We went to a family wedding this weekend. I’m at that age where I really appreciate “weddings and funerals” as an opportunity to get together with the extended family, the relatives I don’t see very often. Even at these events people tend to cluster with their “immediate” families. Still, it’s nice to see how everyone is doing, aging, and whose kids (the names I can’t keep track of) are now grown.
This wedding was particularly special. On my Mom’s side of the family I’m the oldest of the girl cousins, and Becci is the youngest. Additionally our families have been close. We used to camp together growing up. My Mom and my Aunt would plot to sneak the leftover marshmallows into the other one’s camp kitchen to take home. S’more’s are essential camp food with kids, but neither family had any real use for marshmallows in their day-to-day lives.
My Mom is the oldest girl in her family and my Uncle the youngest. Their age difference is about the same as mine to my Uncle. That’s about the same difference as between me and my cousin. That’s about the same difference as between my cousin and my daughter. Becci is getting married in her 30’s. She’s breaking the chain. But waiting for “Mr. Right” seems to have held her in good stead.
The wedding was particularly well attended. Both the bride and groom come with large extended families. Both of them also have a presence in their small town communities. People have watched them grow up, build careers, and wished them well throughout their lives. It was a nearly impossible task to keep the guest list numbers down.
Those of us who’ve had weddings know there are a certain number of invitations that get sent out with the expectation that those people will never come. They are invitations that are necessary to send, as announcements or because of an obligation of manners. People spread out in our society and traveling 3 hours, 6 hours, 9 hours, 12 hours, days “just for a wedding” gets expensive. However, for Becci and Caleb people were willing to do just that. There were so many responses they had to change the wedding venue. Instead of getting married in the church where her Uncle preaches, Becci got married in the Auditorium of the High School where her brother teaches music. They filled the seats!
It was a beautiful event. They did a lovely job decorating the space. The service was personal and joyful. The caterers served good food to nearly 500 people and everyone ate in less than 1 ½ hours. (We tended to have meals in town at the restaurant that catered the event.) The DJ’s did a good job with the music and Orion got to dance with the bride. I even danced a little!
Being in Wisconsin, we even had time between the wedding and the reception to sneak over to the bar. There is nothing like fresh fried cheese curds for an afternoon snack! Wisconsin beer, however, is off my menu post the bariatric surgery.
As Orion so eloquently told everyone the next morning, “I have nothing but love in my heart for the newlyweds!”
It has been a busy week, which is kind of nice. We’ve had medical appointments, adventures, and a day in the park. I’d say it’s been ups and downs, but actually it’s been mostly ups. Sure the challenges have been there. I’m still not putting the wheelchair into the car so logistics are complicated. But all the potential roadblocks were addressed and things continue to move forward.
It really was a week of medical. All of my standard appointments, plus Orion got his quarterly botox shots (to help with the spastic tone in his legs) and I had another CT following up my ER visit a few weeks ago. That’s what I thought this blog was going to be about at the beginning of last week. Then I started having fun.
A friend got tickets to a concert by the Cactus Blossoms and invited me and another friend to join her. Girls night out and fun country music, why not? We had a grand time. Even the opening act was delightful. Andru Bemis proved to be an impressive musician and entertainer. I didn’t get up and dance, but by the end of the concert I was on my feet rocking to the music. Nice to be able to do that again!
The day in the park was for Pagan Pride. Our community has been doing a Pride event for a long time. In the past few years Pride has presented itself in a very public way at Minnehaha Falls Park. It’s nice to be out under the oak trees, but it’s also nice to have some visibility in the larger community.
There are vendors, public rituals, music and dance performances and a lot of chatting with old friends. Members of the Reclaiming community set up a labyrinth and other groups have booths promoting festivals and local events. It’s a large community so there’s always something going on.
It was a beautiful day to be outside. In fact it was a beautiful weekend, cool but warm in the sunshine. I even got to have dinner out Sunday with another group of friends. A side order of humus should keep me in lunches for a few more days. “Small portions” has taken on a whole new meaning, but I’m feeling good and really enjoying being out and about.
I promised I’d let you know how sailing went. It was delightful! We had a pretty calm day so we drifted back and forth across the Mississippi River at Lake Pepin. Three middle-aged women in the middle of nowhere on a perfect day just chatting was exactly the right way to treat myself to a “time out”.
That was the whole point of going sailing, to take a real “time out” and do something fun just for me. I had the whole day so the hour and a half drive down and back was not rushed. We saw eagles and turkey vultures flying over the bluffs around the river. It was a lazy day, but a stimulating one. I love being on the water. It relaxes me in a way that nothing else can.
I haven’t really been sailing. I’ve been on a catamaran on the ocean. I’ve been in canoes. I’ve been in motor boats and pontoon boats. I’ve always wanted to sail. There’s something about the water and the wind that appeals to my sense of imagination. It seems like there’s a freedom in sailing. The potential is there for speed, but also quiet.
We spent all afternoon on the water. When we came back to the marina and got the boat put away for the evening I felt I’d made a new friend in Captain Beth. My first words ashore were, “Can we do it again!?”
I think it’s important for all of us to treat ourselves on occasion. Sometimes that’s a quiet solitary retreat. Sometimes that’s trying something new and challenging. Sometimes that’s making a dream come true. Whatever it is I am starting to be more aware of things that actually feed my soul. I’m starting to prioritize making those things happen for me more frequently.
It’s challenging to do things “just for me.” I’m finding it’s also very worth the effort.
Have you ever had that perfect storm of a day where every one thing adds on to the trouble of the last, ending in disaster? Have you ever had a lovely simple plan fall into a deep abyss of obstacles and limitations until you just had to let go?
That was last Friday for me. I had the perfect storm of physical trauma and pain landing me in the ER for the weekend. Now I’m back at Monday knowing the only thing I can do is pick up the pieces.
Resilience, the ability to recover quickly, to bounce back, is easy to measure in physical terms. It’s harder when you start looking at bouncing back from an emotional blow. The thing is, we live in our bodies and very often those physical traumas carry an emotional impact as well.
I find it helps to recognize that I have choices about my point of view. I can choose to see this as starting over from scratch, or I can choose to see it as a fresh start. I can choose to focus on the limitations or I can be grateful for all the help and support I receive. I can choose to continue to be miserable, or I can choose to pick myself up and move forward – wherever that might take me.
It’s like rebooting the computer. Sometimes things get stuck, there’s a little glitch. A quick turn it off and turn it back on again straightens the world around and gets things moving. I’d like to think that’s what this weekend was for me. A reboot. A little “enforced time out” to regroup and get my body back on track. A reminder to take things slowly and not try to do too much, too fast.
The tricky part is not to do too little either. It’s okay to get a little tired. It’s not okay to get tired because I’m bored from sitting around all day doing nothing. It’s okay to take it slow, it’s not okay to always take the easy way out. It’s another one of those balancing acts that changes every day. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised if I don’t always get it quite right!
With all this talk of surgery and recovery you can imagine I’ve spent a good amount of time in the last month sitting around at home. As soon as I was cleared to start driving again the world seemed to open up to me. So why am I feeling housebound?
With most abdominal surgeries there is a period of time when it’s important to restrict the amount of lifting you do. With this one, the general rule of thumb is “if it hurts don’t do it.” That’s really not a good guideline for me. Those muscles are not in great shape to begin with. This isn’t my first abdominal surgery. (It’s my 5th.) The likelihood of complications, even this far out, is just a little higher than “normal”.
Pain and I have agreed to pretty much ignore each other as we go about our business. One of the things I’m learning is to allow myself to pay a little more attention to how things actually feel (as opposed to how they relatively feel.). On my 1-10 scale childbirth comes in at a high 7/low 8 and I can’t remember the last time I was below a 3 without serious medication. If I notice it hurts, I’ve already done way too much.
Secondly, I have this “daily life” thing that requires unusual lifting. Daily tasks that once I start, I can’t really stop. I sat down with my Doctor at my post-op appointment and talked to her about it. You see, I have Orion. If I go anywhere I have to lift his wheelchair in and out of the car. It’s an ultralight chair, but after you add the seating system in it still weighs a little over 35 lbs. That may not seem like much, but it’s not a straight lift. It’s up and then in.
“Oh NO.”, my Doctor says, “You can’t be doing that! This was major surgery. We did a lot in there and I don’t want you pulling stiches. Don’t even think about starting to try something like that until you’re at LEAST 6 weeks out.”
Then I mentioned the other “lift” that I might do. Orion is tiny. He weighs 97 pounds. He manages most of his transfers on his own. However, there is this transfer into the tub….. I watched my hispanic doctor turn white as a sheet. I have an appointment to see her again in 3 months. She might be willing to at least talk about it then.
So my schedule is interrupted by visits from Orion’s Dad, who comes by to give him a bath. I have freedom of movement, more or less, during the few hours Orion is off to his day program. But I’m still feeling housebound.
I can’t take Orion anywhere. I need to call on someone to get him to his doctors because I can’t load the chair in and out of the car. I can’t run off to the local afternoon farmers market, a trip he usually enjoys, for the same reason. I can’t take him to the hospital to visit his Godmother, who just had knee surgery. I can’t go anywhere all day on Saturday because there’s no day program on the weekend. Orion and I can’t even go to the movies because I can’t walk that far, much less push him.
Luckily I do have friends who are sympathetic. I have so much to be grateful for that way. I’m looking forward to a trip to the movies this week with a friend and Orion. I’ve got a dinner date planned (sushi is a soft food, right?) I’ve even been encouraged to make arrangements for Orion so I can spend a day sailing.
September is coming soon. I’ll still need a hand with Orion on the distances and rough terrain, but I’m sure my friends will come through there as well. The best cure for cabin fever – get out with a good friend.
As much as I love food I’ve always been a casual eater. I eat when I read. I eat watching TV. I go to a party and sit next to the food while I chat with everyone who walks by. I grab pickles and olives off the table before everyone sits down. I lick the spoons.
As I progress out of a totally liquid diet into eating pap I have found out the hard way that these behaviors have got to stop. Don’t feel bad for me. I’m thrilled to have an egg, or some cottage cheese. Spices aren’t a problem so bland is not an option. Paying attention is also not an option.
I don’t even remember what I was doing. I could have been reading, talking to Orion, watching TV, reaching for my computer. It doesn’t really matter. I wasn’t paying attention to what I was eating. I did all the right things. I measured and weighed portions. I put everything (like there was a lot!) on a small plate. I ate one bite at a time (I think – here’s where the attention part creeps in.)
I don’t know if I ate too much or too fast or both. Before I was finished with my doled out portion I knew I was in trouble. I’ve been avoiding that “too much” place. Everyone I know who’s had this surgery says that it’s horrible and not worth it. They’re right. I knew I needed to go there once. Now I have and I’m happy to avoid doing it again!
I tried everything to settle myself down. To deal with the pain. To deal with the “hot flashes”, it almost feels like coming down with a fever the body is working so hard to do too much. I walked. I tossed what was left on the plate. I rubbed my belly. It took a half an hour, but I was finally defeated and headed for the bathroom.
In retrospect it could have been my food choices as well. The fish was a little firm rather than flakey. Figs might not be the best bet for a side, with all those little seeds. I’ve taken a half step back. I’m sticking to things that look a little more like baby food and a little less like small gourmet portions. Eventually I’ll get there, but not just yet. First I need to focus on paying attention.
There is so much out in the world about Mindfulness. There are writings about meditating and about being present in the moment. These are not easy things for anyone used to multi-tasking through their days. But these are also the things that have become necessary for me to be successful in this process. It’s time to be more aware of my body. It’s time to be more aware of how I am actually feeling. It’s time to give up the notion of meeting a “goal” and simply respond appropriately in the moment.
The work is only beginning.
This is my fourth posting about this time of year. You might think I’ve “said it all”. I call my page Spiral Visions for a reason. It seems every time I come around I am never quite in the same place. There is a shift in perspective. Sometimes there are new things to see. Some things take on more importance and others fade into the background. The beginning of August marks First harvest, the Wiccan holiday Lammas and for me always Corn on the Cob.
Because of my surgery I don’t get local corn this year. I did “cheat” and have a couple of cobs shipped up from Georgia right before I started my liquid diet. I ate it reverently and with a nod towards this time of year. It was a feast meal, for me, in advance. It didn’t get me off the hook though. I still had to do something to acknowledge coming around the wheel of the year again. So I meditated for a vision.
I saw a cornfield. Flying high above the corn was the Thunderbird. The Corn Mother walked out from rows and I asked her for rain.
She said, “What you are looking for is balance. Three weeks of rain and three weeks of sun is even, but it is not balance. It is balance the crops need to grow, balance the people need to thrive. You have no sense of balance. You delude yourselves with notions of “fair” and “equal”. You believe that balance is static, stable. You are only fooling yourselves. Balance is like standing on the water. It is always shifting, but the movements are small. Large shifts will dump you into the deep. You need to climb out of the deep you find yourselves in and learn again to stand in balance upon the earth.”
She reached her arms up and corn silk streamed down from her sleeves like wings. She reached for the Thunderbird, and he swooped lower. She did not fly and he did not land. That night, there was no rain.
It is balance I am reaching for, yet again. Specifically a balanced relationship with food and nutrition. More globally it is a balance about making heathy and sustainable choices.
Enjoy your first harvests.
This weekend I received my “Happy Anniversary” notice from WordPress. Apparently I’ve been blogging weekly for 3 years! Who knew 3 years ago that I’d still be doing this?
Last year I wrote about 3 years being like a trilogy. If that’s true this past year has certainly been a climax. It also implies that this next year is a new start. That’s definitely the feeling I have in my life, so why not in my blog?
I have so much to be grateful for in this past year. You, my loyal readers, have been incredibly supportive of my journey! My second book, When Gods Come Knocking: An Exploration of Mysticism from a Deist Perspective, was published (and is available in paperback or Kindle at Amazon :) ). The ending, and new beginning is marked by the bariatric surgery that went so much better than I had any reason to expect.
So here I am at a new beginning looking forward to another year of weekly blogs. What will I write about? Will there be new insights? New friends? New adventures? I hope so. And I hope that you will continue to read along as I write about my journey.
Thank you again for all the support.
There are a lot of ways to look at initiation. The Online Merriam-Webster defines:
: the process of being formally accepted as a member of a group or organization : the process of being initiated
: a ceremony or series of actions that makes a person a member of a group or organization
I’ve always been attracted to potential. It’s part of the reason I’m so bad at “partner relationships”. Always looking at, and comparing to, potential takes me out of the moment. But that doesn’t make potential a bad word. In fact, this week it’s the word I will cling to.
I go in for my surgery Tuesday. Doing this is banking on potential. I am opening the door to possibilities that wouldn’t exist in my current situation. The challenge is going to be living up to it. Paying attention, learning new body cues, staying alert and in the moment will be the only way I will reach that potential.
I am enlisting the aid of my inner child. I want to play again. I want to not be afraid to try things that I may not yet be able to accomplish, and not give up until I can succeed. I want to dance through the next part of my life, regardless of the music or the lack thereof.
There’s a part of me that’s afraid of being that open and out there. There’s a part of me that is afraid of what I will give up to achieve those goals. There’s a part of me that’s afraid I won’t be able to succeed. There’s a part of me that’s afraid I will.
Life is an adventure in becoming. Thank you all for staying with me on this journey and for your well wishes and support.
UPDATE: Surgery went well. All the magic, prayers and well wishes worked and they were able to do a laproscopic procedure. Thank you for the support!
UPDATE UPDATE: Surgery was Tuesday and I got to come home on Thursday evening. That seems so quick, but it would be what someone who expected to go in for a laproscopic procedure would have been told was normal. Again, despite the complications, I seem to be doing remarkably well. Thank you again for all the good thoughts and support!