Walking in Wyoming

I went for a walk in Wyoming
My eyes could not decide
Which way to look-
Up at the sky
What is that shade of blue?
To the right
Snow-topped mountains
To the left
Fields of purple hues
In between
A lake so crystal clear
I could barely tell where
The mountain stopped
And its reflection began
A few more steps forward
Stop and breathe
Take a seat on a rock
Feel the cool breeze on my face
Hold the hand of the one I love
Try to take it all in-

A Wyoming walk
Leaves a permanent imprint
On my heart and soul

Power in Admission

I have shared openly about struggles with anxiety and depression. And I recognize there is always room for improvement in my coping skills.  

If I remember to breathe, it helps.  If I think ahead, I can prepare for problematic situations. Nevertheless, sometimes things just happen.

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Beautiful does not adequately describe either of these places. The vastness and variety in these almost untouched lands are overwhelming.

And yet, even during our wonderful trip, anxiety crept in. We had been exploring Yellowstone all morning and decided to drive to the Tetons. This was the first visit to this area for both of us, an adventure.  

This particular drive brought a little more adventure than I preferred. We were driving along, listening to history and information about the area, when the road suddenly took us right along the edge of Clark Canyon.  

A quick glance out the window, and I began to panic. My body had an instant reaction. My heart sank, began beating rapidly. My stomach felt like it had been turned upside down. I wanted to crawl in a hole. Yes, I endured. But it was not fun.

Those anxious feelings crept back in later that night. I had trouble sleeping. Would tomorrow’s drive be similar? Slow, deep breaths finally helped, and I was able to sleep.

The next morning, we were on the road again. We had a basic plan of places we wanted to see. Our first stop was great! Some incredible, colorful geothermal displays. But soon, I was feeling afraid of the unknowns. Would we have to drive on any roads like the one yesterday? Just the thought and anxiety began to rise.

Finally, I said it aloud. “The thought of a drive like yesterday is making me feel panicky. I’m not sure I can do it.” After saying those words to my husband and allowing a few tears to fall, I felt much better.  

He knows me well. His response was reassuring. Soon we were laughing and ready to face the rest of the day. He even asked a park ranger for advice on the least scary route for our last stop. (Which apparently was not an unusual request.) 😉

Now, I would be lying if I said there were no other moments of panic. However, they did not take over my thoughts. My physical reactions were not as severe, and I was able to enjoy the beauty of the places we visited.

No, I did not want to admit how I felt. But, oh, I am so glad I did. It was an important reminder there is power in admission.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Artist Point Overlook

Feeling Warmth

Flames playfully
Dancing over
Shiny pebbles
Of cobalt blue
Warming the
Cool night air

Steam steadily
Rising from
A cup of tea-
Honey and chai-
Warming this
Chilled body

Another sitting
Quietly nearby
Strengthing
Thru the silence
Warming my
Tired heart

Stresses fading
Into the dark
Calmly ending
A long week
Feeling warmth
In a new season

Grateful Visitor

Mount Magazine Signal Hill hiking trail leads to the highest point of elevation in the state of Arkansas.
This trail of dirt
And rocks, a
Guide calling me
Into the forest
Each step leading
Further into
The growing
Canopy of green
Shade hides the
Light of the sun
Lessens the effects
Of its heat
Cool breezes
Dance past
At the moment
Most needed
Cheerful leaves
Wave from branches
Fallen ones create
A colorful carpet
Birds sing songs
In the distance
As if calling me
Guiding, encouraging
Their lyrical invitation-
Please come in!
Meet some of the
Other residents-
Buzzing bees and
Butterflies flit past
As I sit and rest
A grateful visitor
Hiking with this guy. ❤

Twenty-Seven Years

Today is our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary. That sounds like a long time. Over half of my life.  

When I started thinking about our anniversary, my mind first went back to the day before our wedding. 

Family and friends together, lots of laughter. A simple rehearsal at Rolling Hills Church, dinner at AQ Chicken House, and the final episode of the T.V. series, “Cheers.”

My thoughts quickly moved forward through the wedding, honeymoon, raising three kids, all the places we have lived. It’s amazing how many memories can fill my mind in such a short few minutes. There are so many stories I could share.

But then, my train of thought changed. I didn’t need to write about the past. Nor did I need to think about the future. I only needed to focus on the day at hand. And what it signifies for us both.

This anniversary reminds me that forever is really about commitment. And that commitment has little to do with feelings. It is a promise that runs much deeper.

There is a phrase we often say to each other-You’re stuck with me! Yes, it is spoken in humor, but also carries truth. A truth understood from the day he proposed-this is forever. We are in it for the long haul.

Marriage has shown us our strengths and weaknesses. There is a balance created when we accept those strengths and weaknesses in each other. One would not be the same without the other.

I can’t imagine my life without Gart. Our journey has been quite an adventure. Filled with ups and downs, tears, and lots of laughter.

Here’s to twenty-seven years of marriage. I approach the day with a grateful heart. No worries about yesterday or tomorrow. Only resting in the promise that brought us to today.

Happy Anniversary, Gart! I love you! ❤

And don’t forget-you’re still stuck with me! 😉

Special Delivery

There is something I have wanted for quite a while. A material possession, but so much more. An object, but also an extension of my being.

If you are a musician, you will understand. An artist, a writer-anyone who utilizes something material to help express their innermost thoughts, emotions, and feelings-you will relate.

I am sure you have guessed by now. A piano.

I have played many pianos in my lifetime. Starting with the old upright at my grandmother’s house and then the spinet my parents bought me when I was a girl. We have had a couple of pianos in our home. The most recent, an electronic piano.

While I am thankful for the technological capabilities, I miss practicing on an acoustic piano. Due to my recent neck and arm issues, I struggle with the touch. Now that we are home for this unknown period, I desperately want to practice.

I know he will not want any recognition, but he is getting it anyway. My sweet husband understands this connection to the piano. He understands my need to play.

We had been talking about getting a new piano. Looking ahead to summer. Those kinds of plans are easier to focus on when school is not in session. Then everything changed.

Suddenly, there was no more going back after spring break. The reality that we would be home for an extended time began to set in. I began to feel restless.

After some research, we arranged for me to safely test out four pianos. The one I chose was delivered last week. My mom has already received a recording. Some friends suggested a FaceTime concert. The possibilities are endless!

No, this does not change our current world situation. However, it will bring a little joy to my corner of the world. And just maybe, that joy will spread. That is certainly my hope. On that note, here are my first couple of recordings.

Thoughtful Gift

Sometimes the simplest things bring the most joy. And when they are unexpected, it is even better.

I am having some difficulty with my neck and left arm. A herniated disc seems to be the culprit. Activities such as playing the piano and typing are not helpful at this time. Of course, these are two of the things I enjoy the most.

A package came today. I had not ordered anything, so I assumed it was for my husband. He called after work and asked if I had opened the package. “No. I didn’t know what it was.” “Well, there is something in there for you,” he said.

What was it? An adjustable, 8-position, laptop desk. He knows how much I love to write. And that I prefer sitting in my comfortable chair or sitting in bed, propped up with pillows when I am writing.

Perfect timing. ❤

Writing helps me take care of myself. This desk will help me be able to continue writing while also taking care of my neck.

Tonight I am thankful for my husband, and this thoughtful gift.

On Second Thought…

This week I was reminded of my “word of the year” choice-strong. Hmmm…maybe I should rethink that choice.

The event responsible for my remembering? A steroid shot in my neck. I’ve been dealing with arm pain and weakness for several months. Doctors discovered a herniated disc and this was the first step in treatment.

Though I was anxious for relief, I was also anxious about the procedure. I was not quite sure what to expect. Communication from the doctor’s office indicated that iv sedation was standard. And I was fine with that.

Upon arrival, I was informed that sedation was an option but not necessary. It was, after all, only a ten-minute procedure.

I wish I could say my choice was easy, instant, and made with confidence. That was not the case.

Anxiety began to creep in. I knew I would function better in the long run without the sedation. But it was still a difficult decision. There may have even been some tears involved.

Thankfully, my husband, Gart, was there to encourage me. He reminded me of past experiences. Told me I was strong (there’s that word again). And told me I could do it!

I’m happy to report, I did it! However, right when the doctor said, “Ok. We’re all done,” I passed out. Pretty sure I had been holding my breath.

The nurses were kind, reassuring me that this was a common reaction. I felt much better once lying on my back with a cool cloth on my forehead. Still, I was a tad embarrassed. But at the same time, proud. And maybe even a little bit strong.

On second thought…maybe I will hold on to my word. After all, it represents a needed area of focus. And in this instance, it reminds me I don’t have to be strong all by myself.

Pep Talks

Who doesn’t love a good pep talk? Especially a memorable one. A couple from favorite movies come to mind. Aragorn’s rallying speech at the Black Gate in Return of the King. Or what about the final scene from Dances with Wolves. Wind in his Hair shouts his message of lasting friendship to John Dunbar from a nearby ridge. Both are examples of acknowledgment and encouragement during difficult times.

I have recently found myself on the receiving end of some pep talks. One of them came from me but most were from my husband, Gart.

My chat with myself was relatively simple. I was taking a quick bathroom break between classes, preparing to rehearse for our upcoming Veterans Day assembly. As I caught a glimpse of my frazzled reflection in the mirror, I muttered something like, “Just breathe. You can do this. You can do this.” It helped a little.

Gart’s pep talks were much more beneficial. His words reassured me of my skills as a teacher. He took the time to acknowledge my state of exhaustion. And he described strength in me that I don’t always recognize.

The funny thing is, I’m not sure I realized how much those pep talks were needed until after they occurred. And even though I reacted with tears, a weight was immediately lifted. I suppose that’s what happens when a pep talk comes from someone who knows me so well. Someone who challenges me and loves me no matter what.

Our pep talks may not qualify as blockbuster movie moments. But in my reel of life’s moments, they are more than simple highlights. They are crucial moments etched in my memory. Moments that keep me going long after the sounds of the words have faded.

Pink October

I received a phone call from my doctor’s office this afternoon. Insurance previously denied the claim for a breast MRI I had in April. There were two levels of appeal, and today’s call informed me that our final appeal was not successful.

This news was disappointing. After all, my doctor is a specialist. She weighed all my risk factors before ordering this particular test. I was so confident that information would change the decision.

My risk factors included family history (my mom is a five-year survivor), extremely dense tissue, and my use of hormone replacement therapy. Over the past eighteen years, I’ve experienced extra mammograms, ultrasounds, two MRIs, a lumpectomy, and multiple needle biopsies-all benign.

Rehashing these details did not help. My frustration only grew. And then my sweet husband called. He calmly reminded me that I could not change this outcome. The MRI had provided peace in a moment of uncertainty. And that was more important than money.

Writing through my frustration brought transformation. I am left feeling thankful. Thankful for my mom and my current health status. Thankful for an expert doctor who is comprehensive and thorough. Thankful for a husband who knows what I need to hear just at the right moment.

Our first outing after her mastectomy. ❤

I do find it interesting that this decision came during Breast Cancer Awareness month. The month in which we celebrate and encourage survivors. A time to remember those no longer with us. Time focused on raising research funds and seeking a cure.

Who knows? Maybe it came at just the right time, forcing me to write.

I will see my doctor later this month for a checkup. My prayer is for continued positive results. I will not live in a spirit of fear for what might happen in the future but will continue to be diligent where my health is concerned.

So in the middle of this pink October, here is my reminder-Early detection is the key! Don’t delay in getting your yearly mammograms!