Sometimes things work out…

All I can say is we just never know where we are going to end up. We have no real control over anything. All we can do is make plans and have hope that things will be okay. For  the last two years  the one thing I had wanted so much to do was to ride my horse again. It wasn’t  a lofty goal really but one that seemed to be unattainable to me not long ago. I didn’t want to give up the hope that one day I would ride again…..but for a while it was iffy…

Two years ago I thought I would never be able to do many activities again let alone ride a horse. My only goal then was trying to find someone to fix the pain I was in. That was a battle unto itself but I did not want to give up- because to do so left me in a very dire situation. One that I could not accept.

June 2016 was a start of an intense pain drama that was caused by breast cancer treatments. The pain had been an issue since my surgery in October of 2013. I had sought help for it with no luck and then it really  reared its ugly head in May 2016 leaving me bedridden for much of the next year. It was hell trying to find the a doctor who would listen to me and not send me away with a shake of the head. They either had no idea what was wrong with me or they thought I was nuts. But finally I found a surgeon who listened.

Today, three surgeries later. I am not that woman stuck all day and night in bed anymore- but I still live in chronic pain. But the levels I am managing- and there may be more surgery in my future. I am left with a disabled arm that I cant use fully and overuse causes pain. Sometimes I don’t know what that overuse is. But I just try to dance with it- sometimes I am in the lead and sometimes the pain is.

I have been hell bent on doing more living- I have always been a physically active person and I missed the mental boost such activity gave me. So many things I could not do. Some because of the limits of my arm and some activities were contra-indicated by my surgeon- one being horse back riding. It was a total bummer to hear this but I temporarily shelved that disappointment and sought another activity .  I bought a kayak with pedals so I could go out in the bay near our beach house. The feeling of independence being on the water propelling myself was intense and important in my recovery. I bought a bike. I began to walk more. I can do limited exercises in the gym.  But I was really missing the one activity I was told not to do—ride my horse.

In the summer of 2017 I was still in enough pain that I was not sure I could ride and on enough drugs I was not sure I should ride. But one day that summer  on a whim Kevin and I tacked up my horse Harley . He accepted the saddle and bridle so well  that I decided to get on and have Kevin lead me around the dry lot. I knew the surgeon had not been keen on my riding but I wanted to be in the saddle. It was just a pony ride but it was the kick I needed – I set a firm goal – I would  ride my horse again. But there were still obstacles to overcome.

I didn’t think it would take another year before I was able to ride again. I had another surgery in November of 2017 to hopefully further reduce my pain. I would say the result have been pretty good. I am off opiates but still need nerve pain medications. . I have pain flares more often than I would like. But I am doing more. The surgery itself – which was fat grafting -had a longer than expected recovery time.

Every time I went to see my nerve surgeon – Dr. Williams- I would tell him that I wanted to ride my horse.  HIs concern was that my arm would be yanked forward if the horse pulled the reins forward suddenly- and this does happen. This can cause more damage to my arm. Also there is the risk of falling off but I think in my case the real concern was with the yanking of my arm. So I wanted to rectify that. How to keep that from happening. There had to be a way . Maybe I would ride one armed. I began to look into that as an option.

Then sometime this past spring my farrier came. I was telling her my plan to try ride again. I explained my concerns of riding with two arms and one getting yanked and I was also becoming nervous about not being strong enough to ride using only one arm (my horse is also neck reined) if my horse pulled suddenly. She told me to get a Daisy Rein. I had no idea what they were but it turns out they are used often for young riders. The rein hooks onto the saddle and also to the bridle and that keep the horse from pulling his head down. Maybe it would work for this old rider!

I saw my surgeon again in July and explained how much I wanted to ride and told him about the rein. He never did give me his blessing but he told me if I did ride I needed to send him photos after I was safely off.  So that to me was an ok to go ahead.

My plan was to move slowly into riding my horse Harley beginning in early August- but life threw us a loop as we suddenly  lost Harleys companion a- our beloved Arab mare -Airy to colic. It was a tough loss on all of us and I again shelved trying to ride. This time more for Harley than for me. I knew it was a stressful time for a horse when there are changes like that adding me riding him after such a long time off might add to the stress – and we wanted another companion for Harley so the focus shifted on that. It took some time but we now have Hank and Yukon here. Hank belongs to our neighbor and Yukon is our Guardian horse form a local rescue.

One  day a few weeks ago  I went out to the barn to feed the horses and our neighbor was bringing Hank back from a ride. I began to feel that envy. That yearning to ride my horse. I really felt it was now or never so I began to get Harley tacked up. It is a bit of a chore for me to get it on while trying to limit the use of my arm but I was able to do it with Kevins help.

Before long I told Kevin I wanted another pony ride. I have to use a step to mount now to get on- it allows me to not use my arm too much.  I got up and settled – feet in stirrups and I was holding both reins because we put the daisy rein on to give that a try too. He tolerated it well and best of all it worked! He couldn’t pull very far so no yanking of my arm.  After a bit, I asked Kevin to let me go and and I took a deep breathe in and let it out and off I went.  I maneuvered Harley around the dry lot for a while..at a walk.. nothing fast. He did very well – and we then called it a day. Best to end on a good note when working with a horse. And I was not ready to ride in the fields yet. But it didn’t take much time for me to be ready! So much for slow starts.

Since that day I have ridden twice out in the fields. The last time – this past Saturday- I was able to tack up on my own. I have learned to yank the saddle out of my locker with one arm and I can toss it up on his back with one arm too.  It was very freeing to be able to do this on my own.

I also can ride with one arm so I switch from using two hands on the reins to one. It turns out my arms are in a “safe” position so I don’t think I will get a pain flare if I am careful – but again it is that dance i mentioned above. That day I was in the lead. Dismounting is a bit of a challenge. I now lower the stirrup iron and dismount on the  right which is the opposite side we proper English riders are taught to do.

Obstacles aside I can’t begin to explain the mental effect being able to ride again gives me. It is something I have needed. It didn’t feel like it had been two years since I had ridden solo. It was as if no time went by at all. I felt right at home in the saddle. I am so lucky to have the horse that I have. Some horses may have been too much for me after not being ridden for so long. Harley is a true champ. We have a bond.

My goal is to ride twice a week for now. I will have to be flexible on this as well as I live my life around things we have planned – social visits, traveling, and doctors visits. So I often curb any physical exercise for a couple days prior to doing these things because I don’t want to have a flare up of pain which may require me to cancel the plans.

But that is life as I live it now. I accept it. You just never know where you will end up…right now for me I ended up back in the saddle. How lucky I am….

….And Dr Williams has been sent a photo..with more to come…

Thoughts on my youngest son’s 18th birthday.

Today my youngest son turns 18. I was putting together a collage of photos from over the years and I began to feel a little melancholy. Time has gone by so so fast. It floors me.

There are so many things I would like to to do again and many things I would do differently if I could. I like to spend short periods of time in the past. But when they begin to make me sad I know I need to pull back to the present.

To stay in the past can make us miss the joys of the present time. I don’t want to get caught in a cycle of sadness over things I can’t go back to nor change. But it’s ok to step back for a moment and it’s ok to feel the joys in the memories and the sadness over the quick passage of time. I don’t want to forgo looking back in the past because it’s is the framework of what has been my life. I just don’t want to get lost there.

I know today with my youngest son turning 18 – who also was my first child (I know puzzling- but we adopted out of birth order)- there will be memories that will bring laughter and some tears. To just hold that little boy one more time – I know he’s still here to hug but it’s not the same. His hugs are quick and awkward. Appropriate and expected for a teenage guy. I am not the one he would run to for a hug anymore after scoring a soccer goal (he used to)- and good lord he shouldn’t be! But that is why sometimes it’s just nice to remember those times where you were their world.

And truthfully I hope my now adult children have the opportunity to look back someday and feel the same. Because that means they have had love in their lives and that above all else is what I want for them.

Right now I’m am writing this while sitting on the beach in Delaware. Nice start to a day. I’m looking forward to seeing my son tonight for dinner. I figure he may be looking forward to seeing us but probably is more excited to see his dog who we brought with us this weekend. That’s ok. I know we come in second or third to the dog.

I’ll take some photos and someday – yet again – I’ll look back on them and have similar feelings that I have today. Then I will make more and more memories .

It’s the circle of life. And what that means is that I’ve had love.

And that’s what matters most.

On The Shore

Cool Breeze Cottage

One of the biggest blessings for me in this last year has been the purchase of a beach house and being able to spend lots of time living in it.

When my dad died in 2016 I opted to have my brother buy me out of my dads Florida condo so Kevin and I could buy a home on the Delaware shore. We found this cottage in a community named Bay Colony in Dagsboro, DE (it is really north Ocean View but has a Dagsboro zip code) – the neighborhood sits on the edge of the Indian River Bay about five miles west from the ocean town of Bethany Beach.

img_5588

Indian River Bay, DE

Bethany Beach is one of two beaches I came to when I was growing up. I have always felt home here and it seemed fitting that this is where we would buy our beach home.  We had spent many summers looking at homes in the areas surrounding the beach town – at that time ownership only a dream.

Bethany is where I spent years riding waves with my dad and brother(mom wasn’t a swimmer). We escaped a hurricane while on vacation here in 1976 – I think that was the year anyway – dad drove us to Dover to ride out the storm and all I recall is all of us piled into one hotel room and sleeping on a box spring with my best friend Eileen and getting some nasty stomach bug. We came back to the beach house we were renting and saw water lines on the house about five feet up- but there wasn’t any damage as I recall.

We stayed at a place called Hodge Podge Lodge for a couple summers when I was a kid- thats where I recall having bad sunburn and sandy bed sheets a beach staple. Mostly I remember great times in the sun and by the ocean. Kevin and I began coming here as a family in 2004 or so and made it our family tradition every summer for many years. We did spend a couple summers in Cape May, NJ – but Bethany was always where the kids said the liked best.

Bethany calls itself the Quiet Resort and that is what it is. It’s small and nothing stays open very late. For a rowdier time there is Ocean City, MD to the south and Dewey Beach to the North. For great food and also great shopping in the town and their outlets we can head to Rehoboth Beach just a bit north of Dewey Beach. And if the mood strikes we can take the ferry to Cape May, NJ –  the other town I spent years going to as a child.

Many New Jersey residents are finding their way to Delaware to buy beach homes or to buy retirement homes  because the Jersey taxes are very high – Delaware property taxes are very low and there is no sales tax. We are seeing New Yorkers and Philly residents as well- which is increasing demand for housing in the area – so new home starts are on the rise here. And its a lot more crowded in the summer -obviously- but there are many full timers here now and there is something going on almost every weekend over the off-season.

We named our house– Cool Breeze Cottage in homage to the nickname my dad gave me as a teen. My dad loved giving nicknames to people and places so I’m sure he would find humor in the use of this old nickname of mine for our cottage. I didn’t like the nickname as a teen but laughed at as an adult and now having raised my own teens I get it!

We are always a work in progress here but the bones of this home are good. We’ve lightly redone bathrooms and removed carpets and added flooring. We added new and old furniture. We added a fenced in backyard because we will always have dogs here. Kevin and my son Zach built and installed shutters. That woke the house up!

Last fall we had a landscaper come in and do some work. It looks great but it was soooo expensive. So this summer we have been maintaining the area ourselves. Which includes weeding– I used to like weeding but not anymore – so we added landscape stones to some of the front beds. We still have to weed but hopefully not as much. The plantings really are lovely and the stone walk on the side of the house looks nice.

We do have many projects left and a few things to replace. We plan to add board and batten trim in a few areas of the house and maybe some shiplap and we will paint the walls- or hire someone for that. I am not sure how much painting I can do anymore. The kitchen will be done eventually. But for now it’s good.

We spent this weekend painting my in-laws old dining table. It needed an update – the move was hard on it. We may paint the kitchen cabinets. But that will be more Kevin than me because my nerve damaged arm can only do so much. I type this and take break to put an ice pack on for a while – the price for overdoing. But I like to be doing- so I take the pain.  I just want to feel as normal as I can.

Generally, most of our time here is for relaxing and sitting near some body of water. Kevin and I are able to work from here so that makes our time we are able to stay here very flexible.  This home is not a rental but we have had some family and close friends use the house some. It is nice to be able to share it with others. I truly think this is a little piece of heaven on earth. And I know how blessed we are to be able to enjoy something like this. I wish my dad could see it – he would have liked it. I still get excited each time we come here and I am sad when we leave. I hug the house right in the kitchen/Family room door opening every time we leave. I hope I never take this place for granted.

I think I will write more posts about the area. We are discovering many places to eat and stores to shop in. It is really a nice place to be.

A sign…finally

It took almost 8 years but we finally got a farm sign. Farm might be a stretch -this place is really a farmette -well that’s what it would be called here. At under ten acres that seems to be what they call places like ours in Maryland and perhaps it is named such as it isn’t a true working farm. It’s a happy place for horses and fowl and dogs and cats.

In Texas I’m sure a a farmette would be a place with 100 acres and our little four acre homestead would be defined as a house with a little land! Big farm or little – naming a farm seems to bring it personality and the sign is the piece that makes it reality.

When we moved here during the summer of 2010 we were renting to own with plans to buy within a year. Well for many reasons -one year stretched into seven. We finally bought it last November and we got the first sign this last winter and are just now getting it mounted! Too many other things took priority!

But from the start we called our place Glory View Farm. Well because it’s view is glorious. The driveway sign will go up next.

I’m so glad we have the sign. It makes it feel like home- after 8 years it finally is ours.

Many thanks to Torched Timber for creating this one of a kind sign!

When I’m 54 

Five four

Fifty four. Today I’m 54. 

19710 days alive on this earth. This beautiful, wonderful, terrible, scary, joyful, glorious, sad, happy earth.

That seems like so many days. That number is big. That’s 2808 mondays, tuesdays etc. that I’ve been around for.  I was thinking today that I missed a few of those days or most of one or two or so – but that was during college and I needed a recovery day. Wink wink.

So many days. Each one different. Each one with surprises and joys. Some with hardship and pain. 

But then I was thinking I’ve had 54 (almost Christmases) , that doesn’t seem like that many. And only 54 birthdays. That doesn’t seem like that many right? 

If we are lucky we could get 100 birthdays. That 36,500 sunrises/sunsets. But we don’t know how many days we have so I don’t want to take any for granted but I will. I’ll waste some. Some days I might not feel good. Some I’ll just be so crammed with things that I won’t take time to even register it. It’s life it’s what we do. But some days I will turn to face the wonder of this world. It’s easy to focus on the bad stuff but there is such wonder. 

Did you know that otters sleep holding hands? So stinking sweet? 

Or caterpillars completely liquefy as they transform into moths? What? 

Or two-thirds of the people on earth have never seen snow! Wow they need to see it, feel it, it amazing ( and cold!)

Or hummingbird weighs less than a penny? I knew this only because I saved one once and I’ll never forget it. It was a moment I didn’t take for granted. A magical moment. 

Thank you 54. Thank you 19710 I’ve learned so much….

And your welcome for the fun facts ….

Have an awesome day -I’m going to eat cake…:) 

——

Fun facts credit: all-that-is-interesting.com 

Little signs 

I have been so sad about the flooding in Texas. My brother lives in Austin. He had lots of rain and wind but no flooding. He is safe. His family is safe. But so many others are not. It’s really so sad we can’t put words to it. 

I’ve wanted to write this week but I wanted it so be something that might bring joy or a smile or warmth. So many people are suffering and don’t we suffer just a little when we see our fellow man in such peril? So I have a little story that will maybe bring you some joy -or you might shake your head and laugh. 

Because I got a sign. Not a sign but a SIGN!

The other day I was talking to my mother in law. She’s in heaven -or the great beyond. Whatever you want to call it. To me it’s heaven. We lost her just over a month ago. My heart still hurts and it will for a while -she was my good good friend for almost 20 years. 

Anyway I talk to her. I feel her so near to me. I can’t explain it. But maybe it’s the way she felt her husband near her after he passed away in 2015. She felt him in bed on his side next to her every night.  Oh and he made visits to us too. I’ve written about the time he was sitting watching kevin build our chicken coop. Kevin saw him out of the corner of his eye -twice. Dad would have loved being part of building that coop!  

So she’s gone and the hours long conversations on the phone are gone too. Often I’d talk to her then hang up and dial my mother. Those days are gone. But my mom lives here so the chats can continue in person.  But there is a hole left where mom sweeney once was. I feel her close but it’s not the same. 

So I talk. She’d want that.  The other day while I was talking to her I asked her to send me a sign she was ok. 

I said ” maybe you could put a white rose on my pink rose bush or put flowers where they wouldn’t really grow.”

I went on with my day and didn’t think about it again until a day or two later I saw this. 


This was a pot of weeds on my deck. I hadn’t planted in there in two or three years because my dogs would tear up the pot and eat the flowers. Last spring I pulled weeds out but weeds kept growing. This year a big stalk grew out of it and the boys removed that a month ago or more – and the pot was supposed to go into the big dumpster we have out front now as we clean things out from a basement flood and the junk that accumulates when three generations are living in a house. 

But now there are flowers in the pot! There weren’t any all summer. Just weeds. 

I take this as a sign. 

I’m not sure what others think but all I know is it brought me joy in a week with a lot of sad stuff going on. 

I’ll take it. 

Hope this made you smile or laugh – it’s all good. 

Father’s Day without a father 

My dad and me -1963


This will be my first Father’s Day without my father. I’m not sure how it will feel tomorrow when the actual day happens. Right now it just feels like Father’s Day is tomorrow. I dont have dread. I’m sure tomorrow will bring some emotion though. Just writing about him still brings tears. 

In the recent past Fathers Days have been about my husband really. I would prepare the day around him and sometimes his dad if we made a visit to see them or if I had my in-laws for dinner. 

My dad lived far away in Florida. So we often weren’t together on Fathers Day. So I usually would send him a card or small gift and then call him. We would  chat for a bit and then go on with our day. My dad didn’t like a lot of emotional declarations and he hated goodbyes. 

We did have a Fathers Day at the beach during a reunion weekend maybe six years ago now. I loved that day because we were all together- my brother and his family and my dad. I loved that the kids got him little gifts. I can’t recall now what they were. 

Father’s Day 2011


For the life of me I can’t recall a Fathers Day from when I was young. Though I’m sure we celebrated. Maybe we just left my dad alone on those days. Gave him time to himself. He would have liked that. 

I miss my dad a lot. The initial sting of grief has abated mostly. I get those times where it really dawns on me that he’s gone and I get that gut punch. I say “dammit dad your really freaking gone!” Then the pain fades.

 I still can’t listen to his voicemails  saved to my cellphone -some from his last days. The rawness of the loss is still under the skin. I feel it as I write this. 

I still have boxes of pictures and some clothing items to deal with. They stay hidden in my storage room. Eventually I will know when I will be able to handle looking through those things. I don’t know when it will be but I do know it’s not now. 

Navigating through the grief of parental loss is different from other losses I’ve had. It’s more profound or deep. 

Losing my grandmother was the first loss I had years ago. She was my best friend. And I miss her still. That loss was my most profound until I lost my dad and that felt like someone ripped a part of me off. It hurt physically as have other losses but this was so much more painful. My body just hurt. Part of that was because my dads death was sudden. I had no time to prepare my mind that he was leaving. It just happened. Poof. I told you he didn’t like goodbyes. 

That’s the part that still gets me. The suddenness. A huge presence   here and then gone. Like the air being sucked out of the room. The emptiness and feeling of being abandoned was something I hadn’t expected. But he and my mother are people I have never not known. So the loss of that is really like losing a part of yourself. And it hurts for a while. 

But the grief has ebbed. I miss my dad. We had a complicated relationship. At times we were mad at eachother. Or at times one of us was mad at the other. Seemingly we were very different but really a lot alike. But I didnt see it until he was gone. 

I know we were in a good place when he died and for that I’m grateful. But I sure wish I could chat with him. There aren’t too many people like my dad and maybe that’s good. He was one of a kind. He made people laugh and he made people cry. He was far from perfect. But he was my dad and I loved him.  

So tomorrow Fathers Day will be about my husband – he already got his gift – a gas grill for our beach cottage- but it will also be about our dads.  Kevins and mine. This is Kevin’s second Fathers Day without his dad. 

Kevin on the right with his dad and eldest brother. Taken a few years ago.


So we will go to the cemetery where “part” of my dad is buried next to his second wife. I have some of his remains here at home in Maryland -they are to be spread somewhere but I don’t know where yet -another thing I’m not ready to deal with.   

After the cemetery we will go to the assisted living home where my mother-in-law lives. She has my father-in-laws remains in an urn next to her bed. Those will be buried with her when she leaves us. They were together for 68 years – but really they will be together forever. 

We will spend some time visiting with my mother-in-law. Some relatives that Kevin hasn’t met before are making a trek to see my mother-in-law- we hope to catch them during their visit. 

It’s important to honor those who are gone but it will be good to embrace the family who are alive. I think that will take the sting out of the day for me. 

For my husband -he doesn’t have huge expectations that my teens will do anything for him. A hug is good enough for him. I love that about him.  If we are lucky maybe we can get everyone in the same room for a meal. One to honor the dads we have known and the ones still here. The ones we miss and the ones we can still hug. 

Do I need to caption this?


I think it will be a day of mixed emotions as so many days are. 

Happy Fathers Day to all the dads reading this and many blessings to those who have lost their dads.