Internet · Michele · money · moving · realizations · seizures · Shel

Questions Worth Asking — And Some Answers

A while ago, someone sent me a link to a page entitled ‘25 Beautifully Illustrated Thought-Provoking Questions.’ I glanced at it, thinking “Hey, that’s nifty,” bookmarked it, and went on with my life. Today I stumbled upon it again, and a few of these questions hit me right between the eyes.
The last few weeks have been rough, and I’ve spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. Complaining, whining, bitching, whatever you want to call it, I’ve done them all-in spades. (There is a reason I called this site “Read Between the WHINES!”) Not enough money, bad health, bad weather, too many stupid commercials, nothing good to eat, blah blah blah. The worst thing was, after two-and-a-half years without a seizure, I had a whopper of a fit. Ended up with a huge headache, sore muscles and a nasty bitten tongue. Poor Jonna.
Then, as I was scrolling through these photos today, this question struck me.
23

Of course, I am aware that others have things much worse than I do. I’ve always been aware of that, but sometimes I forget. When I began having seizures at age 15, I took it in stride, and never made a big deal out of it, partly because my friends didn’t. If my friends had flipped out, I might have, but not one of them did. I’m sure there were people in our small town high school who thought I was a weirdo, but I was not aware of them. My mom always took it the hardest. And when I began seeing specialists at the OHSU Epilepsy Center, and met young people who had never been able to have any kind of normal life because of their seizures, that was reaffirmed. I was able to do almost everything that so-called normal people did: I worked, I had a home, a life. I never had to wear a helmet, or be confined to a wheelchair. For a long time, I even drove! (Looking back at that, I am amazed at how careless I was with others lives!) Many people who have the type of seizures I do (tonic-clonic, formerly referred to as grand mal) often lose control of their bladder and/or bowels during a seizure. I have always been extremely thankful that this has never once happened to me!
So yes, I am aware that others have things much worse, in many areas. I am struggling financially, but what that really means is that I don’t have spending money, and cannot afford to move. I am not homeless, nor will I be; nor am I going hungry. My family is always here for me, and I for them; so many don’t have that. So, I cannot buy a new book, or get a manicure. I have a perfectly good library card, and a drawer full of nail polish. So, I can’t afford that gym membership. I’d probably never go, anyway! I have perfectly good walking shoes, and the neighborhood behind us has sidewalks.
14

This month I turn forty-five years old, and shortly after that, the anniversary of Michele’s death arrives. I miss her every day. If Shel was anything, she was positive, and she would want me to celebrate what I have, not what I am missing. Somehow, I think finding these pictures was her way of reminding me of that.

 

BFF · breast cancer · cancer · Michele · reading · Shel · tears · writing

A Howling

I’m writing this post on an airplane to Grand Junction, where tomorrow we’re having a memorial service for Michele. Whenever mother called to tell me of the service, and ask if I would like to say something, there was never any doubt in my mind. Yes.
That was just over a week ago, and I am still unsure what I’ll be saying tomorrow.

Since Michele died in April, there has been a gaping hole in my life. A small tear that opened when she first told me she was sick, and grew larger with each progression of theater, until that day when she was gone. Leaving this rent in the fabric of my world. Our world, for there are many of us grieving her.
I’ve tried to read books by others who have lost loved ones, but never repast the first few chapters. Then I either begin crying so hard I can no longer see the page, or I become annoyed at the self-righteous tone taken by some, and my anger overflows. Either way , I end up crying.
While reading ‘Wild’  by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir about a woman who hikes the Pacific Crest Trail after her mother dies of cancer, I stumbled on a passage that summed up exactly how I have felt in the last year.
“I almost howled in agony. I almost choked to death on what I knew…. I was going to live the rest of my life without my mother.”
Strayed says she felt this way from the moment her mother received her diagnosis; her cancer was so advanced there was no hope. Yet for me, these words say exactly how I have felt since I received that phone call, saying Shel was gone.
Inside my mind, my soul, there is a constant howling, a never ending scream of pain and sadness, loss and grief. The person I loved most in the world is gone, and I am alone. For the rest of my life.
We will never race wheelchairs through the rest home, and annoy the nurses. We’ll never make it to see Barry Manilow sing in Vegas, or do our Copa dance wearing the feathered hats we made. I’ll have to sit through the next class reunion alone. And without her, I have nobody to call and tell my life to.
Every day I miss her. That will never end. I believe the noise of grief inside me will quiet down; I’m hoping tomorrow’s memorial will help with that.
Until we are together again, I will grieve. I miss you, Michele.

breast cancer · Colorado · exercise · goals · lemons · lessons · Michele · New Year · pain · realizations · Sarah Palin · Shel · Steven · yoga

Lemons and Lessons

I have to say, I’m not sorry 2010 is over. In many ways, that year sucked, big time.
I spent most of the year in pain with migraines, and various other things. As well, money was nearly non-existent, after Steven was injured at work, and then lost his job. By the end of the year, we had to move from our two-bedroom apartment into a much smaller one-bedroom, along with all our stuff, and the three animals. Instead of saving us money, we ended up owing our landlord for fees.
It seemed as if every time I turned around, 2010 was bitch-slapping me with another bit of bad news. I dreaded turning on the news, for fear I’d hear of another oil spill, hurricane or tornado, or god-forbid, a massive lay-off somewhere! Everyone I know has struggled through, either battling health issues, financial problems, or both. An optimists nightmare. I’m a glass half-full girl, but it was difficult to keep the glass from shattering during 2010.
But. (Yes, there is always a “but”)
Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.
Which means that in even though many things were awful, there were also many learning moments. I’ve learned that even when I have pain, I don’t have to be one. (I can thank Sarah Palin & Kate Gosselin for that lesson, in part. Never thought I’d be thanking them for anything!)
I’ve learned that if you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up. For me, that means if I want to accomplish anything, I have to get dressed, not spend the day in my pajamas, and actually leave the apartment. They say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we do it daily. My sister’s advice about building a habit in fourteen days was one of the best things I learned all year! (Thanks, Jolene!)
There were also many good moments in 2010, and I would be wrong if I neglected to mention them. After almost a decade apart, my best friend, Michele and I were finally in the same place at the same time, and our visit was AWESOME! She’s been battling breast cancer up there in the frozen north, and I’ve been missing her down here, so just being together in our home town, with her entire family, her wonderful kids & husband, was the highlight of my year. For a while I was able to forget everything else and just be happy. We talked, laughed, ate, shopped, cried, ate, laughed, giggled, and sang old Barry Manilow songs. We even stood in front of the mirror & did each other’s hair, just like the old days! Sharing the beauty of western Colorado with Steven was fabulous, too!
My nephew Max started first grade, was in three plays this year, and as far as he’s concerned, he was the star of each! Max and Steven have become good friends, and every time I hear Maxie call out “Uncle Steven!” in that joyous voice, my heart lifts!
Max’s big sister, Hattie Jo, turned 17 this year, and is amazing! Hattie is the girl I’d want if I had a daughter–she’s smart, funny, polite, and talented, beautiful. She’s a lot like me. Hattie has been my friend since she was born, and I love watching her grow into such an incredible woman.
Anyway. I’m rambling. This rough year has helped me to see how important my loved ones are. Memories and moments. Lessons and…something else that starts with an “s”…lemons?
Sure. Lessons and lemons. Because when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. And add some vodka. Then you have a party!!
I don’t make resolutions anymore– I learned a long time ago that I break those quicker than I break eggs for breakfast. I do set goals, and I’d like to share a few of them with you.
In 2011:
Re-read one favorite book a month, and write about it.
Make a scrapbook for my nephew Max.
Write a blog post twice a week.
Practice yoga daily.
Learn Vancouver’s bus system.
Volunteer.
Read more; watch television less.
Exercise more.
Express my gratitude daily.
So there you have it. My goals for 2011. I’m hoping this bright, shiny new year will be a better one for all of us, with little fear of shattering glass, or throwing those lemons at anybody’s head! Happy New Year, everyone!
breast cancer · Buttercup · exercise · fat · pain · Shel

Suck It Up, Buttercup!

In a post titled Wisdom of Fat, I swore that I’d get myself off the sofa and onto the treadmill. I wanted to break my lifelong habit of laziness & bad health with some daily exercise, other than the walk between bookshelf & fridge! When I made this promise, I was determined to change things, and yet, nothing has changed.
The last few months I’ve complained a bunch about being in pain: I’ve had almost daily headaches, body aches, and toothaches. As usual, I’ve let this derail me from almost everything I’ve wanted to do. NO MORE!
In my lifetime I’ve probably made this kind of promise as many times as an alcoholic says they’ll give up drinking. Nearly every day I say to someone “I’m going to start exercising (insert time here). ” And I always mean it. But something always stops me: something big, like a seizure, which can knock me out for days; or something small, like a headache, or wanting to finish watching an episode of Seinfeld. Valid or not, I’m through making excuses.
My BFF, Shel, has spent the last 2 years fighting breast cancer, and I need to take her advice:
“Suck it up, Buttercup!”
Yes, I’m sure I’m still going to have pain. Big deal. If Shel can get through it, so can I. We buttercups are pretty tough, after all!