Over planning – my claim to fame

I always have the best of intentions. I always think I can accomplish what I plan. Sometimes I get more done than I planned but often now with my physical limitations I can’t meet my goals.

Case in point. I planned a trip up north for Columbus Day weekend. I was headed to upstate New York with Kevin to visit friends and attend my friend Jon Katz’s open house he has each fall on his famous Bedlam Farm.

I was so happy I was feeling well enough to go on this trek. We were going to drive..and it is long- 7 hours plus. This was to be my first long drive and furthest vacation from home since all my pain trouble began back in May 2016. We have a new large truck that is very comfortable to drive in so I thought the drive would be fine.

I got an AirBnB not far from Bedlam Farm. We planned two nights there. Then I decided to tack on to the trip. I wanted to go see Kevin’s brother and sister-in-law in Maine. It was less than 4 hours to their place from Cambridge NY (the home of Bedlam Farm). So we added two more nights – one in Maine and another in Connecticut. The latter a place as a rest stop to break up the ride home from Maine to Maryland. Oh and we were bringing two dogs. That adds to the planning but I like to have them along.

In my head I was going to be fine for this trip. I planned ahead trying not to do too much the week before we left. I didn’t want to initiate a flare up of pain. I didn’t ride my horse. I didn’t do barn chores except feed the horses and add water to chicken waterers. I didn’t do much walking and I went into the gym once and did a few leg exercises. But I really tried to keep it light.

The big day came. Kevin packed the car and loaded the pups and we were off. I was very excited to see friends I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Then it happened – just a short time into the drive I began to feel the twinge of pain that often comes at the beginning of a flare. I didn’t want to say anything to Kevin. I wanted to power through it. But my heart sank just a bit.

By the time we got to New York I was having definite pain issues. We got to our house – which was awesome by the way- and we got the dogs settled. I had taken some medical marijuana which I use only when I really need some extra pain relief. I also had a glass of wine. Normally I am not a big mixer of these items but drastic times….

I did all this in the hopes that I would make the flare go away. I know better they normally last 3 days – more even. I woke on Saturday feeling just so so- and we went over to a local restaurant in Cambridge NY to meet friends for breakfast. But by the end of the meal I was feeling badly again. I was determined to go to the open house though. I came all that way and I was freaking going. So I took some medical MJ again and I had a couple sips of wine- God I sound like a wino druggy! I can assure you this isn’t the case – but this is what I needed to do at that moment to get through the day with less pain. I carry opiates with me. But I don’t want to take those again unless it was absolutely needed. Medical marijuana is much safer. I will write on that topic a bit more sometime.

I attended the open house which was really nice. I think the best one so far for me. We enjoyed sheep herding and sheep shearing as well as poetry readings and lots of  wonderful art for sale. When we left that afternoon I fully intended on attending it on Sunday as well. Though I was feeling pretty rough I was able to enjoy a nice dinner out on Saturday night with friends. It meant so much to be there among these really nice humans. I hope they know how much I appreciate them.

Sadly the meal didn’t sit well with me later that night. Probably too rich for me and I was a bit ill all night. So I sat much of the night awake and fretting about how bad I was feeling and how I really should pack it in and go back home. But that felt like such loss to me. I didn’t want to give up. In the morning Kevin and I talked it over and it didn’t take long for me to see that it would be better if we went home.

I was sad and depressed.  I had my cry. I worried about disappointing people. Would my New York friends think I was rude for not saying goodbye before I left?  I was feeling so crummy and was so down I just could not bring myself to make formal goodbyes in person. But a couple friends ended up driving behind us on the road 30 miles from the farm.  what are the odds? So we pulled over and I got my formal goodbye with both of them – that did make my heart hurt less for sure.

I also worried I would be disappointing family in Maine because we were cancelling. I have wanted to get up to see them for so long. It wasn’t to be. I think many of these friends and family know my heart and that I would not skirt out without saying a formal goodbye if I wasn’t feeling crummy.

I feel like pain won and I really hate that. I really really do. I am trying to navigate this life and have some semblance of life despite this pain. I don’t like IT to win. And often it is an adversary that wins some of the battles.

It took me this long since I have been home to write this because I have been so disappointed in myself. I am still dealing with pain. I was dumb and went to get a laser treatment this week which caused more pain. Which it shouldn’t but did because we did too big an area. So frustrating.

I just want to live my life and although I have come to accept that pain will likely be part of my life forever ( I sigh when I think this) I hate when it makes me unable to do something I set out to do.

My heart hurts over this. But I need to look at the bright side- and there is one. I had a great time seeing people on Saturday. I got to talk with many people – though there is always more to talk about. And there are people I wished I could have spoken with longer. But overall the experience and being with some people who share my creative spark was just what I needed.  It was enough.  I wanted more but it was enough.

This is what I am trying to take away from last weekend. The good time, the good people, friendships. So I think I won. Screw pain – the visit might have been cut short but it was enough. What was accomplished made me happy and that lifts my spirits.

And I just have to learn not to over plan.

–side note – I have discussed my pain concerns with my surgeon – and the laser debacle-and we are have an initial plan of attack for this flare up.  He is a great doctor to have on my side. Lets hope we get this under control.

_____

Here are some unedited photos from my phone that I took over the weekend – my DSLR camera was too heavy for me to use – bummer.

Red keeping the sheep in on place

Jon Katz- Author and friend and owner of bedlam Farm (along with Maria)

Maria Wulf with an amazing sheep shearer! 

Just shorn

Fate 

Mary Kellogg reading her poetry- she’s a wonderful person

Our next guest home?

On the way home

Somewhere in PA

Taken through a filthy windshield!

Things on the mantle.

Things on the mantle (and hearth)….

I’ve been at the beach for a few days. I was sitting on the floor stretching by the fireplace. And I was looking at the things that we chose to place on the mantle and hearth. It’s dynamic – anything can be moved at any given time. I like that it’s fun to change things up.

—–

This is the lantern? Orb? Lantern orb I picked up at a furniture store. I liked its shape. It really has no function and the fake candles battery has died. But I still like the thing.

Then we have the tin “S” and I don’t think the reason for purchasing that needs much explaining. The jar next to it is for collecting stones and shells we find on the beach by the Bay and ocean.

I might love this bike clock the most right now. I’m having a thing for bicycle decor recently. The clock doesn’t work right and it’s loud so we took the batteries out. But I still think it’s cool.

These are the special stones and shells that are laying inside the fireplace. I don’t know what qualities they have that makes them special. It may have been size or uniqueness that kept them from the jar on the mantle above. Or maybe I was too lazy to put some of them in the jar. Anyway I find myself checking the shells and stones out often and I think the “Joy” stone is my favorite. Oh I ordered those. (In case you thought you could find word stones on the beach. 😉

This real oil lamp is a gem. It is very sentimental. We got this from my in laws Home. It was in their home for years.

I have always been drawn to people’s mantles. Since I was a kid. I think it was because my Nana’s Neighbors used to keep items on their mantle that Kids could play with. They had a puzzle and a Newton’s Cradle. You know where the metal balls hang in a row and you pull one back and the ball on the other end is the only one that moves? I loved that thing. I think that gave me my mantle fascination. I really do like to check out mantles and hearths. They lend themselves to creativity I think.

Things are changing

Boxes for the boys dorm rooms.

I’m starting to get a little flustered and a nervous because we are facing a lot of changes right now.

In a way it’s good Yukon wouldn’t load on the trailer yesterday. He will be coming on the 28th via transport by Days End. They have a bigger trailer and the trainer will get him on. So that’s all good. So it’s good we are delaying it because I just have too much to deal with this coming week.

I was feeling like I was rushing getting the horse here and I was because I wanted Harley to have a buddy. But he’s doing fine. I think I feel the delay in getting Yukon here was a blessing. We have to leave Tuesday to take my boys off to college. That’s a huge change.

I have spent weeks getting forms together, getting medical appointments done and buying all the stuff they need for their dorm rooms. It’s all packed and ready to go.

We will be empty nesters in a few days. Well we will be if you don’t count my mom living here! My daughter is in Ohio and the boys wont be too far away from us at Salisbury University on the Eastern shore. It’s actually only 40 minutes from our beach house. Which gives us more reasons to spend time there.

So I’m trying to wrap my head around how I’m feeling. So many people are posting how sad they are that their kids are going off to school. I am a mixture of sad and happy.

I’m happy for them because this is a great opportunity for them. They will be living in separate dorms by the way. I’m hoping they will at least say hello to eachother if they see one another on campus. They aren’t the best of friends at this point. One can only hope that might change in the future. Anyway we got them to the door now it’s up to them to open it and make College a success. We will see. But I am so happy for this for them. Two boys born almost 18 years ago in a far away country and being sent to an orphanage the future wasn’t looking great. But God had a hand in guiding their lives to this point. They may not see it the way I do but I hope they take advantage of this opportunity . And I hope they have fun too.

I am also happy they will be out of my house!! I’m done with the pigsty we call a basement. Which is where they live. We are taking back the area and consolidating them to one bedroom. We will make sure they have privacy when they come home to visit but no way is it going to look the way it does now ever again! God bless those that have teen boys that aren’t messy. I gave up a while ago trying to get them to be organized. I feel for their college roommates.

I also will be glad they are gone because I know how much they will learn by being away from home. Maybe they will appreciate more what’s been done for them over the years when they have to navigate the world on their own. I know my daughter is realizing a lot living on her own in a city five hours away. I’m also excited for them to have these new experiences. It will help them to mature.

I’m sad because they won’t be around. The boys live like mole people sleeping much of the day and banging around at night. They really don’t want to be around us yet they do. I know they have that desire to be free but they have the fear too. We don’t see the m much actually. Sometimes they make their way upstairs to eat all our food. They often forget there are other here who may like to eat as well. They eat in epic proportions. It’s uncanny.

They are also terrible conversationalists. Me: how is packing going? Do you need any toiletries? The boy: good. Ok … I asked too many questions. Me: do you need any toiletries bc I can get you some before we go to the dorm. Boy: ok. Me: tell me what you will need we leave soon. Boy:ok. I will have to guess at what they need! Hey at least we talked.

But I’ll still miss them. They will be absent. The house empty their essence. The little boys are no more. I know the next phase for them has begun. But the change is going to be hard on me even when some of me rejoices they are gone.

One son just had a short convo with me to discuss possible crime in the city where his school is. He is my shy one. The anxious one I worry for but have to push out of the nest.

Nobody can ever prepare you for parenting. I have been in over my head too many times to count. I hope we’ve made some influence on their lives. I hope they have felt loved.

So many changes. It’s inevitable. Sometimes they happen close together. Like the new horse and the boys leaving. I have seen so many changes in my life in the last five years. I guess am better at rolling with it but I also know that I sometimes have to stop and let myself feel the feelings associated with each thing. Losing horse … very sad. New horse.. very exciting and scary too. Boys going to college ….very exciting and sad and scary too. If I honor my feelings it helps the flustered feeling and anxiety. If I take things a step at a time it helps slow my mind down. I’m an incredible planner. It must be the IT person in me. I can take some event and plan the heck out of. I Extrapolate the what’s ifs and I get everyone organized and I have contingency plans. It’s what I do. But I often get too far ahead of myself and I sometimes become overwhelmed or anxious. Especially if the things taking place are really life changing. Like your kids leaving.

But this is life. There was a time when I found out I had breast cancer that I considered maybe I wouldn’t be here for these events. But here I am. So in reality I’m so grateful even if changes are sometimes hard.

So off to college (and wow College is so awesome these days with all the food choices! ) I’m jealous.

Go get ’em boys. We love you.

Ps – boys we may use your new updated bedroom as a guest space and hobby room. But you are always welcome with advanced notice.

Of course I’m kidding. Or am I?

I am.

Blessings.

Beachy things

It has been rather gloomy off and on down here on the east coast of Delaware.

We drove down to the shore yesterday to drop off one son at his soon to be new Home at Salisbury university so he can attend a camping trip not far from here on Assateague Island- Home of the wild ponies. We will stay here at our cottage while he is away. It makes sense since the cottage is so close to the university. Sadly the forecast isn’t great but the group leaders didn’t seem to be worried.

This activity will hopefully give my son a friend base at the start of college and also a great experience camping on a really neat island. He said he doesn’t like the beach but he chose this trip. Go figure. He 17.

He texted to tell us he had a try at surfing. He has his phone on the trip though they don’t really want the kids to use them. He texted me to say he surfed and to ask what to do about bug bites. He cracks me up. Like I can do anything! He will figure it out.

Today after kevin and I worked some from the cottage we decided to take a drive to find some place mats to protect our newly painted table which seems to be absorbing liquids. I likely need a better top coat on the table but placemats are a start.

I didn’t find any placemats but i was unlikely to find them in downtown Bethany Beach. I think we just wanted an excuse to cut work and to check out the beach.

It turned out that the weather had cleared and it was quite nice on the beach. Too bad I wasn’t dressed to be on the beach! We walked around looking for placemats then stopped for some early dinner.

I took photos of things I found interesting. There is so much color along the town streets and on boardwalk. It’s almost an assault of color. So many places to look.

So come take a walk with me….

The walk out to the newly restored beach. Which is huge compared to what it was.

Modeling birds.

My date. Cute huh?
Nice view – good beer- food ok.
This was how the day was. Neat cloud formations.
Maryland is Home of the blue crab.

Loved this sign. Wish I could have one just like it.

What can I say?

Loved the signs and people beyond it.

Nice day. Maybe beach time tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Learning Acceptance

I think I have been taking a sabbatical from writing. It hadn’t been my intent but it seems it just occurred.

I think I felt blocked in a way. I have had a lot of writing ideas so that wasn’t it. I had personal things that I needed to process and until I processed them -maybe not fully but processed them enough – I felt like maybe my writing would not feel authentic.

I was upset over something very personal that I could only touch on vaguely in my writing. So much wanted to come out and that stuff was better for a private journal than a blog.

I have had to decide where my line is in what I share on my blog. Just because I’m upset with someone doesn’t mean I need to air that in my writing. Sometimes it is ok. This time it wasn’t.

So I had to come to some acceptance with that family issue and I have had to try to come to acceptance with some other things that seemed to be causing me stress.

One such issue is my ongoing pain. I am sooooo much better. I am so very blessed. But there is still pain. I can’t seem to use my right arm ( which is my dominate arm) fully or for very long without some pain. I also get flares. It happens when I “overdo” in some way. The problem is I never know exactly what will trigger it. I am learning though but I still get surprised. A lot.

Ice packs have become dear friends. I have been known to walk through the grocery or hardware store sporting an ice bag of some sort under my arm. Ice really is my savior.

I have had to reach an acceptance with this pain. If I had to live like this I certainly could. Would it be ideal? No. Sometimes it’s really sucky. But I’m improved. I’m out living life.  I’ve lowered my nerve pain meds a lot. Hoping to lose some of the weight I’ve gained. Which is another area of acceptance I’ve had to reach. I can’t hate myself bc I don’t look the way I want. I am trying to embrace that I may never look like I really want again.

My body has been through hell. Three surgeries in one year and the last -fat grafting-was supposed to be liposuction on my abdomen that would make me look better and sadly I hate the outcome but the fat had to come from somewhere

So I’m trying to accept this. I’m into being in shape and being skinny. It’s how I grew up. Skinny was good. And sadly I was a chubby kid and That fact was reinforced often by schoolmates and Neighbor Kids. I have spent years battling my minds critical view of my body.

So for me it’s a mental exercise in trying to accept myself as I am now. I’m 54 and I’ve had many surgeries and cancer and I’m menopausal. I can work hard as I’m able (I limited in my activities bc of my nerve damaged right side) but I’m likely not going to look the way I want to ever again. I might but it may not happen and I want to be able to accept that. I don’t want to feel embarrassed for my husband to see my nude body. But I am. He thinks I’m beautiful. I have a hard time seeing what he sees. But I’m lucky that’s what he sees

I really am a work in progress on this acceptance thing. But I’ve come to realize that acceptance doesn’t mean giving up. It means that in this moment in time I accept that this is where I am.

I accept I still have pain but I won’t quit trying to find improvements. I just began laser therapy. It might help.

I do have gratitude for how far I’ve come and I’m thankful I found this brilliant nerve surgeon who wanted to help me as best he could.

I am accepting that my body isn’t what I want to to be. But really if that’s a worry in my life I’m pretty blessed seeing where I was two years ago.

As far as my family issue. I’ve had to forgive and I have had to give much of this to God. I can’t control someone else’s journey and I accept that. And I accept that where i am now – on the edge of this persons life – that I can’t do anything but let them know they are loved. That’s what I can do.

I think maybe I’m in a growing phase. Learning that I can’t be in control all the time.

My two sons just graduated high school. I have been waiting for this day! I feel like we’ve finished the first of a set of hurdles. It’s been a ride. But they begin college in the fall and now it’s up to them. They have all the tools to succeed.

Then going away is bittersweet for me. My role as Mom will change. It already has. Though I’m still buying the things on the “what to bring” list the College provides. It has to get done by someone and they seem oblivious to the fact that College is six weeks away. I, however, am ever aware. But soon I have to let go. I have to say “you need to try to figure this out  “ and let them muddl through.

Part of me can’t wait to boot them out the door. The other part is terrified. This is another thing I have to find acceptance with. I have to let go. I don’t know if I’ll grapple with the empty nest thing, I have my mom living here so I still have a bird in the nest to care for. But I think I’ll miss them more than I am imaging now. . And I know it’s time for them to fly.

But the acceptance comes with letting them do the flying. Letting them steer their course. I know they’ll need me once in a while. (At least for $). But I have to give this one to God and let go of my need to be in charge. I will always be their biggest fan even if they don’t realize it.

I also wonder what do I want to do? If I could catch up on all the things I’m behind on what do I want to do? There’s so many things. Some not attainable now. And some doable.

Since I had cancer I’ve been on this “you gotta live now” motto. And since I’ve been feeling better and have had less pain I want to avoid putting off things for later -when I can. But I can’t do all the things on my list now bc I have responsibilities to others that are a priority. I’ve had to accept this knowing it’s ok to take things a step at a time.

But my biggest question is who do I want to be now that all my kids will be gone from home? I think this is something that I’ll have to feel out.

If anything – I have begun to accept that I don’t always have immediate answers for so much in my life. I am learning to accept that sometimes we just have to wait and see.

And there is some excitement in that for me.

On the Bay.

I was out on my kayak the other day and took a short video. Sometimes the freedom I feel and the beauty of being on the water is just something I want to share with everyone.

Here’s a short kayak ride on the Indian River Bay in Delaware.

Can I Draw?

I remember sitting in art class as a young girl and being petrified. There was usually an assignment to draw some object and I’d look around me and the other kids seemed to be drawing something that resembled the object that stood atop a desk or table. I looked at my scribbles and my insides would jumble up. Then I’d just give up and draw whatever suited me. Usually I would draw a little cartoon my bff and I drew on all our secret notes. We called it a pulb. I can’t even remember how to draw it now. It’s not in my head anymore. I would make twenty of them on the paper.

Ultimately I had to hand in something that resembled what the teacher asked for. Many students art were placed on the walls lining the hallways. I can’t recall mine being there ever.

This may not have bothered some kids. They would draw the best flower or cow or building they could and hand it in and be done with it. I was driven mad by inability to create a nice drawing. I wanted to be able to draw and I wanted it to look just like the cow or the flower that was the model for our assignment.

The things I could draw when I was young were limited. I mentioned the pulb. And I drew tons of smiley faces. But when my fascination with horses bloomed I spent hours and hours drawing horses. Some I copied and even traced so I could get the feel of how to draw the neck or the head. Some of the drawings came out of my head. None were very good but it was my love for the horse and the time spent being in the moment of drawing it that seemed to be satisfying to me.

Another period of drawing came when I became enamored with houses. I loved to go into other people’s homes and see what their floorplans were like. I imagined Home floor plans when I looked at houses from the outside. I guessed where the rooms might be placed based on the where windows were . I perused floor plan magazines spending way too much time for a eleven year old going over every detail of the plan.

It was then I began to draw my own floor plans on graph paper. I made drawings of floor after floor. (I guess it’s not shock that later in life I wanted to be an architect. Something my grades and math skills never allowed but I did major in urban planning.).

I never tired of drawing floor plans and I also began a fascination with maps. (Again this plays into the urban planning major).

I spent all that time drawing and I never felt I was an artist. I wrote back then too. I wrote stories and poetry. I dreamed of authoring a book.

I was the dramatic poet in high school penning love poems to boyfriends. I took a pottery class in high school and loved it. I never made anything good but the wet clay between my fingers was so relaxing.

I never thought myself creative though. It was just stuff I did. When I was a kid you didn’t major in art. My dad wanted me to major in business in college because that’s how I would get a good job. Creative stuff wasn’t going to provide for me in the future.

I didn’t picture having a creative life even after I discovered photography when I was just 22. I fell in love. I loved the technical aspects of photography and the feeling of that camera and the power to capture an image I found beautiful or captivating. I have thousands upon thousands of photos.

I longed to dig deeper into the art. I took classes and was discouraged after one classmates portrait assignment blew mine away. In fact many of my fellow students had much better darkroom skills than I did. I stopped classes soon after but I never stopped taking photos.

It wasn’t until I became a member of a creative group online that I actually allowed myself to say I am a creative. I may not be earning money being creative but I am one. I’m a creative.

I have to say that I’m proud of much of my photography and sometimes the photos that resonate with me aren’t my best shots. They are the ones that convey some meaning to me. A memory, how I felt at that moment. For me each photo has my story in it.

I realized it’s the actual creating that is what matters to me more then the outcome. It’s how I feel doing it. Just walking around with the camera and looking at things differently bc I have that camera in my hand- that’s a feeling I love.

The same goes with writing. Most of the time my pieces that I wrote never turn out the way I thought they would. My writing takes on its own form as soon as I sit down to do it. That’s the part I love.

Creativity is about outcome yes – but it’s also so much about the process. At least for me it is. I think about Michelangelo on his back for so much time painting the Sistine Chapel. It had to be about the process. It took him like 7 years I think. And what about Picasso and Van Gogh? Their artistic styles were so different. Picasso’s work made no sense to many. But it did to him. And when people look at art they get their own feelings about it.

My photo of the Baltimore harbor (see below) means something to me that was personal bc I was there and moved by the scene before me. I know it was winter and I was in the Marriott hotel inside and I took the photos through the window. I had been there to watch a Christmas boat show – a getaway with my husband. See? I have a huge memory of that photo. To someone else looking at it it will mean something entirely different. How cool is that?

So in my creative evolution I’ve become more fluid. I’ve wanted to try more things. I took a glass cutting class where we made some cute trivets. I wanted to keep that up but it didn’t stick. I began painting furniture which I loved but had to give that up bc of my nerve damage to my arm.

I never thought that I wanted to try drawing bc of my past fears. But recently my husband and I found ourselves perusing the aisles of a Michaels craft store (where items are way too pricey btw). Aisle by aisle I became inspired. And then it happened -my husband found a book of animals to draw. The fire lit inside me and before I knew it I was in line with the book and sketch pad and pencils.

It turns out I love to draw. I ordered myself a beginner book. The animal one was a bit hard.

I often think what I’ve drawn stinks. Then I go back after a day or two and I look and think it’s not so bad. I don’t think I’ll ever draw well. In my dreams I want to draw like the artists that can take a photo and draw it and you can hardly tell the difference between the two. I think that’s a huge gift and I don’t think God gave me that one. So I have to tamp down my hopes some.

I kind of want to find some drawing style that is me. But right now it’s the process that I love. I like the time lost in the learning. In the past I’m not sure I would have been as patient. I would have given up. But now it the process that benefits me. It’s akin to some meditation. It’s the same thing as my photos and my writing. All outlets for me.

So can I draw? Yes. Can I draw well. Not really -but I might get better. It doesn’t really matter though does it ?