The Mandala Year

It started with rocks.

Keely was coming to visit and I wanted to find a creative activity that we could share. I’ll never know where the idea came from, but I thought gathering rocks from the river together and then painting them would be something that we would enjoy. I found that mandala dot painting was a thing, so I bought some stencils, acrylic paint and dotting tools.

We spent hours on the deck, talking, painting, showing each other our work. There was a lot of laughter. It was one of those glowing golden days that will always be tucked into my treasured memories box.

August 2019 the day it all began

I became obsessed with mastering the technique of dot mandala. For six, eight, ten hours a day I painted dots on rocks. I took over the dining room table. I gathered rocks in town, when I traveled. There were rocks in the kitchen sink, stacked on the deck, piled in the spare bedroom.

I learned to start with a dot in the middle. I learned about the sacred geometry that is the basis of mandala. I learned which paints worked with the technique, which kind of rock surface was best.

I found the joy of creativity and art again.

My move to Pagosa Springs that year had given me the opportunity to create space for new. To throw out patterns and habits that reflected who I had been, not who I now wanted to be.

I stopped playing pickleball and immersed in yoga. I bought a drafting table, special lights, magnifying classes. The upstairs became my studio. I read about chakras and energy , and went down a path into what Steve calls “woo woo stuff”.

Kat and Keely helped me hide them in Little Rock and took a basket full of them to Louisville for distribution.

If you came to our house, you left with a mandala rock. When we went to Arkansas and Alabama we transported baskets of rocks. I gave them as gifts to friends, family, salespeople that I connected with, perfect strangers were given rocks.

One of my rocks is part of the memorial to Breonna Taylor in Louisville. I cried when I saw it.

Friends in Alabama hid some rocks along the TVA hiking trail. An old friend of Steve’s found it and they reconnected on Facebook as a result.

I ordered marble and slate tiles to paint for use as coasters. Then ceramic tiles for purely decorative display. I painted ornaments. Next came canvas.

When the pandemic hit, I was searching for ways to help. I donated tiles to a local restaurant to be sold, all proceeds going to help their staff.

Over 40 tiles were sent to Louisville as a fundraiser for The Louisville Youth Group, an organization that supports LGBTQ+ youth.

And then it happened.

This was my first canvas. I laid it on the table in my studio, which was stacked with tiles. As I was moving things around, I put one of the round tiles on top of the canvas and I did a double take. Because of the sacred geometry of the mandala, the lines and shapes worked to create a new mandala. A 3D mandala tile and canvas. My heart started beating faster and I knew I was on to something. I had come up with a completely different way to create art.

This is how the idea happened, I placed a tile on this canvas

There was a learning curve. The obsession deepened. Hours were spent “playing” with tiles. Finding which designs worked with what, how the colors blended or contrasted. How to put the pieces together securely but with the ability to interchange.

It’s hard for me to let go of these pieces. Each mandala is a glimpse into my soul. I paint with the door open to my mountain, the dogs sleeping, the horses letting me know every time I walk outside that they would like a cookie please. Noodles honks contentedly and noodles around in the pasture beside the deck. New Age music plays a background to the call of the birds and the skitter of the Abberts squirrels.

I paint my interpretation of the seasons in Pagosa Springs. I paint the flags of LGBTQ+. I paint my love of the culture of the Southwest. I paint gratitude and love and joy. I paint with a specific person in mind, hoping to infuse my art with my love for them.

I’m running out of wall space.

Gravitate Towards Joy

The air has a scent of crisp green, even in the afternoon it still smells pungent and fresh. Is there a smell to running water? Is there a special aroma of river water tumbling over rocks ? The smell of wood smoke lingers in the cool mornings, fading to a tendril of scent as the day warms.

I don’t watch for snakes. However I am on alert for the neighborhood mountain lion and the pesky bear that has been bothering the horses.

One of the little hills on my walk

Between a hip that needs to be replaced AGAIN, a torn quad that has been an issue for over fifteen years , two replaced shoulders and a knee that’s trying to go wonky on me, I have been frustrated, sad, angry and resentful. The last time I went on a hike it resulted in the painful rolling walk that those with hip pain recognize. For two weeks I struggled with sleeping, moving, walking. Couple this with birthdays that seem to be accelerating at an alarming rate, and let’s just say I have not been a happy woman.

So no more hikes. No mountain trail running. Instead I walk. I honor and listen to what the pain is telling me. I don’t ignore the sound of my body telling me it is hurt. Forty years of martial arts made me deaf to the voice of my muscles, tendons and joints telling me that “more is not better”.

One thousand pushups on New Years Day 2010.

Shoulders replaced four years later.

A few months into Covid I decided to do a little trail running course on our property, using our two steep driveways and stairs to give me several route and intensity combinations.

No surprise I overdid it and found areas of hurt and damage that I didn’t know were possible.

I’ve been a martial artist my entire adult life. I know about injuries and I know what to do. Back to basics.

Mick laughing at me

I walk. I honor and listen to the pain instead of ignoring and fighting it (and making it worse). I don’t treat my body as an opponent to be overpowered and forced into compliance.

There are enough areas with an incline to get my heart rate up. Especially if I go up and down several times in a row.

Mick has learned to lay splat on the soft ground and conserve his energy as I trudge up and down the

Hill.

Incline.

Mountain.

Mount Everest

Keep in mind that the mileage on those little legs is always at least twice that of my legs. Sometimes I walk backwards laughing as he races to catch up after following scent on the trail. Raccoon? Fox? Skunk? Squirrel? Bear? Mountain Lion?

I know the little pug sees and hears my effort and is amused.

My comical little pug , We amuse each other, Mick and I.

My yoga place

Long flat stones surrounded by deep pools and tumbling water. A canopy of trees. Blue sky, white clouds. Green in every variation of green.

On the river? In the river? What is the proper term for this magical place?

Standing in mountain pose, hands at my heart, head bowed in reverence to this place, this moment, this experience . Breathing deeply while my eyes are closed I listen to my breath and find myself. Opening my eyes I turn in a full circle. Mindful. In the moment.

The sound of the Rio Blanco as it makes its way through the valley. Birds. Insects. The feel of the sun. Air in my lungs scented with pine and fir.

As I go through the flow of my yoga practice on the rocks there is a connection to creation that is profound and magical. It is the sensation of being perfectly present and in the moment. Hearing my breath, smelling sun water and air, moving slowly through balance and strength. I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this time. There is pure joy and contentment as the sun smiles on my face.

Walk lightly. Speak and laugh lightly, as much as possible.Go lightly along your way. Let go of heaviness. Seek that which is light. Gravitate towards joy. Your soul and body will lead you, if only you would listen.

Melody Beattie , Journey to the Heart

Rio Blanco

Lobo Pass Continental Divide Trail

Just before you get to Wolf Creek Ski on 160 from Pagosa is the road up to Lobo Pass Overlook. We drove up to the Cell Tower and hiked from there.

You can also access the Continental Divide Trail from the parking lot on 160. That is what I did on July 21 when I hiked with Margaret and Dave. Photos show the amount of snow that was still around. The road up to the Lobo Overlook was closed at the time because of snow. Yes, in July.

Today, September 7, 2019 there was no snow. Typical for Colorado the long sleeve shirt was off and on depending on the amount of shade and wind on the trail. It wasn’t a long hike, only a couple of miles, but there was a good amount of elevation change. We took a little off shoot trail that went pretty much straight up the mountain. At the top were some spectacular views.

If you are afraid if heights this probably in not a good hike for you. Some loose rock and gravel, so a hiking pole came in very handy a couple of times.

Thunderstorms were forming, and we did not want to get caught in one of those.

A wonderful hike, we remarked many times about how fortunate we are that we can still do activities like this, and that we live in such a gorgeous corner of the most gorgeous state in the Union.

In between is life

At our moment of birth we inhale. We leave with an exhale. In between is life.

I wish I could remember where I read this, and I’m sure it’s not an exact quote. But this statement resonated with me as I sat in my little sanctuary on the hill. My “gatreebo”. The funky quirky gazebo that was on our property when we bought it. We filled it with all kinds of stuff as we were moving to Pagosa Springs last September. Little did I know what a special place it would become. It’s got some slats missing and the door leans against instead of hanging. We will get around to putting it up one of the days. For now, it’s perfect as it is.

I’ve hung a banner and suncatchers.

Little metal horse earrings that Keely gave me for Christmas are tucked into the screen, they always make me smile.

I spend a lot of time here, shaded from the sun, my yoga mat and I. Reading. Meditating. Thinking. Crying. Sometimes taking a little nap. I’ve danced and swayed to music and emotions. I’ve screamed, laughed, and been deeply silent.

Time. Space. Freedom.

Big inhales of the deep cool green woodsy smell that always makes me feel like I am on vacation, that I am visiting a special place. I am always filled with gratitude and joy and a bit of surprise that this is the place I call home. If it is really possible to own a place on this planet, I own this partial side of a mountain with the sound of the river running always in the background.

This is the smell of my life, the space between that first inhale and the last exhale.

It’s been two weeks since I left Facebook.

What have I done with the time?

Yeah, I am purposely turning into that hippy new age woo woo kind of person that I use to ridicule. Funny how that works.

I’ve filled my mind with rich nourishing life changing wisdom in the book I’ve been reading and savoring.

Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self by Anodea Judith.

Here is the link. ( I don’t make any money from this)

https://www.amazon.com/Eastern-Body-Western-Mind-Psychology/dp/1587612259/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3UCM9Z09OSUTY&keywords=eastern+body+western+mind+by+anodea+judith&qid=1564938279&s=gateway&sprefix=Eastern%2Caps%2C1145&sr=8-3

Savoring. It’s a word I’ve frequently used describing food. The mental image I have is closed eyes as I explore the taste and texture of food. That’s how it has been with this book, eyes open to read, perhaps just a sentence, sometimes a paragraph but then I feel the stab to the heart or gut that tells me to take my time. Process. Taste. Digest the truth written. Savor. Close my eyes and shut out everything but the sensation.

Sometimes I will go on a journey, drifting back to my childhood, looking at the strings of my life, pulling them in and opening the boxes.

You know those boxes don’t you? The boxes where you pack away your hurt? Your agonizing pain. Betrayal. Shame. Resentment. Jealousy. Lies.

I pull the string and open the box, I’ve forgotten exactly what is in it. But the tense feeling in my body and the unease in the pit of the stomach tells me that my body knows and remembers very well what is in that box.

What is packed away in those boxes is real and not real. My interpretation of events of my childhood is that of a child. I practice stepping back and looking at the incident from my view then, then that of the others in the memory. Usually my parents are the other characters in the playbook.

Instead of reliving my hurt and anger, I piece together the facts of what was going on in my parents lives to understand. To understand my dads anger, my mothers fear. I realize now I have repeated those emotions in my life and the things I did to my kids. To others. The mirror is true, reflecting generations of behavior. I blamed my dad, trumpeting my innocence and victimhood, all the while “forgetting” that I behaved in many of the same ways.

By opening the box I am able to forgive. Not only what happened to me, but to also forgive myself.

I take the hurtangershamefear and I face it. I look at it, turn it over, exam it closely. I cry. Deep agonizing sobs and sometimes screams. I face it, that which I fear. 5e bully that I have allowed. The bully that I created.

Once I do, I can let it go. There is no more power. There is acceptance and peace.

Now don’t get the idea that this has been all rainbows and unicorn farts. This process has brought new wounds, frustration between my goals and commitments and realty.

I’ve found it easy to commit to a new way of thinking and reacting in the sanctuary. I plan my words and plan my reactions. It never. Ever. Goes as planned.

Which is what life really is, isn’t it? An unplanned twisting and turning process of discovering the outside, and if we have the courage, the inside. To learn and if we care to, to gain wisdom. The surface that can be seen, and the inside which needs a special kind of vision. A vision that we are taught not to use.

Our emotions are a way that we communicate with ourselves. Yet we deny them. We lie about them. We put a label on them and we lock them away and we feel good about it. Yet we are creating our own blindfold so that we blindly stumble and bumble into the same hurtful patterns over and over. We blame anyone or anything but ourselves, because we choose to be blind.

In the martial arts I emphasized breathing. Breath and focus. Being relaxed makes you faster. Tight muscles move slower. Relax or you will wear yourself out. Your brain needs oxygen. All of the focus on the body. The opponent. The outward.

In yoga, I close my eyes and connect with my breath. I go inward, small, dark, close, intimate. Sometimes my movements and adjustments are minuscule, tiny and invisible from the outside. Aware and focused inward is a new way for me.

I find that sacred place between the inhale and the out. The space that is my life.

Trees and Solitude

Post Facebook Day One. This is harder than I thought it would be. I had weighed the pros and cons, but I don’t think I put enough emotional weight on the side of the true friendships that have grown over Facebook. Those names with the profile pic beside them that I have conversed with now for ten years. Or some that I have become very close to in the last year or so.

First day, I am in tears reading some of the comments and responses to my decision to leave Facebook. Really. It’s 3am, and that is what I am doing. I’m giving it a couple of days to acknowledge those friendships, and then that is it. I break the connection.

But the fact that one of the first things that popped into my mind was to check Facebook tells me I have made the right decision.

The thing is, I’ve been thinking of Facebook as some kind of entity in its own, as the enemy. The time and emotional vampire. But much of Facebook is made up of friends chatter about their lives. I’m really going to miss that connection. It’s not just news and memes and arguments and rants.

My world will be smaller now in many ways.

Which is why I am doing this I guess.

Turning inward. Striving for silence in my head. Silence to think and grow.

There is a part of me that yearns to be a hermit.

This need I have for aloneness and silence goes back to my childhood and teenage years. I’d get up in the dark, quietly leave the house, saddle up my horse and leave for the day. I would ride trails into the woods with no idea where I would end up. Just me and my horse. I’d eat a peanut butter sandwich under a tree while my horse grazed, looking up at the sun through the lace of the tree leaves.

I thought about all the things that teenagers are obsessed with. Boys. Parents. School.

I found God during those times. I remember being so angry with organized religion. With being told what to do, how to think. This was during the 70’s and there certainly is a little of the free spirit hippy in me. Probably a lot more than I knew then. The seeds of my outside the box thinking were planted during those lazy summer days when I had the gift of boredom.

My parents struggled financially. There were many material things that I wanted and didn’t get. There were times when we had to wait a few days to get groceries. We never went hungry but the cupboards were pretty empty at times. That is probably one of the reasons I’m concerned about kids not having enough to eat, and the homeless. I know how close we were when we were kids. I know how close I came a few times as an adult.

But I had a horse. My parents couldn’t buy a horse trailer, or take me to shows. I didn’t even have a saddle for years. But my parents gave me the incredible gift of freedom, responsibility and trust by allowing me to take off on my own for hours at a time.

Of course it had to end. I sold my horse to buy a car so I could work. I got wheels and the freedom that comes with a car. My life became one of work and school and friends. Not a lot of thinking and soul searching. No laying in the woods under a blue sky. Humid, hot as hell with a lot of bugs, but worth every minute of discomfort.

Now I walk out my door, up the hill of my backyard, and take a seat on my porch swing. And there I am. Different woods and trees, aspen and fir rather than oak and pine, but the sun is filtered through the trees and I can breath deeply in a way that isn’t possible in a city. It’s not humid, the mountain slope and trees supply a cooling breeze and shade and the bugs are minimal. I’ve found the place that feeds my soul. Again.

I do yoga in my quirky little gazebo. I sit for hours on a mat, thinking. Meditating. Writing.

It’s the senior citizen version of the teenage Michelle. Both of us are trying to figure things out. The younger Michelle, so idealistic, rebellious, passionate about so many things. I had so much to learn.

Now it’s time to sit quietly and think. To look at my life and experiences and take the time to learn and understand, instead of just doing, and reacting, scurrying from one point in life to the other.

I can walk out my door, put a bridle on Bali, and ride into the woods. I think I will be finding some areas to lay on my back and look at the sky. And think. And to be grateful for this gift of place and time.

Changing The Story

“When the student is ready the teacher will appear” is a quote I heard many times in my martial arts career.

Of course the truth of this statement goes far beyond how to kick and punch. Or do yoga poses. Or learn to ski.

A year ago was a dark time for me. The whys and wherefores don’t really matter, but I was not in a good place. I kept telling myself I was strong. That I could get out of the dark place if I tried harder. The thing is, the more I tried and failed the deeper I went.

Then someone told me about the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The book was the teacher I needed. That book opened the door for more books, more teachers, more study.

I remember very distinctly my feelings as I started it. Within the first few minutes I realized that this was going to be an important book. I decided to read it slowly, to savor it, and give myself time to really process the words and thoughts.

I’ve probably gifted at least 20 copies of that book to friends and family that were struggling with life or relationships in the last year.

I could go on and on about what that book taught me. But today, as I continue to see Facebook notifications of the anniversary of my moms death, I want to talk about family.

One of the premises of the book is that we are born innocent and with a free and joyful spirit. As we are “domesticated” we are taught what is right and what is wrong. What to fear, what to hate. We are given rules and laws starting with our family, then school, church, the government, conventional wisdom, peer pressure and our partners in life. We are told what to think and what to feel. We are taught what is “ladylike”and what is “manly”. What our role in the relationship is. How we should parent.

Of course we need rules and laws to peacefully exist and keep order in the world. And I am certainly not saying children don’t need discipline. But the reality is that much of what we were taught and what we accept as truth is because it was passed down. It was tradition. The way it was always done. And sometimes that is just bullshit.

Racism and prejudice are alive and well in part because belief systems within families, churches and communities perpetuate it. All you have to do is spend a little time on social media and you will see the power of the group think domestication of our thoughts.

What does this have to do with family?

Today I read in The Art Of Living: Peace and Freedom Living in the Here and Now by Thich Nhat Hahn “ It is true that each of us is a continuation of our mother, we ARE our mother. So whenever we are angry at our mother or father we are angry at ourselves.”

I loved my mother. I miss her deeply. I take it as a huge compliment if I am told that I look or act like her, even and maybe especially the goofy and silly stuff. She was funny and wacky but incredibly smart. I get my love of reading, my writing and artistic talent from her. Also my insomnia unfortunately. I treasured my time with her because she had her first heart attack at age 52 when I was 20 years old. There were several more close calls in the more than thirty years that she was with us. But I will tell you that woman had a joy and appreciation for life that came from the realization that life is precious and could end in a heartbeat. She passed that on to me, it was part of my “domestication”.

I can’t remember ever being angry with her after I got out of the terrible teenage years and moved into adulthood.

My dad and I did not have a good relationship. He was quick to anger, quick to lash out. Irritable. Short tempered. Stubborn. We battled and fought, once almost coming to blows. After I moved out I put up with him but I kept my distance. And I did not want to be anything like him. Our relationship had a foundation of anger and resentment. Unfortunately I never changed.

They are both gone now.

After reading TheFour Agreements I was able to make peace with my dad. His father was infamous for having a bad temper. He beat my dad and uncles. He taught that to my dad. My dad was in the navy for 25 years, he learned a military culture. He treated me the way his father treated him. He didn’t know any better. His words and actions and thoughts were passed down through generations, forged by the culture and places he lived.

He was also generous and would help anyone in need. He loved with his whole heart and was loyal. As he got older he became sentimental and would cry when we gave him presents or cards. He changed. He mellowed. He became less of what he was, less hard and harsh. It took me years after he was gone to acknowledge the softening, it was easier for me to think of him as one dimensional and justify keeping my distance.

I thought of all of this yesterday when we were talking with some friends about athletic ability. Steve made the comment that I got my athleticism from my dad, not my mom. Dad was a great golfer, he was on the Navy Golf Team and almost went professional. He golfed regularly well into his 80’s. So yes, that is one way that I am like my dad.

He changed as he got older. I didn’t recognize it. It’s painful for me to realize that he reached out to me and I didn’t reciprocate on a deep and real level. I went through the motions, but deep inside I held back. I held on to that anger. And as I quote so often “anger burns the one who holds it close”. I don’t know if I wanted to justify the anger I had carried for so long, or if I was too caught up in my own life to care.

By making peace with my dad, I was able to find acceptance for the part of me that I frankly didn’t like. And only after accepting was I able to start to change. And only then was I able to really understand how deeply our domestication affects us and our relationships. It will always be a struggle.

We say Namaste in yoga. “The light in me recognizes the light in you”

That is easy to do, we are instinctively drawn to light and joy.

I had to dig deep to recognize the dark in my dad was also the dark in me.

Marriages, work culture, spiritual teachings, parental relationships ,friendships and so many other things contribute to our story of how our life was, and what it should be. I got caught up so many times in how things should be rather than what was. I know now that much of the deepest pain I suffered at the hands of others was really not about me. It was about their struggle with truth, with pain, with their domestication. Letting go lifted all of that hurt and anger and resentment. It gave me space for love, acceptance and understanding. Light.

My parents are in me. They are in the way I think and react, my talents and my faults. The way my body is built, the color of my skin and the way I age. My dad is close when I am pushing my body for perfection and when I decide nothing and no one is going to keep me from a goal. He fought in the war, if I am brave I got it from him. My mom is with me when I cry over the beauty of this world and feel something so deeply that I have to write. She taught me how to laugh until we cry.

Now I can focus on the gratitude of knowing the best of both of them is in me, and understanding they had their own struggles and victories. They did the best they could.

Now I can change the rest of story.

RIP Brandi

Brandi was a good girl.  She was a big, clumsy, happy, gentle soul.  And she was always a good girl.   All you needed to do to send her into leaps of joy was to tell her she was a good girl.

We put her to sleep on Saturday.   She was eight years old, getting up there for a giant breed like a Mastiff.  She had cancer.

Because of a bad spay, she leaked urine.   Twice a day we put a mixture of three hormone pills down her throat.  She sat.  We opened her mouth, put our hand down her throat.  Waited to make sure that she swallowed while we praised her.

 

She loved everybody and everything.   She loved the horses, and would bark and play with them.  Feeding the horses was one of her favorite activities.   If you didn’t know which way to go, she would help by putting your arm in her huge mouth and leading you.

She put up with puppies  and cats and pigs and kids crawling on top of her.

She and Keely grew up together.   I never heard her growl.  She had her nails done.  Bows in her hair.

 

Suffered through baths in the shower, sometimes with a lot of company.

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She was not brave in any way.  Steve would stand on the other side of the door and growl and bang on the door.   The other dogs would bark.   All you heard from Brandi was the sound of the dog door flap as she took off for the pasture.   We would joke that if anyone every broke in, the only chance of her hurting them would be if they were in the way of her running.

She would sit, lift a paw, and ask very politely for you to pet her.  Again and again.

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I loved her so much.   Everyone did.  She loved Steve, and he loved her.   His big girl.  They would have a lot of talks.

She was just a big lovable dufus.   A true sweet gentle soul that we were blessed with for eight years.

Two weeks ago she wouldn’t come out of her house when I called her.    I opened the door for her, and she slowly came out.   She seemed reluctant.   She also had wet herself, which was not unusual.   So she walked a little stiff legged, again, not unusual.

But she wasn’t interested in her food.

A few days later Steve called me out.   She had come up the hill to be fed, but her hind legs weren’t working right.   She half wobbled and half crawled up the hill.  It was one of the most painful sights I’ve ever seen.  Steve had to drag/carry her back to her house.   It was the last time she was ever outside.  She quit eating and drinking.

We called the vet.  She thought it was cancer.  There was a heart murmer.  At eight, Brandi was old for a Mastiff.   We decided to try for a miracle and give her steroids for a few days.

The steroids brought back her appetite, she started eating turkey and meat if we fed her by hand.   She drank a little.

But she could only move her front legs.

So she laid in the doorway of her house while we hoped for a miracle that we really knew wouldn’t come.

On her last day I brought the other animals into the house.  Steve had started to make a trip to Durango, but was able to get in contact with the vet.   He said he would be there around 11:30.  Steve headed back.

I went to her house, opened the big door and put her head on my lap.   She was able to see the blue sky, the trees, the mountains.   I cried harder than I have cried in a very long time.

But for two hours Brandi got to eat peanut butter treats and turkey and cheese.   She heard me tell her over and over what a good girl she was and how much she was loved.

The vet was kind and gentle.   I held her while she went to sleep for the last time.   No more pain, no more confusion.

It is hard.  This doing the right thing for our pets.  It is a responsibility we take on, if we are going to be “their people”.   But I think, in a way, it makes the pain less for me.   To know that we could, with love, choose the way and time of her going.  I watched as she lay peacefully in my lap, hearing my voice, knowing love.   It was my last, and perhaps, best, gift I could give her.

I called her my whabada.  Because that was the noise her lips and ears would make as they flopped when she ran.

I think of her now, my sweet Brandi, whabada.  Running free.

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Bucket List Item-Bryce Canyon on Horseback

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We traveled with Bali and Clipper for about eleven hours to get to Panguitch, Utah.  They stayed at the Triple C Arena in covered stalls while we stayed for the first few nights at the Adobe Sands Motel and the last night at the Marianna.   I have to tell you, Adobe Sands was awful.  Dirty, small outdated rooms, and the pillows were the smallest, hardest piece of material I have ever tried to sleep on.   My backpack made a better pillow.  We moved to the Marianna when we decided to stay an extra night and the Sands was already books.   Although a hassle, it was well worth the additional $5.00 per night.

Our friends camped at the equestrian camp site in Red Canyon.   Next time we will camp also.  Four sites in a private area with water for the horses.  We made great new friends that we hope to ride with for many years.  Judi and Brad Bradbury, Shannon Whetsell and Jerry and Patti Boone were all camping so we spent several evenings at the campsite, and several at various places in town.  What a great experience it was!

I’ll be posting another video of the first two days riding, this video is of our Bryce Canyon ride.   Jerry and Patti had to head for home and were not able to make this ride, so it was just Judi, Shannon, Steve and I.   Arrangements had been made by Judi, our ride had to be scheduled with the park.  We met with a Park Ranger two hours before our start time.  He checked our paperwork and weed free hay, then sent us on our way.

So here is the video of one of my bucket list items.   Bryce Canyon, Utah while riding my boy Bali.   It doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Twenty One Things I Learned After Shoulder Replacement Surgery

1. It really sucks to throw up after surgery. However, it is not so bad if you are still on pain meds.

2. When they tell you to bring a large shirt for after surgery they mean a LARGE shirt because that sucker has to go over a very large padded sling.

3. There is this thing called a “party ball” that is supposed to do a slow drip of pain meds directly into your system via a catheter inserted into your shoulder. It is supposed to last for 72 hours and slowly deflate. If it has not deflated after 48 hours it is not working. Therefore you missed the party.

4. Percocet is given with the warning that you must not combine with a Tylenol product. Percocet gives me a really bad headache. So bad that I couldn’t even think about my shoulder because my head hurt so much. When I called the nurse hotline I was told to take, you guessed it, Tylenol for the headache.

5. The nurse said day 3 and day 4 would be the worst because the “party ball” would be wearing off. Since the “party ball” never worked I spent time dreading a worst day that never occurred. The pain really wasn’t that bad and next time I’ll go on Tylenol much sooner.

6. It is very good to have a husband with a good sense of humor when it is time to get dressed or undressed when wearing a sling.

7. Do not EVEN consider putting on a sports bra.

8. It is physically impossible to put your hair in a pony tail when one of your arms cannot be raised above waist level. Getting your head down to the hand at waist level does not work.

9. Do not plan on going out in public if your husband has not had previous experience putting your hair in a pony tail.

10. Forget makeup. Forget blow drying your hair. For weeks.

11. If you put an onion or a potato on the blade of a chef knife and whack it, the vegetable will be cut in half.

12. Someone will have to cut your food for you at first. This is less embarrassing if you wear your sling in public as you are supposed to.

13. You are not supposed to lift ANYTHING . I DONT KNOW FOR HOW LONG BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT LET ME IN ON THAT SECRET YET.
Do not try to go grocery shopping by yourself for several weeks. You may think you can lift those long packages of chicken breasts with one hand but you can’t.

14. You know those plastic bags in the produce department that you roll down and then tear apart? You can’t do that with one hand. So you roll all the way down to your waist and place the bag in your hand which is in a sling. Be ready fir some strange looks.

15. Do not take Percocet before your first physical therapy session if pain meds make you nauseated. You will spend the hour with a ice pack on your neck and worry more about throwing up in front of everyone than how much your shoulder hurts.

16. Having a shower large enough for two people is a good thing. Having a husband that will wash your hair for you while in the shower is a very good thing.

17. You are told to keep your elbow close to your side at all times if you do not have a sling on. If you have a sling on, your arm is already in this position. This means that you sweat. It is very very difficult to wash under your arms when one arm cannot be moved. Try it sometime.

18. Sleeping in a recliner is recommended. It keeps your head elevated. Being in a recliner discourages rolling over while wearing a sling and messing up your shoulder and experiencing excruciating pain. Being in a recliner by yourself can make you lonely and sad.

19. Having a husband that loves you enough to sleep with his head at the foot of the bed so that he can touch you while you are in the recliner is awesome. Having a husband that will get up several times in the middle of the night to pull the recliner lever so you can get up and go to the bathroom is priceless.

20. Think through every action before you start it. (See number 13). Making pies and then realizing it takes two hands to put them in and out of the oven was not one of my better moments.

21. If your husband does not cook, it is good to have friends that come stay with you and cook for you. Thank you Kira and Rita Sharkey for cooking and cleaning, driving me to PT in the snow and listening to me whine.

Three and a half weeks after surgery I can say that while not fun, this has not been as bad as I thought. Next surgery on the right shoulders is in three and a half weeks and the left will not be up to full speed by then.

Pray that Steve and I can keep our sense of humor.

Noodles!

noodles faceNoodles joined the family a month ago. She is a teacup mini pig that we got from one of Steve’s coworkers who raises them. She has endeared herself to everyone except Mojo and Zoe. They do not understand what the pig deal is about the noisy little thing and wonder what in the world we were thinking? . She is a bit of a drama queen and can really throw a fit if she doesn’t get what she wants when she wants it. She is affectionate, independent, curious and makes us laugh a lot. I love her.

Here are a few videos of Noodles first month with us.