Monthly Archives: December 2014

There’s No Place Like Home

A few weeks back I started a series on my longing for community and how it takes a village to create one. While drafting the third piece in the series, I fell, broke my ankle and now find myself confined to a wheel chair. But then – something wonderful happened!  My community showed up!

Friends and family have been coming over, calling, sending notes, flowers, bring food, meals, books, bring cheer, leaving comments on my blog, taking me to lunch, wheeling me around the mall, setting up our xmas tree and so much more. When David hosted a three day conference/workshop right after my injury, I had several friends jump in to help in any way that they could.  They took me out to lunch, made me dinners and just plain took care of me – whatever I needed.  What a wonderful group of supportive friends I have. Thank you doesn’t begin to express my gratitude for the care and attention that I have received since this awful accident.

With all the attention, love, and well wishes – I feel a little bit like Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz – when she wakes up and realizes that all she ever wanted and needed was in her own backyard. It turns out I have quite a great community of friends and family who have circled the wagons round.  They have stepped up and taken care of me. My ‘tribe’ of friends might not all know each other, but they all know me and are supporting me each in their own special ways  I feel full and I feel blessed by their love and support.

One of our family’s xmas rituals is to chop down a xmas tree. This tradition usually involves a fight heated discussion on which tree to bring home and what music will be listened to in the car. This year’s holiday routine, just like many other routines lately, has been thrown out the window because of my injury. So last Sunday we got together, along with my father who flew in from NYC to take care of me for the week, to decorate a tree with the homemade ornaments that the kids and I made over the years. Afterwards, my husband and I celebrated the season with friends at a holiday party. I needed a recovery day on Monday, but Sunday was a ton of fun. Here are some photos from the festivities:

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As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Sabbatical Time = Think Time

As some of you know, earlier this year my husband and I were able to spend 5 months living and traveling around Australia. It was fantastic – truly a trip of a lifetime. I got to visit places and see things and meet people that I could have never imagined. We had a great time.

One of the best parts of all our time in Australia was the ability to take a break from our regular lives and our normal routines and be in a totally new environment. Of course, we used this time to travel and explore Australia, New Zealand. I even got to spend a day in Fiji (must get back there someday and really explore!). But more than the travel, being away for so long gave me the gift of time to think, to daydream, to meditate and to clear the clutter in my head. It felt freeing.

I view our time there as my “think time.” It allowed my thoughts to wonder, it allowed me to think longer and without interruptions or distractions. I admit I resisted the trip in the beginning. There was a tremendous amount of work to be done prior to leaving: rent out our home to strangers, find a place for our cats and then pack what we would need while away.

Once there it felt magical being away.  There was no pressure to see places and do things in a hurry. We had plenty of time. We made plans and then changed them on a dime, just because we could and were not in a rush.

While in Melbourne, our home base, I was able to explore the city as well as my inner thoughts and feelings—this was a true gift of our sabbatical time. I got to think about my early childhood, analyzed patterns in my relationships, thought about my adolescence, as well as my early adult life.  We also celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary there and so I spent time thinking about my life as a wife and as mother. As it so happens, we timed our trip to Australia as our youngest started her second semester at university. So it was the perfect time to take stock of my parenting tenure and to think about my new life without kids living at home.

When we returned back to the states in June, I thought it was time for me to begin my new life, whatever that meant. One promise I made to myself while away was that I would make plans for lunch and/or coffee with more girlfriends more often. I started to explore what the next phase of my life would look like, trying on ideas in my head, thinking of how I wanted to spend my time. I was just beginning to get into a routine that felt good for me when I fell, broke my leg and ankle, and all of my routines and plans flew out the window.

Before the fall, I had been wondering how I could find that solitary “think time” in my life in Northern California as I had in Melbourne. I had started to miss my time to daydream, to think, to wonder. And now, forced off my feet for six weeks, I have found it again.

How do you carve ‘think’ time into your life?

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

The Road to Recovery

Two weeks ago I fell down two small, but mighty steps, while having dinner at my son’s house. As I landed, I broke my ankle/leg in three places and dislocated the joint. During a three hour surgery the following day, I was outfitted with all sorts of new hardware to hold my ankle and foot together. I have four more weeks of non-weight bearing on that leg, so now my new reality strictly includes activities I can do while sitting. I have made use of my time by reading and stitching. Lots of reading. Lots of stitching.

Here are some of the pieces I have stitched and finished (so far!):

I found the material and the instructions for these beautiful felt applique ornaments at a quilt show when I was in Melbourne. They stitched up fast and fun.




These hardanger angels are made from Norwegian fabric and stitched with patterns that I found in a book and overlaid onto the angel outlines. I backed them with felt and embellished them with decorative stitches and beads. I love doing hardanger pieces.



More hardanger patterned ornaments.




Books I have read (so far):

The Ships of Brides By Jojo Moyes is about a group of young war brides, from Australia, being sent to their new home and husbands in England at the end of WWII. I am a sucker for Jojo Moyes books and enjoyed this one, although I can’t say that it was great literature, it is historical fiction, one of my favorite genres. And I loved that it was about Australian brides given our time there earlier this year.

The Captain’s Daughter by Leah Fleming is a novel about two women who survive the sinking of the Titanic and their subsequent friendship. This was not a heavy read, but was perfect for lying in bed, on heavy medication. Can’t say it was great but it held my interest while I was bedridden. It was predictable and the characters a bit over simplified, but then again, I am a sucker for a happy ending—which this one has.

The Mill River Redemption, A Novel by Darcie Chan, is a sequel to her earlier best seller, The Mill River  Recluse, which I did not read. This is the story of a woman who leaves NYC after her husband dies and heads for small town Vermont to raise her two small children with the help of an aunt that she barely knows. When the daughter are young women, they become estranged and after their mother dies, they find out that the unusual terms of her will are supposed to help them forgive each other.  This book raised all sorts of interesting questions for me. What would I have done if something had happened to my husband when my kids were little? Would I have stayed in northern California or returned to the east coast to live near family? You see when my kids were six and one my husband received a cancer diagnosis. He is fine now, but this theme struck home (although please note that the husband in the book did not die of cancer). Another theme that interested me was the notion of estrangement. Is there something that a family member could do that would make it so that I wouldn’t speak to them for decades? The sisters in the book had not spoken to each other for over 10 years when their mother dies. I come from a family in which I didn’t meet one of my grandparents because of this: one of my parents cut off their mother for over 10 years – it is an interesting thing to think about.

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro is a novel about art and value. It was very interesting and I learned a lot. I read this one for my book club and I liked thinking about what gives a piece of art its value: is it simply because it was painted by a famous painter? Or is it because the piece has meaning or beauty or evokes emotion? The book is a bit of a mystery, but it unfolds well and the characters are well developed and mostly make sense.

One thing I noticed is that all four of these books make use of going back and forth in time to tell their stories. And even though they varied in depth and sophistication, they each made use of history and I always enjoy reading about the past.

What would you do with you time if you were suddenly forced to sit and heal?

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Holiday Calamity: The Good, the Bad and the Just Plain Weird!

In last week’s piece I wrote about how our 2014 Thanksgiving was going to be a different and Unexpected Thanksgiving. And it sure was unexpected – but in ways that even surprised us. We did not have our romantic get-away to Santa Cruz. Instead, all our plans went out the window when I fell 4 days before Thanksgiving and broke my leg and ankle in three different places along with dislocating it. After a three hour surgery and a few nights in the hospital, I am home. So our holiday was very different from what we had expected!

This misfortune has proved to have good, bad and the just plain weird.

The Weird:

Let’s start with the weird coincidence that I have now had surgery on my left ankle three times, each time exactly 10 years apart: November 1994, November 2004 and now November 2014. Note: my husband and kids are threatening to lock me in a padded room in November 2024. Over the years it has gotten harder on me physically, but easier to deal with because of the knowledge I have gained through each successive experience. I know I need a wheel chair, crutches, handicap placard, shower bag designed to go over casts, and of course my smart phone. What a huge difference having a mini computer in my pocket makes! And over the past 20 years I have also grown up some and learned how to ask for help. I remember a bad moment in 1994 when I ate lunch on the floor of my kitchen because I couldn’t get the food from the kitchen to the couch while still relying on crutches. This year as my husband plans to be inaccessible for three days next week I have friends coming in to keep me company and help with my lack of mobility. What a difference!

The Bad:

There is no sugar coating this situation. This was a bad break and the three hours of surgery alone took a toll on me. As I write this I don’t really know my prognosis. The surgeon was saying that I should expect six to 12 months before I can get back to normal and back on the yoga mat. I am determined and I am strong, BUT I am no longer in my 20’s or 30’s or even 40’s. Realistically this is going to take a lot of time and work and maybe now in my mid 50’s (gulp) I will finally find some patience.

The Good:

The best thing to come from my misfortune is that our daughter changed her plans and came home for Thanksgiving. Her loving reaction and desire to be here to take care of me has been very healing. Other good: because of email and social media, I have been able to let people know about the accident without having to wear myself out repeating the whole awful story. Friends and family have been kind and generous with their offers to help, beautiful flowers and their understanding for when I have hit a wall and need to lay down to rest. And for some reason more readers have been leaving comments on my blog posts and subscribing and even sharing past pieces that they liked. So while my happy dance has been altered, I am none-the-less overjoyed with the support for me and my work.

Here is a parting contrast shot:

Now                versus                March 2014 in Fiji                         Now                                                                                    March 2014 in Fiji

So as usual, I will figure out a way to mother myself through this situation, but now I am open to mothering from others in my life, what a nice perspective to be able to see. When was the last time you looked back over 20 years to see how you and your life has changed? What did you learn?

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!