Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 31

New journal. Finished my beloved black and white one last night. But this one is from our trip to Montreal last March so it's awfully special too. Hopefully there will be some happy posts in this one. :(

Saturday, January 30, 2010

No, this is not a mistake, it's an absolutely genuine photo of blackness which is how I feel. Completely empty, just a void of blackness.

Friday, January 29, 2010

OK, so I was feeling like no one ever read anything I

Year of Wandering

A wrote this poem at the end of last year as I was closing in on a year with the Headache.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and go ahead and share it here on my blog:

Year Of Wandering
Rachel Phillips, 2009

A year of wandering
through a maze, a mist, a fog
I lost my way
Then I lost myself
Separated from the person I'd been
I fear at finding the stranger that replaced me
How do you trust a stranger?

Constant Pain has become my companion
A rude, brazen partner with whom I'm forced to travel on my journey
A temperamental sort, his mood changes on a whim
For no known reason, his irritation with me becomes a torture
He's disliked, unwanted, hated.

I beg, I plead for help.
Desperate for someone to unlock these shackles that bind us together
But where's the key that will free me?
It seems lost or perhaps these shackles were forged with no key, with no means of escape.
I cry, I scream inside.
I sigh, breathe
Again, and again.
I tell my core there's nothing to fear, that this is only pain.
There's no real danger, no reason to run
No way to fight this opponent

If only there were a way to run away from it.

But how do you flee or fight an opponent that unseen? 
Invisible, unknown, but his presence acutely felt
An unquantifiable existence that remains hidden
But always sensed, always perceived

I'm never alone.

This stalker won't leave me
it's kidnapped me, held me hostage
taken away all that's me
stolen my freedom, my mind, my personality, my soul
A predator that's attacked, raped

Will I ever escape?

I don't know.

I wish I could be alone with myself again

For now, I have to figure out how to make this dungeon a home
how to live with this Phantom
How to make peace with the imprisonment
To accept it
To try to appease him, to find out what make him so angry
Maybe somehow I can learn to exist here
Perhaps I'll get used to this dungeon
I'll try to tell myself it's a beautiful open room
high on a hilltop, with a gorgeous view of lands faraway
Of my wonderful Vermont
I have to make myself believe it
Force my mind to be at peace
Nothing to fear, nothing to fear
No real danger.
Another deep breath, a swallow
a deep breath and a swallow
Relax and let it hurt
Relax and let it hurt
Relax and let it hurt
Relax and let it hurt

Please, someone, help me find the key
that will allow me be free again.

I'm trying to find a new rhythm to my life
one that I can manage as this new stranger I've become
I've found my best isn't good enough anymore
So I try to adjust the rhythm of my life to fit what I can do
I'm forced to change my expectations.
I'm diminished in my own eyes
This stranger can't keep up with the person I've always been
The face in the mirror looks the same
But behind that veil
A profound change
It's agonizing to lose a life-partner that's yourself

I try to make peace with it all

My hopes are fading for ever getting back the person I once was
Maybe in times to come this stranger can become a surrogate
Perhaps I'll get to know them and find we can get along
and even develop a friendship of sorts

But I still grieve for my lost self.

In my pleas for help I realize the awful truth, 
that I walk alone in this nebulous existence.
I see well meaning hands reaching towards me
trying to assist or offer reassurance.

But no one can face this torment in my stead.

I try to hold onto these outstretched hands
but the grip is slipping, slipping
Am I losing my grip or theirs?
I try to grab another hand before blackness overtakes
A moment of hope 
A brief connection
Then sweaty palms slide again leaving only a desperate attempt to stay connected
by grappling fingers
But my fingers are too frail...
My little finger dislocates
It's all just too much.

I tumble.

Which end is up, down
swirling, twirling
I'm inside a gyroscope that's spinning
out of balance

But I try to smooth this ocean surface so that these inner waves are unseen
The whitewater torrent remains hidden under a placid calm
Maybe this calm will permeate and quiet
the underlying rapids

I have moments when I'm at peace
When I can cope
and I try to walk ahead with life
Undulating waves of incessant pain
bring fear, anguish, despair

I feel a resolve beginning to grow in me
that this will never change
fear feeds this melancholy state an insidious poison that the pain will grow
and I wonder
what part of me will break next?

Without the hands that continue to reach towards me
to bear me up 
to reassure
to steady me
to persist, persevere to offer hope
to hold onto me 
even when the last of the strength in my fingers fails to be able to hold to them
my spirit, my soul, my heart would truly be broken

The self-sufficient, independent being I was
is now forced to be reliant upon
an interwoven tapestry of family, friends, support, love, community
just to continue to

Maybe sometimes just continuing to "be" is hope enough.


OK, so usually I wouldn't put such a melancholy post online but I think I will.  I can't seem to pull myself up and out right now.  My "homework" this week from my doctor (Anne, the best & coolest dr ever) is to think of as many things as possible that I love to do, that I'm passionate about BUT the list has to be at least 10.  I really can't do it.  I can't think of even a few things I'm passionate about right now.  I feel lost.  Chronic pain is so insidious and changes your life if ways you couldn't have even imagined.  I wish I knew how to rebuild myself.  I wish I had enough left in me to want to.

So, where does it all go from here?  I wish I knew.  All I see is a black abyss and continual ongoing pain without end.  Hope deferred makes the heart sick.  I can see why.  I can also see why hope is in *the* list along with faith and love because it's a lot more important than we realize.  Problem is, we often don't realize it until it isn't there anymore.

So me, the former eternal optimist, has lost hope.  What happens next?

Day 29

OK, so I couldn't leave out my other sweetie. :) Such a handsome brute, isn't he?
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 26

I'm trying to get reinspired on my photos. I took my camera with me downtown for a bit and was almost back to the car when I saw this scene and loved it for a photo. It's not as "perfect" as I'd like but overall, I'm pleased with the results. The structure has nice lines and color, especially with the little multi-colored cart next to it. :)
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Wow, a flurry of posts tonight!

I'm trying to get some new ideas for food, especially low carb ones (NO, we don't do Atkins!!, it's for Steven).  So, I'm hoping that if City Market doesn't carry dried black soybeans and raw peanuts in shell that they can order them for us.  Mmmmmm, finally can make my own boiled peanuts!!!! :D  That's worth getting happy about.
OK, I need a fresh umph (great vocabulary, eh?) put into my photography.  Just a new dose of (not so much inspiration) as invigoration.

Day 25, Multiple Photos

A goreous rainbow as we were coming home today...a full one and it was right over our house. A very happy thing.

Rainbows embody hope in some way and I'll try to grab onto that.

Still having trouble getting on top of life right now, though.
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A new week, a new start.  Seeing someone new for the HA today.  Try to find that grain of hope that I've been "prescribed" to try to grab hold of.

Time just rolls on and on and on.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My littlest cutie. :)

Life's Secret?

It seems to me that one of life's secrets is figuring out how to turn "have to's" into "get to's".

I have no idea how to make that happen.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 22, Photo 22

Unfortunately, this photo doesn't show up nearly as well as I wish it did but it's a favorite of mine. It's a photo of a photo in the hand surgeon's office that I saw again yesterday. It's just so adorable. Makes you smile even if you don't want to. :)

SO SMILE ALREADY! (just kidding)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 21, Photo 21

Just for a laugh... I was joking around in the car today in Montreal when I saw the KFC logo and said "I wonder if it's something like "PFK" up here, for Poulet Frites Kentucky...that would be funny!" Then as we drive past...I see that it's EXACTLY that! I was like YYYYEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!! And, I figured it out all by myself with my limited knowledge of French from when I was 11. Hilarious - or maybe you just had to be there.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 20, Photo 20

This tree caught my eye today. It's shape and starkness against the sky were striking. It looked like it stood alone, though surrounded by other trees. Lonley, even though it's in a group.

Today, I wish I could just fade away.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 19, Photo 19

Masked, masked, I feel masked! Where do I find myself again? Who actually lies under this face I put on for all to see? Who sees the real me? Who *is* the real me? It's all a masquerade...

I wish I could wear this gorgeous blue mask all the time. It would be so much easier. I could maintain everyone's expectations of me externally without effort. The problem is, it's *my* expectations of myself that are the most impossible to fulfill...
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Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 18, Photo 18

Withered and dry, their life is spent. Waiting for a renewal of season, for life to begin again after a cold, painful time. They cling onto the slim arms as if grasping at straws, desparately trying to hold on for one more moment against frozen winds which oppose them.

But they must eventually let go for life to begin again. Indeed, if they don't release their own weight they'll be pushed out by the new life fighting for its chance in the world as spring begins.

Life is such a struggle...back and forth, letting go and renewing. Holding on and losing. Ebb and flow.

Turn, turn, turn.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 17, Photo 17

Topsy, turvy, which end is up, down. Skewed perspective, am I out of focus? How do I regain footing again?
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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 16, Photo 16

Looking down, thoughtful. Bizarre perspective. Elongated, drawn out. Black and white.

Or is it shades of grey?
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Not really very late night

I've been thinking a lot the past few days since I've been in the hospital.  Between umpteen neurological checks, vitals, pokes with needles and various other interruptions along with loads of medications that make me wicked sick, I had little else to do but think.  Well, cry, too.  I did have a couple of meltdowns on Wednesday.  But it was almost impossible to read because of the HA and being unable to sit up and there was literally nothing on TV.

Day 15, Photo 15

Home, home, home! I'm so happy to be home from the hospital! I just couldn't wait to get out of there. My back is hurting like crazy, HA still there, though the positional part may be a small bit improved. So, that's at least a little something good.

So, not a lot of time put into a photo today but again, I'm enjoying being forced to see something different in what's around me. Love the ripples inthe brick and even the shadow. Tried it w/o the shadow and it just didn't have the same interest. Go figure. And, I didn't miss posting so 15/15 so far for the year. Not very far into it, but considering that this hasn't been the easiest couple of weeks, I'm happy about it.

Maybe that this doesn't really tie into anything or perhaps there's some subliminal message that says something about brick and feeling like home. I don't know. I suppose in the end the interpretation is entirely up to you...
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 14, Photo 14

Trying to find an interesting *and* at least somewhat artistic photo in a hospital room when you're tethered to an IV pole is a bit of a challenge. But it forced me to look at things a little differently which is always a good thing. I'm fairly pleased with the results...not a masterpiece per se, but something a bit quiet and perhaps a little meloncholy.

So, still haven't missed a day posting which, given the past two weeks that I've had has ebbne a feat of which I'm proud. Thanks to camera phones, eh?

Yes, I know there are likely spelling errors from the past few days but I'll clean it all up when I'm back online on my computer, so fear not. Those errors and annoying ads that Verizon feels they have the right to add to my picture messages will be gone for good.

I'm a little better least my spirits are. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 13, Photo 13

Really?? Yes, really...4 times to try to get a replacement IV then flabotomy (sp?) came to do another draw for more blood work. I feel like a human pin-cushion and I just want to go home. No improvement in the HA and just a lot of exams/interruptions/vitals. etc to show for my time here. I really wish they could have treated the positional HA first so I could hear properly and sit up. :( This has GOT to start going faster and better. :(

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 12, Photo 12

Oooooo! Just squeaking this one in before midnight! But, made it nonetheless. These are two of my sweeties. They looked so adorable I had to snap this before I left for the hospital again. I miss 'em all! :( So, not the snap I had in mind for today but nothing wrong with it and the subject(s) are certainly cute enough.
Gotta get this sent now before I miss the deadline! Hospital admissions notwithstanding...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 11, Photo 11

The view today...definitely not a masterpiece of a photo but it's what I've been seeing a lot of today. I've been flat on my back, in bed literally all day. It's a first for me. I've never been that sick before. But the pain is so great when I'm up at all that we opted for me to lay low (haha) today until I could see my doctor tomorrow. We were even able to move my appointment up to a little earlier in the day. So that's good.

I've never been this incapacitated before and I *don't* like it at all! It's amazing all the things you can think to do when you're unable to do any of them. I can't even sit up to type or work on my computer! So the phone keyboard is as good as it gets at the moment. Here's hoping that tomorrow's appointment is the beginning of all this improving! Though, I have to admit, I'll be surprised if an additional hospital stay isn't in my very near future... Sure would like to be wrong on that one!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 10, Photo 10

We made it home from a very fast trip to NY. Much too fast really and that was largely my fault for being sick. I feel bad about that even though I know I shouldn't. But I thought of this photo on the way home and thought I'd try it out when I got here. I ended up rather liking the result. It's of an old piano in the basement that was here when we moved in. It's terribly out of tune and unplayable and no one could figure out how to get it out of there so it came as part of the house...LOL! Anyway, turns out, it's fairly good for photographing.

I have to close now because I'm in terrible pain and need to lay flat again. :(

But had a great time in NY and wouldn't have missed it. I even have a new younger sister! That makes me really happy. :D
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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 9, Photo 9

Oooooooooooohhhh, such a lovely color, isn't it? Ok, so people are telling me today that they like me on pain meds...hmmmmm...what does that say??? Anyway, saw loads of gorgeous snow photos on our way over to NY today but wasn't able to stop to take them. :( So, I had to invent a different photo with limited time and resources to choose from. So, here it is!

I actually have to say that I *do* love the color and think this ended up as an interesting abstract. I won't say what it actually is, maybe it's obvious. But guesses would be fun!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 8, Photo 8

Not my best photo ever, but I've liked these light designs on the wall for awhile now and in the absence of something else, it seemed like a good choice for today. No, I didn't cheat, I actually took it today after getting home from the hospital...even though, no, I didn't feel like doing it. But inspiration is sometimes just continuing to work on things, right?

So, that's it for today folks. I'm hoping to go to bed soon and feel better. :)
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Another bonus pic!

A bonus picture today! C'mon folks, you've gotta be careful about how you dispense those medical gloves (and no, I didn't fix that up!...Kim???). Anyway, with interesting shots at least somewhat limited by being on meds in the hospital, this one was too good to pass up. Steven spotted it first and it made us both smile. :)

Day 7, Photo 7

Zzzzzzzz, zzzzzzzz...all I want to do is sleep right now. Poor Kim who drove in to sit with me in the hospital has me SLEEPING thw whole time.

Guess I need it. Don't think I've slept this much during the day since I was an infant.

OK, so this really isn't an interesting pic but there are only so many options while you're in the hospital! But this is the closest thing to a real meal I've eaten (or attempted to) in a few days. So that's something, eh?
Literally dropping the phone falling asleep now so will close for now. Till later, enjoy the pic of good hospital food. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 6, Photo 6

OK, so a new adventure. I'm trying to sound together even though I'm fact, my doctor just sent me to the ER. Complications from the medical test yesterday. So, I've just been through triage & am waiting for a room. Looks like they'll be admitting me overnight. A first for me.

So, in keeping with that, the photo of today is the ER sign. Not maybe the most original but props for still posting one, right?

I'm awfully grateful that my family doctor is on call this week so she'll be walking with me through this process, so to speak. She's awesome and knows the whole story of what's been going on healthwise with me, and I consider her a friend. Wish me luck with this adventure...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 5, Photo 5

OK, so today was kind of a day from hell. Had my medical test & it was grueling...I'm completely spent and wrung out.

BUT! I managed to take a photo anyway. Proud of me? So, this is the view of the ceiling at Fletcher Allen Hospital while I was flat on my back for two hours after my lumbar puncture...the first step of many in the test gauntlet today.

So, even on a crazy day, a pic is posted. That's happy. :)

Though, I'm feeling truly awful at the moment (physically), I'm awfully grateful that I was able to have the test done and for such good health providers. So, off to chillax & recover for the night till the test resumes in the AM. Remember, I'm radioactive! (no, really...the nuke med team said I actually am!)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day 4, Photo 4

OK, so sometimes you have to see the art in your ordinary path of life. So the day was progressing and I wasn't sure if I was going to find a pic I really liked. Wow, a struggle at day four. Already. Could be because I'm a little nervous about my medical test tomorrow but that's an entirely different story.

So, I saw this structure and realized that it was actually very interesting. I'm trying to keep my camera with me more often (as a result of this blog :) ), and decided that this would be the photo of the day. So here it is, a rather interesting mix of indistrial design and winter vines. Hope you enjoy. I ended up rather happy with it.
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day 3, Bonus Picture

OK, so today was a blast. We had a bunch of friends over, ate AWESOME soup (thank you Steven!), great salad and bread, lots of fun conversation, Vicar of Dibley and The Hangover. All in all, a perfect day and exactly what we would consider "church". :)

So, I figured, if you're not going to share the fun stuff too, what's the point in this blog. I love the artistic stuff and enjoy the finished product but life without friends and family (and friends who are family) isn't much of a life at all. So in my effort to chronicle this search for life again, this pic may be much more important that many of the other.

And, I'm still doing it all with the pain.

But I'm doing it, nonetheless. An accomplishment in itself.
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Day 3, Photo 3

Ahhh, so here it is, 9:33pm and you were just starting to wonder if I wasn't going to get a photo posted today, right? C' know you that worry flickered across your mind. :)

We'll you'll be happy to know that once again, I took several photos today. We're having a HUGE Nor'easter hit; I have no idea how much snow is down but our dogs now entirely disappear in it so it has to be 24" or more. So, this picture is was taken this morning, before coffee, right after being awakened to see the largest snowflakes Steven or Cindy had ever seen. (Wouldn't you know that by the time I dragged my bum over to the window, it had gone back to regular flakes...but I digress). Having said that, I still like it - a lot in fact. I'm a fan of the abstract lines and the almost monochrome tone...all entirely found in nature! There's a sense of calm and chaos together.

But, I made it. Haven't missed a day yet...what an accomplishment. OK, so three days is hardly a marathon but we're almost 1% through 2010 already. Wow.
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Some random late-night musings on life

I think I'm coming to the conclusion that life is a process, a mess, an imperfect state.  And to constantly look for perfection will lead to nothing but frustration.  The cliche that "it's all about the journey" really is true but maybe with an additional caviat: there is no destination.  You never actually "arrive", it's constant change, moving.  I'm trying to learn the value of "some" - doing a little bit is better than doing nothing at all.  Often, I find myself not doing something because I don't think I can complete it but doing a little, several times, will eventually accomplish the task.  

So, I support the challenge is to remember that life is a beautiful mess and that perfection is an elusive, unattainable myth.

Day 2 Photo 2: Saying goodbye to the holidays

Well, here we are. It's January 2 and we're all forgetting to to start writing out "2010" instead of "2009". Yes, I have to admit, on my photo post yesterday, I had to edit because my husband pointed out that I had said the photo was "taken today, 1/1/2009". Oh, well. A year-long habit takes a few days to break, right?

So, I kind of figure that the holidays are officially coming to a close. I suppose I really consider this weekend the "end" so to speak and instead of doing a photo of what seemed rather obvious to me today (some outside snow pic of the Nor'Easter that's already starting), I wanted to do something that would allow me to say goodbye to the holiday season, which I really love.

I may end up sharing a couple of the other photos I took this morning in addition to this one but I'm trying to force myself to choose one that I feel is unique in some way. (We'll have to see how long I can hold out on that resolution!). I think I'll call this one, "Self-Reflection during the Holidays". I like the fact that it is, indeed an unusual self-portrait and an interesting way to let go of the holidays.

Now, hopefully, I'll be able to keep motivated and take down the Christmas decorations shortly. I'm feeling the need to try to stay ahead of my usual procrastination and make this one more "baby-step" in figuring out how to do this thing called life.

Wish me luck. :)
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Day 1, Photo 1

OK, so here it is, photo number 1 taken today, 1/1/2010. I have to admit to loving macro or semi macro photos and creating textures. An almost Jackson Pollock take on the concept that the whole image is the subject rather than one (or more) specific points. It was snowing off and on today and this is a photo taken of the tree in our back deck (yes, actually growing through the deck...wasn't our idea). Part of my goal is to expand what I see as a potential picture and find images in the unexpected. High and loft goals - and this is only day one!
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