Courage… Be Brave

January 30, 2016 at 4:30 pm (Anxiety, mixed media, Multiple Sclerosis, occipital neuralgia, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

One of the reasons I stopped blogging was because I didn’t want to ‘splain myself.  But, since I’ve started again, I need to be honest.  Ugh…

I have Multiple Sclerosis, trigeminal neuralgia and occipital neuralgia.  Blah blah blah… you know, I’ve explained it before, legs don’t work, eyes don’t work, pain in the head and neck – literally.

But every once in a while another issue rears its ugly head – agoraphobia.  I have one day a week that I absolutely MUST leave the house — errand day. I plan carefully for six days and I usually take my trusty sidekick, Jazzy.  I manage to make it through, although by the time I get home my anxiety is sky-high and I compensate by counting… by fives… 1,2,3,4,5 or 5,10,15,20… on and on.  By the time I get my groceries put away I am exhausted!!

This coming week I must leave the house two days — once for a very necessary hair appointment and twice on Wednesday — dentist and pain management doctor.  I am already looking towards those days, working to manage my anxiety.

Tonight I am going to a fun paint class I signed up for two months ago.  It is a fundraiser for the Cresson Lake Playhouse.  When I signed up my agoraphobia was under control. Today… not so much.  But, I said I would be there and I AM going.  I am ready to go, two hours early, with my supplies packed.  Rushing and last-minute things increase my anxiety.  If DannyO were going, it wouldn’t even be a problem.

My brain goes to stupid places like, what if there isn’t a seat for me?  What if I don’t know anyone (which is totally stupid because I know I know most of the people!!) What if I can’t find a parking place?  See??? Stupid places.

This week I’ve been working on a Journey piece for a gal I went to college with.  She chose “Find Courage for the Journey.” She had three specific Bible verses she wanted in the piece.  I put the final layer on earlier today — the beeswax.  I am going to blog later this week on my step-by-step process but today I will show you the final piece.

There is a quote I put on every “Courage” piece.  It’s by Eleanor Roosevelt.  It says, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” 

I’m sure she was talking about people with many more problems than agoraphobia, but today it is my REAL problem so…  I will do the thing I think I cannot do.  Head out the door at 5:30, paintbrushes in hand, and enjoy myself for three hours moving paint around.

Courage-Tammy Fast



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Moving Through the Next Chapter of My Life (such as it is)

June 16, 2015 at 11:28 am (mixed media, Multiple Sclerosis, occipital neuralgia, Sewing Projects, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

I have been moving right along as I work through a rough spring with my trigeminal and occipital neuralgia.  When these storm systems roll through, my face and head have their own agenda.  My botox injections were adminstered late due to a change in hospitalization (which is a pain to navigate when one has chronic conditions).  The botox, while not completely effective, takes the brunt of the worst pain from me.  The last two months have been more bad days than good.

I have had some orders for my mixed media “Journey” pieces so I have been spending a few hours each day working on them.  I am having them photographed by a wonderful photographer, Tab James of AdLiv Collective in the hopes of selling prints on line.  I will continue to work on original pieces.  I promise I will blog about the beginnings of my Lovingly Millie collection.

Find Strength for the Journey

Find Strength for the Journey – Tab’s photographs bring out all the layers of the mixed media piece.

I have an order for some terra cotta pendants and usually spend an hour in the evening rolling clay and molding it — very relaxing.

I also have gained weight and not many of my clothes fit me so I am trying to sew a few summer pieces that actually look good on my “new” body.  Accepting where I am right now weight-wise is very hard for me.  I am posting these pictures, although most of my being is screaming to keep them hidden.  This is part of my journey too…

A little pink dress (the back is open with a tie)

A little pink dress (the back is open with a tie)

This actually is a

This actually is a “muslin” of a new pattern that actually fits so I will wear it 🙂

Throughout my day, my constant companion is our one-year-old Airedale, Jazzy Joy.  THIS is what she does while I create.  I promise you, this bed was beautifully made earlier in the day 🙂

The tornado that is Jazzy

The tornado that is Jazzy

Oh, and, do you like my sunglasses I got for the beach??  The great thing about glasses and earrings… they usually fit!

Cool shades!!

Cool shades!!

Be blessed and encouraged.  If I can do one productive thing on days I can only carefully move my head, so can you!!

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And so began the rest of her life

May 28, 2014 at 12:33 pm (Memories, Multiple Sclerosis, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

“One day she decided to listen. Really listen. Not to the noisy chatter of her mind that told her she couldn’t, but to the voice within her heart that knew she absolutely could. And so began the rest of her life.”

I cannot take credit for that quote — I just found it today and it spoke to me.

In my devotions today, Jeremiah 33:3 was the verse I studied. “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

I have been really struggling lately, struggling with intense TN pain, with my weight, with the continued MS deficits, with my place in this world.  I am over half-way through my life and I spend most days just barely making it through, with pain being my battle.  I am my own worst enemy.  I have so many creative ideas, but no energy.  I wake up in pain, and then must medicate, which makes it impossible to really, truly function.

This past weekend, I tended both of my sets of grandparents’ graves.  I was blessed to know all four of them.



Grandma Amelia died when she was my age, 54, in November 1969, killed by a drunk driver.  I spent the summer of 1969 with her.  We spent lots of time in her garden.  She entered me in the Garden Show and my flower arrangement won first place!  I remember her as a strong woman — not afraid of any man, of anything.  If she wanted to do something, she just did it.  She told me there was nothing that I could not do.

Grandma and Grandpap Gay

Grandma and Grandpap Gay


Debbie, me, Susan and Grandma Amelia

Debbie, me, Susan and Grandma Amelia

Pappy Savering was a hard worker who spent lots of weekends fishing.  My first real memory involves him.  I had cut my chin on a plastic cup while in the bathtub.  Pappy held my head while Dr. Ebandjieff stitched my chin.  I remember seeing my Momma, sitting by a big Coke vending machine, with her head between her knees.  Pappy was very tall and handsome and could be intimidating, but his hands were gentle, that I remember.  He died in 1988 from a stroke.

Pappy and Grammy

Pappy and Grammy

At their 50th wedding anniversary party

At their 50th wedding anniversary party

Grandpap Gay lived until 1999, with terrible issues as a result of the accident that killed my Grandma.  He was a prayer warrior.  I used to go over to see him and, if it was a while since I had been there, he would say, “Did you lose the map?”  He had strong opinions.  I can just imagine that he and Grandma had some knock-down-drag-out fights!!

Grandpap and Molly

Grandpap and Molly

Grammy lived the longest, until 2009.  She prayed for me every day.  As my sister said, “she loved, more than anything, she loved!”  Grammy never had a bad thing to say about anyone. She would find positives in every situation.  She was very quick to tell you that “outer beauty” wasn’t as important as “inner beauty.”  She’d tell us that we were still in our “ugly duckling” stage.  She was the one who handed out nickels for us to put in the offering plate and could split a piece of gum into five pieces (it was usually very stale so it broke easily!).

Me and Grammy

Me and Grammy

Me and Grammy

Me and Grammy

I shared brief memories with you, but there are so many more!!  As I tended the graves, while I said hello to Grandpap and Pappy, I had conversations with Grandma and Grammy as I loosened the soil, removed the pansies from their temporary pots, dug some more and planted.  As I planted a purple-themed bed, because she would have liked that, I told Grandma Amelia that I missed her and that I wished that I had her strength.  I used many different colored pansies for Grammy, because she never saw a color she didn’t like!! I told Grammy that I missed her and that I wished that I had her sunny outlook.  I told both of them that I was looking forward to seeing them in heaven.  As I left each grave, I kissed their names, told them goodbye.

This morning, I found the quote, I remembered Grandma’s strength, Grammy’s positive outlook, and realized that I was listening to the wrong voices.  For reasons I do not know, the Lord still wants me here on earth.  I need to accept where I am, what I weigh, my physical limitations, my pain issues, in order to live my best life!!!

So, today I am listening… remembering my sweet grandparents’ advice, waiting for the Lord to reveal the “great and mighty things” I do not know.  Above all, I am hearing only the voice that tells me what I CAN do… and so begins the rest of my life.

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Three Subjects, Starting with Tuesday-Shoesday

May 20, 2014 at 3:13 pm (Jewelry, Musings..., Shoes, Social Anxiety, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

Subject #1

“Life is not waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning to dance in the rain!!” I know this statement is figurative, but it can be taken literally too!  In the middle of March, it was raining buckets.  I had a neurologist appointment in Altoona.  Of course, it figures, all of the handicapped spots were taken!!  Now, I am not pointing fingers at anyone, but I do know that when it rains, anyone who has a placard, even though they don’t need it on that particular day, is more likely than not to use the HP. I needed my rollater.  It is nearly impossible to manage a rollator AND an umbrella.  I parked WAAAAAYYYY far away from the entrance.  By the time my feet, in slow speed, made it to the entrance, I was soaked through to my undies!!  {{Sigh}}

It was at that point that I decided to buy a pair of rain boots.  I already have a pretty rain-resistant coat.  Since I am not going fishing, just getting from point A to point B, it will suffice.  It is pink.  I looked at many styles and colors of boots, but the yellow ones made me happy 🙂 .  So… Rain, give it your best shot!!!  I am ready for you!!! (Plus, I will look stylish dodging rain drops!)

My Awesome Rainboots!!

My Awesome Rainboots!!

Subject #2

Weekday 12 of no daytime television.  I am on a roll!  This morning I went to the high school (Subject #3), came home, took a nap, planted my herbs, took another nap, am blogging and plan to start supper soon.  Last week I finished a bracelet for my sweet niece, Kristi Brinklie (Really!!  Her last name is Olsavsky). She liked it.  I am very happy with the finished product.  I used one of my wire-worked hearts.


Subject #3

MelodyeJoy – 2  Social Anxiety (SA) – 0

I have spoken about my struggle with social anxiety.  I am working so hard to “behave my way” through it.

Last week, my friend Michelle and her group, New Journey, were singing at EBC.  I really wanted to hear them.  I waffled throughout the week.  On Thursday, I made it Facebook official.  I was going!!  I ran one errand before heading to the church.  I started panicking when I hit the Elton Road exit.  I kept driving… I parked… I pulled out my rollator… Michelle’s sweet hubby, the V man, met me at the door with a big hug.  I am so glad I went to hear them.  They blessed my heart.

Some of you know that I was the accompanist for the Central Cambria School District for 12 years until 2009.  What was later diagnosed as trigeminal neuralgia, made it necessary for me to “retire.”  I have not been back to a concert, at first, because I was so very sad that I had to stop doing something I loved.  Then this stupid SA reared its ugly head rendering me helpless to even attempt to go.  Two weeks ago I texted Paul, (the director and a wonderful friend) and asked if I could attend the double-period rehearsal the day of the concert. He said yes and to text him Monday to remind him to tell the office I was coming… Monday… every time I started to text, I couldn’t.  I promise you this is a real feeling.  Unless it has happened to you, it will make no sense at all to you!!

Finally, I figured he was home from school and couldn’t tell the office I was coming so I texted him, apologizing for not texting earlier, but not telling him the whys of it.  His answer to me was “No worries!!  It will be chaos but I would love to see you!!”

I set my alarm for 7:15 a.m. and, fortifying myself with coffee, dressing to the “nines” with my new Toms and my favorite Isaac Mizrahi scarf (and my goodwill jeans), I went to the school.  I spent two hours listening to wonderful music and talking to two of my favorite friends, Paul and Tom (Tom now accompanies the choirs). Again, I am so happy I went!!


Tom, Me and Paul Graduation-2004


Paul, Tom and Me One of our themed concerts (I re-made my sweatshirt)

I am feeling more confident that I can win this social anxiety battle!!





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A Blog About Simple Blessings

January 12, 2014 at 4:21 pm (Multiple Sclerosis, Musings..., Trigeminal Neuralgia)

I am sitting here with darling DannyO.  It is 12:48 on a Sunday afternoon. There are two football playoff games on today.  Yesterday I  “undecorated” our Christmas tree.  It took all day – as long as it took to decorate it!!  I knew I would pay for the long day, and I am paying… in spades!!  My trigeminal neuralgia has paid a visit and my back is spasming.  This is not a blog about my aches and pains, but a blog about blessing.

Our tree -- in the day and at night

Our tree — in the day and at night

Our tree... in the day and at night

Our tree… in the day and at night

My "undecorated" living room -- It feels decluttered!!

My “undecorated” living room — It feels decluttered!!

I read some fabulous blogs – their authors seem to have boundless energy and creativity. These women seem to have tapped into a force I am not aware of, because how else could they create such perfection in an imperfect world without magic!!!  My days are mostly filled with figuring out how to make supper, do laundry, sweep the floor without falling flat on my face, either from vertigo or uncooperative legs.  My brain is filled with so many ideas, but my body betrays me.

One way I keep going is by reminding myself of Scripture… I always seem to recall the perfect verse for my situation (thanks to many years of Bible School, SMM, church camp, at which verse memorization was emphasized).  One of my new friends on a Facebook page for fierce women who battle MS, Debbie, wrote this wonderful reminder.

A Blog About Simple Blessings-6

The part of these verses that truly are the reason I get out of bed every day is the part of this Scripture that promises, “They are NEW every morning.” His compassions are new every morning.  HE knows the number of hairs on my head.  He is interested in me.  “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.  I memorized it as a child in the King James Version and I like it best this way.

This morning I read a Facebook post from a man who is a missionary to the Central African Republic.  He said, “SAD SAD news…..The Boulata Grace Brethren Church in Bangui is burning as I write this. There are between 1000 and 1500 members in this church. There have been a number of Mosques burned in the past weeks and now there is revenge being applied. Dear God please protect your people, we pray this in Jesus Name.”

I am safe in my house today.  I am blessed.

The bank called at 9:00 a.m., stating that one of our bank accounts had a transaction that they were questioning – giving us the opportunity to double-check it.  We are blessed.

I was able to make a wonderful pot of coffee and ate exactly what I wanted for breakfast.  I am blessed.

Our house is warm thanks to the efforts of my darling DannyO. Wood makes the warmest heat.  We are blessed.

I am able to focus my eyes and move my fingers to write this blog.  I am blessed.

I have a heated rice bag lying on the right side of my face, helping me to fight the TN pain.  I am blessed.

I was able to afford the pain medicine (the big guns as I like to call them) that I need to help fight my TN pain.  I am blessed.

The water in my glass is cold (thanks to electricity) and sweet tasting (thanks to a Brita water filter).  I am blessed.

The man who has loved me for 34 years is sitting beside me.  We have laughed and cried this morning (we watched the movie Marley And Me). I am blessed.

I made the prettiest pink bracelet yesterday — Swarovski crystals and pink and everything!!  I am blessed.

A Blog About Simple Blessings-4

It’s the simple blessings in life that makes life really worth living.

I AM INDEED BLESSED.  How about you???

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Crawling Back (Editing As I Go)

December 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm (Multiple Sclerosis, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

I have often talked about getting things done with a chronic illiness…  editing is an important vocabulary word.  Nothing can be written in stone — I usually have to adjust my wonderful plan 🙂

Today is Tuesday.  I’ve lost three days and am in danger of losing a fourth.  Beginning on Friday night, I noticed that my nose felt like an ice cube (never a good sign).  Then about 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, I awoke to pain, severe enough to, well, wake me up.  I worked to relax and eventually fell back asleep.  Remember, last week I spent the days opening boxes and wrapping presents.  I didn’t think I had overdone it but I must have.

Saturday morning I woke up in pain, stood to go and get some pain medicine and promptly threw up.  Not good.  My MS has effected my central nerve, which, in turn, causes vertigo.  Throwing up means I cannot keep pain meds down.  I spent Saturday, sitting on the recliner with a heated rice bag wrapped around my face.  If I was very careful, I could avoid throwing up.  It seems I was never careful enough!!

On Sunday, I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I could have called my neurologist, but they would have told me to go to the emergency room.  The ER closest to my house uses a neurologist I reported to the hospital, so that place was out of contention.  Darling DannyO spent the day asking me if I needed anything.  Every six hours I took vertigo AND pain medicine and within ½ hour, threw up.

Moving to Monday…  I had a feeling this would be the last really bad day.  The pain didn’t get any worse (although I’m not sure it could have gotten worse).  I made myself get up and make tea and ate cereal and applesauce.  DannyO had to forage for food.  By 8:00 p.m., the pain was just a whisper.  I did a whole lot of “self-talk.”  “Come on Mel, you can do this!!”

On Monday, I pushed through and made three batches of sweet dough for my nut roll and apricot roll.  I screwed up two of the batches (I blame it on the meds!!).  One batch I added twice the sugar, and another batch I didn’t add sugar… don’t ask!!!  I am converting the dough without sugar into a loaf of bread.  Of course, I love sweets so I decided that the dough with double the sugar couldn’t be all bad.  All I need to do is to make one more batch of sweet dough and I will have enough for 12 rolls!!!  I planned to make the filling Tuesday and bake the rolls on Wednesday.

Today (Tuesday), I woke up and got out of bed… and promptly threw up!!  It seems the vertigo is still with me.  So… editing as I go… I will make the filling Wednesday and bake the rolls on Thursday.  I am not sure when I am going to decorate the tree (which isn’t even up yet)…

Oh well…

Here’s our 2013 Christmas Card.

From Our House to Your House

From Our House to Your House

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It’s A Wrapping Party!! (And music party)

December 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm (Musings..., Time Management, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

I am sitting in my sunny living room, eating a snack (don’t judge… peanut butter-filled pretzels and three Hershey kisses) and enjoying some iPod music, which is set to “shuffle.” Someday, I promise you Amanda, I will write a blog about my variety of music 🙂  Right now the song playing is “Be Ye Glad” by Glad.  I had to take pain meds for my TN.  As careful as I am, going out into the extreme cold that is western PA right now often triggers the pesky trigeminal neuralgia.


BEFORE – boxes and boxes piled on and around Amanda’s bed

As I wrote in my Surviving The Holidays post, I gave myself three days this week to wrap presents.  I ordered 95% of the gifts on line so they have been coming in bunches since December 2.  I was unable to work on the project on Tuesday, but I started Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. and by 3:00 p.m. all of the boxes were opened, cataloged, and the presents were wrapped. (“My Funny Valentine” by Rachelle Ferrell) 🙂


DURING (pay no attention to the unmade bed or the cluttered art room — the art room clutter must wait until after Christmas)

What a Mess I Made!!

What a Mess I Made!! (You can see my unfinished landscape on the easel in the background)

After everything was wrapped, I had to deconstruct the boxes, filler, etc.  (“Another Day(Gotta Get Up)” by Jill Scott)

My very large pile of presents.

My very large pile of presents.

A close-up (without spoiling anyone's surprise)

A close-up (without spoiling anyone’s surprise)

I had 20 boxes to recycle.  And because I have OCD and when I am finished, I want to be completely finished, I took all of the boxes, sans my identifying information, to the recycling bins three miles from my house, wearing my pajamas and forgetting my driver’s license and hoping I wasn’t pulled over or in an accident.  (“Love Is You” by Chrisette Michele)

Now, because I have always been honest with my blog readers, I will tell you that two of the boxes contained presents for me, myself and I.  I have been getting Amanda a Snowbaby for the past few years and, while I won’t spoil the surprise for Amanda, I found this sweet baby angel while I was searching for Amanda’s gift.  (“Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” by The Beatles) She is called “Angel of Joy” and I thought she was perfect for… me!!

"Angel of Joy" (really, that's what she is called)

“Angel of Joy” (really, that’s what she is called) all for me.

Of course, I got myself a great pair of shoes because… oh maybe… because it was Tuesday!!  They are a beautiful pair of Jessica Simpson flats, black with a gunmetal-colored bow.

The bow is beautiful!

The bow is beautiful!

I love the toe of this shoe!!

I love the toe of this shoe!!

I am waiting for a few more boxes in the mail and will wrap them as I receive them, but for all intents and purposes, wrapping is complete and the packages I needed to send to England for our nieces, Catie and Nikki are in the mail!!!   (“Wonderful” by India.Arie)

Yay me!!

As I did the final edit of this post, the song playing on my iPod was “Hosanna” by my own darling daughter, Amanda.  Since there isn’t a YouTube version of this song, I am linking you to a video I posted (not great quality) of Amanda singing and my son, Brent, playing the guiter… (“Paris(ooh la la)”)

That’s a wrap!!!







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Surviving the Holidays

December 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm (Multiple Sclerosis, Time Management, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

Anyone who has a chronic illness understands me when I say even thinking about the holiday season puts me into a state of panic.  How am I supposed to manage myself and family, which I barely do on a good day, during the hustle and bustle of November and December.  After all of these years, I’ve finally figured it out and I thought I’d share my ideas with you.

I start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas in October.  I get out my date book and write all of the hard deadlines and functions into the calendar.  Those are days that I schedule nothing else because I need to be able to hold conversations with people, usually in the evening.  With MS, if I am tired, I have cognitive issues, i.e., I cannot carry on a good conversation because I lose words and my speaking becomes muddled.

In October, I also begin a Christmas list and set my budget.  My children are adults now so I don’t have any idea of what they really want or need.  DannyO gets paid every other week so I begin to purchase gift cards, usually one a paycheck, and by Christmas I have all the gift cards I need and haven’t had to whip out my credit card to pay for them.

The one thing I usually give my kids is a bag of essentials, toothpaste, contact solution, teeth whitener, deodorant, chapstick, things like that.  Again, I purchase them bit by bit, with each paycheck, so by Christmas, I am able to have spent $200 on essentials (yes, they are THAT expensive!!) without using my credit card.  I am usually also reminding my kiddos that I need their Christmas list.

I have Thanksgiving dinner at my house for my parents and children.  We usually have between 7-10 people and I make my grocery list two weeks before that date.  I pull my recipes out (yes, I have a “Thanksgiving” file) and check my pantry supplies and note anything I will need, down to the sage and the white wine I use for the gravy.  At this point, I also purchase the walnuts (usually three pounds) and dried apricots (usually three pounds) for my Christmas nut and apricot rolls.

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I cook a fresh turkey and do not purchase that until the Sunday before turkey day.  This year I got three different frozen vegetables in their “microwave in the bag” and it made things so easy!!  If I had thought about this post before Thanksgiving, I would have shared all of my recipes with you.  Perhaps next year… 🙂

Pies -- they were scrumptious!!

Pies — they were scrumptious!!

The week of Thanksgiving:

  • Sunday:  purchase turkey and pull out all of the dry/pantry ingredients, setting them on the dining room table in groups of recipes.
  • Monday:  Decide what serving dishes I will use for each specific dish and add to the dining room table pile.
  • Tuesday: Make brine for the turkey (I boil 1 gallon of the 2 gallons used and dissolve the salt, brown sugar, etc. I let the mixture cool to room temperature and then add another gallon of cold water to it.  I use three kitchen garbage bags into a 5 gallon bucket and pour the 2 gallons of brine into the garbage bags.  After that cools completely, I add the turkey to the brine.)  This year (and most years) I was able to just put the bucket in the garage, with a lid on it, of course, until Thursday morning.
  • Wednesday:  Bake the pies (this year I made three pumpkin pies and 1 pecan pie). Make the fresh cranberry sauce (I just use the recipe on the cranberry bag). I chop the celery and onions and French bread used in the stuffing mix and store them in a Ziploc bag.
  • Thursday:  Put turkey into the oven between 8 and 9.  This year I bought a probe-type thermometer, recommended by Alton Brown of Good Eats.  The temperature device sits on the counter for easy reading.  I loosely packed about two cups of stuffing into the bird cavity and put the rest into a doubled non-stick aluminum foil packet and added the package to the turkey pan.  At about 11:00 I (Amanda, really) peeled the potatoes and boiled them.  I use a ricer to make the potatoes perfectly smooth.  I also add sour cream, butter, salt and pepper.  After mixing everything together, I tented it loosely with aluminum foil and put it over a pan of simmering water until it was time to eat.  The small pan of sweet potatoes, I started in my Ninja crock pot/oven/stove.  I finished them in the oven while the turkey was resting.

Then I poured the wine. We ate at 1:30. Dinner was delicious!!!

Okay… on to Christmas.  Remember, I have the hard deadlines/functions put in the calendar.  I give myself a three-day window for each specific task culminating on December 25.

  • November 29-December 2:  Beginning on Black Friday through Cyber Monday, I purchased Christmas presents on line.  I paid exactly ZERO for shipping and was able to compare prices and got some wonderful deals.  I would recommend becoming an Amazon Prime member because shipping is free and I have paid for my membership many times over this last year in free shipping.
  • November 30-December 2:  I also addressed Christmas cards.  I had a picture card made with our greeting pre-printed so I only had to address the envelopes.
Our Christmas card 2013

Our Christmas card 2013

  • December 2-5: (Monday through Wednesday) I decorated my kitchen.  I worked as I felt well enough to work.
  • December 6-8: I decorated the living room, which included washing windows.  I finished that room on the 7th, because I had some good hours to dedicate to the task.

Surviving the Holidays-8Surviving the Holidays-11

Surviving the Holidays-9

Next week I have two doctor’s appointments and a hair appointment so that eliminates Monday and Thursday.  On Monday, after my neurologist appointment, I will pick up the five or so remaining gifts that I didn’t get on line.  I also have made a list of my Christmas brunch dishes (yes, I have a “Christmas recipe file”) and will purchase those ingredients sometime this week.

  • December 10, 11 and 13: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, I will wrap presents.  I may begin today if I feel like it.
  • December 16-20: I will give myself the whole week to bake the apricot and nut rolls.  DannyO puts up the tree (it is real and usually very big) and puts the lights and beads on it.  I will then decorate the tree.  I will decorate as I bake – because there is so much down time with baking.

Surviving the Holidays-12Surviving the Holidays-10

Surviving the Holidays-6

So, if all goes according to plan, by Saturday, December 21, after I have cleaned the house well,  all will be done and I can enjoy the week of Christmas.

Surviving the Holidays-4Surviving the Holidays-3

By making a plan and giving myself (usually) a three-day window to accomplish specific tasks, I am able to enjoy the season and can place the focus where it should be… on Jesus.

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Finding Joy in the Journey

July 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm (Decorative Painting, Multiple Sclerosis, Sewing Projects, Trigeminal Neuralgia)

I am having a trigeminal neuralgia attack.  If I could rip off the right side of my face, I’d be golden!!  Instead, I have taken four rounds of medicine and am thinking positively that this last round will kick-start pain relief.  I was going to sew and paint today but, with this amount of medicine in my body… hmmmm… inserting a zipper is out of the question and unless I am painting an abstract piece… So, I am writing in my blog.

My new MS medicine, Tecfidera, seems to be working.  I was able to wear heels to a funeral yesterday.  I will never give away my high heels, even if I just look at them sitting in my closet.   I am very blessed to have financial assistance to pay for my medicine.  It costs $4,550.00 for 60 pills each month!!  I only have to pay $10.00.

I want to share with you the two projects I am currently working on.  The first is a sundress designed by Gretchen Hirsch of Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing.  I love the vintage vibe of this dress. I wanted a light, breezy look so I chose flocked cotton for the body of the dress and sweet polka dot cotton for the bodice contrast.  I have the main pieces of the dress and lining sewn together but I need to insert boning, a zipper and put everything together.

Butterick Pattern

Butterick Pattern

Finding Joy In The Journey-2

My second project is a mixed media piece I am calling “Finding Joy in the Journey.”  I was inspired by a book by Kelly Rae Roberts called “Taking Flight.”  I have received so many cards and letters over the last 22 years and have saved nearly every piece.  Last week I pulled them out and re-read all of them and cut out things that meant the most to me.  I actually have enough material to create four or five more pieces.  I honor those of you who inspire me.  YOU help me find my joy each day.

Finding Joy In The Journey-1

Finding Joy In The Journey-3

I am using Heritage mediums by David Jansen instead of Modge Podge or gesso.  I used his multi surface sealer (MSS) to affix the cards and messages to a 16×12 canvas. I need to distress the surface of the piece and plan to use extender (to make the paint more transparent).  I haven’t decided on a color palette yet.   I am drawing an angel, most likely Millie, and am going to paint her over the patchwork of encouraging notes, signatures and pictures.

Right now I am going to take a wee nap.  I can’t wait to share the finished pieces with you !!

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“You’re A Masterpiece That All Creation Quietly Applauds”

April 10, 2013 at 11:13 am (Trigeminal Neuralgia)

Me??  Right now I am a mess.  I am making no more promises about blogging because I’ve broken every one of my previous promises.  I can’t imagine why people want to read about me right now.  I am not doing anything spectacular.  But… I also realize that many women and men are on my journey, not my exact journey, but a painful one nonetheless.  So… I will blog about it.

I have multiple sclerosis, which, surprisingly, is under control right now!!  I take a Tysabri infusion every month.  I am very sick for three days afterwards, but I have not needed my cane for three months and I don’t have that “drop-dead” fatigue that I have suffered with for years.  If I could only get my TN (trigeminal neuralgia) under control.  Those of you who follow my blog know that I had MVD surgery in 2010, which eliminated the pain for one year, but ultimately was unsuccessful.

My face is alive and on fire nearly every minute of every hour of every day.  I take strong meds for it, but they only cut the pain down by about 20-30%, no more.  As a result of the spasms from the TN pain, I have developed TMJ (Temporomandibular disorder).  I have worn a splint for 6 years, but it isn’t helping right now.  My jaw feels out of line and I cannot chew anything hard without excruciating pain.  I am right now using ice and heat along with the pain meds.  I get a massage once a month and it provides temporary relief, i.e. a night of uninterrupted sleep.

We have had an endless winter here in western PA.  I am probably a little bit depressed.  However, I am happy to report that I haven’t spent one day totally in bed (except for the one day after my Tysabri treatment each month).

I’d like to encourage those of you who “feel my pain” and give you some helpful steps to follow as you “behave” your way through the day.

  • Get out of bed.  Yes, I mean purposefully put your feet on the floor, not just to go to the bathroom to pee.
  • Change out of your pajamas.  In January, I realized I was wearing my PJ’s every day I stayed home so I bought some pretty yoga clothes (on clearance at Kohls) to wear every day.
  • Brush your teeth, wash your face and comb your hair.  I shower at night because it helps me to relax before my usually fitful night of sleep.  I moisturize like mad — hey, I’m 53 and I need to keep this fabulous face in good condition :-).  I also groom my eyebrows ; it drives me crazy if I’ve got a stray hair.  However, that is my OCD madness so I’m not including that as a step for you!! I also weigh myself every morning — that keeps my weight under control in this sedentary period of my life.
  • Make coffee, tea, whatever you like.  Take your pain meds and eat breakfast.  For me, breakfast is either Special K or Kelloggs Corn Pops.  After I eat breakfast, I can assess my pain level and plan my day.
  • Spend time in the Word and prayer — this is my peaceful communion with my Lord.  I truly cannot go one day without even just a time of prayer.
  • Consult your calendar.  I use Google Calendar and absolutely love it!!  I love lists and calendars.  Depending on my pain level, I will include some rigorous household chores or exercising on my list.  If it is a bad morning and I’ve had zero sleep, I plan just a few simple things, like washing clothes (simple in this day and age), dusting, making jewelry, painting or sewing.  I decide in the morning if I am going to cook dinner (for my darling DannyO and my parents).  If the recipe calls for chopping preparation, I get that done in the morning because usually by 3:00 my pain is at its worst… ’nuff said.
  • Use a timer.  If I am having a painful day but must complete tasks, I set my timer… 45 minutes of work, 15 minutes of rest.  Just knowing there is an end to the work period encourages me to complete the task.
  • Turn the TV off!!  TV is a wonderful thing, but when one is in the house all day, it can be a mindless waste of time.  I’ve got my Ipod deck in the kitchen and my CD player in my art room.

Today I am making apricot rolls for my niece’s wedding this weekend.  I chopped the dried apricots a few days ago in anticipation of this day.  I reconstituted them and they are in the refrigerator cooling.  I have my dough in the bread machine and in about 1 hour I will be rolling out four pieces of dough and my house will be filled with the glorious smell of baking apricot rolls.

I do a lot of self-affirmation.  I have an on-going (sometimes out loud) conversation with myself and my Lord.  I pray for people through the day.  I pray blessing on my children and hubby.  I pray that the Lord will give me grace to make it through the day.  I tell myself I am proud that I made it to noon time and didn’t crawl back into bed with an ice pack.  I watch the birds and listen to their songs.

Today, my Ipod is programmed to playing songs alphabetically.  “Fingerprints of God” is a song I’ve sung, even wrote parts to, but only today did it speak to me.

I can see the tears filling your eyes
And I know where they’re coming from
They’re coming from a heart that’s broken in two
By what you don’t see
The person in the mirror
Doesn’t look like a magazine
Oh but when I look at you
It’s clear to me

That I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it’s true
You’re a masterpiece that all creation
Quietly applauds
And you’re covered with
The fingerprints of God

Never has there been and never again
Will there be another you
Fashioned by God’s hand and perfectly planned
To be just who you are
And what He’s been creating
Since the first beat of your heart
Is a living, breathing
Priceless work of art

Just look at you
You’re a wonder in the making
And God’s not through
In fact, He’s just getting started!

I’m not sure what His plan for me is.  If I am honest, I will say that I don’t like His plan sometimes.  But I will move through today with this song as my mantra… “you’re a masterpiece that all creation quietly applauds.”

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