My Wish has been Realized – Now I Want it Back.

20161204-DSC_0006.JPG

This year I wanted snow during our Michigan stay for the holidays. Last year there was a big snow the week before Thanksgiving, that was gone by the time we flew in, and the rest of the winter was relatively mild. The five weeks we were here it didn’t snow because it wasn’t below freezing very often – as I remember.

On the first Sunday evening of this December, JB called me to look outside and there it was. It was as magical as it had been when I was six. If I were six I would have begged to go out to play, but now that I’m in my 70’s I grabbed shoes and jacket, tripod and camera. I didn’t wander off the porch because my stiff and aching body had different ideas of what it means to play.

20161210-DSC_0023.jpg

The stillness of a winter garden.

We have had snow accumulations several times since that first Sunday evening’s delight. I still get excited when I see those great big flurries drifting and dancing their way to the ground – even JB shows some excitement but not quite as much as I do. He is responsible for snow removal, aka, shoveling the stuff.

It is colder this year and I am feeling it. I remember why we go to Florida during the winter months, it is so difficult to keep my fibromyalgia under control. The lower temps and higher humidity of this winter are making my muscles hurt so much that I frequently find it hard to stand erect. I do my twisted penguin walk.

I’m not complaining – okay, yes I am. But not really because I am still doing most things I want to do – like shop and decorate and have friends over for supper. JB and I were laughing the other day that our life seems to revolve around food now that we are older. My best times are sitting around the table with friends and/or family. I enjoy cooking for them and enjoy them cooking for me even more. We laugh and talk a little politics and try to laugh about politics, and of course make plans for our next meal together. And I get really tired – but it is a good kind of tired. I have loved my way into fatigue.

We are hosting our card club tonight and I have a little more decorating to do. My posts take a while to write because I work a little and rest a little (with my computer) and then work a little more. I get most things done if I pace myself this way – at least the most important things. I find that what doesn’t get done, doesn’t really matter anyway.

Over the next couple of days we are suppose to get some more lake-effect snow. Some are saying 2-3 inches, others say up to a foot. JB finally decided that he really did need to get the snow blower out of the shed and start it up – just in case. And I am happy we got some snow – but it also feels like enough. I’m ready for a 70 degree day instead of the teens that are coming. I hear more pain and fatigue in the forecast. I also predict more posts in the near future as I rest and watch the snow fall outside my window.

I got my inspiration for this post from Krista who works hard to inspire us in our blogging. The photo challenge for this week is “New Horizon” and she prompts us to, “Look ahead! How will you make the best of this beautiful day?”

When One Door Closes…

Blissfield 009

Doors fascinate me. I love photographing doors and have been thinking of the saying, “When one door closes, another opens.” I wonder if this is really true about life because it feels like so many doors I would like to think are open, are not. We traveled to the Northwest part of the US last summer and I read about lots of trails to supposedly beautiful water falls and mountain vistas. I wanted to walk these trails, like I used to, but I know I am overcome with fatigue and pain way to quickly to make it there and back on foot. We are looking at Alaskan cruises and the more interesting ones have hikes and kayaking. I’m afraid those doors are closed to me. Is it so simple that all I need to do is go up and open the new door I want to enter? What if I don’t like the new door – or maybe I can’t even find the new door.orchard 041

There was a time, when I was younger, when I had dreams of doors I believed I could enter, like being a research assistant at the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan. I had doctoral faculty who worked there and published books there. Wow, how exciting. I also dreamed of studying and living abroad; I knew where those doors were and knew I could enter if only…  I knew I could enter if I didn’t mind leaving children and husband – I knew a woman who left children with her ex to live in India for a year. The problem was that I didn’t want to burden my children with the pain of missing me, I didn’t want to miss a year of their growth, and I didn’t want my husband to become my ex. But I knew these doors could be open to me – and that was enough. The doors didn’t feel closed, I just didn’t want to pay the price of entry.

Blissfield 010

As I’ve gotten older, I have found that there are doors that are shut – closed – bricked up forever. I am coming to terms with the paths not taken, the doors left closed, the doors that never were an option. Most often now I have to come to terms with the doors that have closed permanently with other doors not evident.

Homer 359-2

Currently my closed doors are because of physical changes that come with getting older and with having a chronic illness. Too often I have observed doors being held shut for those who wanted to enter, because of hatred, prejudice, limiting of resources. This makes me angry. I want to live in a world where everyone has a chance. I used to think that I could open doors of opportunity for the poor and downtrodden. I really wanted to, but I learned that this type of systemic change is very difficult. I feel good about what I was able to do – making it possible for people who have daytime responsibilities or live in remote parts of Michigan to get a social work degree. They really appreciated having this door opened for them. I feel confident that these people, with their increased knowledge and skills, will work on my dream of making the world more just and opening doors for others.

A normal part of the aging process is a decrease in energy. I knew this from my study of human development. What surprises me is how much the combination of aging and chronic fatigue has shrunk my world. Even when doors are open, when people give me wonderful opportunities to be involved, I usually have to say no. When I am in my home community in Michigan I feel guilty that I’m not doing things. I can give up that guilt because I think I hear God telling me to live with joy. When I am in other places I feel frustrated that I can’t do more – but maybe I can enjoy what is possible. I think I will switch on some joy and fix some supper for my love and me.

My personal faith has been an important part of my life meaning for a very long time. From this faith perspective, the doors that were opened to me along the way felt like being called by God to do his work. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone speak of God terminating a calling. My chronic pain and fatigue closed oh so many doors that allowed me to do God’s work and I still feel lost. Am I not hearing God’s new calling, am I dense, am I too stubborn and bull headed to accept what is open to me? I enjoyed having the big doors open for doing big things; can I be happy with the small doors?

Grass Lake 114

Menacing Barn

Maple Dale 059

This is the second time that I photographed this barn – and both times the barn feels menacing, maybe sinister. It is a good photo for me to post today because right now I’m feeling a little surly. I had a great day shopping with 13 year old granddaughter Emily and I am working on the quilt I’m making her for her bed (and college dorm). I’m paying the price with a very sore back and fatigue and that is frustrating. I’m tired of chronic pain that always has to be pushed through if I want to have a life. I’m frustrated with having to always pay a price for having fun.

There, I’ve had my pity party and now I’m ready to get our supper of fresh sweet corn, hot dogs, and peaches with blueberries from my favorite fruit people at the farmers market. Then I think I’ll work on the quilt a little more, soak and polish my feet, and then Emily and I are watching Christmas Holiday together. She said it is really funny and I know laughter produces more feel-good chemicals in the brain. I wish I could get this barn to laugh.

Gentle Day Roses

garden center 075

I’m in a gentle frame of mind – not wanting to think too much and not wanting to do too much. It is a beautiful day with clear blue sky, warm sun, low temperature, low humidity. Perfect for getting lots of things done but I need to be still and quiet.

I am loosing weight which isn’t easy for me because exercise is very difficult. It doesn’t take much exertion to create pain in my muscles for a couple of days but I also need to exercise to help my central nervous system respond appropriately to pain signals and keep my muscles conditioned. In those first few years it felt like I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. I’ve learned to live with it, most of the time, and am continually looking for the “sweet spot of perfect exertion.” Is that a song title that would sell?

garden center 081

 

One of the characteristics of fibromyalgia is pain amplification – they have done some really interesting studies measuring how much pressure on the thumb nail it takes to create pain in “normal” people and people with FM. Pain is subjective but they made it objective by watching the pain centers of the brain flash on. It helped me to know that my brain really does get very active with just a small amount of stimulus – and when people without this CNS disorder are given thumb pressure to make their brains light up as much, they said ouch! I no longer feel like a wimp after reading this research report.

So, what does that have to do with my gentle day roses? Yesterday I got really discouraged; I’m-going-to-eat-worms-and-die-then-you-will-be-sorry discouraged. I beat myself up pretty badly because I couldn’t do my weight loss program the way it should be done. I didn’t lose 3 jean sizes in a month type of discouraged. I can’t do this discouraged.

garden center 084

I don’t stay in these moods long because they aren’t fun. I move pretty quickly into problem-solving mode so after I shed a few tears I thought about why it wasn’t working and how I could make it work. I worked out a new plan and today I met with my coach and she thinks I have a good plan – at least for this week. That’s all I need is a plan for this week – then I can evaluate and create a new plan for the next week if I need to.

I needed to post these roses as a gift to me. They are for my courage when I know what I am trying to do is going to make me hurt but I do it anyway because it is good for me. They are for my eagerness to see beyond my stuckness to find ways to make my life better and help me meet my goals. They are for my tenacity to stick with a decision even when I get tired and discouraged and question whether I can really do it. They are for my willingness to see the funny side of life that helps me connect with others and draw others into wanting to help me when I need them.

garden center 090

These are the perfect kind of roses to meet my gentle day needs. They hold the memory of the joy of photographing them at the garden center, I had the fun of processing them to learn how beautifully my 50mm lens does depth of field, and best of all I can share them with you if you are needing a gentle kind of day when some roses would sooth your spirit and reward your inner strength.

Please enjoy and consider them my blessing sent to you.

 

Life in Paradise

I don’t think my life can get any better. When so many of my relatives have died and most of my friends have serious health issues, I know that life is precarious, even tenuous. Seeing the morning light is a glorious experience. Feeling the freshness of a new day after a good night’s sleep fills me with excitement. Being able to capture it with my lens is pure joy.

Morning light silhouetting the palms of Florida.

Morning light silhouetting the palms of Florida.

I don’t need caffeine to start my day but I love the smell of freshly-hubby-brewed coffee and feeling the warmth of my favorite chipped mug in my hands. I have one of these mugs in Michigan and another in Florida and they are very dear to me. They began as favorite mugs and my husband chipped both of them – he felt so bad about it. The chips make them even more special because 1) he did it while cleaning up the kitchen and a chipped mug is a small price to pay for a clean kitchen, and 2) living with him is like, well… paradise. Those little chips are my reminder that I am able to share another day with a wonderful man who loves me with all his heart.

While I sip my coffee, I work the cross-word puzzle and Sudoku in the morning paper. The pain I experience in my muscles impacts my brain, producing a brain fog that makes remembering words difficult. I find joy in exercising my brain and believe doing these puzzles helps my thinking and my speeling spelling.

Finished!

Finished!

Every day should include exercise because I experience less pain when I engage in some moderate activity. If I don’t exercise, I have muscle pain. For the record, I believe that Paradise, the real Heaven, will not require exercise to stay healthy, lean, and pain-free. This morning I rode my bike to keep my replaced knees working good. Wait a minute – those knees are titanium and are the best working part of this aging body. The muscles around, above and below those knees need the bike ride.

I prefer walking because I can carry my camera with me. Funny, but when my camera is around my neck, my eyes see more. Yesterday I walked, and look what I saw when I peeked between the trees of our neighbors yard.

Does this look like paradise?

Does this look like paradise?

An elderly man walking his dog saw me taking this picture. After his dog loved on me and we shook hands (the dog and I), the gentleman told me that I really should see the rest of the garden. He said I should just knock on the door and the guys (Ken and Dennis) would be happy to show me around. My hubby stopped to talk to them a while ago so I think this will be on my agenda one of these days.

But back to walking. I don’t walk far in distance, about one half to one mile a day, but I’m gone a long time and return with lots of fun pics. Some of them I even keep and use.

texture 124

Buds and flower hanging in a tree.

Chairs on a dock.

Chairs on a dock.

A lone, big, beautiful hibiscus bloom.

A lone, big, beautiful hibiscus bloom.

A sagging dock.

A sagging dock that made me smile.

I took many more photographs but some have stimulated ideas for future posts and I’ve already shown you the mockingbird that serenaded me on this walk. A day without new photos is an incomplete day.

Most days include a lot of time processing photos and blogging. Posting photos with a brief story is a fun quick post for me – and I get quick feedback on my photography. It is rewarding when other bloggers tell me how good an image is or tell me they are seeing improvement in my photography.

Blogging fun.

Blogging fun.

Occasionally I write about life – more accurately, I write about me. It would be presumptuous for me to write about other people’s life because all I can see is the superficial part – the outside, visible part. Writing about my inner experiences with chronic pain, aging body, and changing relationships requires that I draw from my knowledge of human development and to be transparent. Using my knowledge and experience to write is fun, sharing who I am in this moment is scary. I know it is an irrational fear, but it is there every time I click that publish tab.

A favorite evening activity is going to the beach to walk a ways, watch the sunset, and of course take some more photos. This is Easter evening on Naples beach.

Gathering to talk and watch the sunset.

Gathering to talk and watch the sunset.

Spirited ball game - glowing youth.

Spirited ball game – glowing youth.

Peace at the end of the day.

Peace at the end of the day.

And I did have peace at the end of this Easter day. It started with a spiritually renewing religious service, breakfast at our favorite restaurant, and ended holding hands on the beach. Peace in Paradise.