Friday, October 30, 2009

Blog Peep Questions: Goals

How important is it to you to set achievable goals? What steps do you take to ensure you don’t lose sight of them?

This is such an interesting question, because setting goals comes in cycles for me… it’s knowing when to set them and when to let them go that has really been a learning process.

Back when leaving the house and doing things was still an option, I was finding myself making plans and constantly having to cancel them for one health reason or another. It didn’t frustrate me so much that I was missing out on something, it frustrated me that I felt like I was unreliable. I was still in the mindset that I could push through and make things happen, but more often than not I was proven wrong. I had to step back and realize that life was different and fighting to maintain standards I was setting for myself was a waste of energy.

When making plans, I started telling people that I would love to join them and had every intention of following through, but there was always a chance I would have to cancel. There were a few times when people were less than happy with me, but I found that when people knew up front and understood the situation, they were rarely disappointed for themselves that I had to cancel. Often they were more disappointed for me because they knew it meant I was ill or in too much pain. People are so kind when you just let them see the truth about your life rather than trying so hard to appear normal.

As things got worse I had to step back again and realize that I needed to be more flexible with myself and my expectations. I used to say that I never knew how I’d feel from one day to the next, but now it’s more like one moment to the next. For the past few months, I honestly didn’t have a single goal other than to get out of bed and make it to the couch each day. I couldn’t promise myself I’d be able to shower or talk on the phone or look at the computer or heat up a meal. I just did what I could when I could. If that meant being awake and watching movies in the middle of the night or catching some sleep in the middle of the day, I just did whatever my body allowed. For someone who always liked their life planned out and organized, that meant letting go of everything and being ok with whatever the day brought.

And I made it through relatively sane. :) [This is where my brother Hoody would have a smart alec comment…]

Now, rather than setting goals that have me trying to do too much, I find myself setting goals in order to pace myself. I’m finally to the point where, most days, I’m awake more than I’m asleep. That immediately makes me start itching to do more things. The problem is, my body hasn’t caught up with my mind yet, so when I get up to do something I usually find myself exhausted within five minutes. I just don’t have much stamina and when I push I find myself in even more pain and fighting migraines. Take blogging for example. This week I decided to try posting three times a week… it gives me a goal, but I don’t feel like I’m diving back in head first before I’m able. A couple years ago I would have been trying to post every day and then would have had to disappear again because I couldn’t keep it up. Now, I’m learning goal setting in moderation.

I also think being afraid of goals can be just as bad as setting ones that are unattainable. Knowing my life takes these turns, I almost didn’t start the process of selling my canvases earlier this year. I was afraid I’d get started and then I’d get sick, being unable to continue. Well, that’s exactly what happened. But here’s the thing… I LOVED making them while I could and wouldn’t trade those months for anything. I also miss it and as soon as I can figure out a set up that makes it physically possible, I’m going to start making them again, selling them and doing our Hump Day Giveaways. Maybe no one will want them anymore, maybe they will, but I’ll make them regardless.

It’s a goal. One that I’ll have to be flexible enough to try when I’m able. Most people look at goals as things to work hard and achieve. I look at them as benchmarks. When I’m able to achieve them, I’m happy I’m doing that well. When I’m unable to achieve them, I’m learning to be patient and figure out what goals are attainable… being grateful for the smallest achievements. Even if it is just getting from the bed to the couch. :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Crazy Love: Your Best Life. . . Later

To all my regular readers: today I’m posting a chapter review for the Bloom book club, focusing on chapter seven of Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. If you haven’t picked up this book yet, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s easy to read and brings so much of life into focus… this review should give you a taste of what it’s about.

To all who are coming here for the first time: Welcome! :) I was so thrilled when Jess and Angie asked me to do this, and hope that sharing a bit of my life experience with you all will help in some way as you read the chapter. I feel so blessed and honored to have been asked to participate.


crazy love

By now you’ve probably realized you have a distinct choice to make: just let life happen, which is tantamount to serving God your leftovers, or actively run toward Christ.”                              ~ Francis Chan

Yep, Chan pretty much had me from the first sentence of this chapter. A few sentences later, he had me nodding my head at this:

Do you understand that it’s impossible to please God in any way other than wholehearted surrender?

It was a perfect way to hook us into a chapter that, in my opinion, gives us an excellent guidebook to being God’s servant … a lesson in living with the intentional view that our lives really aren’t about us at all. This is a lesson I learned not by choice, but by circumstances that have gradually led me to a place where I can’t imagine wanting anything other than the opportunity to serve Him.

When I was in my early college years, I was one of the most active, social people you could meet. I was working two jobs, tutoring some athletes in English, was involved in my church by leading music, lectoring, doing liturgy planning and leading retreats. I worked out every morning and usually had something social going on with friends nearly every night.

Oh, and I managed to study a little, too. [That sentence was for my parents, to put their minds at ease. :) ]

I was a good kid, didn’t get into trouble, did my best to be there for others and loved God. I was serving Him in many capacities in and out of the church, but in truth I was serving Him as *I* saw fit. I talked to Him and celebrated Him, but I never really slowed down long enough to listen. To find out what He needed from me, rather than what I was wanting to give Him.

And then I lost everything.

Over the course of the past 15 years, I have lost almost every gift I had to give. I have a disease that gradually took away my physical choices to the point where I am today: in constant physical pain, often sick, walking with a walker and completely homebound. Not only am I confined to my home, I can’t even open a window and have had to install a system to purify the air in my home so I can breathe. I’m basically the “Girl in the Condo” version of the “Boy in the Bubble.” :)

God had blessed me with so many gifts and talents, I couldn’t imagine there was a point to me being like this. I couldn’t believe there would be a way for me to still serve Him, or anyone else, while isolated and stripped of almost everything that made me, “me.”

But like Chan pointed out on page 114, people in the Bible who wholeheartedly followed God “were far from perfect, yet they had faith in a God who was able to come through in seemingly dire situations.” I always believed I had that faith… but mine was a faith of conditions. I had faith He would take care of me, but I assumed that meant I would be cared for with good health. I had faith that I would prosper, and assumed that meant my career would follow a good path. I had faith that He wanted the best for me, and assumed that meant my life would unfold in a way I envisioned.

But as the years progressed and I lost more and more of what I thought defined me, as I found myself in the hospital, unemployed and on disability, I realized that being a servant meant all or nothing. A line was drawn in the sand and I had to choose my fear, or I had to choose to completely trust Him. It had to be an all or nothing choice because one cannot exist if the other is true.

I chose to trust, and I’ve never looked back. I can be tired, I can be frustrated by my circumstances and exhausted from the pain, but I am never fearful of what is to come because I know that He is in control. I have faith that He will take care of me, and He has given me fortitude and peace in my heart as I face the challenges my body inflicts on me. I have faith that I will prosper, and I have been blessed with plentiful friends who walk this journey with me. I have faith that He wants the best for me, and He shows me that daily by using my life in ways that serve others… being there in small ways I would never have been able to if my life had unfolded the way I envisioned… and also by letting others serve me. That’s something I resisted my entire life, but now see that sometimes others need to feel the blessing of helping someone else, and I have to surrender my stubborn pride and be the helped.

Chan spoke on page 122 about the man who, when under financial strain, tithed more instead of less… and then was rewarded in his faithfulness. What I’ve come to realize in wholehearted surrender is that we are sometimes rewarded in ways we can overlook. We assume if we tithe more, our wealth will be blessed in the form of money. But it could be that our wealth is blessed in the form of security in our relationships, or in the form of peace in our hearts with the knowledge we have done right for right’s sake.

What I’ve come to learn, and what Chan expresses, is that to trust Him we must surrender everything… sometimes without knowing where we are going. “God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”

I can only tell you of my experience, but my life is filled with not knowing. I don’t know from one moment to the next how much pain I will be in, if I’ll be able to breathe or walk. I don’t know if I’ll have a migraine or be unable to type with my fingers. I never know where I am going, and I have never felt less in control in my entire life. And it is true freedom. I trust that He has it under control, and my job is to be open enough to walk where He leads… to not be distracted and miss the opportunity to be a servant to Him through the circumstances in my life.

Even Jesus came to Earth taking the nature of a servant, which begs the question: If Jesus was a servant, if he lost everything to come to Earth in the form of a baby who had nothing more than love to give, why would I assume to deserve more?

[Don’t forget about the great discussions always going on at the Ning site!]

Monday, October 26, 2009

Brought to You by the Letter E

I’ve decided I need a goal, so here it is… I’m going to try to post at least three days a week. Now, if I only post twice one week that doesn’t mean you all need to worry… it just means I hit a speed bump… but I’m going to do my best to get myself going again.

And I figured, what better way to get back on track than to start writing our old Monday A 2 Z posts? I went back in the archives and found we had only finished through “D,” so I scoured your comment suggestions for an “E” topic.

Let me just say… “E” was a tough one!


But I finally decided on the suggestion:

Ever After

Ah, fairy tales. We all loved them when we were little, didn’t we? The fair maiden, the villain, the conflict and the conquering hero. Every story had it’s arc, every evil sorcerer met his match, true love was found and they all lived…

Happily Ever After.

Then we grew up and, either through someone warning us or through our own experiences, we decided not every story had a happy ending. We were told that fairy tales heap unrealistic expectations on the youth of our world, that instead they should be prepared for life not always being easy… dreams not always coming true… and not everyone always getting their happily ever afters.

I think they’re wrong.

Oh, life can have strife… but so did the fairy tale. Snow White had to worry about the apple, Cinderella was little more than a slave, poor Rapunzel was isolated in a tower for most of her life. They all had their struggles and were saved by their knights in shining armor, but we can’t forget that they might have made a fine life if the knights never showed.

After all, Snow White was doing just fine running a boarding house for dwarves, Cinderella sought out the help of her fairy godmother long before Prince Charming noticed her slipper, and Rapunzel… well, she was the one smart enough to grow her hair in the first place. :)

All that to say, the characters all had struggles and they all had resolutions. As little girls grow up they kiss their share of frogs and meet some princes that aren’t worth their time… as the prince says in the musical Into the Woods, “I was raised to be charming… not sincere.” Some find their soul mate and are swept off their feet, and others find joy in their regular circumstances… choosing to whistle while they work.

Just like real life.

Some of us live in castles, some of us live in shacks. Some of us have seven or more dwarves running around, helping where they can, and some of us are in the kitchen looking forward to the fairy godmother’s next visit. We are the characters of our own stories… we’ve met our villains, we’ve shown our courage, we’ve taken pleasure in our successes, kissed our frogs, met our princes and sometimes we’ve forged our own paths, being sure to leave breadcrumbs along the road for others to follow.

That’s life. In fairytales and on earth. The thing to remember is that we all get a happily ever after. No matter what your stature in life… wealthy or poor, life of leisure or hard at work… all we have to do is stay focused on what we believe. The One we believe in. Because after our time in this fairy tale of life is done…

… we all get our Happily Ever After.

a to z

Now remember, you need to leave the “F” topics of your choice in the comments and I’ll do my best to leave you something creative next Monday. :) If you forgot the concept of A 2 Z, just click the logo above to go to the original post.

Ok… ready for your “F” suggestions…

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just Breathe

blog peeps logo

What are the lessons buried in the midst of your steroid reduction?

Gosh, I love how you guys ask such easy questions!

[ I might have a tinge of sarcasm in the previous sentence. :) ]

Actually, I love it when you all challenge me to sit back and really think about these experiences. To be honest, it almost makes me shiver when I think back on those days when I’d have to reduce, always knowing what was coming. I think it was so hard for me to accept that it had to be that painful because I’d never had issues with getting off steroids before, but apparently adding Cushing’s to the mix really makes a huge difference. I guess if there is one major lesson buried in that experience it’s this:

It takes just as much effort, if not more, to resist the inevitable as it does to go through the inevitable.

I obviously know what it’s like to have pretty intense pain 24/7, but when I first tried to reduce as I normally would, it was intensely shocking to be jolted awake by a completely new and different pain. It went from my hips to my toes in waves of sharp pain, a pain that seared right down through the bone. While those waves were occurring, there was a pressure of pain in my knees like they were being squeezed in a vice that never let up.

Hence, the whole “not being able to walk and falling when getting out of bed” experience. Ugh. So unpleasant. That intensity lasted upward of five hours, and I was smart enough to immediately pop some steroids in my mouth and go back to my regular dose. What wasn’t smart was this declaration: “They are going to have to put me in a three month coma if they expect me to do this reduction because I CAN’T DO IT.”

Now, I’m not typically a girl who complains or throws a fit or makes such a declarative statement, but I felt in that moment I had earned the right to tell the doctors they had lost their ever-living minds. After all, I was the one living in this body of insanity.

But here’s the problem: I knew I had to get off the steroids. I knew the Cushing’s was getting worse and that it would continue to get worse as long as steroids were in my system. I knew it was inevitable, but in my mind I had decided it was impossible.

I should know by now that nothing is impossible.

In the end, we changed my steroid schedule and worked on different combinations of drugs and pain meds that allowed me to put myself into as much of a coma as I could… so I guess I did get my way a little bit. :) Extra meds or not, it was phenomenally painful, immobilizing and exhausting. But I got through it because I changed my attitude. I bucked up and got stubborn and decided enough was enough… I just wanted it over with. I learned that if I resolved myself to the inevitable instead of fighting it with dread, I could be mentally strong enough to handle it even if I wasn’t physically strong enough.

While I have gotten most of the range of motion back in my knees, I will still at times feel that old vice-like pressure and have moments of that shooting pain in my shin bone. To me it’s a small physical reminder that every beginning has an end as long as we keep moving forward. It’s another example of God already knowing the ending and me simply walking down the road in order to reach it.

The process reminds me of my sister-in-law who had all three of her children without any pain medication. [Let’s all take a moment of silence for that one…] Anyway, her second delivery went so much more smoothly than her first because she had a great labor/delivery nurse who talked her through the pain. She told her to stop holding her breath and fighting it, and instead let the pain be a part of her so she could breathe through it and use that to help her push.

It makes me wonder how much of our lives we spend holding our breath and fighting against the inevitable, rather than embracing the situation and using it to help us through the process. How often are we fighting internally rather than accepting the pain or difficulties in our life… breathing through them with the knowledge that no matter the results, all will be well.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It Still Applies

I was leaving a comment on a friend’s blog, trying to remember a quote about Peace that I like. I put in a Google search, and imagine my surprise when my own blog popped up. I had written an entire blog post about it a little over a year ago and didn’t remember.

So strange to read your own writing like it’s the first time you’ve seen it.

What struck me is that my life is so different now than it was even a year ago, but I could have just as easily written this today. I figure if I needed to read it again, you might like to as well. :)


[originally posted 9.25.08]


It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

This quote describes where I'm at most of the time. Don't get me wrong, other than the rowdiness of my dog there's not a lot of noise or trouble happening in my house. I'm talking about the noise in my mind, the trouble in my body and the hard work of keeping moving despite the effort it takes most days.

It's taken me a lot of years to get to a place where I can feel accepting of my life as it is and as it will be. There were so many years of fighting to be who I had imagined I would be at this point in my life. And the fighting turned out to be more exhausting than the accepting. It reminds me of a story I heard at church once about a man who didn't want to die and leave his home and his family. He was sitting on a beach thinking about his life and holding on so tightly that when he died, he had in the palm of his hand sand from the beach on Earth.

The man sat outside of the gates of heaven, but they wouldn't let him inside until he had let go of all he had been clinging to. But he refused to let go of the sand from the beach. It was his connection to his life, his family and his loves. One day he grew weary and decided it was time to move on, so he opened his hands and brushed away the sand he had been holding.

The moment he did this simple gesture he found himself on the beach he loved surrounded by everything he cared about. That was heaven. It was everything he wanted, but before he could have it he had to let go.

I found that experience when I let go of trying to be something I used to be. When I let go of my earthly ideas of who I should be and how I should live, I got everything I really wanted. I have authentic relationships that are based on real connections. I am closer to my family. I have opportunities to be creative and expressive, it just came in a different form than a job. I am loved and respected and cared for and cared about.

What else is there that I could need?

Now, the reality is that the noise and trouble creep in all the time. There are moments when I keep the shades drawn because the sunshine outside is just a reminder that I can't be outside and a part of it. There are those moments when I see myself in a new photograph and am startled that I don't see the same face I always knew... it's a face that's a little swollen and medicated and sick. Sick with a smile, but sick nonetheless. There are moments of watching people dance and longing for the days of being carefree.

But that's where the Peace comes into play. If you read that quote at the top of this post, you notice it doesn't say that peace in your heart wipes out the noise and the trouble and the hard work. It just makes them bearable. It makes them the background noise to everything that's important. And what is important is that God gave me gifts and I used them. And if I don't have those gifts anymore I believe it's because He doesn't have a need for me to use them anymore. But that doesn't stop me from seeing the gifts that remain. The gifts that come from the hard stuff. The gifts that allow me to have peace in my heart while the noise and trouble and hard work rumble on.

I got everything I really wanted, once I let it all go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

All Hail The King

For the first four years of this pup’s life, I at least tried to be the head of this household.


I admit, I failed miserably and gave into that cute face too much, but I tried.

Last year, there was shift. I was 35 in human years, he was 35 in dog years, and it was clear he thought the playing field should be leveled.

IMG_7217 “You want me to stop marking in the kitchen?
Dude… you’re so not the boss of me.”

It was a battle of wills. I even brought some Dog Whisperer moves into play… sadly, to no avail.

And today, another shift occurs. Riley turns 42 in dog years today, thus surpassing me as the eldest in the household. And he hasn’t let me forget it for a moment.

_MG_6100  “You talkin’ to me?”

I give up.

king riley

All Hail The King.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Blog Peep Questions: Cushing Edition

blog peeps logo

What is different about Cushing’s than the way you normally feel?

Hmmm. Well, some things are just amplified. The exhaustion, for one. I get up in the morning and try to get my body moving, grab a protein bar and maybe check a few emails before I have to lay down on the couch again. I’m to the point now where I want to do things, I just don’t have the energy or physical ability to accomplish them. The headaches, nausea and dizziness are also things that I would often experience before Cushing’s, it’s just that now they are more intense and more constant.

There are other things about Cushing’s that I haven’t had to deal with before, as well. The crazy weight gain that I’ve talked about in other posts, and the fact that it’s so displaced in my torso. I have most of the typical symptoms like a “buffalo hump” at the base of my neck [attractive, I know. don’t be jealous.], purple striations on parts of my skin that are very tender to the touch, and a host of other issues.

Even though I’ve been off the steroids for awhile now, the symptoms haven’t seemed to level off yet. When I was weaning off the steroids it caused excruciating pain in my knees and legs, and the good thing is that has gotten so much better. For a long time I couldn’t bend my knees or straighten them all the way… they were pretty much stuck in one position… but I’ve gotten almost all of my mobility back in that area, which is great.

Does Cushing’s go away? Is there light at the end of the tunnel that you will eventually feel better?

It will go away, there is just no great time table for it. From what I understand, the Cushing’s developed because my body started relying on the steroids instead of my endocrine system to determine how much cortisol should be in my body, so the endocrine system stopped functioning altogether… and as a result my body has produced WAY too much cortisol. Now that the steroids are out of my system, it’s just a wait and see game until my endocrine system starts doing its job again.

I’ve read that, after my system starts functioning again, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to get back to normal. [I choose not to think about that daunting fact for very long.] Some research also says that my body could go through withdraw from the cortisol as it decreases in my system, which would feel something like having the flu. I’m not too worried about that because I don’t think it would be that much different than how I’m feeling now.

It also seems that all this extra weight won’t just “melt away” as the cortisol leaves my system. While I’ll stop gaining, I’ll have to lose it the old fashioned way with diet and exercise. But since I need a walker to get around the condo, obviously I don’t think exercise is going to be all that effective for me. Let’s just say I’ve learned to have a lot of patience along the way. :)

I have taken steroids before for severe allergies and I felt like a million bucks on them… the Dr. now won’t give them to me & I know if I had them I’d get over what I have quicker. How do you feel about that? Should one avoid steroids for the simple things?

Let me preface this with saying I have no medical degree… just first hand experience. Now, to answer your question: YES I think steroids should be avoided for the simple things.

Here’s the deal: I never took steroids for the simple things or to enhance the medications I was normally on for the spondylitis. I would have been in less pain if I stayed on steroids, but there are so many complications to long term use. There is weight gain, skin thinning, potential damage to your eyes and certain systems, you are less able to fight off infection and a host of other problems.

For me, it also proved true that any time I went off steroids my “normal” pain and issues would flair up worse than they were to begin with. When your body gets used to being helped and you take that help away, it will sometimes rebel because it wants it back.

I typically only took steroids when my lungs were in bad shape and I couldn’t breathe well, and when we wanted to try different medications. Steroids were needed in that case because when I would wean off one medication before starting another, my inflammation would get out of control and I simply couldn’t stand the pain. Also, I have had reactions to almost every new medication I’ve tried, so I would have to use steroids to stop the reaction in order to avoid that pesky issue of my throat swelling shut. I know, small details. :)

I obviously have been on and off steroids a lot in the last 15 years for the reasons I mentioned above, and I also had to be on higher doses for longer periods of time to manage the problems [sometimes starting at 100mg a day, other times around 60mg a day]. The frequency and dose probably added to my susceptibility of getting steroid-induced Cushing’s, but the truth is it could happen to anyone on steroids at any time. It’s just the luck of the draw.

All of that to say, in my opinion, you are better off not playing Russian Roulette with the drug. Save it for times when your life may depend on it rather than for the little things that you can get through without it. Now that I’ve developed Cushing’s, odds are if I went back on steroids I’d be right back in this position… which means I never plan on using them again. That means I am going to have to be extra vigilant about not getting sick, it means I can’t imagine that I’ll get to try new medications safely, it means it’s no longer my “back up.” Obviously you should do whatever you and your doctor think is best, but that would be my two cents. :)

How do you stay so positive through it all? I don’t know if I would be strong enough.

When people say that to me, I usually tell them they just haven’t had to prove it yet. You can’t know how you’ll react in any given situation unless you’re put in it, but the simple truth is that life is going to continue happening whether we want it to or not. And God gives us the tools and strength we need when we need it, not before.

How do I stay positive? I believe. I believe He loves me and is always with me. I trust that whatever comes, He’ll help me find the road that will lead to something positive. Sooner or later, every story has a conclusion. Right now I’m waiting for this Cushing’s chapter of the story to conclude, and I am secure in the knowledge that He already knows how it will end and what will come into my life next. All I have to do is walk down the road. It’s pretty easy to be positive when you trust the One who already knows the outcome.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Blog Peep Questions: Round 8

Wow, so much for the whole “I’m determined to post more often regardless of how I feel” declaration, eh? Well, I suppose a girl’s gotta have a goal… :)

I’ve decided the person who coined the phrase “Mind over Matter” was obviously in good health, because either I have a small mind or the kind of “matter” makes a big difference! I have a few things stacked against me at the moment, but I keep reminding myself that no matter how long this lasts, every day is one day closer to it being over, right?!?!? :)

Regardless, I’m here now so let’s get started with another round of:

blog peeps logo

What season is your favorite? Spending your days inside, do you have a different take on the seasons passing?

This was a really interesting question. In my “previous life” the only season I didn’t enjoy very much was Winter. I didn’t love being cold, slipping on the ice, driving in blizzards, etc. I loved a beautiful, sparkly snowfall, but didn’t enjoy the dirty looking snow after the snowplows did their job. If winter just consisted of a lovely snowfall while curled up by the fireplace with a good book and some hot cocoa, then it would be great… but that’s just a small portion of it when you live in Iowa. :)

The other seasons pretty much tied for me. I loved the feeling of Spring when everything started blooming … to me, it feels like the “season of potential.” I loved Summer because we’d go to the lake on Sundays and ski, although I don’t miss the part of summer that consisted of walking beans for Dad. :) And then there’s Fall… it probably beat out the other two by a small measure. I loved it when the air turned crisp and I’d have to wear a sweatshirt to go to a football game. I loved buying school supplies and writing my name on the cover of new notebooks. I loved taking a snack to Dad and riding in the combine with him when he harvested corn. I loved the colors of the season, taking a walk in crunchy leaves, having bonfires and roasting s’mores. There’s just a kind of cozy, hometown feeling to Fall.

Now, in all honesty, it’s more about the memories than it is the moment. My view from the condo is mostly of garages, so I don’t see the changing leaves, or see the fireworks on the 4th in the summer. When I look out I think of those things and appreciate the memories, but they aren’t something I feel like I take part in at the moment. I probably enjoy Spring the most now because it’s hopeful to look out and see green grass instead of piles of snow… again, that “season of potential” feeling. Ironically, I am looking forward to Winter more than ever because of the periods of time when the weather hits zero or below and it’s cold enough for me to crack my door open and breathe in the outside air. I found last year that it had to be that cold/frozen to not have any reactions, and it was totally worth having to bundle up under blankets and freeze my tush off to have that fresh air in the house.

So, to answer your question: Yes. Being homebound really has changed my view of the seasons. Thanks for asking, because it’s not something I had really thought about before now. :)

Have you been able to follow the Northern Iowa Panthers football team this year? They are looking good with only a one point loss to Iowa.

Why yes, Ed. As a matter of fact I HAVE been following my brilliant Panther football team. And thank you for taking the time to type out my alma mater’s fight song in your comment as well! :)

We currently only have one loss, and that would be the game you referred to against the Iowa Hawkeyes. We are in different conferences, and I think they came into that game underestimating us. Truth be told, we outplayed them and lost by one point because they blocked two consecutive field goals [they blocked the 1st one, had a penalty, and then managed to block the re-kick]. I can only chock that up to a bizarre fluke, and anticipate us beating them in the future. :)

UNI fight! UNI fight!

What do you find joy in, no matter what, without fail?

Oh my gosh, so many things that I’m sure I’m going to leave important ones off the list. Anything having to do with my nieces and nephews, whether it be talking to them on the phone or hearing about their sporting events [and sometimes even getting to watch video of it], getting to hear stories about the funny things they’ve said or getting drawings they’ve made for me in the mail.

IMG_7952 [This is the most recent one I received from Avery…
and yes, that’s me with the curly hair.]

I find joy in almost all of Riley’s antics, except for his propensity to mark in my house. There is joy in talking with friends, sharing in the lives of their kids, getting a card in the mail, reading a good book, watching a fun movie, soaking in a hot bath, savoring music, eating Mom’s fried pork chops with mashed potatoes and milk gravy, hearing from a friend after a long period of time, being able to breathe without difficulty, sitting in the dark by the light of a Christmas tree, looking through photos and putting the history of them together in a scrapbook, writing to all of you and reading your comments, when the wrens take up resident in the bird house on my patio and serenade me in the mornings.

So many things

How about you? What brings you joy without fail?