Paychecks, Protests and Patience

Hello again!

On the eve of Thanksgiving, and another Black Friday (or Black Thursday, such as it’s becoming), I’ve found my way back to the blog to discuss one aspect of this “great American tradition” that hasn’t gotten much attention: gratitude for a job, even if that job requires working on a holiday.

I want to first briefly sum up the last year of my life.  Last summer, I was debating whether or not I should discontinue Rebif, the medication I injected three times a week for my MS.  Shot days had become unbearable.  Each injection unfailingly caused a 24-hour flu – with every symptom present, except vomiting.  I was too sick to move off the couch.  My hair hurt.  I couldn’t read because the movement of my eyes across the page triggered pounding headaches.  I was feverish; chilled and sweating.  Taking Riley outside became a concentrated effort that took 15 minutes to plan and execute.  This inability to care for my own dog was symptomatic of another time in my life: the first month before my official diagnosis and full-blown “relapse.”  Somehow, medical professionals felt confident in prescribing a “treatment” that caused me to feel and act virtually identical to my time spent in the deepest parts of my disease.  Working was out of the question.  

Raise your hand if you’ve been out of work due to a disability, whether it was short or long-term.  

Do you remember the unique details of your time off?  My hope for you is that your days were spent reading, relaxing, binge-watching Netflix and catching up with friends.  That’s what most people envision when they think of people involuntarily unemployed.  In my experience, most people imagine this time off as an extended vacation, but I assure you, it is not that.

My days at home were spent injecting and medicating with a prescribed regimen of 800 mg of Ibuprofen every two hours, starting at 8am, and 1,000 mg of Tylenol every two hours, alternately, until 10pm. Then, there was the NYQUIL to sleep.  For those counting at home, that’s 3,200 mg of Ibuprofen and at least 3,000 mg of Tylenol daily.  Three times a week.  For months.

Physically I was beaten down.  By the time I started to feel relatively normal at the end of my non-shot days, it was time to do another shot.  Get up, sit down.  Stand up, fall.  But existing in the physical realm was a breeze compared to the hell I inhabited in my head. I’ve had severe depression many times in my life; I’ve been close to the tipping point three times.  Last summer was one of those times.  My tolerance for every type of pain is exquisitely high – and I’m proud of that, I am.  But I am not too proud to say that at my lowest point last summer, while Thommy was at work, in a hazy state of panic, I threw away almost all of my previously prescribed pills because I was sure if they weren’t in the trash, mixed in with used tissues and kitty litter, that I would take them all at once in one last rush to release myself from the prison I had created in my mind.  With the pill bottles safely emptied, I picked up the phone and called the number I had been staring at for days.  1-800-273-8255.  The National Suicide Prevention Hotline.  It was at least ten minutes before I was able to utter a coherent word.  Those few delicate moments after the voice on the other end spoke were filled with my own heaving and sobbing, water pooling under my face onto the bathroom floor beneath me: tears, sweat, saliva.  After the choking, came the breathing.  Then the talking.  The first of many conversations as to why I felt so numb and so wounded at the same time.  I started to talk about things that many of us feel but never find the words for… this idea that pain can define us, and that temporary circumstances (tragic and debilitating though they may be) can stretch out before us in our mind and paint a picture of destiny.  I’ve always struggled with the depression that can come along with thinking that today will look like yesterday, and tomorrow like today, and each day like that, forever.  And when each day looks as dark as the last, the only thing that brings relief is to imagine that there will be no more days.

I took baby steps backwards from the brink; I kept taking them until I could turn around and walk steadily in the other direction.  I quit the injections.  I went to counseling (although that would cause a major relapse, but for a while, it provided a little relief).  I was able to get a job, part-time at first, but it eventually led to working 5 days a week, a minimum of 32 hours, with some weeks requiring much – much – more.

And a strange thing has happened.  While I’ve never been one to eschew my work responsibilities (hello, 3.94 GPA) or take my physical abilities for granted, this past year has given me a resurgence of gratitude for what my body is capable of, despite the torture I occasionally inflict on it, and in spite of the numerous illnesses that have accompanied me in this life.  Having spent last year held back and laid up, I have spent this year pushing past limits and using up every exhaustible bit of energy.  It is not a sustainable pace, I know.  But right now, I am proving to myself just how capable I am of contributing.  There are so many ways we all do this everyday; we parent, we coach, we teach, we manage, we encourage, we participate.  Right now, I am WORKING!  And it feels so damn good to get up in the morning, shower, get dressed and go stand up for eight hours – interacting with other people who got up, took a shower, and went about their day.  

I know that this might not always be the case.  There is no way to say if stopping those injections was the right decision.  There is no way of knowing whether my future includes canes, walkers or wheelchairs.  However, I now feel much more confident in my ability to find ways to contribute, even if the physical capabilities I utilize today are taken away tomorrow.

Right now though, I can’t even entertain the idea of taking those abilities for granted.  I weave a fragile web of health as it is, even without the MS.  Every day is a deliberate choice to get up and start over.  We are all making that decision on some level, with varying degrees of “choice” in the matter.  I respect and appreciate the fact that my job is a vehicle I use to move about my day, and not as a means of survival.  I am not the bread winner.  If I stop working tomorrow, we will still be able to pay the bills.  Barely … but still … 

I am not responsible for children. I am not solely in charge of keeping a roof over my head.  I am charged with contributing, not sustaining.  That is a luxury I am afforded and I am grateful.  The working poor in this country are not as lucky.  Many people, in far worse conditions, work longer and harder than most of us could ever imagine.  It is some of these employees, and those working on their behalf, that call for strikes and boycotts of “Black Friday” that each year seeps deeper into Thanksgiving Day.  So many workers endure undue hardships and struggles just to survive.  

It takes a mind far greater than mine to understand the nuances of labor laws and market trends and retail forecasts.  There obviously needs to be much better protection from abuses for disenfranchised workers.  I just don’t think much is accomplished from the arguments that arise every “Black Friday” – a day that comes just once a year.  For the most part, workers on the overnight shifts are volunteers; those preferring not to work at night are usually allowed to work the day shift on Friday, just like they would on any other Friday.  The discussion of fair pay and labor practices needs to be had every day of the year, for any substantial changes to come about.

I can only speak truth to my OWN experience.  I don't always love my job, but I love to work.  I don't prefer to work at 8pm tomorrow instead of visiting with friends, or home resting, but it beats the alternative.  I know the economy is unstable, as are most things these days.  The best we can hope for is a little solid ground here and there.  A place to go each day, and a regular paycheck provide me a little stability. As hard as work can be, I am grateful for it.  Every day.  Including holidays.

So protest for better treatment and better pay, in any way you can. If you feel impassioned about it, stay home tomorrow night – or Friday – or both.  Just remember that this action can cut both ways; slower sales and a decreased profit for companies amount to fewer benefits and less pay for workers.

And if you do decide to shop tomorrow – above all things, be patient.  BE KIND.  I’ve had many jobs, but retail is by far the hardest.  I have a few tips for those of you who may be venturing out into the malls and stores tomorrow – I’ll post those tomorrow.

Finally, just in case I conveyed the opposite of what I was trying to say, I do not believe our only value is found in a paycheck.  To the contrary, I only mean that WE are responsible to giving value to our daily actions.  We choose what we want to leave the house for.  We can choose to stay inside the home and create responsible, loving children.  We can choose to do both. We design our lives and our dreams and we pursue them with a thousand tiny choices, every single day.  That is the way we pay ourselves.  How much or how little value you give to everything in your life is entirely up to to you.

Happy Thanksgiving <3

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Pain

“And at some point you realize that there are more flavors of pain than coffee.

There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind ‒ graduating, taking the next step forward, walking out of something familiar and safe into the unknown.

There’s the big, whirling pain of life upending all of your plans and expectations.

There’s the sharp little pains of failure, and the more obscure aches of successes that didn’t give you what you thought they would.

There are the vicious, stabbing pains of hopes being torn up.

The sweet little pains of finding others, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life as they grow and learn.

There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend and help them bear their burdens.

****

And if you are very, very lucky, there are a few blazing hot little pains you feel when you realize that you are standing in a moment of utter perfection, an instant of triumph, or happiness, or mirth which at the same time cannot possibly last ‒ and yet will remain with you for life.

Everyone is down on pain, because they forget something important about it:

Pain is for the living. Only the dead don’t feel it.”

― Jim Butcher, White Night

Move Along…

When all you got to keep is strong
Move along, move along like I know you do
And even when your hope is gone
Move along, move along just to make it through…
Move along
~All-American Rejects

First full week of Rebif injections over and done. It’s been a smoother ride than when I was on for Copaxone for a few months back in 2010. My worst injection came Tuesday night when I used the auto-injector, instead of doing a manual shot; that injection site was bloody and bruised immediately. No more auto-injector.

The past seven days have been pretty grueling. Sunday was the bottom and I climbed up from there. There are so many things going on in my family, I can’t help but just shake my head and wonder if this is all really happening. I’ve adapted myself over the past couple of years to truly “live in the moment,” so I usually do a decent job coping with varied crises. One moment at a time; one crossroad at a time, one day at a time. I’ve also done a pretty good job at staying out of the darker corners of my mind, and of the Universe. I’ve written about this before: there is so much to learn in the dark – clarification can be found there, as well a deeper appreciation for the light. I find it a worthwhile place to travel to – but a mighty dangerous place to stay. I am really proud of the way I’ve handled the darkness lately.

I had a truly remarkable experience on Wednesday… a real awakening. Perhaps more of a REawakening – a remembrance of things I once knew. This experience is for a different post on another day, but it really helped ground me into this life I’m living now, and it brought about an opportunity to think about this:

What are we getting up every day for? What are we moving towards? Emotionally and physically… where are we striving to go? As anyone who has dealt with a major illness (or a temporary disability) can tell you, sometimes we spend all our energy getting back to a place of basic freedom, movement and ability. I recently found a way to simply remember a time when I could not walk by my own power, without reclaiming it, or fearing the possibility of a return to that time. That’s important. We should all yearn to remember without reclaiming. That was then; this is now. What did you learn; what can you do today to respect that part of you that wants to just – get – moving. Physically, emotionally, spiritually … let’s keep moving along, with respect for the past and enthusiasm for the future… and let’s always pray for the energy to appreciate the time we are given for today.

In that spirit, I want to offer my thanks to the Universe for allowing me to spend two hours of my day today hiking Buttermilk Falls – down steep steps and up a grueling trail. It was a stunning view … I was grateful for the ability to see it. My legs are bruised and marred from injections, they are not as tone as I want them to be and my cardiovascular fitness leaves so much to be desired; nonetheless, I am using this body to carry me forward, and I am using this spirit to move along – and THAT is divine.

I hope you find the strength to move along, too -
Rhéa

Right & Left Leg Bruises (the left was from 4 nights ago; the right was 6 nights ago)

Right & Left Leg Bruises (the left was from 4 nights ago; the right was 6 nights ago)

Blessed for the opportunity to hike up and down the falls; determination, stubbornness, and the SUPERHERO TANK - all contributed to this powerful venture.    (Click on the photo for the first mention of this fabulous tank top)

Blessed for the opportunity to hike up and down the falls; determination, stubbornness, and the SUPERHERO TANK – all contributed to this powerful venture. (Click on the photo for the first mention of this fabulous tank top)

Post-hike. My sidekick. AND my hero <3

Post-hike. My sidekick. AND my hero <3

A Dress for Tess

In my blogging absence, so many changes have taken place.  Thommy went back to work for Old Navy as the store manager in Ithaca, which means we have also moved again – to.. yes… Ithaca!  HERE WE ARE.

I’ve had a spinal MRI, gone kayaking, said goodbye to Malone, said hello to a few new faces, discovered that eating a burger from 5 Guys does not mean the world is coming to an end, spent some time in the vet hospital with Riley and immediately followed that up with a trip to the emergency room with my husband.  (They put us in the same room and patched us back up together again.)  I’ve learned the difference between friends who are always around, and friends who are always there.  I’ve felt helpless as I sat with a friend who is raging against life itself.  I have desperately wanted to make it better; for her, and for me, and for my Mom, as she battles monsters that she alone must fight.

I’ve gone through one of the most difficult experiences in my 29 years.  It involves my father, and I am not quite ready to talk about it.

I’ve done a hell of a lot of crying.  More crying than I thought was possible.  All types of crying: the full body sobbing that rocks your insides; the cracked, strained crying of a voice trying to rise above the tears; the quiet, gentle weeping that only you can hear.  I have, in the past couple of months, been stunned by life.  I have felt alone and desperate. Really. Desperate.

I’ve also done a lot of reading, and followed a few new blogs.  I became addicted to – and healed by – an advice column called Dear, Sugar. You must read it.  (Bring tissues.)  Way back in February, I discovered 3x3x365, a truly beautiful collection of words & pictures.  At that time, I was right in the middle of a relapse and confined to bed for a few days straight.  I spent an entire day reading every back entry and found myself WAILING – - in self-pity, and in hope, and in awe of these friends and their views (and viewpoints).  They took me away, and above, and we soared together for hours.  One of the bloggers, Patti Digh, has been an inspiration to me since I discovered her book, Life is a Verb, back in 2009.  I wrote to her about the idea I had for my own book, and she wrote back (!!!):

“I love the idea of Recepta. And I would offer this thought … change “It is the type of book I would have hoped to…” to “It is the type of book I will…” -

I have kept that email message in my Inbox since August 4th, 2009.  Four months after she wrote that, I would be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  I haven’t updated her, but I am following her right along… constantly soothed by her words, ideas, photos, messages and her big, bright, beautiful light.  I even signed up for her book club this year, but was too sick the first three months to even get on the call, and haven’t had access to the books, or the Internet, for the last couple of months on meeting day.  I am hoping to finally “show up” very soon.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Amy McCracken is a magnificent writer/human being/lover of animals/all around amazing woman, who also posts on the 3x3x365 blog.  Instead of summarizing, I want to just re-post her beautiful entry.  It could not have been said any better:

Brave, beautiful Tess

Brave, beautiful Tess

Asheville told me this week that Tess was going in
for a long day of testing to get a better understanding
of her “thunderstorms.”
And that Tess decided she should probably wear a dress.
She and her dad went and picked one out.
I LOVED the picture of Tess in her dress.
And the sweet reasoning behind it.
And her courage.
And someone else’s comment that they too
would be wearing a dress for Tess today.
*
Forget about all the struggling we do while we are trying our best to
understand ourselves
understand others
eat our damn vegetables
make hard changes
face difficult truths
get a colonoscopy
or a mammogram
grieve
diet.  yes.  diet.
*
What if we could all choose a dress
for such occasions.
Something pretty.
And comfortable.
And flowing.
Like Tess did.
*
What if we encouraged people to put on a dress
and do something that they have long needed to do.
It could be either
call your dad
apply for a dream job
visit the cemetery
go get your scan results
get your effing oil changed for godsake
apologize
walk
write a story
say you’re sorry
say you forgive
have that mole checked out

WHATEVER.

We could call the project  A Dress For Tess.
People could post photos of themselves
wearing a dress and doing something brave–
on whatever level they choose.
Showing themselves, and Tess, that we really can
do that which we fear we cannot.
And be as comfortable as possible in the process.
SOMETIMES IT IS BRAVE JUST TO WAKE UP.

Men are not excluded.
In fact, they are encouraged to participate.
Because, man, that would be really brave and awesome.
And any project that includes men in dresses
is bound to be totally rad and inspiring.

This project is inspired by Tess and the courage
it takes to achieve greater understanding–
about ourselves and others–
and to decide to be as comfortable as possible in the process. 

Would you participate?
Because I would love to see you in a dress.
And hear your brave stories.
Let me know here or at amydmccracken@gmail.com
and I will keep you in the loop as we gather
pictures of courage in a dress.

WOW. OK, JUST … WOW.  Does it get any more powerful?  Just when I didn’t think I was going to be able to carry my own weight, stand in my own light and carry my own heavy burden… here came an opportunity to stand tall for a brave, beautiful, courageous girl.  To show her that we are all way tougher than we sometimes think.  And usually, when we are faced with heavy opposition, difficult choices and the recognition that we are somehow “different”, that only means that we are actually superheros.  We are fierce, we are strong, we are the bravest of the brave.  And we can always choose to  remind someone else of that, if we ever really need to also remind ourselves.

So, my beautiful Tess, you are SO brave.  You are a stunning example of determination in your dress.  You are strong all by yourself, and you are made stronger by ALL the people thinking, praying, loving and believing in you.  Whether you see us, or not, we are always here.  You inspired me to put on a dress I have loved forever, but never actually worn.  You inspired me to laugh and smile and show the world what I will be facing today: the prospect of painful injections necessary now to slow the progression of lesions on my brain.  Not necessarily a fun day – but oh, what a miracle to have a choice, to smile instead of cry, to face what must be done … IN A DRESS, no less.

We can do it, my dear little friend.  We all surely can.

And if you ever need a tip to help smile wide and true when taking a photo that could otherwise be seen as sad, or awkward, it helps to have the photographer stick out his tongue, make a very loud "PPPPPTTTHHHHHHHHH" sound, and dance around a bit.

And if you ever need a tip to help smile wide and true when taking a photo that could otherwise be seen as sad, or awkward, it helps to have the photographer stick out his tongue, make a very loud “PPPPPTTTHHHHHHHHH” sound, and dance around a bit.

**AMY CREATED A FACEBOOK PAGE FOR US TO SHARE IN THIS JOURNEY FOR TESS: PLEASE JOIN HER, AND SUBMIT YOUR OWN PHOTO & STORY HERE: https://www.facebook.com/ADressForTess**

Happy Tuesday: High Hopes Edition

So many things to show gratitude for this week.

For starters, Thommy is currently reading “The Hunger Games.” The first pick-up line Thommy used on me was: “I love books, too. I really like reading. I could spend all day in Borders.” In the true spirit of pick-up lines, he was lying; which isn’t to say it changed how I felt about him, once the truth came out. Every once and again he picks something up, escapes to the world of words, and I fall a little deeper in love with him. I suspect that’s how he feels when I agree to play XBox with him. It’s a blending of passions and interests, this whole love thing. I love how it continues to happen almost 8 years deep.

Also, my beautiful friend Jen started a juicing blog to document her journey of weight loss, and more importantly, as a way to encourage herself (and others) to take her health into her own hands. She has had such amazing results and I can’t wait to see what lessons she learns along the way. How brave of her to share that personal journey with us. I hope you’ll consider checking it out, picking up a few great recipes, and sending her some love, light and encouragement. Way to go, lovely!! (I’ve also added the link on my blogroll.)

Thommy had an interview in Syracuse last week, and he has another one tomorrow, a little further south. I want to write all about it and get all carried away with anticipation and excitement for the next stage of our journey, but I’m learning to stay in the moment a little longer. So, please say a few extra prayers tonight and send some great vibes our way tomorrow – and hopefully I can update with concrete announcements soon!

Oh, yeah … and I’m starting to feel a little better! And some days, I’m happy to say, I feel A LOT better! I met with my nutritionist last week in Syracuse and I started back up with my supplements, including super high doses of Vitamin D. I have been 99% gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free and meat-free for about a month. I was SUPER strict for 10 days, and then I allowed a few cheats in: namely chocolate. It’s a fine line between strict, conscious eating and Anorexia. I put myself in that position years ago and so I have to check in daily to make sure I’m always on the right side of “healthy.” It becomes especially difficult when eating such a diet automatically causes weight loss. In a relatively short amount of time, I’ve managed to lose 3 pounds, on top of the 2 I’ve lost since moving home. Two days ago, I hit my lowest weight since 2009. What is the goal, and where is the proper limit? One of the largest motivational factors to any diet is the sense of accomplishment one feels when the number on the scale goes down. As someone recovering from an eating disorder, I must place a higher premium on how my body feels, not what it weighs. And that requires a deep amount of trust in my own body. I’m working on it. I want to write an in-depth report about all of this soon. MS and “disability” have been weighing heavy on my heart and heavier on my mind. It’s something I find difficult to relate to others at the moment, but I’ll get there.

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must of felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life. Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.” ~ Alexandre Dumas

Waiting and Hoping,
Rhéa

PS. I read this today, and I wonder, what are YOU hoping for; what are you living for; what are you expecting?? I’m right there with you, wishing it comes to you at the finest moment – and without delay:

“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver

Happy Tuesday: Birthday Gratitude Edition

I brought Memere to Plattsburgh for her cardiologist appointment today. It was her first time traveling that far since she was discharged from Hospice in January. Her doctor was so happy to see her and was amazed by the story of what she’s gone through since her last appointment six months ago. At one point, he noticed that her birthday had come and gone in that time frame and so he asked, “how old are you now?” She thought for a second, clasped her hands together, smiled and said “68!”

She meant 86. She inverts numbers like I do so often – like most of us do from time to time. But it was beautiful to see her so confidently declare her age, rightful or not. I corrected her in a roundabout way, so as to make it amusing, and I let the doctor know that I too had a birthday recently and was now 25. Being the awful liar that I am, that declaration hung out there for about 4 seconds before I corrected myself.

“I would have seriously thought you were 19 or 20,” he said. Bless his cardiologist heart.

I am not 19, or 20, or 25 (though I will probably continue to say that until someone calls me out on it).

I am 29. I am running out of room in the 20′s and standing on the precipice of 30, and I am not comfortable here on the edge. My better sense tells me to focus on the amazing experiences waiting to unfold in my 30′s. I’ve heard that the 30′s are a great time for “coming into your own” and expanding on what you’ve created for yourself in your 20′s. I feel like the only thing I figured out in my 20′s was that I really wanted someone to look back on this life with, and that creating a space for friendship and love was integral to my happiness. I wanted to fight for a partner, for a love that would withstand the sudden troubles, inevitable heartbreaks and the ticking of the clock. For a long, long time I felt that life was going to be unsettled and complicated, and if it’s like that (and it IS like that, in both beautiful and painful ways), then I wanted to be certain about the person I was going to weather the uncertainties with: and I found him.

And I’ve found that uncertainty around every corner. Maybe I was looking too hard for it, or maybe it “just is” – but what I guess I want most for my 30′s is a little bit more security: in all aspects. I know I need to look within to find that; I need to feel safe just living in my own body, inhabiting my own space, using my own words, inheriting my birthright to live joyously while on this Earth, and just being satisfied with who I am. No sweat, right?

It’s been hard to do that over the last ten years. There’s been one seeming betrayal by my body every couple years or so. I’ll never forget sitting in Olive Garden, the first day of my first MS relapse and saying to Thommy, “something is wrong with me, on a cellular level.” It was such a strange thing to say… so overly dramatic, I felt silly even saying it. But that statement came from deep inside, like I had been waiting for years to say that out loud, and this first glimpse of MS gave that feeling a voice. “Something is wrong with me” seems to be a recurring theme in my mind.

I look to this year to be a platform for the 30′s. I anticipate this year to be the year I flip the switch in my mind, my body and my soul; this is the year I believe that everything is right with me, on every level.

“It is lovely, when I forget all birthdays, including my own, to find that somebody remembers me.” ~Ellen Glasgow

This birthday came in the midst of an MS relapse, exactly four days after my last dose of steroids. I was puffy, uncomfortable, and bummed. Thommy (that partner I fought for, to help me answer life’s questions) had the foresight to send our new address out to mutual friends, since we hadn’t updated anyone on our last two moves. It was such an amazing thing to watch these birthday cards start trickling in, as I realized that Thommy had called out to friends to help celebrate, and that those friends responded with such fierce love.

Birthday cards, flowers from Mandy and Fred & Christy, SUNY Cortland Alumni goodies from Nick, friendship/recovery bracelets from Danielle, a very special PSU newspaper from Ginny - and lots of love xo

Birthday cards, flowers from Mandy and Fred & Christy, SUNY Cortland Alumni goodies from Nick, friendship/recovery bracelets from Danielle, a very special PSU newspaper from Ginny - and lots of love xo

My friend Meg sent me two beautiful cards and some yummy smelling lotions; Mamma Meryl sent a singing card & a “Strength” bracelet; the Emmys Organics lovelies sent fudge!!; my Uncle Maurice made a special birthday dinner before we left; lots of family chipped in to ease the financial burden of our little birthday getaway (especially my Mom, who is the most generous and selfless person I’ve ever known); my good friends Fred & Christy met us for a special lunch with very little notice, and they even showed up with flowers, balloons and a “Courage” figurine that now watches as I type this; tons of friends sent emails, texts and Facebook messages to send their love & prayers electronically; and my Yankee Candle girls contributed to this beautiful ensemble:

Midnight Oasis = Love

Midnight Oasis = Love

Thommy catered to my every need and chauffeured me to Syracuse, Rochester and back home again. (A day later than expected since in typical Rhea fashion I decided to further shatter an already broken tooth while eating a carrot and needed to be seen by my dentist in Syracuse – whose patience may be wearing thin.)

I will spare you all the minute details of my most amazing birthday weekend, but I need you to know it was, indeed, AMAZING. I had wished for a symptom-free birthday, and while I didn’t get it, the sight I saw through spinning eyes made my heart melt. It was full of patience, love, laughs and even a little retail therapy (on a much smaller scale than say a “spree” but it was fun nonetheless).

I need to express my utmost gratitude to all of the above people, and most certainly to Justin – or, “my Justennnnn” as I prefer to refer to him. In the midst of a busy weekend for himself, he carved out a lot of special time for me, and created a comfortable, healing, therapeutic and joyous space for us. He was present for two birthday dinners, treated me to birthday ice cream at Cold Stone (only my second visit, ever), and was witness to a special dining experience that will get it’s own post later on. All of these things were wonderful and appreciated, but Justin just giving me Justin was the best birthday present he could give. There are a few special people we have in our lives that just enhance everything – pictures are clearer, colors are brighter, and laughter is louder… and Justin is one of those people to me. I began to love him through Thommy, and how much his friendship had always meant to him – but I grew to love Justin for what his affection and regard meant to me. Thank you for letting me forget what’s wrong, Justin, and for bringing me to all that is right.

Thank You, my Justennn ;)

Thank You, my Justennn ;)

I do. Love you all.

I do. Love you all.

Friends, thank you for making this birthday an oasis of certainty and light in the middle of the confusion and murkiness. Thommy, thank you for holding my hand every step of the way.

Grateful for a 29th chance to do it better,
Rhea
xo

Happy Leaping

It comes only once every four years.

A weird little day – I really don’t remember the reasoning behind it, nor do I much feel like flocking to Google for enlightenment; so, for the purpose of this quick post, let me just encourage you to look for any excuse to leap.

Perhaps you've become bored with game night..  Be brave: go see a movie or read a book. Be braver: go make a movie or write a book.

Perhaps you've become bored with game night.. Be brave: go see a movie or read a book. Be braver: go make a movie or write a book.

Spend just a few dollars on a lottery ticket - the first one you see. *Expect* to win. Then say "THANK YOU."

Spend just a few dollars on a lottery ticket - the first one you see. *Expect* to win. Then say "THANK YOU."

Don't hide. Not from cameras, new experiences, or love. Most importantly: never hide your truest self. The real you is the only one we're interested in.

Don't hide. Not from cameras, new experiences, or love. Most importantly: never hide your truest self. The real you is the only one we're interested in.

Showing someone just how much you love them can be the scariest leap of all. It is also the most important.

Showing someone just how much you love them can be the scariest leap of all. It is also the most important.

So where do you need to leap today? What change could you make today that could ripple waves of newness and color across your entire life? As you’ll see tomorrow in another post, I’ve done a lot of leaping myself… but I’ve got a lot more to do. The hardest part is always the start, so my advice: JUST GO!

You have your dreams for a reason; THIS is the season. Right now.

He came by a leap to the goal of purpose, not by the toilsome steps of reason. On the instant his headlong spirit declared his purpose: this was the one being for him in all the world: at this altar he would light a lamp of devotion, and keep it burning forever. ~Gilbert Parker

Learning to Love the Leap,
Rhéa

My leap right now? How to get from “barely walking” to “ass-kicking, super-hero, athlete-supreme.” I expect my new diet and this tank top to get me there:

No Limit Tank - Lululemon

No Limit Tank - Lululemon

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