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27 February 2009

Find the wonderful in today

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.
-- Anais Nin

Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day.
~Author Unknown

We all have two main choices in life, especially during hard times. We can choose to laugh, or we can choose to cry. Either choice is fine really but if we choose the latter, we must remember to crawl out of our sad hole and start laughing. It's the only way that we will get through this journey.

We had a visitor this weekend. Irene. We'd been waiting a loooooooooong time to see Irene, although she has been close to our hearts for a very very long time. Irene is a ray of sunshine. She has gone through many incredibly difficult times in her life but she is full of hope, love, and endless rays of sunshine. She is an inspiration to all who meet her. Here's a little background....

The past few years, her journey has become a climb of steep switchbacks up a high mountain. But she has not been alone on her journey. She has had her close friends, her beautiful husband, her family and her spirit guides with her. After a series of illnesses, Irene found out maybe 3 years ago that she was in kidney failure. She had to leave her friends in Mexico and move back to the states for treatment, to begin dialysis, and to await and hope for a kidney transplant. A couple members of her family offered to be her donor but after intensive testing were denied. Meanwhile, Irene endured dialysis, surgeries to reconnect veins, unable to pee and strict instructions to eat and drink only a few types of food.

Then a year ago, her good friend in Mexico, Elisa, secretly got tested and found she was a perfect match. She then told Irene she was going to give her one of her kidneys. Following this proclamation, Elisa started her own journey of a year of tests to determine her eligibility as a donor. Finally the day came when it was announced that Elisa had passed all her tests and that a date had been scheduled for the transplant. Irene was in disbelief that this was actually going to become a reality.

I can't remember how long it took, but just after her surgery, Irene called to say she was peeing!!!! PEEING! Now let me tell you, this was a huge milestone. Irene hadn't peed in a year and a half. After coming home from the hospital she had a mild rejection episode and was put on a large dose of prednizone.

Now, just 6 months later she is basking in the joy of a new life. A life where she can pee, a life without dialysis, and a life with the new latino part of herself - Maria Consuelos - her kidney. She has a strict regimin of pills, recording all she eats, drinks and pees, watching what she eats, and fending off the side effects of the medications. But that doesn't stop this girl. Irene has freedom now. She can travel which is how she ended up at our house this week. She doesn't let anything get in her way. There is no room left in her life for negativity. She relishes in life's simplest yet most important pleasures - good friends, family, and her incredible husband. She cries when she needs to but relies on her support group to keep her standing strong. Irene says she's found out how strong a person she really is. She can do anything now. She knows what really matters in life. In fact, Irene has always known that. The intensity is just more magnified now.

Everyone who knows Irene or who has met her briefly has taken with them a piece of sunshine. That piece of sunshine infects the next person they interact with and so on. Life is not easy. It's a harsh world full of sickness, illness, poverty, corruption and whatever else negative you can think of. But there are pockets of happiness, love and sunshine. And like Irene says, she chooses to laugh in the face of it all and to continue to say to herself - I am worth it. Or as I like to say - I am high maintenance but I am worth it. So continue to spread the sunshine and take care for those you love because there is no greater joy, nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone's life. And be of love a little more careful than of everything.

19 February 2009

Oh my aching back

Being hurt or sicks sucks and it's so incredibly wonderful when there is someone around who can take care of you. Warren has so completely taken care of me through broken fingers, toes cut on glass, a broken tail bone, a fractured ankle, a horrible respiratory infection, digestive issues... to name a few. And in turn, I become his ever loving caretaker when he's down for the count. I've nursed him through colds, flus, kidney infections, a hernia surgery, sprained ankles, deep cuts and a smashed finger. It's what true love really is. Anyone can make it through the good times, the fun times, the healthy times. But to take care of someone you love is the real thing baby.

So, I'm drivin home today marveling that I have so much energy and I even missed my 3pm coffee today. I call Warren and he tells me that he is not walking the dogs tonight because he pulled his sciatic nerve (sp?), bending over to pick up a sock. Dude, that sucks. I immediately start to mentally prepare the herbs and tinctures he'll need, the schedule of advil, hot packs and comfy bed on the couch. He asks if he should see a doctor. I say yes, let's get you into the chiropractor right away. Mind you, Warren has never been to the chiro and probably never would have except... He hesitates but he's in so much pain. Yes, he asks me to get an appointment. I get him a slot tomorrow at 1:30 and reassure him that it's all gonna be ok.

When I was a kid I remember my dad always hurting his back playing basketball. I remember mom bringing him home laying flat in the back of the pick up. He'd crawl into the house moaning in pain and stay in bed until the pain subsided. My parent's didn't drink when us kids lived there but I am almost positive he had my mom hit the liquor store sometimes - just to ease the pain of the strained muscles!

So tonight I am Nurse Betty. I got warren full of advil, put tiger balm on his back and got him situated on the couch with the TV remote, a hot water bottle, a coke, and lots of strategically placed pillows to ease the pressure on his back. I even cooked pasta and garlic bread. Why do I do it? Because I love him. Because he'd do it for me in a flash. Because I wouldn't have it any other way.

It sounds dreamy doesn't it. Well I hate to break through your reality shield but when Warren's sick, he's also a pain in the patooshka. He's blinded by his pain or sickness. It consumes him. Maybe it's his one chance as a man in life to actually break down a little bit and let someone take care of you. Men are always so courageous and brave in most anything. But when sickness or injury strikes, they really need a woman around. It's true! You know what I'm talkin about!

It's funny cuz when I'm sick, I prefer to let everything go. I prefer to give in to it, take whatever will make me feel better whether it's advil, shots of whiskey, a massage, a good visit to the chiro or doc... But it is a beautiful feeling to know that when it comes right down to it, there's someone to cry to, to yell to about the pain. There's someone who'll hold you and hug you and rock you until you fall asleep. That is love. That is the love of a mother to her child, a husband to a wife, a wife to her husband. The kind of love that knows no bounds.

17 February 2009

How to relax

Dude I had the coolest weekend. I was so tired all week from staying up late almost every night. I swear I never got to bed until like 10 or 11pm. Yep. Saturday morning we arose about 9am. I woke up first. I snuck up to my dresser to get out the card for Warren that I'd been hiding for a month. (I'm a freaky card buyer, I love buying cards) I put it in front of his half open eyes and giggled - ha! I beat him to it! He smiled and read his card and laughed. Then he told me to go out into the man-room and get my card. So I walk out into the garage and there's this card that says 'Sarah, the Wonderful'. Oh that is my warren, I love him. I read my card back in bed with the dogs listening in.

Eventually we get out of bed and make our way to Elmers for breakfast but alas, everyone and their dog is there and it's like an hours wait. So I guess we'll have to go to the trendy, expensive, neighborhood gourmet joint - The Country Kat. Ah Darn! After being wined and dined with equisite pancakes with buttery cinnamoned apples, stumptown coffee, perfect eggs over medium, home fries, and a basket of buttery brownsugared homemade fresh that morning cinnamon rolls, we roll ourselves back home.

The dogs have not been walked yet which means that they are crazy right now. If we don't walk them, there will be no afternoon nap for them. We end up walking all over the trails of Tabor and up hills noone should have to climb. But it was an intense and beautiful walk up there among the spirits of mt tabor. I love this mountain. I feel so incredibly lucky to live by such a spiritual landmark. Everytime we are there I greet the spirits of the mountain. The giant firs and pines envelop me in their protective branches. The dogs love it too. For there is a lot to sniff and many places to leave their mark. An hour or so later, we get home. The dogs tongues are hanging to the floor so we have done our job! We settle in for a long nap.

A few hours later we wake up, but only cuz Huck has to pee. I lay on the couch for an hour more, getting my beauty rest. Finally, we shower and decide we need drinks! Because it's valentines day Warren says I can go anywhere (within the budget of course). So, yep, I pick 'The Observatory'. A new hip, urban locale, on the verge of expensive and once again, in our neighborhood. The place is really cool. Warren, I can tell, immediately does not like it. When he sees the menu, it is further confirmed that he will only be having a drink but that yeah, I can go ahead and have dinner - he'll just grab a burger later. By myself, burger later? No, uh uh, you boy, you are gonna eat yourself some dinner here. I finally talk him into sharing the chicken fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. However, he gags when the food comes and holy shit, there's these green things all over the plate. Oh man, it's just brussel sprouts. They aren't gonna bite you. I devour them quickly because of two reasons. First there's nothing like organically grown, garlicky, lightly fried brussels sprouts and secondly, Warren might pass out if I don't get them off the plate soon. We both end up really digging the dinner and the two really good, realllllly good lemon drops. We even spring for desert - a chocolate peanut butter carmel upside down mud cake. We are buzzed when we leave.

Let me interject here - I didn't mention the guitar player. There was this amazingly romantic spanish guitar player at the restaurant. You know me, I get weak in the knees when this kind of music surrounds my whole aura with exotic love. I couldn't help it. I ask Warren to tip him and buy one of his CD's. I will post a song on here soon. Get ready to slow dance!

When we get home, we chill out to some tunes and hang in the man room. Eventually Jason comes over to play darts with Warren. So I decide to turn on the tube. Guess what was just starting - the 2-hr replay of Grey's anatomy - that I missed on Thurs. You see I try to have 'TV nights' but 3-4 dogs and a husband and drinking wine, I sometimes forget that my show is on. So you can imagine my excitement. I settled in to watch 2 hours solid of TV.

What was cool about today was that I did nothing basically. I got to be a professional lounger. I didn't have to do anything, except walk the dogs, that always has to happen. But that walk bought me a long nap later. I totally like to be busy, but when I take time off from the craziness, I seriously like to be sure that I do nothing. My house was a pigsty, we hadn't cleaned for weeks. It smelled dark and dank like old winter. The couch blankets were full of fur and dust. The floors completely covered by dust bunnies and crumbs. Laundry overflowing. You get the picture. But I let it all go for a whole day and night. I put my rose colored glasses on and went about my day in a happy lazy daze. It's the only way to truly relax - to let go completely.

Now I'm not sayin Sunday was the same story. We got our asses right in gear the next morning and cleaned the livin shit out of the house. For hours. So, I start this week out, fully relaxed, fully rested and fully have a clean house and all my laundry done. I still couldn't get up to my alarm clock Monday morning though. As I said before, I'm not one to be awoken unnaturally. But I do like to be organized once in a while.

10 February 2009

Aunty Sarah

I don't have children. Hmmm, let me re-phrase that. I don't have human children. I am, however, raising 3 labrador retrievers. I think there are some similarities although some would beg to differ. Anyway, any time my 'need to be a mother' kicks in, my sister Susan's 6th sense also kicks in. Susan immediately decides to go out of town but not before she's got me scheduled in to take care of my niece and nephews. I love being Aunty Sarah. I always offer my help because that is what sisters are for, right?

So, just as I'm re-thinking the idea of having human children, Susan calls me to say she's flying to Denver to be with her best friend as she gives birth. This means, all three kids are left home, alone, with dad. Yeah, I know. So, I offer up my services. What can I do, how can I help. I am so excited. Susan tells me that she needs me to take Riley, 14 yo, to his TWO, yes, TWO basketball games on Saturday. Ok, that's cool, I can do that. I haven't seen him play basketball in years. Feeling overly confident, I also offer to take my 4 year old niece, Hope, for the day - after basketball, of course. Susan kindly obliges to my request although I am sure she is laughing inside at my confidence!

Down to business. Saturday morning comes early and fast. Who on earth gets up this early on a Saturday to play basketball? I consider the speech I will give Riley when I pick him up about how important it is to choose hobbies and sports that allow you to sleep in on the weekends. However, when we arrive to pick him up, he is more asleep than we are. His eyes are red, he's eating cocoa puffs - the breakfast of basketball champions, and I think he's seriously contemplating why he chose to do this, too. Hence, there is no need for my speech. Warren drives him to the game and I follow in my own car. Riley doesn't say a word on the way there so Warren begins to give him the 'cool uncle advice' - since talking is sometimes easier than pure teenage silence. Warren proceeds to tell him how he should take all the opportunities he can while he's young - whether it's traveling; dating a lot of girls - instead of just one high school sweetheart; and to be sure he marries a strong woman. All of this advice is met with smirks and silence. Either way, Warren's sure he's at least reached him.

Riley's basketball games turn out to be fantastic. These kids are awesome! They are gangly teenagers who have long arms and legs, messy hair, zits and haven't quite grown into their big feet yet. Warren and I start comparing them to the Blazers. They have a lil' Prizbilla, a lil' Rudy and even an Aldridge. They have potential.

In between games, we take Riley to Taco Bell - his favorite restaurant. He doesn't talk much but smiles at us a lot. Warren assures me this is OK and how teenage boys are when they're with adults. Warren even offers to teach Riley how to drive during this break but he declines, probably quite smart as his eligibility for a permit is around the corner - don't want to mess that up.

Soon Roger arrives with Hope. Hope is not from this planet. But we'll get to that later. After a struggle getting the car seat into my truck, I load Hope up along with her bag of toys and we take off to my house. I'm thinking I've got to take her shopping. It's a girl thing. She must have read my mind because she asks me what we are going to do today. I tell her we will go shopping and then go visit Ruby - another 4 year old who lives down the street from me - who's mom, Jenny, is also a close friend of mine. She's really excited and proceeds to chat non stop as we drive.

We arrive at my favorite store - The Village Merchant. I tell her she can have almost anything she wants. Hope of course goes straight for the jewelry case. She eyes a plastic silver shiny princess tiara. "Oh Sarah, it's so beautiful", she says. She tries it on, I check the price ($2) and we agree it will be purchase number one. Soon we've loaded our hands with a beaded heart necklace and an armful of glittery bracelets. As we get back into the car, she tells me how thankful she is for all this beautiful princess jewelry and how rich I must be. She asks me how much I spent and when I tell her I spent $6, she is in complete awe. "Wow", she says, "You are so rich. My mommy never spends this kind of money on me". I try not to laugh but I also feel quite honored that she thinks I'm rich!

We get home and play with the dogs for a while. She has trouble remembering their names and ends up calling our brown lab - Taco - instead of Tahoe. It cracks me up. Then we head over to Ruby's house. The next few hours are a bit of blur but I do remember endless princess costumes, singing, dancing, yelling, loud yelling, and two girls running through the house with wings attached to their princess dresses. I'm exhausted so I step out for a cigarette. I feel guilty leaving Jenny in there with the two monsters but I need a break. Jenny looks just fine. How can she be fine? This is insane. We end up deciding to cook dinner together so I go home with Hope to make some cornbread. I need some peace and quiet so I turn on the TV to the cartoon channel and set Hope in front of it with a huge bowl of blueberries. Whoever said TV is bad for kids was an idiot and never took time for themselves. I enjoy my peace and a glass of wine while I bake. But before I know it, it's time to go back over for dinner.

We enjoy dinner together with out much ado. Hope actually eats her black bean soup and 5 pieces of cornbread. What is that I see? Her eyes look a little tired! Maybe a mellow evening is ahead of us? She excuses herself from the table along with Ruby. Us adults get to enjoy a conversation and wine. The guys go out for a smoke and Jenny and I start to clean up. (Why do the guys always leave the girls with the kids?) Suddenly we realize it's way too quiet. How much time has passed? We go looking to see what trouble the kids are in. But the kids are nowhere to be found. Frantically Jenny and I search the house. How can two 4-year olds who are louder than a Metallica Concert and a 1 year old disappear? I run outside and ask the guys if the kids are with them. Panic stricken, the drop their smokes and run inside. Jason goes right for the bedroom closet, opens it and low and behold, three kids screaming and laughing at their funny joke. Good lord, I almost had a heart attack. Is it 8:00 yet? That's when Susan's coming to get Hope.

It's bedtime and it's time to go. How do you get a 4 year old who owns the world to clean up the 2000 toys she's spread over the whole house in less than 4 hours? I threaten, bribe, offer more princess jewelry only to get her to pick up a couple of toys. She acts like I asked her to clean the floor with a toothbrush. Geez Louise. Jenny and I get the house cleaned up, we say our goodbyes, Ruby and Hope give eachother big hugs and promise to raise hell again the next chance they get. I walk out of the house with Hope and wonder how I will stay awake for the next 1/2 hour until mom gets here. Suddenly, I hear Mommy. Yes, I do, Mommy is back! Oh I love you, Susan. I love that your plane was on time!

Susan and I hang out for another hour, catching up on the birth of her best friend's baby, the adventures I had with Hope, and then she gathers up the 4 year old monster and takes her home.

Warren and I look at eachother. We can't even talk. I need a shot of whiskey. No, I need to go to bed. We both agree it's really cool to be aunt and uncle for a day. But just for a day. It's nice to be able to give the kids back to their parents. I have no idea where my 'need to be a mother' went but I'm sure it has run far, far, far away, never to be heard from again, or at least, until I need my next fix.

I crawl into bed with my husband and my 3 dogs. I am happy. I love my little family. I love my nieces and nephews. I love that Susan trusts me to take her kids for a day. She knows damn well it's good birth control! And, at the end of the day, I know for sure that I was meant to be a mom, a dog mom, that is.

08 February 2009

Hard Days

sometimes the world seems to close in on me
it steps back and shuts its doors
the curtains close, the lights go out and no one seems to be home.
the sun fades
the moon turns dark
and the stars fall out of the sky.

-Sarah, written 1991

I wrote this many years ago but it helps to explain the hard days that I have every once in a while. I never get lost in my sadness, my heart just gets heavy and I have to let it be that way sometimes. The weight of the world sits on my shoulders now and then.

I am a strong person, able to overcome and plow through any issue, problem, sudden situations, sad moments and hard times. In fact, I prefer to laugh rather than be mad or cry. However, once I have made my way through the chaos and everyone around me is ok, then I feel myself beginning to break down. Most always, I allow myself to do this. It's important to cater to your emotions and tend to your heart in these instances. It's also important to ask for a lot of hugs. Warren will give me the biggest bear hug. He'll wrap his arms around me and hold me until I thoroughly showered in his love. Hugs are magic I'm telling you. I love to hug.

They say you shouldn't drown your sorrows. But if you don't have addictive tendencies and swing more on the common sense side of things, then why not, I say. When I feel hard days coming on, I am sure to face them head on and in style. I'll load my shopping cart with my favorite kinds of wine, a small bottle of advil and some expensive organic chocolate. I'll come home, pour a nice glass of wine and patiently let it breathe. As I begin to drink my wine, I savor the richness of it and am thankful that I can afford wine when I have a bad day. I say that because I've had bad days, where I've had no money for wine and that is really hard.

After the first glass I feel a warmness surround my heart and a fuzziness in my head. At this time, I pour another glass and get the chocolate out. Depending upon my mood and the time of day, I will usually choose one of two things to do that always make me feel better. These things, involve me being with myself.

If I'm really feeling like crap, I take the bottle of wine and my chocolate and I make me a nice comfy bed on the couch. I turn on the TV and flip right over to the Lifetime channel. Nothing is better than drowning your sorrows in someone elses cheesy, girly, made-for-tv movies. I spend hours on the couch crying my eyes out, feeling so bad for these tv characters. Soon, I'm too tired and spent to watch anymore. I turn over and sleep for a while. When I wake up, I usually have a headache, so I pop some advil and drink tons of water. Strangley I feel a little better.

Other times, I just get the blues. I mean, I NEED to sing and dance
to the blues. I pull out my CD that Warren made me - Sarah's Soul Hits - composed of all the soul songs that tear at my heart strings - songs that I must hear. I bring my bottle of wine over to the table, close the curtains (no one should see this), and put in my CD. Oh yeah, the blues. There's nothing like them. I grab my wine bottle and use it as my microphone and proceed to sing the blues to my imaginary audience in a dark, dingy, smoky bar . When the CD's over, I bow to the audience and go to bed.

I always feel better the next day. And if I don't, I just drink more wine. If it's a work night, I'll just cook dinner, have a couple glasses and go to bed early. It'll pass, it always does.