Happy Anniversary to Me!

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Celebrating 2 Years of Blogging

Today I am celebrating 2 years of blogging on WordPress.  When I received my anniversary “award” today, it made me think of my blogging path.  I started my original blog 2 years ago, wrote one post, and didn’t post again for nearly a year (6 days shy to be exact).  

When I began writing again, I posted nearly every day for 2 months.  I had a buddy who kept me accountable, which I have found is an excellent way to support myself in meeting a goal.  Even though I was blogging, I was keeping it private.  My husband said that’s a diary.  (For those of you who read my blog, I apologize for repeating that line so many times… but it makes me laugh.)

Eight months later, I made another writing agreement and enlisted a third force (this time it is a Yearlong Agreement Group) to hold me accountable.  I began this year with a more ambitious goal… to write every day this year.  I am adding the discipline of posting my writing onto my blog.  So far I have kept my agreement.  In fact, I started two days early.  

In these first 7 weeks of 2014 I have accomplished more than I had in the previous 22 months.  I joined the Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a Better Blog challenge.  It helped me make lots of improvements to my blog (including linking to my Facebook page) in just one month.  It also helped me connect with the blogging community, which has been invaluable.  

I added Wisdom Wednesday to my format.  Every Wednesday, I share a quote that inspires me.  I also joined the Phoneography Challenge: Your Phone as Your Lens to break up the monotony a bit.  For this challenge, there are different subjects for each Monday of the month.  I am enjoying it even more than I thought I would.  

In the future, this blog will be connected with my coaching practice and will be an access point for my first e-book (hopefully before my third anniversary).  In the meantime I want to wish a Happy Anniversary to me!  

What Would YOU Do?

I’ve become quite adventurous since I hit my forties.  I’ve done many new things I never thought I’d do.  If you peruse my blog you’ll find out what many of those are.  Currently, I am taking an online computer science course, since there is a limit to what I can do physically.

As I was mapping out my February, I began thinking about my next adventures.  I asked myself some questions I have learned through personal growth seminars and self-help books… questions like, “What have I always wanted to do that I haven’t done yet?”  Or, “What would I do if money and time were no object?”  And more recently, “What will I do when I am back to my old self (physically 100%)?”  Throughout my life, this self-questioning has been instrumental in helping me push through my perceived limitations.  So as the first month of the new year comes to a close, I have a question for you…

If you knew you only had months to live, or if money and time were no object, or if you knew you could not fail (whichever is more compelling to you)… what would YOU do?

Writer’s Hands, Part II

writer's hands ii

This is a follow-up to my post on January 16, 2014 entitled Writer’s Hands. I resisted the temptation to include a picture of my exposed, post-surgery, pin-laden, stitched pinkie. I found it fascinating, yet others have described the graphic photo with other less-than-desirable adjectives (i.e, gruesome, gross).

I can now type with 5 fingers, 3 on the right and 2 on the left. Unfortunately, I still cannot wash dishes or vacuum. (Okay, I must confess. I actually don’t really mind doing dishes. In fact, I actually enjoy housework in general. Strange, I know.) Using my cane is a little tricky, but not impossible.

In addition to my hand issues, I am now attending physical therapy regularly. It feels good to be moving again, and I am exhausted (and somewhat uncomfortable) afterward. And at the end of the day, I am grateful to be making progress every day toward a full recovery.

Ironically, my temporary disability is what has allowed me to write more, and that writing, in turn, has facilitated my healing process.

“Life is no brief candle…

“Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
― George Bernard Shaw

On this Wisdom Wednesday, I am reminded of this quote which was introduced to me at a seminar in 1999. I think of it often, and aspire to live my life from this perspective.

Recovery is a Full-Time Job

I began my day at 6:23 A.M. this morning, unless you count getting up at 5:00 A.M. to take medicine and let the dog out.  I set the alarm for 6:23 because my teenager asked me to wake him up at 6:30, if he slept through his alarm.  He is a bit of a character and when the movie 23 came out, he made a big issue over the number 23 (just to entertain folks… primarily himself).  I figured if I set my alarm for 6:23 (I like to get up before everyone else so I can get a head start.), I would initially note the odd  time and then remember my son’s request because of his number.  Incidentally, he was up as soon as his alarm sounded, so my little mind game wasn’t necessary.  I still enjoyed the little device I used to help me remember his request.  I try to do this more often lately, since I am having some difficulty with short-term memory… and going off on tangents.  So I then nudged my youngest through the process of getting ready for school. 

Then at 7:00 A.M. I had a physical therapy appointment.  I was grateful my husband warmed up the car, as the temperature was a whopping 4 degrees this morning.  I was also thankful that the therapist’s office is only 5 minutes from home, so I was able to slap on some sweats and leave only 30 minutes after getting out of bed (off the couch).    

After the therapist kicked my butt, my husband and I did have time to have breakfast before heading to my appointment with my hand surgeon.  They removed the large splint from my left arm, revealing the pins and stitches left over from my hand surgery.  A technician took two x-rays, one of which had to be redone.  Then I was fitted for a new, less cumbersome splint. 

I needed to have a document notarized, and I had decided to do this while I was already out of the house.  When I arrived at the bank, I needed to use the restroom which involved more of a walk than I had done to date.  While there, I ran into a friend who I chatted with for a couple of minutes.  Afterward, the notary took care of me and we headed toward home.

Realizing it was now lunch time, we stopped for Mongolian stir fry.  It was my choice, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but by this time I was tired and my back hurt.  Afterward, we headed home and I sat in the recliner for two hours until my youngest son came home from school.  And then I sat for another 30 minutes or so.

A little before dinner time, my substitute teacher brought by food that a coworker had prepared for my family.  We talked a while, and I realized that standing for any length of time hurts.  In the meantime, another friend had also asked to bring dinner as she does weekly.  I already knew the first meal would be cold and could be held until tomorrow.  And I never turn down offers of food, as I am still unable to cook.  So when our hot meal arrived, I visited with my friend and returned her dishes from the previous week.

We ate dinner and then I retired back to the recliner, this time with a heating pad. Now I compose this post in my perfected three-finger style, and I am having the thought that this recovery is a full-time job.

Thank You Note to My Husband

Since my accident in November, so many people have stepped up to help me in so many ways.  While I am grateful to them all, I want to take a moment and thank someone who has been beside me every step of the way. 

My husband helped his dad build me a wheelchair ramp when I came home from the hospital, and built me a low stool when my physical therapist recommended it.  He let me take over his recliner, and didn’t complain when I kept him awake moaning and groaning at night.  He tolerated my moves from the recliner, to the couch, to bed, and back to the couch so I could sleep comfortably.      

My husband has taken on all the household duties I am unable to do.  He has managed to work from home with only a couple of exceptions, and has altered his schedule to fit my doctors’ appointments. My husband has bathed me, shaved my legs, and cut my fingernails and toenails. 

My husband does the cooking and washes the dishes.  He washes my hair for me and blows it dry (which I won’t even do for myself).  He does all the shopping and errands (including taking the dog to vet).  He makes sure the kids’ needs are addressed, as well as mine.

I am also grateful that my husband still makes me feel like a wife, in spite of all the things I cannot do.  He knows I love to have fresh cut flowers in the house, so he took over my habit of picking them up with the groceries.  He slips me squares of dark chocolate, and pops popcorn for me. 

Before I was cleared to bear weight, he wheeled me to movies and out to dinner.  When we went out of town for a funeral, he lugged all the devices necessary to make my trip more comfortable (wedges, stool, styrofoam tube, neck pillow).  And before I resumed blogging, he made sure all of my technology needs were met.

I am fortunate to be married to a good man.  Thank you, Kelly, for all you do for me.  I love you.  (I know he will see this because he creeps my page nightly.)    

Surrogate Son

As it turns out, my step-father was not able to attend visitation at the funeral home last night. The roads were treacherous due to snow and he was having difficulty breathing.  In fact, the symptoms of his COPD  were so bad that he didn’t attend his mother’s graveside service today either.  In fact, my sister and her husband (with their baby), and my mother decided to head home as soon as they could round up their van load. 

They left before the funeral in an effort to get my step-father closer to home and the hospital where the doctors and staff know him and his history.  Because he would not be attending the graveside service, he sent word through my mother that he wanted me to put a flower on his mother’s casket and to say it was from her son.

I wasn’t quite sure when I should do this: before I sat down, at some orchestrated moment, or when the funeral was over.  (Incidentally, the officiating preacher spoke about the awkwardness of the whole losing a loved-one thing.)  I quietly waited, hoping for some cue.  Finally, when the last prayer was spoken, the pall bearers removed their boutineers and placed them on the casket.  I took  this as my cue to place the rose.

I hobbled forward with my cane and set one foot onto the edge of the platform on which the coffin rested because I could not reach the top of the casket.  As I tried to speak, my vocal chords tightened.  I had the thought that this message was between a mother and her son, so it really doesn’t matter if anyone else can hear it.  I inaudibly spoke the words, “This is from Jimmy.”  As I mouthed the words, I heard them clearly in my own head.  I placed the rose amid those in the spray.  I touched the smooth, cold wood of the lid, choked back a few silent tears and returned to my seat on the front row.  At that moment it occurred to me that I had been appointed a sacred task.  I was the messenger… the conduit between the here and the beyond.  I was the surrogate son.

Memory Lane

I am writing this post from a hotel room in a town where I spent my adolescent/teen years.  My husband, brother, and I are here to attend the funeral of my stepfather’s mother, who passed away on Thursday.  Although she was not our biological grandmother, she was always kind and welcoming to my brother and me.     

My step-father isn’t doing well.  He has been dealing with COPD for some time now, and has just lost his mother.  The four-hour drive here, a change in elevation, and recent illness have left him unable to attend the visitation tonight.  We aren’t even sure he will be able to attend the graveside service tomorrow. 

Earlier today, a snowstorm came in from the north, so traveling on back roads leading to tomorrow’s destination will be dangerous.  Quite frankly, if the roads are not clearer tomorrow, my husband, brother, and I may not be able to attend the funeral ourselves.  

Amid the sadness, however, it has been good to spend time with my brother.  We don’t see each other much, even though we only live an hour away from each other.  It felt very strange to drive into this town we hadn’t spent any significant amount of time in for decades (20 years for me, 30 for him). It brought back long forgotten shared memories for us.

When we arrived, we met a mutual friend for dinner. We reminisced about our middle and high school days. We laughed about things that weren’t funny back when they happened. We talked about our families and just enjoyed each other’s company over dinner.

Now, as I sit in front of this screen, I am thinking about so many things. The sadness of losing a grandparent, the worry over a sick parent, the love for siblings and children, the gratitude for good friends and a loving spouse, and the nostalgia of a place I used to call home.

So tonight I will allow myself to set aside the present I so often try to stay in, to go down memory lane. I won’t stay there too long, but while I am away from the responsibilities of home I will indulge myself.

Religion, Politics, and Other Things We Don’t Talk About

As the title of today’s post suggests, I am going to touch on some taboo topics. 

The first of these is religion.  Well, actually, I would say Jeremiah Stephen’s blog post Cosmic Truth… Open the Door from knowthesphere would be more closely categorized as spirituality.  Regardless of what you call it, his words encouraged me after the year I’ve had. 

“This year, the great 2014 begins with the new moon on the first day of the calendar year, culminating with the new moon at the end of the month, ushering in what some believe as the year of great change and a revealing of truth.”

This has already been a year of great change, and I have already seen truth revealed… in just a little over three weeks. 

The second subject, usually shunned, is politics (not Sourcerer’s primary subject matter).  Gene’O Gordon’s,  Should We Blog About This? has me thinking I should blog about The Day We Fight Back against mass internet surveillance.  I may have my banner posted February 11, 2014.

And finally, I have to mention, once again, some of the most inspiring words I’ve read (ever), from Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini’s November 30, 2013 post, “It Was Lonely There (about blogging)”

“The moment we hide ourselves is the moment when we reject ourselves.”

This was one of the first posts I read after I made my blog public (I had been doing it privately for over a year… hiding, so to speak).  She gave me permission to be “imperfect” and “underdeveloped” while celebrating my courage to “put myself out there.”

I love the simplicity in her photography and the sincerity in her words. 

Check out these three talented bloggers’ posts… if you dare.

Housekeeping

This is another one of those “housekeeping” posts that I’m not all that crazy about, yet I need to get some things squared away.  As part of the Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a Better Blog challenge, I have been working at just that… improving my blog.  A few days ago, we were given the task of posting in a format that we don’t usually use.  I chose to use a quote, hence yesterday’s post, “You can be… .  The following day’s assignment was to publish a post inspired by this new format we had used the day before.  (I am actually behind on my assignments, but I wanted to be sure to complete them all.) 

As a result of the former assignment, I have decided that every Wednesday I will use a quote that inspires me.  I dubbed this Wisdom Wednesday… corny, I know.  My initial purpose was to try something new.  Incidentally, I found that I enjoyed sharing a message that was meaningful to me.  In fact, I already have my next two lined up. 

I was also inspired to add some structure to the format of my blog.  I prefer to write personal anecdotes, and with a personal agreement to write every single day, commenting on a quote once a week will lighten my load a bit.  I am even considering adding some other structures.  We shall see…

I will be adding a page of books and other resources that have been helpful to me as well (Help Along My Path), which I will update periodically.  It was drafted for an earlier assignment, and will be posted soon.  Then I will be all caught up… until tomorrow.