Looking for answers to life's questions

Archive for the ‘journey to health’ Category

A Beginning


I missed Halloween. It was my 6-year blogging anniversary and I just couldn’t get caught up enough to do anything about it. So goes the story of my life.

Today is my younger sister’s birthday. She likes low-key celebrations and this year is no exception. We had breakfast yesterday at Bob’s Red Mill after I picked her up from dropping her truck off at the mechanic. Everywhere we went, we saw geese. So many geese taking a rest from their flight to warmer climates.

Too far and too many for a good shot.

They wander on the road here. Everyone stops.

Her birthday would not be something I would ordinarily write about but right now she is mostly all I write about in my personal writing. I have started to recall all the hair-raising episodes of her life and want to quickly compile them into a booklet form. This photo should tell you that as soon as she could walk she was railing at the world and grasping life with both hands loudly and with abandon.

Don’t mess with me.

This year she was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. It apparently tends to run in families. Our mother had it so we know what it does. I have cut back on many of my other activities to spend more time with her and to get her stories written and pictures collected and scanned. My sister is what is referred to as a character. I’d like to share some of them with you over time.

Mom, me and sis

 

Everything is changing and everything that ends brings with it a new beginning. The leaves on the trees are changing though many haven’t quite made up their minds. Our weather has the trees so confused. The time is changing this weekend and we fall back an hour. It’s so hard to adjust. My perspective on life has changed as well. I’m examining each moment for hidden treasures.

In full splendor

Undecided about changing

On Halloween afternoon as I was trying to write this, my internet died. When I called my cable company after doing the things I should to check and see if it was something I could fix, I finally got a sweet young woman on the phone. Brianna said she would try to work her magic and see if it could be repaired from there. After several moments she came back on the line and said my modem had sent an “end of life signal”! I laughed at the irony of it. She did get it working again for the time being.

Today, a giant of a man, made his way to the den with plastic booties over his shoes and laid the modem to rest, replacing it with a newer model He was shocked I still had the old model as they had all been brought back last year. How had mine survived? I told Brianna that the gremlins finally got it. There was a lot of treasure in these moments.

Life is a little uncertain right now.

Are you seeing the treasures in the moments? Do you have “characters” in your life you like to tell stories about?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

A Bit of Fluff

I’ve been putting off writing, waiting for a more positive frame of mind. There is so much going on out there in the world and in my own little world that I just want to focus on a little bit of fluff. Fluff is such a light and happy word that you would never think it can be used any other way. That will be another story, another time. I’m an old believer that where attention goes, energy grows. I’m aiming for the positive.

During the last trip to the metaphysical bookstore my daughter and I made, she brought my attention to some bumper stickers. She does not put them on her car nor do I put them on mine. She intends to tack hers up somewhere in her cubical. I really have nowhere to hang them up where I will see them every day, but I’m working on that.

I’ll pop one in here on occasion so I don’t draw any attention to myself on the road. It’s best to blend in out there. Here, if you are offended, you just click the button to close my site.

I’d kind of like this on a t-shirt too.

I’m ruminating a great deal these days on things that are not fluffy. Mostly when I take my walks. Five days a week with a minimum of two miles each day. With good weather, uphill. Yesterday it was done early at the mall before the stores open. I then took the MAX downtown to have lunch with my sister and a friend even though it was raining out. I like to wear yellow on gorpy days.

This was purchased in 1997 for a trip to Germany. It’s held up well and cheerful.

Walking is my meditation time. Driving is when I can be seen talking out loud to no one present asking the big questions. I noticed the music in the mall could cover that same kind of out loud conversation and these days, people don’t look at you as strangely. Maybe they think I’m on a blue tooth talking to the powers that be, asking very pointed questions. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the answers to our questions came the same way? I have a lot of serious questions these days.

One of my favorite T-shirts

What do I get for answers? Sun glistening through the clouds and the drops of rain on the windows. Breaks in the rain when I had to drive or walk to the restaurant. Most don’t notice those little things. I seem to notice everything these days. Traffic was lighter than usual, making my way back and forth easier.

This was my souvenir from 2004 or 95 from a trip to Victoria BC Butterfly Garden

Despite all that struggle in the world, the sun keeps doing its thing whether we notice or not. Life for some keeps going on while for others, it comes to a grinding halt or stops suddenly. I’m going to keep looking for the sunshine between the clouds. The view is so much better.

Are you noticing any good fluff in your life right now?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Observation

I have started walking at least five days a week to get at least 7000 steps according to the fitness tracker my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day. It helps me challenge myself not to spend so much time sitting. Everything I do is sitting. Reading, writing, sewing, heck I can even garden sitting.

No photographic evidence of me sitting but I have proof my sis does.

My walk is one mile up hill and one mile down, minimum. I can add to that by wandering all the side streets. I find that this neighborhood of slightly over 500 manufactured homes has a lot of diversity. I put on headphones, not always to listen to happy, fast-moving music that gets me up the hill, but more often to just keep the wind out of my ear. After the Bells Palsy, the left ear is extremely sensitive to any wind or cool. When I don’t have music playing, I’m more prone to notice things around me so occasionally, I’ll start doing little posts about what I might find interesting on my walks.

I have become so much more observant since I started blogging and even more so since I started walking again. Now that I’m old, I notice what I didn’t have time to see before.

In this political climate, I was surprised to find this sign in a car window. Not being a political person, I didn’t fully understand it and maybe I still don’t.

It was there for a couple of days, then gone. Hmm.

The sign seemed to bother me even though I did not understand it. I guess because they used the words hates and racist in it. I’m glad the sign is gone.

Another morning I was truly surprised to see this as I rounded the corner. Looks like someone was either playing a very good prank or they were delivering a gift. That woke me up a bit.

Was this a joke?

The other side gave no clues either.

 

I like to look at landscaping as I go down each street. There are no sidewalks here. Guess they don’t encourage walking here but I do it anyway. I saw this tree and took a good look. It had a familiar feel to it.

Very large tree with familiar feathery flowers. My son is in for a huge surprise.

As I was coming a little closer to the end of my walk, I observed this tree. I studied quite intently. I’m sure the owner of the house was wondering why I kept looking at their tree. Once I was sure, I photographed it and marched on home.

This one is a little younger

Here is the photo of the tree my son planted last summer before he moved. He saw the tree in Hawaii and fell in love with it so we had to go to a nursery and find one. I thought for sure it had not survived the unusually harsh winter but here it is in all its spring glory. I don’t think we picked a good spot for this little tree. I had no idea it could get that big and he had no idea it flowered.

Are you more observant when you are walking? Do you find ways to enjoy walking?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

 

Happy Halloweeny Anniversary

Why on earth did I pick Halloween to start a blog? Was I on a sugar rush or just enjoying the festivities of the ghoulish decorations at my son’s house while living with him.

Would you have asked her for candy?

Would you have asked her for candy?

Five years ago I was extremely debilitated by many unusual symptoms of Bells Palsy. I could no longer drive and as a passenger, I had to close my eyes, especially at night. I couldn’t sew because seeing the needle move up and down turned my brain into mush with an odd nausea. Television had its own terror. If things moved too fast on the screen, I had to close my eyes and look away. The cane is still necessary to keep me balanced and upright. The symptoms aren’t gone but they are far better.

Standing guard

Standing guard

The symptoms were a reflection of my life. Writing was all I had left to pull the terror of where I was in that moment into a cohesive plan for some kind of a future as a 62 years old freshly divorced and debilitated woman. Social Security advised I qualified for disability. I was not employable. That was scary enough.

The very act of writing helped train my damaged brain to find words again. Mimicking a stroke in many ways, this virus left my brain unable to put full sentences together without long pauses. I couldn’t find words I knew were there. Friends and family started finishing sentences for me. My writing was simpler five years ago. Gradually, I’m making progress, I hope.

This spider is tickling my nose.

This spider is tickling my nose.

In five years, I’ve found an online support community of bloggers. Who knew such a thing existed? Every time I got discouraged, there would be a comment, e-mail or even happy snail mail loaded with lovely things to cheer me on.

Corny wants a book with his treats

Corny wants a book with his treats

I scrounged together enough money after the home I shared with the last husband sold to put a down payment on a small manufactured home for myself, my books, fabric and other crafting tools. Slowly, I’m able to do little bits at a time of my cherished creative endeavors. Making this house my home has taken a lot of energy. Naps are on my daily agenda when tackling any project. It’s the brain that gets tired before the body so I’m exercising my brain as much as my body.

Got the borders, back and binding on the panel to that I quilted enough to hang by the sleeve on the back. It's said to be glow in the dark.

Got the borders, back and binding on the panel to that I quilted enough to hang by the sleeve on the back. It’s said to be glow in the dark.

This Halloween will be different again from the last. Aren’t they all? Not so many outside decorations as we’re having the wettest October on record and today brought high winds. Power has been intermittent. Inside, I’m ready for any brave little goblins that make it past the real bugs and spiders out there. It’s so warm, they have swarmed like an apocalyptic army. They scare me more than zombies any day.

Witchy Poo and her albino pumpkin are inside this year.

Witchy Poo and her albino pumpkin are inside this year.

I’m curious to see what the next five years will unfold. Heck, I’m curious to see how today will unfold. Thank you all for being on this journey with me and cheering me on. Have a Happy Halloween with lots of sweet treats and no tricks.

No candy in this pumpkin

No candy in this pumpkin

Is there anything that scares you more than a zombie apocalypse?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

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Who’s sleeping with who?

Patti shot through the door of the sewing room and that was her first question for our group that had arrived two days prior. She was only staying for the day but we were happy to have our resident pot stirrer in our midst.

Patti's pumpkins have binding now.

Patti’s pumpkins have binding now.

There were only six of us at this retreat for the week. Another that had planned to come had been overcome by food poisoning at a church function and was in need of Urgent Care We kept hoping for a quick recovery but it just didn’t happen.

I fell in love with the framed crochet

I fell in love with the framed crochet

There were two new women brought to the retreat by another member of our group. The three of them shared a room. I shared a room with the other two members of our quilt group. With five beds to a room and more than four bedrooms, we had a whole room to spare and then some. There were even beds in the sewing room office if we were in need of a nap. We ended up sleeping three to a room.

If you need a nap between sewing projects, extra beds in the office

If you need a nap between sewing projects, extra beds in the office

It turned out to be a very amicable mix of women. You never know how a group is going to blend. This group worked well together like old friends. Each willing to teach and to learn from one another. We were all there primarily for rest (not so much) and relaxation. Wine helped that a lot. We each brought some to share but somehow, it was still done in moderation. After all, we still had sewing to do and some nights it was well past eleven when we gave up and headed back to the house.

Binding and banter into the wee hours of the night

Binding and banter into the wee hours of the night

Working in our jammies in the early morning until breakfast was ready

Working in our jammies in the early morning until breakfast was ready

 

jelly roll Christmas quilt done in record time.

jelly roll Christmas quilt done in record time.

 

Sunrise out the sewing room window.

Sunrise out the sewing room window.

Once again, Nancy’s Sew N Go delivered well beyond
expectations. If she ever decides to give up the quilting gig, she can cook anywhere and I know we will follow. There was coffee ready first thing in the morning for those of us that rise early and a separate brewing station in the sewing room with anything you wanted including an electric tea kettle. Of course there were snacks, fabric if we needed something and every quilting tool necessary should we fail to remember something.

Once again I wondered if I would ever try a different retreat. Those more experienced at this sort of thing swear this one exceeds every one they have ever been to and who am I to argue with experience? Most of the ladies were cranking out quilts faster than I could count. It took me all three days to get one top put mostly together. I came home quite relaxed and ready to sleep. My top is complete now and pinned for quilting. I’ll show it completed next time. Every quilt they made inspired me even more.

Sam's quilt with a good start on it.

Sam’s quilt with a good start on it.

 

Can you believe this is a donation quilt for a fund-raiser?

Can you believe this is a donation quilt for a fund-raiser?

 

I love the free-form Art quilt

I love the free form Art quilt

Connie had to copy but there are hidden bunnies in hers

Connie had to copy but there are hidden bunnies in hers

No one complained or heard my C-pap machine. I wasn’t bothered by any snoring and we all had the best time ever. One of our new friends wanted to stay longer so she locked her keys in the car. I wasn’t driving so I had to go home with my driver but left with leftovers to feed Tech Support. He’s offered to help edit color on Sew N Go’s new calendar when Nancy has all her photos ready. He’s been officially bribed and ready to work.

Baked taquitos were scrumptious and healthy. I brought some home for TS and his sister to try. Yummm!

Baked taquitos were scrumptious and healthy. I brought some home for TS and his sister to try. Yummm!

I’m not sure when I’ll do this again but would love to take a few classes that Nancy offers and she even does craft classes. Tech Support offered to drive me the 45 mile distance.

We are very serious about our meals.

We are very serious about our meals.

There was a time I could do that myself. It ended six years ago today when Bells palsy stopped me in my tracks for many of those early years.  Don’t wait for the right time to do things. Do them now. Who knew that at 61 my driving and sewing days would be pretty much over? I can at least once again get to the grocery and do a little sewing and quilting so I’m counting my blessings and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.

The next generation of quilters coming up after dinner of course.

The next generation of quilters coming up after dinner of course.

Have you been sleeping with someone new? Maybe pushed your boundaries and had some extra fun?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Life Lesson #1

I’m an old woman by some standards and very grateful to have reached old age. Not all are as fortunate. I hear a lot of comments about “old age isn’t for sissies” or “getting old is a bitch”. While both might be true, I’m always delighted that I get to wake up again and start another day full of the ordinary and extraordinary.

Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I have nothing left to learn. Some of my lessons have been a long time coming. Having trudged through life as a nomad, I’ve always had the feeling that I did not fit anywhere. I’ve talked about this before and such an ingrained feeling is a hard one to shake. But shake it I have. The lesson came when I was invited back to the same retreat I went to almost a year ago in April. I had a great time. I worked hard to keep going back to my quilt groups with that kind of feeling. I’ve finally come to the realization that the feeling isn’t a fact. I know this intellectually but to feel it deep in my heart was a big step.

I'm obviously not the only one struggling with this.

I’m obviously not the only one struggling with this.

My presence was requested at this slightly different group of women at the same retreat place! It finally at that moment settled into my cells that my feelings were just that, feelings.

It will be a different experience because you can’t step into the same river twice. Every experience is unique. I’ve decided that I will have a good time and learn as much as possible while there. It’s always my choice to either relax and enjoy or live with the fear of fitting in.

river

Only three nights with two half days is long enough for me. I’m hoping to finish a project that has been waiting a very long while to be started. As a beginner, I need all the help I can get and welcome it. I’ve almost completed two other projects I’ve been working on for quite a while. Photos to follow shortly.

In the meantime, here are photos of a gift I sent off before the holidays but didn’t get time to post. It’s a cheaters quilt panel but the colors were to fun to pass up. I put a couple of borders on and the backing and binding along with minimal quilting. There is also a sleeve in back for hanging. My first ever.


We also did a second little Christmas for my friend’s son. This way he wasn’t so overwhelmed with gifts at Christmas. I’m hoping to see more of him as the weather gets better and I feel more rested. I’m still waiting for that to happen.

I've open all the presents, read the books, played with the toys, now what?

I’ve open all the presents, read the books, played with the toys, now what?

Do you ever have feelings that should be questioned?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

Sleep, sweet sleep

Do you wake up in the morning ready to take on the day with gusto? Has your sleep been restorative, filled with wonderful dreams? You can count yourself lucky indeed.

 

I haven’t counted myself lucky for a very long time. Going to sleep isn’t the problem. In 5 minutes, I’m gone. But if something were to wake me in the first few minutes to the first few hours, it’s all over. I don’t just drop back off to sleep. Most mornings I woke more tired than when I went to bed.

That could be me exactly.

That could be me exactly.

I sent myself to the doctor for a sleep study. Turns out that I stopped breathing every couple of minutes. Not good. Brain cells die every time that happens. No wonder I can’t remember anything. Makes it hard to put coherent sentences together and it’s a contributing factor to weight gain, high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, and even depression. Did that scare me? Oh yeah! I wasn’t looking forward to what came next. The dreaded C-pap machine. Everyone said I’d feel so much better after using it. I’m still waiting for that.

It's not very big and has a small container for water inside.

It’s not very big and has a small container for water inside.

The night before I got my machine, I was awakened at 1:00 a.m. I didn’t go back to sleep. I read blogs and left comments in the middle of the night. After the machine was all hooked up and attached to yours truly, I wrestle with it for hours trying hard not to feel like I was suffocating. Up again for the rest of the night but still not catching up on my blogs. You all write some very wonderful posts and I have to read all the comments. By day three, I was starting to feel a psychotic break coming on. I changed the size of the nose piece to the extra small and finally, finally slept a whole 6 hours. That’s about how long I last so far but I’m finally starting to feel better. Of course, I have been working hard to get any extra weight off as that is a contributing factor. It’s one of those catch 22 things. Weight exacerbates the obstruction and lack of sleep can cause more weight gain. I will win this war!

That's not me either. He looks more restful than I do.

That’s not me either. He looks more restful than I do.

I can tell you, it’s a good thing I sleep alone. The wind coming off the hose on that thing is enough to freeze anyone out of the room. One morning I woke up because my nose was frozen and hurt. I’m wearing long sleeve night shirts to keep my arms warm and a stocking hat to cover my head. Pretty picture, isn’t it? It’s not entirely quiet either.

Looks like I'm going into outer space with all that hose.

Looks like I’m going into outer space with all that hose.

There are an awful lot of people out there that need one of those delightful machines. A few I saw were quite heavy but most were like me with just a bit extra weight to some that were quite fit but still had problems with obstruction or brain induced sleep apnea. We all just want sleep, sweet sleep. It helps us be more productive and creative.

Are you a good sleeper or do you walk around in a brain fog too?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself