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Work smarter

12 Aug

When you are disabled, minor obstacles start looking more like Mount Everest than a minor mole hill.  It’s all bigger and more dramatic.  It’s also more likely to provoke a total melt down as frustrations and aggravations drive you to your breaking point.

So how to overcome the Himalayas when even going shopping is a challenge?

By working smarter.

Face it, for most of us, disability does not equate an accompanying mental disability.  We are fully aware of our limitations.  We know when we are having an emotional melt down that may be a bit of overreaction to the most recent event but is the inevitable result of recent events that have now been provided with either a trigger or what most of us would call the last straw.

By using our heads when our bodies aren’t dependable, we can enjoy many activities that normally would be out-of-reach.  Ones that we’re technically not supposed to be able to do due to our own personal limits, whether it’s strength, endurance, dexterity, agility, or whatever.  The question is often then going to be how, and it means how can thinking mean that we can do the un-do-able?

By taking a bigger, more dramatic view of the un-do-able, maybe we can get an idea.  Sure, it sounds totally crazy to compare a desired activity for a disabled person to climbing Mount Everest, but it’s not unreasonable.

A climber is facing obstacles that should make the climb to the summit impossible.  Breathing the thin air alone, without the cold, wind, avalanches, falls, distance and all of the other obstacles s/he must face to get there.  Sure, a lot of people fail in their attempts, and some even die trying.  So what makes it a successful attempt?

  • Research—knowing what obstacles must be overcome and what tools are available to overcome them
  • Planning—having the necessary gear, support, tools, supplies, and transportation to get to the Himalayas and make that attempt, as well as the attempt itself
  • Preparation—assembling the necessary items and gaining the necessary skills to be successful
  • Assessment—knowing what your own limits and abilities are, and when to call it quits
  • Assistance—having a support team to help fill in the deficit areas of your physical abilities as well as skill levels

This is where our brains come into effect.  We have to figure out what it is we want to do, then find a way to do it, no matter what it is.  Granted, few disabled people are going to take up mountain climbing, even at a much lower summit height than Mount Everest, but the concept is the same no matter what the activity actually is.

Let’s take some practical examples.

Cooking is a hobby I have enjoyed since I was young.  I really love doing it, and it is always a challenge that I’m thrilled to try.  The objective is to make the recipes, serve them all at their optimum temperature, without any errors.  I actually liked playing “guest chef” and cooking for others.  Holiday meals were something that were fun to prepare because of their complexity, volume, etc.

Obviously, post-disability, it wasn’t as much fun.  Some things were nearly impossible and even simple tasks had turned into my own versions of Mount Everest.  I wanted to make pizza crust, from scratch.  Before, that was a no-brainer.  Now, it was impossible, or so it seemed.

The mixing and kneading were impossible, but solved easier.  I owned a big Kitchen-Aid mixer that really hadn’t seen much use.  Now, I learned to use it for mixing pizza dough.  Rolling and stretching the dough was then the new mountain.  I was not getting that done with one functional arm.

I tried a French rolling pin, I tried the kind with ball bearings.  It didn’t work.  Clean up was a misery.  Sure, I could just wimp out and ask Greg to do it—he’s not inept or unwilling.  That wasn’t the point.  I wanted to do it myself, like I was a toddler helping my mother cook.

In the past, I had had a nylon cylinder rolling pin that I had used.  That’s what I wanted to try, but I couldn’t find one for sale.  Greg solved that for me.  He bought a fat dowel, the biggest he could find, and cut it for me.  There were two—one for the narrow side of a half sheet baking pan, and one for the wide side.  Two problems solved—clean up and rolling, all with one solution.  The dough couldn’t get away from me inside the lipped pan, I had a one handed rolling pin, and I had something I could theoretically clean myself.  It also works great for cookie or biscuit dough.  I haven’t tried it with pie crust though, as the size makes a round disk of sufficient size impossible.

We thought ourselves into a solution for a problem by drawing on past experience (cylinder rolling pin) to find a new solution (dowel rolling pins) and improved it by using the half sheet pans to further solve the problem.

We use the same process for camping solutions.  I love camping, and I’ll be the first one to admit, I could not go camping in a tent by myself.  I’d never enjoy it and I would also probably never get the tent up, even if I was using an instant tent (they are great, by the way!).  But, with help for carrying and the major tasks like setting up the tent, I can enjoy camping still.  Sure, I’m not going on hikes or chopping up firewood anymore, but I’m there.

I did try to solve the backpacking problem.  Due to reduced endurance and other health problems, I have reluctantly admitted that backpacking is out of my reach at this time.  Maybe I will find something that lets me take short, easy trips in the future, but this year, it was a bust again.  Instead, I’m doing it vicariously by creating recipes for DIY meals, sharing knowledge, and evaluating gear in a much closer space.

Then there was sewing.  I was afraid to try it for a very long time, longer than I’m even willing to admit.  That delay was based solely on fear.  I was terrified that it was going to be one more can’t in a world filled with too many can’ts for my taste.  Finally, I got things together, plugged in the machine, and tried it.

Here is where working smarter became really important.  I have a very limited amount of time to actually work on anything before problems are going to appear, all carried along by the all-too-familiar Pain Train.  (I find that assigning silly names to stressors, they become less threatening.  Try it sometime!)  Most of the time, it’s about five minutes.  Sewing isn’t something that is done fast, so this short period of time to do anything physical with it means that I have to make that time really count.  It’s like sewing with a toddler underfoot, in a way.  Continual interruptions and distractions.

I’m also not talking strictly about sewing machine time.  It’s any physical task—laying out patterns, cutting, pinning, whatever. This short time span for actually doing anything means that we’re going to take the tactics of the armchair quarterback.  We’re going to think about it and plan a whole lot in comparison to actually doing anything.  Then, we’re going to look at what we are doing, think about it again, long before we start doing it.

That’s not a bad thing.  You soon learn that ripping things out is heartbreaking.  Not only have you invested one or more work periods into making the mistake, you’ve now got to invest more work periods into removing that effort, all before repeating the investment.  It’s like buying a house with no bathroom, giving it away, and buying another one because the first one didn’t have a bathroom.  It’s a major investment, not merely a bit of time, when you are physically challenged.

Disabilities can change your perspectives on a lot of things, as well as cause a major shift in priorities.  You soon learn that some things are not important and don’t really matter.

  • Makeup. I don’t wear it anymore.  It wasn’t worth the investment of time, energy, and pain to get it onto my face.  I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks.  I’m not going to conform to their perceptions or make that investment of myself to conforming.  I’m just not willing to risk sticking a mascara applicator into my eye to be “beautiful” in someone else’s eyes.
  • Hairdos. I’m not going to bother.  I have long hair and I wear it tied up, usually in a doubled over pony tail.  It’s often lopsided too.  I thought about cutting off my hair, but then I’d have to do something with it.  Like comb it more often.  As it is, it gets brushed when I’m leaving the house or someone is coming over—it’s neatly confined so it doesn’t get messy.  No French braids, no fancy do’s, unless my daughter is around and feels inclined to do it for me.  Greg is pretty hopeless at this task, despite his best efforts.
  • Fashion. My idea of fashion is that it is comfortable and I can get it on and off with minimal help.  I don’t care how it ranks in terms of fashion.  Sure, I like pretty stuff, but my idea of pretty and the world’s idea of pretty might be entirely different.  I’m really fixated on the tactile experience of clothing—I like things that feel good to me.  I like cheery stuff, but rather subdued colors.  In summer, I like cool fabrics too.  Winter, like everyone else, I like warm fuzzy ones that are snuggly.  I avoid ruffles and lace like it’s going to give me the plague.  I don’t like buttons and zippers—they are hard to manage.

Decide what matters to you, and don’t invest your efforts into things that don’t matter to you.  That’s the first step to working smarter.

  1. Look at the obstacles that you face when you are attempting a desired activity. What do you need? Is it skills or help or tools?  Do you need something that is specialized or not commercially available? How do you get this new tool or device?
  2. Work out the obstacles one at a time. Facing a hundred can’ts is a world of difference from facing one of them at a time.  A hundred is impossible, but one isn’t, and that’s a simple fact.
  3. Be realistic without accepting defeat. That’s a tough balance, but it’s one that we have to strive for.  I’ve accepted defeat for the backpacking thing…for now.  I may find a solution, but it won’t devastate me if I don’t, as I have accepted that the abridged version is better than none at all.  I have to accept that some things are going to remain forever out of reach now, some of which I never intended to do to begin with, like skydiving, mountain climbing, snow skiing, and bull riding.
  4. Believe in yourself. You are not defined by what you can’t do or can do.  We are all more than that.
  5. You can contribute to the world at large. You have knowledge and skills, even if you aren’t capable of physically using them anymore.  Share them, and see your passion for past activities come to life again.  Just because you can’t do them does not mean that your knowledge can’t live on by sharing it and teaching others.

Working smarter doesn’t mean you have to be disabled somehow to use it.  Anyone can use the same principles to reduce their life clutter and achieve greater things.  It’s just about establishing priorities, coming up with a plan, assembling the tools, and then moving forward towards your goals.  It is not rocket science or quantum physics!  You can do it.


Writing, as always

5 Jul

I’ve published a lot of small cookbooks in the past year, on a variety of topics.  They’ve been popular, too. So have the books about camping, whether it was food or other facets of camping.  The Time of Chaos was well received too.

Fiction, I have to admit, is my first love.  Even so, with my practical side, I really love non-fiction books too.  Most of my own books are actually non-fiction.  I’ve learned a lot from well written non-fiction books, and I’ve also encountered the sort that was written in “engrish” that wasn’t even worth the time it took to open the cover, digital or print.

Those really awful ones are kept in my mind as the example of “don’t-do-that”.  The file, I must admit, is getting thicker with time, as new editions of awful are filed away there.

But despite enjoying putting together the non-fiction books, it seems to be time to take some time and explore my own abilities and creativity.  I hadn’t tried to do a lot of creative stuff since my accident, which was nearly 5 years ago now.  It was partly out of fear, as I learned that my new restrictions had eliminated one of my previous pleasures from my future.  Some things, I’ve learned to work around, others I have been forced to gracefully accept as no longer possible.

I’ll never know the joy of swimming again, but I can still play in the shallows.  I can hang onto something floaty and kick through the water, with my life vest on.  Sure, it’s not the same, but I will live.

Today, I tried something that I have been afraid to try, even as my sewing machine sat there, just waiting.

I tried sewing.

I can do it too. Sure, it’s a lot slower and cutting out fabric is sheer agony.  Thankfully, I have a husband who is both willing and able to help me with things like that.  Maybe I’ll see about electric shears to make it easier.  I am making a simple elastic waist skirt for my granddaughter.  Once upon a time, it would have taken me about an hour to have cut it out and assembled it, with another fifteen to thirty minutes to hem it, press it, and have it finished.

Okay, I confess, I have to stop and take breaks.  A lot.  Sometimes its because I forgot some detail, like how to tell my machine I’m going to baste rather than stitch a proper seam, and I have to go read the digital copy of the manual (I have no idea where the original manual is now) to figure it out.  Sometimes it’s because I just need to stop and relax a bit.  Physical tension happens to trigger a lot of negative stuff for me, and apparently, I was getting tense today.

But I used to really love creating things with the sewing machine.  I often made my own patterns too.  This project, on the complicated scale, wasn’t going to push my limits in that regard.  It was going to be a simple project to see where I was going to have problems and give me an idea how to fix those problems so that I could do it again.

I’m ecstatic–I have faced a boogie man and conquered it.  I was afraid that it would be like trying to swim, only to discover that I absolutely couldn’t do it.  I didn’t want to admit defeat on this one, and I had delayed it so very long.  Of course, it helps that in this case, I’m not going to drown if I have to stop for a bit and come back to it later!

So, now I have a few budding projects in mind.  Two things that I’ve done a LOT of over the years–a specific (and rather simple) doll and customized dog coats.  I’m thinking that I may write a couple of how-to books for those kinds of things.

Hey, they are low calorie!

Yeah, that’s the other issue.  The recent muffin book was tough on us–that was a LOT of muffins to try, even over 6 months. It’s also summer on the Gulf Coast, and cooking is not my idea of a good time.  I also have another complication.

The day that The Big Book of A-Z Muffins was first available was the day our cook top died.

I’m now cooking on a camp stove until that issue is resolved.  Since a cook top is expensive, and I’m not even sure I want to have another one, it’s not getting an immediate replacement.  I actually would like to do away with the electric cook top and put in a regular gas stove with an oven, and get rid of the hated wall oven, aka “Easy Bake Oven”.  It’s undersized, not level, and I despise it.

I can also remember my Granddad’s saying when you figured something out and were finally able to do something right, “Now, you’re cooking with gas!”

I do prefer a gas stove.

So, without a “real” stove, writing cookbooks isn’t a very practical idea.  Of course, I could write a LOT of books about cooking with one burner.  Two years of our experiment of living in a travel trailer and years of using a camp stove when camping had pretty much perfected the art.

But I’m in the mood for something a bit more creative without worrying that my blood sugar is going to skyrocket.

So, I’m concentrating on the fiction for a bit.  I’m playing with sewing again.  Summer isn’t eternal, even in the South, so my aging dogs may appreciate some new finery for fall, right?

And I have a beautiful granddaughter who can wear it, as well as is old enough to start enjoying dressing her dolls.  My niece is expecting twins.  I have a nephew who has a beautiful baby girl too.  I used to love making 9 patch quilts in the throw/baby sizes, and they were another fast & easy project.

There has been a whole new world opened up.  That’s pretty cool, when you have had too many doors that slammed shut for you in the past few years.

So stay tuned.  Who knows what will be coming next!


Anger and me

29 Nov

Most people regard anger as a negative emotion, something that is “bad” and should be repressed or somehow addressed and banished from one’s life.  I’m not so sure about that.

I think anger is a normal and natural emotion too.  We have the option of anger just as we have the option of joy, and both are important to defining us as people and even furthering our journey towards spiritual enlightenment.

Yeah, I still have illusions of someday becoming a wise woman and achieving spiritual enlightenment.  I’ve also learned something else along the way.

Beware those who claim to have achieved spiritual enlightenment.  They rarely have a clue what it is really about, and have used their “achievement” as an excuse to cease their pursuit of enlightenment.  Truly enlightened souls are eternally seeking to continue the process and never regard themselves as having achieved their goal.

With that said…we’ll go back to anger.  I’m not certain that anger is going to actually further my journey towards spiritual enlightenment directly, but how can we recognize light if we’ve never experienced darkness?

Anger…is a natural product of being human.  It’s the tool we use to fuel ourselves to breaking through obstacles, whether it’s obstacles on the Road to Truth or the Road to Rome.  We use it more to achieve very physical goals, as part of our very human natures.  Without anger, we can easily drift towards apathy, and begin the process of stagnation and degeneration.

Apparently, I’m in no danger of stagnation or degeneration.

I’m angry.

Once upon a time, long long ago, I’d walk out onto the desert, pick up rocks and proceed to stone and curse a perfectly innocent four winged saltbush as a way of venting my anger.  The bush survived the experience unscathed.  They are hardy plants of the Colorado plateau, able to withstand fire, flood, or my pathetic stoning and cursing.  I’d feel better, I’d hurt no one’s feelings, and I could get on with getting on.  I was younger, more volatile, and just more passionate about everything.  I also had a lot more energy and youth.

These days, I’m running out of “youth” entirely.  My hair is silver.  I have wrinkles.  I have aches and pains…a lot.  My teeth are going bad.  My eyesight is failing me.  My body refuses to obey my brain’s commands.

I notice the scathing looks from young women, still caught in the grasp of youth and enjoying the beauty of that form.  I secretly grin, for it doesn’t seem that long ago, I was among their numbers.  I was just as vain about my appearance and physical abilities.  They pity me now, but in a few decades, they will be like me.

A young woman locked inside of a body that is lumpy, frumpy, graying, and disobeying.  They’ll wonder what in the hell happened too.

Getting past the vanity and pride of a beautiful appearance is probably a good thing, enabling us to shift our focus to more important things.  The real downside is that our brains are finally achieving a bit of knowledge, just as our bodies begin to fail.  All of the skills that I spent a lifetime honing are now uselessly locked inside of a brain that lacks the body to illustrate.  It sucks.  It ticks me off.  It fuels the anger too.

I remember being young and disliking old grumpy people.  I now am beginning to understand why there are old grumpy people.  It hurts to get old, and I’m not talking about pride.  I’m talking about residing inside of a body that has worked hard, been hurt, been sick, been injured, and is wearing out.  There is a lot more pain involved in the process than I ever anticipated.  I used to think that old people complained because they didn’t have anything else to do.

It’s hard not to complain and gripe when your entire world starts to become defined by pain.

It’s hard to not become self centered when you are trying to plan anything around using that body that is all too often wracked by pain.    It’s hard to not be angry, at yourself and the world, when you realize that your pain is nothing compared to someone who is enduring the mortal pain of a terminal condition, and yet you are unable to conquer it.

Once upon a time, I could conquer anything.  Literally.  I could out walk, out talk, out endure, and probably out drink most of the other people of the world.  I can’t even remember the last time I had an alcoholic beverage these days, let alone the last time I spent the evening in a bar.  No one would associate the term “party  animal” with the person I am today, and the concept of out-all-night doesn’t even exist in my world anymore.  I’m not even that social anymore.  My idea of a good party is a half dozen people and a big pot of coffee now.

I guess what makes me angriest is the reality that I have been forced to give up the things I enjoy the most, the things I was the most passionate about.  Accepting that I’ll never do them again is still impossible, yet the logical part of my brain keeps trying to do that to the rest of my brain.  I’m really not that old, and if it hadn’t been for an unfortunate twist of fate, that wouldn’t have been the case for me for another decade or two.

Sometimes, I wonder about going back in time, and avoiding that brief incident that has had such terrible consequences in my life.  Where would I be now?  What would I be doing?  How would I feel?  Would I be the same person?

The sad truth is that maybe the Cosmos decided I needed some hard lessons, for whatever reason, because I wouldn’t be the same person.  In some ways, I’d have had more patience and greater abilities, but in others, I would not have learned about true endurance, true patience, and even a little bit about a state of angry serenity.

Angry serenity.  Strange contradiction of terms, isn’t it?

I sort of see it like kicking a tree, jamming your toe really hard, then sitting and meditating on the universe as your toe continues to throb until the throbbing is gone.

It’s also making me figure out new ways to accomplish things.  It’s forced me to learn how to let others do things for me, how to ask for help, and how to wait until someone can help me.  For someone who was always fiercely independent, that’s a hard lesson to learn.

Once upon a time, tired of waiting for other people to make time to go hiking and camping, I’d take off on my own with the tent for the weekend.  I set up the tent alone, I cooked alone, I hiked alone, and I got used to a solitary life.  I finally relented to concerns from family and friends about my solitary nature, and got a dog, which is how Red Dog came into my life.  I used to make jokes about how she had replaced my first husband, as she wasn’t as hairy, was always glad to see me, never complained about dinner, and never got into the bank account.  She has been a great companion for me, even as she moves into old age doggy style.

These days, I have a loving companion and husband.  The husband title is still bright and new and shiny, even if our relationship is as comfortable as a favorite pair of jeans.  It’s hard to be angry when you have someone who can take your hand and show you both the humor and the beauty that surrounds us.

That’s the whole thing, anger can be the fuel to start the motion, but somewhere along the way, we’ve got to leaven that anger with humor to make it lighter and easier to carry.  Then, we add a dash of appreciation for the many things we have to be grateful for, and that load gets lighter yet.  The dollop of serenity that comes along when we least expect it makes the load easier yet.

I hear a rumor that when we get a big dollop of wisdom, I’ll scarcely notice the weight of the anger.  I can’t wait, but I have to anyhow.

Alien abductions, radio program, and me

9 Nov

Today is a big day.  My granddaughter is FINALLY getting released to go home, a long haul since she was born on October 18th.  But, I’m not going to be a pesky grandmother tonight–they haven’t even left the hospital yet, it has been an all day process to get her discharged.  Instead, I’m staying home and being a good mother-of-the-new-mother.  It’s mostly selfishness, by the way.

Tonight is Tuesday evening, and each and every Tuesday evening, I host a radio program.  My topic? Paranormal discussions, primarily, although anything “alternative” is apt to catch my interest.  This month, I’m doing a run on aliens and alien abductions, along with related topics.  Last week was Eve Lorgen, the author of Love Bites.  Tonight is Anya Briggs, a psychic medium and contactee herself.

I have an odd way of doing the show, I suppose.  I don’t have set questions barring one single one, the same identical one for each guest…and the first one of the program.  I ask them to introduce themselves to the audience.  Maybe its a cop-out, but it does make sure that anything the guest considers to be important about themselves is mentioned.  I don’t give them a time limit, and the amount of time has varied incredibly.  One guest went on for 23 minutes…a few have taken about 23 seconds.  Most take 1-3 minutes to hit the highlights or important points.

The rest of the show is done very casually, I tell everyone it is just like you sat down with me for a cup of coffee/tea/whatever and we’re talking.  Sometimes, we’re interrupted with a question from the audience, who actually get to feel like they are eavesdropping in on a private discussion.  It’s intimate, real, and fun for everyone.  It isn’t hard hitting journalism where I’m attacking anybody, it’s really about sharing.  Sometimes, the emotions get very intense–I’ve cried during programs, and so have guests.  I’ve laughed…a lot.  So have my guests.  I’ve never had a guest refuse to come back, so they must all enjoy it too!

Some programs are very emotional, some are more clinical, some are informational, and some are sheer fun and joy.  It’s a real mixture of stuff, topically, guest wise, and to a degree, perhaps even style wise. It does stay conversational in the way we talk, but the topic does greatly influence how we get there.  The two hours always flies by too!  A lot of guests don’t think they can manage to talk for two hours, and then are utterly amazed when the show is over so quickly!

I don’t make money doing the program, it costs me.  I pay all of the related expenses for arranging the guests, making phone calls, etc.  It’s technically “produced” by UFO Paranormal Radio Network, who actually calls both me and the guest, then connects us via a server to the internet radio network, and then records the program.  Sometimes the quality of the recording isn’t what I’d like it to be!  UPRN has advertisers and donors to help defray their expenses, whereas my expenses get few donations, whether its for replacing  computers destroyed by lightening, paying for server space so people can listen to the edited programs free of charge, paying for the website’s expenses so people can get information from that, or any of the million other small expenses that are connected with the radio program.

We do try using various ways to help.  We have an Amazon store on our website that sells a variety of goods.  When people purchase through it, we get a tiny percentage in return for the web space we use to advertise it.  (We haven’t seen any dividends from it yet.) We use various sponsored advertisement companies on our website, blogs, and Tweets on our Twitter accounts, and gain a few dollars there.  We have tried other advertising portals that have not paid off, and yet required continual updating and revision, aggravating me endlessly with the need to find the ads on a website that is really too large for only two people to maintain in their spare time.  That’s about it, barring review copies of books that we receive, and which are likely to end up donated to a library at some point.  Our downsized quarters means that we have limited shelving room for books, so if a book survives the final cut, it has to have long term use benefits.  I suspect we still buy more books than we receive as review copies too!

If anyone demanded an answer as to why I do this radio program, I would have to answer that its mostly because I enjoy it.  Obviously, right?  It is fun, I talk to interesting people and get a very unique insight into a lot of new ideas.  Some are ideas that I’m not real comfortable with, others are ones I can easily embrace.  New ideas are a good thing, it continually forces me to re-examine my own perception of the world and define my parameters of belief.  That means, in quick words, that I have to keep an open mind and this prevents me from closing it.

It also offers a sense of structure to my life.  This past year, as I have been recovering from my injury, days all seem alike.  Tuesday is now a red letter day, I have to be “with it” on Tuesdays.  I have to go through the steps to make sure that each Tuesday works smoothly too.  Dinner is early on Tuesdays too.  Retirees will completely understand that little problem, I’m sure, as well as why structure can be a stress reliefing addition to one’s life.

Structure…my dogs and cats offer that too.  They require certain things at certain times, and they don’t care what day it is or how bad I’m feeling.  They don’t even get why I get grumpy due to the pain, or why I want to sleep late after a bad night.  GM is always a help with them, dealing with potty breaks and heavy bags of litter or food, and all the million other things that typically required two arms to successfully accomplish.  I would be sunk without him!

It does make me sad that I can’t pick up my granddaughter.  Yeah, at five pounds, I can’t manage her weight safely.  For her or me.  I can hold her, if she’s handed to me so I can cradle her in my left arm.  I haven’t tried to ever feed or or do any other caretaking tasks, but she’s just getting released from the hospital today.  I suspect her mama is going to be a little mama bear, and rarely let her out of her sight anyhow!  It frightens me a little when I realize that it has been almost a year since I was injured, and yet…I can’t pick up a five pound baby no matter how much I would love to do so.  I can’t help but question whether I will ever be able to do so.

So don’t take a strong constitution and ability to do things for granted.  It can be taken away from you faster than you can blink your eyes, and yet, that moment will replay in your head over and over until you want to scream.  Soon, I’m going to be forced to make decisions regarding my disability, as the reality is that if I have not regained use of my right arm in a year, I want clear answers as to whether recovery is likely.  I never dreamed that I would ever be in a situation where I would use the term “disability” in the same sentence as myself, and wearing that label isn’t exactly a cozy spot for me.  I tried using a sling shot over the weekend.  It’s tough, I couldn’t figure out how to manage it from the hip, and I can’t stick my arm straight out in front of me and resist the pull of the band to fire an acorn at a tree.  With my elbow tucked in against my body, which is my strongest position, pulling back to fire the acorn is tough too.  I managed to nail the tree most of the time from twenty feet.  A big tree.

Once, I could have nailed a sparrow at ten yards without thinking about it.  At fifty yards, I could nail a dog hard enough to get their attention.  Rock chucking was another popular past time when I lived in Arizona, we had a lot of rocks there.  I was lethal as a kid, and as an adult, I’d chuck rocks with my son.  There was something exhilarating about winging a rock at a tree and hearing the repeated thump as I did it over and over.  When I was really stressed out and angry at the world, like after my son’s death, I could throw rocks at a bush and rage as loud as I wanted…without hurting anyone’s feelings or leaving them feeling helpless at this vision of an insanely angry and grieving woman.  That rock chucking was a physical release, and with it, I could release emotions galore. The verbal abuse delivered to the bush along with the rocks was just garnish, accents for the physical act of throwing the rock and putting all of my anger into that act.  Was it silly? Probably, but it got me through the hardest thing I’ve ever faced.  It didn’t harm anyone, not even the tough saltbushs that I was stoning.  As for wildlife, they vacated the area long before I had assembled my pile of rocks to begin the stoning with.  I still think it was probably one of the healthiest coping mechanisms I can think of even now for dealing with the impossible nature of grief at losing a child.

So with all of that, it’s not much over an hour before the radio program tonight starts, so I had best get my final preparations ready.  Coffee helps make the experience for me, so I’ll need some of that.  I’m honestly looking forward to the program tonight–talking with Anya before the program was good, I guess you’d call those brief pre-show calls my litmus test for the guests.  I usually have a good idea of how the interview is going to go from that initial contact.  Maybe that’s my psychic gift?  Who knows!  I have been accurate on most occasions, but maybe its a case of my expectations about the program are likely to influence the outcome too.  In either case, I’m anticipating a really good program tonight with Anya!  So, consider this blog a personal invitation to come listen, and if you miss the initial live version, you can catch the unedited version at Just scroll down through the list (in chronological order) until you find the Dawn of Shades.  Listening there is also free!