Thursday, March 26, 2015

Notes to Self

Sucking the marrow sure can be rough on the body.

I may not have any broken bones, but I’m battered and bruised. Several days of being tossed around in high surf. (Note to self: You may not be able to read what the warning sign says in Spanish, but when the red flag is up at the beach you probably should stay out of the water.)

A full day of zip lining in Puerto Vallarta. Stretching the shoulders, lifting the legs, flying high over the jungle and river over and over again. (Note to self: Remember to get to those high, long zip lines you will need to hike up multiple steep uneven paths and stairs and your knees might not be happy with you. And don’t forget you only have one lung working. That will really be a problem.)

A mule ride. (Note to self: Mules are amazingly sure-footed over super-steep rocky paths.)

Snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas from a Zodiac raft. Jump out over the side, climb back in. (Note to self: It is a heck of a lot harder getting back into a raft than getting out.)

Bruises up and down my legs, my arms and shoulders, and my hands. Rheumatoid-arthritic joints overused and swollen, leaving extremities numb. (Note to self: That’s the price you pay for working on being a suck-the-marrow adventurous person.)

Rheumatoid arthritis.
One lung.
Two knee replacements.
175 pounds lost.
(Note to self: Remember to keep pushing yourself, but not too much. Know when it’s time to take it easy.)

I’ll take a lesson from the sea lion in Cabo San Lucas. Just hanging out, waiting to the tide to come in. No worries.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Finally Cool

I'm finally cool. 

Flight from Boise to Seattle. Shuttle from airport to hotel. Drop off luggage. Shuttle from hotel to light rail station. Take light rail to downtown Seattle. Spend time around Pike Place Market. Take light rail back to airport. Shuttle back to hotel. Sleep. Shuttle back to light rail station. Take light rail to International District. Walk to Amtrak station. Get on Coast Starlight train, Seattle to Los Angeles. Arrive 35 hours later at Los Angeles Union Station. Take a taxi to hotel. Sleep. Walk to the metro station. Catch redline train to Hollywood and Vine. Spend time looking around Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Catch hop on hop off bus red line tour. Take tour of LA. 

Transfer to yellow line hop on hop off bus tour. Go to Santa Monica. Walk the pier, have lunch. 

Catch hop on hop off bus to finish yellow line tour. Transfer to redline hop on hop off bus to finish tour of LA. 

Get off at Grauman's Chinese Theater. 

Redline train to LA Union Station. Catch cab back to hotel. Sleep. Take shuttle to cruise ship port. 

Before we left home, I made sure to do my part in giving back. I hand delivered 45 homemade brightly colored pillowcases to a children's home. I thought that was pretty cool. 

Being able to pull off all those travel arrangements without getting lost could be considered a major accomplishment and maybe even cool. Having seen and done all I have in the last few days could be considered pretty cool, too. 

But it took one single incident that made me cool in my daughter's eyes. The picture I took outside Grauman's Chinese Theater where they were filming America's Next Top Model. Cool? I guess. (Personally I'll take sewing pillowcases or sucking-the-marrow adventures as being at the top of my cool list.) 

Thursday, March 19, 2015


In my home I have a map. A huge wall map covered with stickers, with each sticker representing a spot I've visited. For a location to earn a spot on the map I need to have either eaten, slept, or gone to the restroom there. I have long stopped counting how many places are marked. 

Chicago is one place that is marked. Ate there? Yes. Slept there? No. Gone to the restroom there? Yes. All in the Chicago airport. It has always been a stop over on the way to someplace else. My husband has been there for business and enjoyed it but Chicago hasn't ever really been a destination location for me. 

But lately I have been wondering if it is a place I am meant to go. Someone at work had mentioned how much they would love to go to Chicago. And since that day the number of Chicago references I have noticed has been astounding.

On that very first day after hearing that person's enthusiasm about Chicago -on my way home, stuck in traffic - I heard on the radio that Oprah was closing down her studio in Chicago.

That same night on my Yahoo page there was reference again to Oprah.

Then when I went to book an Amtrak trip what would appear on the booking page but an advertisement for lowered fares to Chicago?

Another day in an email Chicago pops up again. 

One of the people I follow on Twitter has something going on in Chicago. 

Another day, another person from Twitter that I follow, another Chicago. 

Out to eat at the Village in Meridian and what appears?

Sitting down to watch a couple minutes of TV with hubby. Chicago on the movie. Then the nightly news talking about Chicago dying the river green for St. Patrick's Day. And a man in a Chicago Cubs tshirt in the Mexican restaurant. 

Then we get on this Amtrak train from Seattle to LA. The faucet manufacturer in the restroom? Yep. 

With all this Chicago in just the last couple weeks I'm guessing this means at some point I will be going to Chicago. Too many coincidences for me not to. 

But why? Only the Universe knows. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pillowcase Adventure Project

I thought I knew what poverty was. I've traveled the US and seen depressed areas. I've seen the homeless in the big cities. I've seen ram shackled homes in the country. The cycle of poverty is difficult to break and I always worry most about the kids.

Which is why my life plan is shaping up the way it is. I had to go all the way to Belize and Honduras for it to make sense.

Belize City, where people are proud and happy. And poor. A place where education is important. Where the windows and shutters of the schools are wide open and have no screens but students are learning English. Where a little boy ran to the school fence and waved to me as we drove by.

Roatan, Honduras, where the level of poverty is beyond what I ever could have imagined. Where kids don't have much of a chance. Where five year olds have already started walking the beach, trying to hit up tourists for money in exchange for their trinkets.

Then throw in the sewing. Throw in the need for adventure. The need to give back to others. And this pull I have to quit my job.

It's all falling into place. Soon I'll be visiting an orphanage in Honduras, delivering homemade pillowcases to the kids. I haven't forgotten about Idaho, either. I'll be delivering pillowcases to a children's home here, too. A home full of failed-adoption kiddos, kids that no one wants.

A year of love, gratitude, and giving. Of being happy everyday. Might just call it the Pillowcase Adventure Project. (Still working on the name.)

Soon I'll be up, up, and away. Like the planes in the morning.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Leaping Lizards, Icky Iguanas

It's so hard. 

With most chronic diseases, drug companies are actively marketing management treatments, not cures. That means two things. You're stuck with the disease and you're stuck paying drug companies astronomical amounts of money over the course of your lifetime. 

When you are fighting said chronic illness you feel trapped. You are more than willing to do what the experts say to do in order to add normalcy to your life. 

It can, at times, feel like the illness is winning. It takes control of your life. Your day's activities revolve around the pain associated with it. On good days you think you just might be able to make it. On bad days (mind you, when I say bad it's not just a regular person's bad day - it is an all out fight to move kind of day) you are certain you won't make it. 

Then there are those other days. Days of clarity. Days where it all comes into perspective. Usually on those days there are no answers, but there are gut feelings.  Hunches. Intuitions. About what is right for you in that very moment. 

One of those hunches led me to face my fear of lizards by feeding huge iguanas. 

It's a soul thing. Throw caution to the wind. Take a chance. A way to heal myself. Thumb my nose at the doctors and drug companies. And in the meantime maybe discover who I'm meant to be. What if by chance I'm not meant to be sick after all?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hunkering Down

As I continue with my chemotherapy medication that makes me sick, as I wait for approval for the new, aggressive rheumatoid arthritis medication. As hubby waits to see if he will have any income this month. As we wait for new carpet to arrive and Internet and phone to be installed in our Boise home. As we wait for our Marsing home to sell. As we work through the emotional and physical toll these last few months have taken on us. 

As we wait we have decided to hunker down. Keeping our feelings and thoughts to ourselves, no talking and no visiting and seeing no one. Just the two of us taking a break from the world for a little while. 

We'll be back in society and back to responsibilities and obligations when the time is right. But that time is not now.  Midlife crisis? Physical breakdown? Mental breakdown? 

Maybe a combination of all. Time to take advantage of this sign:

Saturday, January 17, 2015


The emotions that have accompanied the life changes we've been experiencing have been stronger than expected.

Husband sitting home all day, every day, with nothing to do but watch TV. His identity - high school teacher - has been lost. 28 years spent in the same school district, in the same building, teaching the same subject. How could it not be an emotional draining situation for him?

Losing kitty, my companion. Having to put her to sleep was difficult. 14 years of knowing when I wasn't feeling well, climbing onto my lap to keep me company. Sitting in the window as I sat sewing at the machine. Still feels like a part of me is missing.

Then teary eyes in kiddo's room when I was cleaning out and boxing things up to make room for the painter. From elementary school to middle school to high school to college to married life, her knick knacks and clothes and medals and posters that had been collected had remained.

The house is now empty. Painting is finished. Doing a walkthrough last night brought more tears to the eyes. And while it won't officially go onto the market until Wednesday, we now have a sign in the yard. Anyone looking for a four bedroom three bath house with a river view in Marsing, Idaho? I know someone selling one.

An emotional time.