New Year, New Me!?

Wow! It has been a while. I have been busy with so much. So much. New doctors, new career goals, new energy, new meds, new strength and direction! It has taken a remarkable amount of time( I really had no clue) to feel better, really feel better! I am still dealing with my cancer but I am feeling better all the time. I was in remission for a little while. And wouldn’t you know it, when I really started to feel good my tumor markers started to go up. I don’t know if tumor markers are all they are cracked up to be but the doctors monitored them closely. I am grateful for all that. I found a new facility that offers a more wholistic approach and the doctors there are wonderful. But the best thing is… I only have to go once a month! You wouldn’t believe what a difference that has made for me. I drive 6 hours, all my tests and treatments are done in one place so after a day or two there I drive back home and basically don’t think about cancer, or disease, or doctors, or tests, for another month! It is very liberating! I get to be a normal person for a little while! While I am there I see a nutritionist, a naturopath, a mind body counselor, a chiropractor, as well as my oncologist and, the best part is,  they all work together! And on my behalf! I feel confident in the things they are doing for me so that frees me up to think about other things, most importantly, my life!

That’s me in the black!

I am living my life and following my passions. I was hired to cook and be a chef liaison for four days at New Years, working for a celebrity and all that that entails. I was able to push my fatigue aside and get it done and I had a great time! Thats not to say I wasn’t tired and sore for a few days following. But I was still happy to be able to do it at all! I am learning to trust my body again, its not quiet what it used to be, but its getting there!

I have started my riding school back up and I am teaching children how to ride and take care of horses. I have two new ponies in the barn, thanks to some wonderful friends. The barn work keeps me pretty busy but I love it. I have started riding my mountain bike again, not very far, but still! I am starting to feel like me again! Doing all these things gives me purpose and my confidence is coming back. I may have cancer, but I am not cancer!

Star Seed Salad

It’s Been A While

I know it’s been quite a while since I last blogged. I am fine. I have just been super busy. Felt like I couldn’t slow down long enough to share my thoughts. As I am feeling better and stronger my passion for living and life has come back with a vengeance! The weather here has been amazing!  I had a super bad case of “Spring Fever” I have been gardening and landscaping like crazy. I have planted vegetable gardens, flower beds, and trees. I have trimmed and raked and watered until my hands feel like they are gonna fall off! We built a new deck on the house which we are enjoying immensely! I have put up some solar lighting and a few wind chimes. My place is becoming the little oasis I had imagined.

Everything is in bloom, even some things I thought I had lost in the freeze! The fruit trees are loaded. I have so many peaches on one tree I had to prop up the branches! The hummingbirds are back. The resident Sandhill Cranes have a baby. All the critters here at the farm are fat and sassy (including me)! I have been working out, trying to get back in shape. It is good to be alive! I am starting to hike again well…last week I went canoeing with a friend and kinda sprained my knee. So, I have to take a few days off, but thats alright. I have been religiously practicing my cello! I love playing so much! I hope I am good enough to just really let loose and play one day. My puppy (Tallulah Bleu) turned a year old last month. She is amazing. We have graduated obedience and rally class so far, looking forward to whats next.

Oh my goodness! One of the best things that has happened is that I am painting again! Finally! I have completed 6 paintings in the last 2 months. I just couldn’t do it when I was sick. I was worried that I would never get back to it but finally, the passion is back! I have found a new direction with my life and with my work. I guess nearly dying can give you that perspective!

So any way, I am back. I hope to hear from you all. Tell me what you have been up to. I have lots more to share. Love and light to you all!

I Am a Dreamer

Autumn, this has always been my favorite time of year. I absolutely love it! Last year I kinda missed it, so I am enjoying it even more this year. It is still unreasonably hot and humid here. The horses are already getting their winter coats. The grass is growing much slower, everything seems to be slowing down and getting ready for winter. This time of year there is so much to do, harvest festivals, haunted houses, Oktoberfest, art shows, pumpkin carving foods and drinks! But it is also a time to slow down a little, and get cozy. I hope I can pull out a few sweaters and a warm fuzzy blanket or two this year. I don’t care for super cold but I love a little chill in the air. A lovely cool evening listening to the owls and watching the bats fly overhead. A crisp morning of hiking, drinking hot chocolate and not sweating. Sitting around a fire and telling scary stories! It is all just so enchanting to me, ahh!

Now on to real business! As a reader of my blog you know I had some really bad health issues last year. Actually November is the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. It is something I would love to forget! But I’m not sure that is possible, I have daily reminders (aches and pains) and lots and lots of bills! My health insurance alone costs me a small fortune. This is not good because I am not working right now, yikes! I want to work but some days it is all I can do to take care of all the farm chores. I still don’t have all my strength and stamina back. I have neuropathy in my thigh which prevents me from standing for any length of time, very annoying! I am going to physical therapy 3 times a week. So…I’m trying to figure out what to do. I want to do something meaningful and fulfilling. I want to be creative. I have lots of skills to use and I want to share with other people. You know, be useful in some way!  They say, “Do what you love and the rest will follow.” I have been struggling with this.

Then one day it hit me!!! Something I have always dreamed about was owning a bed and breakfast. I love to cook and bake, I love entertaining, I love sharing my talents with others. But I live in a small house and there was no way for me to do that. There’s hardly enough room for us, let alone any guests, we would be tripping over each other at every turn! I had this idea about ten years ago, it has evolved, but what I want to do is offer camping at my farm! I am so excited! It is going to be great! And I want to invite you to be involved. Details to follow!

Well, Well, Well…

We have been working nonstop on the farm. Putting in irrigation and electric to the out buildings. Although this is a lot of work in this hot sweltering weather,  when its all said and done it will be so worth it! I am so sick of dragging kinking hoses and extension cords around the yard. You should hear me cussing when I drag that hose all the way down to were I need it and then, right when I get there, the water stops because of a kink, or four, all the way back at the faucet, its not a pretty sight! Lol I’m not even sure how many hoses Jerry has run over with the lawn mower.  All I know is we have a stack of patched together hoses! We spent most of the week digging trenches and getting wire and pipes. Connecting all this and hooking up waterers and sprinklers. I can’t wait to flip the switch! Yay! Everything works! No leaks! Ahh finally, no more hoses. Peace of mind with automatic waterers. I feel a sense of relief. It will be so nice when we go out of town to know that the animals will have fresh clean water. Not that my pet sitter doesn’t keep everything in perfect order but, why not make it easier for everyone?

I have been trying to make everything around here as easy and efficient as I can. Having a farm and animals is a lot of work as it is. So why not make it as easy as possible? Being sick last year and having trouble doing a lot of my regular chores made this more apparent to me. Why struggle with a sore back and bending over when you can easily set up a wash table for the dogs? Why drag hoses when you can just turn on a faucet? Why make more work for yourself? Work smarter, not harder! Finally it is happening! It is so rewarding to look back on all this hard work and know it is done.

Wait a minute…not so fast…After working all day in the hot sun and coming in for the evening, enjoying a good shower…the water stopped! The well is not working! No water! All right I guess there is never a good time for your well to go out, but now… REALLY? We are gonna have to sleep on this one. You don’t really know how much you need water until it’s gone. No coffee, no tea, no toilet!

So all day we are working on this well. Methodically pulling heavy steel pipes out of the ground. Sixty feet, foot by foot. We use an engine lift, a chain fall, and vice grips. The danger here is dropping it down into the well and losing everything, pipes, pump, and all. In hindsight, the well has been acting up, so I guess it wasn’t a total surprise, but still. THIS SUCKS! We find out that the bottom pipe has a hole in it and the water was running out of the tank right back down into the ground. Luckily the pump seems to be ok. Next we have to get new pipes. Then methodically put it all back together piece by piece and lower it back down into the ground. Eight hours later…we have water! Yes! I am so lucky to have these handy guys, I honestly don’t know how I would do it without them! So again, happiness and relaxation set in from a job well done. Shower time! I go to get in the lovely, much anticipated shower. Nice water pressure! Ahh…wait, what is going on the pressure is getting weaker and I can’t get this white soap to rinse off? WAIT! It’s not soap, it’s pipe dope! It’s all over me!  Apparently my shower was the last in the pipe line so all the excess pipe dope (glue) ended up there! We had to take the shower head off and wash it out, it will be fine. I scrubbed the pipe dope off and I will be fine. Just another day on the farm.

First Adventure

IMG_2422So…last Wednesday I set off on my first adventure in quite awhile and the first adventure since my diagnosis and all that. I wasn’t even sure it was going to happen. There was so much preparation to do at the farm. I knew that I traveled often, when I got my puppy, Tallulah, I just figured that I would “man up” and board her at a local kennel while I was away. Well at least until she became a little more manageable! Right now she is still kind of a maniac and can’t be left unsupervised. And precisely two weeks after I brought her home I hear about all this terrible dog flu thing spreading across the nation. What? I never heard of such a thing?! Dogs are dying. Keep your dogs at home. Dog parks are closing. Dog shows are on hold. You’ve got to be kidding me? I had planned all these great socializing doggie outings for her. I was going to take my dogs everywhere with me. What about puppy kindergarten? Showing her off at PetSmart. Hiking in the forest. Great!

So…there is no way I want to expose her or any of my other dogs to that, so I try to find a baby sitter, or someone to stay at my house while I’m away. Not much luck. Maybe I will just have to stay home until she has some manners. Dang it! I have the opportunity to go to Puerto Rico. I don’t know if I will ever have this opportunity again. Right now my life is all about living life to the fullest, taking risks, and not passing up opportunities. But my critters are my family and they come first. I don’t want to endanger them in any way.

So…about 10 days before I would be trying to leave for Puerto Rico we come up with this great idea. How about we build an outdoor kennel for the dogs? Make it comfortable for them to stay in while we are out of town. Like a little doggie playhouse. Wow what a great idea. It will pay for itself, boarding is very costly, and our dogs will be safe, and close to home!

So…I get right to work designing this doggie playhouse! And off to gather supplies we go! So now we add dog house shopping and building to the already crazy task of getting ready to go away. Line up the pet sitter, get all the horse feed and dog food, and small animal supplies. Line up back up help just in case. Organizing and cleaning bowls and cages and coops and the barn. Make sure the grass is mowed and the place is at least halfway in order so it looks like someone actually lives here! This is way more than I feel like I can handle…maybe I should just stay home?

Feelin’ Froggie

IMG_2291We have been in a drought for quite some time but finally, we have been getting some much needed rain. Just wondering, do we have to get it all at once? This is frog weather! It is smoldering here and the rain just seems to make it worse, feels like a steam room. And this year it’s extra “special” because the estrogen blocker I am on gives me hot flashes. So now I’m hot on the inside as well as hot on the outside! Everything is moldy and damp including me! And since Tallulah, the puppy, will not allow any throw rugs in the house (she seems to think they are possessed and it is her job to destroy them) the floor is in a constant state of mud. The heat makes her drink a lot of water and her lovely beard holds about a gallon, and she likes to share it with everyone! It is true when they say “When it rains, it pours!”

We travel often for work. We live on a small farm and have some wonderful animals, they are family. Little Tallulah is doing great! We call her Lulu for short. She is growing so fast, I swear you can almost see her growing! It is like having a toddler in the house. She believes that everything and everyone is hers. She does not believe in rules. And she has lots and lots of energy! She plays ball and frisbee. We go on long walks and car rides. She loves toys. Right now I am obsessed with dog toys! Well she loves them, all kinds. And it seems like every time I go out I find another toy I just have to get her! She has so many, I have to rotate them. But I must say she does really seem to enjoy them all. Sometimes she will pile them up all around her in the middle of the living room floor!

I have been trying to socialize her, by getting her used to all kinds of stuff. It’s really kinda fun. The other night we sat out in the backyard with her while neighbors were shooting off fireworks. At first she was a little nervous but once she saw we liked them and the treats started coming she was fine with them. I had anticipated taking her everywhere with me for her socialization but of course, about two weeks after I got her this canine flu thing broke out. So I am doing what I can to expose her to as much stuff as possible right here on the farm. And believe me there’s plenty of crazy stuff she has already gotten used to. Tractors and horses and saws and thunder, lots of thunder! I am hoping she will be a very well adjusted dog.

She is potty trained but…last week she had a little tummy trouble. And had me up all night every two hours to take her out for about 4 nights. Ugh! We seem to have gotten all that under control now. She has been sleeping through the night again. I need my beauty rest! So this got me thinking… how in the heck am I gonna be able to go out of town? My plan was to board her when I was away until she got a little more settled. But now with this canine flu thing there is no way!  And I won’t leave her in a crate for that many hours. So…on to the next project. A beautiful little outdoor kennel. I will keep you posted!

Balance

I wonder why balance is so hard to find? I am guessing its because just when you think you’ve found your balance and everything is moving along just swell, life comes along and decides to change everything up.  I am beginning to think life has a strange/dark sense of humor! I feel like we are jugglers just trying to keep everything going and life strolls in and gives you a good push, BOOM, you fall on your ass again! All you can do is pick up the pieces and try again. Sometimes we just start over where we left off and other times we start anew, a fresh start, a new beginning. I hope I can move forward with a new awareness.

Now that I am feeling a bit better I have soo many things I want to do! Can’t quiet get the hang of not over doing it. Feel like I am a caged animal and someone forgot to shut the gate! This week I have been cleaning and organizing closets and cabinets. I know, your thinking, ” Doesn’t she have something better to do? Of course! But I think this is kind of a spiritual thing, clearing the clutter, so I can move forward. And believe it or not I am actually enjoying it. I am finding things I no longer need or want and I am finding things I love and had forgotten.

When you have been laid up for awhile, everything seems wonderful. Just walking to the barn in the morning to feed the horses is a pleasure, I love to hear the contented sounds of them munching on their hay. The smell of just cut grass. Listening to the birds, watching the dogs rolling in the field. Eating raspberries right off the bush. Shopping for and preparing a wonderful meal, enjoying the people I am around. These things are seemingly insignificant little things, some people may even think bothersome chores, until there is a period of time that you can’t do them, and you realize how precious they are. So right now I am doing some spring cleaning and organizing. Trying to stay mindful, taking the time to enjoy what I am doing. Yes, some days I over do it and end up back on the couch but I think that is happening less and less! I can’t wait to get back to painting and creating, I have some really cool projects coming up. I am also gearing up for some more work/travel, next month we may be spending some time in Puerto Rico. I am looking forward to living my life to the fullest and enjoying every moment. Just trying to remember to not rush through life, to slow down and enjoy the journey. And maybe, just maybe, give Life a little chuckle now and then.

What now?

We had a terrible storm pass through last night. Woke everyone in the house up at three am with loud thunder and quiet the light show. I think we may have even gotten a bit of hail. I have always enjoyed a good storm, the power of nature is amazing! And we sure  needed the rain. As I lay in bed, wide wake, I was thinking it is spring a time of renewal. This spring storm is bringing much needed energy to all the plants and animals here. Things are getting greener everyday on the farm,  babies are being born, flowers are blooming, a new beginning, for me too! It has been a rough few months and I am ready to be over all this cancer drama and move on. Finally I fell back to sleep.

So I wake up refreshed and renewed. Knowing that I am five weeks out from my last chemo treatment, knowing my body is healing and repairing itself, I know this because I feel stronger every day. Ready to move forward and get motivated for whatever wonderful adventure is next. Ready to face a new day. Wait! What is this I see in the mirror as I am brushing my teeth? My eyebrows are all but gone! Like little wooly bear caterpillars they marched right off my face while I was sleeping! You gotta be kidding me! I knew they were kinda sparse but I thought I was done losing hair, I thought things were getting better!? Isn’t it bad enough that I am still almost bald? At least the hair on my head is trying to make a comeback! This absolutely SUCKS! So now I am feeling better but looking worse! This just isn’t even funny! Come on already haven’t I been through enough!? What more does this stupid cancer have to take from me? As an artist maybe I can paint some on? But if you see me walking around looking like a clown just don’t say anything, I know, I know…Oh no! I wonder how long my eyelashes are gonna hang in there???

Just a little rant

img_1496Wow, this summer has been exhausting! I don’t like to complain but…it was super hot again. Sometimes you just want to hide in the house with a huge container of iced tea! As a little side note, I am amazed at how hard it is to find a sweet tea outside of Florida and Georgia, it’s a mainstay around here, every restaurant has it!

Lots of stuff has been going on here at the farm, writing not so much. I have started playing the cello, I know, WHAT? But it is something I have always wanted to do and I had this amazing opportunity so why not give it a try. I will have to keep you posted, I love it and so far the dogs are not howling when I practice! We lost a barn cat and two chickens, so sad but we do struggle with coyotes at times. We have a new horse, Wizard, a big sweet goofy guy! And my 88 year old Father passed away. Even though he lived a good long life it’s something you are never prepared for, things will never be the same. I don’t have a large extended family, so it is a strange emptiness when both your parents are gone.

So I’m trying. Going with the flow, trying to find the positive. I mean life still goes on and the farm doesn’t stop for anything or anyone. It is grounding in a way, the routine of it can be comforting when everything else seems out of control.

Went to Cincinnati for a week of work and play, we had a blast. But I had this ache in my mid back that just wouldn’t go away. I just figured it was from riding in the uhaul and age, we are all getting older! It seemed to hurt in my ribs which made any strenuous breathing difficult. When we got back, I saw on CBS Sunday Morning that the best thing for back issues is acupuncture and yoga. Great! I already do yoga and I made an appointment with an acupuncturist I had seen years ago. Went for three weeks, there was some improvement and I loved the massage. Things were going well until the pain came back more severe now in my left hip. My breathing was getting worse, at this point I could hardly bring my horses in from the field without getting winded. Figured I should probably get an X-ray and see what’s going on. So I went to a highly recommended chiropractor, got some X-rays, got some adjustments. The X-rays looked pretty tame considering the pain I was having, I thought there should be a zig zag in my spine or something! After about a week, I started to get a dry wheezy cough which , of course aggravated my back even more. Then came the fever and chills. So off to the primary care Doctor I went. Antibiotics. After much research I believe I have been nursing a kidney infection and I think it is causing me to become a bit anemic hence the difficulty  breathing. I honestly don’t get sick often, and I try to take pretty good care of myself so this is all new territory for me. I literally felt like I was dying for about two weeks fatigue, weakness, just wanted to sleep, no appetite, fevers chills, shortness of breath, heavy feeling in my legs, sharp pain in my back and hip that takes my breath away, YUCK!  Not to mention it’s my favorite time of the year and there’s tons of stuff to do and cook and the weather is beautiful! But let me just say I am so grateful to Jerry and Scott for helping me around here, I don’t know what I would have done without them! Today I am starting to feel like myself again so hopefully that means I am on the road to recovery!

Happy Fourth

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I definitely appreciate my independence, Fourth of July celebrations not so much. Don’t get me wrong, the fireworks are beautiful and cookouts are fun. But every year they seem to have to push the fireworks envelope further and further, more, bigger, better!  Are we never happy? What if the fireworks display was just as good as last year? The crowds are crazy and we live in a relatively small town. You have to park a mile away from any venue if you can even find a spot to park. Not to mention, this time of year in Florida is pretty brutal, July in Florida is usually 95 degrees and 100% humidity. If it’s not storming, with nature putting on her own light show then it’s so humid the smoke from the fireworks lays heavy on the ground. Most of the time there are enough people in the neighborhood setting off fireworks that we can sit in our backyard and see plenty. And then there’s the fact that we live on a farm. With animals. And animals, for the most part, HATE fireworks! The horses will be spooked and nervous and my dog MacKenzie will be shaking under my bed all night. Not a whole lot of fun. We will make it through and I’m sure everything will work out fine!

One of my favorite Fourth of July memories was when my daughter was about six years old and we went to a little town not too far from where we live. We went with her best friend Candace and her father. We sat on blankets in the grass and watched fireflies, there were just enough fireworks and lemonade. It all seemed so magical! Oh for simpler times!

I hope you have a wonderful fourth, enjoy doing whatever makes you happy!