With the greatest of ease…..

Let me start by saying thank you to all who have read and supported this blog.  I have appreciated the comments and feedback.  Writing this blog has been a big part of getting “unstuck”.

Those of you who know me well know that the guitar has been very “instrumental” (groan) in my life. Music has been my therapy and writing songs helped me process both good and bad.  When I knew it would be a long time, possibly never again, that I would play, I figured that I would write the songs without the music.  That doesn’t work so well for me.  So, I discovered that I could write to process, without it being in song/verse format.   And thus my blog was born.  Writing allows me to see my thoughts in print, validating them.  It has allowed me to document my progress and milestones, as well as gifts that have been revealed.  I don’t want to forget the enormity of the positives that have occurred as a result of or in spite of The Stroke.  I do a lot of my writing late at night when it has been a day of awareness.  Tonight is no different.   My head and my heart are wide awake (despite my head and other body parts screaming “Go yo Sleep!”) and I feel as if I must write.

I have eased into a routine with my family this summer.  I am in safe and familiar surrounds for a while and I have much time to research and plan for the upcoming year.  I also have much time to ruminate about everything that the last two and a half years have changed for me.  I shouldn’t be left alone with my thoughts for too long.  I end up believing everything that I think.  Today there were some unexpected surprises from relative strangers.  I need to fill in a bit here so thanks for your patience.

I have been looking for  a way to stay healthy but also to give back a bit to the world, the universe, the source of all that has brought me to this point.  I saw an ad for a Health Coaching program a few months back.  I think I dismissed it right away but it kept surfacing and I felt I needed to at least investigate.  Long story short, I have been undergoing training to become certified as a health coach.  Throughout the process, I have had to do practice sessions on the phone with other Health Coach trainees.  Since The Stroke, I have become more introverted in many ways.  Being on the phone with a stranger is not fun.  Plus, we are coaching each other and being coached.  I am always open to reflection and introspection but not in the presence of strangers. (From all over the world) But I want to be open to this process so I participate as honestly as I am able.

Fast forward.  As we trainees work through the weekly sessions, we have arrived at week nine, which addresses old wounds.  As the coach it was difficult to use the provided script suggestion to someone who is generally healthy, physically and emotionally, so during a phone practice Tuesday afternoon, I had the great luck to meet up with a fellow trainee from California.  As she went through the session with me, she humbled me (no small task) with her authenticity and her genuine interest.  Most surprisingly, she encouraged me to look at an element of my recovery that I haven’t really spent much time processing.

If you’ve been reading my blog, I hope you can see that this is a way I can not only process but hopefully inspire and impact.  I like to be positive.  It is WAY to easy to get stuck in the negative some days (weeks, months).  I try to practice gratitude to ward off negative thoughts which I feared would sink me.  It was through gentle prompting that my training partner uncovered an obvious truth.  Part of my recovery needs to allow for grieving.  (Thank you so much for this gift Kim Mendosa) I wanted to skip that part because I didn’t want to appear negative.  Appearances don’t help me keep moving all of the time.  I write this blog for me first, and then hope the readers enjoy and get something from the posts.

In the spirit of being honest with myself, and wanting to heal the things that continue to keep me stuck, I need to write about my grief.  Wow, that was a long winded narrative just to get to the point. This may not be pretty, it might not be inspiring, but I warned you, this blog is for me first.

I have been sad for two and a half years.  It may have even started before that.  I have lost things that were such an integral part of my existence.  I lost my independence.  I hate that I must ask for help.  I know it has strengthened me but I grieve the old independent me.  I lost my mobility.  That’s a tough one because old me BS (before stroke) could do so much more physical activity and movement.  I can no longer beat my son in sporting activities.  I can barely engage in most activities with him.  I grieve my loss of movement.  I lost some pride.  My life now is surrounded by embarrassment and awkwardness.  I grieve that I lost my ability to walk comfortably into a room and not look damaged.  I grieve my suaveness.  Is that a word?  As a result of change in finances and lots of debt, I’ve lost some “things” that I had accumulated in my life.  That’s another blog.  I’m not quite ready for that one yet.  I grieve the loss of things. I grieve the loss of financial stability.  I lost friends.  Probably not permanently but I can’t engage like I did.  I grieve the loss of hockey friends, motorcycling friends and others.

I grieve the loss of motorcycling and the experiences it brought.  Ouch.  That one’s big.  It gave me power and freedom and was one of the only things I have ever done that allowed me to live completely in the moment.  It allowed me to watch and help others achieve their dream.  It presented opportunities to travel and meet some awesome folks.  I miss you.

I lost my ability to play the guitar.  No more late night howling to music.  Okay, I thought it was singing.  I grieve my loss of my guitar and self made music and all that it gave me.

I grieve the loss of the BS me.  Wow.  In print that really looks like something else. I’m not looking for sympathy or asking anyone to feel sorry for me.  What’s done is done.  I have already written about the gifts that came with this messed up experience.  But I lost things and have to allow myself to grieve.

I am too slowly acclimating to the life of ASS (After Said Stroke).  This is where my training partner had me well up in tears.  e76409a6b38a1ba076aa75b5dc846f47 She had me picture swinging on a trapeze, picturing the one I was swinging on as the past I hold on to.  In order to move forward, it will take a leap of faith to let go of the bar and reach for the other trapeze.  There is risk.  What if I miss?  What if the next trapeze is too different.  What if I fall.  What if, what if.  I have a safety net of friends and family.  I can take the risk.  The alternative is to keep swinging on the same one and eventually lose momentum and stop.  Not an option.  So, here goes…..and here’s knowing the next bar is there and will take me higher.  Thanks for reading.  Again thanks to Kim Mendosa for her insightful, visual understanding of my next big step.



“…She took to the air with the greatest of ease

she was born to be gliding on the old trapeze

Some people don’t care if they live or they die
Some people want to know what it feels like to fly
Gather their courage and they give it a try”

Patty Griffin, “Trapeze”, Children Running Through



Ah yes. There you are…

Cool evening breeze, warm night, sitting around the fire with an entire sky of stars and planets overhead.  There are so many unsettled things in my life right now but I know this:  When I am in nature, I am always home, always safe, always loved.  I had the awesome opportunity to spend this weekend with a cousin whom I haven’t seen for…at least 15 years.  I guess my philosophy in life has been to keep moving forward.  People come and go in your life,  I’ll be the first to admit that I suck at staying in contact.  I leave the past in the past and haven’t looked back much.

Tonight I realized, my theory might have a flaw or two.  This is ground breaking for me because I am stubborn.  But I realized that it was good to be with relatives today.  Really good.  My cousin Heather has become an amazing woman in the years since I’ve been away.  I realized that I have missed this.  Cousins swapping stories, remembering the close calls of childhood, and appreciating this leg of the journey.

Life just rushes by.  It changes us.  It strengthens our resolve while softening our hearts.  Yet, when it comes right down to it, nothing has changed at all but the details.  I sit by this fire and glance at a woman who still has the soul of a teen.  Hopes, joys and dreams.  I know that I am her and she is me.  The moon rises over the horizon, a waning gibbous, (Go ahead.  Work that into a blog!) Her brilliance is no match for the light cloud cover as she dominates the eastern sky.  Tonight I once again know exactly who I am.  I recognize me.  I may wake a stranger tomorrow, but at this point in time, I am whole.  It always comes as a pleasant surprise in the moments where it all makes sense.

So re-establishing ties with family and sharing stories of our old shared lifetimes and the new experiences of our grown up lives, I rediscover a simple truth:  Without the people around us who validate our experiences and existence, life would be very empty.  And right now, at this moment in this sacred space, I am full.  I have all of the answers and my only regret is that when I wake tomorrow, only the questions will remain.  I want to stay up all night so that I won’t wake up with only blind, biased inquiry. But even as I type this with amazing one-handed speed, my eyes grow heavy. They are full too.  So I’m off to bed.

Isn’t life grand?   grand?

End of an era…..?

Waves of joy
Waves of joy

Sitting on the beach, ocean side, of Hatteras, it occurred to me that there is a good chance I’ll never get back. It was a bitter-sweet trip. Getting to share the magic of the place with my son was amazing. Watching him on the beach with his camera, taking close up shots of the water lapping at the shore, I was full._MG_0910 Still. there was a nagging feeling throughout. I struggled to walk up the dunes I once traversed without effort. One of my favorite parts of being at the beach is simply walking. Walking along the waterline, checking for treasure which usually means shells or a young crab trying to escape the surf. This time, I had enough energy to walk to the water’s edge but hadn’t the stamina to walk along it. I glanced only briefly at the shells on the shore and a stodgy old woman’s voice said, “you have enough shells, collect no more” and I resigned myself to sitting and watching my son run from the incoming waves and wonder at the diversity of bird life around us. He makes me proud, the stuff he knows about birding at the age of 13. It goes beyond what I have taught him, as he researches and studies on his own. He pointed out some birds, proudly speaking their identification as he reminded me that, he knows a lot about birds! He was quick to spot and identify the brown pelicans that flew by just out of photo range and yet he still captured an amazing shot of one in flight. He delights in knowing. Even more so in showing. I’d love to think his birding passion came from my influence. He is an old soul though who influences me more than the other way around.

The stroke has had a mix of tension and strengthening to our relationship.  I think sometimes I embarrass him with my attempts to keep up with his athletic activities.  He humors me though and reminds me to be careful and helps me remember my limits.  I know he worries about me, more than a kid at his age should.

This camping adventure was for me and him.  I had talked so much  about the Outer Banks that I knew he was excited to go.  It was a long drive, with a broken AC for high ninety degree days.  He mentioned numerous times that it was hot in case I had somehow missed that.  The GPS took us on a bit of a detour and he patiently asked if we had crossed over to the island each time we crossed a body of water.  But he didn’t complain.  I knew he wasn’t having fun our first day and he confirmed it with, “Of course I’m not having fun.  I’m sitting in a car.  It’s hot.”  But he told me to quit apologizing.  And we traveled on.

We arrived at our campground and I could detect an  instant change in his mood.  We found our site and he excitedly helped set up the tent and establish our base camp.  We returned from our dinner and took in the sunset for sometime until we noticed some amazing lightening on the horizon.  Where had those storm clouds come from?  As I sat in the car taking out my contacts, it began to rain.  Grayson came up to the window to make sure I noticed.  Together we ran to the tent which he had taken time to stake down to keep us from blowing away.  we got into the tent and then could take in the power of this storm as the wind attacked the sides of the tent which was now soaked from the downpour.  He braved the weather one more time to re-stake the tent and strengthen our position.  Dripping wet and visibly tired by this time, he climbed into his sleeping bag content in knowing we would hold our ground.  The rain stopped as suddenly as it had started but the wind continued, drying off the tent and creating a marvelous cool breeze through the screen windows we had opened ever so slightly to keep the rain out but not suffocate.  We both fell asleep, dry and protected.  The next morning, the storm had passed and it was a beautiful sunny day.

My storm hadn’t passed though.  I watched the campers rigging their windsurfers, something I came here every summer to do, once upon a time in another life.  I tried to remember the wind and the spray of water on my face as my sail would fill and send me with amazing speed out into the sound and back, relying on balance only to keep me from catapulting myself into the water.  My windsurfing days are over, because of my stroke and because of my age.  I wanted to pass this along to my boy as well, show him how to stand and trust the wind and the rigging to carry him.  It will be up to him though to try things if he’s interested and figure out the nuances.  It occurred to me that many of the reasons I loved coming to the Outer Banks was directly related to uniting with the elements and sheer force of the wind and the waves and, by throwing my body into the process I would also elevate my spirit.  Perhaps I am experiencing what many experience as the unrestricted playing of youth is diminished with the cruelty of a body that ages much more rapidly than heart and mind.  This is simply aging. I cannot blame the stroke, although it speeded up the process for me, I must learn to accept what is, be grateful for what has been and have trust in what will be.  I’m not that strong today.  I want it back.  Stiff muscles and soreness I would  be welcome if the cause was playing hard and living fully.  I’m stiff and sore just waking each day.

This business of accepting is hard for me.  I have experienced very few limits in my life and have been blessed with some natural abilities that allowed me to participate.  My mind wanted me to jog down the beach, boogie board or body surf with Grayson.  My body on the other hand responded by throwing me into the sand, showing me that even walking was challenging.

This post has evolved into something I try to avoid, feeling sorry for my self, my circumstances.  The truth is, I was able to go on an adventure and drive 10 plus hours to share the magnificence of this place with Grayson.  He gets to travel so much, and started as a toddler so new places don’t seem to amaze him so much but I am grateful he enjoys adventure enough to play along with me.  I hope I have enough left in me to show him more, to teach him more, to learn more from him._MG_0915 _MG_0927