Promise And Possibility

Doing simple knee exercises in the kitchen.

Doing simple knee exercises in the kitchen.

It’s mid-January in a brand-spanking new year and oh my, I smell promise and possibility in the air. The aroma of pine left over from the holidays is gone. In it’s place is a freshness I haven’t been aware of since Bill started having knee problems eleven months ago when he was rehearsing for a role in a local production of the Fantastiks. Because of his pain he had to give up his role at the very last minute. Needless to say it was a big disappointment for my Sweet William, and 2015 became The Year of the Knee filled with frequent long waits in doctor’s offices with little to show for it.

After a week at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, last August, it became undeniably apparent that the knee would need to be replaced. At seventy-five years of age, Bill had never been in a hospital except to be born and as a tiny kid to have his tonsils out. So for him, spending time in a hospital and being cut open was a frightening prospect. October and November found us checking out two surgeons who came highly recommended, one at UVA Medical Center and the other at our new, private, award-winning hospital, named for Thomas Jefferson’s wife, Martha.

We made appointments with both doctors and saw the one at UVA first. Even though Bill really wanted to go with Dr. Swanson at Martha Jefferson, he signed up for a December first surgery date at UVA because the pain was getting worse and interfering with his ability to be completely involved in his life. We also knew that getting a surgery date in the near future with Dr. Swanson would be difficult because of her sterling reputation.

But in early November we saw Dr. Swanson and even though the earliest surgery date she could give Bill was in late January, there was no question as to who would do the surgery. Dr. Swanson, is known for her success with replacing knees and how quickly her patients get back to living life to the fullest. Because she doesn’t cut any muscle, and the knee replacement parts are custom made for each person, there is less time spent in the OR than there would have been had he gone to UVA. As the holidays approached and Bill was having more difficulty than ever moving around, and Dr. Swanson’s team called with a new date: January 4th.

We arrived at the hospital at 7 AM on that given day. In the OR at 10 AM, Bill was awake and in his room by 1:30 PM. Bill was smiling and relieved when I found him in his room. That afternoon he walked to the bathroom with the aid of a walker and nurse. The next day, he took a good walk down the hall, before participating in an hour-and-a-half long physical therapy session. He did all of that again in the afternoon and afterwards was told he could go home. Exhausted, he decided to wait until the following day, and after repeating the same two PT classes came home to his own bed the next afternoon.

A visiting nurse came once a day for three days to check his wound and a physical therapist came for seven days to keep him moving. Last Wednesday when that service ended he went out for physical therapy and greatly impressed the therapist, with whom he’d checked in before surgery. He’ll be doing that twice a week for several more weeks. At home he’s moving about the house with a cane, but still uses his walker when he goes out. The therapist said that he’s doing great and that maybe he’d be driving sooner rather than later. Watch out world. This guy has been down for almost a year. The places he will go!

I’m doing well, and happy to be getting back into a routine in my studio. PTSD comes back to haunt me now and again when I’m stressed and this occasion was no exception. Memories of my mother’s hospital visits and her behavior colored my thinking. But now at least I know what is happening and know what I have to do in order to stay on the bright side of things.

I’m back to posting my usual Tuesday morning blogs again, along with a newsletter on February first. The book is in good hands. I’ve selected the cover and will reveal it later when everything is completely certain. I plan on revamping my website and finishing the filing of extraneous papers that are still sitting around in various piles around the studio.

In the meantime I’m enjoying the very early blooming of the beautiful hellebores in myIMG_0094 garden and taking walks in the neighborhood earlier in the morning as the days lengthen. My sympathetic knee pain is gone and with Bill being a Super Hero and doing most things for himself again, I returned to pilates and yoga classes this week. I also had a massage.

Even with all the cold and possible snow later in the week, Spring is on its way. The best is yet to come!

Wishes For A Mindful New Year!

IMG_0009Once more the year has rolled into its final week. Like everyone else, I anticipate what’s to come as the New Year begins? Who will be our next President? Will the wars in the Middle East spread further and further? And what will our country’s role be in trying to find peace? Will cold weather finally arrive and bring with it snow or freezing rain destroying these tiny gems I photographed on the day after Christmas?

There are also very personal wonderings. How will Bill’s knee replacement surgery go? Will my daughter’s fight with lyme disease finally be over and will she return to perfect health? Will I sell tons of books when my retitled memoir, SCATTERING ASHES, A Memoir of Letting Go, is published on September 20th? Yes, you heard that right, a new title which I think works oh so much better. And yes, it will be available on September 20, 2016.

Every December I choose a word to carry me through the next year, as a reminder of what is most important as I travel down the path I’ve chosen. As this past year has slipped by, I’ve found myself falling back into an old pattern that makes me extremely uncomfortable when I allow it to take over my thoughts.

Its name is Worry. I’m afraid that my predisposition for getting worked up over things has taken over my thought process and kicked mindfulness out the door. As a result, I spend too much time imagining what might happen to me, my family, or the world. I’ve also found myself kicking myself in the butt for mistakes I’ve made in the past and my sometimes pissy behavior.

Worry and Regret are not things I want to  carry around with me. So I’m going back to a word that has never been on my list of New Year Words, but is most important in that it has helped me in the past and will help ease my way through the coming months with a bit of sanity.

If I can bring back being MINDFUL during the next 365 days, I will be very pleased with myself.

I think it will take some work to be present in each and every moment, so it won’t be particularly easy or happen over night. And perhaps it shouldn’t be a New Years Word at all. Maybe it’s a Rest Of My Life Word. But I think all New Year Words do that eventually anyway. Or so I hope.

In the last week, I’ve started rereading, When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodron. It’s one of her greatest, though all of her books are. It certainly is apt as I observe the state of our world right now. This particular book has helped me through some of the worst years of my life. Her encouraging words reach into my heart, helping to release my unease.

I want to be more appreciative of all of the good things, like those beautiful, little daffodils in the photo at the top of this page that don’t usually bloom here in December. Or these funny Halloween pumpkins that turned intoIMG_0006 something otherworldly by the end of November. They seem fossilized. Very out of season, they make me smile when I pass by them on my walks.

Today, I’m trying to be present NOW. It’s all I’ve really got. Those mistakes and bad behaviors I mentioned earlier happened in the past. Why run them through the wringer one more time?

As for the future, it hasn’t happened yet. For right now, I’ll concentrate on typing these words while I listen to robins singing happily outside in leafless trees. Later, on my way to lunch, I’ll notice the fine mist that is falling and how it gently settles on my hair.

What are your reflections on the coming year and what is it you want most to happen?


I’ll be taking a break from posting here for the next few weeks
so that I can be present for Bill as he begins recovering from his surgery 
scheduled on January 4th. 
Please send along prayers and healing thoughts.
They are greatly appreciated.

My monthly Newsletter will be published as usual on January 1st,
and is the story of how I became a writer.  Subscribe to it at the top
right hand side of this page to have it delivered to your email address.

I’ll be back here on my blog on January 19th.

Happy New Year to All!

Cleansing Body, Heart and Soul

IMG_1331Have you ever noticed that when you clean out a closet and take a few pieces of clothing to the Salvation Army that you feel good?

You may feel lighter and that you’ve done a good deed. The same thing happens for me when I clear my desk of all the papers that have been building up over the last few months. Some of those papers go in the trash. Others will be filed away. My energy level goes up and I feel my shoulders relax. I’m at ease.

For the past six months my studio/office has gone to hell. Often feeling overwhelmed by the things on my todo list, I let everything else pile up. The higher the pile gets, the deeper the pit in my stomach grows. My shoulders rise to the level of my ears and begin to hurt.

I’ve grown tired of looking at the stack of books I’ve read and want to review, the bits and pieces of paper with notes written on them that I no longer understand, and the many hardcopies of my memoir that keeps changing even when I think I’m done.

I can’t decide whether it’s best to keep all those paper copies or send them through the shredder. I’ve been saving them just in case I need to go back and reconsider a passage that I’ve deleted in the current revision. I do have all of it backed up on my computer and its connected storage gadget, as well as on Bill’s computer. Do I need all these copies? My studio is over my garage, a separate building from my house. The catastrophizer part of me says:

IMG_1335“God forbid the whole internet goes down or there is a fire and both buildings burn. Isn’t it a good idea to have a few paper copies, as well as all the digital backups? Should I put a hardcopy of the memoir in a strongbox and bury it somewhere in the garden just in case both buildings burn?” I tell myself, “Give me break,” then continue to let things pile up, secretly wishing for a fire to burn it all up so I can relax. 🙂

The new year is before me and I have about a week before I start working with my new editor. I desperately need to clean up of the studio so that I can work more efficiently.

Clearing my space will equal a cleansing of my heart and soul. I will know where everything is. My physical body will walk upright, rather than stooped under the weight of the “stuff” I’m saving. My energy level will rev up, all my worries will fade, and my next revision will be even better than the last. Holding this space for my work, is the best thing that I can do for myself, the manuscript, and it will keep my muse from taking a vacation.

IMG_1336So far I’ve got a bag of books that will go to the local library for their used book sale in the spring. My desk where I sit writing now, is cleared of unnecessary papers and even my computer desk top is looking spacious. I’m sorting through the pile of papers that either need trashing or filing. There is now only one of receipts and such, that need to be filed away. And I’ve already made several trips to the garbage can with stuff that I don’t need.

I feel great.

The next cleansing I’ll do is a 10 day sugar detox. I did a 21 day sugar detox last April, lost 18 pounds and felt terrific. I’ve done really well until late fall and the arrival of the holidays. I not only started eating sugary things again, I felt deprived and started eating things made from wheat, which I’m supposed to stay away from because I have an intolerance to gluten. Thankfully, I’ve only gained four pounds back which I feel I can get rid of easily.

But while I was busy satisfying my sweet tooth and eating yummy home made bread, I felt sick. Brain fog and exhaustion took over. Once I caught on to what was happeningand stopped eating that crap, it took four days to feel better.  I’m now off gluten again and most sugar. My energy levels are up again and my brain is thinking clearly. The 10 day detox, coming up next week, will be a time of getting rid of all the residual toxins that are still causing cravings.

When that’s done I’ll be good as new and will most likely begin letting piles of stuff grow again. This time around I hope I’ll do something about all that stuff before I need a fire to clean the place up.

What are your ways of cleansing your, body, heart and soul? I’d love to hear about them!

Intentions For A Happy Year Ahead

Chihouly exhibit, January, 2013, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Chihuly exhibit, January, 2013, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

For the past several years I have chosen a word to carry with me through the year, reminding me of the inner work I have to do over the coming days.

You could call these words resolutions of sorts. Like working out on a daily basis, increasing my intake of lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, and leaving sugar and all sweet stuff behind. But those resolutions don’t always work for me. They require a kind of do or die attitude that makes me anxious and is connected to success and failure. We all love to succeed, but being a failure can set us back into old patterns and behaviors that are not healthy. A single word or phrase, on the other hand, is not a directive of what I must do. It is simply something to think about and watch for as I navigate through life with the hopes of being a better person.

Last year I chose “audacity,” which led me to words like confidence and courage, both of which I felt needed to be strengthened. I was not, however, interested in other connotations of the word, like cheeky, defiant, and impudent. I’ve been all of those things at different times in my life and those are not traits I need or want to reinforce.

I do believe my confidence and courage has grown over the past year. I began writing guest posts for other bloggers and invited a few to write guest posts here. I finished the “shitty” first draft of my book. And then with a vast amount of courage, sent it out to beta readers and an editor. I learned a lot. Like it isn’t the end of the world if someone doesn’t like what I’ve written and that I need all of the help I can get to make my memoir the best that it can be.

This coming year I will start making my way on the path to publishing. I hope that within the next year or so my book will be available in book stores and on line. It all depends on a lot of things, like whether or not I can make it through another revision with one more editor.  I’m very much looking forward to working with her, and I’m feeling confident that I’m on the right track.

On occasion, I’ve thought about leaving my book project behind. Writing it has certainly brought me peace and healing, which was my goal from the beginning. Even without another revision it is together enough for future family members to read. But I’m past the point of saying, “Okay, enough already.” I know that what I have written could be helpful to others in their own struggles through life.

But sending a book out into the world is a scary process and an enormous amount of work. I will need even more courage than I’ve built up over the last year, as well as a vast amount of patience, which I’ve never been great at.

I’ve decided that for the coming year I actually need more than one word to get me through what is before me. Though some are words I’ve worked with before, I’ve added A few new ones. First, I need to BELIEVE in myself and what I am capable of doing. I’ll need to DARE myself to move FORWARD with a whole lot of PATIENCE because I’ll likely stumble on occasion and will need to TRUST myself and those who will be helping me get through this scary process.

So there you have it:

What are your intentions for the coming year?


Holiday Blessings


In the Norther Hemisphere,
Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Though there may be nasty weather days ahead,
The light has begun its slow return or retreat.
In just nine days, the New Year will be upon us,
And a new cycle of life will have begun.
In the spirit of these holidays we too often forget,
May the coming days be filled with the gifts of
Peace, joy, hope, healing, courage,
And new beginnings
For each and every
One of you.