An Unplanned Journey

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An Unplanned Journey

My husband Steven and I took an unplanned trip to our “old stompin’ ground” in Upstate New York at the beginning of this month. Steven’s father’s health had taken a turn for the worse, and he left this earth in the early morning of April 4. Steven and I journeyed to New York to be with his family, so the trip was bittersweet.

We packed up our van in the rain and drove to West Virginia to my niece Samantha’s house. It was nice seeing her, her husband, and her two little girls that I call my “redheaded fairies.” Those two are just so cute and lively you can’t help but smile when you see them. The following day we headed for Albany, NY, by way of Brook’s B-B-Q in Oneonta, a local favorite you can only get in that area (It’s a must for us whenever we go back to Upstate!). We completed the trip to Albany, (through more rain), and stopped by Steven’s mother Wanda’s place. His sister (Kristen) had arrived from California, so we were able to visit with them for a couple of hours before going on to our hotel.

The next day we found time to go to my brother Joel’s house to have lunch with him, his wife (Donna), and my nephew (Millard). Joel still lives on the property where my father lived as a boy and where my parents raised my siblings and me. All of the original buildings were built in the 1800s and are in rough shape, but it still feels like home. The people on our mountain speak a bit differently than most; I enjoyed being able to speak in the tone, lilt, and vocabulary that I grew up knowing. After lunch, Joel and I walked around the property, and I was able to collect a few relics to take home to North Carolina.

The next few days were spent with Steven’s family making plans. We settled on the obituary write up for the newspaper and a date for the burial ceremony during the summer. It is not uncommon for people in the north to wait for warmer months to bury remains; the frozen ground makes it almost impossible to dig a grave. Steven and I also took some time out to walk around a couple of thrift stores to debrief; sometimes you have to step away.

After several days, it was time for Steven and me to begin the trip back to North Carolina. We said our goodbyes to his family and left Albany. We decided to take a detour and drive past the house Steven grew up in. We were surprised by all of the very interesting changes made to the home and property: buildings were being constructed and several statues were placed on the grounds. A lot was going on; still, the house remained the original dark red color that we were both familiar with.

From there we drove past the country church where Steven and I were married. There it was, still looking the same. About 30 miles later we passed by SUNY Cobleskill, where Steven and I met, & smiled as we drove by. It's been nearly 40 years since we said, "hello" to each other there (and 36 since we said, "I do.")… I think it's gonna work out for us.

Then it was back to my family farm to pick up the relics I had collected. After a brief visit with Joel and Donna, we packed up the van and got back on the road. We spent the day traveling back to West Virginia, spent the night with Samantha’s family, then drove on to Lynchburg, VA to spend a couple of days with Genette (our oldest daughter) and her husband, Abe. Steven and I were glad we stopped there for a couple of days. We are now home again in North Carolina.

There are stories in all that we do; people in our lives, the journeys we take, and the choices we make. Then the day comes when we pass on and leave a space on this earth for someone else.

For now, this time belongs to you and me, so let’s LIVE!!

Dance, sing, go outside, visit friends, call someone, have a smoothie, pick strawberries, collect relics, jump in the water, splash in the rain, play with the redheaded fairies in your life… just don’t pass on without leaving a story behind.

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What a Difference a Year Makes

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What a Difference a Year Makes

Today, April 17, is our son Bryon’s birthday.

This time last year, our lives looked a lot different than they do today. Steven (my husband) was in California with Bryon taking him to his final week of chemo. I was at my daughter Genette’s house in Virginia on April 13th when he finished his last treatment. I found myself there again this year, but with my husband. I flashed back to receiving Steven’s phone call that chemo was finished; I had a total meltdown when I heard that news! Finished!

The picture of Bryon that Steven sent me on that final treatment day was hard to see; he looked completely drugged out. But this year? This year Bryon is, well, Bryon again. His beard is back, his smile is back, and his joking attitude is back. There are residual effects from having the chemo, of course (he fights with neuropathy in his feet), but Bryon, my son, is returning.

This year, Bryon has a fiancé, Amber, and they will be getting married in November. Amber stayed by Bryon’s side and helped him fight his way through the challenges of cancer and chemo. I would say that I am excited about her joining our family, however I feel as though she is already a part of us.

Last year in February I went out to California to be with Bryon as he started his fight with chemotherapy. Carmen (our youngest daughter) went next to be with him for the second week-long round, Genette went out for his third round, and Steven went for the fourth. This year we will all be in California together, and it will be for a much happier occasion.

Yes, today is Bryon’s birthday and what a difference a year makes.

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A Near Impossible Story

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A Near Impossible Story

It snowed on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, in Charlotte, NC!! Gasp!! The daffodils had been blooming for weeks, the tulips had emerged, azaleas were showing their color, peonies were starting to bud… and the snow was coming down. In the words of my people, “who woulda thunk it!!” (I know, I know, all you grammar people out there — but it just doesn’t have the same kind of emphasis when you say, “Who would have considered such a thing?”)

Let us use this event as a life analogy. How many times have you heard something like, “that is completely unlikely,” or “it is so close to impossible that it is never going to happen,” or maybe someone just laughed at you. Well, folks, IT SNOWED IN APRIL IN CHARLOTTE, NC. Spring comes early here, and the possibility of frost up until April 15 is certainly a fair probability, but snow? It didn’t come down for long, and it was gone quickly as the snow turned to rain and the temperature went up to 40 degrees, but it DID snow. Over the weekend, I was wearing capris and a t-shirt, the temperature was close to 80, and the snow was not even a thought for two days in the future, YET it snowed. Sure, it was a little cooler on Monday, and I had to wear a pair of jeans and a denim jacket outside (fluctuation in temperature is to be expected in the spring), but SNOW?

They said, "There is no way it is ever going to snow in Charlotte in April” … but wait, it could happen! Because near to impossible does not mean impossible.

Now you fill in the blank for something in your own life they said would never happen.

They said, “There is no way you are ever going to ________________________” … but wait, it could happen! Because near to impossible does not mean impossible.

Write your own near impossible story.

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Sjogren’s Syndrome Awareness Month

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Sjogren’s Syndrome Awareness Month

April is Sjogren's (SHOW-grins) Syndrome Awareness Month. Sjogren’s is an autoimmune disease that attacks the moisture glands in your body. It is systemic, and I know quite a bit about it because I have it. It is not something I post about very often; I don’t want people to think I am a disease. Nor do I want others to worry about me or think I cannot do my job because of it.

You may have heard of Venus Williams, Shannon Boxx, and Carrie Ann Inaba; they all have Sjogren’s and live with it every day of their lives, just like I do. There are adjustments that they each made in order to live a great life, just like I have had to do. My body rejects and attacks my moisture glands; I take medication, some supplements, and drink a whole lot of water!! I carry a water bottle with me where ever I go. I do not produce tears very much, so I wear some special glasses to help me with the dry eye. I need them especially when I am outside, close to a fan, or near air currents. I use a lot of oils and lotions on my skin because it is dry. I have changed my diet, make sure I wear sunscreen, keep eye drops on hand, and get the rest I need. I have never canceled a gig because of Sjogren’s; I have, however, left the dishes in my sink in favor of a nap.

On average, it takes 6-8 years to get diagnosed when you have this disease. In my own experience, I had to keep going to doctors and telling them that something was wrong. I repeated the story until I finally found one physician that would listen to me. Having Sjogren’s has taught me to make myself a priority, to persevere, and be my own best advocate. It has also shown me that if you need tools to help you, you need to make those tools beautiful so that you will want to use them. I have some amazing water bottles, great glasses, and lovely hats!! I work very hard to manage this disease, just as many others manage their own health situations like RA, diabetes, or food allergies. I have also discovered that my attitude affects my management of this disorder.

Sjogren’s is part of my life story. I know you have had your own challenges, too, and those challenges are part of your story. You may even be in the middle of knowing something is wrong — don’t ignore that. I believe we actually know ourselves well and that feeling of pain or discomfort is a call to action. Believe in yourself enough to keep pushing until you get the help you need.

We all have to live with something; let us focus on the LIVE part.

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Stationery

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Stationery

I have a weakness for beautiful journals, notebooks, planners, stickers, pens… pretty much anything you can find in the stationery aisle. If they served dark chocolate and tea there, I would spend a considerable amount of my day gazing at the lovely items you can find laying on the shelves and hanging on the displays. There are bright colors, perfect points on pencils, fresh ink in the pens, clean unmarked pages; yes, I do love stationery.

I’m not exactly sure why I love new stationery; I certainly don’t need it all. Perhaps it is a symbol of a fresh new start. There is potential in those writing utensils and beautiful books. A new story can be written down. A thought shared, lyrics to a song scribbled, a piece of art blooms on the page. Yes, I think that is it. I see optimism and hope in that aisle, all the way from the on sale 50 cent notebooks, to the colorful sticky notes, to the $50 planners. There is a fresh new beginning there. Oh, and a new beginning deserves beautiful tools.

Why not start something new today? Get a fresh new notebook and a pen that makes you happy — and start. Sure, there will be mistakes along the way, you’ll cross some things out, and eventually you’ll get to the end of the book. BUT don’t worry, there is always a new beginning back in the stationery aisle.

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