Category Archives: Spirit

Outshine Ovarian Cancer Anniversary

Karen Ingalls (@kareningalls1) recently celebrated a blog anniversary at Outshine Ovarian Cancer. I have been following along with Karen and her story for quite some time and have read her book Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir.  Outshine is an inspiring book that not only chronicles her battle with ovarian cancer but shows a deep faith and spirit.

Karen had a giveaway to celebrate the anniversary of her blog. I was a lucky winner of this beautiful plaque that now graces a shelf in my office alongside a photo of myself in my early days of illness and a beautiful glass that belonged to my paternal grandfather (one of the few possessions of his that I am able to have in my home).  The plaque reads: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength…Phil 4:13 .  Thank you Karen for such a lovely gift.

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Since writing Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir, Karen has had a recurrence of cancer and gone through yet another round of treatment. Karen is a brave lady and I am happy to call her a friend despite never meeting in person.

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Sewing: A Tale of Two Lifetimes

I have talked many times about how I used to sew so many different things from clothes for my children and myself to shirts for my husband. I sewed Halloween costumes, made curtains, and stuffed animals and dolls.

After becoming ill, I began having issues with visual and sensory over-stimulation due to the mold exposure. I could not look at a pattern piece with its shape andthen place it on a patterned piece of fabric and decide how best to lay it out without having anxiety attacks that led to tears. I gave up sewing because I just could not manage it. What used to be a calming thing to do became a nightmare of gigantic proportion.

Scottish Doll

Scottish Doll

This doll (made nearly 20 years ago) was  for a friend who wanted a Scottish doll. I took a Raggedy Andy pattern and began designing. I took the shirt that closed in the back and made it open in the front with color and buttons. I used the same pattern and designed the jacket first out of muslin and then out of tweed fabric. I bought red gingham fabric and fashioned the legs to give the appearance of socks. I practiced again on muslin to fashion a kilt that would fit the doll and then using the precious piece of his clan’s fabric made the kilt.  The hat was fashioned out of felt and I used orange yarn to make his hair and beard. My father using his upholstery machine and know-how made the bag.

Back of Doll.

Back of Doll.

It wasn’t until my first granddaughter Sadie was born eight years ago that I attempted to sew again. I wanted to make her a dress. I was going to be a grandma that could make things for her. My first attempt was a simple pattern with bloomers.

First Dress

First Dress

Then I wanted to make her first birthday dress which was a huge undertaking. It was made of coordinating polka dots (blue with white and white with blue). It also had many details. I was determined that this grandma was going to figure out a way to sew again.

Birthday Dress

Birthday Dress

An American Girl Witch

An American Girl Witch

This same granddaughter asked if I would make a Halloween costume for her American Girl Doll Sage last month. She wanted either a witch or pirate costume. Looking online for doll patterns that would work for American Girl Dolls, I found several. Much to my chagrin they were $17.99 on sale for about $8.99. Still too much for a doll pattern. Armed with my muslin I began trying to create a simple dress and cape. After several attempts, this was the end product. I presented it to my granddaughters (because sister needed one for her doll as well). She loved it. Of course she asked where the hat was and I told her that grandma just couldn’t figure it out. Had this been a request of me ten or eleven years ago, I would have just sat and worked at it until I had a hat.

While my sewing now resembles two different lifetimes, I am so thankful that I have recovered enough to be able to sew again.

And isn’t this the season for thanksgiving? I am so thankful for the things I have managed to get back into my life. I am thankful for my family and the friends who stood by me. I am thankful for my wonderful doctors.  I am also thankful for those who I have met and the lessons I have learned because of this illness. I am thankful for all you who follow along with me on my journey and those who have purchased my book to learn more of my journey.

Blessing to you all!

 

Calgon Take Me Away!

calgon take me away

Am I dating myself with this phrase? How many of you remember the Calgon commercials? Back in the day before I became sensitive to chemicals and realized all the stuff these products contained, I loved letting Calgon take me away! Today is one of those Calgon take me away days. It started with my grandson sitting on my wicker love seat cushion and wetting through his diaper forcing me to remove the cover and wash it and take care of the inner cushion. More has happened but I won’t go into detail here.

What do I do to “take me away”? I get in the car and go for a drive. So much has happened over the last few months: my father becoming ill and passing within a matter of weeks, my grief and helping my mother get through things which added even more exposures to my already overburdened body, suddenly developing swelling in my ankle and learning that I have a blood clot and needing to start blood thinners, and now the addition of a sinus infection. My doctor gave me the okay to get away as long as I am careful about my time sitting in the car.

A few weeks ago my husband took me for a drive to the mountains to the little mining town of Columbia just to walk around and get away from it all.A few days later we joined my daughter and her family at the Pumpkin Patch. It is a 45 minute drive to my daughters and I was able to walk around before the drive to the Pumpkin Patch where I was able to walk around to look at the pumpkins and enjoy the scenery. The following week my husband and I drove to my favorite place, the beach. We had to stop along the way for me to get out and walk around but it was well worth it. Nothing recharges my batteries like the ocean breeze on my face.

Today I cannot do any of those take me away things. My alternative is to sit with a cup of hot green tea and read a book and allow the adventures of May Dodd from the book 1000 White Women to take me away.

What is your Calgon “take me away”?

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Writing Quotes

Recently I spent a lot of time at the hospital with my dad.  My mother and sister were there with me. One morning while we were on our way outside for some fresh air my sister decided to walk into the gift shop.  I walked in and immediately spied this little pink notepad  and had to take it home with me.  The front of it was covered with three quotes:

A Pencil And A Dream Can Take You Anywhere

Dreams Are Illustrations From The Book Your Soul Is Writing About You

Fill Your Paper With the Breathings Of Your Heart

 

Fill Your Paper With The Breathings Of Your Heart

This saying said something to me straight away.  I fill my journal with the “breathings of my heart” especially when dealing with a difficult time in my life.  My book, Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope, is filled with the “breathings of my heart”.  I included many excerpts from my journal written during the most difficult times of my journey through mold induced illness and chemical sensitivity.  

I found myself crying the other night.  I was having an emotional meltdown at the passing of my father and could not sleep. My journal was once again there to comfort me.  It allowed me to say all the things I could not say out loud.  It allowed me to talk to my father and to write a poem about one of his favorite belongings, his lucky horseshoe (I am not yet emotionally ready to share the poem). I am still finding it difficult to resume my writing on my blogs or other projects that I am in the process of starting.  Until I can write, I have my journal.

Which quote resonates the most with you and why?

FEAR!

In March I read a blog post that my friend Karen Ingalls had on her blog outshineovariancancer.  The title of the blog post was For No Fear: You Must Know Fear.  The title intrigued me and I would have loved to have found this back in the days when I was so fearful; fearful of living another day, fearful that I wouldn’t live another day, fearful of the next reaction, etc.

Thank you Karen for sharing such a wonderful post with us.

 

It Must Be Spring!

Nothing says spring like a trip to Daffodil Days.  My sister and I made our yearly trek to a winery a little over an hour from home.  Daffodil Days officially starts tomorrow.  We always go the day before when there are fewer people around and less exposure to chemicals and fragrances from all those people who bathe themselves in chemicals.  Last year I posted pictures in my post entitled How I spent my “Be Kind to Yourself” Day.  It was during this trip and photos we took that I found the photo for the back cover of Allergic to Life.

We had thought about making the drive further to Daffodil Hill like last year. The wild daffodils on the hills near the winery were scarce and spent.  We made the wise decision of foregoing the drive there this year.

There is nothing more uplifting and soothing than beautiful flowers and a long overdue day out with my sister.  I hope you enjoy these beautiful flowers as much as we did.

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Heart of a Caregiver

For those suffering from chronic illness whether it be environmental illness (like mine), dealing with POTS, endometriosis, Marfan’s Syndrome, or Cancer, we rely heavily on our caregivers.  If we are fortunate, our caregivers are kind, caring, supporting, and will go to any extreme to help us battle through.  For me my biggest and most supportive caregiver has been my husband.  He built me a safe house, worked hard and sacrificed to allow me to go out-of-state for medical care, and shopped for me.

My dear blogger friend Karen Ingalls knows all to well what it is like to need a caregiver.  Karen battled Ovarian Cancer and her husband was beside her all the way.  Karen wrote a wonderful book entitled Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir.  Karen’s story moved me; the courage and inspiration she shares in her book is something that can benefit anyone no matter their chronic illness.

Karen recently discovered that her cancer has returned and will soon be fighting another battle.  She recently wrote a post entitled Praise and Gratitude to Caregivers.  In this post she shared a beautiful poem entitled Heart of a Caregiver.  Please take a moment to hop on over to Karen’s blog and read this lovely poem and learn about the wonderful and inspiring Karen Ingalls.

 

 

Catch Up Mondays: Are you where you need to be? – revisited

This post was originally shared on January 22, 2013.  As I have read it again, it reminds me that everything happens when it is supposed to happen and at a time it is supposed to happen.  It does me no good to dig in my heals and fight the direction I am going in.  For I am doing what I am destined to be doing.

This past year I have reconnected with many friends from high school. A reunion page was developed on Facebook and so many of us have found each other after years. My illness and sensitivities has made it even more difficult to even run into anyone who may still be living in town much less attend our class reunion that was held this past October.

One particular friend from high school, Jerri Hansen, has a Facebook page devoted to inspirational and motivational stories.  I have found on more than one occasion that her post is speaking to me.  Forcing me to rethink something or to reflect on something that has happened or that I am about to do.  Yes this illness does imprison me in many ways, but I am still alive and have lots left to give even if it is given in a way that I wouldn’t have imagined I would ever do (this blog for example and my upcoming book).  I found this a day or so ago when I opened my Facebook page:

Are you where you need to be?

Since our timetable most often does not correspond with universal timetable, it’s common for people to feel that life is moving too slowly or too quickly. We find that our plans may fall into place when we least expect. Or, we are placed into roles we believe we are not prepared for and wonder how we will survive the demands imposed upon us by unfamiliar circumstances. When delays in our progress bring about pains of disappointment within us or the pace of life seems overwhelming, peace can be found in the simple fact that we are exactly where we need to be at this moment.

Every person fulfills their purpose when the time is right. If you have fast-tracked to success, you may become deeply frustrated if you discover you can no longer satisfy your desires as quickly as you might like. Yet the delays that disappoint you may be laying the foundation for future accomplishments that you have not yet conceived. Or the universe may have plans for you that differ from the worldly aspirations you have pursued up until this point. What you deem a postponement of progress may actually represent an opportunity to prepare for what is yet to come. If you feel as though the universe is pushing you forward at too fast a rate, you may be resisting your destiny. Your unease regarding the speed of your progress could be a sign that you need to plant a seed of awareness within yourself and learn to move with the flow of fate rather than against it. The universe puts nothing in your path that you are incapable of handling, so you can rest assured that you are ready to grow into your new situation.

You may feel compelled to judge your personal success using your age, your professional position, your level of education, or the accomplishments of your peers as a yardstick. Yet we all enjoy the major milestones in our lives at the appropriate time-some realize their dreams as youngsters while others flourish only in old age. If you take pride in your many accomplishments and make the most of every circumstance in which you find yourself, your time will come.
(C)2012.jerrihansen

Catch-UP Mondays: Faith – revisited

This post was featured in December 2012.  I still have one of these beautiful cards.  I couldn’t part with all of them.

Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see. — William Newton Clarke

I recently purchased some notecards specifically because of this quote.  The cards were beautiful and I loved the sentiment.  The card company is Punch Card Studio.  They have some spectacularly beautiful cards.  And I have to admit I am a sucker for note cards.  Nothing is more special than sending one to someone you care about.

Faith
Faith

I believe this is so true.  Without faith I couldn’t have continued on this journey.  I had to dare myself to go further than I could see because I could not see myself beyond the current pain, hopelessness, loneliness, and isolation.  I had to dare myself to put one step in front of the other when I just wanted to sit in a corner and disappear.  I know many of you out there are struggling as well.  Have faith.  Dare yourself to go farther than you can see.  Who knows what you will find just beyond your sight and reach.

What does this quote say to you?  What are you doing to dare yourself to go further than you can see?  It could be something as a simple affirmation that you will be able to do something you are currently struggling to do today.  “My Healing is already in Progress” (Taken from Power Thought Cards by Louise L. Hay.).

Tooth Update

My husband and I went to the oral surgeon’s office this morning.  This is the one that told me they had no air fresheners and the staff did not wear perfumes or colognes.  I was a little apprehensive and I purposely had not shared my list of sensitivities with them ahead of time preferring to discuss them with the doctor before they had a chance to say no without seeing me.

We arrived at our designated time.  I did not detect anything noticeable while I sat in the waiting room.  Within a few minutes I was taken to a room and again I didn’t notice anything horrible.  The dentist came in (boy was he young) and discussed why I was there and did an x-ray.  He didn’t seem put off by my long list of allergies and sensitivities.  He came back and said he could extract my tooth today.  I told I thought I was there for a consultation and was told that they had actually scheduled me for the procedure.  He went to look to see if they had any epinephrine-free carbocaine.  They had it – so I could have it done then or I could reschedule it and go home and come back.  I knew how difficult it would be for me to make that next appointment.

So, I just went for it.  They allowed my husband to stay in the room.  I loaded my syringes with histamine (which thankfully I didn’t have to use) and we got started.  The tooth wasn’t going to willingly come out so the dentist had to cut it in pieces to remove it.  There was no pain really.  The worst was the horrible pressure.  When it got bad I thought back to my energy balancing days.  I put myself in a state where my breathing was so slow I wasn’t sure I was breathing and took my mind away from the pressure.  All of a sudden it was done and he was putting sutures in.   The dentist was afraid of the dissolvable sutures because I might react to what was in them and opted to use silk so I will be making a trip back next week to have them removed.

All in all, my jaw is sore from having my mouth open and I am bleeding a little more than most because of the lack of epinephrine in the carbocaine.  I am icing my face and taking it easy.  As long as it heals well and no infection sets in I will be fine in a few days.

I am just glad this hurdle is over and I didn’t have any horrible reactions in the process of getting the tooth removed.

P.S.  The dentist said he has seen a few others with a laundry list of allergies like mine but never with histamine instead of epinephrine.