Category Archives: laughter

I had every intention …

of blogging about driving around today with the convertible top down, the music loud and the wind in my face; of blooming trees and budding flowers, puffy clouds in a blue, sun-drenched sky and the perfectness of a warm April day.

But I just hung up the phone after talking to my mom and the things I previously held up in importance faded into the background.

She is a rock, a beacon, a lighthouse, a safe haven.

She knows everything about me, the things that shamed me and, at one time or another, shamed her.

In my youth, I hurt her deeply and couldn’t find within myself the knowledge or ability to make it right.

She knows of my dreams and aspirations and is always the first one to encourage me even as she puts her own dreams and aspirations on hold.

It isn’t easy to explain to someone that thoughts, images, words, experiences, memories and a myriad of other flotsam runs through my head, in a constant stream, even when I’m sleeping.

And that is when I am at my baseline and not in manic mode.

She takes it in stride without judgement or condemnation and, I have come to realize, did so even when I felt I was being judged and condemned.

Nobody can condemn me any more than I condemn myself.  It is the nature of my world and I live with it.

She knows, though, simply by looking at my face or hearing my voice ,when I am in the throes of mania or, thankfully more rarely, the despondency of a depressive crash.

She understands that sometimes, I have to go away; from her, from myself, from everyone and just be dormant.

She knows these things and doesn’t hold them against me.

There is no “well, you did this or that or the other thing”.

She isn’t like that.

She is patient and kind.

She is, without doubt, the Proverbs 31 woman.

I would like to be like her, but that is an aspiration that will never come.  It isn’t that my cup is half empty, but that I live, as much as I can, in a reality-based existence.

She is a light in a dark place and I migrate to her when I need simply to know that someone loves me unconditionally.

I tell her I love her, but how do you describe to someone that  you cannot imagine a life without them.

Unless I die first by some freak event, by the natural order of things, I will lose her at some point in my life.

I cannot imagine a world without my mom.

So I will put that with other things I cannot imagine into a box that lives in the outer-regions of my heart.

When I am manic, the box will break open and I will have to face the possibility, but for now, when I am am simply on overdrive, it is secure in the  little locked box.

She inspires me with her acceptance and encouragement and that, without doubt or reservation, beats blooming trees in springtime seen from a back road drive with the convertible top down.

I love you, Mom .

A houseguest

 

My Mother's Mother's bleeding hearts

My Mother’s Mother’s bleeding hearts

 

This is how she makes me feel ... cherished

This is how she makes me feel … cherished

All of that being said about my mom, I want to extrapolate to another area and  extend prayers and encouragement to a friend that I have long lost touch with.  She lost her son, the light of her world and is now lying among the shattered pieces of her world.  Keep Pam Begley in your prayers when you pray.  I cannot fathom losing a child.

 

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Get out of my OR …

were the words he said.  Actually, he didn’t say them as much as angrily and red-faced screamed them, and this, might I add, is the severely cleaned up  version of his tirade.  There were many other quite colorful words he said as he pointed his scalpel at me.  A scalpel, I must say, that he hadn’t had the chance to use yet.

I was a very young, very green, very squeamish nursing student.  It wasn’t a hundred years ago, but looking back, it seems so.  I had already told my instructor that I was a bit apprehensive about rotating through the surgery suite, but she, having more faith in me than she should have, encouraged me to “give it a whirl”.  I gave it a whirl alright; right to the ground.  I had one of my biggest pump-knots ever from that experience, not to mention my wounded pride.

The victim, aka patient, was draped and swathed over their entire abdomen, with betadine.  The first incision hadn’t been made and yet, just seeing that poor soul lying there like a corpse, covered in the magenta colored antiseptic, made my head spin.  I sang in my mind, as I often did when I was nervous, Bee-Gees songs.  Something about that beautiful Barry’s falsetto  just calmed me right down.  In this particular case, however, it was ineffective.  The head Operating Room nurse (who was a very formidable character) had placed me nearby, but not close enough to get in the way.  At least that was what she thought.  Every time she looked at me with those sharp, intelligent, hard eyes, I felt like I was five years old and about to get a spanking.  I stood in the exact spot she put me and didn’t move an inch; not one single inch.  Up until , that is, the point that I passed out.

The Surgeon, one who was known for his quick temper and blatant intolerance, didn’t even glance in my direction.  I was, as far as he was concerned, little more than a gnat to be swatted away.  He was in his element an he knew it;  reveled in it … a god in his own heaven.  The fact that there was a young nursing student watching his every move just enhanced his already inflated ego and even so,  he still didn’t acknowledge my presence.  I was glad of that because I was, without a doubt, terrified.

I looked at the poor soul that was about to be cut on, saw the red hue of the betadine and felt myself getting warm.  I had never passed out before, so I didn’t recognize the warning signs.  I had no idea how much damage simply collapsing in a heap could cause.

If I had only passed out and fell without incident, I suppose he would have just left me there until he was finished; caring not if I were alive or dead and happy in his existence, either way…  but that isn’t what happened.  At the moment I realized that I was going down, I reached out.  (after all, isn’t that what people do when they realize they are falling?  reach out for something to brace themselves with?)  In this particular case, the thing I caught hold of was THE  sterile tray of items needed for the surgery at hand.  I pulled gauze, instruments and towels to the floor, thus compromising the sterility of everything that would be needed f0r the surgery.  One of the towels landed across part of my face; the instruments and gauze strewn about me.  The spell lasted only, as fainting spells often do, a few seconds.  But my, oh my, the havoc that a few seconds can have  on an already tense situation.

When I woke up (again, after only a few seconds), the surgeon was standing over me, scalpel pointed at the part of my face (namely my eyes) that weren’t covered by the previously sterile towel, screaming at me to get the #$&% out of his OR and ensuring me that if I ever came back to his operating suite, he would strangle me with his own hands and laugh while I was being buried.  Being young, green and very impressionable, I did the only thing I could think of to do; I started crying.  That pissed him off even more and I learned a whole slew of new words.  Some of them, nearly thirty years later, I still don’t know the meaning of.

Needless to say, I was banned, for all eternity, from the OR and had to spend an extra three weeks (I’m now convinced it was solely as punishment) in Pediatrics just to get enough clinical hours to get me through Nursing School.  By some miracle, I graduated, passed my boards and ended up actually making a living as a nurse.

I became less squeamish as years passed and tasks that had to be don were less daunting. Other than watching someone be hacked on, I found could tolerate many gruesome things.  As I get older, though, and I am older for that experience happened more than 25 years ago, I find myself becoming  squeamish again.  More often than not these days,  I find it’s hard not to gag at the myriad of things that people bring to “show the nurse”.  There are things I don’t need to see, things I don’t need to hear and things I wish I never knew existed.  These days, my least favorite phrase is “ears!” for God knows that the things that grow in people’s ears is as close to Hell as one can come without actually getting burned.

I am not thwarted, though, because unless I am discovered as a writer or photographer, I can retire in  another 100 years.  Wait, I’ll be dead by then and I won’t have to worry about it anymore and the fear of humiliation will be noting more than a bad memory.

We learn things as we go through life.  Things that make us stronger, more secure or simply cut us off at the knees and then kick us while we are bleeding out in front of the spectators.  I still sing Bee-Gees songs when I get nervous about something and I still wonder, at times, if this will be the moment when I hit the floor.  It is, if nothing else, an adventure in itself, but I’m finding the adventure to be less adventurous and more arduous as time passes.  But, like I said, in 100 years, I can retire.  I am counting the minutes.

Soaring

Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly far; far, far away from here ~ Jenny in Forrest Gump

Those unexpected moments …

always seem to happen at the least convenient time.  I was just about to clock out at work today and meet an old friend for dinner.  We hadn’t seen each other in over a year and were going to celebrate our birthdays; mine near the end of November and hers three weeks later.

Just as I was gathering my things, I got a text from my mom telling me that my sister and cousin had been in a wreck and were at the hospital.  Needless to say, all thoughts of meeting up with old friends flew out the window.  Two distinct images came into my mind: first, her Mercedes, crumpled and broken; second, my nieces in the back seat.  As it turned out, she wasn’t driving the car but the Suburban and thankfully, prayerfully in gratitude, the girls weren’t with her.

After reaching my mom on the phone, I was able to discern that there were scans and xrays being performed and I made haste to get to the hospital.  It never changes.  That feeling of heading toward the hospital uncertain of what you’ll find when you get there.  You have details, but they are sketchy and leave way too much room for fodder.  Then there is the clerk at the desk who has to ask five times for the name of the person you are looking for so he can find them in the computer.  At long last the magic doors to the bowels of the ER are opened and I am allowed entrance.

Why should this time be any different than any other time I had been there?  The moment I walked through the doors, I was lost.  There were so many halls and numbered rooms, glass from floor to ceiling with only a curtain to stretch across to protect the inside from prying eyes.  It always makes me feel odd to walk those halls with, obviously, no clue where I am going and have people who know, obviously, that I have no clue where I’m going and yet just pass me by.

After wandering around for a bit, I found my sister in a room with the date of 1/3/2012 on the dry erase board on the wall.   She was lying flat of her back with a cervical collar snugly in place, the wires going in every direction and quite unhappy with the whole situation.  She wasn’t on a backboard and the way she kept moving about, I figured she was ok, otherwise, she would have been somewhat restrained.

More than an hour passed and she asked to go to the bathroom.  She was told she was not allowed to get up but that she could use the bedpan.  She looked at the nurse as though she had suddenly blurted out a mouthful of profanity.  No thank you was the response to the bedpan.  And time passed.  The Xrays that were supposed to have been back nearly an hour before were not.  My sister’s allowance to get out of bed hinged on the results of those Xrays.  If she could get out of bed, she could get to the bathroom.  And time passed.  Finally, my prissy sister decided that she really had no choice but to ask for a bedpan.  It seemed to be an uneventful and successful undertaking until a few moments later, when she asked me “is this bed wet?”.   I burst out laughing.  I simply could not help myself.  I’m not proud of it, but simply had no control over it.  Later, we all laughed about it because not only does my sister know she’s prissy, she’s proud of it.  I’m just glad everyone is, although sore and creaky, unharmed.  Thank God.

beach2012_formalportraits-81

Psalms 103:1 ~ Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Happiness …

is waking up one morning, brushing my teeth, finishing my morning exercise routine, showering and dressing only then to realize that, for the first time in my entire life (I say entire, but the first three years are pretty fuzzy) my thighs no longer touch when I walk.  What an incredible life moment.  I think of all the people I could call at six am who would find this interesting and can think of no one.  I think of all the people I could text who would find this amazing and again, I can think of no one.  Facebook?  No, not really the kind of thing people want to read about first thing in the morning.  Twitter?  Again, TMI at such an early hour.  So what do I do?  Blog about it, of course.

Unless you have been there, overweight, I mean, there is really no way to find excitement in the fact that you can walk without the “shhhh … shhhh … shhhh” of  your legs rubbing together.  It’s hard to describe the beauty of the moment when that is no longer an issue.  I’ve struggled, as long as I can remember, with my weight.  A couple of years ago, though, I decided that enough was enough.  I started exercising and going on hikes, which, since I always had my camera along, renamed “trail shoots”.  As the weeks and months passed, the trail shoots became more difficult and arduous, requiring strength of body and mind in order to complete.  It was better than Sudoku for my brain and made me feel strong and (nearly) invincible.

As the pounds fell away, well, that is really pure nonsense as they didn’t fall away but took effort, a great deal of effort actually, hard work and self-control, I found myself even more motivated.  First 25 pounds, then 50, then 80 and, to date, 96 pounds have been shed.  Self-control is not my strong suit so implementing that was more work than I anticipated.  As I learned to control my physical condition, however, it spilled over into other aspects of my life.  It is, after all, one of the fruits of the Spirit and something that I wanted to master.  I haven’t mastered it completely but feel that I have, in the words of the old Virginia Slims commercials, “come a long way, baby”.

A recent injury to my shoulder has inhibited my ability to hike to the difficult places I like to go, so  I have had to increase my efforts at home.  I hate exercise as much as the next person; the repetitions encouraged by the ridiculously toned, way too blonde, much too excited to be doing crunches individual who happens to be on the video I am following, but until I am able to resume the weekend jaunts that leave me feeling strong, toned and energized, I have little choice but to endure them.  Yoga has also become a new pursuit.  I find that, while I am quite flexible, I have a long way to go before I can fold myself into a box and be happy about it.  And Yoga, while it may seem to be a simple form of exercise, is actually quite strenuous and requires a great deal of concentration and focus, neither of which come easy to me.  At times, I find my enthusiasm lacks what is required to do it regularly and then I remember just what, once I am able to contort myself into a pretzel, I will be able to accomplish. As I sit here this evening gazing at the lights on my Christmas tree, enjoying the feeling of accomplishment, I think of what is yet to come and all I can think is that, in my heart of hearts I know; I. Can. Do. This.

highknob_falls_gorge-38

The Pianist …

was in the mood to play.  This has been one of those rare spaces of time that I live for.  Moments that move me past my everyday life and touch the very core of that which makes me who I am.  A time when emotions show themselves and then are pushed aside as the sheer joy of  music fills my spirit.  Before tonight, I didn’t realize how low my Spirit was feeling.  Putting on a smile for the onlookers is easy.  Those who don’t know what they are looking at take it at face value.  I had begun to almost believe it as well.  Until tonight.

I got all jazzed up and found that I was only going through the motions at the employee Christmas party.  Afterward, however, was the turning point of the evening.  I stopped by the house of two of my dearest friends. There was laughter, friendship and camaraderie that one can only get from those they are closest to.  And then the offer came.  The offer to listen as he played the piano.  After the first song, I simply burst into tears and was moved so deeply as they ran, unashamedly,  down my face.  It was as if the notes on the page weren’t there at all, such was the depth of the music.  I found myself feeling freed of every negative thought that was swirling in my mind.  The profoundness of the notes were so moving that my Spirit had no choice but to open itself, becoming released from burdens and sadness that I had not really, until then, been aware were there.

I felt transcended; removed from time and space .  There was nothing in my world at that moment but the musician and the music he made; his hands flying over the keys, the sound touching me intimately,  stimulating every cell in my body.  I felt awakened and content; calmness and exhilaration blending to become an emotion of its own.  Thoughts that had filled my head for days and weeks were swept away, leaving nothing but the serenity of hearing such brilliance being played in my presence.

It is hard to explain what the sound of a piano does to me.  It makes me feel breathless and full of something so wonderful that the world can’t touch. I consider myself immensely blessed to have a piano man in my life; and am thankful beyond what I have the capacity to relay in mere words that he plays for me.  I suppose it isn’t really for me, but for himself, but I like to think it’s for me because he knows I love it so.  Thank you, my friend, for sharing your gift with me.  I am richer now than I was only a few hours ago because you took me somewhere so ethereal that even my vivid and encompassing imagination has a hard time comprehending it.

Even as I write this post, the rain is beginning to fall.  I can now say, without reservation or hesitation that this has, without a doubt, been the best evening I’ve had in a very long time.

flowersfornini

Isaiah 55:12 ~ You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

falling without grace…

there is a wrong way and another wrong way.  Nobody (except maybe stunt people) gets up one morning and says to themselves, “today, i believe I will trip over something ridiculous and break half the bones in my body simply for the fun of it”.  I can’t think of a single normal person who hopes for such maladies.  I’m sure there are others who will be glad to see November end, but I feel that I want it very badly and am anxiously awaiting the stroke of midnight tonight.  While the date on the calendar has little to do with karma, fate, cosmos or other things that have little to do with anything and everything to do with nothing, they can certainly cause an immediate attitude adjustment.

I spend much of my time hiking and simple climbing over rocks and through crevices, sliding down hills and holding myself upright with trees because the trail I am on is too steep to stand otherwise.  I’ve had minor incidents on these rambles, bruises and sprain or two, but it took much more simple, mundane and downright boring ways for me to actually put myself out of commission with injuries.

I have gone my entire life with only two serious falls that caused great distress over breaking things.  The first happened when I was somewhere around the age of ten.  My mother had just bought me these incredibly great bracelets.  They were colorful and at least an inch wide each.  There were three of them and they were great; I could scarcely wait to show them off at school the next day.  As it happened, however, I was walking upright, as humans often do, and just fell over. Tripped over an imaginary line and fell down the patio steps. I skinned my knees and elbows pretty badly, but that was not the worst of the incident.  I broke my bracelets, all of them, and actually cried over them.  The second, which was much more serious, resulted from a slip in the shower and nearly destroyed my ankle. I remember threatening my (now late) husband that if he called the paramedics before I was dressed, it would be himself who needed immediate emergency care.  Thanks to an exceptional Orthopedic surgeon, I can’t even tell that it was ever broken (except when going through a metal detector; that still requires much explanation and often being pulled aside for questioning).

This month, however, the record has been, like my poor body, shattered.  Did I fall while climbing the treacherous trail to the white rocks?  No.  Was it while descending the winding rock steps to my favorite falls?  No.  Did I do it while standing at the edge of a 2,000 foot drop, inches from the edge, just to get the perfect photograph?  No.  Mayhaps by climbing the steep, shaded so usually slick hill to the cabin behind our property.  No, not that either.  I did it first by tripping over my niece’s Basset  Hound and, just as those broken bones and stitches were healing, secondly by tripping over an open dishwasher door.  Not only are these very boring ways to seriously injure oneself, it makes it hard for people who ask what happened to hold in their snickers.

They may as well laugh about it; I do.  The alternative is to have a continuous pity-party and make myself feel worse than I do by reminding myself that, until clearance is given from the current orthopedic surgeon, I am unable to steady my camera with it’s heavy zoom lens with my left arm.  Being the bad patient I am, when the moon was so beautiful the other night, I decided to blow off his recommendations and take some shots of the moon.  As wonderful as the  high of photographing something so magnificent was, the doc was right.  It was excruciating.  But man, oh, man, I did get some great moon and Jupiter shots!  Some pain is just plain worth it.

While my broken nose is healing, my fractured ribs are less slowly trying to  send me over the edge, the chipped kneecap doesn’t squeak quite so much, the progress with my shoulder is much slower.  The feel of that bone moving around makes me sick and when I get sick, my ribs hurt and my collarbone threatens to go on strike and stop doing its part to hold my head where it has been all my life.

I guess the moral of this story of the wrong way and the other wrong way to fall is to just not fall to begin with.  I’m convinced that if I didn’t get as much exercise as I do traipsing around the countryside, strengthening my muscles and bones, it would have been much, much worse.  As it is, three broken and one chipped bone, a busted mouth, a scar worthy of acceptance into the Klingon clan scar directly between my eyes, gashed chin and a separated shoulder joint has been an eye opening experience.  These events tell me that is safer to climb a steep, slippery trail with big rocks and little leverage than it is to walk across my own (flat) driveway or through my own (also flat) house. To cheer myself, I had planned to head to the mountains tomorrow, however, this being the height of hunting season, it would be just my luck (as the streak has already shown itself to be targeting me personally) to have a stray bullet find its way into my skull as I drove along the winding mountain roads.    For those who laugh at the escapades, don’t feel bad.  Laughter is the best way to get through difficult situations and I have no problem poking a bit of fun at myself.  Have had many laughs up to now because looking back, it was pretty funny.  It’s still quite painful, but is beginning to be more funny than painful.  The downside to that; it hurts to laugh.  I find myself impatient to get back to the difficult, dangerous climbs and trail shoots so that I will be, once again, safe and sound.

whiterocks_trailshoot-150whiterocks_trailshoot-104

Birthdays …

the good, the bad and the indifferent.  Birthdays have always been a very cool thing to me, whether it is mine or someone else’s, I just feel happy.  Most of the time.  This year, my birthday came and went. There was cake and ice-cream, family, friends, co-workers; all the usual birthday suspects.  It was different, though.  This month started out with a fairly serious facial injury and mid-way through, adding insult (and injury) to injury, I fairly seriously injured my shoulder and cracked a couple of ribs.   Now it is no secret to the people who know me well that my mind, in the best of times, is a scary place to be.  During the worst of times, I walk around with a bio-hazard sign flashing above my head.

But, as I so often do, digress.  I can chalk part of it up to the end of October, that which I both long for and dread.  I have a love/hate relationship with that month and it nearly always makes me high.  November, however, is a month of coming to terms with the oncoming winter, saying goodbye to the leaves, hello to the bare sentries of winter and getting ready to be cold more often than not.  And my birthday is this month and that always makes me feel extremely special.  That was not to be this year.  With each new event, there were melancholic thoughts of days past, days that I didn’t care that much for when they were the present.  I thought much of my late husband and felt guilty, at times, that I was ready to let him be at peace and begin the process of getting on with my solitary (as that is how I like it) life.

I don’t discount the many blessings of the last year.  That would be wrong on so many levels.  The blessings have been numerous and I am thankful for each one.  Blessings sometimes get lost in the fray of life, though. I have family suffering from the loss of a loved one, dear friends that I am unable to account for and dealing with turning 45.  Any of these would be like turning a page during normal times, but when they all happen at once, well, it weighs on the mind.

Did it make my birthday less happy?  Yes.  Life has a way of doing what it wants.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy today, or tomorrow or the next day.  It doesn’t mean that I am beyond hope.  Unhappiness is a part of living and if there is anyone who has lived their entire life saying they have never experienced it, then you have seen, up close and personal, a liar.

November is nearly over and the round of Christmas parties, Band concerts, Christmas plays and a thousand other things that I will be trying hard to find a place to fit will present themselves, (at the last minute, always at the last minute), and at the same time, working diligently to keep my sanity (a fine line at best).  While it is true that I’m closer to fifty than I was only a couple of days ago, that is the furthest thing on my mind.  I am happier now than I have ever been.  Free, so to speak, with a daughter in college and myself on my own.  But there are times, as everyone knows, when it would be nice just to have someone put their arms around me, saying nothing as I cry until the tears were gone.  There is nothing wrong with that.  It is not a sign of weakness, but proof of humanness; it is life.  It can be, at times discouraging, but in that moment that we find ourselves, unless we make it our mission, will not last forever.  I am already looking forward to doing it better and with more enthusiasm in the next year; whatever “it” may be.  I am a survivor and no matter what comes at me, I can depend on the Jesus to which I cling to lift me when my wings are too broken to fly on my own.  I am truly, humbly, honorable and indescribably blessed and that, I don’t want to forget.

Looking at the here and now can sometimes be overwhelming … but the here and now will be the there and then tomorrow, so don’t let it break you.  Let it get you down, cry when you need to, throw things if it suits you (my favorite thing to do in a crisis), but at the end of the day, realize that our life, our thoughts, our fears are part of what makes us who we are and without them, we wouldn’t really be anyone in particular, but like everyone else.  I like being different, even when it’s painful.  Though I have many regrets, there isn’t anything I would change because if I were to change them, my ability to relate and empathize would become obsolete.  An easy life is no challenge, but rising above the odds and making the best of the worst situations takes us to a whole new level.  It is my goal to serve my Lord and be the best that I can be for Him.   Be encouraged, my friends, for nothing lasts forever.  Nothing.

Lightning over Big Moccasin

Psalms 28:7 ~ The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart is trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will praise him.