Wednesday, June 15, 2016


I can't remember which blogger coined the word "perspectacles," but I love it.

I have been given new perspectacles on a lot of things this year. Having an aggressive/caught late cancer will do that for you.

As we move into our summer schedules, I am discovering new perspectacles on the most ordinary of activities. Here are a few things I feel completely differently about than I did a few months ago.

It wasn't very long ago that I could barely walk at all, and was having to use a wheel chair whenever I went in for treatments at the cancer center. This week I walked to the post office from our home, which is probably about a quarter mile. Yes, I was very slow, and yes, sometimes my leg and feet hurt, and yes, I stopped and took a half-hour break at the seminary before walking back home. But I did it. And it was lovely to do this walk with my sweet teen girl, who danced ahead of me most of the way but came hurrying back when I needed her. Favorite moment might have been when I took her arm as we stopped at a crosswalk. Years of taking her hand or arm when she was little compelled her to exclaim "Mom! I don't need you to hold onto me while I cross the street!" at which point I just chuckled and said, "I'm not holding on because you need it. I'm holding on because I do."

I had months where I couldn't shower easily without help. Getting in and out of the shower was painful. Standing up for more than a couple of minutes was painful. Bending down to pick up the soap I dropped was painful or too hard to bother. You get it. I wouldn't shower unless someone else was home in case I got shaky or nauseated and needed help getting out. And I almost always needed help getting dressed. These days I am fine on my own. Still slow, especially the dressing part, but that's okay.

My hair.
Did I used to get stressed about bad hair days? I suppose so, but I can't remember. Right now I am just so happy that my hair is starting to grow again. It is short and fuzzy...for a while I felt like a peach or a cucumber, and then a hedgehog, and now a teddy bear. Years of mostly long, thick hair did not prepare me for no hair at all, and I don't think I will ever forget the day my dear sister Mary bravely shaved my wispy haired head (while both of us resolutely did not cry). While I stayed philosophical about it (hair seemed like a small price to pay for treatments that could help save my life) I have missed my hair and am so  happy to see it coming in again.

Grocery stores.
When I walked into one a week or so ago, it was the first time I had been in a grocery store since January. I was so blessed that, during these past few months, my faithful husband shopped for us, and my precious sisters. And people sent meals. But oh, it was such a delight to peruse the produce aisles. I am even finding myself enjoying meal planning. And I'm cooking a little bit. Didn't I use to complain about that too?

Web content work.
Writing web content is not the most creative work on the planet. In fact, it is often downright boring. I've done a lot of it in the past couple of years, and I have often referred to it as my floor mopping kind of work. I'm grateful to have it, but it's not really fun. This past week, I wrote web content for my favorite client for the first time in almost five months. And you know what? Weirdly, it was fun. It made me happy that my brain and fingers were working well enough together that I could put sentences and paragraphs together in ways that made sense. And cents. Because I haven't been paid regularly in many months either, and earning even a little bit again made me feel very grateful.

Journaling and sketching.
My hands are somewhat numb from neuropathy, and I don't hold a pen or a pencil terribly well, but I *can* hold a pen or pencil, and thank God, I can also type. And I'm awake and energetic enough to spend time both sketching and journaling again. Thank you, God.

School portfolio.
It's June, which means I have to pull together the sweet girl's school portfolio. I dreaded it this year, because the second half of the year was such a difficult and challenging time, and I didn't feel enough work had been done. But you know what? Even though this learning year did not look "normal" (by any stretch of the imagination) a lot of learning happened. A lot. More academic work than I realized (including a whole slew of things I'd forgotten we'd done first semester, before everything hit the fan) but also plenty of life learning.

Lesson planning.
That I am even well enough to contemplate the fall and to begin planning lessons just feels like a blessing. Still not sure how we're going to pay for all we need, but you know what, that's a perennial concern, not a dire one, and even ordinary commonplace worries feel good right now. Weirdly so. This week I worked through a semester's worth of English plans for S' 9th grade year.

Things I've misplaced.
I've misplaced so many things in the past several months it's not funny, but I am starting to find them again, a little at a time. Some of them are things I didn't even know I was missing (a couple of gift cards wonderful people sent when I first got sick, which are actually coming in very handy now) and some of them are things I really hope to find (my blue writing bag and my notebook with all my timeline/background work for my novel, which I hope will soon be my novel-in-progress again). But you know what? The more I clean and organize, the more I keep finding things, and it's such a joy. And I don't find that I am getting overly irritated at myself for misplacing things, the way I used to, because really, who wouldn't have misplaced stuff during all the blurry, crazy weeks of pain and sleep and stress? I am actually amazed I didn't lose more stuff!

Loved ones.
Family and friends have been incredible during this time. The prayers that have been prayed on my behalf and behalf of my family, the meals that have been cooked or bought for my family, the times people have taken care of my dear daughter, the lovely things sent my way -- cards and notes and letters and prayer shawls and checks and gift cards and weekly communion and lovely artwork and Facebook pictures and videos -- all of this has just sustained me (and us) and made me feel so loved. For months, our place had one or more vases of fresh flowers in it almost all the time (I tossed the last dried flowers yesterday).  In the midst of everything, I have had time to contemplate a lot going on in the lives of some friends, and I am really in awe over the compassion and courage and calling of many of the people I know. I feel so blessed by our network of community. Thank you for the church, Lord. Thank you for people who care. 


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