Saturday, December 10, 2016

Always

He walked passed me twice, his eyes averting my direction. I was a mess sitting in the lobby of the hospital-a high traffic area; tears streaming down my cheeks while choking back audible sobs and snorting. Grieving comes in waves. I have learned I can never prepare or predict when it will roll in. While waiting to check in for lab work, the doctor who diagnosed my husband's cancer walked passed me. I said hello and without hesitation he hugged me, and then asked how everything was going.  I was unsure he heard the news about my husband.  "You, you know Jerry passed away, right?" I asked.

Shaking his head, his eyes lowered in the direction of the lab request I held in my hand, "Are you OK?"

Assured I was fine. He walked off. There was so much that was unsaid. I sat. I cried. His voice has remained in my head for six months both reassuring and ultimately disturbing, "Don't worry, he's not going to die from this. Look, he's  not going to die from this." He reassured me over and over during that first appointment and then each time we saw him thereafter.

My shoulders heaved, my eyes lowered to the floor. I had no tissues. My nose ran and the flow of tears was steady. Hospital visitors, patients and staff walked by as I tried to muffle the sounds of grief.

A stranger stepped forward, "Would you accept a hug?" The woman probably in her forties had been on her phone chatting with someone when I first entered the hospital and then later texting. Her arms wrapped me. She whispered comfort into my ear, "It won't always be like this. It will get better." This compassion was touching.

As I moved closer to my turn at the lab, still crying, I shifted in my seat seeking comfort, I noticed a full sized Christmas Tree on display nearly touching my elbow. Fabric stars with names hung from the branches. I scanned the tree and found a star in honor of my husband. I smiled. He is with me always.





Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Broken

I am broken,
Imperfect
Like every other
Human,
As I should be.

In striving
For perfection,
I fear
Revealing
Me,
The whole,
The light
And 
The dark.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Love Lost

When I was nine, maybe ten
I met my Great-Great Aunt Lizzie.
She lived alone in Portland,
Not far
However, I had not known of her.

It was hard to imagine
That my aging grandmother
Had an aunt,
Nearly one-hundred,
One who survived the Pandemic of 1918
When many many others did not,
Among them,
My grandmother's sister,
And Aunt Lizzie's love,
The man she was to marry.

A constant reminder of
Tragic young love
Sparkled on her wrinkled finger
Until the day she died.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Longing

Motherless arms
Hold the baby
Free of akward
Juggling,
The newborn
Sinks into
The fleshy cradle
While mother looks on,
Sadness catches in her throat.

Motherless arms
Hold the baby.
Does the longing ever fade?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Mother Load

I carry the lightness as well as the load that motherhood brings.  It is a part of who I am.  Coming to escape, my children are on my mind. Wandering campus for a place to write, I find an unoccupied picnic table shaded by trees. Settled in I find “MOM!” carved into the surface of the table.  Snickering, I realize, I can never fully escape my maternal role. My heart is filled with the good, the bad and the ugly.  This is the life I chose, a commitment for better and for worse. 


Hope carries me through the anxiety and fear that missteps may narrow the possibilities presented to my children as adults.  This too, is part of growing up.  Even after more than three decades in this mothering role, I too continue to navigate my way in this world, as a wife, mother, and human accepting the messiness that goes along with "adulting."

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Proceed With Caution

Sometimes fear is useful; in cases of survival. Lately it feels like I have been walking a wobbly tightrope between fear and caution. 

A kid about seven years old cut across the yard, grabbing a handful of grass that had grown to half his size. As he kicked through it to the asphalt, I had all I could do to not grab the mother by the arm, look straight into her eyes and say, "Check your kid for ticks."

So far, I am lucky. I found my tick; took doxycycline  for six weeks and have been bothered by a few aches and fatigue. 

Some I know have been unable to work. One friend explained her brain function has been impaired and she has particular trouble with calculating figures. Another found it taxing to care for her children due to chronic fatigue and brain fog. You see, I am lucky.

Presently, we await results of blood work. It is suspected my husband has Lyme. 

My favorite path to walk is lined with a wispy hedge of grass. I continue to walk it, although I no longer brush my legs against the soft growth. This is not fear, but common sense and caution. Ticks like to cling to grasses and hitch a ride. 

Check for ticks. Check yourself, check those you love and wear a repellant. I am told that on MDI about 50% of ticks carry Lyme. Fear will not replace the peacefulness and sense of well being I feel on my walks in the woods, however sensibility and caution travel with me now. Proceed with caution.

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Place of Importance


The porch, a place of respite
And importance,
Where the tight winding of thoughts
Unfurl
Onto paper
The pen an instrument.

While at times
Words born from others,
Rewire my brain
Entertaining,
Challenging,
Leaving me changed
And charged.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Remembering

In eight months, my life has changed drastically. It may be a little like learning how to walk again after years of immobilization, however it is likely much more complicated than that. Troubles began early on, I remember. My chubby hands grasped the splintery wooden handle as I fished around the filiment of green grass in the bottom of the Easter basket searching for another jelly bean or chocolate egg with foil. A few times I popped the chocolate into my mouth with foil still clinging to the candy. Mindless eating. Mouthful after mouthful. My basket was empty before 8:00 a.m. mass. 

I am uncertain where my issues with food originated. As a child, food was as plentiful, as love. I was adored and the center of my parents life for my first ten years until I became a big sister. Weighing just a few pounds at birth; my life depended upon accepting nourishment. Maybe it began that early. 

Food is the perfect companion for any occassion and remedy for any emotion. Just now at nearly 60 years old am I working to establish a healthy relationship with food for the remainder of my days. Not many succeed. I am reading everything I can about those who have been able to keep excess weight at bay over time. I am reading article after article listing habits of healthy people. 

I want to remember how I would become breathless walking up five steps into my house. I want to remember how most days I had to sit in the recliner with my ankles and feet elevated because swelling made them throb. I want to remember the humiliation of trying on outfit after outfit and having to reach for larger and larger sizes, eventually settling on frumpy. I want to remember how I would have to unzip my pants while at the table, so I could continue to eat way beyond the point of being full. I want to remember the ache in my throat as I held back tears after being called fat. My life depends upon remembering.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mother

Oddly, Ben a guy I hung out with in college began calling me Mother. For some reason he thought I would be a good mother, "You're  born to be a mother," he'd say. At that point I barely ever had a boy friend, just secret crushes that grew exponentially in my mind. 

This June, I will kiss and hug my youngest son not holding back the ache in my heart. He is the seventh to leave home and embark on adult-things, but not the last. Soon, my mothering will morph into something undefined that will benefit me as a person and my aging children. It is the work I am doing on self-compassion and self-acceptance that has brought me peace.  My mothering has at times been over-bearing, controlling and filled with uncertainty. I have made mistakes, however my kids know they are loved. It has been the enormity of my mother's love for me to help me to realize that I am worthy of love especially self-love. This too is a gift to my children, if they accept it.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Prepared

This is the last day of the Slice of Life Challenge offered by The Two Writing Teachers. It is always great to be part of such a supportive writing community. Until next year...


Sometimes you just have to put up with it. Maine weather is particularly unpredictable. Period. Arriving home late from school meant that I walked in the dark. It was basically a lesson in chance when it came to dressing according to the temperature and weather. Regardless of the fact that in less than three hours the calendar will transition to April, I pulled the wool cap on my head, the soft cable knit cowl brushed against my chin as I donned my long down jacket. Clutching in each hand my Thinsulate gloves meant that they would be handy just in case. Walking unzipped, the wind whipped my jacket this way and that with the lower part wrapping around my body.  At times I turned away from the force and turned back closing my eyes while I marched ahead. My face was pelted by dust and dirt that accumulated on the sidewalks. The wind came out from all directions like a child seeking 
attention suddenly jumping out from a series of hiding places; unexpected, but yet expected at the same time. 

Had I known it was a balmy 52 degrees, it is likely I would not have over-dressed. But then again you never know what weather you may encounter during an hour-long walk in Maine. It is best to be prepared.




Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Silence

Quiet. So quiet and alone. A rarity. It took the flu for my husband to stay in bed all day. No dinner together. No news. No Parcheesi. 

Instead I am reading. It is a memoir written with such emotion; my heart aches. Presently, the only comfort is Jules, my big money cat who is curled purring in my lap reminding me of what contentment is all about.

Quiet. Alone. Did I mention I am seldom alone?  However I do value alone time in small bits, but not for a whole night. Perhaps there is a fear raging beneath that has been silent and not acknowledged for decades prior to meeting my husband.

He was sick through the night. I slept in my son's bed last evening. A big double bed for one feels really huge. I slept alone with walls separating me from my husband and the possibility of contamination. I woke to him yelling for help. Disoriented I stumbled out of the bedroom and into the steamy bathroom. I spoke to my husband through the shower door. My eyes looked for the blur of his image through the foggy glass. Instead his face was pressed against the glass, his head leaned on the ledge as he was sprawled on the bottom of the tub; his eyes closed.   I caught my breath and stammered, "Are you OK?" Silence followed.

I realize I fear being alone.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sit and Stare

My fingers idle,
The screen blank
As I sit and stare
Trying to extract
Something,
Anything
From a brain
Muddled after
A day's work
With so much more
Yet to tackle
At home
I just sit and stare.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Perfect Storm

The rain drops off of the eaves. It is a late March afternoon; a bit dreary, cold and damp making inside extra cozy. The wood stove contents crackle, while the furnace hums. Comfort cannot be found outside under the dull gray sky. All these elements create a perfect storm for reading, while nestled under a blanket and sipping hot tea. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Family Traditions

The 30 minute drive to Portland was made, but twice a year, late summer for school shopping and again just prior to Easter. Each spring my mother made sure we girls had little white cotton gloves, patten leather shoes, a purse, a fancy hat and a frilly dress. No matter how cool the weather we wore bobby socks fringed with lace. Whatever still fit from the previous Easter season was utilized and worn again. I would walk into church clicking my heels and swinging my purse as the quarter for the collection rattled inside the all but empty vessel.

Things are so different for us now. I wanted so badly to peel off my jeans and dress in a frilly dress with heels. Certainly, I would have been out of place during our present day Easter festivities. However, the family tradition of sitting around that table after dinner and telling family stories remains. True stories of varying perspectives of running white water with one paddle and a lost canoe, firework fiascos and the hilarity of a wee one's invented words. This is what makes a family a family-celebrations, traditions  and stories that bind us to the past, the present and future. I may not have had a chance to dress up, but the stories certainly made up for it.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

No Apologies


I am a collector. A collector of things that result in creations that feed me in so many ways. Pinterest has become a daily repository for recipes. I like to think that my grandfather, a gifted chef passed on these genes, this passion for food. In turn one of my sons is also a chef and creates culinary masterpieces, that once I partake, I think about it for months. The flavors. The textures. The presentation. Doesn't everybody?

Is it ok that I am a foodie? Is it ok that I think about crafting dishes throughout the day and I preplan meals in my head days in advance. 

"You think about food all the time!" my husband pointed out in what I took as an accusatory tone. In my head I am thinking, SO? 

Since that day I have come across surprising evidence, at least to me, that some people hold gray matter between their ears that does not function as a food think tank. Has my preoccupation with food contributed to my struggles with weight? Is what I hold dear a combination of environment and genetics? Is this a big deal or not?

At this present moment it is not. I review recipes mostly for health and the expectation of pleasuring myself and others. Some collect art. I collect recipes and display and share my creations with others. I define myself as an artist and a cook. I think about food and I am not about to apogize for anything! At least not right now.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Self Talk

The door opens and I rehearse the list in my head:  brown rice, brownies, spinach and chips. Chips? Do I really want chips? Ya, I do. Nah, I don't need them. However as I near the snack aisle, I talk myself into buying the small bag of 40% Reduced Fat chips. Cape Cod. White bag. I see my future self rip open the bag and  handful after handful I place the crispy, just salted enough, thin slices of heaven on the food scale. I eat them all. And somehow the bag remains on the counter all night only to have snitched two extra chips. This is a food that is nearly impossible to moderate. One that I will weigh for the remainder of my days.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Worth It

It hasn't always been easy.  By far, it is the hardest, most heart-wrenching thing I have ever done. I have spent so much time over the last decade being overwhelmed.  Twelve years ago, we brought four little kids into our lives.  Let's just say that the lessons that we have all learned in this process have not come without lots and lots of tears,much support and faith.

Trudging through the woods during a snow storm earlier in the week, I received a text from my son who is attending college out of state (so far away, he can't come home.)  It made me cry.

Hey good afternoon Mum.  I just had a minute so wanted to tell you I love you.  That is all.  Good day Madam. 

If you only knew just how this makes me feel.  Days later....I still feel like my heart is going to explode, because it is pumped up with love. A reminder that it has all been worth it. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Wonder of Evening


After peering out the window, we knew we had to leave and leave now. The plans for the evening would be altered because of our hasty leaving.

The hour hung between darkness and light. We trudged through the ice and snow holding hands. The big yellow moon loomed over our left shoulders and hung like a helium balloon just over the Porcupine Islands. Our arms kept rhythm with our legs as we walked faster, but now and again we paused to witness this magnificent huge yellow moon.  Alone. Hand in hand while leaving behind everything. It would wait.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Never Alone

There is no lonely place in the house. Laps are full 
Furry feet with tails
Some wagging,
Purring or begging for bones
There's never a moment alone.


Monday, March 21, 2016

It's All a Rage

The tractor trailer sped up on its' approach to the highway, all the while I was trying to figure a way around it to improve my visability. All I could see was the shiny end and it was going to make for a long ride home in the dark. With little warning a sign appeared alerting me that I needed to travel to the right immediately or I would be traveling south when home was north. It required quick action. I glanced in my mirror, saw no one and began moving into the right lane,  however the blare of a horn and the streak of a blue car let me know I was amiss. Shaken, with my eyes still on the road I said, "I didn't see that car coming."

"Every car has a blind spot," my husband replied. Still I felt responsible for the near miss. Thank goodness it was a miss. I followed the car I almost hit still wondering what happened when the driver slammed on their brakes. The sudden breaking to avoid sitting in his or her backseat lurched us forward then backward-whiplash style. We heard and felt the contents of the car (luggage and Trader Joe's food) shift all in one thrust and back again.

My car stood still on that ramp-stopped. It felt like forever. The car ahead pulled ahead creating distance between us. I noted we were the only two vehicles on the ramp. "He did that on purpose, didn't he?" I asked in disbelief. 

I watched the blue car with the vanity plate BUTIFUL drive north; the distance between us growing. The whole world is mad. Rage is for real.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Findings




It was third grade. From my house,  I walked down the hill and inched my way to the creek looking for rocks. The moving water intrigued me as much as it terrified my father. I never knew if the child drownings he reported really happened or not, but it made me all the more cautious. I was looking for rocks. Opening my field guide I matched each rock to the description. Before I left, I had collected about a dozen samples to bring to school for Sister Mary Peter.  Clutching the small bag of rocks as I scrambled up the hill, I couldn't wait to get home and let all the rocks tumble onto the floor to ready for closer examination. My find.

Last Sunday, I spent time on the beach-just exploring. This time I left the rocks behind, but not until I took a photo of my find. A keepsake to feed a passion that began long ago.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Return

Time away allows one to witness place with fresh eyes. It's mid-March. The gravel shifted as I walked approaching the Shore Path. It had been weeks, maybe a month or more since I last walked this route. My pace quickened as I drew my shoulders up to my ears and shoved my hands a bit deeper into my pockets. Cold and excited, as I approached the sea I felt the wind; the sun's warmth barely noticeable.  Glimpses took my breath away, the sea a blue-green almost tourquoise hue. Often it is gray or green, but not this shade of color. Whitecaps formed and waves lapped the shore fighting a losing battle against the wind. I walked, observed and gave thanks for the return.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Electronic Freedom Lost

You only realize what you had after you have lost it.  

As a writer in this electronic age, it is a challenge to maintain a blog without the benefit of the internet at home.  For the most part I have been crafting posts on my little iphone 5 and responding to other bloggers in this same manner.  On one hand I find it annoying yet I am coping well-finding a way to "get it done". With this, I surpass my allotment for data use each month.    We live in a world driven by electronics and I only realized what electronic freedoms I had when I did not have WiFi access at home.  Doing without is sometimes not such a bad thing.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Faith and Love

Nearly 60 years ago today my mother dressed in a hospital johnny was praying fervently to St. Jude, the Saint of Hopeless Cases. Having lost two babies and birthing two premature babies previously, she knew the news was potentially grim as her two pound something baby was whisked away for medical intervention. 

Following my mother's passing.  I found a prayer book on her bedside stand; tucked inside was a small card with a painting of St. Jude and the prayer my mother recited over and over on my behalf. A woman of faith, she attributes the miracle of my earthly existence to this saint. In my mind it was that and the inestimable power of my mother's love. On the anniversary of my birth I am filled with gratitude and love for my mother.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Free

Eight months ago, I was old and achy downing ibruprophen like M and M's. Ascending the five steps leading into my house hurt my knees, my hips and left me breathless. Most days, I sat with my legs elevated to alleviate swelling. At the time, I did not realize that little by little I was killing myself. 

Tonight on the eve of my birthday, I know that taking a leap of faith all those months ago saved me. I spent the summer reacquainting myself with myself. Making the commitment to record what I ate, eat reasonable portions of non-processed foods and to walk daily brought me on a journey lasting 241 days so far and prompted me to redefine myself as over 55 pounds lighter and healthier. 

Committed to life-long health, I have researched the science behind weight loss. Since we do not have WiFi at home my husband and I parked my car in my daughter's driveway (within range of the WiFi) and watched a webinar on the subject of willpower, hunger and cravings. The windows of the car fogged up as I took notes for well over an hour. Susan Peirce Thompson, an expert on the brain and eating proposes no sugar and no flour because of their addictive refined qualities. In short, ingesting these poisons impact the brain's ability to detect evidence of the hormone leptin. Leptin says "I'm no longer hungry and I want to be active." Curiously this hormone is produced in the fat cells. Her recommendations are backed up by science and are hard to ignore. I may look fit. I may be thinner. However, food occupies much of my brain. My husband claims I am obsessed. I want to be free.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Escape

Leaving behind the damp and darkness, I step into the house.  The wood stove has absorbed the cool air and warmed the kitchen.  I smile because my husband has the Parcheesi board set up on the kitchen table.  Over the last few years we have gone through months of playing everyday at least one game.  Soon after we play, I forget who has won, but during the match decisions made on behalf of winning makes us each look as though we walk through life as ruthless, highly competitive, self absorbed adults.

Moments may pass between each turn as moves are carefully contemplated, sometimes dismissing one play and another in favor of our ultimate move.  Our wits carry us through as well as luck.  We sit in the same seats, we have the same colored tokens night after night.  An escape; it carries us away from adult responsibility and perhaps transports us to a time when decisions were as simple and ordinary as rolling a die and moving into home where it is safe.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Cradled

Sleep for me is hit or miss. The pillow has to have just the right fluff, the comforter not too heavy, but heavy enough and there must be no snoring.  A condition for  more consistent sleep was discovered recently purely by accident.  Each night I snap the ends of a fleecy navy blue travel pillow around my neck.  I sleep like a baby; I am unsure that I even move.  Perhaps this feigns being supported and cradled by my mother?  I miss her so.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Life Sweetened

"You know what I am craving?" begins my husband, "Black bean soup." 

"What? Black bean soup. That's weird." I reply. My husband's favorite thing to say just months ago as he sat down to dinner was 'Where's the carne?' While adjusting food choices unwanted weight shifted and became lost; something like 55 pounds and between us 110 total pounds were carved away from our figured.  Even after eight months eating unprocessed foods with little meat,  I still expect him to beg for a big steak slathered with a stick of butter. Instead that evening we each slowly savored a bowl of black bean soup which I found simmering on the stove when I arrived home from work. The dollop of low fat yogurt plopped atop the concoction cooled the heat of the cumin and red pepper. Our meals however simple or elegant have become sustenance fueling  our bodies. More time is spent in the kitchen prepping and cooking with fresh ingredients. Food tastes better. 

This is week 36. Day 238. A slice of life could me a moment, a day or 36 weeks. This is our life sweetened by health.




Saturday, March 12, 2016

Stewards of the Earth

Maine, March and the weather from one day to the next is anyone's best guess. Half of the outer wear I started with was shoved into my LL Bean backpack. Scarf, gloves, down vest and hat-hiking necessities made rummaging for water, fruit or nuts during the climb a challenge. Gorham Mountain in Acadia an easy climb affords breathtaking views one-third of the way to the summit. I am embarrassed to say, I think the last time I ascended this mountain was seven years ago when I brought my class. Despite living here, many kids reported to have never climbed a mountain or walked on the carriage paths in Acadia. A decade ago, I was determined to change this for kids. Each month we walked or hiked. After a few class hikes, some students were able to get their parents into the park to walk. Our new administrator did not see the benefits of this experience.  However she did not witness the elation of kids when they reach a summit or the wonder in realizing that with each hike and they recognized being stronger and more fit. She did not witness tender moments six and seven year olds looking out for each other and offering a hand over rough spots as we ambled over boulders to the top. Today as I climbed this mountain again with my friends who teach with me, I couldn't help but feel a little sad and wonder without  positive experiences outdoors, how will our children become stewards of this earth in the future? 





Friday, March 11, 2016

Ordinary

All day I have been sniffing out something worthy to write and feel like one of my students who sits in front of a blank page for eternity; struggling. I agree that there is extraordinary in the ordinary of life, however today has been pretty darn, well ordinary. Rise, shower, eat, brush teeth, drive, teach, eat, drive, cook, eat, walk, and write. (See, I told you.)

After a lovely walk alone drifting along my sleepy little town under the magic of stars, I sit at home reclining with my dog Rex stretched across my lap. I tap out this message on my iPhone because we exist without WiFi. I write about an ordinary  day with ordinary moments, yet in reality these quiet, much-needed days are gifts filled with peace and gratitude.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Lasting Charm of Billy Goats



How many times has the troll threatened a billy goat over the last several days?  Too numerous to count.  For a couple of weeks, I have listened to this tale being read by a first grader.  I marvel at this student's ability to attend to punctuation and change his voice into one engaged in a conversation.  As he reads page after page, even though I have heard this tale read over and over; I smile.  This kid is reading.  I am engaged and he has my attention. This small hard cover pocket-sized book is sure to remain in this young reader's mind as one of the "first books." He'll remember how smooth the cover felt in his hands.  He'll remember how it smells and the thickness of the pages.  He'll remember.

Lucky am I to witness these moments that are so instrumental in developing a confident, independent learner.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bring It On!

The wind drummed passed my ears. It was neither cold nor particularly warm. It was an in between temperature which made it hard to dress for a walk. I didn't bother changing from my teaching clothes which consisted of boots, leggings and a silk like tunic. Three quarters of the way through my walk, I dropped my down jacket exposing my shoulders while the crook of my elbows held the folds of my outerwear. Earlier fatigued and unmotivated I forced myself out the door and into the darkness. Before I reached the car to drive to my seating point, I craned my head upward. No stars. Twinkling stars brighten evening skies and spirits. 

My teaching life is a blessed one. I facilitate the learning of reading. I have had First Graders cry when they realize they can read. It is a profound, yet complicated and delicate orchestration of observing, interpreting and making teaching decisions to support the learner while encouraging independence. I love my job except for one thing; I sit all day.

At 7:15 pm, I found I had nearly 5,000 more steps to meet my goal for the day. Feeling sorry for myself because my husband wanted to stay home, I grumble out the door. Once downtown I walk what begins like a forced march. 

Thirty minutes or more later, steps from returning to the car, I reflect on the benefits of going solo and conclude it's not so bad.  My mind cleared notions of fatigue, obsessive worry about the cause and a flurry of thoughts about kids, property and money. 

Once home I noticed that my husband has set up the Parcheesi board. After my walk, I am ready to take on the world which includes a competitive spousal game. Bring it on!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Lesson Always



                           
Struggling with health recently has certainly put things into perspective for me.  While I suspect that my challenges are short lived and temporary, the origin of my debilitating fatigue remains unknown. I continue to walk, eat whole unprocessed foods, I began taking vitamins and magnesium and drinking more water.  Doing it all this has not made a difference.  Upon a recommendation of my health care provider, I have been seeing an acupuncturist once a week for a month.

Yesterday I drove about an hour through slush and rain to get there.  After removing my boots in the entry way, I stepped through the threshold and into the waiting area where I was warmly greeted by the practitioner.  I on the other hand, had a major case of brain fog and felt like guzzling a quart of espresso would do little to help revive me. I responded, "I feel like crap." This was my fourth visit and up until that day, I had felt energized.  The acupuncture was steadily increasing my energy and improving my ability to function day to day.  Although it was helping, I was still impatient.  I had things that I had to do and I wanted to feel better, but it wasn't happening fast enough for me.

Skillfully, as I sat on the edge of the table, Vicki the acupuncturist offered me treatment.  It is always followed by a period of rest to help integrate the systems.  My palms get sweaty and my body becomes increasingly warmer when compared to when I first arrived.  Prone on my back, I close my eyes and focus on my breathing.  Intentionally resting; my mind empties, but not fully.  All that comes in the notion of patience.  Patience with the process of getting to know the new healthy me.  Patience with healing and just plain patience for whatever may cause me strife.  In time, I begin to dress while still reflecting upon this lesson.  And before I head out the door, I randomly choose a little virtue card from a mix of dozens dropped in a bowl; my fingers plunge deeply and I touch one and another before one feels just right.  Lifting the card to my eyes, I mouth the word: Compassion.
Patience and compassion.   Isn't it always about the lesson?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Can't Help It

Control is what I need.  A camera, phone and computer that fits into your pocket has distracted me more than once.   Perhaps you can relate.  

Punctuality is not a strong suit.  Ribbons of ice begin to melt as I scrape the frost off of the windshield.  It is winter, but I seldom allow for the extra time required to deal with what the weather leaves.  So I find that I have only minutes to spare to get to work on time. I live in a beautiful place minutes from the Atlantic.  I drive beside rolling blueberry fields that are ablaze with red certain times of the year. There is no time to stop, so this morning, I my eyes on the road, averting a view of our little cove whereas I am sure to be mesmerized by beauty.  My vision shifts from the road and to the Atlantic.  I can't help it.  I am addicted to the beauty that surrounds me.



Sunday, March 6, 2016

No Effort

   -Photo by Alexa Bonsey Photography

Lifting a family photo he remarked, "This is the only one we have of all of us." Actually two weddings in less than a year's time has left as many family portraits. Sad, but true when adult children become mobile and live Costa Rica, either of the Carolinas or Colorado or somewhere far away. The chances of getting eight children, wives, husbands and significant others under the same roof is akin to being the selected citizen on a mission to Mars. So tonight I invited my family for pizza. Those living near came, if they could. Four brothers, two wives and one husband listened to stories of searching for buried treasure in the backyard with a kiddie metal detector, feats of dunking basketballs and the comfort of Mac and Cheese meal after meal.  We laughed. We ate and laughed some more between bites.

When everyone left, the house was particularly quiet. Dirty dishes filled both sinks. The effort of feeding a crowd is no effort at all when our moments together become meaningful to even the youngest among us. It sounds corny, but truly when I cook love is I infused in every bite.  You can just taste it!


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Waiting For Perfect

The skies today were cloudless and the bluest of blue. As per usual I slipped my iPhone aka camera into my pocket and began my walk viewing my world through the grateful eye of a photographer. Lingering snow piled on the edge of the dirt road to camp. Dust stirred up as a FedEx truck passed; gravel clicked under the tread of tires. Silence followed for a short time cracked by the call of a chick-a-dee in the distance. Blow downs leaned over each other while moss draped boulders standing on the edge of the forest seemed to be illuminated by the sun. I plunged my hand into my pocket considering a photo, dismissing one shot after another awaiting the perfect image. Moments later the rush of water filled my ears as I walked onto the simple wooden bridge the one Jerry's grandmother refused to cross in an automobile. She feared it would give way under the weight of vehicles filled with family. She hopped out of the car and crossed on foot. This the same stream my husband as a young boy spent days and days fishing and battling mosquitoes. The sun glistened. The perfect shot. I shuffled a foot to the right then back to the left adjusting the angle. Perfect indeed. Pressing the "shutter" I smiled waiting for the audio indicating engagement. Nothing. I squinted. Facing the sun I lifted the screen only to receive the dreaded message: Unable to take photo. Storage is full.  Maybe my Nikon isn't so bad after all!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Breathless

The corner of my eye
Caught the swell
Of wings,
A flock of
Canadian geese rose
And began to fly
Along beside me,
Leaving me breathless.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Messing With Time

                                     Simply Walking

Last night was one of those nights, we've all had them.  After teaching and a medical appointment with my son, I arrived home in the dark, wolfed down half of my doggy bag consisting of tofu and broccoli only to dash out the door for a "just announced" sports recognition gathering at the high school.  By the time I finally got home later in the evening, really all I wanted to do was relax by playing parcheesi with my husband. However, I still had two chapters to read for homework, I had to walk and get two thousand more steps to meet my exercise goal.  Glancing at the time, I devised a plan.   My text book stretched out on the kitchen counter and if I moved my arms while walking in place, my Fitbit recorded a step.  Conceivably I could read and walk at the same time, after all, I thought, I have done this time and time again at the Y.  

My arms pumped.  My Fitbit recorded.  Time saving schemes can give one false hope to "do it all."  I began to read the first few paragraphs of  my homework,a chapter devoted to Reading Comprehension. (You will discover that this topic is ironic.) I glanced at my Fitbit app and quickly calculated the number of remaining steps and found myself re-reading the first few paragraphs of my homework.  Distracted and perplexed, I had no idea what I had just read while I walked.  I stood still, finger to text and began to read aloud.  As I read further and further into the text, I began to walk in place again only to stop a few moments later having not absorbed any of the reading.    The allure for saving time by reading and walking simultaneously was ineffective.  

Completing tasks mindfully, one at a time is the only way to tackle any "To Do List". Multi-tasking I was reminded again is highly over-rated.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Adulting

            Me at about 12 with my sister.

It is a strange crossroads. That period between the mid-teen years and adulthood, whenever that might be. Most of my children are now officially adults; my youngest son turned 18 just the other day. I can't help but wonder if I prepared them well. They know how to cook pasta, eggs and Mac and Cheese. They do laundry (when they must) and they wash dishes, but do they know how to manuver the medical system with insurance, paperwork and advocacy. Did I give them voice?

Driving my adult son to a doctor's appointment (he does not drive) I reminded myself of his age. Upon arriving at the appointment he checked himself in. Earlier...

Me: Just to warn you, it is likely that there will be paperwork.

Him: Argh! (He says groaning.) How come?

Me:  You have never been to this doctor. I just wanted to warn you because I know how much you love paperwork...This stuff is called adulting.

Him: (Laughs)

Me: Don't you wish you were just out on the deck pushing around your matchboxes around and you suddenly hear me call, 'Come in! Time for supper!'

Him: Ya.  Things were lots easier then.

In silence I think about all that has transpired and I too long for those times when my kids were kids. Adulting is not all that it is cracked up to be. I don't have to tell him a thing because sadly, he has already figured that out.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Price of Health


It came suddenly and without warning. A tear squeezed from the corner of my eye and began to run down across my temple. It stopped then, however emotions continued to swell. Weeks of extreme fatigue without medical explanation prompted adjustments in my lifestyle like more food, sleep and moderate but reasonable exercise. Now, I remained on my back resting, staring at the ceiling hoping that acupuncture will make the difference; this being my third treatment in three weeks.

I pay dearly for my health insurance. This is not taken for granted. There are many who cannot afford to explore what health supports will transform their lives.  Under a crisp sheet my body warmed following treatment, energy fueled gratitude. I feel supported. I feel loved. Health is possible for me, but not so for all. 


Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Companion

I don't own a full length mirror.  I did when I was younger.  It was a flimsy one purchased at a big box store held together with staples and cardboard.  So for more than thirty years, I have only viewed my body from the neck up.  It only fed my desire to avoid the difficult image of my obesity.  Unhealthy and willing to put off what needed to be done, that is until I was psychologically ready or maybe too sick to have any choice.  With a mirror that only reflected a smile, I was able to eat all the chocolate, cookies and ice cream I wanted.  

Having lost hundreds of pounds at various times before, only to have gained it all back; today as I get closer and closer to my goal weight, I recognize that fear is clutching onto my wrist holding me tight.  I cannot go back to the aches and pains that came with carrying 60 extra pounds.  Many hours were spent in my recliner with my legs elevated to ease the swelling.  Stairs made me breathless and hurt my knees.  These symptoms are gone.  I am choosing to focus on all the things that are possible due to my health.  Perhaps my resolve and strength to recommit to myself each day will allow the fear of success and fear of failure to whisper ways I can use this dreaded emotion to help me succeed.  

Perhaps I will be shopping for a new mirror...as I embrace all of me including my companion fear. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Early Blessings

         Rusty sprawls across the back while Rex is nearly snoozing and Julie is likely in the crook of my elbow purring.

My lanky dog Rex thinks he is a lap dog. He tethers me to a series of morning routines; all about him. First, out to go potty, he takes a few nibbles of kibble and then he sprawls across my lap while I sip my latte. Generally, he remains still enabling me to bring the mug toward me for a sip, however an occasional 'I think I will chase the cat now!' upsets not only my sip but my peace too. When the moments pass without a chase, I am bound to my recliner for an indeterminate amount of time until he is bored or becomes too hot for people contact. Most mornings Rex, Rusty our dachshund and Julie our big money cat share room and attention. The series of events witnessed predictably each morning may go unnoticed for some, but I find it an extraordinary start of my days. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Roaming

House cats roam
Perched on and under
While the rest of the house
Nestled beneath down
Slumbers
In darkness.

Restless
Tea
Warm and milky
Does little 
To tame 
The mind that 
Roams
In darkness.







Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Passing Through

This morning my son drove us as far as his high school.  Farmland where cows and sheep graze on summer days, were white and empty save the long shadows cast by early light.  Usually the driver, I realized how much I must miss keeping my eyes on the road.  Trips carry me from point A to point B with little time for quiet observation or the road side picnic. I'm always on a schedule.

When I was little and automobile gas was cheap and plentiful, the family piled into the car and we would just drive usually to no place in particular.  The car seemed to mindlessly take us to Old Orchard Beach to sit on the sidewalk bench, eat pizza and watch the tourists clog the sidewalks on their way to or back from the stretch of sandy beach.  Other times we'd end up on country roads, not quite sure how we got there  we would help our mother navigate the car back home. Those days stretched on forever.  Carefree, the windows rolled down as we sang at the top of our lungs.  

Sometime in the 70's, we no longer took long leisurely rides.  Long lines at the gas stations caused by world crisis made us suddenly aware of our excessive ways on the road.  I took to walking and riding my bike. Economically, it made sense however I missed the spontaneous, zany trips to nowhere.  If only I could slow down and not race from one place to another.  Walking forces me to slow down and notice the world as I pass through.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Singing

Deep
Under
Icy layers
Water
Runs
Singing


Monday, February 8, 2016

Maine Winters


What our human spirit yearns for is certainty; however in reality nothing is certain, especially Maine winters.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Discipline


"All you think about is food," my husband exclaims as I whisper my plans for our next meal and the next at some ungodly hour of the morning. It is still dark.

It has been six months, yes. Yet I wouldn't say anything is automatic. Food, walking and workout routines are in the forefront of my mind. So if I miss your birthday or something else important in your life, I apologize ahead of time.

I suspect that if and when my behaviours become automatic, then I will no longer be fully mindful of what I put in my mouth or how long I have moved my body. Right now I write everything out longhand. I have stacks of food/exercise journals chronicaling months of me including thoughts and emotions. Writing by hand, it doesn't become a mindless set of choices this way,  but a series of choices done with a deliberateness that is quite rare in my life. I tend to be reactive and impulsive. That's why I ate myself to obesity, but I did find my way out.

Please don't diss anyone who is trying to change by weighing, measuring and recording food intake and activity output. Everyday it takes effort and mind space. Right now there is little time for anything else. I'm not certain that things will shift; they might, but I have to be prepared to love myself into a certain discipline around food and exercise. It might come easily to you, but not to me. I think about it all the time; no matter the hour.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Legacy

Most of my recipes are collected electronically on Pinterest and Evernote. Gone are the favorites of my childhood scrawled in my mother's hand and nestled in a pink box the color of Pepto Bismol. I don't know what happened to it. When I was little we cooked a lot together, mostly jello and sugar cookies rolled into uniform balls and pressed with a small juice glass. 

I have been thinking lately how handy it would be to write down our favorite family recipes. The only thing is I would hand write each one. There is something about the legacy of handwritten letters and recipes; uniquely personal and touching. An electronic collection does not resonate with the heart.  What I would give to find that wooden pink box.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Far From Ordinary

I  hear him coming home, the plow's blade scrapes upon the driveway pushing the snow into mounds. I sit in my recliner waiting for my husband. Soon steaming leftovers fill our bowls as the fire crackles in the wood stove reminding both of us how fortunate and blessed we are here in the USA. Another segment on the PBS News Hour highlights the plight of refugees. It is hard to watch. Difficult to listen to, but I force myself as a mother separated from her husband for who knows how long, cries uncertain of a future as he attempts to build a life for them in Germany. Another peddled Bic pens in desperation to feed his young children, his daughter asleep draped across his shoulder. With little choice, another father plans a dangerous trip by sea.

The choices I have in life day to day are mundane; at least it seems like that way most of the time. Our pantry and cold storage overflows with fruit, vegetables and lean plant proteins. Grains line the counter captive in gleaming glass jars. I have choices. I have food, shelter and heat. My husband sits on the couch, my children in their rooms well-dressed with full bellies while my kitty is nestled on my nap purring. My life is anything from ordinary; it is remarkable, bountiful and I often take it for granted. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Inspiration NOW!

It is important to seek what you need for health wherever you can find it.  "You are such inspiration!" I am often told. 

I have hypothyroidism that is often portrayed as a condition  that thwarts efforts toward weight loss. Preparing healthy food and walking the miles, I did not think of this. I changed my behavior to reclaim my health. 

There are no magic pills, concoctions or gimmicks to lose weight. Just start. Each day is filled with new opportunities to learn something new. 

Taking care of myself is not something that is innate. I don't know if it is for other woman, but me it takes planning and effort. 

For self-preservation, I take this journey one day at a time. It is manageable that way. Otherwise we have talked ourselves into delay. Seize the day! There's no time like the present. Let me know how I can help.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

All Good


                   Avocado Chocolate Pudding

The threat of the onset of a condition that could alter the quality of my life did nothing to stop me from overeating. My friend a diabetic who knew all the best places for large slabs of blueberry pie topped with vanilla ice cream shuffled as she walked. Having permanent nerve damage caused by progressing diabetes made it impossible for her to know when her shoes were making contact with her feet. She had lost all sensation. As she pulled into the Hancock General Store to just run in for a whoopie pie or two, I vowed that I would never let myself go. On my worst days of eating and being glued to the recliner, I thought of my friend and it made no difference. As a young woman Terri watched her grandmother bedridden lose toe after toe, a complication of diabetes. A haunting image with the false security that that would never happen to me.

Procrastination was my biggest enemy. I'm young. I have plenty of time to change. Suddenly, with 60 looming big on the horizon, the realization that I am running out of time and excuses I believe contributed to my decision to act. Nearly seven months ago I walked through Community Healthcare ready to listen. I wasn't particularly strong in my conviction to get healthy as I sat across the table as the Diabetes Prevention Program was explained to me. However, I made a commitment to focus on me and take things day by day. A former Weight Watchers lecturer I knew what I needed to do: Keep a food diary and start moving. This was not anything new to me.  However this time around has been different. I have been engaging in positive self-talk, I seldom eat meat and I do not project expectations especially in regards to weight. 

Aside from my walks in the woods and by the sea, I have reclaimed my kitchen. Finding family friendly healthy dishes has been challenging, but we have collected a few favorites. The good news is that culinary creativity is not compromised with healthy whole recipes. I am grateful these changes are long lasting.

I am not sure what has driven me to commit so wholly to my health for 209 days so far. But I am keeping on, keeping on. Oh and thanks for the undying support and applause. There is less of me now, but then again there is so much more about myself that I have learned and have yet to discover. It's all good!


Monday, February 1, 2016

I Want Answers

It has dragged on for far too long. For the last three weeks, I have been dead tired and I don't know why. Do I have a vitamin deficiency? Am I missing important nutrients in my eating? Every so often, I am not able to sleep however I catch up with sleeping ten hours, but I shouldn't be THIS drained. Is my thyroid to blame? Am I depressed? It is 6 pm and I am ready for bed, but I must eat first! Help, I depend upon answers to help navigate my next steps. Where do I begin to answer any of these questions?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Conquering Parkman

A ten mile hike today with snow underfoot was the longest one yet. While my feet remained warm and dry, I carried my heavy Muck boots every step of the walk. My friends and I scared up an owl and stepped over many deer and wild turkey tracks. Nearly 45 degrees and the climb steady to begin, it wasn't long before I shed my down jacket tying it around my waist. An engineer's dream the Parkman Mountain carriage path affords views, stone bridges and stone walls that withstand the freeze and thaw of our crazy Maine winters. 'Twas  a perfect day!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Justified

I started down the rabbit hole. Slippery underfoot. No phone. Deep in the woods. Hit head. Rex is no Lassie. The uneasiness settled around me. The woods various shades of gray reflected the skies; a heavy quiet. Rust colored leaves perhaps oak dangled on delicate ends of branches. Rough bark burst in vertical splits exposing a reddish flesh. Rex and I trudged through the crusty coating of snow. Rex making his mark while I noted colors beyond gray and acknowledged its' all about perspective. My footing firm, my mind occupied, I passed familiar surroundings with a new eye. There was a new stream cutting through the now drained pond. It is odd there are so many things I had nearly brushed against, but had not noticed. 

Uneasiness prompted me to keep Rex on leash, however I didn't know why and I didn't second guess the feeling. My dog is friendly, however not all dogs are. Our usual walking route is an avenue for dogs and owners to enjoy the wild. Many owners choose to allow their dogs to romp free. I have no problem with that, however if your dog has issues the romanticism of a romp with your dog off leash does not compare to the responsibility you have to your dog to circumvent encounters to protect your dog and others.  Rex was nearly attacked. This dog was small, sturdy with pointy white teeth. He lunged for Rex's side and I tried to get between the two dogs while the owner screamed and pulled her dog away. This is the second time I gave a dog owner some advice. "If your dog is iffy. Keep him/her on a leash." It turns out my uneasiness was justified.