The Great Trudge

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Heavy exhausted limbs, plodding slowly through the muck and mire of life’s harshest undeserved term of imprisonment.

An over exerted torso, slogging along absent of direction, longing for meaning and in search of hope.

A tired mind, confused and beguiled by the deceiving charm and unmatched wit of others more interesting and inspiring.

The potholed road, a confusing unmarked path of disorientation filled with hidden pits of sorrow and despair.

A journey of misdirection, a thoroughfare of the absurd, intersecting with the ridiculous, lacking reason and all meaning.

An excursion into the insane, filled with crazy twists and downward spirals, leading to agonizing endlessness.

A vengeful route of ruthless vague unstoppable abuse, blotting out beauty, thriving in agony.

Ponderous feet, weighted by grief, motivated by pride, trudging, pushing, moving forward despite powerful forces of opposition.

Brawny gumption determined to face the depth of the unknown with clarity of purpose, purity of faith, certain of grace and believing in light.

A body unwilling to surrender to dishonorable forces of malicious ill intent, stimulated by the challenge of overcome the impossible and beat the odds.

A soul buoyed by a resilient spirit, flexible enough to withstand the most difficult trail, rising from pain, stronger and more fortified, ultimately thankful for the arduous journey.

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Roots

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“A tree lives by its roots. Change the roots and you change the tree. Change the tree and you change the forest.”

I recently heard this but I can’t remember where and I don’t know who said it but it stuck with me. I think it stuck with me because I have had one foot in the past lately. I have been very nostalgic and perhaps a bit maudlin about bygone days.

Our roots, the place we come from, ground us. Our roots shape us and to the extent that we remain grounded in that place, they define us. There is comfort in being rooted somewhere. With roots, comes stability. There is a feeling of safety and familiarity in our roots.

In this highly mobile society, many of us find ourselves re-rooted. I’m re-rooted. I have changed as a result of it. I like where I am planted now but I’ve never felt as settled, even after ten years of growth here. It takes a long time to grow deep roots. I am no longer around life long friends and my family is far away and scattered. I’ve lost something. My tree has changed and so has my forest. It’s not as thick now. There are gaps, people who are missing and my friendships now, while lovely, are not as binding because they lack history.

I am blooming where I am planted now. I’ve made the best of it, but even so, there is always a quiet vague hazy indefinable feeling of loss that stays with me no matter where I go or what I do. We’ve been where we are for nearly ten years. I have since grown new roots but they are not as thick. I miss the depth of my original roots. I miss my foundation. I miss my mother and I miss my family as it once was. I miss my friends as I once knew them. I suppose time changes everything anyway but when you’ve lost your roots and when the new ones you find yourself planted in are not as entrenched, you come to live on shakier ground.

I’m a different tree today than I would have been if I had never been uprooted. My forest now, while lovely, requires a different kind of tending. New relationships are harder to build when they don’t have the benefit of history and old ones need more nurturing because of distance and time. I fully admit that these things do not always happen as they should.

Everything is just a little harder to maintain once you change your tree and once you change your tree, you change the forest in which you live…forever.

BBQ Chickpea Chop Salad With Homemade Vegan Ranch Dressing

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Ingredients

For Salad:
15 oz. can chickpeas
2/3 cup BBQ sauce
1 large head romaine
1 cup corn (I thaw frozen corn)
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 cup shredded carrots
2-3 green onions

For The Avocado Ranch Dressing
1 avocado
1 cup almond or soy milk (plain, unsweetened)
3 Tbsp. lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic (I use 2)
1/2 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt to taste

Directions
Make the dressing: in a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Rinse and drain chickpeas. In a saucepan over med-low heat, simmer chickpeas in BBQ sauce for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, chop the romaine, tomatoes, and green onion. Place in a bowl. Add corn and carrots. Toss to combine.
When ready to assemble, distribute the salad into bowls, toss with desired amount of dressing, and top with BBQ chickpeas.

Turning Up The Downturn

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Writing a daily blog is a challenge. Writing a daily blog about life with a chronic illness is not only a challenge, sometimes it is downright tedious. Perhaps this is why I sometimes branch out, away from it. I need a break from the constant reminders of being sick, of trying to hang on to hope, of talking about it over and over again. How many times can I write about my life’s challenges living with sarcoidosis with any originality? I am beginning to wonder. Yet, the writing is helpful to me…even if a bit self indulgent so I keep doing it.

Right now I am at a bit of a loss, frankly. I have good intentions. I want to write but I sit and stare at a blinking cursor and I am sure that I have nothing, absolutely nothing, new to say. I have no profound wisdom to share that someone smarter than me hasn’t already shared and probably more eloquently than I ever could.

Lately, my life is in beyond boring so I have no funny stories to tell either. I feel a bit like I am living in a bubble that is void of life. My routine, which is very important when you are chronically ill by the way, is incredibly uneventful. I get up. I feed my dogs and kiss my husband goodbye as he goes off to work. I turn on the computer and read emails and Facebook and CNN.com. I try to write a blog. I work out. I walk the dogs. I take a nap. I clean the house….and so it goes.

Most of the time I am perfectly okay with my boring little life. Most of the time my boring little life is actually pretty sweet. I live in a nice house. The man of my dreams loves me dearly. I have awesome dogs. I’m grateful I don’t have to work because my disease is wildly unpredictable. Once and awhile though, I find myself sucked into a mild downturn emotionally because of the repetitive nature of my routine and I begin to resent that I need this routine to keep me healthy.

So…sometimes I have nothing to say. I admit my life can be very dull. It almost feels taboo to admit this since all I ever hear from other people is how busy they are. Heaven forbid I not be busy too! I don’t really want to be busy for the sake of it, just to pass the time, I mean. I’d rather be dull and just a little bored. When I hear people talk about how busy they are, it often sounds like they are driven to be this way as if being still for awhile might kill them. I have gotten good at being still and even though it is tedious at times, I do prefer it to filling up my time with meaningless activity.

Yet, there is no denying that I am feeling a bit blue at the moment. I’ve been here before. I know that it always turns around and it usually turns around when I first change my thinking and adjust my expectations. I actually have a tremendous amount to be grateful for in my life and it helps me to focus on that instead of my disease or the monotony of my daily routine. It is true that I live a quiet life now. Perhaps I am not all that exciting to talk to anymore. My disease has taken a lot from me. But, no matter how boring things might sometimes seem, I do know that I live a good life and maybe in the end, when all is said and done, that is all that really matters.

Stolen Words

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Where are the words?

I don’t know.

Stolen from my brain.

What to say?

I don’t know.

Lost words that cannot be found.

Kidnapped ideas…hidden away.

Emptiness replaces imagination.

A vacuum of thought.

Bored by repetition.

Where are the words?

I don’t know.

Gaps of reason.

Void of purpose.

Adrift in nothingness.

What to say?

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

The Juxtaposition Of Life

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I have been thinking a lot about grief and loss and death lately. This time of year holds a lot of difficult anniversaries for me in that regard. What I have figured out about loss and grief and death is that even though they feel very much like the absence of life, they are actually in fact the essence of it.

We cannot appreciate what we have to its fullest until it is actually gone. We may try very hard not to take the people and things in our lives we hold dearest for granted, but then life gets in the way. The monotony of day to day living often finds a way to overshadow the depth of our gratitude. The “To do lists, work and worry over our troubles clouds our best efforts to live a thankful life.

Life can only be fully understood through the complex prism of its contradictions. We can experience joy but we don’t really understand how important it is until we come face to face with pain. We require the juxtaposition of these things in order to better appreciate the value of each of them independently.

As much as loss feels like the absence of something, it is really the presence of it at its most basic level. Loss can feel overwhelming. The depth of our grief can feel insurmountable but this is actually what makes us who we are. If we did not grieve we would not understand the value of life. If we did not feel terrible sorrow from time to time we could not appreciate the delicate nature of love. It is our very sadness in loss that makes life and love so fragile in the first place. So, we need loss, grief, sorrow and even death in order to truly understand their parallels… recovery, joy, happiness and life.

Running Out The Clock

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Wrinkles and gray hair…no time to spare.

Tired bones and achy joints…loneliness abounds.

Moments feel like days…time moves too fast.

A cane, dentures, glasses, hearing aides…necessary unpleasant apparatus.

Pills and medication…props to ward off what’s to come.

Fitful unplanned sleep…naps now take up the day.

Hanging on to happy memories…new ones now harder to make.

Preoccupied by the past…uncertain of today.

A life lived nearly to its entirety…uncertain of its worth.