Summer List

september-2015-calendar

I have been walking around all day with that nagging feeling in my stomach.

I have packed my bag, and Meghan’s too.

I have filed, organized, and made lots of lists.

There is a new schedule on the wall – color coded and everything.

The calendar says it’s time, but my heart, and my stomach beg to differ.

Summer was to be about beaches, and barbeques.  It was to be about road trips and freedom.  It was designed for friends, and fun, and get-togethers.

Except that most of that never came to be.

There was that knee surgery in May, that derailed any hope of walking long distances for a while, and thrust us into 2x a week PT.  Which, even though we LOVE Dr. Jill, can be daunting in the schedule.  And, it eliminated most day trips that could easily be taken for granted, if you don’t have to factor in that a walk more than about 3/4 mile is out of the question.

And while that was going on Daddy was rebuilding the deck.  Alone.  For three months.  Every spare minute of April, May and June.  It looks so beautiful.  Maybe next year we will get some people over to relax and enjoy the deck, and the grass.  The new grass, artificial, durable, and a drastic improvement over the old side yard.  Yes, maybe next year.

IMG_4701

We got the pool open the first week in July.  And July had drama “camp,” and I use the term VERY loosely.  And July had swim practice.  And July had doctors, some regular, like PT, others on the 6 month schedule.  And some blood tests, and some ultrasounds, and a bone density test for mom.  I think I stopped counting at 30 appointments.

But, thankfully August had Disney.  And there are few other things that can bring me such joy as a vacation with my family to the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

_DSC5341

And August had it’s own set of appointments, including hand surgery to remove a vascular lesion from her palm.  And setting up the whole wisdom teeth thing for September.

IMG_5056

So it’s easy for me to be sad.  And down on things. Because I want a do-over.  But, I guess that’s normal.  Because most people probably do.

I sat down tonight to get my head clear.  To “flip it,” and get my head and my heart in the right place for tomorrow.  I sat down to acknowledge the many things I have to be grateful for, and the things that went WELL this summer.

reasons to smile

So, in no particular order…

  1. The new deck.  No splinters.  No maintenance.  Pretty.  And finished.
  2. The new grass.
  3. Walking barefoot in my backyard.
  4. Road trip to West Virginia, that I took alone, on a very rainy June weekend to meet some Marines.  Healing help.

    My road trip to West Virginia
    My road trip to West Virginia
  5. Listening to my girl sing.  In pain.  In joy.  In the shower.  In the living room.  In the car.  Anywhere.
  6. Healing progress.  From both recent surgeries.  And the resilience to continue to endure.
  7. Laughter.  Mine.  His.  Hers.  Friends of hers.  Strong laughter.
  8. Disney.  I’d go back three times a year if I could.
  9. Graduation party, bridal shower, and a wedding.   Mom being 18 years cancer free.  Meghan turned 12, and Felix had a birthday too!  We celebrated Pop’s 96th birthday.  Celebrations.
  10. Board games.
  11. Green tea – together.
  12. Trips to Ralph’s.
  13. Watching my all time favorite movie, “Dead Poet’s Society” with my girl.
  14. Nutrition packed shakes, EVERY day.  Even in Disney.  Fueling my body.
  15. Reading a book my friend in Australia wrote about Cowden’s – for all the world to see.
  16. Antibiotics that heal recurrent infections.
  17. Walking.  5 miles a day, most days.  and at least 10,000 steps every day since July 8th.  Goal met.IMG_5094
  18. Last, and DEFINITELY not least, were my walks with Mom.  My healing walks with Mom.  There were so many mornings when she and I walked together, 2 miles, with 2 dogs.  We talked this summer more consistently, and for longer, than we have in a long time.  I think this was one of the best things that happened all summer.  She is a strong lady.  Lyme Disease took a stab at her this summer.  Apparently for the second time.  And she has told it where to go.  So often she is a grounding force for me in this never-ending battle to remain BEATING COWDENS.  I will miss those walks.  They were not just for the FitBit, but so much for the heart and the mind.

    My Mom. My first hero. My friend. We need an updated picture.
    My Mom. My first hero. My friend. We need an updated picture.

And that is just what my compulsive, reflective, organized self needed.

Because now, I feel a little better.  It wasn’t what I had hoped.  There was sadness, and worry. for my own girl, and for so many others.  For adults I love, and for a former student fighting a formidable battle.

But, I woke up every day.  And lots of days the sun shined.  And fun doesn’t have to stop just because school starts.

So as I lay my head down tonight I will do my best to do it with gratitude.  For new days.  For new seasons.  For a job with a kind boss, helpful colleagues, and wonderful children.  For a job that begins new every year.  For the knowledge that every day, every season, will hold blessings and challenges, for us and for everyone.

I wish you all a wonderful fall, but I’m not closing the pool just yet….

Be-thankful-for-the-bad-things-in-life-for-they-open-your-eyes-to-the-good-things

 

Dead Poets Society

The church bulletin this morning had these words from Henry David Thoreau

thoreau 1Poignant.  Especially as I sat, in my “new” church, watching my daughter participate actively in a “Family Friendly” service.  They do those about every 6 weeks, in cycles, and I really enjoy them.  This one, this week, focused on growing up.

So, as Meghan stood singing, in a small, multi age group, I thought about the backdrop behind her.   Initially it still felt “wrong” to me.  I somehow expected her to be in front of the church I grew up in; with the same smile, and the same voice.  I imagined the picture behind the altar that became ingrained in my subconscious as a youth, and the striking stained glass windows.  I was looking for the familiarity of my childhood, even as I myself, and with my family, am still, at almost 40, “growing up.”

Things did not work out.  After 38 years that was initially so hard to swallow.  I was angry.  I was sad.  I was generally heartbroken.  But maybe it was time.  Time for me to “grow.”

For years I prayed for a place where my family could worship together.  We have spent 6 months now, almost every week, as a family of three in the pew.  The motto of the Moravian Church, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love,” speaks to my soul.

moravian star

I looked at the cross, and the Moravian Star, and I smiled.  The backdrop has changed, but not the meaning.  “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”  She was standing in a different place, but there was the same love, and acceptance I have come to equate with my faith.

When I got home I couldn’t shake the images from “Dead Poets Society.”  Quotes from my all-time favorite movie from 1989, with my all time favorite actor, Robin Williams flooded my head.

Thoreau, along with other famous poets wisdom peppered this movie with all the perspective I needed as I high school student.  And, now as I “grow up,” decades later, the meaning of the words changes a bit, but the movie “grows up” with me.

thoreau 3

And the reality that…

dead poets society 2

The scene that spoke to the teacher and human in me, as Robin Williams hopped onto the desk…

dead-poets-society-1

The reminders that we are to always look at things from a different perspective.

These are the words that shaped my youth.  These are the words that give me strength – decades later.  I love words, especially straightforward ones that speak to my soul.

In 1989 I thought life was complicated.  I had no idea that just shy of 25 years later I would be facing a rare genetic disease like Cowden’s Syndrome, with all its risks, and perils.  I could not imagine in my worst nightmares that my beautiful girl would be facing it too. And yet, these words, that became part of me – help give me the strength to endure.

My faith is strong.  My understanding of others, and the need to always look at things from a different perspective is a large part of how I define myself.

Growing up.  Changing.  Doesn’t mean ending, but rather new beginnings.

It may be a while before Meghan is old enough – or even interested in my favorite movie, but I will teach her – one step at a time.

dead-poets-society-4

Every day – we work in this house on new beginnings.  We work on finding our voice, and moving forward.

We try to live a little, learn a little, and to keep God involved in it all.

We make a few denim ribbons, we raise awareness, and we keep the reality that we are fortunate.

All this from a “Family Friendly” Church service centered on ‘growing up.’

I consider myself successful as a Mother, if my girl grows up – Cowden’s or not – with these ideas helping shape who she becomes.

dead poets society 3