Archive for August, 2017

Star Gazing


michelle nicole photography

Star Gazing

“When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you”

I remember the day I wished for my heart’s desire clearly, although it was over 25 years ago. I was exhausted and frustrated from trying to work full time and care for three young children when I uttered the seemingly benign words…

I wish…

I wasn’t laying in a field of clover on a dreamy moonlit night, staring up at the heavens searching for a shooting star to wish upon, I was sitting at the kitchen counter in my parent’s home sipping coffee and whining talking to my mother.
“Mom, I need a break. I’m so tired. I wish I didn’t have to work, I don’t like to send the kids to day care, all I want to do is be home with them.”
What I wanted was sympathy and a little coddling; what I received was sage words spoken from a wise woman.

“Watch what you pray for child.”

My mother said this without malice, but her words stung like the tears welling in my eyes. I was hyper- sensitive, feeling over worked, under paid and unappreciated. Little did I know that at that very moment, my stars were aligning; the countdown had begun and production of my heart’s desire had commenced. To my knowledge, no genies had been present nor had a magic lamp been rubbed when I uttered those two little words; yet somehow my insignificant comment had made it to the Wish Fulfillment Center landing squarely upon the desk of Fate; who was no doubt, a new hire.

“If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do”

My whiny weekend rant long forgotten, I forged on at my job as a payroll administrator day after day, trying to maintain a healthy balance between work, motherhood and social life. I was four months into a relationship and looking forward to beginning a new chapter in this area of my life with the most wonderful man I had ever met. I awoke each morning with joyous anticipation, excited for new adventures. Adventure: an expression my buddy Noah Webster defines as, “an exciting or very unusual experience”. Little did I know that exciting and unusual would turn out to be a bit of an understatement so it would seem, as my genie, Fate, had a different understanding of the concept. Apparently Fate, obviously encouraged by her colleagues, used the highly scientific process called Chance when placed before the virtual whiteboard containing adventurous wish scenario selections. I am convinced this procedure was akin to spinning a blind folded child on a tilt-a-whirl then placing a stick in her hand as she teeters below a dangling piñata.

“Fate is kind
She brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of
their secret longing”

Much to my surprise, no more than two weeks after I had expressed my secret longing, it came to fruition. Technically, my wish had been granted, but apparently there was a breakdown in communication at the fulfillment center, as in, this isn’t what I was expecting. I was indeed provided an opportunity to stay home with my children, but my sabbatical from employment was presented to me in the form of an extensive spinal surgery. My parting gift? Shinny titanium pieces, 60 of them, all neatly wrapped in disability papers and tied with a Demerol bow.

“Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true”*

Perhaps Fate and I could have dialogue a little when she received my request; maybe teased out a few if/then scenarios or even ask me that all important question, “Are you sure this is your heart’s desire?” before those words ever came out of my mouth. But, alas, this is not how wishes work my friends; as so often our wishes often are born from malcontent. Staring out at life through our ISO solar viewers, the grass on the other side of the fence is infinitely greener, the cows on the pasture are thinner, in better shape and produce sweeter, more nutritious milk, the farms are newer and more extravagant; far better than anything on our run down, god-forsaken parcel of dirt. However, if we just take a moment to sit down with Fate and see our lives from her perspective, I imagine we would promptly write her a thank you note. For what you may ask, a life of chronic pain and disability? Oh yes, this and much more…
That guy I was seeing, the most wonderful man I had ever met? Well, even though I tried to push him away to spare him a life of heartache with a disabled woman; he wouldn’t leave because “he loved me for more than my legs”, providing the unconditional love I had always dreamed of. He became my husband and is a wonderful, compassionate, partner; the experiences we’ve endured together through 17 surgeries have brought us to a level of trust and intimacy I pray every couple can know. I was able to be home with my children at a time when ‘latch key kids’ were en vogue, even adding another to our brood. They are loving, generous adults with great respect for the disabled and have blessed us with 4 grandchildren. As I journeyed through these years of pain and illness I have had the opportunity to learn much about the human body and how to cope with chronic health issues; information that I gladly offer to others I meet who journey this path as well. I have had the exciting experience of self-publishing the journal that I kept through the implantation of a Dorsal Column Stimulator to share with chronic pain patients that are candidates to help prepare them for the experience. Oh, and of course I have had the distinct privilege of sharing my continued anecdotes with all of you here on the WWW via The Write Direction.

Fast forward 26 years…  Fate and I have found a way to live harmoniously. I awake each morning grateful to be; be alive, be walking, and I have promised to abstain from uttering rash wishes for anything, because you see, I have found the secret longing of my heart; contentment in any situation!

*Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney

In Lieu of Flowers

My suitcase was packed except for a few toiletries and what I would be wearing on the plane in the morning; leaving Arizona would be bittersweet. I had traveled to our daughter’s home to help her after acute pain in her abdomen led to emergency surgery. Her husband, children and even her cats had welcomed me with open arms from the moment I walked through the door, with everyday life flowing smoothly around and including me as if I had always been there, living with them.

Now my visit was coming to an end. The doctor had released our daughter from care to resume normal activities and my assistance was no longer needed. My help may not have been needed, but the family demonstrated with loving words and gestures that my presence was wanted, making the departure that much more difficult. Even the kitty seemed to be saying, Don’t leave Mayam, when he brought me a parting gift…

… the tail of a lizard, recently detached and still writhing.

I thanked Hunter, so aptly named; profusely and with as much gratitude as one can muster while carrying a still warm, severed lizard tail back outside. With Hunter in tow, I tried to find the owner of said tail to return it, but having come up short, (pun intended), I laid the gift on a paver stone and once again thanked my benefactor.

Back inside the house, I sat down at the kitchen table and started to cry. I really missed my husband and our three fur babies; I wanted to get back home to them, but I didn’t want to leave my daughter’s home and her wonderful family, especially since I didn’t know when we would be able to see each other again. Then a very random thought occurred to me…

I wonder if this is what it’s like when we approach that time in life when we need to depart.

I allowed my mind to wander to that place where conversations on the topic are avoided or held in very hushed tones and only when the discussion is absolutely necessary. Once again, I was there at the bedside of my family member who was about to depart on their one-way trip to Glory, a posture I have been in too many times. That place where we hold frail hands, whisper loving sentiments and all the things we had been meaning to say but never did. A place where grief and guilt collide fusing into anguished prayers for more time together. I wondered if my loved ones had bittersweet feelings about departing, reluctant to leave their kith and kin on this plane, but excited to see those that had gone on to the next plane years before and were deeply missed.

Hunter sauntered inside from the patio, sans lizard tail, and plopped down at my feet; this time offering his soft white belly as a gift. As I pet him I thought about how we so often express our love and sympathy with the traditional arrangement or spray of flowers; beautiful upon receipt but whose fairness fades with time. Of course, like most customs started centuries ago that we continue to practice, the original purpose was established for practicality; simply put, fragrant flowers mask the odor of decomposition. Of course with innovation and the advancement of technology over the years, we no longer need floral arrangements, and it has become acceptable to request donations to organizations near and dear to the deceased in lieu of flowers, which led me to wonder…

… why NOT lizard tails?

Does the gift really matter, be it flowers, a memorial donation or a casserole; isn’t the message the same?

You mean a lot to me, I’m thinking of you, I hurt too, but I’m here for you!

Can you imagine how corporate America would have capitalized on the marketing campaigns for giving gifts of lizard tails instead of flowers? There would most likely be Lizard Growing Farms and Lizard Shops; cute adobe buildings housing warm rooms artfully decorated with rocks displaying various varieties of lizard’s tails to choose for your loved one. There would be silk and plastic lizard tails for those who preferred not to destroy Mother Nature’s handy work. Advertising firms would create catchy slogans like:

Getting sick Skinks! Wish them well with a beautiful tails.

February 14th is Valentine’s Day, Iguana wait to the last minute? Gecko going, quantities limited.

Designs by Liz

It’s been three months since I left Arizona and now I am in Florida at the behest of my sister-in-law. My brother had a heart attack, required by-pass surgery and I am here to be of assistance. As we sit in their living room, a lizard skittered by sending my brother’s wife flying off the couch to catch it and put it outside. He had been in her room the previous night, no doubt to let her know that he was there to comfort her and tuck her in. I smiled at the coincidence and knew right then and there how I wanted my obituary to read when the good Lord sees fit to call me home:

In Lieu of Flowers, Please Bring Lizard Tails