Saturday, August 22, 2015

Get a tissue

Dear Wesley,

What an amazing person you are. I am so proud of you and to call myself your father. It's been  23 years ago since your mom and I were alone and on a grand adventure in Canada, in the west meadow. Which is where you and your name came from. We came home from that trip with a whole new plan. And no idea what it would entail.

Now you are a grown lady. It's hard for us to accept that you are all grown up and moving on. But that's normal I guess. We're worried that we weren't good enough parents, and that we can't take care of you anymore. And that we can't be there if you have problems, or don't feel well, or are scared and confused. We know you can do it. We may not show it very well, because we don't want to give up our job of making everything ok. It's hard for us to accept, but we'll do it in time. After your first real breath of freedom, you are going to be just fine and we will too. You are a strong, smart, talented person with a huge heart. That will go a long way in your life........................

Yesterday morning Wesley was sitting on her bed crying, reading this letter that her dad stayed up half the night to write to her. I was sitting on the back porch crying, Gerry was walking around like he had lost something and was trying to find it. Poor Lazarus was packing the car and trying to tip toe around all of the tears. Then his tears came too.

They are on their way to the west coast now. Left early yesterday morning. We finally got our act together  enough to say goodbye with smiles on all of our faces. I have only seen Gerry cry three times in the 30 years I have known him. Two were when we buried beloved dogs, and then yesterday. I finally had to stop my pity party to help him get through his. We were one hot mess. I had hoped to send her off without her seeing me cry, but there was no holding back the wave after wave of tears and pain that came. I was numb with pain. Usually I can keep it together, give her support and encouragement and smile through it all. But I couldn't do a thing. Normally I would have sent her off with food, homemade muffins, a letter or card, a small gift. Nothing. I just stood there feeling like I was floating out of my body. I have never felt so helpless in my life. Child comforting parent with reassurance and hugs. First time for that....

The day did get better, I went to work, there was laughter. My best pal Laura came and took me to lunch. It was delicious, more laughter, and a weight off my shoulder as I accepted being a mom with a child living far away.

The other day I was sitting with my hard drive looking at old photos of Wes. She came in and said, Why would you do that to yourself? Why indeed..... These are some of my favorites. She was strong and happy and so talented during the time these photos were made. These were her best friends. She was in high school without a care in the world. No boyfriends, no rent due, no roommates, no meals to prepare, laundry to do. Mom and dad taking care of her. And then she went to UNCSA and spent four of the hardest years of her young life trying to survive. She came home 10 pounds thinner, ridden with anxiety and emotional instability and a new relationship. If only I could turn back the clock and give her back these moments of pure bliss. Singing on the stage at The Cat's Cradle. My beautiful child.

After they left, I found Gerry sitting on her bed, tears in his eyes. And somehow, my tears stopped. She was gone. No turning back. And so Gerry and I started making plans for things we will do. Maybe a trip to the Outer Banks this fall. We want to go to Switzerland. Maybe fly to Ca. to see Wes. Many things to look forward to, just the two of us again.

It is right and natural that a child leaves when they become an adult. Not sure how much of an adult Wesley is just yet, but she will grow up fast on this trip. They are doing many things that we would not choose to do. Driving an really old car across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in August for one.  We fear the car won't make it. We fear for a lot of things. Moving to the most expensive county in the U.S. without a job or a place to live, very little money for the trip, learning to find her way as an adult without mom and dad. Lord have mercy, why do we have to go through this growing up shit!!!

There was one thing though. Yesterday morning around 7am.....
We have a family of deer, mom, sister, aunt and baby. They come to see us everyday. Two days ago, all four of them just laid down in our backyard for about an hour. Never have seen them do this. Then yesterday morning, mom, the one we know so well, came into the yard, looked straight at us, and in that moment, it was like she was saying let go, she will be fine. I do it all the time.
And so the deer became our totem. Our spirit animal. I looked it up:

Messages and Lessons Deer Totem

If Deer has suddenly bounded into your life as a Lesson or Messenger Guide, then she's likely alerting you to the fact that you're about to encounter an event or situation that will require you to make rapid decisions, and to react swiftly and with agility to your shifting environment. But she's also cautioning you not to lose your head in the process, and to follow her example of being graceful under pressure. Doing so will enable you to be ready to employ the best action to fit the situation at hand.
She's also likely surfaced at this time in your life journey to advise you that you're entering a time in which there will be increased activity. She would suggest that you keep your eyes wide open and your ears alert so that you may make the most of the opportunities that are on their way to you, as well as to avoid any situations which would not be in your best interest to undertake.
And lastly, when Deer surfaces in your life as a Messenger or Lesson Guide, then she is asking you to take a look at your blessings. Fill your heart, your very being with a sense of deep gratitude for all of the miraculous gifts that are at work in your life. From the smallest to the largest, take inventory of those abundant riches, and then, give thanks for them, not only in words alone, but through your actions as you “pay forward” the abundance that has come into your life. In this way, you assist Deer in her important work to keep the cycle of giving, receiving, and re-gifting going.

I think that about says it all.
Travel fearlessly my little deer

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nature has a way.....

My beautiful child and her boyfriend moved in last Tuesday and are using our house as base camp to prepare for a move to California. They are also working on a freelance gig they got, trying to sell a car, get another old Subaru with over 150,000 miles ready for a cross country road trip through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in August (uh huh.....) , applying for jobs, Wes is finishing up another job she got here, there is much planning for the monk documentary going on, plus working through all that comes up in a young relationship when you add this much stress. And on top of all that dealing with two very concerned parents that are questioning much of this and worrying beyond worry for all the things that we just have to keep quiet about. They have to find their way as we did.....

 Meanwhile, my house very much resembles some of the footage you see on TV after a major tornado or hurricane hits somewhere. There is not a surface in this house that doesn't have something that got plopped down by someone. There doesn't seem to be a place for anything, just plop it, that's good enough.

They made us a lovely meal one night after I got off work. My girl is becoming quite a cook. Good thing, she has a strapping young man to feed :)

Beds are not being made, hallways are danger zones, counter tops stay covered in dirty cups, dishes, food...... sink seems to always be overflowing with dishes. Most of this is because I decided to let the maid have the week off and she goes to the gym or to work instead of fretting about the college frat house she is living in these days. The caretaker of the estate also took time off from his household duties and went to cover a story on migrant workers and their deplorable living conditions. His photos of the cinder block houses and the clutter inside looked about like my house. Interesting.......

Not mine....

 Not mine.....

 not mine.....

Not mine......

 There is my dining room table

That's my loom......

Nature has a way of helping you push the little ones out of the nest, doesn't it..........

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Some days you eat the bear

I recently received an email from a fitness company, ETB, asking me to blog about my fitness experience. At the end of the email there was a quote:
"Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you".
I've never heard this quote before, but it could become my mantra.

I have been feeling pretty much like the bear is eating me lately. Wesley is moving to California a week from today, and I have not felt like blogging for fear of what I might say on this matter. I will say that having my only child, who has lived with me for 22 years, move 3000 miles away is not sitting well and I am trying very hard to deal with it. I want her to go and live her life and be happy, but seriously, it's sooooo far away......... what about the Japanese culture where four generations all live together......

So I am eating the bear.

I am going to the gym nearly every day and getting my butt kicked. My motivation is twofold. Keep my mind off of the lump in my throat, and get my 54 year old creaky body back in shape. I bought a bunch of new gym clothes, and thanks to Weight Watchers two years ago, I don't look half bad working out. But man, am I out of shape! The things that used to come so easy to me in the gym are really hard now. Just getting up after some floor exercise is more of a challenge. I have had to choose much lighter weights. My core needs strengthening, my balance is sketchy, flexibility, not even. Cardio.... ugh. And that pain in my upper arm is still there, a mysterious bother. But its getting a little better every day.

I eat eggs from my chickens for protein, make smoothies with flax meal, hemp seeds, fresh fruits, leafy greens and almond milk. I'm taking fish oil and magnesium. Today for lunch,  I made Gerry and myself a salad with spinach, kale, arugula, chard, strawberries, blueberries, avocado, tomatoes and cucumbers from our garden, organic feta from happy cows, and hemp seeds, dressed it with olive oil and lemon juice. This is now my go to salad and it fills me up completely. No meat, trying to not eat fried food, can't give up chocolate, and every week or so, I want a cold fountain root beer. I keep a pitcher of cold green tea in the frig now and have one small cup of coffee in the mornings. Little to no sugar. Mostly fruits, grains, vegetables. But every now and then, there is pizza, or chocolate croissants...... and of course.... BEER. All things in moderation :)

I haven't taken a class at a gym in probably thirty years. But I took one today. It was a low impact class and I survived. Didn't really even feel like I would vomit. But the class was lead by a girl that was probably a cheerleader in high school, like yesterday, and it was odd. I felt silly and the workout was all rah rah and jerky and fast and I want a slow burn right now. So I probably won't do a class. I got this. I have worked out since I was in high school, except for the twenty years I stopped to be a mom.

So this is what I'm doing. I met with a personal trainer that got me started with the foam rollers to target trigger points in my muscles, to lengthen them and work out the knots that accumulate when you raise a child and make pottery for a long period of time. I am doing trigger point therapy every day and my body responds well to it. I stopped the acupuncture and chiropractic after my body looked like someone had punched me all over. The bruising was a bit much and nothing was happening.

I am working on strengthening my triceps, a very weak part of my body. Also working to strengthen the muscles in my legs so I can continue to get up from a chair or step up on a chair. My goal is to build support around my joints and build up muscle mass that I am rapidly losing. I'm using a stability ball to sit on while working on my upper body with weights so that my core has to work some too. I'm using light weights, no machines, all free weights and lots of static stretches. The first day I tried stretches on my own, the way the trainer showed me, my hamstring cramped so bad a wave of nausea came over me and I just laid on the gym floor in agony. Screw this being old business anyway! I want my body back. Who took the damn thing?! I really had no idea how weak I am getting. Time for this nonsense to end!

Of course, I could be doing all of this at home and save the cost of the gym membership. I have the mat and the weights and all the stuff. But, the thing is..... I get to the gym, the music is rocking, people are sweating and working hard and it makes me work a little bit harder than I might at home. I see the big strong dudes, flexing at the bench press, the young girls literally running their asses off on the treadmill, the weight machine people just going through the motions. Then there are the mat people. Since I have chosen to do free weights and stretches, I'm over in the area where the old people are, mostly. These are the folks that had a doctor tell them to go get a trainer and DO SOMETHING! I fall somewhere in between all of these folks. I see the young girls and know that is my past, but I look at these tottering old folks and see that could be my future. Oh HELL no! Its extremely motivating to see a man or woman near my age, that can't do one bicep curl or lunge. But hell yeah, they are trying and if they can do it, I sure can.

I will say my energy is off the charts. Wesley is dragging around here talking about being tired all the time, though lord knows I can't really figure out why. Today, I got up at 7:30, ate breakfast, went to the gym, worked out for an hour including cardio work. Then I came home fixed us some lunch, got dressed, went to work.  I loaded 40 pound bags of organic soil in cars, repotted five trays of plants, watered the greenhouse, took out the recycling, swept the floor, helped customers, cleaned up the potting room, moved all the plants inside when we closed. Got home at 8pm, Gerry had dinner waiting. Watched The Hatfields and McCoys, episode three and started writing this blog. It's 11pm and I am still wide awake.

There is a 6am Warrior Meditation at the gym on Fridays and I would really like to go. But, why 6am?!  I think it would be a great way to start the day though..... I might try.....  6am?

Eat the Bear

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Porch Sittin'

It seems like I have done a lot of porch sittin' this summer. I love a good porch, a great rocker, a cool evening with cicadas buzzing and lightening bugs flying around twinkling up the sky.  Or an early morning when there is fog rolling by. Don't see so much of that anymore. Where did the fog go I wonder? Our vacation was mostly about sitting and rocking on the porch. It was nice.

This past week, I spent a few days sittin' on the porch of a good friend of mine. She had cancer surgery to remove a god awful large tumor. I packed a bag and moved in for a few days to help. We mostly sat on the screened porch and talked, ate, drank coffee in the mornings, tea in the afternoons. It was like a peaceful retreat from reality.

She talked, I listened. I talked, she listened. We shared stories, worries, fears, past regrets, family tales, laughter. She never once had an iPhone in her hand while I talked. I never looked at mine while she talked. I didn't get up or leave the room while she was talking to me. We LISTENED to each other. How often do you get the opportunity to do this in your own home?

At my house, the lives of others are certainly more important than anything I might like to share, a funny story or an opinion. What is happening in a text or an instagram or an email is way more important than any silly little thing that I have to say, so I was so happy to have these days with my friend, who tolerated my chatter and shared a laugh  or two. I am very blessed to have some good friends who like to talk with me about any old thing that might come up.

Wesley is home for a bit and we have been sharing some sittin' time too. It's nice to have her here before she moves to California and I am savoring every moment of the time she allows me. Oh, silly mom. Stop your fretting....... she will be fine out there on the west coast.....

Yesterday was a suck ass day of moving her furniture out of her college house in Winston Salem. Just the two of us. The heat was oppressive, the humidity nearly intolerable. I would prefer to never see the inside of a moving van for as long as I shall live on the Earth. I won't even talk about the refrigerator and the fact that the power was off for a month in July North Carolina heat and why she has the mask on, sittin' on her front stoop!

But we did have long periods of drive time when we talked, only every now and then did she look at her phone.......  it was a fine time!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

I had no idea!

I had my first meeting at the gym with a personal trainer this week. I used to work out three days a week, used weight machines, barbells, rowing machines, etc. I thought I was pretty familiar with all the fitness equipment you needed for a workout. But here's a new one: foam rollers! OMG

With my gym membership, I get two free sessions with a personal trainer, my first workout was worth every dime. He introduced me to the foam roller for myofacial massage.  The roller is like a deep tissue massage for trigger points in the main muscle groups and boy did I ever have some trigger points. After my workout I felt like I had been to a massage therapist for an hour. It was amazing. Rolling this thing on the side of my deltoid broke up all kinds of knots. The roller is used to massage tight muscles, break up adhesions and elongate the muscle to make it stronger and more flexible. I stopped on the way home and bought a roller to have when I can't get to the gym. I think anyone with pain or tightness in the muscles could really benefit from this little piece of equipment and I picked one up for around $10.

The trainer was great, almost like someone knew exactly what I needed and hand picked him for me. He is interested in holistic medicine and healing, follows a path of traditional Japanese zazen meditation, does not believe in drugs to solve all of your ailments, and believes in building the core of your body through good nutrition and working the body in a more traditional way, instead of sitting at a weight machine and letting it do all the work. I think I'm going to like this guy!

Already my body feels better, and I think mentally I feel better, just knowing I am back to taking better care of my body. I'm not so far gone that I can't get it back in shape with a little focus and effort.  I have started taking fish oil and magnesium to help repair my joints and I'm having a smoothie every morning with hemp protein and ground flax meal.  I am beginning to feel some relief in my elbow. Whoop!
I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The potter's body

In July 2003, I took a introductory pottery workshop at the Parks and Rec in Albemarle NC with Syd Luck, a now legendary potter in Seagrove, NC. I was smitten. I signed up immediately for pottery classes in Charlotte at Clayworks and didn't look up from my clay until last year.

Today, while meditating in my acupuncturist's quiet room with needles stuck all in my back it occurred to me what a toll clay has taken on my body. After only three treatments, my flexibility is slowly coming back and the aches and pains are subsiding.

Let's just take a look at what a potter does to his/her body..... we will use me as an example but I'm sure most potters will be nodding their heads.

  • lifting 50+ lb. boxes of clay (I had to drop it down to the 25lb. bags due to lower back pain)
  • lifting full 5 galling buckets of glaze, water, slip, etc.....
  • moving heavy kiln shelves
  • crawling in kilns
  • building kilns
  • lifting heavy boxes of pottery for shows
  • lifting show fixtures and setting up booths
  • climbing ladders
  • bending over work tables for long periods
  • sitting tensely at a potter's wheel for way too many hours
  • trying to wedge hard clay
  • trying to throw hard clay
  • wedging/throwing large amounts of clay
  • sitting all tensed up at boring/slow festivals, shows, etc

I'm sure I could add a lot more to this list, but I'm tired now just reading back over this! As all of the knotted muscles and misaligned spinal pieces get loosened up and put back into place, I am realizing just how bad my body has gotten in the past ten years. I gained 20 pounds, lost most of that last year and have managed to keep it to within a few pounds. I have lower back pain, wrist pain, elbow and forearm pain, neck pain, shoulder pain. I would just about betcha its from pottery.....

My flexibility is coming back in my shoulders thanks to a good chiropractor and today I went and joined a fitness center a couple of miles from my house. I used to work out three times a week, rock climb, white water paddle, hike, backpack, mountain bike..... then I found clay...... and now here I am. Time to get back to the workouts. I'm really tired of my body feeling so creaky and old. I used to be pretty damn fit!

Gerry recently treated me to mini visit at a spa nearby and I remembered how much I really dig that whole spa experience. I like the smell of aromatherapy, the smell of the sauna and the jacuzzi, the pampering of your body and soul, the lemon and cucumber water, the herbal tea, the white robe and slippers. I dig all of that :)   and it put me in touch with the aches in my body and the very strong desire to make them all go away. It's all about me right now! I am hellhound to get this body back in shape. The women in my family live into their 90's, heck my mom doesn't even have a clue she is old yet and she is 85 ha ha! I'm not interested in carrying this pain with me into my 90's!

So here I go into fitness mode. I went shopping today and got some really cute workout clothes, I may have lost muscle tone, but I still look ok in a pair of black workout capris and a tank :) just gotta keep saying to myself:

I'm Awesome!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Aging..... pain.....

I have been feeling my age this past couple of months. I'm struggling with excruciating pain in my left arm, and being left handed, this has not been very pleasant. The pain started in my upper arm and I supposed it was bursitis or just one of the many joys of being over 50. But, recently after moving a shit ton of pottery at work, very large planters I had no business lifting up to very high shelves, my elbow started giving me problems and then my forearm. I have lost a lot of gripping ability in my hand and I am basically a hot mess, sitting with ice packs, suffering from stomach aches from taking to much ibuprofen, and holding my arm a lot. It hurts, ya'll!

I finally decided I needed a professional to help me with this, self medication isn't working. Yesterday I went to an acupuncturist/chiropractor who practices Chinese medicine. Why do I wait so long to do these things? It was bliss! Heat and massage, meditation,  manipulation of the spine and just someone's kind words that she can help did wonders for my pain. I'm sore as hell this morning but  in a good way, I see a glimmer that this pain might go away and I can feel normal again!

I woke at exactly 7:45 this morning, late for me actually. One of my dearest friends was being moved into a scan at the same moment, tests to see what her cancer is doing. She has undergone 25 radiation treatments for a tumor she found randomly one day, it just popped up. No warning, no reason. Cancer is madness. She is brave and strong and will handle whatever the tests conclude, but those of us on the sidelines are feeling the pain as well.

Today, I am taking Wesley for acupuncture. She has some issues with pain as well and I think this will help.  I seek alternatives to pain medications for a very good reason. 10 years ago, Gerry's mom had back surgery to try and elevate her back pain, it wasn't successful and brought on even more pain, and so the wise doctors treated her with opiates and narcotics, and then gave her drugs to help the side effects, and then more drugs to help more side effects until she lost herself in her mind. They diagnosed her with Alzhemier's, but  the 14 drugs a day she was being given should be a clue that maybe she really doesn't have Alzheimer's at all......

Pain management in this country is out of control. I avoid going to doctors until there is nothing else I can do, and even then I seek out alternative treatments. Watching my friend go through this cancer has given me much to think about. How would I handle this? She has the finest medical doctors around here at the Duke Cancer Center and she trusts them. They are doing everything possible for her. But I wonder, would I do the same? Maybe so. But maybe I would just head out to Colorado and get me some hemp oil. Who's to say until you face the thing yourself.

What a short life we are given. You don't realize how brief time here on Earth is until you cross over the 50 year hump. Then it smacks you in the face. In my mind I am still the girl I was at 20, but I look in the mirror and see an aging woman and some days it freaks me out. Who is that, I wonder? Looks are fleeting, you damn sure better have something else going for you, haha!

Ahh, well, my mind is rambling this morning, thought I would give a shout out to all of you and see if anyone is still out there. The blogs are fading, short attention spans, busy people, boredom. Some days the things on my mind are too difficult or too private to write about. Art isn't happening for me right now. Does that mean I am not an artist because I don't want to create art? No, it just means I'm burnt out, perhaps evolving, changing. Getting older.......  having pain!

Hope you are having a good summer and it's pain free :)