2015… Wow!!! It’s Incredible that I get to be here in 2015 and experience all it brings

EIt’s January 2015!!! Surprise!!! I am still alive and doing relatively well. Evidently God still has plans for my life. So, despite my doctor’s guess of my shortened lifespan due to my health related issues, God still has more for me to experience, share, do, etc. As Richard Bach wrote in his book Illusions“Here is a test to find out if your mission on Earth is accomplished… If you are still alive it isn’t.” So, evidently my mission is not completely accomplished. I’m trying to do my best to keep close contact with God and be aware of the path I’m supposed to be on, or the things I am supposed to be doing, or the people I am supposed to be in contact with through various experiences or happenings.

In a way it feels a bit eerie or out of sync. In 2013, and again confirmed in 2014, based on my doctors examination of me, and feeling the large tumor and it’s placement, she didn’t think I would be alive at the end of 2014. So, on July 4th when I watched the fireworks, I thought this would be the last time I saw fireworks, the same for my birthday… it would be the last birthday I would celebrate, and in both 2013 and 2014 I saw the fireworks and celebrated another birthday. I realized that every day any of us live we are closer to dying. No one escapes that experience. The timing is up to God. So we all need to appreciate every day and live it to the fullest. I have written about this many times. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. We only have the moment we are in.

I feel like it’s the Rocks, Pebbles, Sand, Water scenerio I have heard about many times. A jar is filled with rocks, then we are asked what else can we fit in the jar and we say nothing else will fit. We are told that pebbles will, then sand, then finally water will fill the rest of the space in the jar. I don’t know what stage my life is in. I might be in the sand or water stage, then again, I may be in the rock stage. I just found this story on the Internet about Rocks, Pebbles, Sand and I like what is written better than any other story I’ve read, even though it doesn’t include adding water as the final item. Here is a  Rocks in a Jar version, it’s not as informative as the previous link. Please read these webpages when you have time. They might give you some food for thought. None of us know what stage our life is in, no matter what our age.

I am so glad I took the trip I did from early September through mid-December. It  was great fun. Since I returned, I have been baking cookies and brownies and giving them to friends and businesses I frequent often. Everyone loves receiving surprises, especially home baked ones.

When I started my trip in September I left a shamrock jigsaw puzzle partially completed. Shortly after I got back from my trip I began working on the puzzle and finally finished it. It is really beautiful. All of the detail is hard to see in the picture. Now, I just started two new puzzles. One is large so I can’t fit it through the door into my bedroom, so I started a smaller one so I could sit in bed and work on it. Both puzzles are 1,000 pieces. The puzzle with the ferris wheel has 119 hidden objects in the picture. Some of them are scissors that make up part of the ferris wheel, a suitcase that a boy is sitting in as a ride and using a baton as a bar to hold onto, and a guitar that is the roller coaster ride.

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After I complete these two puzzles, I have two more waiting to be done, in the meantime when I go to stores I will keep my eyes open for puzzles I want to work on. I am including the link to the puzzle store I shop in and the puzzle company I like the most for their unusual puzzles in case you like puzzles and want to explore these sites too.  I already know that I want to buy three Sun’s Out puzzles, the otter, a hot air balloon, and perhaps the State of Texas that I saw online a few months ago. I am going to have to ask Lacy at Prestigious Puzzles to order them for me, or I can order them online. I put pictures of them below so you could see them. I like the otter puzzle the best. These special shaped puzzles are all designed by Lori Schory who I have made friends with the past year or so when I wrote to her telling her I like her designs. Most of the puzzles I do are her designs. She kindly sent me four puzzles to work on, the penguin puzzle is the last of the four. The shamrock puzzle is made with pictures she took in Ireland. The otter puzzle is made with pictures she took at the London Zoo.

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I have found several websites that write about the health benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles, here is the link to two of them. I might add more in a few days: 42 benefits of doing jigsaw puzzles, another is health benefits of puzzling.

My time since I have been back home has been filled with doing errands, having lunch and spending time with friends and my mom, taking naps, reading, talking on the phone, and baking, and not much else except resting which is necessary. The pain seems to be increasing a bit and I’m having to take more medicine more often to control it which sometimes makes me extra tired. I try to take the minimum that I can so I don’t sleep all the time. I had bloodwork done recently and it shows that my kidney function is only a little worse than it was in June 2014 which is good. We thought it might be considerably worse, thankfully, it’s not.

The symptoms caused by the growing tumors are still becoming worse, some days are worse than other days. It changes almost daily and there is no rhyme or reason for it. Sometimes I am awakened in the early morning hours having trouble breathing, other times the amount of food I can eat at a time or in a day is half a cup to a full cup at the most, and when I go to pee it takes a while before anything comes out. I’m still getting numbness and sharp pains in my left foot and leg. We know all of these symptoms are due to the increase of size in my tumors and the pressure it’s putting on my organs. So, I just keep going on and doing my best to ignore the symptoms and not let them ruin my day. If I have to increase my medicine to control the pain I do. If it means I have to sleep a bit more, I do that too.

It could be easy for me to continually think that the end of my life is coming when I have difficulty breathing, or can’t eat much food in a day, or that my kidneys and bladder are totally compressed or blocked when I can’t pee easily. I have to admit there were a few times that I did think that for a short time when it happened a bit more severely than previous times. But then after 3 or 4 minutes when I could pee, or when I went a night without waking up short of breath, or when I can eat a more food in a day,  that I think it’s not now, I just have a new normal. My doctor and I think that my end of life will come when my organs get so compressed that I cannot pee, eat, or breathe, but in reality that might not be how it plays out. My heart could give out, I could have a heart attack, I could choke on food, fall down steps or have a serious fall, be in a car accident, a plane could fall out of the sky and land on the roof of my building, or many other events could be the reason. It’s out of my hands and in God’s hands. I have very little control, if any. So, I live each day to the fullest I can.

Some days are better than other days. Still I do my best to keep an attitude of gratitude and thank God every day for the life I have. So many people have it much worse than I do. I have a safe place to live, food to eat, money to buy what I need, enough medicine to control the pain, a car with insurance to drive with gas in it, people who love me and check on me frequently, I can walk, talk, and breathe at the same time. I can see, hear, feel, and have clean clothes to wear, shoes, a nice bed with a soft blanket to sleep in, and so much more to be extremely grateful for. It far outweighs any challenges I am experiencing. If there are times I feel sorry for myself, I limit them to a minute or two. I wouldn’t be normal if I didn’t have those times where I feel sad or frustrated with how my health condition affects my life and life expectancy.

In October 2013, I wrote a story called Seriously, Really, You would rather be an Ostrich? about the importance of having legal and medical documents prepared so that should the unexpected happen then your wishes would be known, and you can be taken care of in accordance with your wishes whether it’s for a short time or longer or even your final wishes. Have the legal documents prepared so if the unexpected does happen, it could save arguments and guesswork for who should be your representative and make decisions. When things are going well and there is no pressure to prepare these documents is when it should be done, and it’s the time to discuss various topics with those close to you. Please make time to read this important story. Age should not be a factor, I know young people in their 20s and 30s that have died unexpectedly in car accidents, or had health conditions that became fatal. We never know when life changes. If we have our documents prepared, it makes it easier for those we love and/or who are in charge of our affairs should we become unable to make decisions, even temporarily. They won’t have to guess what we want done with things, or if we want life support, surgery, maybe you want to be an organ donor.

It can be so easy to stay in bed and feel sorry for myself, but that’s not me. Some days I really have to talk to myself and tell myself to get out of bed, that I cannot just stay in bed and not do anything. I also give myself permission to sleep later in the morning if need be. My sleeping pattern is all messed up since I often nap in the late afternoon into the early evening. Sometimes I am awake at 2:00 a.m., sometimes I am awake until 5:30 a.m. Then if I sleep until 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. half of the day is gone when I get up. It really feels odd. I try to listen to my body and rest when I really need to, but other times I push myself past that point so I don’t get in a rut of sleeping all of the time.

JBsOne of my friends that lives in Seattle came to stay with me for two days before she took a flight out of Miami airport. It was nice to see Patt, the last time we saw each other was in July 2011 when I was in Seattle during my 2011 trip to the northwest. We went to a RV Show and looked at motorhomes and pull type campers. I still like my camper van the best. Patt gets to see the Pacific Ocean, not the Atlantic Ocean, so we ate lunch at JB’s on the Beach sitting outside on their porch looking out at the turquoise ocean and watching the pigeons and seagulls. It was very nice. Check out their website and on their main page you will see beautiful pictures of not only the restaurant, but also of the beautiful beach and fishing pier, in Deerfield Beach. The water is almost always a beautiful turquoise. As we were leaving the restaurant we saw three brightly colored motorcycles parked out front. They were really amazing and I would have loved to take a ride on any of them.

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During Patt’s visit this week we talked about many topics. One of the things we talked about is my medical condition and how I’m dealing with it. She said she admires my positive attitude and how I have chosen to live my life. She said I’m an inspiration to her and many others and she said that she frequently tells people about me. I told her that I want to write an article that says something to the effect that dying slowly when you know it sucks. She laughed and we talked about dying suddenly vs knowing it’s coming but not knowing exactly when like is happening to me. A story I wrote in July 2014 expressed some of my thoughts about that topic. I try my best to live with a positive attitude and as a result it seems I am an example to others of how to live without feeling sorry for myself because of my health condition. It’s not really hard for me to live with a positive attitude and with one of gratitude because it’s how I have lived my life for about 27 years. I find that living in the solution and not the problem provides me with a better way of life, a more peaceful and contented spirit, and peace of mind, no matter what my life situation is. There are still days that I don’t want to live this way anymore, or at least not for a long period of time, that I’m tired of the pain and limitations that my tumors have caused. But those days or moments are very few and they do not happen close together thankfully. I’m grateful that I don’t dwell on them or give them attention, so they disappear quickly.

If my health continues the way it is now and doesn’t get significantly worse, I am planning to take another trip the end of March or early April. I have to figure out a route. I know that I want to be in east Texas in early to mid July for a hot air balloon event, and I want to be in Albuquerque the end of September through mid October for the hot air balloon fiesta again. Other than that I have no destination selected. I really would like to explore the upper Michigan peninsula, but it’s quite a bit north and then to come all the way back south is a long distance. I need to find interesting things to experience through the middle states that I have not seen already. Perhaps go further west than New Mexico and come back east to Albuquerque. I’m sure I will find a good route, even if it evolves as I’m driving. That has worked well on previous trips. Talking with people in campgrounds along the way has often provided me with interesting places to stop and see. I have also been able to share information on places that I went to and found interesting. I really like having my website, it’s nice to look at pictures I’ve taken and read stories I wrote a few years ago. It brings back wonderful memories, and also reminds me of things I forgot that I saw or did.

My concern about taking another trip is the same concern I had for the two trips I took in 2014. There were days I could not travel so I stayed where I was until I was able to go on. Since there is no control over the growth of my tumors and their effect on my health condition, I don’t know when I might get a blockage which we feel will cause the end of my life. I don’t want to be far away from home and have to make arrangements to get back home. I prefer to be able to drive myself home, rather than have to either go in a hospital somewhere near wherever I would be traveling, or having to fly home in a distressed medical state. I have to have faith and trust that God will continue to allow me to watch my symptoms and hopefully let me have sufficient time to get home on my own. I almost cut my recent trip short a couple of times, but when I stayed where I was for a day or few days I found I was not getting worse. I can hurt anywhere, I don’t need to be home. I can manage my pain wherever I am and it’s more fun to be traveling and exploring the country than staying home and reading and watching television. If I should suddenly die while I’m on my trip, I have prepaid funeral arrangements including travel insurance to transport my body. Like I said before, I don’t focus on this, but it is in the back of my mind and thoughts.

In 2011, I pretty much did almost everything on my Bucket List. I have a few things left on it which are seeing the Northern Lights, going to Alaska, Italy, and Greece, watching episodes of NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, and NCIS New Orleans being filmed, and going to the Ellen Degeneres Show. Watching Ellen always brings a smile to my heart and often makes me laugh. I love watching the Carol Burnett show that was on years ago. One of my friends sent me a DVD set of several episodes and I laugh when watching them. I like watching everyone’s face to see them try to not laugh at each other’s actions or comments, many of which I’m sure are ad lib, especially by Tim Conway. Recently, ME TV began showing a half hour of the Carol Burnett show episodes every night at 11 p.m. It is a great way to end my evening.

So, now that I am still alive I need to add to my bucket list. One of the things I have wanted to do for years is go see the Macy’s July 4th fireworks. I don’t really like large crowds and to see the fireworks from a good location I am guessing I would need to get there really early and then it would be a challenge to find restrooms, places to eat, etc. and then have to navigate through the crowds and get transportation back to a hotel, that is if there are any hotel rooms available. I don’t really think I have the energy or stamina for the experience of being in large crowds in New York. So, like in previous years, I will be happy to watch the fireworks on television. I get to see a great firework display in Albuquerque during the Balloon Fiesta. It’s not the Macy July 4th fireworks, but they are still pretty incredible and very beautiful.

I have done so much more than I would have even thought to put on a bucket list, so instead of creating a new bucket list, I will continue to live my life one day at a time and be content and happy with how each day unfolds. It’s been pretty good living this way so far. I did intentionally plan most of my 2011 trip which included my dream of going to the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta and I accomplished that, and also attended in 2012 and 2014. I didn’t have a ride in the Goodyear Blimp on my bucket list, and I had that incredible experience. I am convinced that if I am to have a specific experience or adventure it will happen. Sometimes it takes the help of a friend or effort on my part, other times it just happens. I am so blessed and grateful for the life I have, even the difficulties and challenges. They have helped me become the person I am.

Here is an amazing dog video that someone sent me. It’s incredible dogs doing tricks, stunts, catching a frisbee, and jumping rope at an Eagles Halftime show. I hope you enjoy it.

The Webbs Mill VFD, Bradford VFD, and East Hill VFD who are three of the volunteer fire departments in New York State that I donated money to sent me pictures of the equipment they bought with my donations. I want to share the pictures with you. Check out the fire helmet on the top of the tree. It really touches my heart that several of the volunteer fire departments and other organizations I have helped keep in touch with me.

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When you get a chance listen to this version of Amazing Grace, a friend sent me this link.

That’s about it for now. I wish everyone a blessed 2015, I hope you enjoy every day and let people in your life know that you appreciate them, love them, etc.

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5 Responses to 2015… Wow!!! It’s Incredible that I get to be here in 2015 and experience all it brings

  1. Pam says:

    What a great feeling it was to be able to add “Travel Map 2015” to the top of this page.

    Who woulda thunk it?!? Love you!

  2. Kevin says:

    Carol another wonderful read. When I read your stories they are always inspirational and all I can do is rejoice knowing the fact that I had the opportunity to become one of your friends.

    Love and hugs

  3. Maggie Bossett says:

    Carol, There is always so much depth to your thoughts. Your willingness to share your personal trials and journey are a real gift. Your adventures, fun and pleasures are as enjoyable to others as they are to you. You always bring to mind one of my favorite quotes,
    “I come in the little things, saith the Lord.” Evelyn Underhill
    May we always appreciate each other and each little moment.

  4. Patt Schwab says:

    Such a lovely post, and such a lovely visit I had with you.
    Just a thought:
    Ellen Degeneres is not nearly as smart as I think she is if she doesn’t put you on her show!

  5. Bud Baldwin says:

    Hello Carol;
    Just want to again thank you for the donation that allowed us to purchase the equipment for our department. We are very grateful !!
    Bud Baldwin
    East Hill Volunteer Fire Department
    Elmira, New York

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