Crispy Air

It’s a cool  morning here in Boston. I can feel that crispness in the air that tell us Autumn is on her way. Her timing is perfect, as usual. I need her help to do some more shedding and restoration. Plus, all reports indicate this is going to be a spectacular fall foliage season. 


My favorite part of Autumn, aside from time in the mountains immersed in her beautiful color, is that crispy air. It’s sharp and clear… it brings things into focus… every breath feels like a cleanse.

I’ve had a difficult spring and a worse summer. I have tried to make the best of it and ” keep my chin up” so to speak. But it has taken a huge toll on me physically, emotionally, and spirituality. No need to go in to great detail in this mornings post as I’ve written about most of it already 😉

The point I’m trying to get to is that the crispness I felt this morning gave me hope, of which I am in desperate need. I can breathe easier when the air feels cool and clean, my mind feels clear and alert, the sun feels softer on my skin; I feel in tune with Mother Nature after a season feeling at odds with her.

The reality of living with Congestive Heart Failure and chronic migraines means hot, sunny summer days are the enemy, something I have to hide from… but as of this morning the tide has turned.  Looks like I’ll be coming out of hibernation and joining the rest of the world for my favorite season. 


The timing is perfect, as usual.  Since there is some healing/ restoration I need to do, as I mentioned, and Autumn is just what the Doctor ordered. 

I may not be able to do much hiking this year. Our annual pilgrimage to the White Mountains may consist largely of leisurely drives, but that’s ok with me. All I need is my spouse, fur babies, my journal and a place to pitch my tent and I’m good to go! 

I leave you with a few of my favorite fall quotes. Then I’m going to take my coffee outside and soak up the crispiness🤗


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Literary Escapism

There’s hardly anything I like more than being consumed by a book. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with reading and it’s not letting up! My current favorite is the outlander series. I’m on book eight and loving every minute of it.

I remember as a kid, when life was too much to handle, I’d shut myself away and get lost in a book. It was the only way to escape the chaos and pain. My love of reading came from my Grammy Sybel, she was a librarian in a small coastal town in Maine. Grammy was well known for burning supper, or whatever she had on the stove because she’s was reading and forgot to stir!

Whenever I went to visit Grammy and Papa,  the first place we went was to the library. We always came back with an armload of books.

I never gave up reading, but as PTSD symptoms began to appear it wasn’t as effortless as it had once been. Racing thoughts and limited concentration make it hard to focus on anything.  I still read, don’t get me wrong. But if it wasn’t an easy read, I’d skim the descriptive parts to get to the meat. Or I’d only be able to read for a short time.

Over the past several years I’ve done some really difficult inner work and that’s produced lasting healing for my heart and mind. It’s been a hard row to hoe, but I’ve never felt better. That being said, the last few months have felt like I was caught up in a big ole nor’easter. I’m feeling bruised from being smashed around.

So, naturally I’ve been feeling down, a little depressed even. But then I realized… this to shall pass. I really am ok! I didn’t turn to any of my old (mostly harmless😉) vices to alleviate my pain! I didn’t even think about picking up a cigarette. Although, I may have had a slice of pizza or two.

The exciting thing for me is I have found myself lost in my books again. Effortlessly, I didn’t even realize it was happening. Not just reading, but hearing the accents of different voices or seeing the vibrant colors described in a scene. No more skimming, I’m reading every word! What that says to me is those “symptoms” or ways of navigating through the world that were not authenticly “me” have finally fallen away.


I’ve got a ways to go still, on my journey of healing, but it’s becoming more clear everyday that I really am ok. Whatever life throws at me… I got this!

Now I’ve gotta wrap this up, I’ve got Claire and Jamie waiting for me!

Home

It’s been two years since I left Maine for an adventure living in Boston. Life here definitely has its advantages, but I’ve been plagued by homesickness the entire time. I truly enjoy my life here, but I long for “home.”

My family moved a lot when I was growing up, so my grandparents house in Maine was home for me. I was surrounded by family and felt safe and secure. I lived with them for months at a time. Plus, I had cousins aplenty to play in the woods and at the shore.

When I was 15 my family moved to south west Georgia to work with Habitat for Humanity. Americus quickly became my second home and I  made a slew of lifelong friends. I spent 10 years there and so many of my favorite memories come from that time and place. Working and playing together creates a bond unlike any other and I still miss those days…

After college I decided to move home to Maine. 

My extended family had grown up and scattered like the wind, but my connection to the ocean and hills was as strong as ever. 



I found a community of friends who provided a safe place where I could me, my whole self. I was able to come out… loud and proud, without the negativity and homophobia I faced in Georgia.

I was back home in Maine 15 years before we left for Boston.

 

I knew it would be hard to leave, but I had no clue it would be as difficult as it was. Don’t get me wrong, I really love lots of things about the city, and I’m making the most of my experience here… but I’m starting to see it will never be home. 

I’ve cried countless tears these last two years, often lamenting my sad situation. After this Maya Angelou quote found me I realized just how lucky I am. Lots of folks I’ve talked to say they don’t have a place where they can just be. And me? I have two! So if the result is perpetual homesickness, I’ll take it! 

Optimistic-ish

Day 5 of my Staycation and I’ve got a stress test,  which I’m really nervous about. Not anxious about the text as I’ve done them before, but afraid to hear the results. Unfortunately for me the test isn’t until 2pm.  I also had a heart monitor put on Monday that I have to wear for two weeks. It’s surprisingly small and aside from some skin irritation, I mostly forget it’s there.


Whenever I’m having symptoms, like a racing pulse, or pounding chest, I just push the little button and it records everything! Technology is really impressive! I already know I have arrhythmia and flutters, so this test doesn’t scare me. It’s things like Coronary Artery Disease that scare me to death, and the stress test will indicate those kind of issues.

 

Yesterday was a really difficult day, which compounds my fear. I overdid it on Monday, and found myself in rough shape. The exhaustion was so profound and the episodes of not being able to breathe/ feeling faint were happening too frequently. Days like that make me wonder if I’ll ever feel healthy again.
I’m so thankful for these sweet babies. They make everything better, those warm little bodies snuggled up close❤️
And, as I often say “hope springs eternal!” Little Miss woke me up at 5:30 this morning and I felt, well… decent! I was able to walk her for 15 minutes or so. When I needed to rest, we practiced her commands. She’s the smartest most responsive pup I’ve ever had and she makes me laugh every single day.

These early morning walks really are my favorite time of day. My neighborhood is still quiet, this morning was nice and cool, and I could smell that salty air.

 

I did have to press my little button a few times, but I was able to be outside and expend some physical energy. That always feels good! So yeah, I’m optimistic again today… in spite of my fear.

If things go well during my stress test,  I may be able to get out of the city… at least for an overnight. I hope that’s the case! I am so thankful to be where I am, but Mother Nature feeds me in a way the city never can. So here’s to hoping❤️

 


 

Staycation it is!

My much anticipated camping trip has been cancelled after a visit to the cardiologist. This week is now filled with testing to figure out how much damage there is to my heart, and what underlying causes there may be. I am also adjusting to my new reality of living with CHF. Before I got the official diagnosis, I could ignore symptoms, make excuses. But no more.

We decided to have a staycation here in between doctors appointments. Saturday was day one and it really was a nice day! Activities included a trip to the Castle Island for play time with Arrow,


A rousing game or two of my old standby Boggle,

and a LOT of reading. I’m on Book 7 in the Outlander Series and I cannot put it down! I love the feeling of wanting to do nothing but read. And of course wondering what’s happening with the characters while you’re away🤣

As with all things, as evening approaches, the “feelings” begin to surface. Fear, sadness, insecurity, anger, and many more… This morning while I was journaling, I noticed resentment. That’s a particularly ugly feeling, in my book. I’m not resentful of anyone or anything, it’s more like a temper tantrum towards the Universe. Why now? Why this?

For more years than I care to admit I wanted to die. Life was too hard and I had a lot of healing I needed to do. I knew folks would be devastated if I committed suicide, so that wasn’t an option. I did wish for death to come some other way. I think back now, and I feel so sad for that girl who was full of pain she wanted to die.

The inner work I’ve done over the past few years has brought about lasting healing. I have been excited about life, looking forward to the future, making plans. And most of all actually feeling happy… on the inside! But I must admit, it’s been lurking in the back of my mind, wouldn’t it be just my luck if I did get some disease or serious medical issue. Especially now that I see a future where I’m happy and healthy. 

I’m not sure what to do with this set of feelings just yet so I’m going to sit with them for a while. Then I’m going to get on about my day. What’s on today’s agenda, you ask? Getting fitted for a heart monitor, and hopefully a trip to the movies. I’ve been wanting to see Wonder Woman, mostly because I love Robin Wright…


Here She’s just a bad ass version of my beloved Princess Buttercup❤️

There is a part of me that just wants to curl up in bed. I know I need to give myself time to adjust to my diagnosis and there is a lot about this disease that is beyond my control. BUT there is a lot I can control. Like attitude, self care, stress reduction. And that’s what I’m going to focus on.

Vacation or Staycation

This morning marks the beginning of a much needed 10 day vacation. Except for a pesky cardiologist appointment this morning, we’ve got a lot of adventuring planned! Number one on the list is a camping trip at a little state park in the Berkshires. Camping is my favorite summer activity and with the addition of little Arrow, it should be even more exciting.

I’ve been making lists and organizing supplies for the last several weeks.  And we’ve got all the essentials: a brand new percolater, twinkly lights for the screen room, card games, books and of course binoculars 🤗
Here’s a pic of our cute little tent…

And my favorite morning view…

There’s nothing like waking up, mostly outside,  on a cool mountain morning … the birds chirping, the sounds and scents of the forest. I can hardly wait!

The campfire is another essential! Breakfast, Dinner, s’mores, natural insect repellent and of course the constant shuffling to avoid great plumes of smoke(which reminds me to pack the camp chairs!)

Lola loves the fire, but she and Paco really prefer “glamping”🤣

We decided on the Berkshires again this year because it cools off so much at night and the lower humidity makes it easier for me to breathe. Plus it’s absolutely gorgeous!

Here are a few shot of the area…

The one possible glitch is my cardiologist appointment this morning. I know there will be lots of testing in the next few weeks, including a potential heart catheterization. It just never occurred to me that it might interfere with our camping trip. Just a few days ago it dawned on me that the testing may start right away and I found myself saying, “Don’t worry about the testing, I can take care of it after we go camping!”

WTF, Amy… you know better! What happened to self care? What happened to doing everything you can to keep your body in the best shape possible? Grrr. I could easily make a case for camping and all its health benefits, but my gut is telling me not to put things off anymore. And now that I’m finally listening to my gut, it won’t be ignored.

So I sit here this morning really bummed that our much anticipated vacation may turn into a staycation.  I’m leaving it up to my dear friend, the goddess of benevolence and hoping for the best.

Failing…

I woke up this morning feeling really inadequate. The symptoms I’m having from Congestive Heart Failure are so debilitating. I’m exhausted, can’t catch my breath, and any exertion makes me feel really woozy. 

Little miss was up at 5 am as usual and ready for her walk. I have found this is the only time of day I can stand to be outside without gasping for air. And I enjoy our time, it’s quiet and peaceful in our neighborhood. We stop periodically so I can catch my breath and we practice her tricks. This also serves to keep her calm for the rest of the morning routine.

 

But today, I couldn’t do it. I literally could not get up and get her outside. 

I feel like my body is failing me, and because of that, I’m failing others. I can’t give little Arrow her morning walk, I can’t go grocery shopping, take care of the house, or even do much cooking. I can’t “take care” of anything. And that leaves me without much of a sense of purpose. 

I came across this recently and I’m trying to get there.

But I have to acknowledge that part of the reason I’m not able to do, or give is because I haven’t been listening to my body. I pushed and pushed way past its limit and I’m not the only one paying the price.

The hardest lesson for me really is listening to my body, my intuition and TRUSTING it to tell me what I need. That’s the kicker… trusting myself. After years of guilt, shame, self-loathing and feeling a real disconnect between my body and mind it has been one of my biggest hurdles. The thing is, lately I’ve realized I am trusting myself more than ever. But as with most things, it takes practice. And when it comes to my physical body, I have not been listening. 

So here I sit. With a puppy who needs a walk, an exhausted spouse trying to get one more hour of sleep, and my worn out body. Figuring out how to maneuver through life with CHF is going to take time. And the only thing that’s gonna buy me time is caring for my physical form. I need to let the guilt and shame around my inabilities fall away and get back the optimism this girl had just a few weeks ago.


“I may not be able to breathe this morning but my hair looks great!” #thisiswhathumiditylookslike #missedmycurls #lookingonthebrightside

I’ve got a Ct scheduled this morning and I can’t “do nothing” between now and then, so I’m gonna breathe. Just Breathe…
I’ll leave you with a few quotes, the last one from my heart poet Ms. Plath❤️