In Search of a Title

I never thought about writing a blog long-term when I started this two and a half years ago. On occasion I think I may throw in the towel and give it up because I’m not sure I have anything relevant left to say. I’m also not writing about what I really want to talk about and that is my search for wholeness, even more than health. I think health will follow. And so it seems I’ve run out of creative titles as well. I’m trying to figure out what direction to go with this because I really don’t want to give up the wonderful connections I’ve made online.

How do you title a blog that says “I’ve been busier than a one-armed paper hanger?” For someone with limited energy, I’ve tried to get a fair amount accomplished. I dug out boxes of craft supplies as you saw last time and I found my old friend here. I painted this sweet lady 25 years ago. Since I have no little ones to indulge on Easter, I filled her full of chocolates and took her to my quilt group, and both writing groups last week. Daisy enjoyed the outing and being passed from one person to another.

Hardy old hare, Miss Daisy herself

Hardy old hare, Miss Daisy herself

Miss Daisy from behind

Miss Daisy from behind

She has room to hold a lot of candy and this summer maybe even some flowers. Hmmm

She has room to hold a lot of candy and this summer maybe even some flowers. Hmmm

I had two machine embroidery classes in one month due to schedule changes by the instructor. So here are the completed projects. The apron was the most challenging for me as it was made from a man’s shirt and if you have them handy it’s a good upcycling project. I had to go to the thrift store for this. No men in my house. The other was not something I think I will make again. It’s pretty for a lavender sachet but I think it will be harder to replace the lavender when it loses potency. Both sides are exactly alike but the design is flipped to do the back and stitched on organza to contain the lavender.

The back of the shirt was used to make the ties

The back of the shirt was used to make the ties

Pocket was from the sleeve and cuff.

Pocket was from the sleeve and cuff.

machine embroidered lace on organza

machine embroidered lace on organza

I finished a couple of strip quilt tops for our group and have almost finished sewing the binding on another. Easter was quiet here.

I don't pick the fabric, just sew it together.

I don’t pick the fabric, just sew it together.

All done from left overs donated

All done from left overs donated

My daughter wanted to take me to breakfast so we got up and out early to beat the after church crowd and then did our grocery shopping for the week before spending a few lovely minutes in the bookstore. Everything else was closed to the dismay of many, including this confused goose. Goose was standing looking in the door at Kohl’s for over 10 minutes. I guess Goose was looking for a sale. My daughter walked within a few feet of him/her without being charged. We had a quiet evening at home where I cooked on the grill and she did her weeks laundry. Real exciting stuff.

Where is everybody?

Where is everybody?

Open up. I came for the Easter sale.

Open up. I came for the Easter sale.

What’s next? I have several quilts to finish and more organizing to do. I found a several small projects to do by hand with ribbon embroidery. A nice walk in the sunshine brought a writing assignment into clarity so I stopped for a glass of tea at the market and jotted it in the notebook that is always with me. Maybe next time I’ll get clarity on titles.

Are you clear on your direction or do you meander around looking for the best path to follow?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Filed under journey to health, My thoughts about things

In Search of Better Balance

Have you noticed my posts getting farther and farther apart? I’ve been feeling quite badly about it but can’t afford to stress even a little. I mentioned a few posts back that I had taken on a bit more these days than previously. As the winter weather let go its icy grip, signs of life showed up in my apartment in a big way.

Note at mailboxes said "Can’t get myself down the stairs but the first one than can will get to take me home from #2048." It worked.

Note at mailboxes said “Can’t get myself down the stairs but the first one than can will get to take me home from #2048.” It worked.

My daughter helped me pull out several large boxes of craft materials from the far reaches of my garage. I rent a garage to store things so as not to be too cluttered up here. Riiight! One of the boxes was from a new toilet if that gives you any idea of the size. When I moved out of my home 4 years ago, we pretty much tossed stuff in boxes and hoped for the best. I wasn’t in the best of shape then. The other box was almost that large and I have found several boxes of old photos as well. Have you ever started looking at photos and been able to stop? I spent a whole week going through, sorting a bit and tossing a lot of duplicates.

No more tea cups for this cabinet. Still hunting paints and glue gun. Have glue!!!

No more tea cups for this cabinet. Still hunting paints and glue gun. Have glue!!!

With all the joining I have done to make friends in my new home, I’ve overloaded myself a bit with classes and projects. I’ll have some photos of the finished work shortly. Little by little, I’m starting to find how much I can do and what needs to be eased off from. Setting limits is something new for me.

This replaced the recliner in my bedroom. Put it together myself but took a few adjustments. Still WIP here.

This replaced the recliner in my bedroom. Put it together myself but took a few adjustments. Still WIP here.

But the kind of balance I’m talking about here has more to do with my Bells Palsy than my creative endeavors. Since acquiring health insurance this year, I have the opportunity to get some medical assistance for the balance. A new acquaintance at the quilting group let me know my HMO had vestibular integration therapy available. The first job was to get a different primary care doctor. The last one was quite dismissive. That done, I requested some therapy to get my eyes working together again which in turn, helps with my standing balance. If I’m in a dark room, I start to tip over and closing my eyes, well let’s just say that’s a dangerous move when standing.

After a trip to a neurologist, (the third one in four years) I was allowed to get physical therapy for my balance. I have exercises to do twice a day. Some are standing holding onto my kitchen counter for support. (I don’t have a chair) The rest are sitting and turning my head and looking up and to the side that is unaffected. I’ve found I must do these when I don’t have to drive anywhere. Oddly, they add to the dizziness but I’m going to do whatever I can to get well.
Even after four years, I am noticing movement in some parts of my face that was flaccid and I can almost make a complete smile. Still a bit odd-looking but hey, I’m happy with any improvement.

Flowers from my new friends garden. Made me feel better immediately.

Flowers from my new friends garden. Made me feel better immediately.

Funny how much I took for granted before Bells hit like a hammer. Unfortunately, healing of any nature still requires lots of rest. I’m not a fan. Moving and doing have been how I lived in the world, now I rest a whole darn bunch. Hang in there with me a bit longer. We shall see how effective these exercises are.

Have you ever taken your health for granted and wound up with a major wakeup call? Do you believe your health is connected to your emotions and what’s going on in life or just something that happens?

A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.
~
Hippocrates

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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In Search of my Next Read

As I’ve often mentioned in passing, books are my PASSION! I like many things but books are what keep me moving through life. My lifelong fantasy (get your minds out of there) had been to own a book store with a coffee/tea/gift shop included. I asked Barnes and Nobles if I could just put a cot in the back room and help out for free. They weren’t having any of it. I actually asked several. Working a job is no longer an option so I just hang out there for HOURS.

Books fall off the shelf at me. I will wander the aisles of books until one literally falls forward at me. No joke. Inevitably, it’s something I need to read. My search of it all has been for many things. Mostly, it’s a spiritual search. I know I’m not alone here, just most of us are reluctant to speak or write about it. Jean at “Seeking Life” has challenged me to open up. I’ll let her know when the courage finds me. You know the phrase, talk about anything except religion or politics. Well, I’m mum entirely on politics and religion is like skating on thin ice in spring.

Easy to grasp and lots of reference marks

Easy to grasp and lots of reference marks

I’m not religious in the traditional sense anymore. I am very deeply spiritual. I’ve had an inordinate number of unusual spiritual experiences in my life that sent me down a very meandering path. I think my reading reflects that.

Along with very eclectic interests, a large number of my books are on writing. Since college was not an option, I have tried to self-educate as there are many fine writers who have some wonderful books to teach those willing to learn. I even learn from Mike over at Eye Dancers. His novel is geared toward adolescent boys but I found it written well enough to keep me intrigued to the end.

I don’t just read most of my books. If they are any good, I absorb them. I’ve got little markers in many and some require highlighting for repeat reading. I found “Writing Is My Drink” wonderfully written, and quite helpful. Now I’m going to read Theo Nestor’s memoir. I can hardly wait to read “Sleeping Single in a King Sized Bed”.

Writing is my Drink did jump off the shelf. It now has lots of reference tabs.

Writing is my Drink did jump off the shelf. It now has lots of reference tabs.

Novels are rare for me but I just finished one and am working on the second recommended by Jackie at “To Breathe is to Write”. Jackie is a wonderful writer herself so I trusted her and downloaded Maddie Cochere’s new mystery, “Murder Under Construction”. It was funny, easy to get into with a perfect flow. One of those books you like to read before bedtime to relax. I’ll let you know about the next one after I’ve read it. I need books like this because so much of my reading can be a bit heavy at times. “Living the Course in Miracles” was much easier than the Course itself and helped make sense of it.

Then, of course, I must have writing, quilting and miscellaneous magazines to stir up my creativity. I could go to the library to read these, but they would not like me tearing out the pages I want to keep. So the books and magazines are insulation in my apartment. I hope they don’t crash through the floor. Are there any questions as to why I don’t get more done? My apartment looks like a cyclone hit with craft stuff on every surface looking for a new home but that’s another post entirely. The work will always wait for a book to be read.

The M. S. Living is a loan from my German  friend. No, I can't read it all yet.

The M. S. Living is a loan from my German friend. No, I can’t read it all yet.

I saw a sign on Facebook that said “The most unattractive thing you can say to me is that you don’t read.”

What are you reading that you feel excited about? Do books fall off the shelf at you demanding to be read? Isn’t it fun to wonder what’s going to fall next?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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In Search of my Spring Project

It’s really here! The snow is gone but not the cold. We’ve had some lovely sunny days that had me out walking the area once it warmed a bit. Of course, walking warms everything but the nose and ears. I did four miles last Saturday looking for a mobile home community. I found it but it was filled with homes that had long since passed their expiration date and there was no yard space to make a nice garden. The more I look around at what I can afford, the better my rented apartment looks.

As the spring buds start to pop, I seem to finally be doing the same. Winter is so hard on those of us who are solar powered. Oregon is probably not the best place for me but I thought I could afford to live here. I may have to rethink that idea.

Seeing these made the 4 miles worth the walk.

Seeing these made the 4 miles worth the walk.

This bush is thinking about spring but not ready to commit.

This bush is thinking about spring but not ready to commit.

In the meantime, I’ve been inspired by the wonderful Boomdeeadda to make better use of what I have available.

These things will stay somehow. The rest will stay boxed for now.

These things will stay somehow. The rest will stay boxed for now.

These are in with the regular dishes for now. I can't put them all away!

These are in with the regular dishes for now. I can’t put them all away!

I have scrapbooking papers in my garage that I have not been able to get to in the last four years and four moves. Seeing the beautiful stuff she creates, I wanted to get my toys out to play with again. So the beautiful teacups were packed away for another time. I have been rummaging in the garage and organizing as I go. Much of what was in this old china cabinet will one day be passed on to my daughter or son. Maybe we can even make use of it once I find a real dining table. In the meantime, the cabinet will hold my crafting supplies as well as some sewing supplies as they tend to cross over their uses. In bringing out things from the garage, a great deal has made its way to the thrift store. Two trips so far this week and I still have a trip to the antique store to sell off some things I no longer have space to use.

Finally finished and up. Is it warm yet??

Finally finished and up. Is it warm yet??

I’ve done a bit of sewing to get a new spring sign made since I gave my sister-in-law the last one. This one is larger than I wanted but my attention to detail seems adrift these days. I used some different colors and fabric and put a binding on for a change. I have three more charity quilts to finish this month so there is no shortage of projects but the projects that make you clean and organize are the most productive and fulfilling. I’ll take a photo when the change is complete. My poor daughter is aware that her Sunday will be taken up helping me carry boxes up and down stairs. I bribe her with dinner out somewhere. We’ll both be too tired to cook.

I took a two mile walk this week in the mall since it was going to rain again, arriving early enough to catch something I’ve never seen before. Moms getting ready for spring too. I was walking too quickly to get a photo of moms gathered doing standing exercises by a little used entry with their little ones close by. The next trip around the mall brought enough awareness to capture this of the moms in front of Macy’s before the store opened. Later you could see them in a brisk walk with strollers and youngsters working to keep up.

I was floored! In front of Macy's no less

I was floored! In front of Macy’s no less

What a lovely, inexpensive way for young moms to get together and keep their children out of day care. I imagine there was a treat somewhere for the little ones after because they were exceptionally well behaved. They probably went home as tired as mom. I saw a few in their yoga pants passing through the book store as I sat sipping ice tea, perusing magazines and collecting yet another book. Yes, I’m embarrassed.

They were oblivious to the mall walkers. All that work before 10 a.m.

They were oblivious to the mall walkers. All that work before 10 a.m.

I know my friend at Gardening Nirvana has her spring projects all lined up. How about you? Is the hint of spring for those of you who are still suffering with the wild winter, bringing out a desire to start something to bring new bloom to your life?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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In Search of Some Reins

In my search for community and a sense of belonging, I may have gone over the top just a bit. Does the phrase “all or nothing” ring any bells? I had to sit back and take a look when I couldn’t find the energy to write for the last two weeks. What the heck was I doing?

Writing class will start again in a few weeks and I have decided to give it another go as I made some good friends there and they challenge me. That is worth the time by itself.

When it comes to challenges, the last shirt I made was such a disaster, I was beginning to wonder if I’d slipped a cog in my brain. The solution to that question was to try another right away. This one went together almost effortlessly.

I liked this one a bit better.

I liked this one a bit better.

No butterfly on this one.

No butterfly on this one.

Not having enough to do, I decided to join a quilt group that meets close enough to walk if I didn’t have to carry my sewing machine and all the paraphernalia that goes with quilting. I found my way into their hearts by bringing a snack. They have decided to test my worthiness by sending me home with a bag of pre-cut strips to sew together for a small quilt top that will be quilted by someone else then later donated to foster children. I also was given a quilt to make the binding for, then sew it on to complete it. I enjoy the hand stitching part.

I didn't pick the strips, just sewed it together for later quilting.

I didn’t pick the strips, just sewed it together for later quilting.

The most fun part of that day was when my neighbor dropped by to donate some of her unwanted fabric. Parting with any is hard for quilters but this neighbor was not one so she dropped two sacks full on the table and we watched. It was like a pack of wolves circling a few scraps of meat. Though each took only what they could use, being very decisive about what they wanted.

I also joined a machine embroidery club hoping to learn some new techniques. I was quite disappointed that there was no embroidery being done that day and I had not been sent a supply list for what they were working on. Not exactly my cup of tea but somehow, the instructor pulled together enough supplies for me to join in. There were very few women there so I will give it a little more time then decide if it will be worth the long drive.

This is how it starts.

This is how it starts.

It's a gadget holder that fit into a coffee mug. Wasn't sure I would like it.

It’s a gadget holder that fit into a coffee mug. Wasn’t sure I would like it.

Not my cup of tea

Not my cup of tea

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I’m trying to relearn my first language, German. Rarely hearing it or using it has left many holes in my education, a reasonable vocabulary and no grammar. A new friend is meeting with me every few weeks, weather permitting and supplying me with text material. The price of these lessons is steep but so worth it. We meet at a local Starbucks and I buy her a latte for her trouble. She is already in my area to take French classes at the community college and already knows Spanish and is obviously fluent in German. I’m such a slacker.

I have SO much work to do here.

I have SO much work to do here.

I’m going to admit that my eyes are all that’s holding me back right now. I have a few good hours to get things done, then small print or stitches are impossible to see. Even the new glasses aren’t helping. So instead of continuing to expand my search for connecting to my community, I have to rein myself in a bit somehow. Is it even possible?

Do you have trouble keeping yourself reined in? I’m betting I’m not alone here. Go on, admit it. Are you, like me, circling those projects like a wolf licking your chops or are you pulling the covers over your head because it’s all just too much?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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In Search of the Last Anniversary

Have you seen those t-shirts or coffee mugs that say “I have one nerve left and you’re on it?” When people ask me what brought on my Bells Palsy, I refer to that quote. On a stress scale of 1-10, I was at a 15. What happened? We had an accumulated 6 feet of snow that brought down our second canopy. I had tried to talk my husband out of buying another. It was supposed to hold a 40 pound snow load. It collapsed onto the truck, Jeep, tractor and boat along with 6 tanks of propane. That I could handle. What brought me to the last nerve and off the chart stress was when he wanted to file another insurance claim. It would be his fifth in that house, even though we had collected on only one other. I begged and pleaded not to call them. Yup, they paid, which made him happy, then they cancelled our policy. Cancelled homeowners is a big deal and scared the heck out of me. I lost it and within a week, I had what the doctors thought might be Shingles. No visible signs of shingles on my scalp, just the other symptoms. I got something so much grander.

My reward for not managing my stress.

My reward for not managing my stress.

Today marks the four year anniversary of my bout with Bells Palsy. Every day I wake up wondering if it will be the day it’s gone. Do I feel sorry for myself? Absolutely not! I’m so grateful because it pointed out so many things that were broken. Six months later I moved out with the help of family. I couldn’t drive anymore and it took all my energy to pack one box. But each day, I packed and slept then packed some more. My husband brought me boxes. They were stacked everywhere for those six months. Do I have stress in my life now? Yes, real life stress that is usually under the scale of five. I’m pretty easy going so to get me ruffled, takes a whole load of bad stuff. I will never willingly allow that kind of stress in my life again. Yes, stuff happens. Most, with common sense is easy to manage. The kind that makes you sick, is usually a long time in the making.

You've seen this before but I look so much better than when this started.

You’ve seen this before but I look so much better than when this started.

The toughest part of this whole illness has not been my inability to drink ANYTHING without a straw or the fact that my kisser doesn’t work. No pecks on your cheek from me. You have to put up with a hug. I don’t mind that my daughter orders for me so the wait staff can understand what I want, or my smile isn’t as endearing as it once was.

For me, the toughest part has been the constant dizziness that interferes with my ability to walk and drive safely. But I am getting well enough to drive more and more. It’s not quite like vertigo. It feels like my brain is sitting in a bowl of Jello and sloshing around. I can promise you, it’s a weird feeling. I keep telling everyone I meet, that Bells Palsy and Shingles come from the same Zoster virus. If you are over 60, get your shingles shot. You don’t want shingles either. Please watch your stress levels. If you are that stressed, something needs to change or your body will do it for you.

Last year’s anniversary blog was a bit more upbeat. I think it may be that this year, I haven’t been out of the house in 7 days. Our steps were covered in ice and snow as were the sidewalks and street. A large portion of the country is dealing with the same thing. Cabin fever due to weather. I have always tried to venture out once a week at least. No one was going anywhere last week.

It wasn't much and so pretty, but brought this city to it's knees.

It wasn’t much and so pretty, but brought this city to it’s knees.

Today the snow has melted, the temps have climbed high enough to melt the ice, and I will be heading to the post office to mail cards that may need hand stamping and a small box of fabric and patterns to my sister-in-law for her to make up for her granddaughter. Lightening my load and realizing my limits is a good way to celebrate this day. I really want this to be the very last anniversary I have with Bells Palsy. Here’s where I would wink and smile at you but you’ll just have to imagine it with me.

The black plastic bag was to keep it dry on the way to mailing. Small but heavy.

The black plastic bag was to keep it dry on the way to mailing. Small but heavy.

Are you struggling with cabin fever or just enjoying the coziness of winter’s cocoon? Or like me, having a bit of both?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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Filed under Bells Palsy, journey to health

In Search of Good Enough…Almost

I have written four or five of these start-up posts but have discarded each and every one. I’m beginning to think I should just post a sign on my blog that says “Out to Lunch” for the months of January and February. My brain is still out even though my body just keeps moving back and forth to the kitchen.

There are clues to what is going on but like a giant puzzle, I’m still trying to piece it together. Can I blame the weather? It’s been very odd this winter. I tried blaming the holidays but they are long gone. That did get my sugar rush going big time and I’m finally wrangling it in. Maybe I just have a broken brain?

When the apartment emptied out after the holidays, I breathed a sigh of relief, and another of regret. I miss having someone around. It’s a mixed bag. Lately,I’ve been trying to find ways to connect and make friends here and given my inability to get out much, it’s not as easy as it was when I had small children and small dogs. What ice breakers they were. Now, I’m looking for people to connect with that share my interest in sewing, quilting and machine embroidery. I’ll go back to the writing class next semester if I find any brain function is left.

For now, I’m trying to finish things that were started eons ago and continue to stare at me demanding my attention. I buried some of it deep enough I couldn’t hear the screams. I’ve arranged to pass some off to someone more willing to complete what was an expensive undertaking. My sister-in-law is going to make up the little girl dresses I have patterns and materials for, since I have no little girls anymore. She has a beautiful little granddaughter. You know that phrase “my eyes were bigger than my stomach”? Well that, for me applied to fabric, patterns and books as well as food. I had a huge appetite that went all the way to my toes. (no longer true except for books) That’s how much fabric I have. So I’m going to finish 2 more shirts that I have cut out and pray they turn out better than this last one.

It looked better in my mind when I planned it. I call it Dumb shirt instead of Big shirt.

It looked better in my mind when I planned it. I call it Dumb shirt instead of Big shirt.

I have no idea what happened with it, but anything that could go wrong, did. I actually made the collar upside down and sewed it on that way, only to have to take it all apart and put it together again. I asked my daughter what she thought of the shirt when she was taking the photo. “Honestly, she said, it was not your best work.” I’ll put the pockets on today and use it as an apron or just to keep me warm around the house. It’s like my brain was totally out of the loop on this project. Here is where I had to say, “Good enough” and let it be.

Full of good intentions but I can't put it in the rag bag just yet.

Full of good intentions but I can’t put it in the rag bag just yet.

I found a quilt group close to my house that allowed me to join them. All they ask is that I contribute a twin sized quilt to the foster care kids as part of their charity activity. I’m still trying to finish the one I started 6 years ago, but will give it my best.

Every project requires some embroidery. My daughter calls this old lady tramp stamp

Every project requires some embroidery. My daughter calls this old lady tramp stamp

Through a friend in my writing group, I met a lovely young woman who is German and has volunteered an hour a week to help me relearn my language. The grammar is the hard part since that part was never taught to me. I needed something else to do, right? Have to do my lessons early in the day as the old eyes are not happy with the tiny print, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s keeping me out of the kitchen. Guess it’s time to get to work and see what else will get done “good enough.” At this point in my life, that seems to be the operative theme.

Do you ever say “good enough” and move on or do you toss what isn’t working out well? Share your struggles with me so I know I’m not alone in this.

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

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