I remember at one of the emergency room visits last year when Mom was laying in the hospital bed, she was drifting in and out of sleep or consciousness. There was a point where she began "petting" an invisible animal, one that I could not see, but nonetheless knew was there with her. Because afterward, Mom reached her hand up as if grasping someone's extended hand. I felt that Dad and Maya were there with her at that moment.

Last night, for the first time, I dreamed about that dog. My father was walking her on a leash. Dad looked younger with dark hair--handsome. And Maya was beautiful and fluffy and whole. She ran over to me, licking my face, jumping on me with excitement in the dream. I remember feeling such happiness and wished the dream would continue much longer.

I just found out today that only four short days ago marked the year of Maya's passing. How odd that she would feature so prominently in a dream last night. And not only my dream, but my brother shared one of her too.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Signs and Wonders

I have a little story to share. Now, to set you up, you have to realize I am not one usually to believe in signs and such. I don't want to get caught up in mysticism and not miracles.

The other day I was missing my parents so much. I talked to God and asked if someday He might share a small sign that they were near with me. I have never asked this. As I folded clothes later that evening in my room, I felt as if someone stood next to me. I looked to my side and said, "Hi Mom and Dad," and went right on with the clothes. I didn't see anyone.

Later that night as I turned in for the evening, I said "goodnight" to a picture of my parents that is laying on top of my nightstand. It isn't framed, only a regular photograph laying there.

The next morning when I awoke, (I'd like to say I hopped out of bed with a spring in my step, but, well....arthritis and all...), but when I got out of bed, I looked over and the picture of my parents wasn't on the stand. I looked and it was laying on the floor on the side of the nightstand, face up with their beautiful smiling faces looking at me.

I placed the photo back on the nightstand. I tried creating a breeze with my arms, with my bed blankets, with the closet door, etc. Nothing stirred that picture at all. I tried to replicate laying there and hitting it with my arms, but it was too far away from me, and I usually cocoon myself like a burrito when sleeping, so flailing arms aren't usually my thing anyway.
 "Well, Lord," I thought, "I did ask. The Bible says you have not because you ask not." Perhaps God's gentle breath blew through my side of the room that night. He stirred the picture of my parents to show me a sweet little sign. They're okay, Karen. They are here with me. They still love you, but they've changed, and they don't have the worries and concerns they once did. Be happy for them.
When I look at the photograph now, a huge smile breaks out onto my face. For in this picture, they are young, healthy, happy, and so in love. And I believe they are like that right now.
What signs and wonders have you seen perhaps in nature, or in your own home that reminds you of God's existence and love?

This is the photo:


Thursday, January 11, 2018

When a House is Truly a Home

When I was twelve years old, my parents told me that we were going to be moving soon. They'd been looking for a new house in a different area of our small town. I must say that I wasn't too upset by the prospect, after all, my best friends would still be fairly close by. And a fresh, new start is exactly what our topsy turvy lives needed. We'd just been through hell and back with bouts of mental illness with my mother. Though she'd been hospitalized many times throughout my young years and hadn't even known who she was during the worst of it, Mom became completely well--healed and whole. We had no idea how the miracle had occurred, but to my father, it meant a clean slate was also necessary. Too many sad and frightening memories in the house I'd grown up in.

The day they brought me to the house on Highland, I knew it would be a place of magic; of life, love, and goodness. There were two back yards! A smaller one bordering woods with a rustic firepit, and the main yard with so many trees and greenery! I'd grown up in the cement jungle in town, with barely a patch of front or back yard.

This new home had the most adorable screened porch off to the back-- perfect for viewing nature and the little raccoons who would soon become like friends in a Disney movie. There was a paneled basement with a custom-made wooden bar, and even though my parents weren't drinkers, to a young girl, it would mean hours of playtime and imagination.

My room held two twin beds and had windows that viewed the glorious backyard. My parent's room was huge, and right next door to mine. No more nighttime fears. No wondering if my mom was gone. I would know where they are and I would feel safe and secure.

This house was situated on a beautiful, pleasant road. Hardly any cars, and I could ride my bike right in the middle of the street. On a summer night, the chirping of crickets...and during the day, the sweet music of birds.Though I still saw my old friends, I made one of the most important friendships of my life with a girl who lived down the road. 

It was in this home that memories began to be made. First, my mother announced she was pregnant after having two miscarriages a few years back. I couldn't contain my glee! I'd always wanted a sibling, and the anticipation for me was enormous.

My brother arrived in 1974 when I was fourteen years old. Like a second mother, I watched him and loved him. And as he grew, we became like best friends. Through the years, my brother established some of the best friendships of his life. It was his little group that I would feel close enough to that I called all of them my brothers.

And they would have so many fun adventures in the woods behind our home, the basement, and riding bikes all over the area. My parents became their parents, and our house, their house. It was the closeness of our loving family that became the glue that bonded the lives of these boys with all of us.

Christmases at the Highland home were cozy and warm. The aroma of my mother's baking and all the special foods which were prepared at that time of the year, always permeated every room of the house. When company arrived, there was always cheerful laughter and fun banter. Everyone felt truly welcomed there.

Halloween became the focal time of the year, and we decorated outdoors as if trying to win some type of contest.With the magnificent dummies we fabricated, and the frightful accoutrements, children feared walking to our door for candy until one of us would unmask, proving we weren't the crazy monster we appeared to be on that special night.

My parents love for one another deepened in this home. Never did I hear a fight, nor any type of harsh words, or tears of sadness. I watched the two of them as if they were newlyweds.

The house saw many different types of pets, from scruffy stray ones that we nursed to health, to beloved pets that became like family members. It was a place of refuge for all.

As my parents began to age, the home became more precious than ever. They would sit on the front porch together, bird or butterfly- watching for hours. Dad's beautiful flowers would sway gently in a warm, soft breeze as they chatted about all the years that had gone by. On days that I visited, a sense of peace would wash over me as I sat with them, sometimes saying nothing at all, soaking up the love and contentment.

They are gone now, my parents. Yet this past Christmas, we still celebrated at the beloved house on Highland. New memories were made, and old ones cherished. But sadly, due to many financial difficulties, our family may lose this precious home. I've been praying for a miracle, believing for God to move heaven and earth so that my brother will somehow be able to work out a way to keep this house, and sell his quickly. It feels impossible, insurmountable, but I know God is the God of the impossible. He has made a way when there seemed to be no other way many times throughout our lives.

Join with me please, if you would, in prayer, that a miracle will occur, and this home will be able to stay in our family. And think about your own special place, perhaps where you grew up, or a beloved grandparent's house. Somewhere that you felt safe and loved.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Auld Lang Syne and other New Years thoughts

I'd been approaching the new year with trepidation. In my mind, all I could picture was the fact that neither of my parents had made it to 2018. It would be the first full year that they weren't around at all together or apart. And I grieved for all that was lost. But then I began to look back, way back. To a time when I was a little girl. I thought about the days leading up to New Years, and how special they had always been.

I remember when I was little, in the week between Christmas and New Years. Mom always donned a festive tablecloth over our table, and upon it were cut glass bowls of fruit, silver trays of nuts in their shells, and the nut cracking implements laid off to the side. There were Torrones, the little Italian boxes piled high on a plate, dried figs, and scads of her homemade cookies on a tiered metal holder. These stayed throughout the week, lest a visiting relative miss out on a table made ready.

In our fireplace colorful, discarded wrapping paper was waiting for the fire that my father would soon build. My toys lay scattered under the tree, a mixmash of dollies, games, and other assorted items, blending in with the manger set; the camels, wise men and holy family. And don't tell me you never played with the set under your own tree. Mary, Joseph and the shepherds had quite a few adventures under ours!

Our large picture window which faced the road, was painstakingly hand-painted by my father, adorned with all the wonderful decorations of the season. Through it, I could watch the falling snow, the passersby, and my cousins as they filed out of their cars so they could play with (and sometimes break) my new toys.

Aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents would visit during this most festive time. Talk was lively and loud--true Italians do not merely talk with their hands. Everyone tried to outdo one another with gift-giving tales, stories of food, and memories of their own youth.

We also would venture to the homes of other relatives in that week. My mother would insist that I stop playing with my precious new toys and that I could not bring them with me to our outing.Though I never complained, I longed for the new Playdoh set, favorite doll, or latest family fun game while it seemed like forever that my parents talked and talked and talked to the relative we were visiting.

New Years Eve would arrive, and though my parents were not drinkers, it was the one time, perhaps that I would see each of them with a tiny glass of wine to toast the new year. I was given ginger ale or some other childlike substitute. The song Auld Lang Syne always brought a lump to my throat even then.

As the years passed, the special holiday week leading up to the new year was filled with new memories after my brother arrived. Then marriage would follow for me a few years later, and then my own child. I sit here now wondering where the time has flown to, for it feels like yesterday that I was the child.

With fresh hopes and dreams in mind, we each face the ticking of the clock, the countdown of the crystal ball on Times Square. Auld Lang Syne still will bring a tear to some of our eyes, and we, too, will become the memory for our own children and grandchildren.

A good friend had this to say when I told her how sad I felt about my parents not seeing the new year:
Your parents were such love birds. Just think. They will never have to begin another year separated from one another.....

Yes, I believe that.  And what of your own losses? What of the changes of life, the ups and downs of health issues, the fact that we all must leave our youth behind and memories that held our family together?  I believe they, too, go on . . .

Modern English version of Auld Lang Syne:
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten,
And days of long ago!
For times gone by, my dear
For times gone by,
We will take a cup of kindness yet
For times gone by.

 Pictures from my youth. You'll notice the picture window that my dad hand painted.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Bittersweet Christmas Visit

Tomorrow my brother and I will visit the residents at the care facility which housed our mom for several months this year bringing them a little Christmas cheer. It will be the first time I've been back there since she passed away, and a very bittersweet visit for me. For I'll picture Mom around every corner, in all her usual places. The dining room where she sat with other ladies, enjoying small parties that were held there. The hallways we wheeled through, and even walked when she was still able. The outdoor seating area where I would take her for little rides round and round with her wheelchair, as I talked about the chirping birds, blue skies, butterflies--anything to share with her.

I'll see her petting the resident dogs, becoming so animated when they were near. And then I'll envision her sneaking morsels of food to them while another lady yelled for her to stop. There should be familiar faces: the nurses and aides who gave tirelessly of themselves to her. Some of the residents we had gotten to know well and spoken with, each with their own life story.

But when it comes time to walk past the last place I spent time with my mother, her room, I know my heart and soul will grow quiet, for it will almost be holy ground for me. I will picture myself touching her hair and face lightly while singing songs that she sang to me as a child. I will watch her chest rise and fall, every breath precious as she began the process of leaving this world. I'll remember how her eyes were focused above her--on things I could not imagine.

I'd pictured what Christmas might be like this year before we knew we were losing Mom. How the holiday would be so different without her at home, and how we would cope with celebrating in a nursing home. I thought we would have her much longer. I couldn't imagine what life would be like without her. Yet here we are now, facing the first Christmas without both of our parents.

I feel her near many times. I've dreamed beautiful dreams of her, some that feel like she is right there with me. And I hold fast to items she once held dear: a wedding band, a cat necklace, simple clothing and many pictures.

I think about tomorrow and realize that the care home is only a building, nothing fancy or special. But it's the place where beautiful souls sometimes have to wander before their final journey home. My mother journeyed there, but didn't stay very long. God called to her, and Dad waited for her. And when she said the words, "I want to go home," God answered.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

'Tis Almost The Season: A journey of grief and healing

Today at the dental office where I work, I saw an elderly dementia patient clutching her little bag of freebies as if they were the greatest thing she ever received. Even when her daughter tried to take the bag from her, she held it closely because to her, they were her possessions. She may not have much left in her memories, but at that moment, those little dental "gifts" became the most important thing to her. A lump formed in my throat, and a few tears sprang to my eyes. How that reminded me of my mother.

I think back to this time last year when Mom was still living in her own home. When all of us tried to do our very best with making sure she ate, keeping up with doctor visits and being sure she wasn't alone very long. She may have lost many of her memories, but she had small routines that meant something to her. Cats to feed and care for, and a dog that she adored. She would pull her driver's license out of her purse and her health insurance card and read them over and over. She read the small love notes from my father time and again. Oh how we rolled our eyes when she would begin these routines, never realizing how important they were to her, and how in small ways, they were keeping her memory going.

It may have been one of the most difficult times in our family, but we had the strength to go through it. I often wonder now how we did, because thinking about it now makes me feel exhausted. But when we needed it, God supplied exactly enough of His mercy and grace to us all.

Now Mom is gone four months. How I miss those little nuances of hers.What I wouldn't give to hear the same stories once again. And now the season is upon us that bring memories of family and traditions.

Halloween was tough for me without Mom because it was a holiday she had enjoyed so much. And now with Thanksgiving a week away, I can't help but think that even though it wasn't my favorite holiday, it was one of hers. How Mom loved her kitchen! The fact that she'd begin baking days in advance, planning her usual feast, and having it all turn out perfectly. A few years ago, even with Alzheimer's, she managed somehow. But last year was different, and she allowed us to take her to a restaurant for the day. I like to think she still enjoyed herself with her family surrounding her because she smiled and beamed through the entire meal.

Today I was thinking about where I am at this moment. With colorful decorations soon to be everywhere, joyous songs and yearly traditions, I feel a bit blue. No, I won't ruin it for others, and I certainly can dig inside myself and find a little Christmas cheer, but I can tell I am not the same. I don't feel the need to make dozens of lists: of cookies, shopping, cleaning and planning. This year, time means more to me than ever. The time I will spend with my our children, my brother and family, and dear friends. This year, I want Christmas to be different. I will not over do my spending, for I will be more thoughtful now. There is no quota to meet, no amount more precious than a kind word to a loved one, giving of myself, and feeling thankful for all the blessings in our families.

And I must remember to be kind to myself. I lost two parents in the span of nine months. No, I may not feel like celebrating this holiday season. I may be quieter than usual, a little less festive. I may not put up every single decoration that I have from years past. And that is okay. I'm giving myself the gift of time too. Time to grieve and remember. Time to reflect. But mostly, I'm giving the gift of time to heal.

I hope that family understands where I am this year. That it is nothing against them. It's a process that will bring happiness and sadness; memories good and bad. But I hope they all realize how much I love them, and though I am changed, my heart can still hold all the love it's always had for them and even more.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

I Must Bloom

The other day, I glanced out my side door. A tree sits in my front yard dormant now for the upcoming winter. Some of that tree is hollowed out where countless birds and squirrels have made their homes for many years. One particular branch actually seems dead, as a huge portion of it came crashing down in a wind storm several months back. But on that branch, that place where no life should be during the fall season sits two pink blossoms. I had to go outside and see if I was hallucinating. But there they were, full of new life, beauty and promise. I felt a sign had been given to me, and wondered what it could mean.

The letter from the healthcare facility sat on my counter last evening. I'd been waiting for the results of a bone scan for a few weeks thinking it would come by phone. I tore the envelope open, hoping against all hope that the tests wouldn't show what I feared. And then there was the word: Osteoporosis. The dreaded word that many of us ladies over fifty have had to deal with.

A few weeks ago when I'd been at the facility shivering in my little paper gown, I had first gotten word that I lost an inch in my height. At five- foot- one, all my life, that didn't come as particularly happy news. The nurse began the scans and I asked her questions. Because I'd been told I had osteopenia a few years ago, I already had a sneaking suspicion.

So this morning I sit here writing out my feelings. What do I feel? I feel old all of a sudden; washed up and a "has been." I feel like, here we go, now it's my time of having "older" people issues. The reality however is that it was not a cancer diagnosis. There are so many of my friends and acquaintances who have far worse going on with their health. A brave friend has Parkinson's, other ladies I know have dealt with breast cancer and worse.

It's a time for change then. I look back to a blog I wrote last year about eating healthier and feeling good. That lasted for all of two weeks for me. Going through all of my mom's problems earlier this year, I went over the top with feeling sorry for myself and turned to all sorts of bad foods for comfort. All of my wonderful ideas for becoming a new me went right out the window.

Until I'm able to speak with my doctor, I have nagging concerns though. Because of my scoliosis, I've always worried a little more about my spine. It hasn't been an easy road with curvature of the spine; it's been an uphill battle feeling different from others and knowing a long metal rod runs the length of my back. That I have scars like road maps and frightening memories of weeks in Children's Hospital. That I was made fun of and had to learn to hold my head up though my heart was breaking. These thoughts plague me until I silence them.

 I have aches and pains that weren't there just a few short years ago. I can hardly get out of bed in the mornings, but once I get going, I'm okay. It's easy for someone like me to get lost in all the negative emotions that something like this brings. I can easily let my thoughts spiral out of control until I'm sitting there crying. But I must pick myself up and dust these old bones off and not let it get the best of me. I refuse to sit in a rocking chair crocheting--though I do love to crochet. And I absolutely refuse to picture myself in a wheelchair. Though there are things I shouldn't do any longer such as pick up my nieces, I can still run around a playground with them and carry on like a child. 

I talked with God. I will get through this as many others have. I'm planning on purchasing a stepper exercise machine. Though I do walk several times a week, I will need this for the winter months especially. And I must start eating better. Now that I have a reason to do so, I may find it easier to cut out the junk.

I think about the sign I was given--the stunning pink blossoms in the midst of what seemed dead on the tree in my yard. And it brings me hope. Life is not over until it's over. The dormant part of me can blossom forth like those lovely blooms against all odds--aging, health issues, loss and death. I, too, can push forth from the dead wood of my own mind as those flowers have, and turn my face toward the sunshine. What hope this has brought me! I still walk over to the tree and glance upward at the crackly, old branch and view the delicate petals upon it. And like those little beauties, I will spring forth and defy the odds at the most amazing times.