Cerebral Squalls

I remember the days, after I was done with my chemo-therapy treatments — the first time round, 36 years ago. I recall the times when these dark storm clouds would roll over my mind and everything looked so hopeless. Some chemo treatments are largely hormonal, so they mess yours up so bad.
Blogger Stacey LePage describes these times so effectively in her poem and has kindly permitted me to share it with you.


In The Corner

They come and blow your mind away
They make mountains of your thoughts
They will gather strong in billowed clouds
You will find yourself distraught

The sky can blacken all around
Will cause your heart to race
You fear the wrath the clouds may bring
As you quicken up your pace

Then as quickly as it came
It moves along the sky
And out of view the squall does pass
To leave you high and dry

You feel the warmth upon your face
It melts and thaws your mind
You stop and pause and close your eyes
To leave the past behind

The moment seems to slow right down
Life stops and takes a breath
Living in the here and now
Gives minute of brain refresh


There is it, yet once again
The storm is suddenly nigh
You’ve seen it once, you’ll see it again
And know it will…

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Half A Chaos Load

As the sun rises on our small acreage this morning, tinting the thin layers of cloud with delightful rosy shades, it finds our mobile home in a state of upheaval. And clothes drying, since I was up early this morning getting the wash done before our workman gets here.

We’re having the flooring replaced in our dining area-kitchen-hallway, which is all one open area, plus the main bathroom just off the hallway. Of course this involves the main traffic area in our mobile home, so hubby and I have been holed up in the office for the most part since the work began. We’ve chosen interlocking vinyl slats 1′ x 2′ to replace the wood laminate stuff that was cracking, peeling and chipping. It has been removed and stacked outside and most of the stick-down tiles that were under it have been lifted and tossed, too, and a start made at laying down the new stuff.

Our washer and dryer have already been moved, the flooring replaced under them and the appliances put back again. Today it’ll be the fridge & stove’s turn. Isn’t it shocking what all hides under your appliances and shows up when workers are around to see it? Mostly we’ve found dust bunnies and rags fallen behind the washer — but we needed to move a tall bookcase in our living room and underneath that was a mouse’s nest from who knows when. Yuck!

Part of our sub-floor has gotten water-damaged, so our worker has been replacing some of that. Which means sawing and drilling, which means some dust flying, which means the place needs a thorough cleaning when it’s over. Plus we need to move the second living room bookcase to see if another mouse lived there. Have our cats been sleeping on the job?

Being stuck in the office is not a heavy cross, I’ll admit. I’ve been writing short fiction, plus working on a Hardy Boys-type story for my teen grandson. But as soon as this renovation work is done I’ll be overworked, trying to restore order to this chaos.

The chemo-therapy I had last year really has punched the lights out of my memory cells. I realized this again recently at my husband’s cousin’s wife’s funeral. I asked about another cousin and Bob told me, “He’s my Uncle John’s son.” I stared at him blankly. He didn’t have an Uncle John — at least not one that I knew of. Eventually it came back to me, but the lapse did give me a jolt.

Last week when I’d written my short story for Friday Fictioneers (see link at right) I decided to post all those stories on Christine Composes, my fiction blog. Then I forgot and posed it here yesterday as When Fear Makes You Sweat. (Work isn’t the only thing that makes you sweat. The fear of forgetting can be another cause.)

I got another reminder last night when I came across a story in my Documents. I vaguely remember writing it, maybe a year ago? Seems I posted it, too, but I can’t find it on either of my blogs. So I’m posting it this morning on Christine Composes and offering my apologies if you read it last year. Read it here: A Counselor’s Toughest Job

And this morning a phone call reminded me of the birthday party I’m invited to this afternoon. I mark these things on the calendar — when I remember. Some folks tell me they wish they could blame memory lapses on chemo, but their minds just don’t retain —  probably overworked.

And now I’d best arise and go do some work.

The Word Press daily prompt for today: overworked.

The Woes We Dread

In the Grip of Reality

Patient to psychiatrist: My friends tell me I need help overcoming my unreasonable fear, so I’ve come to you.

Shrink: So what exactly is your fear, Mr Messer?

Patient: I’m afraid I’m going to die.

Shrink: But you’re still a young man. What makes you think you’re going to die?

Patient: Because I’m human and all humans die, right? They have since the world began. Which means sooner or later it’s bound to happen to me, too. Sounds quite reasonable to me — and I’m scared.

Shrink: Ah, yes. We definitely have to take a look at this.


Tomorrow’s Troubles

Some of your hurts you have cured
and the sharpest you still have survived,
but what torments of grief you endured
from evils which never arrived!

—Author Unknown

It Takes All Kinds

colored-pensMusings on Self-Respect

On Saturday I was people-watching at Walmart, I started on one of my flights of fancy that has culminated in this morning’s post.

Not feeling the best myself that day, I plopped down on a bench and watched the world go by — in all its variety. An observer is privy to such an interesting spectrum: people of all shapes, sizes, skin tones, and moods passed before my eyes.

Have you ever, as you watched people grab their carts and flow through the doors of some Mega-Super-Mart, indulged in extreme make-overs? “What would this person look like if…” I confess, I do this at times.

I have no problem with the variety of people that exist. Nature has given us an entertaining variation of heights and breadths, faces, noses, hair colors. And then individual personalities expand and enhance the potential outward appearance — for better or for worse.

I’ve seen some people who would be outwardly quite attractive, except they look like they’d murder their own mother for a dime. Some men can have such “handsome” potential but look so cold. “How would this person’s looks change if they lost the anger they carry around inside?”

“What would that person look like if they could just lighten up and enjoy the day?” I’m sure I didn’t look the most cheerful that day, either, especially when my stomach felt like it was filled with some kind of slime. Nevertheless, when you’ve been through the mill health-wise it seems lightening up and enjoying life more seems a good plan.

Sometimes I see some young female slouching along the aisle and I wonder, “What would that woman look like if she really cared about herself?” Not that I expect females to turn out in fancy designer fashions or have their hair and makeup salon-perfect. Comfort is great; I go for comfort. And maybe I’m just so old school, but slopping around in tattered sweats, especially with grubby underwear on display, just doesn’t speak well for a healthy self-respect.

Someone may protest indifference. “I don’t care what people think! People can take me as I am. I don’t dress up for anybody.” But I wonder. We don’t have to dress up for others, but isn’t there a point to looking good for our own benefit? Because I want people to respect me? And when we lose interest in caring for our appearance or our surroundings, what’s going on inside?

Then again I see some young things whose appearance is all about appealing to other eyes, usually by displaying as much as possible without getting arrested. I tend to read this as low-self esteem. One gets the impression they have no sense of worth apart from their ability to attract male eyes and ogles. Of course this is exactly how people respond to them, too. Human nature is very predictable. You see passing males looking at them not as a person but as a flashy toy.

When I think of the rhetoric of the feminist movement back in the 60’s, this was one of the main gripes put forth: “We don’t want to be seen as just bodies. We want to be treated as real people, with real brains and a real contribution to make.” When I see so many teen girls today throwing everything out for display, willingly becoming “only bodies,” I have to conclude those feminist ideals have been totally derailed by the Hollywood divas that have arisen since. I think we had more sense of personal worth and less pressure to conform back when I was a teen, before the feminist movement came on strong.

Then again you see quite ordinary down-to-earth people passing your observation point, going about their business. They appear to have made their peace with who they are and how they look. They don’t especially dress to impress anyone around them, yet you can see they look in a mirror before they leave home and want to appear worthy of respect in the eyes of others. They carry themselves as someone of worth — and people do give them respect.

This morning as I thought about self-respect this bright picture popped into my mind. What if a “greeter”could stand at the entrance of the local Mega-Super-Mart and give each person a shot of honest-to-goodness self-respect as they walked through the door? Self-worth, if you will. Not a shot of ego, but a sense of personal value. How much would it change each individual, their appearance, their posture, their behavior? And how long could they hang onto it?

(This is actually what God does for people. Not just a quick shot that evaporates; rather, He lets us know we are valuable to him and that changes everything. Ask any person who’s had an honest encounter with him and they’ll tell you it is so.)

And now I must conclude this two-hour writing practice and get on with my day’s work.

Half Hour Journal

I’ve come through a rough week of chemo after-effects and am hoping things will start to clear up now. At least the dizzy, floaty feeling in my head has dissipated. I suppose it was a bit of inner ear trouble, but for the past few days I’ve been so fuzz-brained, mostly sitting watching the world go by.

In other ways, too I’ve had a harder time getting “over” the last treatment: the bad taste and “yuck” in my stomach has lasted longer. Well, the oncologist told me each treatment would hit me a little harder. I’m feeling somewhat better this morning, so here’s hoping I can start picking up the pieces of everyday life now. Yesterday all I did was mess around with fabric scraps, sorting, stacking, thinking sometime I’ll cut them into squares & make blankets.

Yesterday morning I happened to look out the window and see a train approaching our road, chugging up from the southwest. Four engines and they were straining. Just for interest I stood by the window and counted the cars, 135 in total, all loaded with grain, carrying the new harvest to the ports.

And so life goes on around me. I was quite shocked this morning when I took a good look at the date and realized September is more than half gone now!

This morning it seems a challenge for me to just pick up and carry on after I’ve been out of commission for so long. Yes, there are household tasks to do; today I have a heap of laundry to get through. But as I face this new day I realize that somewhere in my months of illness I’ve lost all sense of normal. From here on I’m going to have to establish some new routines if I want to get back on track again.

All this time I’ve been getting e-mails from various writing instructors or groups and they all say: “It’s imperative that you write every day.” Apart from a few blog posts I have written zilch in the past few months — and I’ve missed it. In some gloomy moments I feel like I should cancel all my subscriptions to these inspiring writing blogs and give up the idea of being a Writer, but at other times I consider that establishing a new routine may not be so hard. Just do it.

So I’m going to start with half an hour of simple writing every morning from 9-9:30am, a short journal with my thoughts of the moment. Then maybe I’ll go on and do ½ hour of fiction writing. I know this won’t yield a bestseller by the end of the year, but making the attempt may get the creative juices flowing again. I’m afraid mine have all but solidified.

ON a different note: This morning I was reading a short devotional reading which was about comfort, being comforted by God and being able to comfort others. (II Corinthians Ch 1.) This brings to mind J S Park’s recent blog post about how we cope with tragedy and how we attempt to offer comfort to those who are facing personal disasters. It’s an insightful article, well worth reading. Check it out here:

Thus ends my half-hour of musing. Now to go conquer Mount Washmore, as the FlyLady refers to my heap of laundry.

The Muse and the Ball Game

A few mornings ago the Word Press daily prompt word was “muse.” Since then I’ve contemplated what writers call “the Muse” and how it works — at least for me. A picture came to mind about how. in one way, writing is much like baseball, with inspiration (AKA the Muse) being the pitcher.

As I sit down at the computer and read what others have written, or see the Daily Prompt word, I feel rather like a batter standing at home plate with random ideas being pitched my way. Or I read a new book and have some impressions of it that I want to share with the world. Sometimes I see only scraps of thought coming at me, loosely wrapped together like a rag ball, and sometimes I can discern the complete story or article as it sails toward the plate. The bat (pen) is in my hand. Will I make good use of it?

There have been many times when I’ve given my bat a good swing, connected, and away I went round the bases while my ball of words flew out toward a receptive audience. Home run! Other times the connection wasn’t as good and the ball didn’t get very far. Some may have said as they read my piece, “What a half-baked idea! Foul ball.” Maybe I need to work on my swing.

Of late I’m still getting the inspirations — thankfully the pitcher hasn’t quit throwing balls my way — but I haven’t been swinging. Ideas come but instead of batting and sending them sailing toward the outfield I rather watch them fly into the catcher’s glove without even raising my bat. Is it a lack of energy? Lack of focus? Simple laziness?

I weigh my options. At times I’m ready to toss the bat and get out of the game. “Discipline, focus, perseverance are the things that make for a successful writer,” they say. Right now I seem to lack everything I need to be a successful writer, so shall I turn in the uniform? Or go sit on the bench awhile and wait out my current health issues? Other times I think perhaps I just need to discipline myself and start swinging again. At least try to bunt some for awhile.

This post can be my attempt at a bunt. (Or grunt. Or overall moan. 🙂 )

I see the prompt word for today is “praise” so I’d better go muse on that awhile and come up with something cheery. Have a good day, everyone. Wishing you all at least one “homer” today.