An Effort Well Worth It

This morning I opened my inbox, and a post from “A Winsome Journey” was there to greet me. Maybe you know Jess? Like myself, she’s an animal lover, and not just your run-of-the-mill animal lover; I’m talking llamas, chickens, goats, lambs — you name it, she probably owns one. It’s a regular barnyard fiesta o’er yonder. Jess is very generous with her photos, capturing heart-melting shots and humorous expressions stamped across her furry family’s faces. This morning, however, the post was solely dedicated to her sweet dogs, Seamus, Finnegan, and Lexi. Go on over and have a read. It’s short and sure to brighten your day.

http://awinsomejourney.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/the-constant-factor/

So there I was reading her post, all misty-eyed, when I realized my own sweet furry baby, light of my life, sparkle in my eye, was sleeping not more than a couple feet from me, all coiled up like a teeny-tiny snail. And there was this instant rush to my heart; you know, like when you enter a drug-store and that overhead fan blasts you in the face with warm air — like that, but in a good way.

I must admit that, Continue reading

Surprise Me

It’s been said that “Life is an adventure.” I would agree with this statement, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that the word “adventure” is not synonymous with the words party or celebration. I think many of us — myself included — associate adventure with “a good time.” We need look no further than “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” to know this is not always the case.

Off the top of my head I can name at least a dozen experiences I would consider adventures, though not pleasant ones; things I tried once, endured, and will never do again. That’s the idea, though: you can’t be sure you won’t enjoy something until you’ve tried it. I can say with full assurance that oysters, outdoor camping, stilletos (or any abnormally high-heels, for that matter), cities bearing extreme temperatures, prune juice, attending tourist attractions during peak-season, traveling long distances on small boats, that stuff you put on pizza to give it an extra “kick,” experimental skin-care regiments, and outdoor concerts where they permit smoking, are all things I will never do again.

To some degree, an adventure is an activity or process whereby you are not certain of the outcome. Either it will be positive or negative; seldom will you have an ambivalent adventure. That is, unless, you consider trying out a new wattage of lightbulb an adventure; which, in that case, I am not judging you . . . well, maybe I am a little.

😉

Some adventures are not within our control, however; you’re along for the ride whether you want to be or not, so buckle up.

Many of you will know I’ve been away for some time. This is because the last month of my life has been, to date, the most portentous adventure I have ever had. (I should mention now that I am doing much, much better presently, and where the physical issues are concerned, I am finding tremendous relief.) Over the course of what has felt like eons, never have I felt more abandoned, terrified, frustrated, isolated, despondent, frail, and grief-stricken. Paradoxically, never have I felt more loved (Michael Olsen, my heart beats your name), more cared for (Friends, both internet and tangibly based, your prayers, texts, e-mails, and comments softened sickness’ axe), more reliant upon a strength not my own (Father, I am yours, wholly and entirely), and strong. Yes, strong.

Because I survived.

At 30 years of age, I can say with a hundred precent certainty that it is true: whatever does not kill you will in fact make you stronger. Had I been given the option to forgo this growing opportunity, I would have steadfastly declined. Martyrdom isn’t really my thing.

Though I saw many doctors, not one of them could tell me what was going on. Could be this, could be that, this might be related, or it might not, and on and on. One thing they did agree on: get some sleep and try to relax. Hmm, alrighty then. Lovely advice; however, do you know what does not help one suffering from anxiety related insomnia relax? Multiple physicians expressing, explicitly, that it is imperative that you relax. A little counterintuitive, if you ask me.

I gave it a shot, though.

I read — thank you, Diana Gabaldon; once more you saved me from resorting to terrible literature — and I drank lots and lots of Sleepytime tea, with honey. An addict of anything sweet, I began to look forward to that part with great alacrity. And, after a while, lavender candle undulating beside me, I would begin to relax. Once I thought myself drowsy enough to nod off, I would make my way over to the bed and . . . . . . .

wait.

And there I continued to wait for some time. Usually I saw dawn’s arms stretch through my window before my eyelids shut for any length of time. My mind can be a wondrous place to frolic and play, to invent and explore; it can also be a prison. Many a night I lie awake wondering if tonight would be the night the Lord would take me home; shaking and shuddering with such vigor my bones ached and I dare not cry for fear of disrupting the fitfully slumbering beast named anxiety. This was my fear: that I might die. It grabbed me by throat with three spindly fingers, and squeeeeezed.

After a few weeks of this I realized that the only thing more frightening than actually dying, is spending large quantities of time contemplating when it will happen and how. In my bathroom was a whole drawer full of bottles, offering a reprieve from these thoughts; things that would numb it, numb me. But there was only one cure.

Complete surrender.

Just look at that sun! He made that!

Looking at this picture led me to consider something: we, the human race, we only needed not to burn or freeze to death, you see? A device, a source, a functioning constituent capable of rendering our survival, that’s all. It didn’t need to be a healing power, curing jaundice and imparting vitamin D on its rays. It certainly didn’t need to be pretty; turn the sky into a living, breathing painting each morning and evening. It didn’t need to consort with the breeze either, where together their union soothes our bones pliable, drenches our skin in warmth, prickles our skin, all to send a rush of shivers down our back. Wherever your feelings may lie on the sun’s derivation, you can’t tell me that when you look at it, whether it’s peeking over a mountaintop or melting into the horizon, or even simply glowing radiantly behind a curtain of diaphanous clouds, you don’t feel something stir and saunter deep within you; a visceral reaction.

This picture, it is me surrendering. It was taken last week while on a hike with my sweet husband. I wasn’t feeling wonderful, but I wasn’t feeling horrible either, and so we made the best of it. You see, I’ve decided that symptoms aside, if I can stand, walk, and talk, then I am going to do everything I normally do. I am going to exercise, I am going to go out to dinner, I am going to eat popcorn in bed. I may not be able to make myself unafraid, but I can choose how I will respond to that fear. I choose to live. So long as I am alive, I am going to live. And I do this by surrendering. I suspect I’ll have to do it quite a few more times. Millions, perhaps. The things that change who you are, good and bad — they don’t happen overnight. Where this road is leading me, I do not yet know, but therein lie the adventure, yes?

So, here I am. Surprise me.

Hoping you are well,

~ Cara

I’ve been thinking . . .

There’s a difference between stepping outside your comfort zone, and, intentionally depositing yourself into an undesirable situation; discerning between the two . . . well, that takes practice.

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My Marathon Man

Well, yesterday was a very big day around here. After months of training and preparation, the time had finally arrived to put all those miles and meters to the test. It was with a jubilant and beatific heart that I supported my husband as he ran in the OC Marathon.

As you can see, this was no local community event. Nearly 30,000 people, some journeying from as far as New York, turned out for the race.

With that said . . . I believe I have earned the right to brag just a smidge. Yes? For what kind of wife would I be, if I didn’t boast a little, right? And this being Michael’s first half-marathon, I am ridiculously proud of how well he did. Below are his stats. The goal was to come in under two hours, which he did! Yay, Michael!

Would it be terrible to say I am proud of me as well? This weekend marks my earliest wake-up call EVER, rousing at a dismal 4:15 in the morning. It’s a deplorable time of day, I assure you. There was no rising sun to greet me, no pastel-hued sky, streaked with oranges, pinks, and yellows, and there were no melodic birds to sing me a wake-up song. Mist, drear, grey, and dark — this is 4:15 a.m. I would not have had it any other way, however; for one being the very fact that, with any long-distance activity, where distance and stamina are imperative, one must “prepare” by partaking in something called “Carb-loading”. And, being the self-sacrificing wife I am, I supported my husband in this, too. Here is a peek at what we had for dinner the night prior.

Shrimp Bistro Pasta

Luau Salad

Linda’s Fudge Cake

It was not easy, mind you, but I suffered through every bite.

After our bellys were full, it was time to tuck ourselves into bed for a good night’s sleep. Or try to sleep, anyway; we were all pretty jazzed. I’ll tell you, 4:15 came with all the splendor of a root canal. But alas, moaning and vacillating, I trudged my way toward the bathroom, dunked my head in the sink and assembled my bleary self in an impressive twenty minutes.

Below are a few pictures of the day.

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Tutorial Tuesday! Crusty Chicken — Mmm Boy!

Now doesn’t that just sound incredibly appetizing? The word “crusty” really invokes a sense of concupiscence, doesn’t it? No? Well, I’m sure you’ll change your mind soon enough.

Happy Tuesday!

Normally I like to start these posts off with a little intro, some bantering about what’s culminated from my week thus far, yaddy-yaddy. But there will be none of that piffle today. Today I’m diving right into the Tutorial, because well . . .  this is just too good to put off for any length of time. Later this week I write a separate post about:

“How I lost my mind trying to write a synopsis” 

followed by:

“How I arrived at Sunnyside Institution” 

For now, let’s put all insanity aside, shall we? I’m confident I’ll find it right where I left it when I’m finished; which is, grinning at me from the inside of a sink drain.

Ahem, moving on . . .

You are in for a HUGE-MONGOUS treat today! Michael and I literally exhumed a chicken. Well, maybe not exhumed, exactly, but we certainly extricated one.

You’ll have to forgive me, but it’s been a week or so since we did this, so I can’t quite recall how we arrived at the decision to make this meal.

I believe it went something like this:

Cara: “What are we going to make for dinner this week?”

Michael: “Hm — I don’t know. Oh, wait . . . The other day I read about something cool.”

Cara: “Yeah? What was it?”

Michael: “This chef made this sort-of cast for a chicken.”

Cara: *gasps* “Why on Earth would such a reprehensible atrocity occur?”

Okay . . . I didn’t say that part. What I really said: “A cast? What kind of cast?”

Michael: “It was to keep the chicken moist while it cooked. It’s just dough that hardens over the chicken. Wanna try it?”

“Sure.”

And there you have it; a look into the minds of two utter geniuses. 🙂

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