dream on

foggyday3I’ve been thinking about the human spirit lately, that delicate, resilient, ageless part of us that holds fast to our dreams, hopes, needs, and wants. And I’ve been wondering, can we keep the changing circumstances of our life, both good and bad, from changing that essential part of us?

“The light died in the low clouds. Falling snow drank in the dusk. Shrouded in silence, the branches wrapped me in their peace. When the boundaries were erased, once again the wonder: that *I* exist.”
~Dag Hammarskjöld

See more (nearly) Wordless Wednesday here.

passing ghosts

We’re raking up leaves here in Michigan, cutting back the withered flowers in our gardens and planter boxes and thinking about Thanksgiving Day recipes and holiday shopping. I love both summer and autumn in my home state but I’m looking forward to winter this year. For me it will be a time of rest and renewal. I plan to hibernate like a bear beneath a blanket of silent white snow, I want to meditate in front of a warm fire, I want to sew puzzle pieces of fabric into colorful whimsical quilts, I want to read books that inspire me to dream with my eyes open, I want to play with my grandchildren and watch old movies and drink hot chocolate and gain twenty pounds and remember who I am.

November Night
Listen . . .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.
~Adelaide Crapsey

See more (nearly) Wordless Wednesday folks here!

thank you

So the summer is over and the truth is it was not a great one for me. Instead of frolicking in the pool and celebrating the weddings, showers, and graduation parties that were on my calendar, I went to doctor appointments and googled my way across the WWW trying to find an answer for the extreme fatigue, weight loss, and nausea I was experiencing. I’ve been here before (although not with the exact same symptoms) but I’ve been very sick for a very long time with “invisible chronic illness” and I really hoped I was done learning the lessons I needed to learn in that particular life course curriculum. Of course life doesn’t care whether we’ve been there before or had enough, it just keeps happening, and when the going gets tough we all have to choose if we’re going to be proactive-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other warriors or head-in-the-sand whiners. I must confess to have been a bit of both this past summer.

My health has recently improved a bit since this mystery illness first began, and although the weight loss has slowed to a crawl compared to a couple months ago, I still can’t gain even though I’m taking in plenty of calories. I know some of you are probably thinking “I have a few pounds I could send your way”, trust me, that offer has been on the table from friends and family for months and if I had been able to take them all up on it fitness guru Richard Simmons would be at my front door with a crane ready to haul me off to weight loss boot camp!

Still, I truly believe that no matter what is happening in your life there is always an opportunity for gratefulness and grace so here is my list of summer “bests”.

1. Birthday parties for my two grandchildren. Brooklyn turned 3 in July and Ashton had his 1st birthday party in May. I am thankful for those little arms that wrapped themselves gently around my neck this summer, the sweetness of those hugs helped me feel whole again.

2. I won a free night in Toronto with an Instagram photo I did for a contest organized by Josh Johnson and sponsored by ALT Hotels. My pic is now part of a permanent art installation in the lobby of the ALT Toronto Pearson hotel and me and Mr. Bookbabie are hoping to take a road trip this fall to see it in person and use my gift certificate, thanks Josh and ALT Hotels!

3. My debut novel, The Wonder of Ordinary Magic, won a silver medal in the 2012 Readers Favorite Award Contest! The awards ceremony will be held in Miami this November during The Miami Book Fair International, the largest book fair in America. As a first time author it is a thrill to be honored by this group, thank you so much Readers Favorite.

4. Always, always on my gratitude list is my husband Doug. Without him by my side I would simply feel lost and adrift as I navigate life’s bumpy waters.

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” ~Meister Eckhart

hope blooms

These are flower photos I took and edited with my iPhone4S. I’m continually amazed at technology, at the way it not only links us to friends, family and people around the world, but also how it allows us to be creative in new and fascinating ways. Over the past few months I’ve been having some health problems and as a result the ability to connect and create with minimal exertion on sites like Facebook and Instagram has helped me feel like I’m at least somewhat still a part the “big picture” of my currently slightly diminished life.

As anyone who has been sick for a long time or suffers from a chronic illness can tell you, going to doctors, being poked and prodded and tested week after week, waiting for results and that elusive magic pill that will turn things around can be very isolating and discouraging. You feel like your body has betrayed you. You see the color and energy of life moving swiftly by all around you, without you, and sometimes you’re afraid. Afraid you won’t get well, afraid you will but you won’t be able to regain your footing and find your place again in the ongoing drama of daily life. But perhaps what you fear most is that it doesn’t matter either way. Because whether we are sick or well, productive or weary, sad or joyful, we all so want it to matter. We want to matter.

I’m happy that I can say I do feel better this month compared to last so perhaps there is a light at the end of this gloomy weight-loss-tummy-ache-tunnel. In the meantime I will keep my skinny butt moving toward that light with a little help from my docs, the love of a caring husband, the beauty of the flowers in my garden, a dash of patience, a sprinkle of hope, and last but not least…a pretty pink iPhone in the palm of my hand.

“Imagination is the true magic carpet.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

angel stripes

This week’s Illustration Friday topic is “stripes”. I pulled this simple angel sketch from my journal because I thought her hair and wings fit the topic. I haven’t been feeling so great this week, it always scares me a little when I don’t feel well. I worry that I’ll begin sliding down that slippery slope back into full blown Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I hate that name, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, most people in the CFS community do since fatigue is only a small part of the illness. The CFIDS Association of America has been around since 1987, advocating and educating doctors, patients, and the public about the disability and suffering caused by CFS. In a way, they’ve been an angel to people with the illness, especially years ago when I first got sick and no one knew anything about it. I feel a bit better today, so hopefully this past week was just a little bump in the road. It is nice to know though, that we have angels like the dedicated people at the The CFIDS Association looking out for us, and maybe, just maybe we have angels like the one in my drawing standing beside us, whispering hope and touching us with grace when we need it most.

“If you can’t hear the angels, try quieting the static of worry.”  ~Terri Guillemets

teaser tuesday

Teaser Tuesday asks you to : Grab your current read, Open to a random page, Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. I’m reading The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer. I don’t read a lot of mysteries or thrillers but sometimes I think it’s good to step out of your reading comfort zone and shake things up a bit. I’m really enjoying the read and when I went to his website I also enjoyed his snarky sense of humor! He has fake movie trailers and in one video he’s got family members reading some crummy reviews of the book. It’s totally hilarious, you gotta love a guy who can laugh at the critics! And if those are real reviews I certainly don’t agree with them. I plan to read more of his books, he’s an interesting guy and a good writer.

My teaser sentences are from page 44 where he writes, It’s so damn easy to judge. But Paulo knows from his niece, no matter how much you want someone back in your life, sometimes it’s the letting-them-back-in part that hurts the most. I reread that second sentence several times. It struck me how true it was, and not just about letting people back in, but about letting anything back into your life that you associate with heartache. Years ago, I had to stop painting because I was very ill. When I finally regained my health I didn’t go back into the spare bedroom where my easel was set up for many months. I thought it was because I was afraid I wouldn’t remember how to paint, that I may have lost the ability to be creative after going through so much physical and emotional hurt.

One afternoon, I finally got up the nerve to venture into my little studio. I opened a can of turpentine and squeezed a selection of oil colors onto my palette. Facing a blank white canvas, I breathed in the scent of my paints, dipped my paintbrush into a swirl of cadmium red, and promptly burst into gut wrenching sobs. It was at that moment that I realized it wasn’t the fear of not being able to paint that had kept me away from my art, it was the fear of losing it all over again if my health problems returned. I had grieved long and hard after first losing that part of me, did I really want to let it back in? So I agree with Mr. Meltzer, that simple little sentence says a whole lot about human nature and I imagine most of us can relate to in one way or another.

photo friday

Today’s word on Photo Friday is Exercise, something I should do more often. Still, the little yoga and stretching I do works wonders on keeping the aches and pains of Fibromyalgia and old(er) age from taking over. My birthday is in two weeks and this one will herald my final year in my forties. The idea of aging has never really bothered me since there’s really only one alternative! I think having lived a good part of my life dealing with health problems has given me a different perspective than some of my friends, I know first hand that how old you are in years doesn’t really matter, it’s how you feel. My mom seems to be a bit better as she settles into the nursing home for some rehab. The goal is to get her strong enough to go home. If she rallies that’s the plan, if not, we may have to begin hospice care 😦

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory. ~Albert Schweitzer

live long

If you haven’t taken this test yet, click on the header above and see how long you may live. Share the magic number in a comment if you’re so inclined. And remember, this isn’t a competition folks, just another tool to use when assessing current and future healthcare concerns:)

Speaking of life, ran across this short video on YouTube by the talented Italian animator, Bruno Bozetto.