Cats, King Arthur and Caramel Squares

One of my favorite quotes, by Aesop.

kindness

Only nine words long, yet it reminds us that big things happen in micro moments, that when you put the words extra and ordinary together, you get extraordinary.

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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.

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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

Tear tanks

Many of you will have heard of a love tank, I would think. If you haven’t, in short, the idea is that you have a metaphorical tank in which family and friends pour into by bringing love, support, goodness into your life. I wonder, though, will you have you ever heard of a tear tank? I only ask because this weekend I was compelled to think of mine, and how very¬†unendurably¬†full it had become. Maximum¬†occupancy full. Don’t think I could have fit one more itty bitty tear in there.

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Nighttime

Good morning,

It is nearing two a.m. here in sleepy Southern California; however, sleep refuses to have me, or even make a quick acquaintance. I’ve supplicated to its mercy, and scorned its cruelty, neither of which has done me much good — obviously. My mind is restless.¬†I was an insomniac for over 10 years, during which I received treatment in all its varying forms.

There was psychotherapy, of course, where a man I hardly knew postulated to understand the first, last, and middle things about what might keep someone such as myself awake at night. I permitted him three sessions before I declined further services. And then there was medication, the strong stuff. This did me well, sending me into a spasming state of delirium approximately fifteen minutes after released into my blood-stream.

Today I am proud to say I am drug-free, sleeping most nights without the aid of muscle-relaxers and¬†inhibitory medications. This process of weaning, while painful, is one of my greatest¬†achievements¬†in life. If you’ve ever experienced a night without sleep, quadruple that feeling, then once more, and you will have the longest I ever manged to go without sleep. 8 days. There is no cure for insomnia, only trial by error, and infinite faith that sleep. will. come. Most nights I do quite well, but occasionally I must endure; a reminder of the pain that once was, and how grateful I am to have long-since bid adieu. Tonight, though, is one such night, where instead of bidding adieu, I am paying my dues; so I must write. These words in their disparity dance in my head, telling me not what they are, but only that I must put them on the page. This poem will feel like a spill, I should think; an outpouring that I pray will deliver me into slumber’s care shortly after I finish.

I do this now, and thank you kindly for being the ear to validate my restive state.

Hiding Places

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