Category Archives: Faith Path

The Clash and beyond

This next story was to be the ongoing installment of our (mine and Hubby’s) 3-month retirement journey – this was before COVID-19 worked its way into our knowledge.

This was before our kids came to visit us in our bubble of pickleball fun and relaxation in Arizona.

This was before we became disappointed that our activities were being cancelled.

This was before we became shocked and alarmed at the news of a new virus, of illness, of death, and before we became certain we needed to pack our belongings quickly and head home to BC, Canada.

As I’ve had a few weeks to absorb and somewhat adjust to life as it is today, I’m finally able to sit at the computer and edit the story that has sat waiting…. daring me to continue.

The story is trivial in comparison to what is happening in our world but it has given me pause to think about what goes on in the background of people’s lives, what may be happening as they encounter events which forces them to adjust thinking, to correct behaviors or to recognize undesirable actions in themselves.

I wonder how parents are managing cooped up in their homes, floundering with the lack of regular schedules, single people with too many hours without human chats, far too many people without a warm hug or touch, seniors without proper support or not allowed to be near family…and the list goes on.

 

The Clash

I’m assuming many of us have seen THAT couple – you know the one, where you are out minding your own business, enjoying a lovely afternoon, perhaps in a store, having just paid for your groceries, daydreaming, walking to your car thinking about a great dinner ahead or some other pleasant thought when suddenly a sound catches your attention.

And, there she is, about twenty feet away but in front of you, and you have nowhere to go but backwards or stop, but no, out of curiosity you keep walking and so does she…talking to herself or at the man who is several steps in front of her.

Maybe… he may be her husband but who can assume that part.

The senior citizen lady is all decked out in coordinated sports clothes, a bright golden tee-shirt and black capri’s and her running shoes are moving like she’s on a march.  Her hands are waving with punctuated gestures and some of her fingers are snapping but the words she is speaking which are rushing out at top speed aren’t discernible.

What seems clear by the body language is that the lady is angry. Rigid. Jerky. Words that sound sharp. Clipped.

And what is the assumed husband doing? He’s hanging on to the cart full of groceries with what appears to be a grip like that cart is about to be yanked out of his hands, but he keeps moving forward, never saying a word.

One step at a time until he reaches the car, unlocks the trunk, allows the lid to rise to its top and begins to unload the cart of groceries sliding them into position making sure that nothing will fall over. Every movement careful and deliberate. Quietly.

He then gets into the driver’s side of the car and waits.

 

Well, if it were me, I’d be curious to know what the problem was and part of me would want to inch myself just a wee bit closer to see what was going to happen next.

Another part of me might wonder what that man had done to spark such animated gestures and feisty one-sided conversation.

But then I’d reach my own car, put away my groceries and upon noticing that nothing violent was happening I’d get into my own thoughts, shake my head perhaps and wonder about such a display of frustration out in public.

I’d smugly think I was so glad it wasn’t me behaving like that and perhaps do a little tsk-tsk as I put my car into reverse, then drive away, on to my own business.

 

To my utter horror, I discovered that senior citizen couple, that woman, was indeed me.

That was us, that stomping woman and grocery cart man, just a regular looking recently retired couple, trying to adjust to way too much stimulation over a period of weeks while on holiday.

What stopped the whole scenario from moving forward into any more outburst of angry words was me noticing a person I knew, who seemed oblivious to our display and lack of harmony.

As this person rolled her own grocery cart up behind us but across the lane, it startled me into a momentary stunned silence. We then spoke our hellos and exchanged a couple of sentences of words I cannot remember. We said our goodbyes and parted ways.

I got in our car; actually, I slunk into the front passenger side and wanted to crumble right down to the floor.

Hubby backed up the car then drove away.

I felt a hot wave rush to my cheeks and slither over my whole body as I instant re-played the last couple of minutes that I’d been flapping around like a chicken in distress.

Hubby did not say a word; he has a kind of irritating wisdom about him at time likes these.

It took us a couple of days to sort out what had led up to what seemed like a major incident to me but upon reflection and distance, was not.

It took a couple of days because we had to fit communicating into the routine of walking, going to the pool, riding our bicycles to the pickleball courts, eating, watching tv and avoiding talking.

There had been a few separate occasions of attitudes, comments and behaviors which happened that built up because they were not discussed. Perhaps we tired, bored, or some things had not gone our way…?

But then the tiny tipping point happened and is the only item which is discussed here as the other ‘stuff’ is no longer important.

We had come out of the grocery store, I began talking to Hubby about some black barbecues sitting outside the store that I wanted to look at a little bit closer, but I wasn’t looking at him as I moved towards them. I was looking at the barbecues.

Hubby wasn’t looking at me.  He was busy watching for cars, crossing the lane and walking himself and the grocery cart in the direction of our parked car; thus, he didn’t hear me speaking.

I kept talking until I finally looked over in the direction of where I thought he’d be, toddling along behind me…he wasn’t.

Upon reflection (a couple days of it) I had been embarrassed, standing around talking to myself, totally not his fault but that didn’t matter in the moment.

I became that woman. You know the rest of the story…

 

 

Further thoughts.

In these last week’s I’ve become so focused on what is truly important.

My family. My friends. My faith – where I get my hope and my peace.

I continue to find joy and laughter in the midst of chaos, fear, yes, some fear, and like you, am daily dealing with new learning curves.

This time of uncertainty is, after all, also the continuing story of mine and Hubby’s retirement journey; writing about it allows me to reflect, burn off some brain energy and helps me adjust to living most of life in the house. The two of us…

We are both adjusting to the reality that he’ll likely be going back to work too soon for my comfort level – for COVID-19 and other critical incident staff support for front line workers in the health care setting.

For now, we walk a bit, we talk, we pray, watch the news and feel whatever comes next.

 

Please leave your comments and how you are doing during this current season of life.

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He’s Retired, so now what do I do with him…

Friday the 13th  2019 was the last day of work for Hubby.  Ross is his name but I do like the term Hubby so this is what I will likely stick with.

I’m not into the whole superstition thing but it is quite amazing how certain things learned from childhood hang around, like it being a bad luck day, don’t walk in front of a black cat, throw salt over your left shoulder or right, step over a crack or you’ll break your mothers back and that is all supposed to ward off bad things.

I grew up with all that vast knowledge, which didn’t mean much then, and even less now but someone has made mention of the date of Hubby’s retirement and that is what triggered all the memory quotes.

Well, no bad luck events took place and obviously Hubby didn’t take any notice of the date either. It was all about the dates lining up for the best possible scenario for holidays which began Friday and extending into January 23, 2020 which will be the official retirement date.

It was also all about dates and taxes.

Hubby had his farewell work event, cards and gifts given, hugs and best wishes and a boot out the door. Done.

Actually, he was well respected and will be missed by those who were supported by him and with those with whom he worked. Hubby assisted people in crisis, taught workshops on grief, loss and resiliency and emotional first aid…and much more. I wasn’t there and knew very few of ‘his people’ so will just leave it at that.

He’s taken his gift of new binoculars and packed them for our upcoming trip and is waiting for a new piece of luggage which may or may not arrive before we leave.

One of the gifts he received from his closest colleague is a wooden plaque of one of hubby’s favorite quotes, “Anyone who willingly enters into the pain of a stranger is truly a remarkable person” by Henri J.M. Nouwen. It sits prominently on our fireplace mantle.

We, as in me, our daughter TL, our son Ra and our daughter in law Ca, had our own event,  a family pizza making night and gave hubby some new bike shorts and a snazzy shirt… nice gift but really it is a motivational device to get him out of the house and staying active.

He likes bike riding so it won’t be a new experience – he will just look a lot better doing it.

If I know him… and I do, he will find some random patch and sew it or glue it onto his shirt.  It will be some gleaming adoration for the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team.

Since Friday….

Packing for our holiday.

Playing pickleball.

Packing for our holiday.

Shopping for Christmas gifts.

Packing for our holiday.

Hubby – Seeing the doctor for an ongoing (4 months) sinus infection, getting x-rays and blood-work done.

Pickleball workshop for people from Hubby’s work environment. That was fun. I and two of our pickleball friends assisted with reigning in the keener’s and encouraging the shyer ones.

Arranging plans for looking after our beloved Thomas the Cat…upcoming Vet appointment to get an anal gland expression done. Just imagine that for a minute.

The list for cleaning the house is growing…we have a person moving in and well, the house needs to be presentable.

There are still ten days until departure and events to attend, appetizer and drinks, friends to see, annual 24th extended family dinner and gift exchange, one more pair of baby booties to crochet, likely a last minute gift to buy, our immediate family breakfast, gift exchange and dinner, then our main tidy and pack day and we will be off…

But first, Hubby doesn’t know this yet. I have arranged a date for us. We are going for a manicure and a pedicure. This is all so self-serving of course.

Hubby will be switching shoes soon for flip flops and I may be sitting next to his feet on a lounge chair. I want to like what I see.

 

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Facing Fears and Trying New Things

 

The idea of creating sixty-five activities or events came as I looked at a selfie picture on my phone, just before a walk over a bridge.

My husband Ross and I were camping at Whistler Mountain this summer with our son and his wife and one days’ adventure was to go on the gondolas and chair lifts then cross the recently finished suspension bridge called the Cloudraker Skybridge.

Check out whistlerblackcomb.com

 

Photo of me…

IMG_8799…just before taking the first steps onto the bridge.

 

 

As I’m not a lover of heights I was a bit nervous but determined to show a brave face and enjoy the trek.

Not quite a quarter of the way over I heard a lady say, “I think that’s far enough” and she turned back. I agreed, said, “I think so too” and was about to follow her when I realized others were also hanging onto the rail. Perhaps they weren’t gripping with all ten fingers like me and moaning quite as loud, but we were making progress as we inched along.

With my son appearing behind me and talking close to my ear, each step was an encouragement to succeed, being told I was doing well and that I indeed could do this. I wasn’t sure I believed him, but I kept walking and trying not to see through spaces in the slotted steel plank to the earth far below. I was simply trusting the massive structure to hold me and listened to the sound of my son’s voice.

Arriving to the safe side, a platform with a solid base…well, a solid wood floor with waist high railings, perched atop a leveled surface on the top of a mountain. I was able to take a deep breath and enjoy the view of the beautiful valley all around me.

I was verbally thankful that the next stage of development was not finished yet – a glass bottomed view point which will be just another several steps beyond the safe platform.

That is not on my bucket list of things to do or conquer.

My next concern was that eventually I would need to go back over the suspension bridge as there was no other option.

I overheard a girl about 10 years old telling the adult near by that in no way was she going back over that bridge again. I wanted to encourage the adult to call for a helicopter to come get the girl and that I’d offer to go along for the ride but knew the possibility wasn’t likely to happen.

And so, we set out…I hovered my left foot over the solid platform while I grabbed at the cold steel railing with my two hands again and waited, waited while my body and brain were synced up and then allowed my foot to drop down onto the walkway.

We walked forward and left the girl behind – not knowing how her people would get her moving.

On the firm ground of safety, I was euphoric.  I can’t say I enjoyed the journey but I can say I did the walk successfully and am proud of myself.

Reflecting on the photo and the trek across suspension bridge I’ve come up with the plan of exploring sixty-five new adventures over the next year to celebrate a birthday of the same number.

I’ve done the math and have included the suspension bridge as my first event. There will be sixty-four more at this time next year. It seems to work out to roughly one new item to explore, touch, feel, go to, do or experience per week. I may have to expand them or bunch them up but the goal is to manage sixty-five new things in the next year.

Come back and see what this official senior citizen is doing.

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Infectious Bacteria Stalkers-My Summer Saga

Seven

After nearly two months of illness, on Sunday July 11th I felt well enough to attend a church service.  The pastor who spoke that day read Psalm 23 and challenged others to read and ponder over a weeks’ time what God might be saying individually.

I took up the challenge and my regular journal recorded… after my first reading, the 4th verse jumped out at me, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – fearing no evil…  my immediate reaction is fear. Perhaps because I’ve been ill for 2 months and that’s been terrible enough. I would struggle greatly with a “death sentence.”

I’m not finished here yet but often I wonder what I’m doing – what’s of value – what’s not.  Too often I believe I’m simply coasting, putting in time – wondering, waiting, – not living the life intended for me…I then recalled some areas of my life where I’d struggled by not fulfilling my own life’s dreams and the current journey to rectify that.

My journal ended with, Now what? What’s it all meant? How am I moving forward?

It was weeks before I made it back to my journal as my body let me know it had been through a battle and needed some more assistance.

With all the antibiotics and pain medications going into me my gut ran out of good bacteria and the nasty bacteria called Clostridium Difficile decided to take over. Was it already there? Had I picked it up somewhere else? Why me?  I’ll never know…

The bacteria were in control and with a bare minimum of details, I stayed home, I stayed close to the bathroom and I stayed in bed.  It was the amount of blood passing through me that sent me back to plunk myself down in the doc’s chair once again.

So, one might ask, how does C Difficile get treated?  The crazy answer is with yet another antibiotic.

In my Gratitude Journal July 22 – Grateful for “more” antibiotics to kill off the C Difficile bug in my body.  I will hopefully be on the mend. 

On that day, I continued my Psalm 23 reflections and in my regular journal, recorded some notes…Bang – right off the top – The LORD is my shepherd, not life, not hubby, not the things about me.  “I shall not be in want”

He will satisfy me – as I think about what to write, what to paint, where to spend time…if I go to my Shepherd and ask for his direction he will guide me, show me and lead me because “his rod and staff” they will comfort me. In him, amid his presence I am surrounded by his cloud of protection.  Whatever it is I do; it will be right.

The following day in a continued somber mood Psalm 23’s reflections met mine and my pen flowed with ink over several pages in my regular journal.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

The water runs out of the spout in my garden fountain, into a bowl and trickles below only to cycle through the system again, and again.

This is how God is leading me beside quiet waters.

I’ve sat many hours this summer, listening to the water, waiting to be well while one strange infection after another attacks my body.

I live in a Modular Home Park – AKA (also known as) a mobile home park where a typical impression might be one of lower class, poor and unkempt – a TV view of what I’ve often heard called, ‘white trailer trash’.

I love it here, when I can put aside my own biased views of my home location. Out my back door is the deck designed by hubby who then enlisted the services of his talented brother to build.

Surrounding our little yard is the wood fence designed and built by hubby earlier this spring just as the garden was coming to life and I became ill. My daughter and I had assisted just enough one day to get bragging rights that ‘we’ built the fence together.

The fence keeps Thomas the Cat within, who graciously chooses not to jump and run and is the perfect backdrop for the multitude of seasonal pops of color that have entertained me.

I feel protected and contained within my boundaries – it reminds me of ‘walking with Jesus’ along the narrow path – completely free within.

So, I sit, I think, I pray…

I wish I were well, I fight with the frustration and anger that rises within me.  I have little choice but to relax, accept that I feel fatigued, have little energy and I cannot control this current situation. I can instead, enjoy watching my cat enjoy being outside with me looking at the birds and listen to their songs.  Like him, I can stretch out my legs and lift my face to the warmth of the sun and simply… be beside quiet waters.

This is my moment to be grateful for all I have and which is being provided for me.

On Monday, August 1st I wrote in my Grateful Journal, Grateful. Feel better/off medication.

On Monday, August 22nd I wrote in my Grateful Journal, Grateful.  Sunshine. Feel Healthy.  Have options. Have a future to enjoy.

 

Please look for my next and last entry on …my summer saga…after all, summer came and went, fall rains arrived and it is nearly time for Christmas trees and snowfalls.

 

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