Jan 7, 2015

Falling head over heels

This last month we enjoyed a lovely time with family on the Eastern shore of Virginia. My husband's sister lives there with her family and we enjoyed lots of fresh seafood, country and beach walks, and sitting by the fire catching up on news. This vacation was no exception but for an incident that came close to derailing the whole thing. 

This was a wake up call as I stumbled on the unfamiliar stairs and went flying backwards down 5 stairs, head first. For a split second I thought this could be it, but thankfully though I landed on my head I only had a big bump and mild concussion. I did get checked out but the shock has left me more mindful of my imbalance and how fortunate I was not to break my neck. Now I am rightly more cautious and sadly less carefree as I navigate around the house. The cane always goes out with me now and I slow down and watch more closely. This was a year of numerous falls and I am finally recognizing that I have to live a more careful life.

Limitations are a hard thing to swallow and losses need to be grieved over, but I am also so grateful that I was spared a terrible outcome. Falls always are humbling and never pleasant, but humility is not to be scoffed at but embraced. I need to remind myself that humility is not worthlessness but goes hand in hand with dignity. I am no less significant, just less arrogant. Pride does indeed come before a fall, along with carelessness.

Nov 21, 2014

Creativity that overcomes obstacles.

  As I write the sun is shining but the cold has a firm grip on us in Minnesota. We are set for another long hard winter and this will be a challenge for me. After 14 years in this place I have  learned a few things, even though loving cold weather is not one of them. I have learned to change my expectations and objectives to fit closer with reality, so that I do not constantly bang my head against the walls of limitations that the climate places on me. I am learning to garden within the realms of possibility better than I did at first. My plant losses in the winter are fewer, my loss of plants to deer is reduced, and though I don't particularly like it, I am finally starting to be a bit more sensible.

Sensibleness is not my forte, sadly, but although I am not young any more, I can still learn slowly and change by increments. I must say that there is a plus side to living in the realms of possibility, as the disappointments are fewer. There is a humility that recognizes that I am not God and cannot make Minnesota warm, or make certain plants grow in frigid weather.  I am having to grow in creativity so that I can still dream, imagine and create within these confines of limitation, and knitting, writing and cooking are now becoming outlets for me. In many ways the effect of having MS is similar to what this cold weather is like. There are some things I just can't do no matter how much I would like to, but the are ways to still enjoy life, even if I can't always do what I want. Last week I had a wonderful time attending the Prairie Home Companion in Rochester, after being a long time fan. The show was just wonderful and I was blessed to be there. I have had many great conversations with people in my home and I have enjoyed spending time with a friend who is a landscape architect. We bury ourselves down with Pintrest, dreaming and wondering at the amazing plants there are and things you can do with them. Even though I cannot get out and dig right now I can plan and dream and this last summer we  created a lovely new garden of hardy, deer resistant plants. The students help with the heavy work (my shovelling skills are laughable) and I buy plants and arrange and tend them.

Creativity can be fed by overcoming obstacles, whether they are health or weather. Many things are out of our control, but creativity finds a way to overcome and thrive. The biggest battle is in the attitude. 

Sep 20, 2014

I know why the sleepless bird sings

It seems that every Autumn I find myself sick again. With a supressed immune system it is hard to avoid all the germs around. Along with a nasty cold come the worsening MS symptoms and the fear of disease degeneration rears its head again. My eyes are blurry, my legs spastic and the tingling in my legs is keeping me awake.
On the upside I am able to listen to recorded books from the library and I have the echoes of Maya Angelou in my head. Her voice is so clear, lyrical and powerful as she tells her story in 'I know why the caged bird sings' and it has moved me out of self pity. Her ability to tell of abuse with honest clarity is overwhelming and together with all the horrific current news stories I find that I am running to the place of safety in the haunting thoughts of the night.

"On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings,
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me."

Sep 15, 2014

Update on our friend

We heard from our friend last night and he is ok and I am so relieved. One week after leaving he was arrested for public drunkeness and was in jail for 2 weeks. I think this was a mercy as it brought him to his senses, sobered him up and kept him from worse harm. He is now working and sorting out the damage. It has been tough but I do feel our prayers were answered. He knows we love him and communication has been restored. He cannot leave the state he is living in, but we will see him again.
Love hurts sometimes as the song goes. We are getting a window into the addicts world and it is not easy. Love is the best we have to offer in a broken world.

Aug 27, 2014

For our friend

For over a year we have had a young man staying with us who we have grown to love like family. He is funny, talented and kind. He has filled our home with music, tidied up after me and made us cofffee in the morning. He is also an addict and he has stayed sober - most of the time. He has now left and we are undone with grief as he went in the grip of drink once more and determined to bring his life to a rapid end. I wrote this to express the pain.

 My pain echoes
My pain is echoing with the pain of those under my roof. It is pressed in, exposing my heart to the pain that they bear. Like a sound bouncing backwards and forwards it finds out the dark places and says in unison: "This world is broken, cracked, filled with shard flinging agony".
I don't want to feel this cruel reverberation. Lord take this pain and envelope it into your wounds, your agony that cries loudest and longest to the furthest reaches of space. Wash it away with the red tide of your blood and knit me once more into the fresh air of the pounding beat of your chest filled with love.

My prayer is that our friend will be surrounded by angels hemming him in and saving him from himself.

Aug 7, 2014

Building a house on a rock.

Life is not all about where to go, it is about how to go.
For me, I want to build with bricks and mortar.
On ground that is solid and firm.
The restlessness of childhood comes back with a wave of memory,
like a waft of tissue floating in the air.
A glimpse of ephemeral sorrow and lost aloneness,
what is real, what is true, what will save me?

Warm defences and not defenceless.
Meaning, purpose, clarity and knowing.
It is the only way to dispel the lies and deceit,
the false accusations, the abuse.
What was wrong, was wrong.
There is hope, love and salvation.
The lies can be dispensed with and the sure ground inhabited.
Here I stand, this is who I am,
I am not under your control but am held safe,
Held tenderly with clear sight and no deceit.

Jul 18, 2014

Summer Vacations

This last weekend I was pleasantly surprised to have had an enjoyable summer break in Chicago. I had been secretly anxious, but my husband had been wanting to go for years and we were offered a cabin by the lake by some friends. So I said yes and we went for just 3 nights. It is always a schlep to pack all the extra medical stuff and making sure that I didn't forget anything. I have a check list that helps and we headed off for the 5 hour drive.

On highway 90 we passed the Wisconsin Dells and thought it sounded lovely and stopped for lunch. EEAAKK, it was a bawdy holiday jungle of crowds, lights, noise and attractions which was very overwhelming, so we headed back through heavy traffic and carried on to our destination.The cabin was lovely and it was a joy to be alone with my husband and to see him relax. Thankfully the weather was perfect; dry, sunny and a high of 75F. Any hotter and I start to flag but it was lovely and we took the train in to town in the morning, which was really great and I was blown away by how lovely the downtown was.

We caught a taxi to the  architectural boat tour (It makes sense to save energy and worth the cost) and spent a fascinating 1.5 hours travelling on the river and learning about the buildings and Chicago history. So very worth it to just sit and enjoy the ride. We then walked to Millennial Park which turned out to be a bit hard, so I sat in the shade while my husband scouted things out and we headed into the Park restaurant and enjoyed a cool off, rest and great meal. The 'bean' was great but my favourite was the Laurie perennial garden and as a gardener it has been an inspiration. I happily sat while my husband did a little more exploring. 

We headed in the next day by car in the afternoon after a good rest and drove along the water to Lincoln Park and had a lovely  time there too. I found that pacing myself is the key as well as making sure that my husband had the freedom to explore while I rested. The 3rd day we chilled at the cabin and though I was tired, it was the good kind and we vowed to do it again, next time taking in some of the museums in colder weather. I felt like we managed the whole thing well and I think short breaks may be the way to go, it felt like I wasn't missing out on life and that it was something we could both really enjoy.

Jun 30, 2014

A walk in the woods

A butterfly flittered onto my arm as I was walking and for a while it rested there, taking a ride. It was a privilege to have it sojourn in all it's beauty  as I passed on my way.  The woods are like a haven to many creatures and I feel at peace resting there too. Twin fauns lie in the undergrowth with their large eyes and ears illumined by the late afternoon light. They are accustomed to sharing this space and remain in their place, even as I stand regarding them, telling them not to worry. A pileated woodpecker has also grown confident around us and has been busy breaking up rotten logs on the ground by our footpath. To sit and watch it work at close range is a wonder as it's red head is so large and powerful and it's drumming echos at long range.
After all the rain the mushrooms seem to be exploding out of the ground. Every time I walk past, there is something new. I loved finding the huge amanita with its bridal veil and vast cap standing to attention like it has been there all it's life. But it comes and goes mysteriously, only gracing us with its presence a few days a year.
I find nature to be a respite from the challenges of daily life. My brain clears of all it's noise and I find my equillibrium as I reflect on the natural. What a priviledge to have to go to work through a walk in the woods.