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Yes, let there be light.  And I don’t mean light-ly falling snow, although the snow continues to fall in this Land of the Good Winter Faeries and Sometimes Bad Winter Elves.  The light I make reference to is the returning daylight minutes, which the majority (meaning all but 1 or 2 chronic complaining types) welcome with great anticipation and appreciation.  Because here in this Land of Perpetual Winter Except for When It’s Not Winter, the darkness swoops in, takes over and is loathe to leave.  But leave us it must as the daylight minutes add up 5+ at a time with each passing day. 

My daughter’s parents-in-law visited from much sunnier and warmer climes this past Christmas and the father-in-law expressed not really understanding the big deal about Winter Solstice since he thought it would be much darker.  The implication was that we Northern Dwellers were just a bunch of whining Whinertons.  I might add that the in-laws arrived the day prior to our precious Solstice holiday with their psyches and souls all lit up from their much longer daylight days.  Daylight days that I might add that were mostly filled to the brim with sunshine and warmth with only the occasional falling rain drops.  The essence of this little vignette is that they knew not of which they spoke.  They spoke from a not knowing or some might say a place of sunlit ignorance.  Good people.  Just wrongly informed of the pervasive ill effects of daylight deprivation. 

But folks, we’re well on the other side of Winter Solstice and the minutes have quickly added up to hours and we are close to 9 hours of daylight, possible sunlight per day!  Oh happy day ~ oh happy day.  Sing it with me now ~ Oh happy day, oh sunny day ~

Consider my spirit considerably lightened ~ lit up from within, due to a large degree to the returning natural light.  Oh blessed be.

In life, it’s the little things that most often impact our lives the most.  Except for those times when it’s the big things that usurp the moment ~ take the day ~ knock us off our feet ~ sweep us down the river of joy or tears.  Yes.  Most definitely it’s the big things that influence our lives the most.  That is, apart from the little things that instantly wrap our hearts in comfort or bring a fist-sized knot to our gut.  Or like when we awake with our eyes open to the peace surrounding us that sprang from within us. 

Oh yeah. 

Except for those times. 

It’s the bigs and the littles that get us every doggone time.

Last evening mi casa was filled to the brim with folks ready to fill their stomachs with hearty fare on their way to winning big time around the dining room table turned poker stake haven.  None of us sweated the small ‘taters such as only one-be gambler bringing their betting money (aka bag of change) or the rules to Texas Hold ‘Em being temporarily lost inside the Betting Brains of the operation (she quickly recalled and/or made the rules up as we went). 

Brew pub food was the menu of the evening along with this host’s mantra of keeping it simple, keeping it simple.  So grilled burgers and all of their accompanying accoutrements of cheese, thinly sliced yellow onion and bright red tomato, sour and salty dill pickles and assorted condiments ~ crispy tater tots, the food item fit for comfort and crunch ~ and, ice cold chunked up watermelon.  Chocolate dipped shortbread cookies rounded out the pre-betting battle game.

Monopoly money substituted quite nicely for the betting exchange and we were off for raucaus rounds of dealer’s choice poker.  We played 5-card draw, 7-card stud and the aforementioned (perhaps variation of) Texas Hold ‘Em.  Wild bets, excellent bluffs, transparently bad bluffs and begging for “do-overs” went round and round the rectangular stainless steel table.  And in the end folks, this host was the last one seated with a lot of cash in front of her.  And you know what?  Just for an instant it did not matter that the cash was fake.  I felt the flush of victory ~

Of course, I did not brag.  I was not a bad sport.  I did not crow.  Nor did I do the victory lap around this rectangular table, making the losers other players move out of my way.  No.  Of course not, did I act in any such way.  But if this host did, she would most certainly not post it on her public blog the next morning.  A-hem.

Fun.  Fun.  Fun. 

If you had been here, we could have high-fived or knuckle bumped or winked at one another.  But come to think of it, had you been here, I may not have been the evening’s winner.  Oh well.  Sometimes opening one’s heart and hearth to a different outcome is a risk worth taking.  I’ll let you know the next time the Queen of Hearts comes to visit.

Patti LaBelle’s Over the Rainbow Mac and Cheese recipe has been a go to favorita recipe in my family for a few years.  Although I have dubbed it Somewhere Over the Rainbow Mac n Cheese, the ingredients are the same.  My grandkiddos and my daughter love this casserole and request it from time to time.  And what’s not to love?  This dish is all about kinship and comfort and the riches that come from being at home with loved ones. 

The cast of characters include four kinds of cheese, one of which is Velveeta (and yes, Velveeta belongs to the cheese family ~ ask any kid), lots of half and half, and eggs.  Last night’s version contained smoky bits of bacon and was topped with crushed Ritz crackers and more shredded cheese. 

The side dishes were comprised of green beans slow cooked with bacon and cold juicy watermelon chunks.  A southern meal for sure that was topped off with bite size red velvet cupcakes with a cream chese filling and frosting.  Can you spell L-O-V-E? 

So, once again Patti and I pulled off another scrumptious meal.  And with all of that fancy cooking going on up in my small kitchen, we didn’t say one cross word to one another.  I’d say that me and Patti did a right fine job of rustlin’ up the ole grub tonight.

I must admit that I am somewhat of a compliment hound.  I soak up others’ appreciation of me and my efforts like a thirsty sponge.  A kind word.  A few words of acknowlegement of my worth.  A bright sunny smile accompanied with a little praise.  A nod of the head meant to convey kudos to me for a job well done.  All of these inspire me to toward positivity and being my best self. 

Self worth is at its best coming from within.  Why have our mood and our self view be so vulnerable, so at the mercy of external feedback?  Best to have our very own anchor to keep us steady when the winds of life toss us about on the open ocean. 

My head gets that concept.  My rational analytical brain nods in agreement to this premise, the idea that self worth must come from mine own self.  In real time, however, the Compliment Hound and Praise Sponge parts of me actively scan my environment for positive reinforcers of my worth. 

Just for today, I choose to appreciate both the Hound and the Sponge.  Afterall, I love canines and sponges come in mighty handy ~ perfect complements (wink) to my sturdy well-anchored sense of self worth.

Reflecting back to a year ago as I read through previous posts, private journal entries and summoned memories, I concluded that I am better off in my current moments than in the past already lived times. Better. More. Good progress.

And then the devil’s advocate side of me chimes in, challenging the notion of words such as better and more. Judgment calls, really. Getting my attention, this wily provocateur continues with growing insistence stating that all experiences are just that ~ experiences.  Life lessons if you will.  Or maybe even simpler yet, life in any given moment.  Why, this slightly miffed one asks, do we mere mortals insist upon grading life’s happenings as if only happy contentment is the holy grail.  Life is not meant to be a jazzed up cabaret, my dear, this ruffian extols. 

Growing weary of my now ranting inner nemesis I say, not so kindly, Shut Up.  Shut the F up and get out of my inner sanctuary ~ at least for this moment.  Because in this moment Mister Insister of Multifaceted Existence, you are bringing me down.  Muddying the waters.  You see, I agree with what I believe to be your basic premise ~ all experiences hold value.  I further agree with your assertion that… 

Yada yada yada.

Blah Blah Blah.

You see this morning, Mister Advocate, I am not into deep philosophical preponderances.  I was going another route of simple reflection and simpler yet gratitude.  So back to the beginning of my thoughts I go where I was saying that every aspect of my life is better than 12 months ago. 

  • The vertigo condition, although still with me, is more manageable and being treated;
  • I am working in my chosen professional field and making a financial living;
  • My living space is 200% improved;
  • There’s major progress made in sorting out an “it’s complicated” relationship;
  • An easing and deepening of familial ties;
  • Closer and more meaningful friendships with local friends;
  • New friendships that enhance my life;
  • A renewed spiritual awakening and daily practice;
  • A change in diet, while difficult, is much healthier and life sustaining;

~ more ~ better ~

~ much progress ~

Events in my week conspired to remind me in multiple modalities to keep things simple. To return to the simple ways of life. To actively re-incorporate simplicity into my clinical work with the youth whom I serve and their families. To embrace myself through acts of simple acceptance. To uncomplicate my life in order to continue to thrive and grow instead of reverting to merely surviving.

I participated in a training workshop focused on delivering services to individuals who are considered cognitively impaired. The material reminded me that therapeutic progress is a journey. Reminded me that often times progress made by one’s soul or spirit cannot and should not be subjected to statistical analysis. No standard deviations nor quantitative studies need apply.

Change, even when defined as positive and maybe even more so when it is, has a split personality. At once both life changing and simple. Simplicity in its finest and most elemental form.

So at the end of this particular week, I am filled with a simple appreciation for my life ~ the part already lived ~ the moment I am experincing ~ and the part I anticipate with simple faith ahead of me.

I almost lost my mind
I almost went crazy
Buck Crazy,
almost went I, when I instinctively went to roll over on my left side while I was almost sleeping last night. Oh my oh my!

I caught my mind in mid-roll, or turn, since it is difficult to roll in an upright position. Yes, I was able to abort my craziness most likely saving myself from a severe visit from my Bastard Buddy Vertigo (BBV).

Sleep disturbances due to this BBV or more aptly put, trying to avoid visits from my unwelcome BBV, has left me a wee bit cranky and exhausted this week. Smushing my work week into four days in order to relish my three day weekends is well worth the long hours during those four work days. In fact this kind of flexible schedule helps greatly in keeping me an employee at this juncture in my career. But like all things, great and not so great, there’s always the accompanying perks and detractors. The downside of the deal is that I am often done in and used up by the time I unlock my front door and walk into my sweet abode at the end of the day.

Long hours, tired brain, sleep disruption, upgrading my smart phone and figuring out all of the new technology, changes and uncertainty in the workplace, sleeping upright for almost 13 months and uber cold and still too dark days have taken their toll this week.

But you know what?
I am ever so grateful that I stopped my body from following the crazy not good for me impulse`to roll over. Cuz I know from past experience that nothing good was going to come of that and that the quality of my life could have taken a nose dive (no pun intended but apropos). I’ll take a little grumpy and a mediocre exhaustion over longlasting vertigo attacks any day or night.

That, and the fact that winter is passing and we are gaining 5 minutes of daylight back daily, have me almost feeling good to go. Good thing that I have a little while to sip my hot comforting tea from my favorita pottery mug before I have to go about my day outside of my warm home.

Have you ever been missing something or someone but only became aware of their absence upon their return? Well that was me, or at least my experience, day before yesterday while visiting a neighbor when we were both graced by a mom and her baby. A cow moose mom and her two-year old calf baby, that is. They were munching their way through the yard, enjoying the tasty birch trees and snacking on snow to wash down the significant amount of roughage. My neighbor and I even got to have eye-to-eye contact with mama moose as she peered through the living room windows, perhaps curious as to what was being served for dinner behind the four walls.

While watching the moose go about their day, I realized how much I have missed their moose-y presence this winter. With the exception of this cow and calf I have only seen two other moose all winter. Where I used to live, at the Compound, in a more country like setting, I had grown accustomed to frequent and almost daily sightings of these majestic and dignified looking creatures. In fact, there was a mama moose who I had the honor of watching for five winters and summers. She sported a large healed but jagged grey scar along her left side and gave birth to two sets of twins during our acquaintanceship.

So last night while playing Scrabble with a friend at my dining room table, I was happy and pleased to see my second sighting of this new-to-me neighborhood mom moose and calf strolling through the deep snow right outside my windows. While scarfing down the tender birch branches, the snow would fall onto their furry faces, highlighting their long lush eyelashes ~ a picture perfect moment for sure.

So I did what I am wont to do upon spying any wild animal within reach of my human species ~I send a prayer for their safety up to the Heavens that be, quickly followed by my prayer of thanks-giving to share the Earth with such beauty.

Oh Ms. Mama Moose how I have missed you.
Thank you for reminding me of your presence on this planet.
Thank you for filling a void in my winter that only you can fill.
Blessed be to you and your baby ~

In between my last post and last night, life has offered up a couple of opportunities ~ thick and juicy ones, as a matter of fact ~ to help grow my resiliency and encourage my practice of regulating my emotions.

That long sentence really means that it’s been a week, my friend ~ it’s been a week.

A week that I am glad and just a little (or more) proud for utilizing coping strategies that work when I put them into motion.

The majority of my emotional dysregulation (I love this term ~ it makes me smile) sprang from news from my health insurance provider’s announcement that my numerous medical appointments, tests, adjustments and procedures are not going to be covered, at all, due to a clause regarding pre-existing conditions. I won’t go into the whole ugly disempowering quagmire as I fear that might send me back to a tearful rageful place. I will say that I was able to put the situation into a more tolerable perspective within an hour of the event and carry on with my day. What’s more, I haven’t let it wreck my entire week. It’s definitely a low grade worrier and energy sapper and yet that feels so much better than totally giving into the doom gloom despair hatred and bitterness.

I am taking the steps to enter an appeal even though the insurance rep told me to do so was “futile.” Because after all futile is just a word ~ no greater in meaning than “hope.”

The purple hair comes into play as a product if you will of my medical condition, which causes unbearable vertigo when I lie down. And since my hair doesn’t naturally grow shades of purple and black, I go into a colorist to work her magic every 4-6 weeks. Since I cannot lie down to have my hair shampoo’ed, the Color Artiste Extradordinaire slaps color on my hair, wraps strands in foil and then straps a plastic shower cap like thing on my head and sends me on my way to wash out the excess dye in the standing up privacy of my own shower.

Sounds semi-simple enough, right?
Well, throw in the fact that the temps have been well below 0 Farenheit for some time now in this Corner of the Frozen Winter Earth and one can see that some anxiousness might begin to creep in when faced with opening the inside door to go to the outside world. OMG! My head might actually freeze. For realz.

It didn’t.
Thank goodness.

But I did end up ripping out chunks of hair trying to remove the foils that the Color Artiste thoughtfully made travel ready, meaning extra tightly folded so none would be lost in transport. Can you say Ouch! and Ouch, again! I did, my friend, I did. Along with a few other words that I won’t mention here. But a word is just a word, right?

I am relieved that I made it through my work week intact. I am grate-full that the Universe and all of my Guardian Helpers were there helping me along my path and I am appreciative of myself that I accepted the proffered assistance. All in all an okay week made even livelier by sporting bright new shiny purple hair.

October 2019
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