A Prompt in Plain Sight

Found this a year or so ago on the sidewalk. I have kept it ever since. It is a writing prompt and in some ways a prod. How so? you ask.

If you have a broken pencil you cannot write much unless you sharpen it and determine to use it. And that is the prod part. Was I willing to use it and sharpen it? This was before I started writing the blog. For years I had been putting off actually writing with regularity and purpose. Once again, I was being given the choice of just keeping a broken pencil, throwing it away, or putting it to work.

And the prompt? Even the stub of a pencil can be used to write. What is to stop the finder from using it? Yes, some kid is missing a green pencil from their colored pencil set, but what about the senior citizen who found and kept it. Will she make use of it, even in old age and gray hair? Will she step out in faith and just do it?

You can scroll through my posts and see if you agree. I think I am onto the discipline of using it and helping the last years of the pencil produce a harvest! Not to mention, the older woman holding said pencil.

Steve Green summed it up nicely with the song “You Want To, Now Will You”


You’ve heard the words
And know they’re true
And now they ring inside of you
They’re calling you to come away
Now will you come or stay.

You want to, now will you
You want to, now will you
The truth that burns within you
Like a bed of fiery coals
Contains that power to liberate
A thousand captive souls
But if the truth will ever set you free
Depends on you
You want to, now will you
You want to…now will you

A Calendar Quote

From my 2018 calendar produced by Sounds True, this quote from Kelly McGonigal:

“Our capacity to notice suffering, be moved, and respond is not just a form of caregiving or love – it is a form of courage.”

In February of 2018 this was the page on my calendar. As I learned more about my husband’s suffering from a critical illness I also learned more about caregiving, my capacity to notice suffering and the courage required to walk through that awful illness and recovery. Every day the calendar spoke to me and helped me.

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Similar calendar page

 

Recently we were made aware of the suffering of a 78-year-old widow. Living alone she had slowly let herself stop eating and drinking, falling into a deeper and deeper depression. When her family discovered her condition, she told wild tales of falling down the stairs. Said she did not want to bother anyone after she fell. She evidently waited three days to tell anyone. Weird thing was there was no bruising on her. No stairways that would let her fall head first, though maybe bounce on her bottom. CT scan showed no brain bleed or other problem. Her isolation, mental habit of worry and fret, lack of exercise and nutrition likely all contributed to her condition. She was hospitalized for several days to rehydrate her and get her stabilized. Then moved to a care facility to work on her strength, physical stability and mental capacity. They will eventually move her to a small apartment in the same complex.
When we went to help the family make sense and put into order her condo, everyone was stunned. The mailbox had not been opened for about 2 months. The dishwasher was overflowing with dirty dishes as were the kitchen sinks and counters. Broken and burned out light bulbs were in several places. When the light was returned to the laundry room, empty bottles of laundry soap, fabric softener and piles of soiled laundry along with broken glass were deep on the floor.
My first response was fear. Oh my! I better get back to walking or being in the pool at the YMCA or this could be my future. Especially if something happens to my husband. Then pity that she let herself despair to this point. I too suffered a bad bout with depression several years ago. When I worked my way out of it with therapy and loving care, I vowed to never let myself do that again. No matter what others do or how they behave, my mental health would be my #1 priority.
Then I was angry at her. And we are not even related. It has taken  a reminder from the calendar quote to bring me back to the point of noticing her suffering and having the courage to go see her. I want to be loving and non-judgmental. I do not live in her head, so I really do not know exactly the components of her suffering.
God help me to respond and be moved with Your love and the courage of the Lion of Judah.

Yep, Been Not Writing!

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Remember when we took that lovely boat ride and saw those tremendous whales, seals and birds? The next day I got violent vertigo. No signs or symptoms while on the boat. Had been boats before. Rats! This may kill my wish for at least one cruise before I depart the earth!! The illness was like riding the tilt-a-whirl unwillingly! I never did enjoy amusement park rides.

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The worst sensation was as if I were lying flat and then like a board, my feet were rising over my head.  Eventually I was diagnosed with two types of vertigo that required medication and then physical therapy to reset crystals in my inner ear….right side. I never even knew I HAD crystals in my inner ear! Did you?

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So they flipped me back with my head turned to one side, therapist holding my head.  My eyes felt as if they were spinning like the fruit on a slot machine. I gripped the table in fear that I would fall off it. When the spinning stopped, the therapist moved my head to another position and had me hold that for a time. Then yet another head position. Then eventually I sat up on the sie of the exam table. My husband was uncertain if this was a treatment or just smoke and mirrors.

The first treatment  I gradually felt worse for 18 hours. It set me back a week and I had to walk in our house with a cane for a full day. Did not seem like progress! I was staggering and stumbling and decided I could not return to California for our second trip which would require lots of walking and no rental car. I had to sleep elevated on two pillows. Not allowed to lie on my right side to sleep. Did lots of resting. Not supposed to look up or down. Made sitting at the sewing machine a no go. Headaches, dizziness, increased weakness – NOT A HAPPY WOMAN.

Second treatment only set me back about 1-1/2 days. Third treatment I was fine. So weird. Husband a believer!

Yep, I missed a few days writing, but hey! Saturday November 3 I drove for the first time since October 10th. I made a new friend who was my shower sitter (present in the house while I took a shower when Bob was out-of-town). A neighbor provided a ride to church while Bob was gone. I met a new PT group where I will return if this ever flares up again.

We may never know if I actually had an inner ear infection, too. At least someone knew HOW to correct this awful experience.

 

Radical Acceptance

… is just another way to say yield.

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Sometimes I have to create my own object lessons with Sculpey clay. Not always professional looking, but seriously mine!

On our recent vacation I developed terrible Vertigo, the type that landed me in Urgent Care getting drugs for the symptoms. Over one week later I am still waiting for the symptoms to be healed. This is a very hard lesson in radical acceptance. Vertigo is like losing total control over your life. No balance, no ability to just “get over it”, no cure in sight. At least not nauseated any more. Waiting for 2 weeks to get into physical therapist who specializes in resetting the crystals of the inner ear. I never even knew I HAD crystals in my inner ear! If I carry a crystal and sleep with it will I be healed before then?

So yielding to my current condition is tough. But then again, what choice do I have? Fight and flail and kick against it and I am just likely to fall down. If I did not have a headache already, then exercises the internist gave me to perform induce one. Yep, I assert once again that growing old is NOT for sissies!

 

Aging

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Someone sent this to us a few years ago. We are getting closer to resembling this remark!

I recently read Madeline L’Engle’s book A Severed Wasp.

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She wrote “She might feel like a young woman in an old body, but there was no denying that the body was old, and she had little patience with people who could not face their own aging. She had had a full, rich life – surely that should be enough.”

I know a woman who moans and complains constantly about her aging and her loneliness and her misery. No one wants to spend time with her. I certainly have little patience with her. Having struggled with a chronic pain condition for years that is not progressive, but still has the power to make me miserable gives me yep “little patience with those who can not face their own aging.” When Bob was still working, he went into one man’s hospital room to draw the man’s blood. Asking the man how he was doing that day, the man replied “Well, I woke up on the right side of the grass!”

Every person we meet is broken. Some hide it better than others, but each of us is dying and aging. To me, becoming an old geezer with joy and acceptance is better than moaning my way into my grave!

I have a calligraphy with a quote from Hunter S. Thompson. He said,

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, CHOCOLATE in one hand, beer in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”

And yeah, that would be DARK chocolate please!