Posts

Vaccinated! Gratitude for humanity's strength

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Two days ago, I received my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine!  As someone with a severe underlying health condition, I was invited to sign up for a clinic administered by my local County Health Department. Last week the county sent out a website link that would go live at noon on Friday. I was wary because I had tried a similar sign-up the week before, and before I had finished filling out the online form, the clinic had filled up. It took less than six minutes.  I was discouraged and frustrated.   My doctors couldn't do anything to help me since the county was in charge of distribution. However, my friends encouraged me to try again, reassuring me that I could get in. This time when the link went live, my hands were shaking as I typed furiously. I used my computer rather than my phone so I could click through the questionnare faster. It felt like I was trying to buy concert tickets before the event sold out. But the stakes were higher. When I finally reached the scheduling page,

Out of the Valley: Nine days of beautiful gifts

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In my last post I wrote about some health issues that had me searching for the light around me. It was the convergence of many ongoing symptoms that made it so intense. I wasn’t sleeping well. I felt intermittently drowsy and dizzy and nauseous. My appetite was all but gone. But when I sought medical help (my doctor sent me to the ER), all the test results came back negative or normal. There were just two thin threads to follow. I scheduled appointments with two specialists, but while I waited, my symptoms continued to impact my days. Most notably, I had to avoid screen time as it made everything worse.  In the past, I would have kept my “complaints” to myself, thinking I didn’t want to burden anyone with worry. But I’ve learned that when you’re in a valley, it’s okay to open up and reach out for help. So when my mom and sister asked how I was doing, I gave them specific details. I described my frustrations and the ways I was trying to manage them. They listened patiently and offered

Surrounded by Light: Finding peace in the darkness

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This will be a quick post as I want to give you one more story in 2020. And I need this reminder right now, too, because I’m dealing with some new health issues that make my daily life a little darker. Last week Jupiter and Saturn were aligned so close, they appeared to be one star. In fact, many called it the Christmas Star, imagining it was akin to what the shepherds saw over two thousand years ago. There was a limited viewing window; the planets would dip below the horizon about thirty minutes after sunset. So I bundled up in my jacket and gloves and went to the driveway. The clouds were sparse, and I spotted the planets behind a distant treetop. I sat down on my walker and looked up. Although it was dark, all I could see was the light. There was an almost-full moon shining on my left. To my right was our pine tree strung with colorful lightbulbs along with matching strings along the eaves behind me. Straight ahead was the Christmas Star. I smiled and sighed, “I am surrounded by lig

How The Inconvenience of Quarantine can Lead to Beauty: Making deeper connections through total immersion

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I spent the last two weeks living with my sister, and it was beautiful. When I arrived, I was greeted with cheerful hugs from everyone, including my mom who had come over to visit. It had been nine months since I’d last been in her house, and nine months since I’d hugged my family. It was reminiscent of visiting grandparents, aunts, and uncles several states away. However, my sister was only six miles away, living right next door to my parents. This is what Covid has done. It has made everything “long-distance.” From family and friends to book clubs and volunteer groups, and even church, I may as well be dialing in from the middle of nowhere. To get to those hugs, six adults and three children had to quarantine for fourteen days, then remain in quarantine for another two weeks as we gathered together for meals and movies. And did I mention one of those children was my newborn niece? My sister had to convince the hesitant pediatrician to conduct the baby’s wellness checks via telehealth

Be a Cheerleader: The beauty of affirmations, validation, and encouragement

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash Yesterday I received an email that made my day. I'd sent an essay to a friend and asked for his feedback, and he'd responded quickly. His first line gave me a rush of joy. "I am blown away by your writing skill, and your ability to be vulnerable and strong at the same time." He went on to praise my gift for writing and thank me for sharing my work. By the end of the note, I was beaming with gratitude. My friend could have just told me the essay was good, and I would have been pleased. But instead, he'd taken the time to be explicitly kind and encouraging. It got me thinking about the other cheerleaders in my life. From my friends' Facebook comments to my weekly visits with my writing partner to greeting card wishes, I cherish their uplifting remarks.  In my volunteer time with Stephen Ministry , we are trained to give each other regular affirmations. At first it sounded funny to say "Good job" or "You are

Beauty On The Back Porch: Answering the call to serve

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Several weeks ago, the Nurture-Care team at my church put forth a program called Front Porch Visits . Anyone who was interested could sign up to deliver or receive a visit and a care package. I've been self-quarantined since March, Zooming with friends and only venturing out to parking lots to pick up groceries or to the drive-through lane at my pharmacy. I thought it would be nice to have someone come to my porch to chat in person, so I filled out the online form and waited for a call. I wanted to feel included and not forgotten. As the designated weekend approached with no word from the church, I wondered if my request had gotten lost.  Then an email from the pastor popped up on my phone. I was delighted to see you had signed up to do a visit. I’d like to assign you Carol Smith. Her husband has severe Alzheimer's and she has been living alone since he moved into memory care. Even though he doesn’t know who she is, she has missed being able to visit him. How would you like to

There's Always a Way to Beauty: Finding joy in access to cold mountain stream

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Like many people, I've been heading to the outdoors to get away from the stress of the pandemic. Earlier this month, we went trail riding in the mountains as we hunted for wild raspberries in our UTV. Usually the mountain air is cooler than the valley, but the sun and the heat seemed to follow us into the forest. We stopped for lunch near a bridge and my husband, Shawn, dipped the dogs in the creek to cool them off. As he came back my way I asked, "Is there any way I can get down to the water, too?" As many of you know, I have a form of muscular dystrophy that limits my physical strength. I knew I couldn't get there on my own. Shawn shook his head. "No, the bank is too steep for me to carry you and there's no level place to stand at the bottom." I sighed, envious of his access to the cool water. But then I decided that I would find a better place. I declared, "I want to put my feet in the water today." As we rode, we spotted hillside springs th