4.02.2015

CROCUSES



Just like the crocuses popping through the layers of old snow and dead leaves this week, so I am allowing the beauty of life to keep on pushing through layers of struggle.  Life keeps going and going, whether you choose to see its beautiful blooms or not!

I have to have another surgery.  It would be really easy to bury my head back into the ground and retreat right now.

In the same moments that I got the news that I need another (minor, thankfully) surgery for my stomach, someone else in my life was experiencing their own unrelated crisis.  This person reached out to me and was clearly in distress.  My first thought was one of judgment and blame.  I am a logical "acts with brain" person.  Sometimes I like to blame that on my legal training, but really, it is probably just my awesomely crotchety personality.  My day job requires me to assess a situation, make judgments, put together the pieces, solve problems, and fix things.  I also was so focused on my own needs, that I had a hard time mustering any empathy.

The old me would have immediately said some choice words to the person, blamed them, thrown them a pair of trusty bootstraps, and told them to take responsibility for their own problems.  I admit, that was where my head went.

And then my stupid, dysfunctional, cancer-y, remnant of a stomach lurched just enough to remind me... compassion.  I can't fix everything.  Sometimes listening is all you can do.  Pointing out people's errors does not necessarily help them.  Maybe I don't need to say anything at all.  Just be.

So here it is, another unexpected gift, another crocus, if you will, popping through the old layers of my life:  humility and compassion.

It is a daily struggle for me to accept that humility is a good thing, and not an obstacle to my personality, strength, and career.  I subconsciously have always put "humble" in the same category as weak.  I am definitely not weak.  In fact, humility and compassion are the strongest traits a person can have.  A good lawyer, a good judge, a good parent, a good friend - these noble people all share the ability to remove ego and remain steadfast even in a storm.

Compassion is not the same as martyrdom.  You can feel compassion for someone without laying yourself on the coals of their own fire.  It really does take strength to bite your tongue, reserve judgment, and simply be.  I am happy to have the opportunity to put these thoughts into action this week, and to feel the strength and beauty of being the steadfast person I want to be.

Anyway, sorry for the somewhat vague nature of this post.  Obviously it involves stories which are not my own to tell.  However, I wanted to share in hopes that you, too, can apply this and maybe... a kinder world, happier humans, and all that jazz.

To crocuses!  Happy Spring.



3.25.2015

The day came and went.  I pinched myself to see if I felt anything.  I turned the words over in my mouth and they meant nothing.  March 17, another day.  A true test of just another day is if you post about it on Facebook and I didn't.  Right?

And then the scan came and went.  Well, the procedure did, at least.  I still await the results (ask me about my new grey hairs).  The blood test came in and half of it is abnormal but then again that is my new normal, so I try not to let it eat at me too much.  It is normal for me to have low red blood cell count, low hemoglobin, low everything.  Anemic sickly person that I've become.  That is what happens when you lose part of your digestive system.  Fact.

"You look great!  I can't even tell you were sick!  Your skin looks great!"

Thank you.  Anemia and weight loss look great on me.  Maybe that is why fashion models are so translucent.  I am translucent, too, when getting out of bed in the morning causes me to pant and see colorful phosphenes in my eyes.  It happens so often that I started to draw them with my kids' art supplies after they leave in the morning for school.  Are those harbingers of a fainting spell, or abstract fireworks?  

I am out of breath and tired.  This is no reason to panic, this is just me being nutritionally deficient.  This is something I can fix.  Or, at least I give it my best effort.  Shakes and supplements and vitamins.  Thick metallic syrups that I belch up for the rest of the day.  Religiously keeping a food diary for a spate of time, then abandoning it with just as much enthusiasm.  I am stuck in a weird limbo of not complaining, because at least I am alive ("some people don't get off so easily, you know"), but feeling like I have inhabited an entirely new body this past year.

The change was gradual and happened amidst a life that flows more quickly than ever.  My life moves at a "careful, you could be dead next year" kind of pace, whether there is any truth to that statement or not.  I kind of like it.  You start to not care about trivial things as much.  Freak flag flying and all that.

They say that true panic attacks don't happen at the height of a person's anxiety.  True panic attacks happen when everything is calm.  Everything was calm tonight.  I went to bed content.  I had a productive day at work, I got good reports from my kids' school.  The house was clean, the fridge was stocked, and my husband was happy and well-rested.  "Successful day.  A+," I thought, as I shut off my light and fell onto my pillow.

Then, my left arm went numb.  Then, I became short of breath.  Then, I lay very still and allowed my brain to tell my autonomic nervous system that no, I am not having a heart attack.

---------

In a billroth ii surgery, a portion of the stomach, including the pylorus, is removed.  Then, the jejunum is pulled up and attached, frankenstein style, to the top of the stomach.  Go google it and watch the first youtube that pops up.  I'll wait.  Done?  Did you see how they removed the liver and put it back again?  I'm sorry, maybe it took me about a year, but the whole thing is just surreal.

And I can't believe it happened.

So I guess it's today, in the early morning hours of March 25, that it finally hit me.  That thing that happened in the hospital about a year ago, actually happened.  And I am quite sad about it.  I am.

3.19.2015

MAKE: TEA BABY SHOWER FAVORS

What better way to ease back into the week-after-vacation, than to throw a fun baby shower for a friend?  I had so much fun making these little favors, I almost forgot that I'm not in Florida anymore  (almost.  It is still in the high 30s and 40s here.  Mayday!)

Having not had baby showers for my own kids, I was embarking upon new territory here.  My job was to bring favors, and favors I brought.  Any excuse for a party (and a sewing machine), is my motto.  So here you have it:  favors for a high afternoon tea!

I got the idea for this from an adorable photo found here.  This version says "Life is sweet" and appears to hold some candy.  

I couldn't track down a pattern, so I made my own, using a pair of my daughter's outgrown pants (Sob!  Aren't they cute?) for a prototype.  And my own favorite tea, Tulsi Tummy, which I did not use for the shower.  As any expectant mom has surely read, certain herbal teas can have certain effects throughout pregnancy, so I opted the mildest route and gave everyone chamomile.  



Pattern is pretty easy.  I cut a rectangle of fabric approximately 11 inches long and 3.5 inches wide.  I made a fold approximately 4.5 inches up, and then sewed along the vertical sides.  Seam was about 3/8 inches.  I eyeballed it to leave just enough room to trim with pinking shears after.  That's it!  Two lines of sewing.  Easy enough!  Then, I trimmed with the shears.


Stuff with tea, and pin with a diaper pin.  Note:  it is so hard to find diaper pins!  You can get them at Joann fabrics, but they would be around $1 a pin.  What?!  I found a couple packs of them at Buy Buy Baby, but they don't carry too many in stock.  

I made 20 total.  I bought 1/4 yard each of five calico fabrics and had plenty of fabric leftover.

You can add tags with ribbon, and personalize a message if desired:


Finally, I did what all shower-planners do, and threw some chalkboard signs and tin storage containers in the mix (all Target, in the dollar spot).

You can make these for any kind of party... or just for a little gift that is small enough to be mailed in an envelope.  Enjoy!

UPDATE:  Oh my!  I just found a photo of my daughter, wearing said pants a long time ago.  Hard to believe they were ever big on her.  Awww...