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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❤️


Solitude

Websters Dictionary describes solitude as

: the quality or state of being alone or remote from society.

That is exactly what I’ve been needing, and what I’ve been fighting against most.

This past weekend I spent in solitude, basically because the universe pulled rank on me and I got sick. It was my cousin’s graduation party and a trip to see my new baby niece! I was heart sick to miss out, but of course I knew I couldn’t go if I had a cold. Sweet little Kilei is not even two months old!


Here she is, just a few hours old and barely five pounds!😍 It was love at first site.

Six weeks later, she is still just under seven pounds,  but thriving

I was really bummed to miss out on the chance to go home, to hold her, she’s just so fresh and new! But the decision had been made for me. I couldn’t risk infecting this precious little person.

In an attempt to lighten my load, my spouse took our new puppy Arrow with her so I didn’t have to worry about a rambunctious 13 week old. It was nice not to be feeding, walking, feeding, walking etc all day long but I  missed this sassy pup…

Pretty soon after my crew left for the weekend, I became restless, I decided to clean the house top to bottom. I had plans to organize and rearrange things. I made a whole list of things, thinking I was being productive. Well as bedtime neared I realized I was using all those “chores” as a distraction so I didn’t have to FEEL. Feeling is the scariest thing for me, because I associate it with painful memories.

As I have continued to do the inner work, more and more painful memories are surfacing, and it has been difficult to manage all the feelings bubbling up. I was processing with friends, I was writing constantly in a desperate attempt to make the scary feelings go away. It was not working.

 
Early Saturday morning I was sitting on my back porch having coffee (here’s a glance at my coffee spot)

and a butterfly came to visit. I’ve been in the city for two years now and have not seen a butterfly in that entire time. I watched in amazement at her presence. She fluttered all over my body, up and down almost touching my skin. This went on for almost a minute and then she flew away. I knew her visit was a message and I was eager to find out what.

I have an old set of medicine cards I use occasionally. More often than not, I use the book which describes each animal to see what these visits are meant to teach me. Butterfly did not disappoint! I don’t want to get bogged down in the details, but suffice to say I have passed through the chrysalis stage and I’ve got my wings!🤗

 

I sat back on my couch in amazement! I was feeling everything, thinking things I would never want anyone to know, without shame. I felt whole. And even more, I felt free. Those debilitating demons were nowhere to be found!

 
I spent the rest of the weekend just BEING. Feeling not an ounce of self doubt, guilt, or shame. And I actually enjoyed the quiet solitude. A friend recently told me I already have all the courage I need. It turns out she was right! I sat with all that scariness, and pretty soon I found I had released it, set it free. Just like my little butterfly ❤️

Time for self care

I’ve been feeling kinda lost the last week or so. The trial was a major focus in my life the last 2 1/2 years. It’s the same feeling I get with any ending, even a good one. I remember when I finished undergrad, I had to figure out new way of “being.” I was happy and pleased with my achievements, but felt more than a little adrift.

That’s exactly how I’m feeling now. I can sense possibilities for the future, but have no clear vision. I need to rest and recharge. But more importantly, I need to dial things way back. It has taken my entire life up to this point for me to truly “get it.” The IT being that when shit hits the fan, when my world is spinning out of control, I need to focus inward.

A few months ago I got sick, and lost my voice for several weeks. I would try to speak and all that came out was a squeak. I kept forgetting, and tried to force it. I was finally reduced to coughing fits if I even opened my mouth. It was literally the worst kind of hell I could imagine. I always said the only way I could process was out loud. To say that I’m a talker would be a giant understatement! It took those 3 + weeks with no voice to get me to be quiet. Not just verbally, but once I gave up trying to communicate… I felt quiet inside.

That experience taught me the most powerful lesson I’ve learned about myself, maybe ever! When I quiet my body and mind completely, the answers to the questions both spoken and unspoken come effortlessly. Maybe my years of practicing meditation and guided hypnosis finally paid off!

It’s time to go inside. I don’t know how to “be” in the world as it is. I can’t feel a purpose, or even a way to channel all this anxiousness that comes with not “knowing.” Tomorrow morning I board the bus, and off I go to immerse myself in what feeds my soul, music and Mother Nature.

Thanks to my incredibly supportive spouse, I can leave everything behind for a few days and just BE. Since the bus doesn’t allow animals, I am leaving her to care for our 4 fur kiddos. One of which is only 12 weeks old! I don’t know what I’d do without her, she really is my teammate, my partner in crime, my best friend, and my biggest supporter.

I’m sure I’ll be doing a lot of writing, and probably a shit ton of crying. But I can feel that little spark inside already getting warmer. Because I am on the other side of all this. And that means there’s room for a whole new beginning ❤️