Catching-Up is Hard to Do

Happy New Year!

It’s New Year’s Eve and our house is full of modest activity. Bossman is cleaning off his desk, The Queen of English is probably watching a Hallmark movie or is at her desk editing bird pictures from today’s sit-outside. The Man-Boy is in his bedroom meditating after trying to figure out all the problems with this blog over the last few days. I’m sitting here, drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte with Wild Turkey. Don’t judge.

A lot has happened this past year. Good and Bad, of course. The Queen of English has been afflicted with Meniere’s Syndrome for almost a year. It’s horrid. Her POTS, postural orthostatic, tachycardia sydrome has been pretty steady at being just ‘bad’. The good news is that she’s finished her novel and has gone through three edits. I’ll keep you all posted when it goes off to agents. Her birding has also been pretty steady. 99% of her sightings are from the backyard and she’s ranked 6th in the county for species sightings for the year.

The Man-Boy, 43, has moved from Oregon to our spare bedroom. He’s job searching and ready to start over in the south where the weather is warmer and brighter. He’s a helper to all of us and has lifted his sister’s spirits quietly by just sitting and watching Hallmark movies with her during the holidays.

Bossman has played golf two to three times a week in good weather and enjoys poker night with the neighborhood guys once a month. He keeps busy with tons of bookkeeping and paperwork, shuttling The Queen to therapy and appointments, finishing handyman work around our house and anyone else’s who needs it.

Our ‘chosen’ grandkids are the lights of our lives. Kate is almost 17 and Cannon will be five on our birthday. Such fun with these two!

Last year started out with a bang for me. I had basal cell surgery on my nose in February which took six hours because the wonderful, amazing Doctor  William G. Stebbins rebuilt my nostril. I love showing it off. I stick my nose up in the air at a lot of people. In March I had two wisdom teeth removed. The only outcome of that was the tattoo I decided to get of Bernie Sanders. (get it?)

I’ve been active in my three writer’s groups, one which Bossman has now joined, and another with just chicks. I also am a leader in our church’s Poets and Writers group.

I attended two family weddings and four graduations in Mississippi, New York and Atlanta. I traveled to EUROPE!!! It was a dream-trip~ France, Switzerland and Italy. Words fail me. I went with 14 others from the Journey Church Arts Collective and we had an experience of a lifetime. The bonding was unexpected and is still so very strong months later.

Last February I was approached by my friend and Creative Pastor, Brett Mabury. He asked if I thought I could write lyrics. “Sure! I think I could do that.” Meanwhile a little voice was yapping at me, “What? What? You? Write lyrics??? hahahaha”.  Well, those lyrics were for a song that was hopefully going to be included in a movie; which opened this December, and had music from Journey Church people, including my song. I took all my friends and family to the red carpet premieres in Franklin and Nashville. I had to join a union. I met the actors in the movie, Believe, and we have three songs, including mine, that are three of 91 songs submitted for nomination for an Academy Award for best original song in a motion picture. We will find out January 24th if we’re nominated. One song, by Rachael Taylor is Number One on the Christian Music Charts right now. She sings my song, Mother’s Theme (I didn’t name it that), in the movie and on iTunes. The DVD should be coming out in January of 2017.

The trip to Europe and the song have been highlights of this past year. What a blessing to have these happen late in life. I’ll turn, cough-cough, the magic age of Social Security benefits in May. It’s never too late to have some exciting firsts. God has plans for us that we never see coming, sometimes.

Florence, Italy
Florence, Italy

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Hangin' in the Paris Metro.
Hangin’ in the Paris Metro.
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Discomfort Zone Warning (originally written on August 31, 2016)

Editorial Notes:

Today is December 18, 2016. The post below was written just about 5 weeks before I left for Europe, which was totally amazing and unforgettable. Life has been busy and I will try to catch you all up on it in the next few days/weeks/hopefully not months.    Susie.

 

 

I’ve just realized I leave for Europe in 35 days.

I just stopped breathing for a minute.

Over the last few months Plexus Slim and P.T.  has helped me lose almost 16 pounds.

I’ve been going to physical therapy for four weeks to strengthen my bad arthritic hip, which is now working much better since the tune-up has started. My therapist has added exercises each time I go. It takes me about an hour to do them. We’re working on strengthening my earlobes now.

My travel wardrobe is something I’ve been focused on. Our group of twelve from Journey Church Arts Collective will be welcomed by artists at a Paris Gallery on the first night we’re there.  I’ve done enough work on this old body, that skinny jeans are now in my wardrobe. I am far from being skinny, but these are very slimming and got two thumbs up from the discernible daughter. Finally. It only took me 40 years to pass a fashion test.

I’ve collected numerous Pins, from Pinterest,  that will help me pack light as well as dress comfortably, but not in PJ’s, on an overnight flight to Paris. Ha. There it is again. Paris. {{{sigh}}} And have I told you I was going to Lausanne Switzerland and Florence, too? {{{sigh}}} Overwhelmed in a good way.

We’re looking at small laptops so I can write and post while away. After using a computer to get my thoughts down, using a pen and paper is like getting out the horse and buggy to go into town.

The excitement among my fellow travelers is growing. People are still raising funds to help offset the trip. If you’d like to help someone financially I’m going to post a link at the end of this blog. Prices for the trip have risen, people have had circumstances happen and are in need of help for this Arts Mission Trip. Life is short. Opportunities are sometimes few. Generosity is alive and well. Personally, I’ve been humbled beyond words and to tears by the generosity of family and friends.

Spread the love if you can to an artist with the mission to learn, explore, disciple, befriend and eat pastries. Well, you all know I’m all about the truth.

Thanks for reading me!

Susie

I’ve Been Committed

Decisions

 

I woke up around 5:30 this morning thinking about the commitment I made two days ago. Bossman was with me, so he’s a witness. We talked about this commitment yesterday and in celebration of my commitment, he committed by making a tee time for himself for 9am today .

So, I’m laying, or lying in bed, thinking about what I’ve sworn to do. Seriously? Again? Good gravy, Marie!  All the decisions that go with signing on that damn dotted line have just hit me between the eyes. My intentions were sincere and I was even excited when I signed and handed over my credit card.

I joined a gym. Planet Fitness. Like I need another planet. I have a hard enough time balancing the two I’m trying to function on now. Earth and the one people think I’m originally from. Probably Mars, or maybe Neptune. Mars is pretty and I can see it at night, I think I’d like to be… . Squirrel!

The clock next to the bed is glowing at me. I’m wide awake. Last night, I told Bossman I was going to get to the gym three days a week and Friday was going to be my first day. Today is Friday. My problem is making decisions. Now I have to decide what to wear and what time to go.

Clothing: Definitely not the skin tight workout bottoms I see women wearing at Kroger. (I’m envious knowing they made decisions and have already been to the gym) Not the baggy pair of knit black pants I wear around the house with the stains on them. Not the knit knee-length pants I only wear in the house that are semi-loose, lightweight and need to be worn with a long, sturdy tee shirt to cover the tummy area because that’s where they aren’t loose. I settle on a pair of knit crop pants that miraculously aren’t skin tight. I’ll top them off with a t-shirt of some sort with a neck that won’t choke me when I’m gasping for air on the elliptical machine.

Shoes: I have sturdy sneakers that pinch my toes a little bit, and I have neon nylon Nikes. So, the Nikes have it for today.

Time: It’s 6:30am. People will be hitting the gym before work. I’m avoiding the gym when it’s at its busiest.  There is absolutely no reason for me to be there during rush hour with women having to shower and get ready for work. The fewer naked women I see at the gym, the better. I’m modest, self-conscious and have a problem dialoging in my head about details. I’m detailed oriented and I don’t need any naked information scurrying around me that might end up in a blog or story. Well, maybe… . No! No rush hour gym time!

Now, another decision. Shower before the gym or after? I’m exhausted just thinking about going. I won’t shower or maybe I will shower. I feel better after a shower. So maybe I will. Yes! I’m going to shower!!!

Gosh. I’m ready for a nap and I’m not even out of bed yet.

 

A note from Susie:

I’m glad I wrote about this decision making issue I have as I laid in bed this morning. The whole reason I joined the gym in the first place is to increase my stamina for walking. You may have heard that I’m going on a trip to Europe (still can’t believe this) in October. Paris, Lausanne and Florence. Journey Church Arts Collective is taking about 15 of us over to share the love of Christ, our artistic gifts and our hope for a better and kinder world. My personal plan is to represent my faith and my country, and the expectation I have that Americans will pull our country together and become united–to where we are blind in judgment when we see the color of people’s skin and  we’ll be wise in choosing a new leader; and to travel to Paris, take Parisian’s hands in mine and tell them “I’m sincerely sorry for your enormous loss.”

I am not afraid to travel but I will be observant. God has made it clear that I’m supposed to be on this trip. There is a reason. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m praying that I will make Him, and all my supporters, smile at  my efforts while I’m abroad.

As always ~ Thanks for reading me.

Susie

 

Hope is like peace. It is not a gift from God.
It is a gift only we can give one another.

Elie Wiesel

Every Evening Wonders

A few hours ago, I walked out my backdoor into the day’s twilight and my focus instantly shot up into the dusky sky and stuck on the glittering  red planet directly in front of me.  I was filled with awe at Mars and its backdrop of a fading blue sky, with cotton-candy-spun dirty white clouds. My eyes shifted to the right where a brilliant white star  or possibly, Saturn, stole my attention. Shifting back and forth between the only two lights in the sky, I was filled with innocent wonder as the fireflies, far beneath them, flitted through the trees, mimicking the two brilliant lights and begging for my attention.

How clever for our Creator to mimic His stars, planets and tiny little flying bugs. From the astounding mammoth creation of the Universe to the tiny, short termed lifespan of our fireflies.

I am awed and child-like.

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Photo by Matt Poll, upstate New York, May 29, 2016

Overwelming to Overwhelmed

 

o-ver-whelm-ing adj. 1. So great as to render resistance or opposition useless; overpowering.

o-ver-whelm v.t. 1. to overpower in mind or feeling; overwhelmed by remorse. 2. to overpower with superior force or numbers. 3. to cover or bury beneath a mass of something. 4. to burden excessively.

 

 

Where do I start? I like to think that I roll with the punches, so they say, when challenged with hurdles thrown in front of me. I think I handle them pretty well when they’re my hurdles.

In January, I had a medical problem that my regular doctor couldn’t quite fit into a category. After having a physical exam and a CAT scan that showed no abnormalities he diagnosed a pulled groin muscle and told me to rest, don’t lift, apply heat and take ibuprofen. (I rarely do anything strenuous enough to pull a groin muscle. Honestly.) Three months went by and I still had terrible pain in my lower abdomen and both groin areas. So, I went to see a young woman from church who is doctor of kinesiology and chiropractic. She helped me with, what I called her ‘voodoo’, aromatherapy, and weird and wonderfully painful pressure-point torture procedures. Today, I am pain-free and I thank God for her. Hurdle cleared.

A large basal cell carcinoma on my nose was my hurdle in February. My left nostril was rebuilt by my surgeon, Dr. William Stebbins at Vanderbilt Dermotology. I had eleven shots in my nose, was at the surgery center for six hours, had three biopsies and a partridge in a pear tree. It was overwhelming for a day or so when I’d see the quilting job he did on my nose,but I moved on. Those stitches were a hurdle I had to reckon with, and I did it. I reckoned that the surgery probably saved my nose and maybe my life. Hurdle cleared!

On March 23rd I had my two upper wisdom teeth out at the age of 63. They weren’t doing me any good, wisdom was fleeting and they were harassing the teeth in front of them, so I figured, “What the Hell. Get rid of them!” Dentists had been after me for at least three decades to get them out, so I finally gave in. It was a no brainer and I recovered quickly and completely. Hurdle cleared!

April was a reprieve for me, but Bossman had basal cell cancer surgery on his neck. He’s joined the Skin Cancer Survivor Club with The Queen of English (our daughter who has a Masters degree in creative writing), and me.

May was my birthday month, so Bossman gifted me his cold that had staked a claim in his chest producing a barking cough. My present just made me feel lousy. We missed church for the first time in forever. Then all Hell broke loose.

On Wednesday, the 18th of May, I woke up, rolled over to look at the time and couldn’t open my eyes. Damn that Sandman. I felt my way to the bathroom, turned on the faucet and prayed I didn’t have pinkeye. The soaked heavy warmth of the washcloth felt good on my now scratchy eyes. One was pink. Thinking I could catch it early, I treated each eye as an individual. Each one had its own fresh washcloth for its warm water compress and individual towel. I researched which Essential Oils I could use and placed them in odd reflex spots on my toes to help my eyes. (I don’t get it either) I was going to tough this out. Hell, I was turning 64 in less than a week and this childish pinkeye hurdle was not going to get the best of me.

So, later that evening it was close to 10:30 when the ER doctor, Dr. Handsome, ordered a shot of antibiotics in my hip, put antibiotic drops in my eyes and handed me two scripts for drops and 1,000 milligram capsules for a week by mouth. My painful eyes, almost swollen shut, and the disgusting goop being manufactured at a pace that would rival China’s iPad production were a challenge for the medical staff to contain their “Oh, that’s really gross” face. Zombie PinkEye. I looked as if I did a few rounds with Mohammad Ali and lost. But, I was much better by my birthday on the 24th. Bossman and my semi-pink eyes and I went to lunch and picked up Gigi’s Gluten Free Cupcakes to share with the Queen of English. Then I took a nap. Hurdle cleared!

Little did I know that those hurdles were nothing compared to what lay ahead for our adult kid.

Our medically disabled daughter was diagnosed with POTS [postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome] a few years ago and falls down frequently because of low blood pressure. That’s a twenty-seven foot tall hurdle in itself. She has also been suffering from vertigo over the last few months – a double-whammy if I’ve ever seen one. With her POTS falls, she’ll yell, “I’m fine!” when she goes down like a pile of bricks and we’ll continue to watch TV or eat our dinner as we reply with a mouthful of mashed potatoes, “Okay. Thanks.” If we don’t hear the “I’m fine”, we yell, “You okay?” and she might eke out a weak “yes” and one of us will run or hobble up the stairs anyway. Hurdles everywhere.

During all my temporary medical drama this past year, we’d hear her POTSie falls, later mixed in with the Vertigo crashes, coming from the second floor where she lives. SuperDad/Bossman/ManNurse would fly up the stairs to check on her. I’d cover my head with my soft blanket and pray.

We need a better system.

Lately, her vertigo has become violent. Tests start on Monday with an MRI of her brain and we’ll go from there. Her saving grace has been the nurturing and photographing of our abundant, civil war battlefield/ backyard birds, ducks, turkeys and squirrels. As she pushes her walker to the back door to feed the yard birds, all too often it looks like some ghost of a Yankee or Rebel soldier is pushing her sideways or backwards. She’ll slam onto the hardwood floor, and while I move to help her I yell, “You bastards!!! Leave her alone!!! Sons of Bitches!!!” It feels good to be able to blame someone for this stuff.

Vertigo is an evil hurdle to tackle. The attacks come as if they are set up on her old high school track where she ran miles and miles for years. One after another after another… . When an episode happens, it’s as if she’s being slapped on the forehead. Her head jerks back, she loses her balance and down she goes. Again. She recalls her college days occasionally while she’s on her knees hanging over her fuchsia walker. “I used to enjoy feeling this way once in a while.”

It’s overwhelming.

I am useless. I freak out. In my rush to get to her I might trip and fall on the bed or bang up against the wall. She smiles and shakes her head. When she has an attack in front of me, I automatically turn into Kramer from Seinfeld. That makes her laugh. I try to help her get up and either tickle her by mistake or grab her somewhere inappropriate. We laugh again. “Just helping…” I mutter.

The Queen of English says we’re a sitcom.

We are.

I’d call it, Overwhelmed.

Snow Spirits

Second Autumn Tree

Deep sighs from the spirits of the trees are masked within the autumn commotion.

Their tired solar panels, homes for critters and pleasing primary pennants,

fall

to the ground,

browned

and worn out.

Spirit’s Winter Sabbath commences.

Beaches lounge waiting for the weary wanderers

to soak up the rays of the Always Summer Sun

until their Boss calls them back for their seasonal jobs.

A-Ha!

When’s the last time you experienced a true a-ha moment? Not, oh, that’s where those stupid keys have been, or this blouse has been hanging in my closet for ten years and I still can’t wear it. Guess it’s time for a trip to Goodwill. Those are recognizing that you don’t put your keys on the key hook and the twenty-pounds-ago blouse needs a new home.

I’m going to call my latest moment a God a-ha!

For over a year our church has been looking for a new home. Our lease was up in April of 2015 and our landlords have been generous in extending it month by month. Our needs in a space were simple: parking for 150 cars, space for children’s ministry and space for worship. Then our needs grew when a wonderful possibility came up. We could have a worship space, children’s ministry, parking galore and include a community center with tutoring for local kids and maybe some art space for the Creative Ministry. Possibilities ended up being disappointments. What is God waiting for?

This morning I looked at my mirror and had the a-ha God moment. At least three months ago as I was walking out of my closet I was jolted by both a thought and image of these words: Let’s see what you can do–God. I immediately turned and wrote it down on my vanity mirror with a blue Dry Erase marker.

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I was excited. What did it mean? Me, personally? Okay, then. I can do stuff. What stuff do you want me to do? Huh? I stared at the blue words laying over my reflection and thought, “What does He mean? How do I interpret this?”

Yesterday at Journey Church, I realized those words were meant for our church as a whole. Our pastor shared the new and improved vision for our church and how we could meet the needs of our community and others. It’s huge. Bigger than anyone ever dreamed of doing. It’s not about building a cathedral; we’re in an old factory and love it. But it could possibly be building for others.

Let’s see what you can do’ just might have been God giving us a green light to dream big or go homeless. I guess we’ll just have to work and see what happens.

A-ha.