Tag Archives: Endurance

Hiatus

It came gradually. Like the spring storms in our region, what began as slight awareness became genuine concern. I admit, during the first few days I considered this was all about me giving up coffee. Only I didn’t plan what happened. I couldn’t stop or defer it either.

My usually reliable creativity began waning. My dwindling reserve of scheduled posts concerned me. And yet strangely, I felt remarkably calm. Actually apathetic. For years I’ve worked faithfully on my dailies. And for days I’d been sending it all to the recycle bin.

I resisted, desperate to complete my lists of tasks and projects, unwilling to yield a smidgen. I wondered if this could be some mysterious new virus or bacteria. But I had no symptoms of being sick. I was not sad. My thoughts were clear. There was no hint of any crisis du jour or impending doom. I slept well and napped soundly when I felt tired. And yet I felt weary. I soon began to wonder if I was literally going mad.

I fought it every way I know how, resolved to forge onward, determined to regain my pace.

Soon I realized that for months, years actually, I’d practiced systematically slicing fragments of personal time wherever I could to produce more, serving the greater good, thinking I must work harder, do better. I hurried from one task to another, rarely pausing.

It’s not that I felt drained. Still, sparks of joy had become rare, no longer the integral element of my life. And I hadn’t noticed.

Days later, vanquished, I cried out loud, “God, I don’t understand! What am I missing?” Immediately I heard, “You.”

With that I surrendered.

I cleared my schedule, stopped work and began doing only rudimentary activities. It was hard, but I persisted.

For the time being my only assignments are animal and self care and Bible time. Even prayers are more about listening for God. After a few days I realized, I am literally living by faith, hour by hour and not by my strength or determination. This had long been my heart’s desire, but something else always seemed more important. Until now.

And the world kept turning!

This morning as I returned to the cottage, livestock munching alfalfa, the dogs happily running circles around me, I giggled. Then we circled back out to the pastures – for fun! I noticed with delight new bird nests here and there, clover flowering, tulips are opening and some brand new lambs in the neighbor’s pasture.

Again I ignored the lure to work. It feels strange, but I’m okay with that today.

I don’t know when this hiatus will end, I didn’t call it, but I’m confident in the One that did.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

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Housebound

Being still and quiet is not my strong suit – never has been. I’m a do-er. Unable to use my arms, this healing season has been my greatest challenge to date, often plunging me into bouts of apathy followed by arbitrary sadness.

The rain and wind have arrived. The lots muddy, pastures soggy, the cottage floors took the worst of it while using a broom or mop is so difficult. Initially I engaged all my creativity cleaning up the mess, but gradually succumbed to going outdoors only when necessary.

Soon I felt the walls beginning to close in on me and my moods swung dark.

Despite physical therapy I see my muscles beginning to shrivel; bicep, triceps, flexor and brachia rubber bands. This concerns me. I don’t spring back as fast as I used to. Still, I flex till it hurts and then stop.

Today the dark dams looming in every corner of the cottage seemed to break open. I could no longer simply sit. I sat on a piece of non-slip drawer liner, arms folded across my middle. Pressing my feet against the sofa I pushed it. Stuttering, and groaning it moved!

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

We must re-stain the concrete anyway, so I’ll live with the scrape marks until the weather is more cooperative.

Repeating this with the love seat and recliner I cleared a circular path through the three rooms.

Then I did the math:

One circle through the rooms is 40-42 steps. Times 13 trips every hour 8 times a day, I not only see little things I actually can clean but I’m also burning calories while pumping the creative juices. Since I work an average of 8 to 10 hours a day – that’s about two miles of steps. Sure, I feel like I’m growing hamster hair, but spring’s coming.

I reset the alarms on my laptop and dutifully respond every hour. Shoes laced and dressed in layers I can peel off and put back on, every hour I stayed on task, returning to work with my brain freshly revived.

This is better. Now I’m brain storming how I can buff out the scrape marks standing on buffing pads from the paint shop… I’ll dance. Mashed Potato everyone!

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” Romans 8:18 (NLT)

 

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Squeak

20161016_125642Before the move to Texas, Squeak had been my sister Roan’s pet. Preferring to avoid the more dominant cats of our lot, he now inhabits the neighbor’s yards and pastures south of my bedroom window.

Not seeing him for weeks at a time concerned me during this hard season, but occasional sightings remind me how my family thrives here.

This afternoon I noticed him basking in the sun, staring dispassionately at me as I opened my bedroom window – for the first time since the onset of winter. His blinking pale green eyes said it all,

“Can’t you see it’s still cold out here? Roo, you’ve gone nuts.”

Inarguable, but nuts are brain food. I did the math: it was 47 degrees outside with marvelous, warm sunshine. Inside the cold radiating from the concrete floor made for 52 degree rooms.  Yeah, it feels cold now, but wait, July’s coming. Though comfortable while I move about, as I sat working the cold quickly gripped me, pushing me outside into the sunshine every hour or so. As much as I enjoy the short walks, the frequent interruptions quickly wore at me.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done.”*

The many distractions from deadlines I’d hoped to meet today felt too heavy. A little while after noontime I boldly opened the bedroom window and then stood still, holding my hands open before it, checking for slightly warmer air outside.

Excited, (with only a slight shiver) I also opened the western window in the living area. Again, warmer air wafted in.

Surging with new energy from this tangible promise of long-anticipated spring, I set a timer to remind me to check the windows again in an hour, and happily returned to my desk. Rejuvenated with warmer, fresh air now pushing the candle wax and wood stove smells from the rooms, I keyed madly away until the alarm sounded. The incoming air already cooler, I reluctantly closed the windows with a shudder.

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Knowing spring is coming soon, and breathing in the warmer, fresh air are profoundly different.
 
Granted, within minutes the outside air was again too cool. But I’d placed a milestone in this crazy winter.
 
 
Inside is 54 degrees already. We made it, Squeak!
 
 

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

*Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

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Understanding Helen

I broke my coccyx. Sure, I could say tailbone, but honestly, how often in life do we get to use the word coccyx? Yes, on Christmas Eve 2016 I experienced the full impact of the saying, “… like moving the furniture in Helen Keller’s house.”

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*

On the night before Christmas Eve we all prepared for my first visit with extended family for the whole weekend:

Know that, like a true sister Kendra excels at seeing past my mess and makes herself at home in my apartment. She lived here with Cole and the boys, so she knows the layout and gets altered priorities (like saving rinsed dishes in the sink until it’s full and worth running water till it’s hot). Even so, Cole hiding Christmas gifts in my place put a slight hitch in my giddy up. For Christmas Eve-Eve Kendra and I planned some girl time together to wrap the gifts she also hid here. I moved small furniture around (including my desk chair) to give us space and lessen the chances of her seeing anything she shouldn’t yet.

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*

With the altered routine and too excited to sleep well, I was slightly disoriented the next morning despite two world-class lattes. At one point I decided to chance having an internet signal to check the weather forecast and be certain I packed appropriately. Surprised to see I had a strong signal, and I’ll admit I got side-tracked, I took a moment to scan my inbox. I began easing myself onto the chair – that wasn’t there.

I’d give anything to have the video as my derriere kept lowering – long after it should have touched the chair that’s most always perfectly in place; the look of confusion-giving-way-to-panic realizing I was falling alarmingly fast toward the concrete floor, and then the hard bonk-jar and the ultimate, graceless bounce as my legs spayed before me.

Assured no one witnessed my ridiculous landing, I was glad to know my floor was clean enough that my lovely skid was without any annoying dust/soot residue on the seat of my black jeans. I realized the level of pain in my posterior forecast a very clumsy, inelegant present me meeting the extended family.

Forever the writer, I quickly began giggling over the scenario despite the agonizing bolts shooting from my nearly freezing fanny as I cautiously turned to lift myself from the floor.

I immediately decided to share the experience with Kendra, which actually required walking it off toward the main house. Certain I’d fractured something, but delighted I actually could walk, I was giggling hysterically by the time I made the back steps. Stepping up with a more intense shot of pain I prayed, “Lord, please help me not throw a wrench into our Christmas and help me through this.” I imagined His perspective of my recent event and laughed even more.

Fortunately Cole was out checking the truck so that between us girls, Kendra soon fully understood what had happened. In rare form I poured on the humor. Despite her obvious concern she too began giggling as she poured a small coffee for me and laced it with some peach moonshine saying, “If your bags are in the truck this will help.”

They were and it did.

Roo & Kendra Christmas 2016

Roo & Kendra Christmas 2016

A week and three long days later, I’d confirmed nothing more could be done to help me. The hairline fracture pains me whenever I move. I often reflect upon Christmas in Washtucna and Sister-in-law’s concern. I explained why I moved so carefully. She understood my example clearly, “… You see, changing my routine can have the same effect as moving the furniture on Helen Keller…”

I was glad that by the time most of us sat at the large dining table playing Nerts, no one was troubled by my stance at the end of the table, or my audible groans each time I reached across it, alternating legs stretching out behind me for balance as I slammed my cards for points (we’re all serious card players). Aside from being especially careful navigating down the stairs to my room and despite the pain it was a wonderful weekend.

Though I never won a single game, I’m content with the abundant holiday blessings. Sure, I could have slowed down enough to look or feel for the chair in its usual place, but then again the fall could have done far more actual damage than it did. I thank God for humbling me – and slowing me down dramatically. Then there were the extra calories I burned standing and walking rather than sitting. Pain also forbade me from risking the frozen steps to tour the chicken house as the youngsters ski boarded the surrounding wheat fields.

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As I turned 55 I lived in and worked for a 55-and-over community. Over those few years I often witnessed the damage a slight trip or fall can cause aging bodies. Granted, I have 7 – 12 weeks of discomfort to look forward to, but I clearly I am blessed and much better off than I have any right to be. Slightly less nimble than I ever was, but abundantly blessed.

Besides, I can now play the sympathy card at my discretion.

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“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-4 (NLT)

*Images courtesy Pixabay

Donut pillow image courtesy Amazon

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Bliends – Loving

Love, Before it’s Too Late by Mitch Teemley at The Power of Story inspired me yet again today. Getting to know Mitch and his family through his blog, his stories makes today’s crazy world more beautiful and far more fun. If you haven’t met him yet, do yourself a solid and catch up.

 

About Loving

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Love is not always something we do or feel. It’s not merely something we respond to and it is definitely not something we acquire. I know this because of the love I’ve missed in my lifetime.

I learned early in life to never take the people I love for granted. The details of my family history, some of the losses are public record. Aside from our numbers the love is not recorded. The ties that bind my surviving siblings and I are solid, indelible but they are mostly invisible.

valentine-heart-5992x2227_22848Emotions are part of the equation and work closely with love, but emotions are not love. I believe that like matter, love is neither created nor destroyed. And yet, it can be misplaced, as anyone that’s lost someone precious to them experiences. Death can create a gaping void, a hole in life that God alone can fill. But love goes on.

Not my first loss, my dad died suddenly, unexpectedly when I was nineteen. With our dysfunctional family dynamics I also lost my closest friend at the time. The ramifications of that event separated my siblings and me during our developmental years. And yet love kept us closely bound together. I can see Daddy occasionally; in my siblings, my sons and my grandchildren. Each time I again feel the love.

My husband came into my life. Love thrived – and then he left. I have not seen him since 2010. Though I was open to repairing our connection we failed. Yet the love lives.

Loving my family with all that I am made me appreciate love, relationships, free will and to never allow time to ravage the bond.

I mentioned in an earlier post, some friends slipped into my past and will remain there. Others remain close regardless of where on earth I pause. They choose to stay close and they act upon the choices. A visit, a phone call, email or text keeps the love we share vital. Whether we share the same genetic structure or are bound by our histories, I value love above all.

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I’ve missed my parents for a lifetime. Mother left Dad, my siblings and me in 1966. She tried to reconnect until death took her in 2004. Through constant forgiving, commitment and dedication, we loved. My foster parents (pictures not available) passed months apart in 2005. They all continue to be a big part of me.

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My darling brother Seagh left us in 2014. I still feel his presence more often than I don’t. I miss hearing his voice, seeing his face and towering physique. Sometimes knowing I shall not see him again in this world feels crushing. But he frequently reminds me death is not the end.

We love.

 

 

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

Hearts Images courtesy Unsplash

All other images are private property and not to be duplicated or shared without prior written permission. Thank you!

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Stumbling Over Statistics

charts-on-laptop-5760x3840_97336I confess, I’m too easily caught up with statistics. What’s more I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate their subjectivity to sometimes obscure factors, and that they are not always entirely accurate. Today, for example I discovered some fine print stating that my statistics source has an average eight percent variable. Does anyone else get the humor?

On to my point. I began my blog mainly to wade farther out into the publishing waters, hoping to develop a reader base, exposure, maybe attract an agent, etc. You get it. I quickly came to appreciate the additional benefits that come with blogging; accountability, increased sensitivity and attention to details. But who am I kidding? The bottom line is exposure.

I officially launched What’s Next (Doing the Next Best Thing) on 11 September 2014. Almost immediately my life’s course took some more overwhelming, unexpected turns. After some months I posted an official “pause” to the blog. I continued extensive, organized journaling but stepped away from writing for publication for that season.

After considerable research I restarted my blog, changing the name to What’s Next in September 2015. Soon I stumbled upon WordPress Blogging U and the WordPress Reader.

From there, wooed by my gradually increasing (and decreasing) number of followers and blogger awards, I posted everything I imagined, again I admit, mostly to inflate my numbers. The adventure continued into more directions than I want to admit to this forum. I was dramatically caught up with my blog statistics.

I had generated new outlines, chapters and a couple of manuscripts for what certainly could have landed on the desk of Spielberg, Coppola, Cassavetes or Jeremy Leven. And then I woke up. In truth, even I lost interest reading them. In in the new-found fun and fellowship of blogging I’d lost sight of my objective and my focus.

shreddYears ago, after filing several rejected manuscripts I learned the painful lesson about ignoring the distractions and simply write my stories. I can only imagine how the world turns for other writers, but in my world those distractions often came disguised as the care and feeding of my family. Juggling work with providing food, clothing, health care and the most accommodating shelter possible for us all became simpler as the boys moved on and out. Through the changes and heartaches I did my best to keep my eye on my goal.

So I’ve proven that statistics are good as a road map as long as they don’t become the focal point. There remains a distinctive balance between making a living and living one’s life. Some days my platform feels a little more slippery than others, but I haven’t fallen off the scale entirely – this week. From my perspective and experience I can only imagine a writer’s life depicted by Richard Castle, Jessica Fletcher and Jamal Wallace. I’m more like William Forrester. All. Fictional. Characters.

While I’ve never gone to war or lived outside the continental U.S. I relate to Ernest Hemingway, Walt Whitman, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Jane Austen; living and writing about life as they knew it.

But imagine if they had blogged…

 

“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” John 7:37,38 (NLT)

 
References:
Castle, 2009 – present; Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle
Murder, She Wrote, 1984 – 1996; Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher
Finding Forrester, 2000; Rob Brown as Jamal Wallace and Sean Connery as William Forrester

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