Self-Talk

What I liked about starting a new school as a kid, was the opportunity to change my approach to life.  In the early years, I was known as a tough girl, a fighter.  I decided to leave her behind when I moved schools in 5th grade, and focus on being smart.  Instead, I learned to hate myself, so when I moved again in Grade 8, I was ripe for bullying.  That escalated, until we moved again in high school, and I had the opportunity to blend in.

“Be friendly,” I told myself, “and try not to stand out.”

I failed, of course, and in the end was asked to leave the school, but moving again afforded me another opportunity to edit myself.  I deduced that sticking to myself and not caring what others thought was the best approach.  Toughness was back, without the fist fights.

Having just moved to a new town, the conversations with myself have started up again.

“Don’t tell them about your illness,” I caution myself.  ME/CFS has defined me these past four years, and I crave another identity.

“This is our opportunity to break free of the stigma.”

“But what will I say when I’m not able to join in, or have to cancel?”

“Who says you have to say anything?  Set healthy boundaries, and just say no.”

“People will stop asking.”

It’s a circular conversation.

“Do you think we can pull it off?  Don’t you think people will notice?”

“So, be mysterious.  It’s none of their business.”

“But I’m such an open book…”

Tomorrow, we’re going to our first social event with our new community.  Hope I can stop talking to myself long enough to enjoy the outing.

(V.J.’s weekly challenge is conversation.)

Home: A Wrap

We arrived Wednesday, our vehicle stuffed full, including a blow-up mattress for me, who would be camping out the remainder of the week.  Ric would travel back and forth, staying at the RV, and I would manage deliveries, and oversee the laying of new floors.

I set up in the living room (bedroom carpets were to be torn out) – a single bed, a sleeping bag, my computer and a flashlight.

“It doubles as a weapon,” Ric reassured me with a smile on his face.

Finding the bathroom the first night felt like going on safari, the space being so much larger than our current home.  I shut the doors to extraneous rooms, so as not to feel overwhelmed. Then there was the silence.  It is quiet here, beyond words.

“We’re an eight to six community,” a passing neighbour told me.  “Nothing happens before or afterwards.”

As promised, deliveries started – we’ve bought everything new as we’re starting over – and I turned my focus to what goes where, and what else do we need.  It’s a bit like being a newlywed, I thought, building our first nest.  So exciting.

Friday, the flooring team arrived bright and early, and later on our new appliances.  By mid-afternoon, I was exhausted, and lay down in the midst of it and napped.  At six, as the last of the workers left, I collapsed in a chair and considered the tracks of dust and dirt.

Ric went for groceries without me and then headed back.  In the morning, he would pick up a moving van and gather the boys to move the rest of the stuff.

At 4:00 a.m., having slept for five hours, I was wide awake.  I put on the kettle and found the broom and mop.  Silly, I suppose, but it was weighing on me.  The first deliveries came at 8:30 – all needing to be assembled.

Friends arrived, like angels descending, and immediately set to work.  By the time Ric and the boys arrived, we had a bed together, a dining room table, and a chair to sit in.  (I use the royal ‘we’ here – not much effort was exerted on my part.)

Soon the house was filled with more boxes and bodies, and the bustle of activity.  By five, I whisked them away,  muscles refusing to hold me upright any longer.  One last ring of the front bell was a neighbour delivering fresh cherry tomatoes from his garden.

Ric and I sat at our dining room table, eating take out and fresh lettuce with tomatoes, bursting with gratitude for those who took the time to help us, and the contentment of knowing we’re home.

***

This week’s challenge focused on the concept of home.  Olga at Stuff and What If talks about home being a place within, first missing, and then evolving to a place of contentment.   Proscenium, caught in a deluge of constant rain, describes home as a place to get comfy, and “enjoy guilty free living” when the storms come.  Sgeoil’s description of home involves roots, people, and connections, and reminds us that it isn’t always just one setting.

I loved the posts this week, and am extremely grateful for all the comments and encouragement during the transition.  This online community is a home unto itself.

Be well all, and see you tomorrow for a new challenge,

V.J.

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Confessions of Losses and Gains

Illness comes at a cost, yet even as the losses add up, there are gains.

HoneymoongolfingWith the onset of summer, I recall leisurely hours spent golfing with my husband, or friends – a pastime we so loved.  My clubs now take up residence elsewhere, these muscles unfit for the exertion required.

My tennis racquet sits dormant too – a remnant of a passion now redundant.

I miss gatherings at a pool side bar, or a downtown patio – the sound of laughter mingling with the crisp, dry burn of white wine.  My system no longer tolerates alcohol, and outings have changed with priorities.

cheers 2I am no longer the woman, whom my husband called Lucille Ball, whose sunny demeanour and fiery presence guaranteed lively repartee.  The setbacks have softened my edges, this lingering condition evoking a vulnerability that avoids noise, scents, and the overstimulation of crowds.

Where once ambition drove me, and career set precedence for aspirations, I now  live with solitude, find solace in the quiet, have donned a new lens which invites discovery.

Loss has flooded with all the force of a tidal wave, and even as I swim against the pull of despair, I am labouring to redefine purpose, self.

 

IMG_1646I confess that there has been sorrow.  I can attest to darkness.  And, yet, wrapped in all that discord there have been blessings:  awakenings.  I have discovered delight in developing a photographic eye, and the infinite pleasure of daring to express in colour.

(This post is inspired by Manic Mondays 3 Way Prompt: Confession.  Thanks to Laura for hosting.  All photos are from personal collection.  The images of me are from healthier days, when apparently I loved kiwi green.  The watercolour is a close up of a saguaro, if it was orange.)

 

House Hunting

“Fasten your seatbelt,” Ric told me fourteen years ago when I first agreed that we were a “couple”.  He wasn’t kidding.

We’ve barely just settled in after a six month journey across North America and now we are looking for a home.  We’ve narrowed it down to one of three.

Option1Option #1 is in a 55+ community about forty-five minutes from the city I have lived most of my life.  It is exactly 1/2 between two of our daughters, and granddaughters, so ideally located.  The town is what Ric calls “AVCT” – A very cute town, known for its stone cottages and with a river running through it.

“Very photogenic” I call it.

The house is slightly bigger than I wanted, with cathedral ceilings in the great room (kitchen, dining, and living area), two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  It also has an attached garage, a full basement, and a large deck off the side of the house.  There is a small green area around the house and all lawn mowing and snow removal is covered in the maintenance package.  It is well within our budget.

The main street of the town has mostly boutique shops and restaurants, and the town hosts a guest inn.  There is also a quarry with public swimming, a Y, and a seniors’ friendship centre with indoor pool and lots of activities as well as the community’s clubhouse.

Option2Option #2 is an hour from both daughters,  and located in another small town, although not as cute.  It is clear that this town has seen some hardship as there are many empty storefronts along the main street.

This home is part of a townhouse complex, but very well done with all brick exteriors, concrete drives, attached garages, and open concept one-floor living that offers two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  It is a bit smaller than option #1 and does not have a basement.  There is a concrete patio at the back and a fence divider to make the area private.  This is all new construction, so we can select whatever fits our taste.  The price falls at the bottom of our budget.

This community is also adult, offers full maintenance and a community clubhouse.  This option is 20 miles from several beaches.

KettlepointsunsetOption #3 we are going to see tomorrow.  It is an hour and a half from family, but set on a lake, just north of another cute town.  These are also new builds and the option that Ric likes has a sunroom in addition to what the others offer.  This home would stretch our budget.

Ric grew up on this lake, so I know where he is leaning.  While the appeal of water is undeniable, I am not thrilled to be so far from family (and civilization) although each option does have a hospital nearby.

Tomorrow we will make a decision and put in an offer.  I feel like we are living our own version of “House Hunters” without the cameras and commentary.

Which option will it be?

(Photos from personal collection.  Sunset photograph is credited to my husband, and taken on the lake in question.)

 

Pain Fog

The hockey game blares from the front of the bus with a confidence I am not feeling.

Yesterday, I had two cracked and very infected teeth extracted, and my jaw is in intense pain.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” the dentist told me.  Apparently, I had clenched so hard that I split my back molars in half.

Gritting my teeth, I’m discovering, is what I do in response to pain, especially when it settles in face as fibromyalgia is known to do.  I’ll need a night guard.

treesnhouseWe went to visit our financial advisor at the bank, followed by our accountant, and it looks like buying a house now is the best option.  So, the search has suddenly turned real. We’ll be spending the long weekend house shopping.

Right now, I am lying in a darkened room, praying for restorative sleep (a rarity with my disease) and affirming to myself that we will find the perfect place for our needs and all will be well.

I am physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  Even forming a sentence tonight is painful. So, I won’t linger here too long.

“We’ve been through a lot,” I told Ric earlier; “and what we’ve learned is that we are adaptable.  Wherever we decide to live, it will work, because we’ll make it work.”

This much I know is true.

treeshadowI can sense worry, like shadows, creeping in around me, but I am too tired to give it a voice tonight.  Fatigue sets all my senses on overdrive, and every noise, smell, or ray of light feels invasive.

I turn on my mattress heater, pull the blankets around me, and ask Ric to turn down the game.

Worry can wait till tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Life Is Like This

Biting, the sun’s brilliance –
set against a cornflower blue sky –
competes with the mustard gold,
tangerine orange and chartreuse
leaves, shimmering in the breeze

the vividness of colours, too sharp
for just awakened eyes, begs retreat.
I contemplate what I have witnessed,
think life is like this: too beautiful
at times for words, glorious perfection.

In a blink, the sky changes – white
clouds forming a backdrop, the autumn
wind tossing the tree about, branches
dipping, pulled apart, and the harmony
of the moment is gone, and I think

life is like this:  turning without notice,
what once was balance suddenly lost,
and we are left spinning; I can hear it now
wind rushing against the windowpane,
taunting:  Change! Change is coming!

And I know what it speaks is true, for
life is like this:  ever-fluctuating, and
the reminder is bittersweet; my heart,
reluctant to let go of summer, knows
it’s okay; it’s just the way of life.

(Image: http://www.mnn.com)

(This post is a rewrite of an early entry on One Woman’s Quest.  The original was written as prose and I thought it might be interesting to rewrite as a poem.)