Saturday, 26 October 2013

Thanksgiving and Autumn Excursions

It's been a month since I last posted.  The time has flown by very quickly again.  I intended to post on Thanksgiving Monday (Oct. 15) but instead, I went on an excursion for the day on the back of my husband's motorcycle.  My bout with lymphoma has made me more open to dropping all my chores and responsibilities for an opportunity to enjoy this beautiful earth or spend time with people who are special to me and enrich my life.  So the last month has been full of bike rides, dinners with friends as well as my family and yes, I'm still trying to keep up with the chores.

I've been continuing to teach piano and have been still trying to sing.  I've started practising with my church choir again but I am more of a body than a section leader like I once used to be.  I used to sing soprano and now I sing tenor or if I'm having a good day, I can sing alto.  My throat still gets sore and swells after too much singing so I have to sing lightly and limit the length of time that I am at practice.  I'm still grieving the loss of my singing voice.  I'm mentally working on trying to get past what I used to be able to do.  I used to be able to sing so well that I would bring tears to people's eyes and I could worship my God in full glory.  Now my voice is just a small whisper of what it used to be.  I had hoped that the voice would come back but I'm beginning to accept that this is as good as it gets.  Most of the time, I'm in a good headspace regarding my singing but occasionally, I am surprised with a bout of tears and sadness as I remember what I used to sound like.  When my daughter was confirmed in June 2011, I sang "The Prayer" as a duet at the service.  It was very emotional and I've heard the recording from that service.  It was an absolute gift to my God but also to my daughter.  I have mixed emotions because it was the last time that I sang so well.  Anyway, I mention all this because these are the thoughts and feelings that surround my attempt to return to the choir.  I will continue to try to sing in church as I believe that God can still use my attempts to sing to His/Her glory.

On Oct. 11, I drove 10 hours (round trip) to pick my son up from university and bring him home for Thanksgiving and his October reading week.  What a joy it was to arrive at his residence, open up my door, climb out and find myself enfolded in his big hug!  My thoughts were "He missed me!!!"  Oh how I missed him.  After arriving home, we went directly to the local OHL hockey game and enjoyed time with my husband and our friend.  I loved Thanksgiving.  I was feeling so thankful for being alive.  I remember feeling that way last year too.  I'm not sure that this feeling of thankfulness will ever leave.  My daughter had to work so we delayed our Thanksgiving dinner until after she returned home.  What a nice day and evening meal it was.  We had our turkey, my homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, corn kernels and a turnip casserole.  Dessert topped off the meal with my homemade pumpkin pie and apple pie.  It was so good but we were very full.  I have always been able to eat these kinds of meals and feel just fine.  This year, I was experiencing heart burn and acid reflux after the meal.  In my thoughts, I was anxious as this can be a symptom of the lymphoma returning in my abdomen.  I've also been experiencing more night sweats again and have been feeling tired and dragging which are also lymphoma symptoms.  I then had a silent conversation with myself reassuring me that it is most likely from the high fat food and that I'm getting older.    I also reminded myself that I have a check-up scheduled at the Cancer Centre in mid-November.  I didn't let anyone in on my thoughts as it is Thanksgiving and no sense in worrying anyone else at this point.  I dismissed my thoughts and came back into the moment with my family.  What an enjoyable weekend it was!  I was happy to see my children laughing together like they used to when they were younger.  They were truly happy to see each other again.

The week that my son was home flew by much too quickly.  We had a wonderful visit with our friends from PEI who were in the area visiting family.  We had our friends over for dinner and combined my son's request for steak during his time home with our friends' visit.  They were so happy to see our children who were both home that evening.  Time went by much too quickly which is why I'm trying to be present fully in the moment most of the time and not be distracted by what chores are waiting for me or activities are coming up in the immediate future.  If we are not fully present in the moment, we miss so much of the joy of living.  A wink or a fleeting smile are gone in a moment and if I'm not fully present, I miss it.  It can't be brought back or repeated.  By the end of the week, my son had to return to his new home at university.  He referred to it as home which means he has fully settled in.  We were not able to drive him back this time so he took the bus.  He left at 10:30 a.m. and arrived just before 4 p.m.

That same Saturday (Oct. 19) my husband and I attended a black tie fundraiser.  I was very anxious about this because it is something where I'm totally out of my element and comfort zone.  I do not own "formal" clothing and had to get myself a long ball gown.  I had tried on some of the current fashions which are the short, tightfitting sheaths that look fabulous on young teens.  It was an exercise of futility and frustration.  I do have to say that my sense of humour kicked in.  At one point, I tried on this dress that looked wonderful on the hanger.  It was gold and full of sequins.  It had lots of ruching from the bodice down to the hips.  The sales assistant thought that it might work for my body type.  I tried it on.  When I looked in the mirror, I looked like a sausage that has been stuffed into its casing by an inexperienced butcher.  There were lumps and bumps all over the place and the dress certainly did not look like it did on the hanger!!  Obviously, this style was not for me at all.  Unfortunately, the store did not have anything longer or in an A-line shape.  I eventually found a long ball gown and accessorized it with some of my own jewelry as well as some borrowed from a very good friend.  My husband rented a tux and off we went.  I have lots of insecurities which generally only my husband is privy to see.  I was a bundle of nerves as we went off to the event.  I ended up having a good time.  I truly believe that God steps in and helps us out even when we don't ask.  I saw some beautiful gowns that I would love to have had.  Oops, the green-eyed envy monster was making an appearance.  I was feeling out of place and very insecure when a friend of mine saw me in passing and mentioned that she couldn't wait to get home and back into her "jammies" that were laid on the bed.  This snippet of conversation just made me relax.  Other people were there that were uncomfortable too!  My husband and I browsed through the silent auction items and then went to our assigned seating at the table for dinner.  I was seated beside a young women in Grade 12.  She was very nervous and out of her element as well.  We had a very nice evening chatting together as she took notes in order to write a journalistic piece for an upcoming edition of the local newspaper.  The Lord provided me with people such as myself in order to help me get through the evening and actually enjoy myself!

In the last month, I've also gone out on a couple of excursions with my husband on the back of his motorcycle. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I chose to go out for a ride on Thanksgiving Monday instead of raking leaves and cleaning up my flowerbeds for the upcoming winter.  We drove north in order to see the autumn coloured leaves.  Unfortunately, the leaves were just getting finished their brilliant show of colour but there were still hints of the reds and oranges that had graced the landscape in the last week.  We ended up stopping to stretch our legs and wander around in a little place called Newboro which is on the Rideau Canal waterway system.  The Newboro Lock was closed for the season but we were still able to wander the grounds and take some pictures.

Hooray!!  My attempt to upload a picture into my blog worked!!  You see, as I've blogged since January 2012, I've never known how to put pictures into the blog.  I have a friend who writes a wonderfully uplifting blog and she always inputs pictures into her blog.  So I was aware it could be done but I was afraid to try as I'm not that sure of my technological ability.  Anyway back to our bike ride....we got back on the bike after this visit to Newboro and continued on our way home to turkey dinner leftovers.  It was a beautiful day!

The day after the black tie fundraiser, my husband and I were very tired.  It was a sunny day so we decided to take advantage of the weather and go for another tour on the bike.  This time we decided to go north west of where we live.  Somehow we took a wrong turn but took pleasure in the scenery of the country roads that we travelled through.  At one point, we were literally in the middle of nowhere.  There were no houses or farms or signs of human existence.  There was just woods, water and a narrow winding road.  I reminded my husband that he always wanted to just hit the open road and go where the road took him.  We did end up connecting with the highway we originally intended to take and discovered a lake and little park with wonderful views.

We continued north and we were both starting to feel the cold, biting wind.  Our day excursions on the bike will be limited if this is not the last one of the season.  However, the views on the ride were spectacular and our travels brought us to one of our favourite villages north of where we live.  My husband parked the bike and we climbed stiffly off.  We set out for a walk through the village in an effort to get our legs moving.  This was when I was starting to feel my age.  We went into a shop and bought ourselves some coffees to go.  We continued our stroll and walked down to the marina and waterfront.  We've never ventured down into this area of the village.  We've always just strolled on by.  What a wonderful surprise!!  I'm so glad we explored the marina.  I took many pictures that day.  The water was very, very calm and I took a picture through some grass at the side of the lake.  Someday, I'm hoping I'll be able to recreate this picture as a painting.  It's hard to believe that I'm looking at water and not the sky!

We climbed back on the bike and headed for home.  About halfway home, I looked to my left and I saw a small doe (female deer) nibbling on some long grass beside the woods.  Just think, if I had made the choice to do chores or outdoor work, I would have missed out on these glorious views and memories that were created with my husband.  Just another example of what I've learned from my bout of lymphoma and my continued remission.  Do I still have worries and anxieties?  Yes I do.  I've been experiencing breathlessness again but it may be from having gained too much weight.  Certainly, these photos caused some breathlessness just because of their beauty.  I will continue to enjoy my current moments in my life and will deal with the anxieties at my next check-up.  I'm still using my mantra of "One breath at a time, one moment at a time, one step at a time".