If I didn’t live it, I wouldn’t believe it

This has been a VERY rough year – probably harder than the year I was diagnosed with cancer.

This isn’t a sob story, but putting the year in print will help me come to terms with everything that’s happened. A bullet point list may be the simplest way to get this year capsulized:

  1. End of January:  my daughter, who has Myotonic Dystrophy had an “episode”. It was a physical setback that took her a while to recover from – but she did.
  2. March:  my 5th (but 2nd with the specialist) surgery to correct the botched reconstruction.
  3. April:  I had to put my old gelding down. He couldn’t get up anymore due to old injuries and age. Sad, but not unexpected.
  4. June: my vehicle broke down on the way to Florida (about 3 hours away from home). My daughter and I were going to a seminar for Myotonic Dystrophy in Gainesville. So we had to rent a car, go to the seminar, drive the rental car home for 3 weeks until I could finally pick up my repaired vehicle ($3000 later).
  5. July: I had to put my Jake down due to age and his body failing. Crushing. My boy had been with me for 11 years and been by my side through all my cancer treatments and surgeries. His health failed very fast.
  6. August:  my 6th (3rd with the specialist) surgery to correct the botched reconstruction. Even though I had people around me, it was the first time I had to go through this situation without my constant companion. It sounds minor, but was especially difficult.
  7. September: my husband of 16 years and many promises told me he no longer wants to be married. No explanation other than he wants his freedom. I am totally blind-sided, along with everyone else that knows our relationship. I’m crushed.
  8. October: as a result of number 7, I have to find my horse a new home (I can’t begin to explain how painful this is). Additionally, I have to sell the home and land that was to be our retirement haven. I’ve been living in a lie.

So I am trying to put my shattered pieces back together. I’m trusting God will guide me into the space on this planet I’m supposed to be occupying – because right now I’m struggling to get a focus. Right now, my faith is all I have.

I do have my family (son, daughter, parents) that care about what’s going on, but this is too personal. This is a deep slash to me as a woman. There is no one at night when I put my head on the pillow and try to sleep. No one but me.

I have started back to the gym. I know the stronger I get physically, the stronger I am mentally. The gym helped me through cancer, I know it will help me through this, I just need to keep the determination.

The tears are starting to dry, they are getting further and further apart. I can start talking about what has happened without falling apart.

Throughout my life I have been known as a “warrior”, always pulling through difficult situations thrown my way.

I won’t lie – I am tired. My spirit is exhausted. I am leaning on my faith and the belief that getting my physical strength back will pull me through emotionally.

One…foot…in…front…of…the…other…

My Boy

Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling the emptiness we didn’t know we had.       ~ Thom Jones

From the day my husband brought him and his sister to the house in North Carolina for me to see “the cute puppies the neighbor found on the side of the road,” Jake has been my constant companion.

I remember kneeling down to pet him and his sister. His sister was running around my legs, wiggling and squirming – she was a cute little ball of black fur.

Then there was the other pup.

Quiet and shy. He laid his soft head on my lap and looked at me with his big brown eyes. He was taller than her, his spine and hips were visible with quite a few ticks hanging on. When he moved, he seemed to struggle a little to walk.

OK, the pups are cute – now take them back to the neighbor. I don’t want a dog!

I got up to walk away and the tall, gangly, odd-walking pup followed me. For some reason, yet unknown to me, I said…… OK, he can stay.

One of the best decisions I have ever made.

After bathing him and removing all the ticks, I looked at his paws and found out someone had dragged him across a rough surface. His back pads were chewed up and bloody. He walked funny because he had painful back paws and enormous “clown feet” front paws.

I guessed him to be about 11 weeks old. At the time he could fit under our coffee table, but in a short time he was too tall to fit under the table anymore. And he continued to grow.

I have MANY funny and beautiful memories of him at our North Carolina property – growing up surrounded by farmland. He was so funny and gentle, hard-headed and silly. I needed him more than I ever realized.

We had a friend watch him at their house when we had to make a trip home (Pennsylvania) to visit my parents. Jake was SO funny when he put his head in their little pond to watch the fish. His ears floated on the surface as his face was totally submerged following the fish around the pond. Not sure where he learned to hold his breath!

Our next move was to Iowa. Jake and I made the trip to Iowa in my VW Passat along with my son. The back seat was Jake’s space – by the time we moved he was 100+ lbs. and needed his own “seat”. We stopped in Pennsylvania to visit my parents on the way to the Midwest. He was a gentleman as usual.

Next stop was living in Iowa for 3 years. We went for walks in snow that was deep enough for him to walk over our fenced yard (I dug paths so he could go out to go the bathroom comfortably). We took walks in the -35 degree winter weather. He swam in the lake in the summer. He was a trooper and always adapted to whatever surroundings we adventured to.

Then we (my husband) were transferred to Ohio. I remember staying in a hotel with Jake on the way to our next state. We stayed on the 2nd floor. The elevator door opened and a person saw Jake and stopped dead and said “Whoa!!!!” and backed away.

Jake was a big, black beautiful Lab who had a tremendous presence. Everyone that met him commented on his size and beauty – even though he was not a pure Labrador Retriever, he looked like a purebred.

The Ohio rental had a small lake he liked to play in once in a while. It wasn’t every day as he liked to stay clean, but didn’t like to get a bath (until I started bathing him, then he loved it and knew he was “so pretty” when done).

The first day we were in the new rental, my husband had to go to work so left Jake and me at the house at 6:30 in the morning. I had taken one of Jake’s beds (the largest orthopedic dog bed I could find) to the house the previous day – so that’s what he and I shared in the early morning (it was still too dark to get started on cleaning the new house). Jake was generous with his bed – after he gave me a “what are you doing?” look – he laid against me and we kept each other warm.

My constant companion – he stayed near me every day of our lives. I can never begin to explain how much this dog was loved. He was with me more than anyone (even humans) in my life. He was attentive, gentle, and intuitive. As I was yet to learn just how much.

After Ohio, we moved to Georgia. We bought 5 acres, surrounded by hundreds of acres of farm and hunting land. Jake loved it. He came with me when I rode my horse, he chased all the squirrels, bunnies and pheasants he cared to chase. He came for walks in the woods and rarely let me out of his sight.

Then came my cancer diagnosis. Jake was there through the pain, through the tears and with me when no one else understood or was around. When I went through treatments and surgeries, he took care of me. Maybe not getting me things – but my Boy never left my side. When I walked slow, he walked slow. When I had good days, he was off like a healthy (my) day. I can not begin to explain his love.

I miss him.

At the end of his life, I made sure he knew how much I loved him.

Every night he woke up panting from pain, we would go to the living room and I’d sit with him on the floor and rub his back or sore shoulder. I’d tell him it was OK until he finally relaxed and fell asleep again.

During the day, when he walked slow, I walked slow beside him. He and I knew the end was coming. We enjoyed every day we had remaining.

I had to make the decision to let him go with dignity. He was in pain every day. He couldn’t get up without help anymore. He went from 116 lbs. to 106 lbs. in 2 months, I hated to see him fading. He had dignity even in his pain – I can’t explain what a classy gentleman my Boy was.

I hate saying WAS.

It still hurts. I still hear his collar jingling and his deep voice barking – letting me know someone not welcome was on our property. I still miss his big head on my lap, looking at me with those beautiful, kind brown eyes. I still miss hearing his “oof” when he laid down, and his dragging those big, front clown feet. His paws always smelled like Fritos. And his big, soft floppy ears were so soft and beautiful. He loved when I gently rubbed his ears – it was as therapeutic to him as it was to me.

He gave me a sense of safety and peace, even in his older years. My property has a different feel now – my guardian is gone.

I remember his last day – he walked out to where I was working in the bottom pasture – a good bit away for him on such a hot day (he didn’t like the heat). He slowly walked out to where I was and stood with me. Just stood there and let me pet his soft, shiny coat and talk to him. Then we slowly walked back through the pasture to the house. He’d lean against me when we stopped. He knew I loved him beyond words spoken.

Once he turned the corner, his health declined fast. Too fast. Not enough time with him, but I wouldn’t change a short second. He came through my life when I needed him as much as he needed me.

If anyone has ever loved a dog, you know what I mean when I tell you he was MORE than a dog. He was my life companion for 11 years. Until time passes and heals the space, I have a huge hole in my soul for this animal I have been blessed to love.

I find comfort in knowing Jake knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I love(d) him.

FYI: The photo is of my Jake.

Thinking

“What comes out of your mouth is determined by what goes into your mind.”               ~ Zig Ziglar

An action we (as humans) do every second of every day, even if we have an issue with the function of our brain – we think.

The problem is there are a large number of people who don’t know how to reason or make sense of their thoughts and emotions.

Take a moment today when you realize you’re thinking about something, and try to understand why. What has brought this thought into your mind? What event, conversation or memory has happened to produce this thought and the emotions that go with it?

The art of thinking about how you came to this spot, feeling this emotion (happy, sad, annoyed, intimidated, giddy) is a skill that can be learned. Understand your thinking is influenced by your environment (family, neighborhood, friends), personality and past experiences.

Be aware of how this thought, and the emotions it stirs, can be embraced or changed. We are fortunate to have the ability to reason and think – we just have to take the time. And the time is actually seconds or scant minutes.

Stop. Understand the thought in your mind.

Understand how you came to this spot, and whether you want to keep your thinking on this particular subject unchanged. Are you comfortable how you feel? Are you ashamed how you feel?

You have the ability, at this moment in time, to choose the direction of your mind.

YOU have the ABILITY to choose the direction of your thoughts.

And the direction you choose sets the tone for what kind of human you want to be – depressed, angry, happy and lighthearted.

We all have many pieces that come together to influence our thinking. We all have the choice to change our thoughts.

The first step is to pause and understand why this particular thought is creating this particular emotion.

Be grateful for your thoughts, and that we can change, adjust or embrace them.

After all, it’s an honor to be a part of the human race.

Parents day

KC Proofreads

arts and crafts child close up color Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Remember that your children are not your own, but are lent to you by the Creator.”   ~ Mohawk proverb

Everyone has days, as a parent, you would give a paycheck to have access to the User’s Manual to the children you love. Particularly the child that thinks you are the worst person in the entire world and there is no way you can possibly understand them.

I need to begin with letting you know I love both my son and daughter with a complete understanding of who they are.

Having watched them grow and develop their (very different) personalities from the first breath they drew, they both mirror my and are totally foreign to my thought process. But I have come to appreciate the adults they have grown to be. Both have taken a significantly different path in their lives; but each lives a…

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Perspective

“If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.”  ~ Erma Bombeck

Ahh, the word that makes the world go around…. And around.

Think about the enormous number of people in the world. Then understand that each and every one of these humans bring their own “perspective” to an idea, creation or opinion. How the heck do we get anything done?

The word perspective allows each of us to be right in our opinions.

It’s the culmination of our upbringing, environment and culture. It’s why we feel the way we do about food, society, relationships – everything that makes up a person’s emotional reactions.

When interacting with others, always keep in mind they bring a different angle of thinking to a situation. It doesn’t mean they are right (or wrong).

Take time to listen to another person’s perspective on a topic. You may be surprised at the revelation their insight brings to the situation.

You may still not agree, but you might now understand. And to understand where a person is coming from is a giant first step to treating each other with new-found respect.

Perspective, understanding and respect – words that could make our world go around so much smoother.

Just listen today. Be quiet, and listen to someone’s views on a subject. Not to change your mind. But to enrich your life.

Learn from another person’s experience. Try to understand and have a conversation knowing it’s ok to have different views and ideas. And know this is not due to inferiority or lack of education.

It’s simply due to perspective.

I didn’t know her name

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Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.  ~ Mother Teresa

Waiting to hear my name over the intercom. A controlled sense of dread. I don’t want to go.

Across the room sits a dignified elderly woman. She quietly talks to the woman sitting beside her. I catch her glance and she smiles. A soft smile.

I hear her tell her companion this is her initial radiation. She will be taking chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the same time. I personally know it will be an extremely difficult time. I finished my chemo before radiation started. I wasn’t sure I’d make it through chemo at my age, let alone both treatments at the same time.

They call my name. Time for my radiation treatment .

I see her the following day at my next scheduled treatment. She is called to the back before me this day.

After my treatment I walk through the facility exit and see her standing outside. I’m compelled to stop and see how she’s doing.

She takes my breath away as she calmly says there is nothing that can be done for her. Her time here is now very short. No further treatments are scheduled. Time is not her friend.

We stand in the warm sun. She knows I understand her emotion. Peaceful acceptance met with her stoic dignity.

I gently but firmly hug her. I don’t want to let go.

I tell her I love her.

She says, “I know.”

I turn and walk away.

I don’t know her name.

Game On

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself – ‘I have lived through this horror, I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you can not do.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday my life changed – I found out I have breast cancer.

Game on.