Surviving Hurricanes


Dearest Readers:

We survived the wrath of a potential Hurricane Irma. I say potential since she dropped down to a tropical storm when she visited Charleston, SC.

We watched The Weather Channel. I must compliment them on their coverage and I am so thankful we survived. We lost power for less than two hours. Amazing. I would like to thank South Carolina Electric & Gas [SCEIMG_5582G] for that!

My sister and her family who live in a rural, beautiful country area miles from Atlanta, Georgia lost their power and did not get it back until 6:30 last night! I sent them a text congratulating them on joining civilization again! There’s nothing like flipping the light switch and seeing a light come on instantly! Of course, there’s nothing more comforting and cooling than air conditioning! And, who likes cold baths? I do. I learned to like them after 14 days without power after Hurricane Hugo.

Originally, we planned to leave Charleston on Monday morning since the hurricane wasn’t anticipated until Tuesday. I booked a hotel reservation for Monday – Wednesday in Georgia. Only miles from the home of my family. Was I ever thankful we cancelled that reservation on Saturday! The silly Irma did more damage there with electricity than she did here. Whoever thought hurricanes would hit the inlands? I did. I remember Hurricane Hugo and how she tore into Columbia, SC and Charlotte, NC. Hurricanes aren’t just for the coastal areas after all!

Today, I was able to return to my Weight Watchers meeting. “I’m checking in,” I said. “But I’m not weighing in today!”

The leader of our meeting, Kathy, simply laughed and shook her head. She probably knew I was only one of the members who would not weigh in today.

Why?

I have no excuse, with exception of a hurricane…fast food – when it was available…junk food… I asked my husband to go to the grocery store once, to get us something to eat. Rule number two of a hurricane [I’ll let you imagine what rule number one is]. Do not send your husband to a grocery store for hurricane foods.

What did he bring home?

Here’s only a brief list:

Blueberry muffins

Bread (we had two loaves sitting on the counter)

Boars Head meats

Cheese

Ice cream

Aren’t we under a hurricane warning? Just what do we do when the power goes out?

“Eat melted ice cream,” I said.

So much for Weight Watchers.

Today, I’ve promised to get myself back on track. Much to my surprise, when I checked e-tools on my iPhone, I discovered I have been super negligent with tracking! Checking back to December, 2016, I discovered I haven’t tracked much at all. I must improve that! Just how can a girl lose weight IF she is negligent?

Today is a new day. The sun is shining beautifully. It is warm, but not too humid. Tomorrow I will work in the yard, picking up the debris of sticks, tree and shrub branches and I shall rake everything into one pile.

Since my dogs LOVE to play with sticks, maybe I can get them to help me collect my debris and place it in my utility cart.

On second thought – maybe not! They love to jump into the piles and chew sticks. I don’t imagine that would be a good idea for their digestive system.

At least tomorrow I’ll get LOTS of exercise tracking with my Fitbit.

Tomorrow is a new day. I’m so thankful we survived!

And now, IF I can find my motivation. Track what I eat, and exercise!

 

 

 

Hurricane Harvey and the Devastation of the Lone Star State of Texas


Dearest Readers:

I admit it, I’ve been glued to the TV this week, watching and crying about the tragedies of a Hurricane named Harvey. I had the pleasure to visit this great Lone Star State a few years ago and I must say, I fell in love with Texas, especially Beaumont, Texas.

The hurricane has tormented Houston and all of the surrounding areas for much too long. I know what a hurricane experience is like, surviving Hurricane Hugo, 1989 in Charleston, South Carolina. I sat supervising 60 students who were stuck at a local college. My husband was deployed with the National Guard, so I volunteered. Last year, we had Hurricane Matthew. My husband and I chose to remain at home with our pups. We lost power for less than 24 hours. With Hugo, we were out of power for 14 days. I learned to appreciate cold bubble baths after that experience!

Now, sitting at my computer while still glued to the Weather Channel, I am curious if the East Coast will have a visit from Irma. I pray she fizzles out. I’m not certain our country could handle another tragic hurricane. I’ve faced the reality that if a Hurricane Harvey hit Charleston, South Carolina, the Low country would be the next tragedy. We’ve had an astronomical amount of growth in our area. Years ago, when a developer wanted to build a community, trees were protected. Now, they bulldoze almost every tree, leaving an open field for monster homes to be built. It makes me ill just to look at them. No doubt this city will have major flooding. It’s only a matter of time, and hurricanes or tropical storms.

Nevertheless; I am still praying for everyone in the State of Texas. One of my FAVORITE states! I have two cousins in Dallas. Lots of friends around the surrounding areas and in Beaumont. I feel confident some of them were forced to evacuate due to all of the astronomical flooding. Watching the TV this afternoon, I saw where some houses in a rural area approximately 90 miles from Houston were flooded UP to the roof! I pray everyone got rescued. Earlier, it was announced that 23 people have died as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

Now, my heart breaks for the loss of animals. Many people left their animals at home. Possibly anticipating they would return to get them in a day or two. While I cannot fathom leaving my animals, I imagine many of these people will never see their animals again.

 

Air Boat

Air Boats in Texas. Just how many air boats are in use now, rescuing people, animals, and helping to save the lives in such a devastated area. I truly admire how people are coming together to help one another. After all, it’s the Lone Star State of Texas where hospitality embraces everyone.

First -Hurricane Harvey
Second – Flooding
Third – Devastation
Fourth – People helping People
Fifth – Moving to shelters

and now – price gouging??? I pray it is only a fabrication some sick person placed on the Net. My heart breaks just watching the rescues. My donation will be to an animal shelter. Just not certain which one.

Last night, I only slept two hours so concerned about the residents and friends I made in Texas. How I pray for all of you. I’ve been through several hurricanes, none that can surpass what you are experiencing now.

Please know, my heart, thoughts and prayers are with you Texas. You will have more devastating times, especially when filing insurance claims. Flooding claims, etc. Be prepared. In South Carolina, we had to file with FEMA and the Small Business Disaster Relief since our homeowners insurance with State Farm “Did not cover our claim” in 2015 during the endless rains we had over four days. When I inquired as to why we did not have coverage our adjustor said the ‘regulations recently changed.’

How convenient. One month later, I shopped for homeowner’s insurance and cancelled State Farm. Isn’t it convenient how nice insurance companies can be — UNTIL you file a claim and discover “you’re not covered!”

My tip for those of you filing claims – be diplomatic when speaking with the customer service reps and the adjustor. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING! Names. Dates. Times. Discussions. EVERYTHING!

Texas, I pray this doesn’t happen to you. I hope you do not have to hear “No” over and over. I learned to push with diplomacy! We’ve had flood insurance for many years, but we didn’t have floods in 2015 — only a destroyed roof – destroyed by wind and hail damage. Funny, we had wind and hail insurance and were still told “You’re not covered!”

Lessons Learned!

I pray all of the residents of Texas will soon breathe a bit of fresh air, and I pray the sunshine will return to the Lone Star State and to you. May God bless you during this torrential, heart breaking time.

I have a quote next to my writing desk. Perhaps a quote that could help you to cope:

“When things go wrong, as they sometimes will. When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill. When the funds are low and the debts are too high…And you want to smile, but you have to sigh. When care is pressing you down a bit…Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.”

“The silver tint in the clouds of doubt. And you never can tell how close you are. It might be near, when it seems afar. So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit — It’s when things seem worse, you mustn’t quit!”

-Author Anonymous-

‘God Bless Texas!’

Sun shining on a beautiful day in Beaumont, Texas during my visit, just a few years ago.

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Steroids…Weight Gain…Weight Watchers…


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Dearest Readers:

Have you ever gotten so ill that your doctor prescribed steroids? Years ago, my doctor prescribed Prednisone to me. After taking it, I noticed my cognitive abilities were affected. I could not sleep. During the day, I was wired, and while driving, I drove off the road! Fortunately, no one was nearby!

I shared these side effects with my doctor, telling him I would refuse any prescriptions for Prednisone. What I should’ve told him was I will not take steroids! After my steroid consumption in June, I will let him know the side effects and I will not take ANY STEROIDS again! I mentioned to him how I struggled to communicate a simple sentence while taking Prednisone! Since I am a writer, my cognitive abilities must be sharp! For the life of me now, I cannot recall what the name of the drug was, although I do remember it started with a D. I took this drug faithfully, anticipating I would be better within a few days. I finished the medication and was still so weak, so ill, and coughing so hard, so I phoned my doctor. He refilled the same prescription.

Two weeks later, I was still sick, but getting better. My breathing meter said I was stronger, in the green area of the meter, and I was feeling better, with one exception.

I wanted to eat anything and everything within my home. I actually felt as if I would eat the kitchen cabinets IF they were flavored and edible. During one day, I went to the pantry, finding Ritz crackers. I took a sleeve of the crackers out, eating them in one sitting. Eating like this is NOT something I do. I joined Weight Watchers years ago. Before getting so sick, I had two pounds to lose to hit my first goal. Not the official goal at Weight Watchers to become lifetime, but my official first goal since it would be the number I weighed when I graduated from high school.

What is wrong with me? I am so hungry and I cannot stop this ridiculous eating! 

I phoned my husband. “Ice Cream. Ice Cream. I want ice cream.”

That evening, he brought ice cream home. I was eating everything I should not eat, and I was not tracking anything.

I glanced at my calendar, recognizing I had missed three Weight Watchers meetings. When I returned, I gained almost five pounds. At first, I blamed the gain on the steroids. Believe me when I say they have a serious side effect. Constant hunger and weight gain!

I was furious with myself. I cannot blame the steroid for making me gain weight, after all, I am the one who controls what goes into my mouth. Meanwhile, I’m still eating. Finally I realized I had to get control.

According to the Mayo Clinic website, http://www.mayoclinic.org/steroids/ART-20045692?pg=2, oral steroids, commonly referred to as Corticosteroids, some of the side effects are:

  • Elevated pressure in the eyes (glaucoma)
  • Fluid retention, causing swelling in your lower legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems with mood, memory, behavior and other psychological effects
  • Weight gain, with fat deposits in your abdomen, face and the back of your neck

My eyes were affected with blurred vision. I did not notice fluid retention in my legs, but I certainly gained weight and I was furious with myself. My blood pressure increased, along with my blood sugars. On several mornings, my blood sugar was over 200.

I was definitely moody. Snapping at my husband over the least little thing, and when the phone rang when I recognized it was another telemarketer telling me I had won another cruise…Would I like to attend a seminar about hearing issues, time shares, how to invest retirement funds, blah…blah…blah. Well, let’s just say I used a bit of colorful language telling them to stop calling this number! I started blocking almost every phone number, including two of my best friends. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to correct these errors. It certainly is quieter in my home now, without the constantly ringing telephone. Maybe we should cancel our landline!

Yep. You guessed it. Steroids were making me a B-I-T-C-H! Funny, the phone isn’t ringing much now! Thank goodness!

August 7 was exactly seven weeks since I took the last of the steroid prescription. When I see my doctor in October, I will tell him I cannot take steroids OF ANY KIND now. For me, it isn’t worth the risk. I find it interesting that medical professionals will tell us when we need to lose weight; nevertheless, when we become ill with an acute illness such as acute bronchial asthma, the professionals will prescribe steroids. The side effect of steroids is weight gain, only I’ve never had this side effect until June when I was so weak and ill.

How I pray I will remain well for a bit. I find it a bit funny that I was scheduled for ‘clinical testing’ to see if my asthma would respond to new medications. When I went for the clinical testing, my breathing was ‘too healthy’ to be considered for the clinical testing.

Suppose I’ll be happy now that I am able to breathe so much better and I can walk and exercise again! Thank you, God!

What did I learn after taking steroids? Simple. I learned that my body cannot accept them or allow them to be taken orally. For me, the side effect of weight gain and being such an arrogant maniac just isn’t worth the risk. I like myself when I am the real me…Not the B-I-T-C-H I become, thanks to steroids. Once, while in California, I saw a bumper sticker on a car. I loved it, wrote it down and practice it. It revealed:

I’m a Bitch.

B = Beautiful

I = Intelligent

T = Talented

C = Charming

H = Honest — in all honesty – the H = horny, but I changed that! There’s no need to advertise when hormones kick in!

Yeah. I suppose I could say I’m a Bitch…but a Nice One!

 

 

 

We Are Family…


Dearest Readers:
I suppose one could say this week has been an eventful week. A week of highs. Lows. Events. Thankfulness and most of all, Gratitude.
Early Tuesday, I left Charleston, driving to Georgia to visit with my sister and her family. My sister’s name shall remain anonymous. I believe in protecting privacy. We had a nice visit and dinner, planning the next day at the hospital. My sister was scheduled for a heart Cather. Her blood pressure has been rising, and she has been a bit tired. I suppose she should be tired since she is still working and on her feet a lot, and she chases after a darling little two-year-old great grand.
Early Wednesday morning, her family picks me up and off we drive thru the heart of Atlanta, GA traffic. I’m accustomed to traffic jams since we have so many as a daily routine now in Charleston. Arriving at the hospital, my sister checked in. We were told to remain in the waiting area. “Someone will come to get you later.”
My sister’s procedure was scheduled for 2:00 pm. It was about 10:00 am now. Because I am a coffee connoisseur, I smelled the freshly brewed coffee. I ask the attendant at the front desk where I could get some of that delicious aroma. He guided me to where it was. The coffee machine wasn’t a Keurig, although it worked on the same premise. I do not own a Keurig but a grind and brew machine, so I had ‘no clue’ how to operate it. Back to the attendant, I go. Yes, it was a blonde moment!
“Excuse me,” I say, using my flirty personality. “Just how does one operate this machine to get a cup of coffee?”
He smiled. A nice, young guy, dressed in pale blue, denim scrubs. He showed me how to operate the machine and within a few minutes, I had a hot cup of coffee! Most of you who read my blog will know, I’m not worth anything, nor can I function until I’ve had coffee in the morning! With my sister away getting prepped for her procedure, I enjoyed the coffee, not wanting to drink any coffee around her. That would be selfish and I am not considered to be a selfish person.
Tick Tock. The clock continued passing the time away as we sat. And SAT. AND SAT! Finally, we were called back to see my sister. She rested in a bed. IV solution hooked up, along with all the machinery. Ready and waiting for the infamous 2:00 hour. She appeared to be in good spirits. Tick. Tock.
I suppose I should report here I was lacking major sleep. Although it was Wednesday, my average sleep for this week was about four to five hours nightly. So exhausted I wanted to scream or cry, just like I do when I am fighting to sleep during stressful weeks, I kept reminding myself I was not stressful. I had prayed, and prayed, for God to keep my sister safe and for her not to require open heart surgery. How I remember open heart surgery since my husband had a quadruple bypass in 1998. I remember touching his skin after his surgery. His skin was clammy and freezing to the touch. He was connected to a ventilator and other machinery. He did not respond to my voice or my touch. The nurse caring for him was named Kevin. “He is highly sedated, so he cannot respond to you, but he is all right.” Easy for him to say since he was the attending nurse, and I, the wife of the recovering patient, had never seen my husband in this condition. Feeling a bit faint, I inhaled. Exhaled. And walked out, rushing quickly to the waiting area, spending late hours at the waiting area. Waiting. No doubt this would be a late night.
About midnight, I sent word to Kevin that I was going home. I left my cell and landline phone numbers with him, in the event he needed to contact me.
Now, here I sit with my niece, awaiting the hour to start my sister’s procedure. At 2:03 pm, she was wheeled back to the operating room. We met with the doctor prior to the procedure. He mentioned he would do a heart Cather, looking for the leaks and or blockages. If a blockage was found, he would do a stint. He had a soft, kind patient and family mannerism and I liked him. He took the time to answer our questions, reassuring us she would be fine.
Two-and-a-half hours later, we were becoming a bit tired from sitting and not knowing anything. I approached the kind attendant at the desk. He reassured me he would check to get a status report. A few minutes later, we were called back. My sister’s procedure was complete and the doctor would see us in a few minutes. My sister was removed from recovery. We stood next to her bed. Her color was great. No paleness and no ‘deathly white’ like my husband was after his heart surgery.
According to the doctor (sorry, I cannot remember his name), my sister had “about an 80% blockage, so he performed a stint. She has a few small blockages that I believe we can care for with medications and getting her cholesterol lower. She will spend the night here and should go home tomorrow.”
I breathed a sigh of relief! My sister was going to be AOK! Thank you, God!
After spending most of the day at the hospital, my niece and I were exhausted. I was hoping I would sleep that night. I suppose although I felt I was not ‘that worried’ – Obviously, I was and that is why I failed to relax and sleep.
Now, home in Charleston again, I am happy to report last night I got at least eight hours of sleep. I awoke after 8:30 am. Normally, I am awake and moving around by 7:30. Yes, I needed rest. After a week of speaking to God like He was my closest friend, I am thankful my sister phoned me to let me know about her procedure. And I am thankful I was able to make the plans necessary to get to her and her family prior to the procedure, and I am grateful for a caring, loving sister who considers me a part of her family.
“What?” You might be asking. “Of course you are family.”
Only those with a close family would ask such a question.
My sister and I have worked for years to repair the damage of our childhoods, and now, we are family.
As the song says:
“We are Family. I’ve got my sisters with me.”
For me, I will say:
“We are Family. I’ve got one sister with me…”
Yes, I am thankful for the one sister I am blessed to bond with and to share life with. Most of all, I am thankful she came through her heart Cather without any problems.
No doubt, God was holding her hand during the procedure.
Thank you, God, for all you do for those who believe!
Yes. We are Family…!

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Happy Easter 2017


Dearest Readers:

April 16, 2017 – Easter. Today is a beautiful, sunshiny day in Charleston, SC. A glorious day to give thanks, and to share religions around the world.

As a little girl, my family would go to church with our grandparents at Beallwood Assembly of God Church, Columbus, GA. Sitting in the church, listening to the sermon and singing, everyone compared their ‘Easter outfits.’ My grandparents always made certain we (the four girls in the family) had new clothing and sparkling new shoes. My Gramma insisted, even though she did not buy a new dress for herself. Gramma worked at the Bibb Mill, so money was always tight. She was her happiest looking at us, all looking our ‘Sunday Best,’ for church and the Easter dinner after church. As a little girl, I insisted to my grandmother. ‘My shoes must have a heel.’ Gramma bought me beautiful French pumps. Oh, how I loved them. On Easter Sunday, I pranced around in those shining white shoes with a pretty white bow and French pumps, and my new dress, parading around like a pageant queen so everybody in church would notice me. I would spin around and around. My hair was styled in a French twist and a bow, matching my shoes. Oh…yes…I was something fancy in my Easter Sunday Best! Easter was a special time to enjoy the holiday and the fun of getting new clothes and the beginning of my lifetime passion of high heels!

But…Easter is MORE than a holiday. MORE than new shoes and clothing. So Much More!

For me, Easter is a time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. A time to give thanks and start life anew. According to the website: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-easter-700772 “Christians believe, according to Scripture,  Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter.”

I no longer get a new, fancy dress or heels for Easter. Nor do I get in the social aspect of who is wearing the prettiest shoes, the highest heels, or, the fanciest ‘bonnet.’ I give thanks that Easter is a time to be thankful that Jesus came back to life three days after his death. Every year at Easter I take time to appreciate the religion and faith my grandmother taught me, especially her belief that God listens to us and He is always there for us. Gramma had the gift of visions. When she passed, I am convinced she shared that gift with me. Some of my friends probably think I am weird since I have visions, but for me, I am thankful! Gramma is still inside of my heart and I give thanks to God for knowing such a devoted grandmother.

Living in Charleston, South Carolina now, I went back to Columbus, GA a few years ago, driving by the church, Beallwood Assembly of God. When I drove by, I did not recognize the church. Abandoned, needing many repairs, no longer named Beallwood Assembly of God, I realized some things never stay the same. Suddenly I felt an emptiness I didn’t anticipate.

As a young girl, my family placed our roots in that church. Footprints. Tears. Memories. All gone.

Today, I like to give thanks for the foundation for religion and faith I discovered at Beallwood. Even as a rebellious teenager, angry that my parents were divorcing, I found a bit of new life and thankfulness at that church. I listened to the minister, recognizing that some of his sermons were directed right at me. Just how did he know I needed his sermons? Was God talking to him…telling Brother Bacon I was a bad girl who was angry and perplexed that my life was falling apart simply because my parents were divorcing?

I suppose I will never know. My parents are gone now. My mother and I rarely spoke before she died of a stroke, and a few other questionable situations. My father and I were extremely close and I give thanks every day that I survived my childhood.

Easter is a special time, even if I honor and celebrate it for different reasons now. I still have a strong faith and I know God listens to me and He loves me. I do not rush out to buy an ‘Easter outfit,’ nor do I purchase a fancy Easter bonnet. I cook a nice Easter dinner. This year, I am baking a ham. Mashed potatoes. Fresh sautéed green beans and a pineapple casserole. Dessert is a home baked triple chocolate cake.

It is sad my son and his family will not be with us. There is a long story there, not to be published here on my blog. I will wish them “Happy Easter,” and I will pray that one day their eyes will open to recognize nothing is more important than family.

So, dearest Readers, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Easter. May you enjoy this beautiful day and please remember to thank God for your life…your family…and your health.

Happy Easter!

 

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My Dearest Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


035Dearest Readers:

Today is Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Exactly three weeks ago today, my husband and I made the decision to let our precious almost 14-year-old mini schnauzer leave us to go home to Heaven. How I miss that precious little boy. He was my friend. My dearest and most trusting friend.

Shakespeare joined our family in May 2003. He was six weeks old when we brought him home. I remember him resting in my arms, crawling up to rest on my chest. One of his favorite places to rest was either on a pillow, or my chest. How I wish I could cradle him in my arms just one more time.

I cannot stop crying. The tsunami of grief overtakes me as a rush of fresh tears pour from my eyes. Every morning, I still feel his presence in the bed. He loved to sleep next to my right hip. During the day, he followed me every where I went. When I rehearsed a new song, Shakespeare would sit up, listening to me, and when I sat down next to him, he touched me with his left leg. Then, he would crawl into my legs, crossed on the floor and rest as I petted him.

I am a bit surprised at how depressed and alone I feel after letting him go. Almost five years ago, we had to make the same decision for Prince Marmaduke Shamus. After that tsunami of grief, I told myself I would not permit myself to grieve in such a desperate way again, but here I am — crying until my heart breaks over and over again.

My other boys just heard me bursting into another throbbing heartbreak. Prince Midnight Shadow rushed to my side, whining, not understanding. Sandy Bear Sebastian is curled on the right side of my foot, next to the pillow Shakespeare loved. After Shakespeare died, Sandy Bear kept looking all over the house, rushing to look behind his dad’s chair. No. Shakespeare isn’t here. Maybe he’s on the pillow. No. No Shakespeare.

He is still looking for him. After he died, Sandy Bear became depressed and when he heard me crying, he wanted more attention. He didn’t understand. Funny. Neither do I. I’ve talked to Sandy Bear letting him know Shakespeare is not visual in our house, but he is still here in spirit.

Isn’t that how the loss of a loved one is? One minute, you are with them, maybe laughing or crying, and in the next minute — POOF! The person is gone – forever.

I suppose I do not understand death, nor do I understand why animals cannot live longer. They come into our lives, steal our hearts and souls and in their later years, we realize they are preparing to leave us…just like Shakespeare was.

He was not eating regularly. How I wish I had documented the days he did not eat, but I didn’t. On an average, probably two days each week he refused any food, including treats.

At his biggest, Shakespeare weighed 34 pounds. The vet suggested giving him green beans and cutting his food back a bit. It worked. Shakespeare loved green beans and his weight decreased to a healthy 26 pounds. At Christmas of 2016, I noticed he was easier to lift. He did not like us to pick him up. He was extremely independent and wanted only to be picked up on his terms. He was getting skinny. In February, I could feel his ribs.

I planned to take him to the vet, but I was horrified my vet would say, “if he was my dog, I’d let him go.”

I wasn’t ready. Selfish and horrified over losing him, I could not let him go. Not during the holidays.

Three weeks ago, I faced the reality that he was not getting better, only weaker with each day. He was telling me it was time to leave since he was lethargic, not eating, and only moving around when I touched him to go outside. His spirit was gone. Energy – non – existent. I kept telling myself tomorrow he would be better. He only got weaker.

Today, I am still crying an ocean of tears. My body shakes and my heart feels empty. Just how do I learn to let go and walk thru this grief. I miss my little Shake n Bake so much. No, I will not get another animal. I still have four who need me.

Meanwhile, I must make peace with myself. In memory of my precious Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. How I wish I could feel at peace over the decision we had to make. I suppose I do not understand how we can make those decisions for animals, but not humans.

A few days ago, after praying for a sign that Shakespeare was at peace, a fly flew into my cup of coffee. I noticed a few flies flying around my windows inside, but I didn’t think anything about them with exception they are such pests. When I discovered a fly floating in my coffee, I realized it was a sign from him. Shakespeare watched me every morning, recognizing one of my first morning rituals was to get a cup of coffee and sit at my writing desk with it. He knew coffee would get me moving, and he knew I would recognize his message, especially after he let me know he would not drink his water IF it was dirty, or had a fly. Over the years, he pawed at his water bowl many times. His actions told me he only wanted clean water. Shakespeare was great at communicating without saying anything. His actions said so much. The flies inside my house are now gone. Weird? Perhaps! A sign from Shakespeare – most definitely!

I am a bit relieved that he sent me a message. If only I could scoop him up in my arms and sing to him again. My little precious, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway, I will love you always. I will never forget you, and I know one day, we will be reunited.

In Memory Of – Sir Shakespeare Hemingway


Dearest Readers:

This week has been such a dreadful, sad week for me. Why? Most of you who read my blog regularly will know what an advocate I am for animals. On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, our family had to say goodbye to precious, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway.

035Sir Shakespeare Hemingway, April 11, 2003 – March 7, 2017

Oh how I remember the day he was born, April 11, 2003. We received a phone call letting us know we could drop by at our convenience to select the puppy we wanted. Shakespeare was nicknamed at birth as Piglet, since he was the largest puppy. That evening, Phil and I drove to the home to look at the new puppies. I touched each pup, rubbing ears, and whispering gently to each. When I touched Shakespeare (Piglet) and rubbed his ear, he responded with a moan! I knew Piglet would be our puppy. I smiled, hugged him a bit and said, “This is our pup. Hello Shakespeare Hemingway.”

Everyone laughed. “His name is a big as he is,” their young daughter said. “In six weeks you can take him home.”

I was so excited. I counted down the weeks, recording them in my calendar. On May 23, 2003, Shakespeare came home with us. He curled his little body on my chest and went to sleep as I rubbed his ears.

Whenever he got upset, felt badly or just wanted a bit of affection, he would come to me wanting me to rub his ears. He became close friends with our oldest giant schnauzer, Prince Marmaduke Shamus. They romped and played outside, enjoyed boat rides and walks. Shakespeare LOVED walking. Whenever he passed by the area where the leashes hung, he would jump up and hit a leash, as if to say, “Hey Mom. It’s time for us to take a walk.”

Walking continued until we lost Shamus on May 2, 2012. Shakespeare loved being leader of the pack. He rushed ahead every time we walked. Over the years, Shakespeare loved to cuddle on my hip in bed. If I asked him to move so I could sleep, he groaned and when I fell back to sleep, he attached to me again.

Growing into a husky, mini-schnauzer size, Shakespeare loved to eat. At dinner time, he would stand under our kitchen table, knowing we would not allow him to beg for food, but he was nearby IF we gave him a bite. He grew to be 30 pounds. Once, while at his wellness check-up, our veterinarian suggested we cut back on his food a bit and give him green beans.

“Oh…He loves green beans!”

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Our giant – Prince Marmaduke Shamus, lived with us from June 11,. 2001 – May 2, 2012

and Shakespeare, enjoying a walk

Every day with Shakespeare was a new experience. He would jump up to play, run around to play chase, and at Christmas time, he sniffed all the gifts until he found the gift wrapped doggie cookies. When he found it, he tore the gift wrap and chewed down, eating all of the cookies. When it was empty, he carried the empty container to me, as if to say, “May I have some more!” Every crumb was gone!

A few years ago, maybe in 2008, I started singing again. One morning, I was so wrapped up with a song, I didn’t notice Shakespeare until he tapped me with his paw. He was sitting up, listening to me singing, as if I was only singing to him. So, I sat down next to him and sang. When my husband came into the room, he watched us and said, “See, Shakespeare loves to hear you sing.”

Every time I sang after that day, I made certain to sing to Shakespeare.

We were bonded as one. Wherever I would go, Shakespeare wanted to go. When I went outside to enjoy the sunshine and work on my tan, Shakespeare followed. He would lie next to me on the ground, or he would jump on my chest. Silly boy!

He was independent. Charming. Trusting. Affectionate, and so funny! Shakespeare loved to spend time at home; however, when we left him in the breakfast room with the other dogs, if we failed to leave a light on and we arrived home in the dark, we could hear Shakespeare chewing us out as soon as we got out of the car. He would yelp at his highest pitch, as if he was saying to us: “How dare you to leave me in the dark. You know I don’t like the dark, and even if I am resting with the other dogs, I do not feel safe in the dark. DON’T LEAVE ME IN THE DARK AGAIN!”

I found a small vanity lamp, placing it in the breakfast room. Shakespeare would not be left in the dark again!

Approaching his senior years, he began losing weight, even though he was eating. The vets said he was OK. In 2015, his wellness check-up revealed he had lost a bit of weight. Even though he was husky, he was healthy. In September, 2016, after he was groomed, I noticed he was getting thin. In November, he would not eat occasionally. He didn’t want treats, nor did he want to play with Prince Midnight Shadow.

We cuddled a lot. His favorite spot was to be cuddled in a ball, next to my feet while I wrote. Often, I would touch him and rub him with my foot, and he moaned.

Two weeks ago, I noticed when he went outside to pee, he squatted. He could not lift his rear legs and when I picked him up, sometimes he would yelp. Shakespeare was quickly fading away.

I remembered when Shamus got so ill in May 2012. His wellness check-up was in February. He got a good report. All was fine. Everything changed in May. He would lie on the floor, his breathing was a bit too rapid and he flopped down on the ground after being outside. His stomach was puffy. I called the vet. That afternoon, I was totally unprepared for what we needed to do. I thought Shamus had another stomach blockage, only this time, it was much worse. He was bleeding internally. The vet suspected a tumor on his spleen but the x-rays could not reveal what was so wrong since there was so much blood. The vet looked at me. “I think it’s time to let him go,” she said. “If I do a blood transfusion and surgery, he will probably bleed out.”

How could I make that decision?  I phoned my husband. He rushed to my side, and we agreed that since he was terminal, letting him go would be the only humane thing to do. And so we said our goodbyes. Before the first injection, I sang to him. Choking and almost hysterical, my voice trembled. “I love you, Shamus. I love you so much my precious Shamey-Pooh.” I did not stay with him for the final injection. How I wish I did.

Since November, I’ve debated a thousand times to myself about making that same decision for Shakespeare, my little “Shake n Bake.” I watched him losing more weight. Not eating at times, and walking around only when he had to. Occasionally, he would play with Shadow, the giant we rescued six weeks after losing Shamey-Pooh. I told myself IF he goes without food for two days, it was time.

I knew Shakespeare needed to go to the vet, but I was horrified that I would hear again those horrifying words, “I think it’s time to let him go.”

I wasn’t ready! How could I make that decision again? If it was time to say goodbye to Shakespeare, I did not want to make that decision. In November, I made lists of the pros and cons for Shakespeare. Yes, he occasionally played with Shadow. Yes, he ate – just not every day. I realized he was getting thinner. And thinner.

On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, I could feel all of his ribs and his backbone. He would not eat. He didn’t eat on Monday either. It had been two days since he ate anything.

I made another list:

Is Shakespeare eating? Not on a regular basis.

Was he drinking water? Although I watched him, he didn’t appear to walk towards the water bowl.

Is he walking?  Did he get up to go outside? Only IF I coaxed him to go. He wasn’t interested in walking, even if I shook the leashes.

He was a bit hard of hearing and when he went outside, he would not come inside unless he heard me clapping my hands. When he did, he would slowly get up from his corner of the fence and come inside. Sometimes, he flopped down and I would get him. Although he did not like to be picked up, I realized I was carrying him more than he was walking.

Is he playing?  No. He would not play with me, or with Shadow. All he wanted to do was to flop down and sleep.

Was he enjoying anything? No. Not even a treat.

Did he stand at the gate by the kitchen watching me cook? No. Not now.

Tuesday morning, I came to the reality it was time — time to let Shakespeare go home.

“But he is at home,” I argued with myself.

The truth was he was shutting down. He was letting go. He was in pain and he was miserable.

I spoke with him, brushing his fur back so I could see his eyes. His eyes were glassy and lifeless.

I called the vet, telling them we thought it was time to let Shakespeare go, but I wanted to see the vet, have him check him over and let me know what he would do, if this was his family member.

My vet has a wonderful demeanor with animals. He greeted Shakespeare and checked him over. A few minutes later he said he suspected Shakespeare was in kidney failure. He wasn’t eating properly and was almost anorexic. He was basically lifeless. Probably lingering on because of us.

Then the vet shocked me, telling me that he had to make the same decision in February and allow his mutt to die with dignity.

Although I realized we were making the same decision, my heart is so broken I cannot stop the tears. A tsunami of tears rushes at me and I cannot fight back. I feel such emptiness. I’ve only slept a few hours every night since we lost Shakespeare. I feel guilt, and I have doubts that we made the right decision. While I rested yesterday morning, I felt something touch my hip. I placed my hand there to rub Shakespeare, only to realize he wasn’t there. Maybe his spirit was connecting with me.

Sudden thoughts entered my mind. Shakespeare was communicating with me. He told me he appreciated the loving home we gave him, and he appreciated that we were letting him go with dignity. He reminded me that he will always be with us in spirit, just like Shamus. He said he could move easier now, but he did miss us. He wanted to know if we could welcome him as a spirit. I patted my hip, talking to him, letting him know we still loved him and we missed him, but we were happy he wanted to return in spirit form. Yesterday afternoon, I heard Shakespeare barking. This morning, I imagined him snoring, and I moved my leg to touch him, only he wasn’t there.

Yes, I miss him, and while writing this another tsunami of tears attack me once again. Deep inside, I know I must go on. Now we have four dogs as family members. I am certain one day, I will probably adopt a rescue, but for now, I will focus on the needs of Shadow, Hank, Sandy Bear and Toby. Believe me, they expect a lot of attention.

Rest in peace my dear, precious Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. Run and play with Prince Marmaduke Shamus and please remain the spirit I so desperately need. You are resting on our mantle, next to Shamus. I love you and will always love you, my silly, Adorable Shake n Bake!

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Shakespeare, as a puppy, playing with his favorite toy.

Weight Watchers… Building A Bridge To A New Adventure


Dearest Readers:

Today, I will share a bit of my experience and dedication to Weight Watchers. I joined Weight Watchers in March, 2011. On the day I joined, I was mortified. Afraid. Horrified I would see someone I knew and they would share with the world that “Barbie was in Weight Watchers today…”

I’m certain some of you have acquaintances who love to spread gossip…the wicked and ugly truths some women love to share! Years ago, I referred to these ‘acquaintances’ as friends…I do not anymore! Friends do not spread ugly gossip. Friends accept you for who you are. True friends embrace you with love and acceptance, even when you are down.  I’ve known and lost a few ‘friends’ since in all total honesty — they were only acquaintances. They pretended to be your friend to your face, but turn your back and you almost feel the back-stabbing and the poisonous words they spat, and so — I keep my distance!

At my first meeting at Weight Watchers, I did not know anyone. I breathed a sigh of relief. I was apprehensive about the ‘confidential weigh-ins’ too. Approaching the desk, I did not see any curtains, or a doctor’s scale. You know the type. The weight measurements slide across until balanced, and the person who balanced the scale always leaves it to the latest weight. Everyone can see the weight of the person who weighed previously, and I cringe whenever I get on them. My newest experience with Weight Watchers was a scale sitting on the floor. I was certain others could stretch their snoopy eyes over to see how much a person weighed. That didn’t happen. The scale does not show anything, with exception of the person (a receptionist or leader) standing at the desk. Only she knows what the weight of each individual is, and they do not share the number to anyone! Believe me, the confidential weigh-in does exist!

Maybe this might work this time, I thought to myself as I approached the scales. Just maybe this time I will succeed.

I imagine you are thinking — what? Does she really think Weight Watchers works?

My reply to all of you reading this is a simple, “Yes! Weight Watchers, because it works!”

I recognize it has taken me five years to lose 35 pounds. And, in the past year, I have bounced back and forth, just like a yo-yo. Undoubtedly, 2016 has been one of the most stressful years of my life. In February, we had the roof to our home completely replaced. After that accomplishment, we searched for over two months to hire a general contractor to do the inside repairs on ceilings, walls and other areas due to the torrential rains we had in October 2015. On May 28, 2016, the repairs were completed. My husband had reverse shoulder replacement surgery on May 31. His recovery was a whirlwind of ups-and-downs. The summer of 2016 was so stressful, I found myself slipping away from Weight Watchers and everything I loved. No walking. No exercising. No writing. No dancing…No music or singing…Nothing!

Since the summer, I’ve found myself giving in to weaknesses. After all, it didn’t matter IF I gained weight. I’m happy to report, I did not put those lost 35 pounds back on; however, I have not met goal. I don’t even have a clue what my goal should be!

Today, while sitting at my meeting, I glanced around the room. Like most Weight Watchers meetings during the holidays, we had only a small group, including a 93-year-old woman and two men. Every time I see this precious, sweet and beautiful 93-year-old woman I am inspired. Many people would say, ‘at her age, why should she be so worried at her weight?’ I say, I think she is an inspiration to all of us. Yes, she uses a walker and maybe her shoulders slump a bit, but she is still full of life. To her, her weight is important. Today, she was furious with herself. She was baking cookies with her son this week, and that is why she gained a pound. Sitting in front of me, I tapped her on the shoulders. “Just look at how blessed you are to be baking cookies with your son.”

I’m so envious. During the Christmas holidays I do not see my son, even though he lives less than 30 miles from me. How I would love the opportunity to make Christmas cookies with him again. I suppose a mother can dream.

Every year since joining Weight Watchers, I tell myself the new year will be my year. I will break this plateau and achieve goal. No, I haven’t achieved my goal yet. At least I haven’t gained the weight back!

Not only have I kept the weight off, I have gained in confidence and self-worth, much to the credit of two wonderful friends I’ve made, thanks to Weight Watchers. Since I am a writer, my life is a bit isolated. I find myself spending too much time keeping to myself. Last year, before the torrential rain storms, and the storms brewing inside my home, I kept to myself. I quit walking. Now that I think about it, I realize those walks I took with my friends energized me by encouraging me to continue. Feeling the fresh air on my face, walking the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, and enjoying the views, birds, flowers and freedom of walking, I found myself inspired. Refreshed. Now, I realize, I need to take a first step again to walk, to find that inspiration and motivation. Tomorrow morning, I plan to take that first step!

Today, at Weight Watchers, I gained. Big deal! I’ll get those two pounds off again. As for 2017, I will go on record to say, my journey and adventures with Weight Watchers will continue. I will walk. I will fill my body and my mind with new energy while telling myself:

THIS I DO FOR ME!

Although 2017 is only a few days and steps away, I will not fail. After all, You only fail in life when you stop believing…and trying…and moving.

I plan to continue my journeys, along with Weight Watchers! Tomorrow is a new day and I will embrace it!

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Dearest Caregiver…Becoming the Parent to A Parent…


Dearest Caregiver:
My heart breaks for you as you so suddenly see yourself walking in the shoes of a caregiver. Sometimes, these shoes are high heels. You go to work as a professional. You work all day while wondering ‘how is my mother or my father doing today?’ Maybe the shoes you walk in as a caregiver are flats, or comfortable sneakers. It doesn’t matter what you wear on your feet, your ache is a recurring ache your feet and body do not understand.
You wonder — just HOW did this happen? Maybe you didn’t understand your parent was ill. I didn’t in 1997. Yes, my dad had lost weight. Foolishly, I took it that since he lived on a fixed income, perhaps he could not afford to eat as healthy as he should. At Thanksgiving, I asked him how he was feeling. Mr. Independent, an affectionate description I called him sometimes, was much too independent and proud to ask me for help, and so I took his response of “I’m fine,” as the truth. Three days later, he phoned me after work, telling me he thought he had cancer. He needed to go to the doctor.
We rushed to ER. After seven hours of diagnostic testing, the ER professionals suggested my dad needed to see a gastroenterologist. Two days later, I screamed when the doctors told me my dad had esophageal cancer.
“How can this be?” I asked. “How can my dad be sick?”
My dad lived in an affordable retirement community. He had many friends there. Sitting down to grasp the heartbreaking news, I recognized I was so wrapped up in my professional life, I did not recognize my dad needed me. He was 84-years-old. Living alone, he walked all over the sidewalks and streets of historical Charleston, SC. Never did he ask for money, or anything from me. He excused my busy life. He was proud of me since I worked in the educational field. He understood I didn’t have time for him. He understood that not only did I work ’40-hours weekly’ my weekends were devoted to recruiting students for the university almost every weekend.
I heard myself whispering as I wiped tears from my face. “Dear God, I’ve been such a fool. My dad needs me. He NEEDS ME.”
I took a leave of absence from work. An endoscopy was performed on Dad. He had a tumor on his esophagus. A tumor that was too difficult to remove.
I met with an oncologist. He suggested Dad needed chemo/radiation therapy and a feeding tube. He could not keep food down. He was choking and extremely weak. Dad weighed 130 pounds. Previously, he tipped the scales at 175. The oncologist wanted to know what I wanted them to do. He stressed Dad needed the feeding tube since he was malnourished. If he didn’t get some form of food intake, he would probably die within two weeks. I looked up, tears still gushing down my face and I said, “My dad is an independent man. He needs to make that decision.”
Dad fought to live from December, 1997 until his death on July 6, 1999. During that time, my focus was my dad. When it was suggested that he needed ‘skilled care,’ I inquired as to what the definition of skilled care was. Suddenly, I was learning a lot about serving as a caregiver. I was the “Parent to my Parent.” I made decisions about his care. I found ways to jump through the hoops to get him the care he needed and deserved. I learned a lot about diplomacy, refusing to take “no” as an answer. My dad and I became closer than ever. I visited him daily regardless of where he was. He moved from hospital to nursing home. Back and forth again and again as he weakened and I found ways to save his nursing home room and roommate. Never did I let Dad know the hoops I jumped through, just to get him the care he deserved. I met with nursing staff. I found an Ombudsman, a young and caring medical professional who shared her knowledge with me so I could get my dad the medical care he deserved.
I am hopeful things have improved since 1999. After Dad’s death, I wrote “Condition of Limbo,” describing in detail what it was like to serve as a caregiver in a community that appeared to be ever so negligent where caregiving was concerned, along with the medical care.
Now, I have several friends who are becoming the “parent to a parent,” and they ask me what they should do to make certain their mother or father is cared for properly. After listening to their story, I’ve decided it might be easier to share my experience on my blog:
I continue praying for your family, your mother/father and you, hoping each day will be a better day for all of you. Many times, it isn’t. What I share at that time is for you to fight and pray…to believe that tomorrow will be a better day. Yes, clichés. Clichés helping us to see the sunshine while the pain you are feeling is almost indescribable. It is true you should take care of yourself; nevertheless, right now, you probably are losing sleep. You are too afraid to give in to sleep, in the event ‘something happens to Mom or Dad.’
As I’ve stated previously, I walked in similar shoes when my dad became terminally ill with esophageal cancer. I blinked my eyes as I realized I was now the ‘parent to my parent.’ Suddenly I was making decisions my father was much too ill to make. You wonder – how do I do this? How do I make decisions HE/SHE should be making?
All I can suggest for you is to take each day “one day at a time.” When meeting with medical professionals for “skilled care” — a description they do not identify or describe. Skilled care means 24-hour nursing care…make certain you document the dates/times, names, titles, and most important, document what they say. Save these notes. They might become important at a later date — according to the Medicare and Insurance regulations.
How I wish I could be there with you. While I do not proclaim to be a professional regarding ‘caregiving’ walking in those shoes in 1999 was a wakeup call for me. Please get some rest. Ask if the hospital has an atrium, or a chapel. Step inside and let the tears flow. That is what I did one afternoon at Roper Hospital in Downtown Charleston. Their Atrium was newly built. I found a balcony, and there, I cried. I screamed and I shouted for God to listen to me. No one but God could hear me when the rushing traffic congestion drowned out my heartbreak.
I’m sending virtual hugs to you, and I am praying, repeatedly. God is there. This too shall pass. Praying for your mother or father to become strong enough to get to the rehab center, and I am praying for you to rest and get additional emotional strength.
You might ask yourself: “What do I do if my parent comes home. Is he or she able to care for themselves? Do I hire a nurse, or do I move in?”
In a perfect world, you might ask other family members to help. Unfortunately, I did not have that luxury. I was estranged from family members at the time. Fortunately, I swallowed every ounce of pride I had to find my family and to let them know our father was terminally ill. I am happy to report, I have one sister I stay in contact with now and we are closer than ever.
Walking through life when you become the parent to your parent makes one stronger. I would like to say it is a wakeup call to the importance of family remaining close; however, life does have a way of changing us and at times, the true character of a family member can be revealed. Sometimes good, but most of the time – bad. While my dad battled cancer and grew weaker, I actually had one sister write Dad a letter — stating something to the effect of: “I’m sorry you’re so sick, but I have to work so I can’t come to see you.” Her next statement in the letter was: “So tell me Dad…am I STILL in your Will?”
Thank God she lived eight hours away. I wanted to strangle her.
Watching my dad slowly melting away from life taught me to take each day one day at a time, and to slow down to appreciate the little things in life. I visited him in the nursing home daily, unless my bronchial asthma kicked in. On one occasion, Dad was reading his Holy Bible. When he saw me entering his room he screamed at me. “You get out of here,” he shouted. “I want to read my Bible.”
I felt rejected. How could he speak to me in such a manner? Didn’t he know I loved him and wanted to be with him?
After researching caregiving, I realized my dad was detaching from me. He did not want me to see his pain, or to watch his body slowly fading away. On the day of his death, I had a dream/vision in the early morning. I phoned the nursing home at 3:45am, inquiring how he was doing. They checked on him, reporting he was sleeping soundly. That afternoon, after a stressful day of working later than I planned, I entered the nursing home at 5:45pm. I ran into a nurse pushing an oxygen tank. She looked away from me, moving next to me.
“Ooh…that isn’t a good sign,” I said. She nodded. When she placed her hand on the doorway of my dad’s room, I screamed. I knew what was happening. The nurse pushed my hand away from the door. “You stay here,” she said.
Someone moved me to a couch. I sat down, tears pouring like an endless waterfall from my eyes and I sobbed uncontrollably. I knew the day of dad’s departure from me was here. I also knew I had to let him go.
After his death, my independence kicked in. I managed to plan the funeral. I moved like a zombie, without emotion or pain. I prayed for God to give me strength. Now 17 years after his death, I still miss him. There are days when I feel totally empty of emotions, and I have days where he is tucked safely inside my heart. I do not regret serving as his caregiver and I am proud we became closer and closer as he slowly melted away from me. Today, I am proud to say I was his daughter and I am pleased to share my experience with others who unexpectedly become:
THE PARENT TO A PARENT.
If you walk in similar shoes, I would love to read your experience and I am praying Medicare changed many of the regulations after 1999. If you are a caregiver, may God bless you as you care for a parent who taught you how to walk, how to talk and how to become a strong, independent and proud adult. Once my dad pushed me in a stroller. When he became so ill with cancer, I helped guide him with his walker, and later I pushed him in a wheelchair. But only once! He hated a wheelchair, refusing to sit in it again.
Yep. That was my dad. A proud, tall, striving to be independent 84-years-old man. Never did I see his elderly age. All I saw was — my father…My Dad! How I miss him!

Inspiration on a Dreary Day


Dearest Readers:

This morning, I awoke before anyone in my neighborhood was up. At least, I say that because all houses within my community were dark. Not a light on anywhere, with exception of the street lights. I let the dogs outside to potty, reminding them they must be quiet. “The neighborhood is asleep,” I said. Sir Shakespeare Hemingway nodded, prancing off to find his special tree. Sandy Bear pranced around to find his spot. Prince Midnight Shadow danced around. Hank, my smallest schnauzer stood by my side. He does not like to be too far away from me, especially in the dark of night. I stopped to look outside. The skyline was extremely dark. I could hardly make it out, recognizing there was a thick blanket of fog outside. I stepped outside, walking around a bit, feeling the moisture of fog kissing my face, misting my hair. I listened hoping to hear my favorite musical sound of fog horns. The world outside was quiet. The dogs rushed to join me. They do not like the darkness of night, or the fog. Silly guys!

Another night of insomnia left me exhausted, so I rushed my special friends inside, telling them goodnight. Since it was still the middle of the night, I chose to go back to bed. My head was pounding with another sinus headache. Turning the television on, I replayed the events of the Sochi Olympics, hoping the sounds would allow me to drift off to sleep. Tossing and turning, I recognized I would probably miss my Weight Watchers meeting. I simply cannot cope when I have a headache and I am not exactly good company to anyone when a headache pounds like a hammer inside my head. When morning broke, I crawled out of bed, brewed coffee and decided to write for a bit. Instead of writing, I stared at the computer screen.

Seven days ago, the City of Charleston was cold. Many residents did not have power. We, within our community, were blessed. Never did we lose our power; however, today, I recognized I was fighting with depression once again. I could not process or organize my thoughts to write, and I was focusing on the darkness of a foggy morning while awaiting to hear the fog horns.

Later, I decided to write once again, rereading about 20 pages I’ve written this week. Looking outside again, I noticed bright sunshine and something I haven’t felt in a while due to the extreme temperatures we’ve had recently in Charleston. I chose to go outside with the dogs. The warmth of the brilliant sun hugged my body and I realized I was allowing depression to captivate me. I was not fighting like I do on most days. Depression runs in my family. My mother fought it all of her life and my grandfather was treated with several medications that our family refused to discuss. I suppose my family considered depression as a silent illness. I laugh now. Most of my friends fight depression. Maybe that is why they are my friends! Who knows.

Today, after a serious discussion with myself I realized that I had to find a way to accept depression, and to be grateful for life. Remembering the brilliant words of my grandmother, I recognized that I was focusing on the negative aspects of life, and not — LIFE. Right on cue, I chose to listen to life, hearing a welcomed sound of a bird chirping in a tree. I haven’t seen many birds lately. Normally I see mourning doves, cardinals and Carolina wrens. Lately, I’ve seen nothing.

Perhaps I haven’t noticed the beauty of nature lately because I’ve permitted myself to become incubated inside my home. On gray days, I’ve looked outside, deciding there was only grayness in life, nothing more. However, this afternoon, I discovered a much-loved and lost sight I haven’t paid much attention to, until today. Walking outside to get the mail, I noticed my tulip tree is blooming and the Carolina Jasmine is budding.

Yes, spring is in the air and I embrace it with passion. I want to wrap my arms around the freshness and beauty of springtime and never allow it to leave me. I cannot wait until the lawn dries out enough so I can rake the leaves, prune the Lantana and watch nature returning again. I haven’t walked on the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge since September 2013. If tomorrow is a reflection of today, I will walk the bridge, finding the freshness of an ocean breeze kissing my face, the warmth of sunshine, and most of all, I will find inspiration again. After all, it is the little things in life than mean the most to me. The scent of aromatic flowers. Roses. Sunshine. Good, loyal friends. A stroll on the beach, and a long walk on the bridge. I can hardly wait to embrace my inspiration tomorrow morning. Life is around me. I must embrace it with open arms!