Wake Me Up When It’s OVER!

hiberating-bear

What do skunks and snakes, bees and bats, turtles and groundhogs all have in common? Along with bears, these are some of the animals that hibernate during the winter months. Sometimes, I wish I could join them and sleep through the winter months and wake up to springtime and flowers. Wouldn’t it be delightful to curl up in a soft warm blanket; on a comfy, luxurious, king-size bed; surrounded with fluffy yet firm pillows; and sleep away the dark and damp and gloomy and frigid months of winter? [To be honest, hibernating for the next four years would be “fantastic” as well.]

days numbered

This winter, many of my dear family, friends and I are entering the “Winter years” of our lives. We are all getting older. A telling sign of growing past middle age is when the “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial is no longer funny. This is because it could happen to us. Aging also bring many serious medical conditions. For example, very special people in my family and in my church are facing difficult times – cancer, heart problems, respiratory problems, diabetes, depression, back surgery, failing knees and other joint distress from arthritis. Thankfully, not everyone will encounter these serious conditions as they grow older but, almost everyone who lives long enough will experience other signs of aging – deteriorating eyesight and hearing, body aches [arthritis], trouble with moving around, memory and recall and concentration problems, insomnia, digestive difficulties. The list goes on.

Behold God

As far as my own aging goes, the process is going at a faster pace for me due to my cerebral palsy. I say this because I thought I would be dealing with the signs of aging in my seventies and not in my fifties and sixties. In my early sixties I am in a wheelchair and need help with most of my daily needs. No longer being able to walk took a toll on me. I loved being able to walk all over Northampton. I loved being able to shower and get dressed and go to wherever I wanted go whenever I wanted to go. I loved cooking and grilling simple gourmet food. I enjoyed helping people in a tangible ways. It seemed like all the activities I enjoyed were being taken away from me one by one. I wasn’t sure if I could live this “ new way life.” It has taken a long time, but I am growing to accept my limitations with the help of many people.

hope

Before my blog post sounds hopeless [like the last inaugural address], I want to assure you there is HOPE. My hope is in God. When I am angry at God, He has unconditional love for me. When I question His existence, He holds me tight. When I need medical help, He puts the right people in my path. God is always on my side. God will help me through my struggles. No matter what my limitations are, God has a job for me to do. God wants me to pray for those who are struggling with medical conditions and other serious problems. God wants me to show His kindness and patience and speak encouraging words to my helpers. My goal is to be a good example of Jesus’ compassion, mercy and love. God wants me to ask for and gratefully accept His forgiveness when I fail. God wants me to also forgive others and humbly ask others to forgive me.

God is worthy of my trust. We can trust each winter will end and give way to SPRING. God will also turn the “winter of our days” into something beautiful and everlasting.

For Lo, the winter is past,

the rain is over and gone;

the flowers appear on the earth;

the time of the singing birds

is come.”

Song of Solomon 2:11-12

tulips

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When Losing is Winning

[This is a continuation to my last post, “It’s Been Awhile”]

serenity-prayer

[Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)]

 Dear Blog Readers,

An utterly bizarre and atypical sequence of events happened in the world of baseball on September 28, 2016. On that night, and almost at the same time, the RED SOX LOST to the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium, and they WON the American League Eastern Division Championship! How on earth did the RED SOX lose and win at the same time? This is how it went down: In order to win the East Championship 1. the RED SOX had to beat the Yankees or 2. the Orioles had to beat the Blue Jays and put them out of contention for first place. The Jays would still have a chance to win the Wild Card which they did]. There are other scenarios, but I won’t go there. I’ll just say, the Orioles helped the RED SOX WIN the Division, though the Orioles did not want to help the RED SOX, by beating the Blue Jays. This unusual moment in baseball history is truly one for the record books.

At first, the SOX players didn’t know what to think or do. How could they celebrate when they lost to their “favorite” nemesis in such a heart-wrenching way: It was the bottom of the ninth inning, the SOX were ahead 3 to 0, the bases were loaded with Yankees, Mark Teixeira was at the plate and he hit a walk-off GRAND SLAM and the RED SOX experienced a crushing 3 to 4 defeat at the hands of their longtime rivals. How can anybody celebrate after that?

papi-celibrating

Walking to the Visitors’ Clubhouse, the RED SOX players and coaches did not look at all like champs, with their “What-just-happened” dejected faces. The clubhouse was made ready for the Boston RED SOX to celebrate winning the division, with heavy plastic covering the walls [and everything else that needed protection], large bins of Champagne and beer on ice, championship caps and T-shirts to wear, and even goggles to protect their eyes. [The Champagne and beer sting the eyes when the players spray each other with them. I don’t mind the beer spraying, but Champagne? C’MON MAN!] How on earth could the Sox get into celebration-mode? Their manager, John Farrell, got everyone together and shared some wonderful words of wisdom. He said something like this: “Don’t let one inning ruin what we’ve accomplished and take away the fact that we are Division Champions.” That’s all Farrell’s team needed to hear to get into a partying mood. The Yankees’ Visitors’ Clubhouse will never be the same.

I have a saying: “BASEBALL IS LIFE IS BASEBALL!” I have learned many very important life lessons from the game of baseball. The lesson I am learning from the baseball game played on September 28th is NOT TO DWELL ON MY LOSSES, BUT TO BE THANKFUL FOR MY WINS: 1. my loving family and friends, 2. the abilities I still can do, 3. being able to live at home with my loving family, 4. my caring church family, 5. caring professionals who work with me to help me get better, as well as the medications that are helping, 6. that I’m growing stronger, 7. my ability to write and encourage others through my blog, 8 the encouragement I receive from the responses to my blog posts, 9. THE JOY OF WATCHING RED SOX IN THE POST SEASON!!!

“Not that I have already obtained this or am aready perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Jesus has made me His own” [Philippians 3:12

I also am learning NOT TO DWELL ON THE RECENT PAST AND MY STRUGGLES WITH DEPRESSION BY: 1. taking it one step at a time and one day at a time, 2. not stressing over the things I can’t control or aren’t that important, 3. enjoying the times I have with my family and friends, 4. being open to suggestions from those who care about me, 5. DOING MY EXERCISES AND EATING HEALTHY FOODS, 6. not being in a hurry when there’s no time limits [writing a blog post,] 7. helping those who help me in any way I can [not being in a rush, asking for help at the appropriate time and being sensitive to what the caregiver is doing and waiting until s/he is finished.], 8. Knowing when I can wait and when I can’t wait. 9. Not panicking when things do not go as planned.

Christian heelping another

From the last two paragraphs, I realize that there are many things I can still do to enjoy life and to help others. In a real sense no one person is independent. As human beings, we all have struggles. We all need God’s help and we all need help from each other. We are all interdependent in one way or another. We will keep losing our abilities as we grow older in one way or another, sooner than later. However, we also keep winning and need to focus on the abilities we still have to help ourselves and to help others. The paragraph above are the goals I am working on, by God’s grace and the help of my family and friends. This is a work in progress. There will be good days and bad days. There will be improvements and setbacks, wins and losses. With God’s help the bad days will not overpower the good days and the setbacks will not overshadow the accomplishments. It is very important not to be hard on myself. What I am praying for something like the Serenity Prayer. [See above]

And that’s my story. “’Nuf sed” [Google it.]

ON TO THE POST SEASON! GO SOX!

Trophy w Mom and Jane

[Me, My Sister Jane and our Mom Vicky who passed away in 2010 ]

cHRISTIAN BLOGGER WOMAN

Lydia

P.S. It is very important to understand that depression is an illness. When depression becomes clinical depression and is severe and takes over my life, no matter how many fine the goals I set, this is the time to seek medical help. No one [including myself] should feel guilty or ashamed of being severely depressed. What we should do instead is to recognize the symptoms and go to talk to professional who treats people with depression. Some of my warning signs are having no appetite, feeling like I’m in a cloud of despair and having little concentration or interest to do anything. When someone is being treated for depression, is doing okay for awhile, and suddenly has a relapse, s/he may need an adjustment to the medications s/he is taking. In my case, I needed more ECT treatments to get back on track. Go with a close friend or family member and ask your doctor about your options. There is help out there. It takes awhile to find it. Please do not give up.

God Sees Us as

Next post will be sent after the 2016 World Series.

It’s Been Awhile

cookie monster

Dear Blog Post Readers,

It’s been awhile since I have written a blog post for you all. I believe I need to tell you why. This last Summer has been a difficult one for me. I have been dealing with many medical issues which have been a source of anxiety, disappointment and discouragement. Depression once again raised its ugly head. After many doctor and counseling and physical therapy visits, and with the love of my family and friends, I am once again getting back to getting on with life. But, before I could get on with my life, I had to focus on my new physical limitations and how to face them and live with them. Before I could face them, I had to receive ten more ECT treatments, which did help my emotional state of mind. However, the treatments did a number on my short-term memory, finding the right words to express myself, my low stamina and short concentration span. In addition, I needed to find something to help my bowel and bladder control issues. I finished the ECT treatments about two months ago. I am now finally regaining all the things I had lost (listed above). Also, my doctor prescribed two medications that are helping with bowel and bladder control. Being able to write this blog post is a personal victory for me. I am once again a “Word Person” and a “Christian Woman Blogger”! Watching four-and-a-half-hour RED SOX/Yankee games must have played a part in improving my concentration and attention span.

IMG_1951

As for my current physical abilities, I am not able to do the things I have worked my whole life to achieve. Oftentimes, cerebral palsy speeds up the aging process because of years and years of doing things “the wrong way” or what I like to say “compensating or adjusting to the only way the cerebral palsy will allow. For example, after years and years of walking with an abnormal gait, ankles and knees and backs and many other parts wear out sooner than later. Some people may say, “We are all getting older.” But, I don’t see these same people sitting in wheelchairs or having to deal with poor fine motor skills when eating or typing or struggling to communicate with labored and slurred speech. I may sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself, but I really am not. I am only sharing what I am going through as a 61-year-old woman with cerebral palsy. The aging process may be more “complicated” for me and for many others who are challenged with disabilities and the other struggles of life. Saying, “We are all getting older” really does not help open up meaningful healing dialogue. What really helps is when someone is listening with compassion, understanding and empathy, and not with a judgmental, self-pious and superior attitude. It helps when listeners are able to imagine themselves in the other person’s wheelchair, braces, splinters, orthopedic shoes or “moccasins.” I have been blessed with people in my life who know how to listen. After validating my struggles as real, we can talk about how to get the help I need and what things I can do to help my situation. We can then move on to talk about our blessings, the RED SOX, the PATRIOTS, the BRUINS, CELTICS and other interests we have (H).

Lydia photo

Independence has been my life’s goal ever since I can remember. At a very early age I wanted to grow up to be a person who lives independently, who is treated with the same respect as others are treated and one who is able to help others with the respect and dignity they deserve as human beings. The happiest day of my life was the day I woke up one morning, at the age of nine and started to walk on my own. From that time on I grew stronger and my balance got better and better and my body grew less and less spastic. I did grow up to live independently from the time I entered college until I began to lose my physical abilities in my 50’s to the present time. I loved being on my own, going grocery shopping, walking to church, making my own meals, having friends over and going over to my friends. I loved being a deacon at my church and helping those in need. I did so many other things in my independence – I was involved with three Christian organizations (in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Boston area) who ministered with the disabled. I led Bible studies in my home (i.e. “Wine and the Word”, “Bread and the Bible”, “John’s Gospel”, “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, just to name a few). I went on road trips to wineries and Fenway and Camden Yards, and Pennsylvania to visit friends. I went on plane trips to California and Oregon and Hawaii and Cozemel and Equator. I cared for my parents, alongside my sister, during the last years of their lives. I did so many fun and fulfilling things during my independent years. I had a blast! Independence is a beautiful thing, especially when acknowledging one’s total dependence on God at the same time!

So, how does “Queen Independence” cope with her life that is now almost totally dependent on others for her “ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING”? What have I learned this Summer that will help me get “on the road ahead?” I will share this in my next blog post in two weeks.

By His Grace, bridge of flowers back2

Lydia

P.S. I have shared very difficult and personal struggles in my life. I would rather have kept them private and secret. However, keeping them to myself would not help others who are dealing with the same kind of struggles. I want you to know that you are not alone. There is help. Please do not give up.