Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Progress Report

But First...

You who have been coming here for any length of time are already used to my frequent template changes; as one who constantly reinvents herself, I like this blog to reflect my latest incarnation. Those of you who are new, well, get used to it. This is how I've rolled since I began blogging in 2002.

Lately, I seem to be drawn to bolder, more vibrant colors, which is very different from my usual muted tones. I attribute this to my victory over depression, which I've been battling for over a decade. Ah, well. Who knows what lurks within any of us?

Since our mini-holiday at Tenkiller Ferry Lake (that entry can be read here), I'm feeling more positive, refreshed and forward-looking than I have in many, many years. I suppose that's what vacations are supposed to do to us, but it's been so long, I guess I forgot what this feels like. Here's a little rundown:

2000: Nettl and I left our blissful life in Denver, where I had a well-paying job and tons of credit, to live in Stillwater, where she was to finish her masters degree. Unable to land a job that paid what I needed to manage my financial health, I had to settle for the amount I'd made when I first started out in 1976. That's the economy here, folks. Just the two of us, we had plans for our future: to leave Stillwater and live either in Europe or California. In November, however, my mom had a stroke. She was in Denver at the time so we brought her to Stillwater to live with is, along with my son, Joel, who has Asperger's Syndrome. Doggedly positive, we set into more of a family life than we'd at first anticipated. Plans to move had to be shelved.

2001: Nettl was thrown into a bitter custody battle over her three kids, ages 7-11.

2002: Taking care of my mother began to eat at what financial reserves we had. Her health continued to decline and my depression started to raise its head. I was suddenly hit with chronic pain, probably exacerbated by having to lift my mom all day, as well as her heavy wheelchair whenever I had to take her somewhere in the car.

2003: Many trips to the hospital with my mom, who got cancer and nearly died of a staph infection that turned gangrenous. Gee, thanks, hospital, for your cleanliness ethics. Nettl got custody of her three kids in an emergency court order. Seven people in a three-bedroom house. Fun...

2004: Moved to a much larger house and began settling the kids into their new life. Mom died right before Christmas. Extreme financial issues set in and I began feeling grossly unwell.

2005: Excitement surrounding a documentary in which we were featured. Ten-day whirlwind location shoot in Vienna and Salzburg. It was hectic and wonderful. I'd never call it a vacation, though. It played hell with my failing health and nearly killed me. Literally.

2006: After experiencing sometimes daily mini-comas, I was diagnosed with advanced Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Began the THS merry-go-round. My son, Micah, moved in with us.

2007: I don't remember anything about 2007; I was in a year-long Hashi stupor.

2008: Finances continued to plummet, I attempted to work outside the home, but soon discovered I just couldn't hold up. Began writing Beyond The Bridge in fits and starts.

2009: Realizing we needed to downsize, we moved to Bookends Cottage. All the kids (except my two sons) had moved out and the financial pressure relieved itself somewhat, although we still struggled due to the cessation of Nettl's child support income as well as my inherited annuities. Every penny had gone to basic survival.

2010: Published Book One of Beyond The Bridge. This was our worst financial year. There were days when we just didn't eat. Friends stepped in to help when they could, but the stress sent me to my bed for the next two years. All of my writing and blogging was done from there. My best friend of 40+ years, JP Deni, died. Worked on Book Two.

2011: I don't remember this year, either. I do remember living life through my bedroom window, though, wondering if I'd ever be part of it again.

2012: More of same. I did manage to publish Book Two, though! Thanks to Joel's financial contributions, I was able to go home to California for 10 days. I think this is what triggered the beginning of my slow but steady ascent out of hell. Ah, vacations!

2013: Published Books One and Two in a single edition that included extensive rewrites. Slowly, thanks to  my California trip, better awareness of my disease and finding the right medication, I began feeling better and could split my daytime hours equally between the bedroom and living room. Because I have no health insurance, I had to learn how to maintain wellness rather than treat illness. Micah finished school as a CAD engineer and immediately landed a job, helping to supplement our income.

2014: Health improved significantly and steadily. No longer in bed all day! Nettl got a better job, which she loves, and finances began to improve somewhat as well. Although things were still really tight, we were eating. At least I could cook a meal once a week! Creativity returned and I began writing music again, and water painting. Started a new book. Finally, after 14 years together, Nettl and were allowed to marry. Gee, it's nice to be included in that "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" spiel...

2015: Finances have improved (I can cook twice a week now, most weeks). Health is good as long as I take care of my body, mind, emotions, and spirit (thank you, meditation!), and my 10-year depression is gone. We're making plans for our future and are moving into our "golden years" with our optimism and hope intact. In all ways I feel better than I have since 2000. We're about to come full circle, and it only took 15 years. Oy...

Stay tuned for continuing positive progress reports!


P.S. We're returning to the lake house, with my sons, for Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wallop!

I have very little to complain about, really, and so much to be thankful for, but it's hard, sometimes, to see beyond the crap—the financial worries, ill health, the dust of dreams—to what's really important. Sometimes it takes a wallop upside the head to wake me up to all there is to be grateful for in my life. I hope you'll forgive me for those times when I have no vision and can see no reason to hope—and feel that you are entitled to listen to my beefing.

Lately, I've been thinking about this. About how I probably hold the good things away by dwelling on the not-so-good things, but our weekend at the lake really opened my eyes. I have three friends who aren't doing well. What's Hashimoto's compared to stage 4 lymphoma, kidney failure, or a stroke? It's nothing. While it tests and tries me, it's nothing compared to those things.

I'm ashamed of myself.

From now on I'll be more aware of my ingratitude for my 1st world problems and will nip it in the proverbial bud when I see it coming. I'll also quit being so hard on people in my mind. I'm a really critical person, although I keep it in check and seldom let it reveal itself. I'm now determined to let people off the hook and remind myself that when I judge others, I'm really only judging qualities I recognize in myself and am too chickenshit to face down. No more.

"Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass,
You know his faults, now let his foibles pass."
Sir Frank Crisp

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Sacred Space

I had intended to post an entry about our long weekend at Tenkiller Ferry Lake as soon as we returned home (which was last evening), but I was hanging onto the feelings of the place and didn't want to intrude on my own bliss.

What can I say about the place we stayed? We fell in love with it as well as the area in general. Since I came to Oklahoma on August 1, 2000, I have dedicated most of my thoughts and ambitions to getting out. Obviously, that never happened, but now I understand why. What we're seeking is always found in our own back yard, isn't it? Well, we found what we've been seeking at the lake and we decided that's where we want to retire. I know it's where I'm supposed to be, because I no longer feel the urge to look elsewhere. The search has ended. Below are a few photos I took. Click to embiggiate.

Lights in the house over the lane as evening approaches.
An incoming jay prepares to land on the feeder.
Trees reflected in our champagne.
Playing with the reflected sunset.
This is the view that greeted us every morning when we came out to make coffee.
A beautiful setting even in winter. This property is for sale; how I wish we could buy it.
It breaks my heart that we can't, especially as it's so affordable.
Red door.
Nigel even made friends with the neighbor's dog, Cookie, who came to see him
every morning and take him out for a walk around the neighborhood.
Warm tootsies by the fire.
Country roads, take me home to the place I belong.