lake reflections

Untitled-1

 

I had a lot of time to reflect during our vacation, and had an epiphany (or two, or three). It’s amazing how much clarity can come from a digital detox – I highly recommend it. While I had amazing quality time with my husband and children, I also felt compelled to process some deeply emotional issues that I’ve been internalizing for years. Oddly enough, as much peace as I find at the lake, I also find pain….allow me to explain. I spent time every summer from birth until I was thirteen at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, with my extended family. As I was an only child, my Mom (very smartly) planned many family vacations and gatherings so that I would be close with my two cousins. We were very much like siblings – we fought like it, loved like it. I took my first steps holding their hands on the beach there. It was a sacred place for our entire (small) family, and where many of my most beautiful memories were made. I miss Lake Winnipesaukee, and I deeply miss that time of family unity. Much has changed since then, and it causes me a lot of pain at times.

I haven’t been there in twenty-four years (with the exception of a brief visit in 2006). And yet, my memories of it are as vivid as ever. I can still hear the sound of the water gently lapping onto the shore, the wailing of loons (one of the most hauntingly beautiful sounds in the world, in my opinion), and even the wobbly ceiling fan that I was sure would decapitate me every night as I slept. I can still feel the silky wet sand between my toes, smell the horses that were down the road on the walk to get ice cream, and see the storms that would move so quickly across the lake. Every detail about it is cemented into my mind, because it was always a place of peace for me during a time in my life that was ever-changing, challenging, and at times, destructive. I’ll refrain from digging deeper on that subject in this post, but let’s just say my childhood was like a roller coaster – with high highs, and low lows. The lake became an escape for me…a respite from the chaos.

We moved quite a bit for my father’s career (military and beyond), and there were only two places in the world that felt like home to me –  my grandparents home, and the lake. One was taken from me physically (when my grandfather passed and his house was sold), and the other metaphorically (I haven’t been invited, and have even been denied a stay, when I asked begged to visit after Henry and Marie were born). I wanted (and want) so badly to introduce my children to a place I hold so dear. It’s not mine, but it has ownership of my heart, as if it was. I’ve struggled with that greatly – to understand it’s hold on me, and also what “home” means to me. How can latitudes and longitudes carry so much weight? Without getting into complicated family details, I’ve become estranged with my extended family, partly due to the denied access. In fact, it’s quite possibly become tainted for me because of the turmoil…it’s hard to say for sure without visiting.

I discovered Lake Naomi (in the Poconos) thanks to my friend Chanee in 2013, and immediately felt an odd sense of familiarity there. While very different from Lake Winni, there are enough similarities to make me feel comfortable, and (mostly) at ease. This was our fourth year vacationing there (more on that soon), and we’ve made many treasured memories…I’m so grateful for it. It almost fills the void in my heart, and yet sadly, falls short. I feel like it will always be competing with my first love, and it will never quite live up to it. I’m hopeful that someday, the family will come back together. Someday, I might be able to share that important part of my past, with my husband and children. Until then, I will continue to reflect on the possibility of reconciliation—with my past, my family, and most importantly, with myself.

learning about lyme

Untitled-2

 

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been dealing with some serious health issues, and what seems to be Lyme Disease. I say “seems to be” because I’ve entered into a very grey area of medicine, and no one really wants to confirm the diagnosis…yet. Even though I still have many questions to be answered, I want to share my story thus far, considering May is Lyme Disease Awareness month. Almost thirty days ago, I was struck with flu-like symptoms – extreme fatigue, chills, joint pain, headache, sore throat. I figured it was a viral infection or fibromyalgia flare, knowing the stress of our move probably weakened my immune system. The next day I developed extreme nausea and loss of appetite but still figured it was a weird virus that had to work itself out. Those symptoms continued off + on for a few days, until very suddenly, I developed extreme knee pain, to the point where I could barely walk (fyi I’ve never had knee or arthritic issues). It scared me so much that I went to urgent care, where I was informed my symptoms aligned with Lyme Disease.

I was told to watch for a bullseye, contact my primary care doctor, and be tested for it in 4-6 weeks (it usually takes that long for it to show up in your blood stream). Having minimal knowledge of Lyme Disease, I became immediately immersed online and began to educate myself. I saw my primary, and they agreed to test me based on my symptomology, even thought it was early, and I had no bite or bullseye that I knew of. While I waited for the results, my symptoms continued to get weirder and seemingly more specific to Lyme (to include scary neurologicial stuff). The test results came back – I was negative for Lyme according to the CDC. Here’s the kicker: the CDC does not consider someone positive unless all FIVE bands of testing are positive. I currently have two positive bands showing up, using the most standard test, the Western Blot. I now know, after reading How Can I Get Better, that this test was never intended for individual diagnosis. Meaning, it’s not sensitive enough – it does not pick up all strands of Lyme and related bacteria. In fact, over 80% of cases are missed by the negligent strict CDC standards, especially those with chronic Lyme.

Without delving into more technical facts and figures, the bottom line is this: I know my body, and I know I’m ill. I’m suffering from a highly polarizing and political condition, and I have a long road ahead of me. I’m so thankful for this community and the outpouring of love and support I’ve received via social media. In fact, because of that, I’ve been in touch with quite a few people with similar stories, and they’ve given me hope. They’ve helped me understand that I’ll have good days and bad. The good ones will make me question whether I’m truly sick at all, and the bad ones will scare the shit out of me (like yesterday, when I couldn’t stand up without intense vertigo, had double vision and numbness in my limbs, and could barely care for my kids). I’m waiting to be seen by a specialist, and have contacted a few alternative medicine doctors as well. I’m hoping to have more answers soon, or at least have a plan of attack. I’m continuing to arm myself with education about Lyme, and won’t stop until I get the help I need. Now more than ever, you have to be your own advocate. No one is going to care about your health and wellness as much as you do. Thanks for reading, and if you’d had Lyme, know someone that does, or suffer from a chronic illness, I hope you’ll share your story here.

hineni

waitsedit2

 

I’ve been taking a bit of a break from (my) social media lately, and it feels good right now. What began as an unintentional hiatus due to our move organically became an intentional, and dare I say – necessary one. We’re feeling happy in our new home (despite the chaos of moving), and I’m appreciating the little things. Our previous master bedroom didn’t have a window, and just having light in our bedroom for the past few days has been incredibly uplifting. I know that sounds silly, but deprivation equals appreciation. That philosophy applies to many areas of my life – I’ve been too busy for too long and I’m ready to make time for myself, and for my family as a whole. I took a break from the boxes for a moment this weekend to leisurely read the New York Times in bed, which as any parent knows, is such a luxury. This article was waiting for me inside the pages of T Magazine, which is just what I needed to read, and moved me deeply. I relate to it on so many levels – it goes far beyond the topic of music and artistic creation, and introduced me to the word and concept of, hineni.

The expression hineni means “here I am” in Hebrew, and is used in the Old Testament. Some interpretations associate the word with an even more powerful meaning, which is “here I stand”. Leonard Cohen used the term in his song “You Want It Darker”, and when asked by a reporter what inspired him to use it, his answer was the following: “I don’t really know the genesis, the origin…that ‘hineni,’ that declaration of readiness no matter what the outcome, that’s a part of everyone’s soul.” There are issues in my life that have been incubating for too long, and I’m finally ready to face them. I feel an urgency, a need – to fully embrace this transitional time in my (OUR) life and emerge from it healthier, and more whole. I’m publicly acknowledging my personal needs, in the event that you might also be at a critical crossroads in your life and be searching for inspiration, as I am. In the words of another artistic genius featured in the article, Tom Waits, “…when dealing with emergent behavior there is nothing to do but respond…it was not the fire I imagined or dreamed of, but it was the fire I got.” I fully believe that the only way out is through – and it doesn’t have to be dark.

bon weekend

bonweekend

 

Happy Friday friends! I’m trying to be productive from bed, as I battle the flu – it hit our household hard and fast this week. I took this photo not long ago, at Valley Forge National Park (a few minutes from where we live), and it reminds me to look to nature when feeling overwhelmed. It’s been quiet here on the blog, as I’ve been contemplating these wise words, and struggling to share anything that feels “fluffy”. Many bloggers are struggling to find words and share their regular content right now, and some are debating whether or not to use their social media presence to speak out. I applaud those who have chosen to do so, despite the very real possibility of losing readers, sponsors, or followers. I’ll say it again – this isn’t about politics–it’s about humanity. I will continue to use this space to share ALL that I am passionate about, and I will never stop contributing my voice to the resistance, and fighting for what is right. If I lose followers or readers, so be it.  I’m sharing a few of my favorite posts on this topic…I hope you’ll weigh in and show them some love.

BON WEEKEND

love trumps hate

on politics + social media

what will I tell my children?

fighting for what’s right is worth it

how to be an ally for refugees + immigrants

bloggers speaking out against the current administration

why i marched

Untitled-3

 

I traveled to Washington D.C. on Saturday to participate in the Women’s March, and it was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I attended with my friends Jennifer + Dave Cooper (who took so many amazing images, including this one). I have a confession to make: I was afraid. I have terrible anxiety and avoid crowds and chaos whenever possible. I had a massive panic attack mid-way through and had to retreat from the heart of the gathering. But I was there–I had to be. The issues at stake are too significant, threatening too many of our freedoms as women, as Americans, and as humans. This weekend gave me so much hope for the future – we will not be silenced, and we will continue to take action. I’ll be processing this experience for some time, but I feel more determined and empowered than ever. This is not a moment, but a movement, and I’m honored to join the fight. Here are some (not all) of the reasons I marched, in no specific order:

 

I marched because I’m a woman.

I marched because I’m a mother.

I marched because I made a pledge.

I marched because I’m a feminist.

I marched because I believe in equal rights for all.

I marched because I am pro-choice.

I marched because love is love is love.

I marched because he’s not my president.

I marched because we deserve better.

I marched because I believe in democracy.

I marched because immigrants are welcome.

I marched because I’m outraged.

I marched because climate change is real.

I marched because I’m privileged.

I marched because I have a voice.

I marched because dissent is patriotic.

I marched because I am indebted to all the women who came before me.