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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Moonlight and Monsters

Last night Superman and I went on a moonlight kayaking adventure. We arrived about 8:30 while it was still light out. I counted 6 boats on the water and most of them were heading back to the boat ramp to leave. The breeze on the lake felt wonderful after such a humid day. We paddled out farther away from the dock as the sun was fading in the western sky. The water was calm, mirror-like, and peaceful. My dream of moonlight kayaking was actually happening. I was ecstatic!

We'd been on the water about a half hour when the light in the sky began to dim fast, and I wondered [secretly] if we'd read the right time for the moon to rise. What IF the moon didn't appear for hours, and hours, and there we'd be... alone in the shadows on the water.

Suddenly I began to get the creeps. I was transported back to a nervous 13 year old girl who would run back to the house after gathering coal for our stove because she was afraid of the dark--yes, it was me. My younger sister told me she saw a lady dressed in white that lived in our attic, and she often saw her looking out the attic window at her. The attic window overlooked the coal bin, and sidewalk, that led to the house. I hated that window especially at night. I always held my breath fearing I'd see her in the window looking at me, or worse yet, turn around to see her behind me ready to grab me.

It didn't help that I'd stayed up late one night, the summer I was 13, to watch the classic film, "Night of the Living Dead". Images from that movie stuck with me, and popped into my noggin for years to come. Top that off with images of the Lady in White in my head, and I was a basket case. My heart would pound wildly in my chest the entire time I was walking back to the house with my bucket of coal. As soon as I made it safely inside the kitchen I'd sigh with relief that I'd made it. I always tried to hide this fact that I was a scared of the dark from my sisters. Siblings have a way of using your weaknesses against you--which of course, mine did.

Another place I had huge fears about was our basement. My imagination would run wild within 2 seconds [maybe less] every time I went down there. Much to my chagrin, the light switch was at the top of the stairs, and my youngest sister thought it was funny to turn off the light when I was down there. She'd wait until I was deep in the belly of the damp, cold basement fetching canned goods, then she'd flip the light off. I can't believe I didn't have a heart attack trying to feel my way back to the stair well. Even with the light on I'd look back to make sure the Lady in White wasn't behind me with an outstretched, bony white hand ready to grab me.
taken by Superman as the moon was rising
after these shots it was too dark
without a flash....

So there we are on the lake.... The water is deep, and dark. The moon hadn't quite made it over the trees when I felt a thud under my kayak. My throat felt tight with a lump as big as a bowling ball inside it. "What the heck was that???" I convinced myself it was a large turtle or a tree branch under the water. I calmed myself by telling myself I wasn't alone. Superman was there with me. Or was he??? I had to look back to make sure. Whew... he was maybe 15 feet away from me.

Out of the corner of my eye I watched for a white hand with black nails reaching up out of the water for the side of my kayak. A fish jumped in the water and I stifled a scream. "Get a grip, Lille! That was just a fish!" I scolded myself. "Here you are on a beautiful lake with Superman kayaking in the moonlight."

"Moonlight???" My 13 year old mind asked. "There's not enough moonlight to see your hand in front of your face. It's darker than the inside of a cow out here! What the heck were you thinking when you decided this would be FUN? You're going to end up as zombie food!"

"Pfffttttt. I'm a grown woman. Shut up!" I barked back hoping I sounded confident enough to chase the 13 year old girl back to the past where she belonged. "Just look at that big yellow moon rising behind the trees. See its reflection on the water? This is a glorious, romantic evening!"

"Glorious?? Romantic?? You're gonna die! Just wait till the zombies float up from the bottom of this hellishly, dark lagoon! No one even knows you're out here on the lake! All the detectives will find is the car with the trailer full of cobwebs. If they're lucky they'll find a piece of your leg floating on the water...." 13 year olds can be so convincing.

"Go away! I'm having fun. There's no such things as zombies or lagoon monsters." Strangely, as I tell myself that, my mind drifts to the movie trailer of the new Twilight film with the vampires emerging from a lake with red eyes, steadily heading toward their victims. Just then another fish jumps out of the water beside my kayak. I jump out of my skin, and suddenly need to pee. I paddle toward Superman as fast as I can.

"Let's keep moving. The mosquitoes are biting me." I hope he can't hear the 13 year old in my voice.

"OK. They're biting me, too. Let's head back to the boat ramp." he says.

"Whew..." I think to myself, and continue the pep talk to the 13 year old. "Besides it's just a movie. Special effects. Those vampires are just actors with a ton of makeup on. None of them are the spawn of the Lady in White. Sheesh...." I paddle faster. And faster.... and faster, trying hard not to see the ghosts of the past or images from the movie trailer.

I felt better paddling a little faster all the way to the ramp. We got out of the kayaks and dragged them to the grass at the top of the ramp. Superman asked if I wanted to walk with him to get the car and trailer that was at the far end of the parking lot. "Sure." I said, grateful not to be left alone by the lake side, and vampires... Errrrr I mean, mosquitoes.

We used our little battery operated lamps to see with to tie down the kayaks. I'm smirking at the sheer silliness of my imagination. I'm feeling proud [and brave] for completing another goal on my dream board.

Just then a car pulls into the parking lot about 25 feet away. I hear a deep cough from a man. "Hmmmmm..... I wonder what someone is doing here so late at night." I ask myself.

The 13 year old quickly pipes up and says, "Remember that story about the kids that were killed by the ghost of the man that was decapitated in a car wreck down the road from here????"

"Superman!", I plea. "Hurry up, please. I need to get to a bathroom ASAP."

I did have to pee.
Honest, I did.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kayak Therapy

This is my chill pill.
~My Bliss~

Being in my kayak on a lake
is my outdoor church.
This month, Leah Piken Kolidas,
founder of CED,
Creative Every Day,
asked us to share how we find our bliss.
Kayaking is one way I find bliss.
Yesterday I saw a turtle, approx a foot and a half in diameter, swimming close to the surface of the water as I paddled by. On the shore line we saw deer drinking from the cool blue waters. Multiple herons flew overhead, and we saw a pair of herons standing guard like soldiers indicating there was a nest nearby. Awkward goslings nibbled in the grass by their proud parents. The sky stretched out above us like a painting while the breeze kept us cool. We were as close to heaven as I've ever been.

How I started kayaking...

After the auto accident I spent a few months in physical therapy. I loved the therapy but every time I was in there it reminded me of the accident. I saw a few women kayaking on the lake. I was in awe of these women being brave enough to kayak, so I decided to get a kayak. I took a HUGE risk in buying a kayak without ever being in one. I found it was the beginning of getting my power back. Kayaking made me feel strong. It calmed my PTSD and anxiety attacks. I stopped PT and continued kayaking as often as possible. I guess you could say it was Kayak Therapy.

But then my "boat" got rocked
by an unexpected turn of events...

My regular readers know I moved away from my lakeside home, the Tree House, last August. I hadn't planned on moving but when my landlord rented the apartment below me to smokers--I had no choice. The smoke came up though the vents. I couldn't even sit on my lovely deck because they smoked on their deck. At the time it was heart breaking, and I wondered how I would ever get over not living in my sky high Paradise.

The lake I lived on was extremely beautiful AND huge. But it was also a very popular lake for all kinds of boats, and rowdy people due to all the bars on the lake. I spent a lot of time rocking in the wake of a boat speeding by me. I would kayak for miles to find a waterway that was out of the way of all the boat traffic. After moving, I wondered if I get to kayak again as much as I had before. I'm learning The Universe can turn bad things into good things if you allow it to.

Here's how God/Spirit/the Universe
turns ashes into beauty....

Last November I found my new therapist, Dr. Ed. He's helped me advance quickly toward my goal of being healed from PTSD. One day, while sitting in his office, Superman found a brochure about a woman who practiced Reiki in the same building. Superman called her and set a visit for me. It was the first of many healing sessions. She, too, has helped my body and mind heal from the trauma created by the auto accident.

She told Superman and I about the lake we just explored TWO days in a row now. The new lake is very close, and [insert HUGE grin here] it doesn't allow gas powered boats. [insert squeals of delight HERE] Only electric motors and watercraft with paddles can go out on the lake. Plus, the lake is huge. It's quiet. Peaceful. It is my church. The Universe gave me a new lake to kayak in again.

With more beauty, privacy, trees
and amazing sky lines.
No homes side by side
on every square inch of shore.

Everything happens for a reason.
And in due season
I believe I was given
my heart's desire
in finding this new lake.
I'm learning to see
that trauma, accidents,
and the things that
appear to be hopeless messes...
can be turned into the biggest blessings.

How have your upsets in life
been turned into
things of awe and beauty?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Opie Taylor's New Fish

Whatever Opie wants....
Opie gets....
He asked for his very own fish.
How could I say no????

Meet Barney...

No not "that" Barney...
That's Mr. Limpet
Here's Barney...

Hey it was either Barney or Mr. Limpet...

Barney is easier to say
especially for Opie
since he's missing one of his front toofs....
Barney is quite a friendly little guy
Opie loves him.
And so do we.

Hmmmm, now Opie has his very own dog, Canaan, A.K.A. Wonder Dog....
His very own fish, Barney... A.K.A Mr. Limpet....
What could possibly be next???
Stay tuned...

PS... there's still time to donate to Dee Champion's race. Info is over there on my side bar>> Her powerful story is in the post below... Take a few minutes to listen to the interview. You'll be glad you did. Please help spread the word about early detection in breast cancer.
Thanks so much!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dee Champion, an angel with a message of hope

Dee Champion

Grace is a beautiful word, and describes Dee Champion to a T. Her story is full of grace, courage and hope. I met Dee through an online art class, Suzi Blu's Les Petit Academy shortly after she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Dee battled cancer head on by filling her time doing positive things like art rather than hibernating with negative thoughts. Her spirit captivated me and challenged me to not fear my own demons of PTSD. Never once have I heard anything but positive words come out of her mouth. How could I not be encouraged by this woman with the last name Champion and the smile of an angel?

Dee is participating in a race this next Sunday, June 20. On my side bar you can see the link to the race and instructions how to donate money to help find a cure for all cancers, not just breast cancer. Unfortunately, all of us will be touched by cancer in one way or another during our lifetime. You can help by donating even $5.00. She has nearly doubled her original pledge which is fantastic. Wouldn't it be great to triple it or more?

Please share this post with your friends. You are more than welcome to link back to this post on your blog so women everywhere can learn more about breast cancer, the importance of self exams, what happens when you've been diagnosed, breast reconstruction and most importantly how early detection can save your life. Dee allowed me to ask her some tough questions. Her answers will amaze you, and will help you understand why I love this woman, admire this woman, and want you all to meet her.

Her blog is Life's Not All Black and White. Stop by, tell her hello, and add her to your favorites. If you or someone you know is dealing with breast cancer Dee welcomes them to follow her in blog land. You can find more of her art there. On her side bar (and mine) you'll find links to the delightful Suzi Blu, plus CRESCENDOh, a blog written by Jenny Doh for creatives with the powerful message, and theme, that Art Saves lives, and Creative Every Day with my dear friend, Leah Piken Kolidas, that has been a part of my life for over a year now in helping me focus forward with art to overcome PTSD. The groups I mentioned are wonderful for everyone and can inspire you to use creativity in your life and are also teaching blogs. Fabulous stuff!!!

Listen to this powerful interview and enjoy the pictures below as you listen. Thank you, Dee, for sharing such a huge part of your life with us. Thank you for teaching us, inspiring us, and helping others.

Never Never Never Give Up
is a card created by Becky Hilgendorf,
an artist, and friend, from
Suzi Blu's classes for Dee.
Becky is an artist Dee admires
for her sassy, joyful art.
You can find more of Becky's
art and cards here
pikesbabe on Etsy

Dee's art

Butterfly coasters Dee made.

Dee's art studio

Beautiful Dee shortly
after Joe helped
her shave her head
when she started chemo.

*touch, look and caress*
Doing a monthly self breast exam
is key in early detection

Joe, Dee's best friend, and life partner.

Plymouth, England
where Dee lives and
where the Pilgrims set sail from.
The lovely coast of Plymouth, England.

Dee's kitty, Leeta.

Chasing bubbles on her puter...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Smiling on the Inside

Today at physical therapy (yep...I'm getting some help for my back and knees--things haven't been the same since the accident) I saw a woman that had the most beautiful face I've ever seen. I try not to stare at the other clients while they are working through their program or being evaluated by the therapists but I had to peek at her. OK I found myself staring at her. She never stopped smiling even when no one was speaking to her or for that matter even looking at her. It wasn't a phony, glued on, goofy or drugged out smile. It was radiant. Try as Hollywood may, smiles like this can only come from the heart, the soul and the essence of how one lives even when no one is looking.

Her face glowed. I half expected feathers to drop behind her when she walked like they did in the movie "Michael" with John Travolta playing the angel. Yes, she looked angelic. What captivated me even more was the fact she must be in her late 70's or maybe even her 80's. She had soft, shoulder length, honey and silver colored hair pushed back by a simple white headband. I swear there were no wrinkles on her face, and no signs of plastic surgery--just the faint remains of freckles from girlhood that still dotted her high cheek bones. No makeup. Just pure angelic effervescence.

As she stood up to leave I saw her reach for two crutches. I could see a leg brace poking out below one pant leg. Slowly, and quite deliberately, she made her way to the exit doors. Smiling with each step. I could not help but wish I could have a conversation with her. Be her friend. Learn about her story. Sit at her angelic feet. Bask in her beauty for as long as possible.

My foster mom's mother-in-law, Granny J, had a face that also showed the condition of her heart. I never once remember her smiling except a smirk if she was gossiping. Years ago when I was looking at my little sister Pam's wedding pictures, I saw a shot I've never forgotten. The photographer took a shot as all the guests turned to watch the bride walk down the aisle. This is always one of the magical moments in a wedding; the first glimpse of the beautiful bride. All the guests were contorted to sneak a peek at Pam as she stood holding onto my dad's arm to join Jimmy at the alter. Each and every person beamed like God had personally selected them to be His spot light on the bride. Everyone except Granny J.

Granny J's face was twisted into a wretched frown. Lips turned downward in an upside down smile, eyes cold as her heart, scowling at my sister. No joy. No happiness. No beauty. Nothing but deep lines of hatred etching craters like canyons where smile lines should have been. How sad. How painfully revealing. No amount of Botox can correct a heart of stone.

I'm going to practice smiling. Goofy, silly, Cheshire Cat grins that make people wonder what I'm up to. What harm could happen to one if they practice making childlike faces to see if they can make the corners of their lips reach their eyebrows? I'm going to play a game to try to smile when I feel least like smiling especially when no one is looking or if I'm wearing cranky pants.

Wouldn't it be grand if everyone wanted to ask you, "What are you smiling about?"

And we could simply shrug our shoulders and say, "Nothing." Grinning the entire time.


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