Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quilting, A New Winter Sport?

I hate to see the leaves falling from the trees.  It has been so beautiful here in Vermont.  We are quickly moving into late fall, and of course, what comes next is winter.  I often think that Christmas should come at the end of winter instead of the beginning.  It is wonderful to anticipate and prepare for the holidays, but once they are over it seems that the winter season is like the one in C.S. Lewis's book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, "always winter and never Christmas". So why did we move to the north?  I am still wondering, though the spring, summer and falls here could not be more beautiful! Winter is pretty too, at least the first month of it, but after that I am ready for spring, months before the white season disappears!

Though I think that winter will be a great time to work on quilts, I do wish we could have the sun shine outside as well. I am in a Vitamin D-free treatment.  Yes, a person can live without vitamin D, at least for some of us that have a dis-regulation of it, though it is still nice to see sunshine outside! I feel a bit glum when the skies are gray! Although I have fond memories of ice skating, sledding, and skiing, this year quilting will be my new winter sport.

Small acorn pincushions in process.
Not only is the season changing but our household is too. As I continue to prepare for my holiday shows and will soon start sewing on some personal projects for Christmas, I am finding myself in the midst of big changes here at home. My oldest daughter that is still living with us, is quickly becoming attached to a very nice young man.  Although I have a tendency to count my chickens before they hatch, it is not hard to see that if this relationship becomes permanent, I may gain a son-in-law AND step-grandchildren for her friend is a widower with three children.  I will not rush the process but rather concentrate on the changes that this brings to our own household right now.  My daughter, spending more time with him and his family, is around less to cook dinner and this means that I need to re-cultivate my long-lost cooking skills.
Big acorn pincushions

I have just written about how difficult it was to think of preparing a meal for company, and returning to cooking every day also seems overwhelming.  I have been too happy to step out of the kitchen and into a life a sewing.  Quilting is my winter agenda, and so I am scouting on pinterest to get new ideas of making meals ahead of time and/or finding easy crock pot recipes, like I used to do when I was working full time. It has been so nice to have a daughter who loves to cook and try new recipes.  Our styles are different as I require quick and easy-to-fix meals that conserve my energies for what I enjoy most, which is NOT cooking.
Cactus pincushions, ready for market. Cheerful and bright for the winter!

We have acquired a used chest freezer in our newly cleaned garage and my daughter and I are scheming and dreaming of doing cook-a-thons to prep meals to freeze ahead so we can heat and eat them with little to distract us from our goals. Yesterday I tried a very easy casserole that was delicious. It was a buffalo chicken tater-tot casserole, not exactly health food but oh so delicious!! I do love Pinterest for all of their ideas and am building a file of quick and easy recipes--all gluten free! Some of my readers have heard of my plight and sent me some of their easy to fix recipes as well! I appreciate them all and meanwhile my husband is stocking up on Sriracha Sauce and ketchup, his favorite condiments to doctor my cooking!

(If you are interested in purchasing any of the items shown before they go to market, just contact me at and I will be happy to provide you with detailed information and prices. Do see my last blog for my show schedule and hopefully you can make it to one of these shows. There will be many great artists and craftspeople and I love to see what they have been busy creating. They are great places to purchase unique and different gifts for your holiday giving!)

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Last Leaf

A calendar holder painted with blackboard paint became a welcome sign!
I have been telling my readers about cleaning our house and garage in preparation for having company from out of town. Steve and I barely knew each other in high school. He dated a friend of mine and we double dated. Steve and I became e-mail friends only a few years ago through this same mutual high school friend.

Steve was married and his wife suffered from Chronic Fatigue/ Fibromyalgia an illness that shares many of the same symptoms of Chronic Lyme. Steve wrote to me about the story, The Spoon Theory, which is a classic must-read for anyone with an invisible illness (just google it on line if you wish to read it). Shortly after that his wife was diagnosed with Late Stage 4 Lung Cancer, though she had never been a smoker. I continued to correspond with Steve to give him support through her dying days and after.

The strength of his character came shining through as he took each step in he and his wife's challenging journey. He is truly a remarkable person and a good friend.  This year he planned a trip to the East to see our beautiful fall colors and took the time to come and and visit me and my family. His visit became the catalyst and motivation behind what I named The Steve N Garage and House Clean-up Project of 2014. Pictures of my nearly cleaned garage were featured in my last blog as were the before pictures a couple of months earlier.

His visit was really the excuse we needed to do what had become overwhelming projects put off for too long. He came Columbus Day Weekend and so the day before his visit became the deadline to complete these projects!

In Vermont, Columbus Day Weekend is typically peak leaf peeping season, though this year I worried that our fall was coming too early and I wrote to Steve about my concerns of whether or not there would still be leaves on the trees for him to see. Typical of Steve, he simply calmly wrote back insisting that I read, The Last Leaf  by O'Henry. For those who haven't read this story, it is truly a beautiful story of the power of hope and sacrificial love and all centered around a last leaf of the season. This story can be found on line too and is a lovely read!
Our maple tree in the front yard with lots of leaves left yet!

Steve's dry humor is great and he joked about deserving compensation for being the motivation behind our big clean-up project. While doing inventory of my crafts, I stumbled upon a tiny penny rug with a single fall maple leaf, surrounded by fall colored tabs, it was clear that this would be the perfect gift to commemorate his visit and what it had come to represent to us. It would also satisfied my concern that he get to see a fall leaf if none were left on the trees for his visit.
As it turned out, the fall colors were glorious for the weekend!

I attached a note to his gift, thanking him for the hope that he gave us all. Like the artist in the story, I didn't think this little penny rug was my masterpiece in terms of my artwork, but I did want to thank him for his friendship and encouragement, as well as him taking time to visit me in the middle of his touring New England. His friendship and visit are truly special gifts deserving of my token gift in return!! How appropriate that the last leaf in the story represented hope as his visit came to represent hope to me and my family to put our lives back together after a rough couple of years that taxed us greatly!

My husband's hope is that our difficult stretch of time is over and that this clean-up project will end with our cars tucked safely in the garage for winter. My oldest daughter's hope came to be represented in finally getting her belongings that were rescued almost three years ago from sheds that had collapsed under the weight of a severe snow storm, properly re-stored in plastic containers and returned to the sheds that had been made winter-ready again. And my hope was for a solid beginning of a “make-over” of myself, though my goal changed when I couldn’t yet physically tolerate swimming. I instead I cleaned some windows and curtains and added some decorations to my house, as it represents an extension of myself and my hope of what is yet to come regarding the return of my health after a very long treatment process!!
Some additional humorous deco signs added to our family picture wall!

Lisa Zador's animal portraits extended our family pics and made me laugh!

More deco signs remind me.that I love to sew and God sees my stitches!!

Oh dear!! If I am not positive, punishment  will follow!!

A deco ironing board cover made to match my room!!

An old sampler gets a $2 frame and hung up! (Not perfect, I know, but done!)

My penny rug framed was a fitting compensation for Steve for I came to see it as the very symbol of the tangible hope represented in The Last Leaf.  There was a reason that this one had not sold for it was meant for Steve! His friendship and encouragement has indeed been a remarkable gift!

My Last Leaf Penny Rug

Steve's recommendation of many terrific books have encouraged me in my journey through difficult days with a chronic illness! Should we all have such a friend during such times!  I am glad to report that Steve has continued on with his own life journey following his wife's untimely death.  He brought his girlfriend, Anne with him when he came to visit me. They share the bond of having both lost their spouses to cancer. Their courage and strength is an inspiration and hope that keeps on giving and reminds me that we all need to be a source of hope and encouragement to others!  Thanks Steve!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Catch- Up News and Little House's Upcoming Show Schedule

I have been hard at work with the Steve N. Garage Clean-up Project, as well as doing some serious house-cleaning, reorganizing and preparing for our upcoming craft shows and sales.  Take a peak and see our progress!
Car, warmly tucked in garage for the winter!! Goal #1 done!

Bug covered door clean after 14 years!!
Now a nice warm curtain to decorate the garage!! Really?? Goal #2 done!
Stuff hung on the walls and easily accessible! Goal #3 done!

Shelf hooked to wall to catch what doesn't need to come inside! Goal #4 done!
OK, so we have a few more things to clear out from in front of the shelves!
.....and a few more things to clean up!!
A new-to-us freezer added; cords and tools to the walls, with a bit more to go.
...and a few more things to give or haul away!
I will post my craft show schedule below and between my sales my creations can seen and purchased in my Etsy shop.  If you see anything that you would like that isn't listed in my Etsy Shop, please don't hesitate to leave me a note and I will be happy to get back to you. The holidays are coming soon and I would be glad to take special orders as I have time, and or sell you any available items. Please note that many of my posted creations will be at sales.  We will attempt to eliminate any sold items from my Etsy shop immediately, but if there should be any delay in removing sold items, I will contact you. To date, there hasn't been a problem with the same item selling twice.
New cacti pincushions for this winter's shows! Acorn pincushion bodies too.

Still more fleece socks as my women's size 8-9 already sold out!

Taking inventory to be sure there is enough for the sales ahead!

Bins of fruit and flower and pennyrug pincushions!

Two-toned, biscornu, and designer pincushions ready to go!
There has been great purpose to my recent cleaning frenzy. Not only am I eagerly looking forward to seeing friends that are coming to visit us during Vermont's famous Leaf Peeping Season, but I am preparing to do some serious sewing this winter on the several quilts that I are cut and ready to be stitched. When fall comes to Vermont we know that winter will soon follow. It is a perfect time to work on warm quilts! This year even my car will be warmly tucked in my garage, free from ice and snow!!

Little House Home Arts 2014 Holiday Show Schedule

November 1st         Lake' Region Farmer's Pre Holiday Showcase
                                Holiday Inn, Route 7 South
                                Rutland, Vermont
                                9 A.M. - 4 P.M.
Novermber 15th      The Vermont Farmer's Market Fall Holiday Fair
                                Holiday Inn, Route 7 South
                                Rutland, Vermont
                                9 A.M. - 4 P.M.
November 28-29th  Lakes Region Farmer's Market Christmas Fair
                                Poultney High School Gym
                                Poultney High School, Poultney, Vermont
                               10 A.M. - 4 P.M.
December 6th         Lakes Region Farmers Market Holiday Finale
                                Holiday Inn, Route 7 South
                                Rutland, Vermont
                                9 A.M. - 4 P.M.
December 13th       The Vermont Farmer's Market 
                                Christmas Holiday Fair
                                Holiday Inn, Route 7 South
                                Rutland, Vermont
                                9 A.M. - 4 P.M.
Even the garden and patio got cleaned up!

The Front side porch is clean too!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sign Up for Our Common Thread Give-Away Drawing This Week!

Rachel Barlow is our Common Thread Give-Away Artist for this month.  Rachel, not only tells her amusing stories of raising her two boys, but also illustrates her stories and will be giving away 5 x 7 inch sketch, suitable for framing.  This is a piece that she has entitled "Hibernate". To win all you need to do is go to her website at Picking My Battles, and leave a comment for her anytime Monday through Wednesday and she will announce the lucky winner Thursday or Friday.  Good luck to all who enter!

Our Common Thread Artist Group includes Jon Katz, Maria Wulf, Kim Gifford, Rachel Barlow and myself, of course. For your convenience I have listed their websites on the right hand side of my site. All of us have blogs that feature our work as well as bits of our lives that we share with our readers. We all welcome your feedback when you visit our sites!

We will be adding other artists to our group, as permanent members as well as featured guest artists. It is our way to support each other as well as artists that we think you might be interested in getting to know.  We want our readers to continue to visit us frequently and our way of saying "thank you" is to feature an artist each month that will give away a free sample of their work to one of our lucky readers!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New Glutton and Guilt-Free Diet!

As I prepare for company, I am thinking about possible menu options.  Mind you, my company will only be visiting me for a few hours, and so likely I will get but one chance to wow them with my cooking.  I am smiling as I write this, as I gave up all culinary arts this last year, so preparing anything will be done with great trepidation. I will try to solicit my daughter to do food preparation for the one meal that they will be with me. It will be easier that way. Her culinary skills far surpass my own, though I once considered myself a good cook but not now!  What happened to dissolve my skills and confidence, I wondered?

I think it  began a very long time ago...Having a tendency to put on weight from the time I was very young, my mother worked hard to keep me on a balanced diet. She used to tell the story of taking me when I was just a little girl, to Downtown Omaha to go shopping at Macy's Department Store, which always included eating lunch out and she learned to order nothing but mashed potatoes and gravy for me! What is balanced about that you ask?... Likely her checkbook! She was not a stupid woman and when that is all I would eat off my plate, why pay for more? You can laugh now...but this is how one thing led to another until I gave up cooking!

When not eating out, my mom tried to raise me to eat well balanced meals that would include a serving of meat, vegetables and potato/rice or noodles, and a small portion of pudding or canned fruit, that came only if I ate what was on my plate. This even included liver, albeit with ketchup in my case. Often our meals were casseroles that contained some sort of protein mixed with pasta or rice, in which case we would each get a serving along with a salad. My dad insisted that we eat well to avoid having high costly doctor bills. We also exercised well, as we walked back and forth to school everyday and almost everywhere else for that matter!

My mother learned to watch her own weight issues, though in growing up, she was the "string bean" of the family and she loved to tell us about how she was built like a stick and couldn't gain weight if she tried! She managed her weight well, and she taught me to do the same, or so I thought...

She kept apples or plums on hand for our snacks and if we complained about being hungry, peanut butter and crackers was typically our option.  We always had carrots or celery on hand as well, and the usual candy in the house was horehound or anise hard candies. If you have ever had horehound or anise candy, you will know that pigging out on it isn't a temptation and frequently a taste would be more than sufficient to make me run for the trash can, though I did eventually develop a acquired taste for anise!

I am certain that my cousin Susan will be aghast at reading this blog, for when she and her sisters along with my uncle and aunt, who was my mother's sister, came to visit, she will remember our freezer being filled with frozen candy bars, popsicles, ice cream bars, and cakes...all generously served. Nothing was too good for company and we ourselves would love it when they finally arrived and we could feast with them!

My dear mother, God rest her soul was no miser when it came to sweets and what she had, she shared. I remember Mrs. See's chocolates being sent to us every Christmas by my aunt and my mother treasured it as much as we did. In fact she made up rules about not wasting the more unusual and unpopular fruit-filled sorts of pieces. If we bit into a piece and didn't like it, we were to put the other half back in the box and they became "bonus" pieces and could be taken as a second piece.

I also have fond memories of her buying bags of corn candy, and generously dividing the whole bag between us kids and herself, and then she pretended to be a chicken and would peck her corn candy. Her chicken act was so amusing that we would feed her part of our piles of candy corn as well. She was a smart mom to be sure!

She taught me that sugar equaled love, and so special cakes to celebrate birthdays or holidays always had plenty of frosting, too much for those with delicate taste. Any food treats in the house would soon be gone. I soon learned to cook and loved to bake!

So what caused my culinary interests to dwindle down to nothing? Gaining weight and trying to lose it, was, I think, the initial reason for my cooking decline, though later it became my illness that necessitated special elimination diets. I was likely one of the first to discover the harmful effects of being a yo-yo dieter.  I wanted a nice figure and I tried all the fad diets of my day to keep it: low calorie diets; quick weight-loss diets of hamburgers/ green beans and boiled eggs; Shacklee protein soup and diet drinks substituted for meals; Nutrasystem; Weight Watchers, new and old programs and eventually even Over-eaters Anonymous.

It seems I have tried them all and have successfully lost hundreds of pounds in my life time, and though I knew all the secrets of keeping weight off and read every diet book, used every imaginable "counter" and even had a little plastic pig that oinked when my refrigerator door was opened, it was all to no avail. I gained my weight back and more with every diet!  Sound familiar? Now, of course there is evidence that yo-yo dieting damages the weight set points in your body and is definitely NOT the way to maintain a healthy weight!

Everyone knows that exercise and life style changes in eating habits are needed to keep weight off which is easier said than done, especially when my life filled up with family responsibilities, work and chronic illness. Not being well made it very hard, if not impossible to exercise and brought with it special elimination diets,including: fat-free, gluten-free, milk-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free, alcohol and fermented foods-free, and am now on a vitamin D- free/ anti-anti-inflammatory foods-free diet, with still more specific restrictions!

I learned to cook using substitutions for every ingredient, until I could boast that I was able to cook without oil, sugar, eggs, milk, and wheat. I have a whole shelf unit in the kitchen with both regular and special cookbooks alike, though such cooking involves conversions and translating every recipe into another to accommodate what my doctors thought best. Though most tasted good enough, it always involved special ingredients and a ton of work, when my illness made me too tired just thinking about cooking!  

I learned how to figure out how many calories were needed to lose my weight in a healthy fashion and how to count carbs, and "rate my plate".   I even trained to become a diabetic nurse educator while at one of my jobs and knew how to subtract fiber counts from the total carb count, and how to factor in sugar substitutes as well, though I had long since eliminated them due to their toxicity in my system. I believed that teachers teach best if they live what they teach and so I followed a diabetic diet myself, with some eliminations as well and worked to keep my exercise regular each week. Since my balance and ankle stability weren't good enough to make walking safe, I took up lap swimming and loved it, though now, I am sadly not tolerating exercise during this phase of my treatment.

Come to find out, our immunity starts in our digestive systems. and so treatment for any chronic illness begins with a nutritious diet, but after I eliminated sugar, wheat, milk and caffeine, along with Vitamin D, I still showed food sensitivities.  That is when, in frustration, I threw in the towel and decided to join the rest of the world and rejected ultra strict and unsustainable diets unless I know for sure that I really can't tolerate something.  I call this guilt-free eating.

By staying out of the kitchen and keeping meals and snacks simple, quick and easy and sticking to "real food" versus "artificial" (except for fudgesicles), drinking lots of water and focusing on sewing and not eating, I seem to do better. I am still gluten-free, Vitamin D- free (mostly), alcohol and soda-free and I keep a daily journal of what I eat, the times that I take my medicine along with any symptoms I experience so I can see what does and doesn't work for me.This is challenge enough without beating myself up about being too scrupulous.

Portion control is the basis of every diet and I have every tool of knowledge imaginable as to how to measure out correct portions, but it was our grocery cashier asking my daughter how she liked the "glutton-free" mixes my daughter was buying, that triggered the other part of my present diet.  She had misread "gluten" as "glutton"!  After a good laugh, we decided that we will try to live glutton-free!

So what to feed my guests when they eat with me? You know what they say about "When in Rome...". My guests will likely get a taste of our new Glutton and Guilt-Free diet, and the menu will likely include my everyday restrictions and I will provide enough that they can take it or leave it, according to their preferences!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Pause to Refect and be Thankful

This week I wrote to one of my long distance craft friends, only to find out that she died a month ago. She had been fighting Leukemia but only a week or so before she died, I had gotten a progress report from her that she seemed, once again, to be ahead of it and beating it back, or so she thought. She was a positive person and I never thought for a minute that she wouldn't beat the odds. It hit me hard that none of us are guaranteed another year, month, week or even day! I had already been sensing my own impermanence and this brought me to an abrupt stop as I sat down to write my condolences to her husband.

I had been in the middle of cleaning out my 3 x 5 note card files that I had kept before I became computer literate. They were my earlier way of storing bits of treasured knowledge, that I then filed by categories. It was one of the ways I used to keep myself organized and keep my multi-tasked brain going in all directions and not lose any important thought that out of sight, might be out of mind forever. It was more fluid, it seemed, than my old zipped day-books, that I had used to take notes in before...that literally, if lost, meant a wild search to find, for it was like losing one's mind.  I am so grateful now that computers can hold what my brain cannot, though I must confess that, being a person who kept a journal all of my life, I still like paper and pen and am still dependent on an old fashioned do-list to keep me focused and on task each day, for I can easily "get lost" simply moving from room to room.

I can see now the relationship between my anxiety about my immortality and my need to clean and organize. I feel more "in control" of my life, when "my affairs are in order" and I had to laugh at the thought that while feeling a sense of accomplishment over all that I clean or sew, this focus is so superficial and downright folly when seen in this perspective.

Indeed sitting before me on little 3 x 5 cards was documentation of a life deliberately thought out and micro-managed. It proved what I have always felt: life is challenging in the extreme. Stretcher meals and budgets, temporary jobs to fit the day and needs of our ever changing family with flexible schedules and demands--each day a contest.  Fortunately my 3 x 5 cards were not just things to do, but thoughts and goals of all kinds, from spiritual to mere dates and deadlines, and then I remembered, almost as clear as if it were yesterday, sitting in a physiology class in college and raising my hand to ask a question of my professor.  This was not unusual. In fact he could almost count on me asking a question at every lecture. Knowing me too well,  as he called on me, he said, "Miss Campen.....but before you ask your question, I would just like to say that I hope your whole education doesn't all fit in a nutshell!"... He was spot on, as my question always had to do with taking an horrendously complex subject and trying to have him summarize it and fit it into "a nutshell" to help my brain make sense of it.

Perhaps I am still working at trying to simplify a life that is too big for my head to wrap itself around and wanting it to be put into "a nutshell" or a 3 x 5 index card, where it can be easily digested, acted upon and made to fit into my comfortable little world, where I am safe and secure, and there is no death, and no problems that are unmanageable or too hard to figure out without  help. I miss my mom and dad, for they were right up there next to God Himself when it came to answers...Mmm...and how appropriate it is that I am living at a place that I now refer to as "Little House".

I hear political pundits discuss opinions regarding how this administration is or isn't dealing with the world's reality, and am comforted to know that perhaps I am not alone in having certain preconceived ideas of how the world should be as I contain my thinking to fit within walls that I have carefully constructed!...My Little House is indeed a very little house, within a very big world, that I can't fathom, much less control.

I wish my friend God's speed in moving to her next dwelling place in heaven...and love the scripture verse that has to do with God preparing a place for us in heaven, where there are many mansions and a room for each of us.

I rationalize about the smallness of my thinking after all there is nothing wrong with "doing small things with great love", as Mother Teresa said so well. We indeed occupy a tiny space in this world, but have an important part to play in the lives of those around us. I will miss my friend and the ways that her life touched me, and I will work hard to not over-think and ponder upon the great mystery of life and death.  I will accept what is and move on and simply take joy in doing what I can do today, never mind that I have too many quilts and pincushions planned and even cut out!

I may or may not get as many days as Grandma Moses to get them all done, and no matter if the directions I leave with each pre-cut quilt will be sewed by another per my directions. I can only concern myself with today and try to live it as best as I can!

I am grateful for the life that I have had, and will continue living in faith that there will be many more days to come, lest I go into overdrive to try to take even more control over what isn't mine to control. Life isn't a race, but a marathon, no matter how short or long the distance. However many days I have, I will treasure each of them, One only has to watch Teresa Caputo on Long Island Medium to know that this life is not the only one we shall have!

I am taking it on faith and promise that there is another life to come, though I will very much miss my Little House with my little studio with my carefully stored stash of materials yet to be sewed. As my dad was dying, he and my mom would joke about her writing him a check so he could take all that he had earned with him. I shall need a large van when I move to heaven and I can hear myself arguing with St. Peter about my stash needing to come with me! I have indeed been very blessed, though more by special people, like my friend that have loved and put up with me, despite my baggage! I treasure all those that have enriched my life, and are now gone from my sight, making me realize that it won't be long before I join them! Life is good, no matter its impermanence!

(This blog is dedicated to my dear friend, Marti.  You will be greatly missed!)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Progress Continues...Junk or Priceless Treasures?

Bits of space and floor are now showing!
Progress continues on the Steve N. Garage and Kitchen Drapery Project, though I have added still more windows and curtains to be washed and pressed before his visit on October 11th. I have a strong aversion to cleaning and so I am not going to waste a visit from a friend to become a big incentive to do what I otherwise procrastinate doing.
Organizing and sorting has been no small job!

Soon, more pegboard up and equipment hung on walls!

Today I was to sort through boxes of my stored "junk" that made it to the garage when our storage sheds collapsed a few years ago under the weight of too much snow, and ran across The Scarecrow Doll from the Wizard of Oz.  In one of my last office nursing jobs, I was teased about being scatter-brained and forgetful.  This is not a good trait for a nurse to have, but per my style,  I learned in my family of origin, if I am to be ridiculed about anything, I will "make fun of myself and run with it". It is a defense mechanism I perfected when I was young.  It hurts less to be in control and beat others to the punch line, or so I used to think.

Gifts given to me, The Scarecrow of Little Brain, but getting wiser all the time!
Being less than clear-brained and seeing others noticing what couldn't be hidden, I took to singing the song, If I Only had a Brain. Taking on the persona of The Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, I made fun of myself.

Its effect soon rippled through this private doctor's office.  Our aide, in search of a home became our Dorothy, needing to wear and click her red shoes together to find her a new home.  Our secretary in the office was the person that had to "get hard to collect on past due payments".  She became our Tin Man in need of a heart while doing her job as many saw her as quite heartless. Then there was our nurse leader who trembled at the thought of taking difficult messages between patients and doctors.  She needed all the courage she could muster, like the famous Scared-y-Cat Lion. We all had our weaknesses, and soon we were given gifts collectively by the other staff that represented our individual issues. Mine were as shown above, the doll and the plaque that read, Wisdom.

I didn't come to know until later how spot on I was that I needed clearness of thought, for I had much "brain fog" caused by Chronic Lyme Disease, and only three years ago suffered a stroke and at the time brain scans noted several brain lesions caused by my what was later diagnosed as Chronic Lyme Disease. These tests documented  what had been issues for me that were beyond my control in the years previous.. Fortunately my stroke's damage was only temporary, except to my psyche that now lives in fear of having a more serious one.

Finding my Scarecrow Doll, given to me by this office staff, served as a bittersweet reminder of the issues that I have had to deal with both physically and mentally, no matter how ineffective I might have done so.. I have suffered from a chronic infection that affects my brain. We all have issues that we have to deal with and though ridicule is not good, humor helps. The late Joan Rivers reminded us all that "anything we can joke about, we can deal with", and her life was proof of that! Should we all realize that our individual differences are likely there for a reason and whether we understand them or not, we have to deal with who and what we are.

The rest of this story still pains me....I went on to be fired from this job.  The backbiting that ensued in this office took its effect on us all. I was accused of being lazy.  A new schedule had meant not being at my desk and so my desk didn't just appear to be unoccupied-- it had been for days, though by a design that wasn't mine, and my naps in an exam room during my unpaid lunch hour were desperately needed to do the extra long ten to twelve hour work days that my body didn't tolerate. My at-home time in those days included caring for my declining mother as well as my family.  I was anything but lazy and I let my doctor bosses know it in no uncertain terms!

I had never been one to "talk back" and I regretted this "loss of control of my tongue". I have since realized that my final words were "straight and honest".  I was NOT lazy, but VERY hardworking and the work days were not just too hard for me, they were illegally too long for the staff but not the doctors and being misjudged, and treated with prejudice that stemmed from "talk behind my back", it was truly time for me to move on. I still would like to think that my loss was less than their's, though the betrayal of what I thought were good friends was most painful and truly the job market seemed to go from the frying pan into the fire for me.

The life lessons I learned from this were good, however, and remain with me always: judging others needs to be done with careful consideration of all the facts, not rumors; backbiting is never OK and neither is abuse from those in authority. Respect for oneself is critical and there was wisdom in my spontaneous defense, though I didn't think so at the time as it was less than eloquent and clear. Unfairness is hurtful and damaging, and it was truly time to leave, no matter the inconvenience to me.  Kindness is always appropriate in dealing with others, as we don't know their serious underlying issues. Giving more thought before I speak, no-matter-what-the-circumstances continues to be a lesson I need to work on. I of course I am not perfect, and my memory continues to be weak and so my Scarecrow Wizard of Oz Doll along with my Wizard of Oz Wisdom sign will now be prominently displayed to remind me that some experiences and lessons are just too valuable to be thrown away!