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Posts Tagged ‘determination’

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

My teenage granddaughter is helping me with a novel I’m writing; she sees with younger eyes. I value her perspective. I value Kate.

As I drive to her house to drop off the first few chapters, the early morning sun blinds me. Sunglasses dull the intensity of the glare, but the shadowy lenses darken the road and traffic as well.

A premonition hits me. This day is not going to be easy. I’m not completely well yet. Fatigue wants to take over my thoughts and body. I can’t let it.

Along the well-known route I pass a dead opossum in the middle of the road. Around the next corner I see a young boy with a backpack. He is probably waiting for a school bus.

I see both death and learning. 

One turn north and my eyes get a temporary respite. Maybe today’s metaphorical staircase will contain more winding, uneven steps than a direct passage, up or down, in or out of sun and darkness.

The discomfort in my gut lightens for a while, yet the pain I see in the world grows beyond what I understand.

I feel a need to begin with accepting whatever happens today, hear what others say. Even if I can’t understand.

Faith—it’s taking each step as it comes. Into the glaring light. Into the frightening darkness. Into the unexplainable. Into giving without judgment. Into peace.

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What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The flower our beggar squirrel beheaded has replaced itself—threefold. I suspect what I thought was a sunflower gift is a weed, a wild sunflower. The plant’s leaves appear as worn as my septuagenarian skin. I photographed the whole plant anyway. The leaves are part of its reality. I wear flawed parts, too, like every other ephemeral life form.

I struggle to conquer uncertainty and borderless fears. My husband and I are traveling to Europe soon. On past trips, I have met people who have brightened my spirit. Nevertheless, the worry-pain I build-up feels like surgery without anesthesia.

I have the same sense of direction as an untethered balloon. Leave my familiar surroundings and I float wherever the wind takes me.

I imagine telling my husband, “Sweetie, I’m following you everywhere you go as we travel. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Um, even on my way to the men’s room?”

There may be a few problems with my plan. Maybe I’ll take everywhere out of my request. Superlatives such as everywhere, the greatest, the worst, and all, lose truth somewhere. Death is final, as far as I know, at least as far as my limited vision can see. The other side has only sent subtle hints, two or three pieces from a billion-piece more-than-I-can-fathom puzzle.

In the meantime, I study the weed in my front yard. Yellow. Green. Hints of brown. Sun. Shadow. And I wonder how one dull, broken stalk replaced one flower with three.

“Hey, girl!” I tell myself. “You’re taking a trip that frightens you because you know it’s worth the risk. Have a good time, and recognize the flowers among the weeds. Who knows what lies ahead?” I’m about to find out.

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Shadow owes its birth to light. (John Gay, poet and dramatist)

My fractured metacarpal is healed. Or at least the break appears as a fading memory on an x-ray. Just below the mended crack, in my middle finger, the damage remains. Arthritis, lots of it. Severe. Yet, amazingly less painful than the word severe would indicate.

The bone’s joints are not aligned. Middle finger knocks its smaller digit comrades into a crossover position. Make-a-fist is no longer a realistic possibility. Adaptation is my next goal.

In fact, the doctor opens his computer and shows me guitar tools…thumb picks. He discovers devices to aid the less-than-perfect hand.

(I try to find the link later—no success. However, I can find guitar stores.)

“I guess I have a challenge then,” I tell the doctor. And he agrees. He also adds that studies have shown pain and attitude are linked. The more positive a patient is after surgery, the more likely the individual will need fewer, if any, opioids.

For me, surgery is not the best option, however. Maybe that is a good thing. Continuous movement is natural for me anyway.

My friend, Mary, recently broke her hip. She spent some time in a rehab facility. She managed her pain with only ibuprofen. At the time, I was amazed. How could she do that? Now I understand. She did it with her upbeat attitude.

Later in the day, I spend time with a friend who sees shadow even when her eyes are open. Nevertheless, she has brought me light. Ann is blind. I am driving her to a doctor’s appointment. We chat. About everything from our lives as they really are, not our show-selves, to who has the best fried chicken. Somehow, she knows what part of town we reach as I turn from one street to another.

I tell her about my granddaughter Rebe, how she and her sister, Kate, made a bridal veil out of a white shawl and a pair of my underwear. Ann tells jokes.

As we leave the office Ann says, “Okay if I drive home?”

“Well,” I answer, “only if you drive wa-a-y too fast. I need some adventure.”

A gentleman is waiting for the receptionist. He smiles. I hope we have made his day, too. Light mingled with shadow, in unpredictable patterns.

No, Ann does not drive my car home. She does drive my spirit in the right direction. And I am grateful.

light and shadow, flowers blooming in light

My crooked fingers remain less than photographable, better left to the imagination.

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The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace. (Carlos Santana, musician)

I don’t take breathing for granted—not after a two-month fight with asthma and bronchial issues. Then I broke my hand and the complications escalated. My second book in the Star League Chronicles, Stinky, Rotten Threats, came out.

While my hand was in a brace, a pen could have been a foreign object. For weeks after my hand was freed, I wrote with a strayed moth-like path across the page. Typing wasn’t much better, slower, yet possible. My twisted middle finger crossed over my ring and little finger.

I continue with occupational therapy to correct the problem. My handwriting is legible. Pain is minimal.

Now, as I drive in the rain I wonder what to do next. Each day I missed allowed my work to get lost among the grand onslaught of well-known-first-to-be picked publications, then independent press and self-published books.

In my new fantasy, Chase and his friends face evil capable of destroying their magic woods and killing their leader. The kids don’t give up; they can’t. And, of course, as the writer, I saw snags appear along my way—like a computer that turned itself off as I finished final edits the day before my deadline. The gosh-darned-electronic-device erased a whole slew of edits.

No, I didn’t take that incident as a quit-while-you-can prophecy. I understood it as a challenge. (After a few cleansing yet non-repeatable expletives) Can I do the same with my health issues?

I begin the uphill drive home when I see a woman walking with a cane in the downpour. If only I had Star League powers… Maybe magic tools don’t exist in real life, but I do have an umbrella. And several more at home. I pull over and call to the woman, offer protection from the deluge, albeit late. Her hair hangs drenched in her face.

“I’m almost home, but…” She pauses. “Thank you. Not many people would stop and do that. You can pray for me, though. My name is Geneva.” She stands in the wet and shows no sign of urgency. “I paid my rent. I really did. My landlord says I didn’t. He’s going to evict me.”

I am dry inside the car, yet feel a sudden chill. “Of course, I will.”

Geneva asks for nothing else. The futility of a one-umbrella gift hits me, and yet she says, “You’ve made my day, though. Thank you. Thank you more than I can say.” She turns and continues to walk.  Without the umbrella. Uphill, far more uphill than I drive. Far more uphill than any challenge I face.

As the day passes I’m tempted to go back and look for Geneva. Perhaps, I will find her again. I don’t know. In the meantime, I pray not to forget that moment. Or her.

Photo: Sun and Rain

The sunflower appeared compliments of a visiting bird. No sunflower seeds were planted. It was nature’s gift.

 

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Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. (Joseph Addison)

When I try to make a fist, my middle finger doesn’t want to cooperate. It remains in an upright position and causes my ring finger to cross over my little finger—a bully gesture caused by a hand attached to a profoundly nonviolent individual. I didn’t like football before I knew about the number of brain injuries in head-butted players.

Therefore, I wait in my orthopedist’s office to discover whether I will need surgery. I’m early for my appointment and I open Janis Thornton’s new cozy mystery, Dead Air and Double Dares.*

Janis opens the story with a powered parachute destined to crash. Inside is an asparagus-thin woman who runs a newspaper in a small town. Crystal Cropper’s age fits in the senior citizen category, but she bristles when she hears the o-word. Besides, she investigates crimes without fear. And, after her experiences in Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies, if she isn’t afraid after almost—oops, no plot spoilers permitted—she isn’t afraid of anything.

I have only read as far as Chapter Six and I have laughed several times already. Out loud. Crystal’s personality sparkles with every action. She has spunk.

Author Janis makes it clear the victim is dead, but long descriptions of the scene a coroner would explore, is gratefully absent. For me, facing a fictitious dead body beats the possibility for slicing my right hand.

I’m called back to be seen by the doctor sooner than I want. One more page, just one more page. This office is entirely too efficient.

Fortunately, an x-ray shows I do NOT need surgery, just a time machine to go back and remove twenty years of accumulated arthritis. Yes, the metacarpal fracture did cause residual damage, but occupational therapy should help. In time. Lots of it.

Patience is a virtue I’m told. However, when it comes to a good cozy mystery, I’d rather not wait. I wiggle my offending fingers a few times and pick up my new signed book. (Thanks, Janis.) Chapter Seven and onward. Reading is to the mind what occupational therapy is to my fingers. No interruptions please…my mind is busy.

*The links for Janis’s books can be found on her website.

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It’s important to see how we can advance in healing wounds. (Ricardo Lagos)

When I tell a good long-time friend that I’m seeing my orthopedist on Friday, she shares experience I hadn’t considered. Doc’s expected first request: “Make a fist.”

The inevitable surfaces. My middle finger has more arthritis than muscle and bone. It had old-lady inflexibility before my hand had a major conflict with the concrete—and lost.

We’re talking about pain. Healing rarely includes magic-wand results. My gut reaction says run from impending digital distress, but I have a book signing to schedule, a guitar waiting for me to take it out of its case, a real-life schedule to maintain, blogs to type with more than one finger, my next book to write, as well as grandchildren who bring no-time-to-sit-still joy.

I remove the brace and unwrap a foreign hand. Hi, there, righty. Want to shake hands with lefty? Or at least curve across the top surface of her flesh for a while?

We’ll work together, every part of me, past and present. As a girl child reared in the middle of the twentieth century I was taught to have no needs. The older woman Terry speaks against such nonsense. A warehouse needs stock before it can distribute goods. A flower needs the power of seed—within itself—to flourish.

Healing wounds. A lifelong process. I’m not sure what I can expect on Friday, but this isn’t Friday.  Today, I curl and uncurl uncooperative fingers as the sun and rain take turns in the summer day skies.

Thanks for the photo, hubby Jay

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A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points.  (Alan Kay)

I awaken from a short evening nap on the couch at my brother-in-law’s house. I can’t breathe. One inhalation of albuterol, two. Desperate, wheezy attempts to get air out of my lungs.

“Should I take you to the ER?” my husband asks.

We are six hours from home. The ER could be one mile away or as far away as Mercury. I don’t know. Finally, a pause between coughs. Water. More water.

I decide I will make it through the night. My brother-in-law escorts me to the most efficient air-conditioned room. My sister-in-law sleeps on the floor. I remain in a recliner I can’t adjust with a fractured right hand in a brace. My sister-in-law maneuvers the chair up and down as I need it, even for my nighttime bathroom trips. She needs to leave for work at eight in the morning, yet is willing to help me.

My wheezing doesn’t stop, but it doesn’t reach a critical level. I have no idea how much time lapses between albuterol rescue inhalations.

A frightening scene? Maybe. However, my in-laws are close-by. Jay is in a room next door. Love lives here. It fills me. Night will not give up a single hour of darkness. Yet, light survives. In hearts and minds.

A trip to Urgent Care. Antibiotics. Prednisone. More waiting to be the full me I recognize.

To breathe freely.

To turn the key in my car’s ignition with my right hand.

To sign Stinky, Rotten Threats, Book Two in the Star League Chronicles, now available, with a signature that doesn’t look as if I were pretending to wield an electric saw struck by lightning.  

To cut my own sandwiches.

To celebrate the ordinary.

The magic available in fantasy doesn’t exist on the everyday plane. The magic available inside the human spirit has power. It changes perspective. I’d like to say my IQ is 80 points higher because I learned to accept and appreciate care.

More likely, I’m simply a lot happier.

The same flower, in darkness and in light

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