22 January 2019: Patience

I learned a lot about patience in the last couple of years.

A little more than two years ago our nation held national elections. My preferred candidate wasn’t on the ballot; none of the names that were gave me any confidence. The stress was more than I should have allowed to build for me. I was, no doubt about it, a political animal.

For a couple of months before the election I tried to stay away from the relentless onslaught of political advertisements, requests for donations, and emailed threats of impending disaster from various PACs. It didn’t work.

My health was deteriorating although the decline was not attributable to any single stress. The usual issues we all face were there, too. Financial concerns, the effect of a bad economy on my family, and illness in my extended family took their toll.

On November 7th of 2016, I died. Three times. I think.

It sounds strange, I know.

My  memory of that day is so muddled and incoherent that I cannot swear to what did or didn’t happen. I know it took several tries to get my heart started again. They would succeed and then I was gone again.

I woke up in the hospital, barely aware of who and where I was. Staff was forbidden to talk about the election. I was grateful for that when I remembered that there had been an election. It seemed so inconsequential compared to death.

The day after the election, during an exam by my medical team, I had a stroke. I vaguely remember the trip from cardiac care to the neurology care unit. My husband’s face, when I finally woke, showed fatigue, concern, and a strange calm. I cannot imagine what his experience of this was. I know he stayed with me every step of this journey. For that I will always be grateful. I’ve always known he was a “keeper.”

Recovery is like battling an angry animal, one you can’t identify and have no idea how to avoid. It is an unending challenge; overcome one attack and a new one begins,  unpredictable and somewhat incomprehensible. From singing the “alphabet song” and my “1, 2, 3 little Indians song” to see if I could still speak intelligibly to tracing words so I could begin to connect the motions of my hand to the ones I could see in my head, I kept trying. When those were learned, I had to practice walking, not easy since my heart and chest were filling with fluid on a regular basis, making breathing difficult at best.

Baby steps are hard when you think of yourself as an adult.

Of all that I had to learn again, the hardest lesson was patience. It is, indeed, a virtue, not one that I have ever had in abundance. I needed the refresher course.

Yes, I would have liked to have found my inner calm, my patience, another way. I doubt that it would have had the impact that this failure of my body to cooperate with my impatience and conviction that I was in control of things that no one can manipulate accomplished.

My battles now are on new fronts. I work on endurance, distance, strength, and courage. I try to do things I haven’t been able to do physically, like looking over my shoulder while moving without getting dizzy. Mostly I try to live each day without fear of another heart attack or stroke. I try to overlook the obstacles that all disabled people face, knowing that most of them come from lack of empathy. Not all, but most.

I care less about most of the things the media obsesses about. I try to see the future. What do we need to do to get from here to there with compassion, hope, and love?

I try to focus on my strengths. I try to show patience.

CREATING A COMMUNITY

Rocking Horse Ranch Therapeutic Riding Program provides “equine-assisted activities and therapy to children and adults with a variety of physical, cognitive, and psychological disabilities in eastern North Carolina.” They train handlers and volunteers to work with their clients. Those clients include PTSD survivors, disabled children and adults, and community outreach programs in assisted-living centers and schools. Two of their mini-horses are now local sheriff’s deputies!

http://www.rhrnc.com/

 

WEBLOGS I LIKE

https://littlesundog.wordpress.com/

“This blog is about life on our little piece of land.  It’s about tapping into the farm girl ways I grew up with, and utilizing the best of what I learned; to enjoy life and live simply.  This blog celebrates my relationship with nature, and my appreciation for experiences that have changed me. The most influential teacher of my life has been Daisy deer, an orphaned fawn we raised. I still spend time with her in the woodlands… and I am still learning from her.”

“Cheshire Cat Moon”

My flash fable, “Cheshire Cat Moon,” will appear in Soundings East, to be released in May 2018. This is one of my personal favorites. It is a midnight tale of life in the forest. 

Melanie Arrowood Wilcox is a North Carolina native and a Carolina graduate with a Bachelor’s in Journalism. A writer and artist, her themes often involve spiritual issues presented as fables or modern interpretations of old texts. More information about Melanie is available at:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/melaniewilcoxauthorandartist/

 

December 26, 2017

 

 

Commitment to Your Art

Find a workable schedule that encourages daily work time.

 


Creative Spark

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

(Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist)

January Events

New Year’s Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

 

 

Finding a New Path

One year ago today, my life changed. It almost ended forever.

Months, possibly years, of stress took their toll. I had a heart attack on November 7th, 2016, and two days later in the Cardiac Care Unit, I had a stroke.

Stress was probably not the only cause of this. I have a strong family history of mini-strokes as well as heart disease. I didn’t eat as well as I should, by any means, nor did I exercise regularly throughout my life. I have battled several autoimmune diseases that have co-morbidities with heart disease: Psoriatic Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Sjogrens, and that major demon of Diabetes.

It has been a terrible battle, but nothing as challenging as my heart attack and stroke. I was sick for weeks before they occurred, so ill that this political animal no longer wanted to hear about the elections or the candidates or the future of the world. I was physically unable to vote early, something I had done for more than a decade. I was in the CCU during the election and didn’t have to finally choose any candidates. Staff and medical teams were forbidden to discuss the election, a blessing for which I am very grateful. I was in no condition to think about politics.

Like many others who survive life-threatening events, I am immensely grateful and am finding my way to a new normal. The opportunity to get some things right is an undeserved grace.

I’ve been working on myself and the apologies I owe, the forgiveness I seek or can offer. I am focusing on things I think matter in the long run: family, friends, giving back. I haven’t been on social media as often. My writing and art fell by the wayside while I worked on learning to do complicated things like walking, eating, and bathing.

I no longer waste so much time on being angry. I do still get upset but I try to think about whether I would want to fall dead with those being the last words I said to someone. The answer is almost always no.

Shortly after coming home from the hospital on the day after Thanksgiving, it snowed briefly. I was like a kid. I realized that I had been blessed: I got to see snow again! Neither I, my husband, nor my son had thought that would be possible.

Sometimes blessings are wrapped in fear and loss. I am learning to recognize them. An integral part of my recovery is acknowledging the losses and welcoming the gifts.

The Mighty Renegade

The real “circle of life” is harsh and beautiful. The river flows still.

PryorWild

The story begins back in 2003 when Baja gained Washakie and her two-year old daughter, Bacardi, during a skirmish with Prince. Since that time, Baja and Washakie, have been inseparable. Fourteen years is a long time for a band to stay together in the Pryors, yet these two forged a strong and enduring bond. They were a striking matched dun pair. Baja was unmistakable with his  two-toned mane and tail and his strong, muscular build. Washakie shared Baja’s dun coloration and had soft, doe-like eyes. These two with Washakie’s blue roan daughter, Bacardi, became a fixture on the mountain. They were quite elusive and weren’t always seen, but when they were, there was no doubt to their identify.

IMG_4301 This was one of the first photos that Nancy took of Baja’s band. This was in May 2005. Bacardi had her first foal, stripe-y little grullo foal named Freedom. He did not…

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“Along with Youth”

“Papa” was the first author whose work I liked enough to look for more. I read a collection of his short stories in third grade. Yes, a bit early, but books were my best friends at that time.

Since then I have read his novels, stories, and poetry.

I never stopped loving his work.

Along with Youth

Ernest Hemingway

 

A porcupine skin,

Stiff with bad tanning,

It must have ended somewhere.

Stuffed horned owl

Pompous

Yellow eyed;

Chuck-wills-widow on a biassed twig

Sooted with dust.

Piles of old magazines,

Drawers of boy’s letters

And the line of love

They must have ended somewhere.

Yesterday’s Tribune is gone

Along with youth

And the canoe that went to pieces on the beach

The year of the big storm

When the hotel burned down

At Seney, Michigan.

This poem is in the public domain.

“In Tenebris”

Spring is such a strange time of year. I love the newness of everything, but there is a part of me that cannot shed winter so easily.

In Tenebris

by Ford Madox Ford

 

 All within is warm,

    Here without it’s very cold,

    Now the year is grown so old

 And the dead leaves swarm.

 

 In your heart is light,

    Here without it’s very dark,

    When shall I hear the lark?

 When see aright?

 

Oh, for a moment’s space!

    Draw the clinging curtains wide

    Whilst I wait and yearn outside

 Let the light fall on my face.

This poem is in the public domain.