That One Day When Esmeralda Woke Me Up at 2AM and I Realized It Can Still Be a Good Day

It’s 2am. I have been on a physical and mental rollercoaster ride for nearly a month now. There have been insurance changes, lapses in medication, and now, thanks to a newfound lesion on my spinal cord, I am officially experiencing my first MS relapse.
The medication I was on has failed me, but all is not lost. That’s the thing about treating MS. It’s is a game of trial and error. And thankfully, there are many things to try. I am wide awake this morning because the treatment for a relapse is a 3-5 day IV drip of high dose steroids. My doctor ordered 3 days and following my final dose, my legs decide to go all Oompa Loompa! I was walking through the store after work today (Strike one) and my knees start feeling all tight. I thought to myself, “Self, perhaps you shouldn’t have cut the grass yesterday.” (Strike two)
I am striking myself because I have learned from my personal experience with Esmeralda, that I get to choose one activity per day. Monday through Friday, that activity is work. If I do more, even a tiny excursion to the store, there is a price to pay.
So, I get home and it looks like Sherman Klump (Eddie Murphy movie?) is making a comeback from my knees down! UGH! So, I dragged my swollen legs into the laundry room (I had dirty clothes! And…strike three), then climbed into bed and propped my legs up on 3 pillows. I was incredibly sleepy, so at 8pm, after hearing the soothing sound of my guy’s voice, I drifted to sleep.
Now, I am wide awake, hoping that at some point in the next few hours before my alarm goes off at 6:30, that I can snooze for a bit.
I hate MS, but I love my life. I remain grateful for my family and friends and for the love and encouragement I receive daily. I am determined that today and everyday will be a good day.

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That One Day When I Started A Blog

I love to write.  For years, I have had novels swirling about my brain and have never taken the time to write them.  Mostly because it was overwhelming to write an actual book, so I just kept living life, “writing” the books in my head.  I returned to school this past fall at Indiana University Southeast (after a near lifetime sabbatical from Ball State University) and my first assignment in English was to write a Literacy Narrative about how I came to love reading and writing.  My professor loved it and asked me to submit it to the DALN website at Ohio State University.  I started thinking maybe I can do this.  I could try it…and it just might work!  Working full time and schooling full time made it impossible to do, so life stepped in and made time for me.  In November, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and my life, as I knew it, came to a grinding halt.  Being positive in the face of adversity seems to be my forte, so I took my new diagnosis as fate stepping in, forcing me to fulfill my calling.  In my blogs, I will go into more detail about my new friend MS (I named her Esmeralda…Ezzie on good days), mothering, relationships and life in general.  Follow along with me to the neighborhood that is my brain and let’s have fun together!

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That One Day When Strawberries, Cream Cheese and Pretzels United and Changed My Perception

Strawberry Love dessert. That is what it should be called. Strawberries, cream cheese, Jell-O, and love on a pretzel crust. It is the perfect combination of sweet and salty.
My brother and his wife were in town recently for Mother’s Day and she made this life changing dessert. While we were all at the park enjoying the perfect weather and the perfect dessert, I realized some things. I was watching Mike and Jennifer interact and I found that I liked what I saw. I said to Mike “You guys have a thing. I like it. I didn’t always like it, but now, I do. It’s cool.”
The decisions we make in life are seldom simple. They seldom make much sense and often, they hurt the ones closest to us. I have learned not to judge the decisions of others because every choice we make is part of the beautiful life dance that is the Will of God. His Will is an unstoppable force, that in the aftermath, is something more beautiful than we could ever imagine.
From now on, when I enjoy this amazing sweetness, I will think of Mike and Jennifer and their perfect combination of sweet and salty. The combination that changed my perception of the way things “should” be.

That One Day When I Didn’t Feel Like Fighting and Esmeralda and I Just Hung Out

You don’t realize how much you fight your body when you have an autoimmune disease, until you stop fighting.
That is where I find myself today. I’m tired of fighting. I don’t care about my numb feet and legs. I don’t care that I have a fever that won’t go away. I am just too tired to care today, so Esmeralda, let’s just hang out and have some coffee. This day, Esmeralda wins.
Maybe if I don’t fight, she will be nice to me. Maybe we can come to an understanding and she will take a nap after we hang out. It will be nice to not have a battle. I will lay down my armor, and just for today, I will surrender.
MS is what some call a snowflake disease. It is different for everyone who has it. Shoot, it’s different for me on a daily basis. I never know what tricks Esmeralda will pull out of her bag from day to day.
I remain grateful, though, because I live. I breathe. I fight. People ask why I am always so happy. I answer, “First of all, Jesus.” Then I follow up with “Life is tough enough, why be upset about it? Why not be as positive as you can be in a negative world?”
I choose happiness. I choose today to surrender my battle for the sake of that happiness. Come on Ezzie, let’s have that coffee now.

That One Day When the Cats were Talking: Part 2

So, Orange Tabby and Gray Stripy Sort are back (see Part 1). They showed up last week and I am so happy! When they returned, I saw them separately and each one of them glared at me—like they were upset that I had outed them. Maybe they read my blog!
Again, I am not a fan of kitty cats, but these two are my buddies. They walk my street and my back yard like they own the place. I may have been mistaken about Gray Stripy sort sounding like a man, though, because Gray Stripy Sort is now a mommy! I saw her with one of her babies today. Perhaps Orange Tabby and Gray Stripy Sort are a couple. Perhaps, as one of my ‘talking cat’ theorists put it, “there were two men talking and they went inside the house”; the world may never know!
As I said before, I’m not crazy, but it was fun believing that I knew some talking cats. Think about it. Maybe animals do talk like humans when we’re not around. Consider Dr. Doolittle. I’m just saying, in a distant (ok, really distant) reality, it could happen! Alas, I’m retiring my talking cat theory, but it was fun while it lasted. I know you loved it, too.

That One Day When I Found…Me

I’ve never wanted to be lumped into any particular category. As a child, I had not put words to this feeling, but Lord, it made me a target, and caused a lot of misery. I never fit in, but the older I got, I used it to my advantage. I realized that what makes me different is the strength of who I am, and it wasn’t a bad thing! I became more confident in my “sticking out-ness” and started to embrace it. I laughed at myself before anyone else had the chance, and found that I had inherited my family’s comedic gene.
For so long, I felt like a bad person because I didn’t think like everyone else, but finally shedding the ties that bind, I found that God created me that way, and He created me that way for a purpose. A purpose that I am yet discovering, but at the same time, fulfilling by just breathing.
I think maybe that ‘different thing’ has rubbed off onto my children. I taught them not to conform to society’s standards. “You don’t have to do a certain thing at a certain age”, I advised. “Taste life and all it has to offer!”, I enthused. Boy, are they tasting! Sometimes I am afraid, but most of the time, knowing they are well-equipped, I tell myself, when they get it, it will be for life. You can teach and prod and encourage, but until they see it for themselves, it is dead letter. I’m ok with that. They are such amazing people and have so much to offer the world.
The world is too big and life is too long not to experience as much of it as possible! The beauty is, it will never be perfect. Regardless of the path you take in life, perfection is unattainable. And I’m glad. Striving to live is so much better than striving just to die. When I look back on my life, I do not want to wish I had done more. I do not want to wish I had done things differently. If I taste enough life and make enough mistakes—and learn from them, I will leave this life satisfied.
This is what I want for my children. Taste. Leave satisfied.

That One Day When City Met Country and I Was Awake and Decided to Write Random Stuff

I love being out, way out in the country. There’s nothing like it. The bugs are friendlier, the grass is greener, the mornings are morning-er, well, you get the picture!
I’m sitting here in bed thinking of how lovely it is out here and—wait! Is that thunder? Have I ever mentioned how much I love thunderstorms? I LOVE THUNDERSTORMS. It is about to do my favorite thing while I am in my favorite place! I don’t think my day could get any better!
I was having a terrible day yesterday. You know how one bad thing leads to another and the next thing you know, you’re walking through the store and your flip flop breaks? I already have a hard time walking sometimes because of Esmeralda (MS) AND I was already having a bad day. Thankfully I was pushing a cart (with my cane nestled inside) and I didn’t fall, but I’m sure it was a funny sight. Push, step, shuffle, smile. Repeat.
There is a mouse in my house. Remember the story about the cats talking outside my house last week? Up to that day, there were no mice anywhere near my house. Orange Tabby and Gray Stripy Sort have yet to be seen since I outed them and now there is a mouse in my house. I woke up Monday morning (a week after the talking cat incident), went to take a shower, and a tiny field mouse jumped out of my linen closet and took off somewhere. “Aaccckkk!!! Big, dumb, stupid mouse!” I took my shower and sent an email to my daddy. “I saw a mouse. He needs to die.” I really just wanted some advice, but my very strong, fearless daddy came to my rescue. My daddy said that mice like warm, dark places. That night, I set the A/C on 58 degrees and turned on every light in the house! I haven’t seen that critter since.

That One Day When the Cats were Talking

There are a couple of cats that hang out in the neighborhood. They roam the street aimlessly throughout the day, randomly choosing which yard they will occupy at any given moment. One is an orange tabby, the other a gray stripey sort. I’m not a big fan of kitty cats, so I usually pay them no mind. They keep mice away, so I let them wander. Sometimes Orange Tabby is on the roof across the street. Other times, he is under my daughter’s car whenever it is there. Gray Stripey Sort is usually absent. Maybe he is a night wanderer.
So, I was leaving for work this morning, and when I opened my garage, I heard men talking. It was dark out still, so I didn’t even try to make out any faces. “I don’t know, the roads are probably too wet”, I heard one voice say. “umhmm (and some unintelligible words in a deep voice)”, he answered.
I get into my car and back carefully out of my driveway because my daughter’s car is on one side and the garbage can on the other. I swear I’m not crazy. Really, I’m not, but when I got onto the street I looked out my side window. I looked out my rear window.
There are no men. Anywhere. I see two cats walking down the street. Tails swinging happily in the air.

That One Day When…Love

Love is a funny thing. It’s confusing and hateful, exhilarating and silent. I have found that it can be experienced for the first time on many occasions. I used to say that I thought I was in love, but now I know that I really did love before. When I married the first time at 20 years old, I loved him. We built a life, we raised children and from the outside, it looked perfect. There was much heartache, but, there was love.
When I tried my hand at marriage the second (and last) time, it was a different love. It was deeper than the first time. I felt like I had found the person with whom I would share the rest of my life. There was more heartache, but, there was love. After the failure of my second marriage, I stopped believing in love. Love didn’t love me, therefore, it ceased to exist.
When I met my guy, I had healed and was happy in my singlehood and ready to take on the world and all it had to offer. In the nearly 18 months since the beginning of our relationship, I have found that maybe I do believe in love. I do not call it love, though. I am afraid to call it love, because love does not love me. I have feelings for this man that transcend words. I feel safe, cared for and content. Beyond anything I have ever felt before. We don’t say “I love you”, but the sentiment is there and felt very deeply. It is felt anytime we share space. It is felt in our conversation. It is felt in the look he gives me that takes my breath away.
We have an unconventional relationship that works for us. We do not live together, but spend every weekend (that is not devoted to our children) together. We talk on the phone every day and stay in contact through text or funny instant messages. The days that we spend apart make for an amazing time when we are together, even if we do nothing but veg out in front of the television. We have the best of both worlds. No, I do not call it love, because love does not love me, but I do whisper it in my heart. It is silent, but exhilarating.

That One Day When I Noticed the Rip in My Children: The Aftermath of Divorce

When I chose to divorce their dad 9 years ago, I had no idea the impact it would have on my children—even into their adulthood. Watching them struggle to grasp what a relationship is supposed to be is the hardest part. I left their dad at a crucial time in their lives. After 16 years of marriage, he was so intent on hating me and hurting me, it made the ripping apart that much harder on them. I see them battle within themselves because they are all such loving people and always want to love others into their own ‘okayness’. To let the masses know that they are worthy of love, even at the expense of the losing themselves, but searching for that same love in return.
I admire that about my children, the exuberant love they have for others. I only wish they would love themselves with the same passion. I wish they would believe that they, themselves are also worthy. I look back and wonder what I could have done differently. I constantly hugged and loved on them, told them they were amazing and could be anything they wanted to be. My precious daughter feels like they were all placed on this Earth to love people who feel unloved. I want them to know they are loved. Loved beyond measure. That I still believe they can be whatever they want to be. That I am their biggest supporter and cheerleader. That though their paths may not look like others’, they are not failures.
I want them to see the strength that resides in each of them and to draw on that strength.
How parents interact after the separation determines the children’s success in dealing with their new lives. I chose to remarry a few years later, and unfortunately, it also ended in divorce. We have a little boy together and because we remained friends, he has not suffered nearly as much as my older children. We have chosen to co-parent based on the love we have for him, and not the failure of our marriage. I know he struggles, but because our focus is on him, it has made the transition much better and maybe the rip that much smaller.

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