I Fell Down
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FindingJoyBlogJan2016

Finding Joy

2015 was a rough year. My husband’s 7-year battle with a rare ‘terminal’ cancer has taken its toll with the constant change and assault on our lives and lifestyles. We’ve endeavored to make the best of each year, each challenge, stage and state of being, as we currently embrace our latest quest for wellness, with immunotherapy and a great group out of California:  Issels Immuno-Oncology Clinic

In the long run,

it has been hardest on our sense of humor, on facing each day with joy, of finding something to cherish and laugh about through the days. Take for instance, the case of the stretching underwear. With a growing belly and shrinking bottom and legs, it has become increasingly difficult to find underwear that fits or will stay up. If you order the size that fits the belly, the rest of the garment hangs baggy-side down, tripping one up at the knees and confounding the natural gait and order of things. If you order the size that fits the backside and legs, the elastic round the expanding waistline is so tight it cuts off circulation, and that…can’t be good.

It occurs to me that this is a problem not unique to us, as many mature men and women also face the problem of a growing waistline and shrinking legs and backside, and that perhaps I should write to the underwear manufacturers of the world and ask them for a niche market in the resizing of the sizes. Diapers and pull-up briefs simply aren’t the answer for the still active, proud, and sound of mind.

* * *

Exchanging a full time art and jewelry career for care-giving–because it’s what you do when loved ones need you–was an easy choice, at first. At the time, I thought writing would give me a new outlet–if even only in stolen moments–fuel the creative fires still yearning to soar. But I have allowed fatigue, medical research, cooking, meal-planning, chores, house maintenance, bills, money worries, lack of sleep and stress–in other words, the daily details that can drag at each of us–to steal even that.

JamesPattersonJPGBut thanks to author, James Patterson, today is a better day. My New Year’s resolution was to express gratitude for what I have, not fatigue or stress over what I don’t have, and begin the New Year by taking back some time for myself, no matter if late at night after the household has gone to bed, or up early with the neighbor’s roosters while the house is still in quiet slumber. So I signed up for Mr. Patterson’s MasterClass on writing on Dec. 16 (I’m just now getting to it, but hey–better late than not at all), needing some inspiration to ‘get back in the saddle’. https://www.masterclass.com/classes/james-patterson-teaches-writing/ 

And inspire he has. For a mere $90, James Patterson has set forward a wonderful format of encouragement salted with reality, of humor mixed with practical advice as he provides an insight into what it takes to truly become ‘a writer’, using anecdotes and personal experience through video and written formats that enhance the lesson plans.

Lesson 3 alone has called me back three times to ‘re-attune’ before moving on. I wept at my ‘coming home’ when he spoke of the heart of writing—to paraphrase: “Read prodigiously. Practice every day; Find the joy in what you are writing about; Sing when you write–if you can’t sing and be happy, something’s wrong–go fix it.”

More than anything, he impresses with his generosity and willingness to share the how-to’s and why’s of character building, plots and ideas with real-life examples, and offers positive feedback in an interactive format.

Thank you, James Patterson, for your wit and wisdom, for your own perseverance in the face of adversity, and for caring that other writer’s ‘make it’.

* * *

So, here I am, back on track with the first task, a new blog entry, looking for a song, for a melody in the flow of words–then on to finally finishing the last 3 chapters of Book 3 in The Spidy Chronicles, and the final book in The Entity Chronicles, while a murder mystery lurks insistently beneath the surface of the tidal pool.

And because I awakened with determination and joy, so did my world. The sun broke through light fog and is shining unusually warm winter rays across the land. It is a quiet day in our little slice of heaven and all is well. My husband woke with renewed determination and he and Mom have ‘things they want to do on their own today’, so after finishing bills, laundry and meals, I’ll still have half the day to write. Yipppee!

* * *

‘Looking for the joy’ in writing brought to mind my ‘Box of Joy’, a gift from my thoughtful husband some years ago. But for it to make sense, you should know that I grew up two miles outside the middle of nowhere in Northwest Oklahoma, with few trees, little water and fewer people.

Absent were the brisk fairy-tale New England autumnal celebrations with their valley wide splashes of rainbow colors dancing across hill and dale, gifting the earth with whirlwinds of fresh-fallen, brightly-painted confetti to play in–to roll around in or kick into piles–to entertain as flying carpets of laughter and joy.

Chez-moi, these technicolor dreams were replaced by gales of grey dust and wind, where the few, dried, spent leaves spilt by drought-worn trees traveled horizontal, like projectiles, flying at the same speed as the ever-present wind and tumbleweeds, not staying long enough in our county to ‘pile up’ unless caught by weed or windrow. Some days it seemed not safe to go outside without goggles or glasses.

…So when we settled in North Texas and discovered the small disc golf park nearby with its acres of ancient oak and pecan trees, I used walking the dog and disc-golf as an excuse to ‘go play in the leaves’. Throwing a disc at the baskets is now secondary each autumn, as piles and swirls of golden oranges and browns beckon me to come play in a stirring up of memories of summer gone by with the changing of the guard.DiscGolfInLeaves

My beloved often suggests we ‘go for a walk’, just to see me happy and ‘kicking at leaf-fall’. And when one autumn filled the park with an exceptional, spectacular ‘letting go of leaves‘, he gave me the greatest Christmas gift of all—an over-large cardboard carton, taped up and wrapped pretty with the following note on top:

Box of Joy

This emergency kit contains a collection of only the finest quality of unkicked dried leaves, which have been packed in a special atmosphere

of 81% Nitrogen, 16% Oxygen, 2% Carbon Dioxide, and other special gases to preserve freshness.

Instructions:

  1. Open box gently outdoors

2. Remove plastic container of leaves

  1. Carefully open container
  2. Gently dump the leaves on the ground
  3. Back up 3 paces (about 8 feet) and walk in toward the pile of leaves
  4. Feel the bliss of kicking the leaves as the joy of life settles over you.

Not to be used under supervised conditions.

Box of Joy

The note and the care with which it was written, my soul-mate understanding the root of who I am in

my child’s heart, has far-outlasted the box of leaves, and left the indelible imprint of joy on my life. Thank you, dear husband, for the memory.

And Thank you, James Patterson, for encouraging me to remember my ‘joy’.

I Fell Down
Roller Coasters