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Life Lessons

Good Year

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Good Year

The past couple of years have been very challenging and frankly, scary for this Bartlett family; things are never boring at our house. The situations we have faced have challenged us emotionally, spiritually, physically, financially… ok, in every way possible. But it all seems to be turning out ok.

Steven and I are on the way to Lynchburg, VA to our daughter Genette and bonus son Abe's house. As we were driving along Steven got my attention by saying, "blimp!" I looked up and there was the Good Year blimp resting in the sky.

Seeing the blimp served as an encouraging reminder – through it all it has been a good year. Bryon is in remission and will be marrying the adorable Amber in November, Carmen continues on life adventures, and Steven, Abe, and I have all recovered well from our surgeries, Steven also has some leads on a new job, Genette is pregnant, and we are on the way to Lynchburg to attend the gender reveal party for our first grandchild due to arrive at the end of November.

Yep, that's our story and we are sticking to it – it's been a Good Year.

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The Burial in New York

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The Burial in New York

Steven, our daughter, Genette, and I took a very quick trip to upstate New York for the burial of Steven's father this past weekend. William died in April and although we went up to be with Steven’s mother during that time we were not able to have the burial. This is not unusual for the north during the winter when the ground is frozen – digging the grave is difficult to impossible. Genette's husband Abe was not able to make it because of his job, so Steven and I drove to her house near Lynchburg, VA, spent the night, and we left together Friday morning to head for New York.

We got on the road about 7:30 am. According to the Garmin that would have put us in Albany, New York around dinner time. However, we had been on the road for about an hour when our forward motion was slowed down to the rate of 3 miles per hour for about 30 minutes. Then we saw it: a tour bus had broken down and was causing the delay in traffic. Once we got past the tour bus we were cruised along again until we hit another traffic jam: construction. We knew we would hit that somewhere along the route.

Back on our way and doing well for a couple of hours, we stopped for a break and some food. We climbed back in the van and ... wait for it ... the van would not start. Someone tried to give us a jump but it didn’t work. We called AAA and waited an hour before the wrong assistance truck arrived. After another 45 minutes, the correct truck arrived, and in 30 minutes more a new (expensive) battery was installed and we were once again on the road. We arrived at our hotel in Albany around 10:30 pm, tired sweaty, and ready for sleep.

Saturday morning we drove a couple of hours to Chestertown, NY for the graveside service and our final good-bye to Steven's father. The weather was warm, but the shade from a maple tree and a gentle breeze made the temperature perfect. The sky was dressed in pale blue with white clouds forming still life images.

After the ceremony, family and friends gathered at the local fire house for conversation and stories: a simple day as was proper. Another 2 hour drive and we were back to the hotel at about 11pm.

Sunday morning we set our alarm for 5:15 am and we drove to Kearneysville, WV to my niece's house for the night. As I write this it is Monday morning and we are on the way back to VA to drop off Genette. Steven and I will continue on to Charlotte, NC, so we can sleep in our own bed after a 2000 mile journey, 3 beds, and 5 days. The trip back has been smooth and we've had no traffic jams ... WHAT?!!

Oh wait, the Garmin just said there are delays ahead (Sigh)…

Well, I suppose it'll be another story to tell.



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A Sore Throat

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A Sore Throat

I have a sore throat right now. My husband has been ill all week and I am afraid I have caught a bit of what he had. It is very inconvenient to get ill, but I am especially inconvenienced this time because I am out of town. I don’t like feeling this way when I am away from home. However, since I am, I will make the best of it and get some additional sleep.  I usually stay up until 11:00pm, but I’ll be going to bed about 9:30pm tonight. I’ve been drinking tea all day, trying to shake this off, but it is still hanging on.  Certainly, it is a virus and I’ll have to let it run its course.  

Isn’t that hard to do sometimes, letting something run its course?

It has interrupted my plans and expectations for today. Oh well, sleep is time when your body is healing and right now I am able to go get some extra sleep. It will give me time to dream and who knows, there might just be a good story in those dreams.

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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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Laugh about what you don't like!

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Laugh about what you don't like!

I have been doing a residency every Thursday for three weeks at a local school. It is one that I love to do. The students are making origami books, and in it they write a bit of an autobiography. I give the students prompts to spark their ideas and help make good use of their time. One of the things I asked them to include in their narrative is something that they don’t like. Many of those pages just made me laugh: “ I don’t like how my father’s feet smell.” “I don’t like elevators.” “I really don’t like wearing socks.”

I got to thinking — what if we all just laughed about the things we don’t like? It might not make those things more appealing, but a good belly laugh is really good for your health. It relaxes you, reduces stress hormones, helps you to connect with other people, burns calories, and makes you feel good. So, next time you are faced with something you don’t like, laugh instead… you might live longer, which means you can spend more time on the things you do like!

This song from Mary Poppins always makes me laugh: 

 
 

If you would like to learn even more about laughter, follow the links below!

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Stress Relief from Laughter? It’s no joke

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