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 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 Her Scars Saved Her

I saw a movie recently. I don’t remember much about it, but at the end, the heroine of the movie was saved from certain death all because she was scarred. She had suffered as a child. She had lost her parents, been sexually abused, and the way she dealt with her pain was to cut herself. The scars that were left behind saved her from a psychopath who had made it his job to hurt or kill those who had never suffered. When he saw her scars, he set her free.
We all have suffered in some way. We all bear the evidence of that suffering. Some of us carry noticeable markings of the pain, others, not at all. So often, we overlook the beauty of our scars. The heroic way our broken skin blends with new to form a masterpiece. A masterpiece that once shared, could heal a broken spirit.
Someone very close to me has a large scar on her leg. As a little girl, I remember thinking how pretty it was. The path of swirls, the shadows, the light, the dark; it spoke to me and I was mesmerized. I don’t know if I have ever shared that with her. I don’t know if she ever saw the beauty of that scar, but the picture it painted in my head made me feel unafraid, bold.
Let us not be ashamed of our scars. Let us never hide the battles we survived to obtain the beauty that makes us who we are. We are broken, but we are beautiful.

That One Day When I was Enlightened by a Disney Movie

There is a comedienne on Facebook named Anna Douglas who is hilarious, but also shares very powerful messages. Most recently, she has taken snippets from various Disney movies and calls them “low-key anointed”.
I just watched Moana for the first time, (if you have not seen it, spoiler alert!) and I loved the empowerment message. Moana is on a quest of self-identity. I have been there several times in my life, so I can relate. There is a scene toward the end where she has a heart jewel that has to be returned to its rightful place to save her village and restore balance.
She and her friend must fight a lava monster to get to where she thinks the stone is supposed to go. As it turns out, the stone belongs in the heart of the lava monster. The very thing that is trying to kill her! This monster is set on destroying Moana and anyone else in its path, throwing lava, causing waves to rise to take out our heroine for good. When Moana realizes where the stone goes, she commands the water to part, and on dry land makes her way to the monster. Simultaneously, the monster is rushing toward Moana, heat blazing, ready to take her. She is singing and gaining power with each step until finally she reaches her destination. Face to face with the monster, the song she is singing speaks truth to the heart of the beast, and it settles long enough for her to place the stone. With the stone back where it belongs, the monster morphs into who it was all the time: a goddess of life!
How often do we let the monsters of doubt and fear rule our lives? They each have a job, and that is to destroy us if we let them. When we speak the truth in our lives, whether we feel it or not, we speak life into the worst situations. Circumstances that we feel were made to destroy us are actually there to bring us life. Surround yourself with people who speak life and truth and see the difference it makes.
I believe in God and I believe in the power of prayer. Just when I feel I am going to hit rock bottom, someone will pray for me and everything turns around. I am grateful for the people that God has strategically placed in my life. They are there for a reason, and that reason is clearer every day. Enlightenment. What a wonderful thing!

That One Day When I Realized I Am Not In Control…And It Is Okay

I am in control of nothing. Nothing at all, and I am fine with it. I think. The moment I think to myself “I’ve got this”, I quickly find that I really don’t. I have a plan for my life and it keeps getting all discombobulated. Why? Because I lack respect for the One who is truly in control.
Respect. I’ve used this word often lately. During this most recent MS battle, I learned from a very good friend that I have not come to terms with the fact that I have MS. I have been living a reactive life instead of a proactive life, and it has weighed heavily on my physical well-being. I realized in the last few days, that while I do not have to surrender my life to this disease, I do have to respect its power. I must see Esmeralda as a teammate of sorts. Sometimes I must seek permission from her before I dive headlong into some crazy activity that I should probably be avoiding at all costs.
Another place in my life that I am lacking respect is what I mentioned above. When I get an idea, plan or whatever, I am off and running. Seriously, I close my eyes and charge ahead like I have an army of Titans behind me. This has gotten me into incredibly difficult predicaments. I am learning not to close my eyes, though. Now, I charge ahead with squinty eyes. Maybe one day soon I will open them fully, which I am finding requires seeing through the eyes of God. My eyes cannot see the whole picture. My eyes cannot see the outcome of my decisions. His eyes though. His eyes see ALL. I am learning to depend on Him. I am learning to respect who He is and who I am not. It is a good thing…and it is okay.

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.

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