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!

Boys to Men

Last night, I listened as my oldest son gave the best-man toast at his best friend’s wedding. He spoke with confidence and humor as he described their friendship and his genuine happiness for his friend.

It was one of those moments of clarity. The ones which solidify the reality of time and remind me how quickly it passes.

Robert and Jeremy have been friends since junior high. Before they were old enough to drive, we would take turns shuttling them back and forth to each other’s houses on the weekends. They spent many hours playing video games and watching movies. Student group activities and church camps also provided hangout time.

Their friendship continued through high school. After graduation, our family took them on a senior trip to Colorado. Together, they hiked to the top of Mt. Elbert, the highest point in the continental U.S. Quite an accomplishment for these two boys who used to use yogurt containers and empty monster cans for bb gun target practice in the backyard.

College meant living several hours away from each other. Keeping in touch and visiting whenever possible remained a priority. They even continued a tradition involving Christmas presents. One year involved a shovel and map coordinates, another required thawing a block of ice. Crazy boys!

I’m pretty sure these two have been mistaken for brothers a time or two. We felt like Jeremy was another one of our kids. And I’m certain his family often felt the same about Robert. That’s what happens with close friendships.

In five short months, their roles will be reversed. Jeremy will be making a best-man toast at Robert’s wedding. Both young men will be standing next to their lovely, precious wives. And believe me, Caitlin and Erin are special young ladies. They have to be to put up with these two. 😉

Once again, it will be a moment of clarity.

Another moment which solidifies the fact that these two boys have become men in what seems like an instant.

Another moment which will serve to strengthen their friendship.

Another moment which leaves behind a beautiful memory. ❤

Tiny Little Steps

Our last full day in Colorado, we chose to hike the Agnes Vaille Falls trail. This particular hike is not long, about a mile and a half round trip. The problem for non-locals is elevation. The trail begins at around 9,000 ft. and another 500 ft. is gained by the falls overlook.

I hiked this trail for the first time twenty-six years ago. Gart and I were on our honeymoon. Younger, and in much better shape, it was not a tough trek. And the views were amazing!

I’ve hiked the trail several other times since then. The last time was in 2012, a little harder for me than that very first hike on our honeymoon in 1993.

Gart, Rachel, and Ryan wanted to make the hike on this trip. I wanted to as well but wasn’t confident I could make it to the top. I am a tad older, and not exactly in tip-top shape. But I had to give it a try.

We headed out, water bottles in tow. Gart reassured me we would take breaks. We let the kids go ahead of us. Not long on the trail, and I was breathing heavy. I kept telling myself, “You can do this. Just keep moving.” But honestly, I was worried.

Then I heard the most encouraging words coming from my husband. “You can do this. Remember, tiny little steps. One foot in front of the other. You’re doing great!”

Gart knew how much I wanted to succeed. He also recognized my doubts. Perfect timing, his words were exactly what I needed to hear. The higher we went, the more confident I became. My thought changed to, “You are going to make it!” And for just a moment, I fought back a few tears.

About three-quarters of the way up, there is a huge flat rock on the trail. It provides a perfect spot for photo ops with a beautiful mountain backdrop. We have a picture of us standing on this rock from our honeymoon and then again in 2012.

Despite some changes to the trail, that rock still sits in its place. And when we reached that rock on this hike? I was so happy! There were no remaining doubts in my mind. Our daughter, Rachel, snapped our picture in the same spot we first stood twenty-six years ago. And me being mom, we also got a pic of her and her younger brother, Ryan.

Once we reached the peak of the trail, the waterfall was clearly in sight. We stood there, looking across the rocky ravine at the beautiful falls. We snapped pictures, talked to another hiker, and studied how the area has changed.

On our way down, we chose an alternate loop trail. A few turns and steps lead down to the flowing stream. I heard Gart’s voice once again. “Well, Mama, how much of an adventure are you in for?” I certainly couldn’t quit now!

Moments later, we were crossing the stream. Carefully placing our steps, we walked across some fallen trees. Further down the trail, we did it again!

The remainder of the hike was easy, all downhill. The hardest part long past. As we reached the car, I was smiling. “Yay! I did it!”

I’m sure Gart would argue, but I would not have made it without his words of encouragement. Seeing those falls again, taking our picture, experiencing this beautiful place with my family…it was worth each tiny little step.

Dreaming of…

Dreams are fascinating. I don’t often remember mine. When I do, they are usually crazy. Last night I had two vivid dreams. This morning I felt compelled to write them down.

In dream number one, I stood in the middle of an auditorium, possibly a church. A stage with rising levels in front of me. People stood all around me and on varying levels.

I noticed water seeping in around the edge. It rose quickly, but no one else seemed concerned. I began to panic. Looking up, I saw Gart standing on one of the higher levels in front of me.

I frantically made my way up to him. Despite the now chest-high water, Gart was calm and collected. I was terrified. He pointed towards an open door to our right side and said, “Look. We can get out right over there.”

Dream number two involved our youngest, Ryan. Gart, Ryan, and I were driving near the ocean. Once again surrounded by people. Once again surrounded by water. Huge waves lapped at both sides of the road as if driving through the middle of the ocean.

Needless to say, I felt anxious, ready to turn around. But Ryan said, “Let’s drive a little further. There’s a sinkhole up ahead I really want to see.” We drove forward, and sure enough there it was; a huge sinkhole, spreading and quickly filling with water. We finally decided to turn around, but the car just spun around in circles.

Back to reality. After describing my dreams this morning, Gart said “Well, that makes sense. You’re under a lot of stress and worrying about things you can’t control.” Hmmm…he’s probably right. Shhh…do not tell him I said that. 😉

As I type, the house is full of moving boxes. No longer neat and clean like it has been for the past month. Until now, my summer days have been filled with making sure the house was ready for showings. There was routine. I knew what needed to be done each day.

Now we have a contract on our house. Yay! The past two days involved signing papers for selling our current home and buying our new home. Closing dates are set, tentative moving dates established, and moving boxes everywhere. Definitely cluttered, the house and my thoughts.

But what about the second dream? Why the addition of Ryan? Well, he is our youngest. He just graduated from high school, is working every day, and begins classes at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in September. My baby…making his way in the world. Saying I’m emotional is an understatement.

Today I may be swimming in a sea of moving boxes, but there is no rising water. I may be figuring out how to let go of my youngest, but there is no engulfing sinkhole. Those scary images came from my dreams. Dreams which brought laughter and a reminder that I need to let go.

Next week we are heading to Colorado for a much-needed vacation. Time to unwind and relax, enjoying the beautiful surroundings. The mountains are calling my name! As are the peaceful, flowing streams. Not the mighty ocean waves. Not this trip, anyway.