Friday, February 3, 2017

About Chronic Lyme Disease...I think I will think again...

It is a fresh new day today following what has added up to be decades of Chronic Lyme treatment. I just completed my "doctor runs", having met with a Naturopathic Lyme doctor.  I had spent more than a week preparing what records I have and paper-clipping together notes and lab work from various doctors starting with the most recent and going backwards.

You know you're old when you have fifty years of significant medical history, numbers and bizarre diagnoses! If it wasn't my "reality", I might have hit a record for being one of the best hypochondriacs ever, and I am still wondering if I am not just one of those sort of strange psycho-sorts of people? I was so nerved up about this appointment, that I was able to orally give her my history in about an hour and a half, NOT looking at any notes. I believe it was my life's soliloquy...like a one man play, complete with a reliving of all the drama that went with it, no doubt a sleeper for most...but rather anguishing for me and it filled almost the entire appointment. What blew me away was that instead of cutting me off, my new Chronic Lyme provider questioned me further and was busy pulling out data from my paper piles to document that it was all true! I was completely "rung out" from the experience, but must say that it was an entirely spontaneous and unrehearsed performance! I thought I had memory issues but amazed even myself!

Her ears had to be hurting and I realized in reading some of my own doctor records that I am not viewed as the brave woman I consider myself to be!  I think I expected a Golden Globe award at the end and proudly congratulated myself for my display of medical detail and memory.

My story even had twists of humor, mostly about being upset about not having pajama day holidays anymore, and getting gift cards for Christmas that I spent on what I most treasure in my life: books of all sorts, more patterns and materials and a new wardrobe of fun pajamas? I am sure that she wrote down that I have a clear investment in being ill?! I then found myself literally hobbling out totally spent and unable to process what had just happened. Had I just signed up for writing another chapter in my medical drama? I now have an appointment to meet with the nutritionist at their clinic, along with the previously scheduled PT appointment at our local hospital to work on yet another non-functioning joint...but think I will reconsider the rest.

Suddenly, how futile all lyme treatment seems to be? "A Lyme-literate provider" stands before me and instead of being impressed, my husband and I had to stop and ask ourselves whether or not I really wanted to sign up for another "snake oil"-sort-of-protocol and to what end? We know for certain that I have an inflammatory illness such that it continues to over-react in ways that continue to amaze doctors, but it seems that there is little to offer me that is any different than what I have been through before?

It didn't seem like my detailed spiel changed anything in my provider's mind. I might have taken five minutes instead and likely I would be prescribed the same course of treatment, and while their herbal preparations might be of some help, I was questioning as never before as to whether their real design is simply to help us rid ourselves of our retirement investments, so pricey all their little bottles of various potions that will need to be taken, several at a time, day after day, month after month and year after year, with no end in sight! I suddenly pictured them all being home brewed in someone's soup pots? I think my "Lyme cure seeking" is at an end?  

I remember my friend congratulating me on getting back to "mainstream medicine" and I had to scratch my head as to what I was doing in an alternative care provider's office and then had to remind myself that this is the only sort of place that now treats "chronic Lyme Disease". I didn't even get a legitimate blood pressure taken on my arm, but rather a little wrist band, and it was off the charts. My husband later reported that his eye specialist had used a similar device on him and his BP of 54/32 assured me that my BP of 177/100 was likely equally as unreliable, though I admitted to feeling like I was going to have yet another stroke!? I am always annoyed when nurses don't know that different sized arms get different sized cuffs or bands to take an accurate reading...so using the same cuff on everyone's wrist is likely bogus as well, though admittedly my wrist is less fat than the rest of my arm!!

I wondered where all this cynicism comes from? I think it started a few months ago, when I managed to raise my Vitamin D and then lost all my gains when my stored iron level needed to be corrected by "a blood donation", though no one wants my blood with too much iron! I suddenly found myself depressed. Lack of Vitamin D does that! I can hardly stand myself and pity my my poor husband having to live with my funk! Clearly I am not getting enough quilting therapy!? or sunshine?

I am questioning the seven year alternative therapy that I am still recovering from and now there is talk of more treatment to come? The only test for chronic lyme after initial testing is done, runs $750 and I take it that it isn't even that reliable? An offer of a new course of treatment is the easiest test and if you "herx", you still have lyme?

I had just inquired about whether or not a "herxheimer"/ "herx" reaction is just a fancy word for "experiencing a chemical sensitivity/ allergy/ or side effect"? My provider shook her head as when it comes to my last treatment protocol that might well have been the case?  But no matter as there is another protocol all ready to take its place, with still more possible herxing, as when treatment kills off lyme bacteria, it supposedly creates a toxic response. It is subjective at best, and I want real science now, and not be a guinea pig any longer!

I felt like I improved dramatically with the last protocol, but have spent years of my life being sick from such treatments?  My mind was spinning trying to understand all that was happening. Thousands of dollars are spent by people like me that want to feel better and I couldn't help but question as to when "living and dying" are to be the natural course of events? I have been so busy trying to survive that questions pertaining to "quality of life" aren't discussed. Perhaps it was time to just "move on"?

No, I am not slitting my wrists...just starting over, or should I say continuing on being "my own doctor" and will pick out of everything that has been recommended, what might make me healthier and leave the rest behind! To assume I am ill without really any measure of wellness or sickness but only my presence there and willingness to pay out my husband's life savings and send him back to the grind-stone for his retirement years must mean that I want an expensive treatment for an illness for which there is no cure? Being my own doctor, nurse and advocate, I have now just reached my own diagnosis...I AM CRAZY for sure!!

One of the best and most comforting of doctors is my hematologist/cancer doctor who sends me into the world to eat and enjoy life and he will then take the excessive stored-up iron out of my blood, by simply removing some of it. He tells me that within a couple of days, my bones will recreate my blood minus the extra iron.  It is treatment, but not a cure for storing too much iron, and he smiles and tells me, "My condition is easy to fix!" I don't even have to see him, just drop by the lab to have my blood checked as he orders. He will call me back if I need to come in, have a bag drawn to throw away and there is NO Herxing! I actually feel better! Who wouldn't feel better with a little less iron bogging them down?!

I do tease him that he isn't just taking the bad stuff but also the good as well, as my Vitamin D disappears. "Take Vitamin D supplements!" he says. "It is another easy fix!" He believes in making people feel good, unlike lyme doctors whose treatment makes you feel sick...and to think I went through twelve years of it, to only sign up for more?? "Think again!" will be my response...

I think it is time to sign up for a ballet class, and instead of waltzing through life like one of my friends, I think I will hang onto the bar as I do some glissades and end with an eleve and grande jete! I will of course put on my toe shoes to do this along with my ankle splints first!

Now back to bed for a while to continue recovering from all these big revelations. I called a friend of mine who has particularly strong faith and told her that I was following her example of believing that God answers all prayers...and it is time to believe that they have been answered and simply claim them!...Why not proceed with my life with this positive attitude?

When doctors dismiss the benefits of a previous treatment, but then again, here I am visiting her, perhaps expecting a special potion or several? Treating what seems to be a non-curable illness doesn't make sense to me unless I have discomfort that I can't tolerate, in which case I will seek palliative care.  I will seek such a specialist only to see if they have found a way to test for what ails me and meanwhile wait for research to confirm that something works on the bugs that reside in me, while I live out the rest of my days to the fullest!....

This is indeed a full 360 degree turn around to my way of thinking re chronic lyme disease. Supposedly if you manifest symptoms you have an active infection that needs treatment and yet there is no respect for what treatment has already been done. With no test or proof, they are convinced that I have more lyme bugs to be killed. Did I really receive years of treatment only for the purpose of recycling such treatments that bring me down and make me feel sicker? I see now that believing in Lyme-literate doctors is simply a way of making a big financial investment in the hope in this treatment or another, but when they are quick to tell me that there is always more to treat, especially at big bucks, I do have to wonder about their "gig".

There is a sucker around every corner perhaps, but I have been there and done that, and now I am with the CDC...Are Lyme-literate doctors there to simply take my money and give me potions to treat what is not treatable? I think my investments in quilting materials might be equally as healing if not more so, and in the end I will have something to show for it?

I am doing well-enough. I can quilt and while I would like to swim and do more physically, perhaps I will content myself with what I can still do and stretch to do more as I can. I have hope, hope in God and the strength he has given me to cope with such an illness. Living as happily as I can and counting myself lucky to have the time that I have had. Indeed, some aren't so lucky!!

I do pray that someday there will be research into this baffling illness. Why does the medical community give up without trying? They don't do that for cancer patients,  but honest feedback is what I now want...Don't give me false hope and make my family suffer more by spending their life savings and energy. I won't give up, but beyond good nutrition and exercise as my body permits and taking as good of  care of myself as I can,  I think it is time to accept what does and doesn't exist within the realm of medical care and live out my days!

I remain grateful to my family for their on-going support.  I will continue purchasing the latest books on chronic lyme treatment and remain open to medical advancements in the future, but for now paying out of pocket exorbitant prices for  potions that to date have little potential for cure seems at best a waste.

I have two children with  congenital chronic lyme and this means that I will never give up hoping and praying for research and a cure for this illness. I also know that it is at epidemic proportions in our society. I am convinced by some of my readings that it has likely become some sort of "retrovirus" that has been allowed to mutate within the research labs of our great medical system and only hope that one day, they will choose to be critical of their research, correct their mistakes and instead of sweeping them under the rug and ignoring the damage, they will indeed get serious about treating this deadly illness. None of us should have to live out such an illness without at least palliative care and medical insurance to support it.

Perhaps I will alter my decision some day to try yet another treatment for chronic lyme, though for now, I think I will at least give my Vitamin D level time to recover first and then go from there. Years ago my doctor spoke at a Lyme conference and stated that sometimes it is best to actively treat and other times, it is time to pause and build your body up? I think it is my time to take a break and see how I do.  I can always choose to gather bottles of expensive potions and become a real hypochondriac later, but hope to live a little first!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Celebrating Freedom

Removing a small room between the living room and dining room.
This week has been an exciting week.  My thirty-four year old daughter purchased her  first home. She will soon come out of storage after fourteen years! Ever since she outgrew her bedroom and started dispersing what she owned all over our house, she has filled up shelves in our garage, then part of a garage attic and then spilled into our shed, which is now a new and bigger one and then into a rented storage space as well.She is a collector like me.

Removing a stair case from the middle of the living room.
I remember well when I went into storage too in my young adult years and what a shock it was when my belongings were reunited under one roof, almost filling a house by the time this momentous occasion happened for me and my husband. It is interesting that I was about the same age when we purchased our first house.

Removing a TV bay and opening up this space.
We celebrated this special occasion by gathering for dinner at one of her and her boyfriend's favorite restaurants, Sushi Yoshi in Killington, Vermont. I wondered why we needed to drive so far to go out to dinner and it didn't take long to understand. Hibachi cooked food is to die for! We then got a tour of their "new" house before they started renovations the following day.

Removing a wall here to create a more spacious look.
Enjoying the freedom of elections.
It is no news to any of you that we also got a new president last week. I have looked forward to the country having new leadership. I thought it time to reign in spending and change the present health act to make it more affordable. I also wanted a safer USA as well, and think it is time to make our borders less porous and better screen who we let in, especially during these turbulent times when terrorism is occurring too often. I am stopping short of a political rant. Like everyone else, I have my own thoughts and opinions, and I respect that everyone else does too. I do hope that no matter which candidate you preferred, everyone will carry on to do their best to get along as I believe that we all care about our country and the freedoms we enjoy, including the freedom to elect our leaders.

There have been other happenings these last few weeks as well, not exactly what I would call so exciting, but certainly significant to me  and perhaps of interest to those that have been following my blogs regarding Living with Chronic Lyme Disease.  I may well have done a 360 degree change on the subject matter? There is enough happening that I will write a separate blog on this subject.  So stay tuned. I have also picked up where I left off and am on my way to finishing unfinished quilts and of course starting more, for that is what keeps me going
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Joining these adorable Mother Goose embroidered quilt blocks.
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Mini quilt created to be appliqued on the back of a queen-sized memory quilt.

More pictures and blogs to come! My writer's block seems to be lifting...so stay tuned!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Starting a Fresh New Year

(from my Penny Rug Sampler quilt not yet quilted.
I have been anxiously waiting to start 2017 and put last year in the past. The final four months of 2016 were too hectic and by the time the holidays hit, I was short of the energy I needed to handle all the plans we made. I finished the holiday season doing my best to embrace and celebrate as best I could. Our gatherings were successful, though perhaps next year I will lessen my expectations and make the holidays a bit simpler? If only I remember!

2016  seemed to be an intense year! The bitter debates that preceded the election as well those after seemed to put a strain on us all. My family is as un-unified politically as the nation, and I found people weren't ready to move on! Having recently read several books written about the Civil War, I couldn't help but feel that we are experiencing political polarization like our nation has not known since those days. I know that I was and still am passionate about my beliefs and respect that others were and remain so as well, but rhetoric on-line and sometimes in-person got heated enough that many were offended, me included. I realized that many Facebook postings didn't just express differences of opinion but personally attacked people for their views and it seemed that the senders felt justified in sending such posts to those that differed. One person held me personally responsible for being a clone of my candidate, no matter that I am not, nor is anyone else. Selections were made for all sorts of reasons and it wasn't unusual that our final pick was not necessarily our first choice.

Sadly I am two friends shorter by the end of this year's election. While that doesn't sound like much, each year my friend list grows shorter without intentionally eliminating anyone for reasons other than death. It was emotionally draining and being right before the holiday season, many besides me were still "on-edge and guarded" as families gathered for holiday dinners. I love the Christmas season and genuinely did not want to miss the good energy that ebbs from it, but found myself a bit short on the "Christmas spirit" and I am hearing that I wasn't the only one.

I recently forwarded on what I considered to be a festive holiday greeting to a friend and received back a request to not send such messages. I respect anyone's wish to not receive a seemingly "impersonal" greeting, but I truly thought a cheerful message was better than spreading any of the gloom I was still feeling. I was shocked at my friend's attitude toward this simple greeting but after this, I then noted another posting on Facebook requesting that anyone that demands constant internet attention, get a puppy, and couldn't help but sense that people are burnt out on having their Facebook sites flooded, even if with simple holiday wishes.

I am the first to admit that I can be guilty of spending too many hours on the internet. Not being so fond of winter, I choose to hibernate and often communicate with others via on-line in the warmth of my own home. I also keep irregular hours when days are dark. I like to send my messages at any time and those that communicate with me can do likewise. Internet communication is easy and convenient!
(from my "Comfort Her" pen and ink quilt still in process)

I did see that Pope Francis recently announced that he supports use of such electronic devices that connect people, and if I am reading him right, he is appreciating that there are positive connections being made between people that wouldn't otherwise be happening without the use of the internet. I think he understands people like myself, who value others but for one reason or another cannot make connections as well without the internet. People are still in need of connecting with others to remain"alive" and "in touch" and I am very grateful for being able to relate in this manner, but it seems that internet communication isn't always positive.

Because I have aggravated more than one person with my internet communications, I have checked out internet etiquette to be sure that I am using it appropriately, and must admit that religious and political posts remain areas that are still considered to be best avoided. Interestingly, those that request that of others are often guilty of posting very inflammatory posts regarding both subjects, so I am not alone in sending out what I perhaps shouldn't.  While that doesn't excuse my communications regarding either of these subjects, I am noting that boundaries are changing when it comes to what is shared with others. Clearly if standards change regarding such off-limit subjects, we all need to be more tolerant and respectful of others' contrary views.

I was stunned and offended with personal feedback to me by a "friend" who let me know that my posts were not "OK" as they were not truthful whereas she apparently has a lease on The Truth. I found this arrogant at best. This person even explained that mine were laced with fake facts unsubstantiated by her own news sources? Dah! My information  sources were clearly NOT the same as my friend's and that made them wrong whereas her's were correct? I AM one that takes personal conflicts to heart, and found myself initially shutting down my communication fearing that my "friend" might be right. "Put downs" are "put downs". They sting at best, and when illness already shakes self-confidence, they can indeed be very damaging!

Sadly it shook me to the core before I realized that our two party system is alive and well and many times facts are according to what is believed and not necessarily proven by a supposedly unbiased fact checker. What is true is in the eyes of the believer. "Unbiased authority" likely resides only in heaven, as such earthly unbiased experts don't exist. I came to the conclusion, right or wrong, that perhaps my "friend" and I are NOT indeed "friends" as I had assumed.

She also let me know that I was embarrassing myself, especially when her friends see my postings? My "opinions" would show only my ignorance to her friends? I don't think that I missed the point that I embarrassed her with her friends and I was instructed that fb etiquette has it that I needed to not respond to her posts, no matter how inflammatory they were to me, though she invited me to block her posts. I believe that I was essentially told to f-off? While emailed to me privately, the pain was no less than if I had been told in person "to not embarrass her by hanging around". I learned in elementary school that this in not the way a "friend" treats a "friend".

It is no secret that I lack a few brain cells due to lyme disease and stroke, but believe me, I have many that are still functioning and I processed her message well. Rudeness and arrogance and put-downs don't take a genius brain to comprehend. Her intellectual way of telling me that my views "didn't count" came across quite clearly. Biases and well-substantiated arguments exist on both sides and on all levels. This is still America however where each is entitled to their opinion, but I do have to wonder whatever happened to tolerance and respect for another's views, no matter if they differ? The fact that each of us has a vote suggests that every person is valued and counts.

I know that I literally have "thin skin" physically and emotionally. Eradicating Vitamin D for a long term treatment has indeed left me vulnerable, though I am finding that I am not the only one that apparently is emotionally "thin skinned".  I do believe that humans at large are suffering from internet insensitivity.  I am hopeful that people don't really talk to each other in the ways that they do on-line, but judging by the daily news, I am not so sure. If others have been offended, like myself, I hope they too are making New Year's resolutions to check themselves so as to be more civil, respectful and kind in their discourse with others. Much healing is needed in our country as negative words and insults precede violent behavior and aren't we all getting sick of turning on the news and finding yet another shooting or stabbing. Peace begins with each one of us and our words can wound as well.

Years ago my husband and I sought marriage counseling when some of our ways with each other hit an all-time low.  We were taking each other for granted and needed to be reminded that what concerns one, should be a matter of concern for their partner or friend as well. Not being sensitive to each other's thoughts and concerns is NOT OK. We have "friended" certain people on line and I think we all need reminders to, in fact, "treat them as friends". Human beings are behind every message that gets sent whether it be "a forward" or "hand-written e-mail" or "personal snail-mail card". We may be tired of being so blessed with too many messages sent to us, but then "being kind" is always the appropriate response, IF we truly care about others "as friends".

If insensitivity has crept into our communications in any form, it is then time to step back and appreciate our "overload" and deal with it within our self, rather than be unkind in any way. It is too easy to "let loose" and be "sharp-tongued" and it is no less abusive regardless if it is on-line.

That is my rant for today and for the new year ahead. I had to get in touch with my own use of the internet and political posts, and quit re-posting any that would in anyway diminish another for their political views, and I hope others will do the same. We are fortunate to have freedom of speech, but l believe it is a privilege not a license, and judgement needs to precede our words. I am actively closing down posts that express intolerance. Differing views are always welcome as long as they are expressed respectfully. Putting others down for their views IS offensive. Sadly some are not open to honest, thoughtful and respectful debate and discourse without fighting "below the belt". Name calling, insults and ridicule are abusive and don't challenge thinking or make for change, but just cause others to dig their "trenches" deeper.

To not use the internet to communicate would simply close my mind and heart to issues and people that continue to fill my life with meaning and purpose. I have many new internet friends that expand my thinking and are truly invaluable supports to me and me to them. I will continue to use the internet in a way that I can keep on giving to others and send messages of appreciation to the many friends that support me. I am blessed to live during the internet age, and appreciate how much bigger my world is on its account.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year filled with meaningful communications between you, your family, neighbors and friends. Thank you all for your friendship and thoughts. I am indeed richly blessed with dear and loving friends and family and I hope and pray that each of us makes this world a safer and kinder world! I think that no one should need to buy a puppy to find a warm heart and get attention, though to be sure puppies need warm hearts and homes, families and kindness surrounding them too!  Happy 2017 everyone!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

CelebratingThe Season of Advent

Our Advent Calendar, without messages to our children from the Advent Elf.

I started to write a blog a couple of weeks ago about the arrival of the Advent Season but as I later proofed it, I realized that this year Advent is seeming more like the season of Lent instead. I have found us besieged with many tests and trials distracting me from the peace and joy of this season.

We are all experiencing that our contentious election is not over but has continued. War in Syria only got worse in Aleppo and has been brought to us live on our TV screens, despite the fact that war is truly not a spectator sport. Strong differences of opinions are rampant and agitating us all on the internet and facebook and threats by our president to retaliate against the Russians for their alleged internet hacks have had a most unsettling effect on many of us. Today was "the icing on the cake" when I received what I thought was another "free sample" of cosmetic cream, that wasn't  free at all but rather a scam where I was being charged $95 a bottle, not once, but twice! I yelled and screamed that I would contact my lawyer and call my credit card to cancel payment as their service representative challenged me regarding signing myself up for "such a deal" and refusing to allow me to send it back for a full refund! I won in the end, but this isn't preparation for the peace and love of Christmas, but rather a season of political and world unrest, where scams, nastiness and contempt abound!
My special stitched pillow reminding us of the Holly Days of Advent.

God doesn't give up, however, and neither do I! Christmas is right around the corner and it will be here, whether our hearts are prepared or not. At my age I no longer welcome the cold of winter, but will be delighted to have Christmas to warm my heart and hopefully everyone will put down their political differences to celebrate whatever traditions you ascribe to. It seems that the holiday season has a special day for people of all faiths.

I, for one, am NOT going to miss the traditional celebration that ties and unites our family together, and will take comfort in the message of peace and love! Our family has taken much care and time to establish our traditions that we hold to every year. We have intentionally taken time away from the concerns of the world to celebrate our religious traditions and I am so glad now that we still come together to celebrate, no matter the circumstances that surround us!
This pillow was made a long time ago, when I had much time for each stitch!

It is done with in cross stitch, straight stitch and a special wrapped stitch.


Our traditions beckon us to return to what gives meaning to our lives and helps us focus on what is most important, the love of family and friends!  Our celebration focuses on the birth of the Christ Child and Christmas Eve Mass will be its highlight. We start with the singing of Christmas carols and then a candle-lit procession in our beautifully decorated church, complete with a large creche and Christmas greenery. Christmas Day will follow with an exchange of gifts that represent Christ's gift of love for us and for each other and then onto a big Christmas dinner with all of us gathered.

No matter the disturbance of this year's continued political fighting, the lack of acceptance of the new administration, warring around the world, and evil tricks by those trying to take advantage, I will have my heart and spirit warmed by Christ's love and the love of my family as well, all much needed to face the months ahead in our cold and snowy Vermont weather! We will pray for our world and its unrest, and hibernate to keep warm. For me it will bring stitching on unfinished quilts each day. So here we come 2017! At Little House, we will not live in fear but rather in renewed hope and a willingness to face new challenges!

I am praying that all Americans will renew their faith during this holiday season and be more ready to courageously embrace whatever changes this next year brings. I will re-dedicate myself to pray for new visions as to what I can do each day to make the world around me better. I may do only small things but doing them with great love was the goal of Mother Teresa and has become my mission as well.

A heart is stitched on each day's pocket to remind us to take time for love.

I wish all my readers a beautiful Holly Season, and a New Year filled with God's blessings.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Winner of the Chicken Little Drawing is...

The winner of the Chicken Little Pincushion Drawing is Judith Forbes. Judith please be in touch with me to select your free Chicken Little!  Thank you all for entering and if you would like a Chicken Little Pincushion, almost all are now listed in my Etsy shop (just double click on Little House Home Arts under Etsy to the right of this blog and you will be taken directly to my Etsy shop. If you prefer another as seen in my blog, you may leave me a note requesting which one you prefer and if it is available, I would be happy to sell it to you.  Thank you all again for entering this drawing! There were thirty-eight that left comments, and I assigned each a number in the order that they entered and then had my computer select a random number between 1 and 38! I hope you will return to my website as I plan to post more free drawings in the future! I so appreciate your interest in my creations. Congratulations to Judith Forbes!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Free Chicken Little Pincushion Drawing extended...

Please note that the Free Chicken Little Pincushion Drawing will be held on Tuesday, November 29th, instead of November 26th as some people have had problems leaving a message or some are only able to leave a message anonymously.  If this is a problem for you, you may either leave me a message on my Etsy store site or contact me through email at jmcvermont@comcast.net.  Just leave your comment there.

Please know that I have been checking my web site daily and hand recording names of any who have signed up, thus far, but don't hesitate to re-sign up if you are in doubt as to your entry for this drawing I will post the winner of the drawing on November 30th on my blog at www.littlehousehomearts.blogspot.com so check back then to see if you won. Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Sincerely, Jane McMillen

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Free Chicken Little Pincushion Drawing

My  silly chicken pincushions took on a life of their own at Maria Wulf's Open House this last October. I made ten and none came home at the end of the sale.  So I made more, thirty-three to be exact and perhaps just in time for a perfect gift for the person in your life or perhaps even for your yourself? I now call them my Chicken Little Pincushions or soft sculpture art. We did note that when photographed they seemed to all have their mouths open and we think this is because they are "busy chatting with each other".

They gave me pause to reflect following the election. I know that I was very engaged emotionally in this election season, so much so that the night of the returns I half-jokingly prepared a "suicide prevention kit" as I really didn't think my candidate had a chance of winning though I realized too that I rarely pick the winner ever. I am used to losing, and in fact, I think that on many fronts I might well be considered "a real loser". Despite two college degrees, I never chose my careers according to their ability to make money but chose instead jobs that were more about dedication to my principals, and serving others. As professions they were "good for women's work" (in my day), but then along came my health issues, necessitating me to cut back my hours, eliminate chances of promotions and eventually caused me to take permanent leave from my work.

I learned that even when more money was needed to support myself and my family, I was better able to do this by taking on cottage industry work on the side, the sort that Mike Rowe features on his shows. While they weren't "dirty jobs" per se, they were the tedious and boring sorts, the kinds that no one else wanted to do. Even then,we still seemed only to make ends meet. I do have to own that my husband and I chose to live in the beautiful rural countryside of Vermont instead of sticking to city life where jobs were higher pay and more plentiful. We literally "chose" the harder way for ourselves to succeed monetarily, but then we followed our hearts and not money.

Looking back on my life, I see now the value of those choices.We have had a quality of life that we wouldn't have found in the city though we rarely "had things go our way". We grew so used to not being "winners", that despite our quality of life increasing, our monetary success actually decreased.

So  it seemed only natural that election night I simply prepared myself for the worst outcome for my chosen candidate and prepared a thermos of hot, comforting Chamomile tea, stuffed several pieces of chocolate in a baggie to take with me when I escaped the inevitable negative election returns on TV to run to our bedroom and avoid watching him lose. I would retire early, pull the covers over my head to read the next book in my series of feel-good quilting novels and shut out the real world! One way or another I would make it through this long night and comfort myself until I got up the next morning to face the reality of losing once again!

Fortunately, I had received an order on line that I worked to put together, while I had the TV tuned into the start of the election returns. I was even avoiding taking a real interest in watching them, and only half-listened. As I sat at my computer sending information to my customer, I was prepared and ready for the slide to begin when I would charge to our bedroom, escape into another world, and sip hot tea and eat chocolate..  I was so "chicken" that I worked to remain detached, though I had not missed anything during the entire political campaign.

I couldn't believe what was happening as my chosen candidate didn't seem to bottom out...and his chances of winning increased.  I even changed channels to get the other side's perspective, determined to not let me get my hopes up. I couldn't allow myself to even consider the possibility of my candidate winning! To make a long story short, I didn't flip the TV off until about two in the morning and my hot tea became merely a beverage as I started paying more attention. My suicide prevention plan would apparently not be needed this time.

The next day I was truly feeling bad for my candidate's opponent and her followers, many of whom were my friends, though it still wasn't real to me there hadn't been some big mistake and that our victory would still be up-ended? This is how sure I was that my candidate would not win!

This writing isn't about winning however, but rather about losing...I didn't realize until later when I saw the other side struggling with their feelings about the election that we are all "chickens" and become like Chicken Littles, and I mean this in the kindest of ways. We all seem to do all sorts of "catastrophe-sizing" about the future when things don't go according to our plans. I also began to realize how many good things I have learned about losing. Life goes on, however devastating our loss may be, and let me be frank, I have had some devastating losses (family members suffering and dying from MS, Parkinsons, and cancer; my daughters and I being diagnosed with late stage Lyme Disease, my youngest also born with a congenital chest deformity that made her chest grow inward during her adolescent years, crowding her heart and lessening her breathing capacity). Whatever the loss,we sought comfort, grieved, picked ourselves up, learned whatever we needed to learn and carried on to put our life back together again as best as we could.

There are, of course, different stages of grief that we all go through as we gather the courage to face the difficult and begin again. Many things in life are beyond our control and often more important than winning is how we lose. Losing, I found, is just as much a "part of life" as winning and despite it or perhaps because of it, we are blessed!

We gained faith during times of loss and learned that whatever we faced, God remained and still remains with us, helping us each step of the way and the more we practiced our faith during such times, the easier it became to trust that whatever happens, the next day comes, even when the skies are overcast. Who, however, in their right mind volunteers to lose something we hold dear, just to get stronger?   We are all a bit "chicken" and though Chicken Little actually suffered more from from anxiety, his fears were real to him. I figure that we are all Chicken Littles at heart. We are easily shaken and crushed, but picking ourselves up and going on "is life".

Though I wasn't disappointed by the election, my chosen candidate was really a substitute for the first candidate I had chosen that had lost in the primaries. I also realized that winning is not permanent, and losing will visit me again in the future! For those of you that are grieving and are in pain about this election, know that most certainly your side will win again. None of this is permanent.

In honor of all who voted and dared to hope for one candidate or another, I want to offer you a chance to win a drawing for a free give-away Chicken Little.  They are whimsical little pincushions or soft sculpture art that reminds us that we are all Chicken Littles and hopefully should you win one, it will make you smile and prepare to win again. It is my dream that both sides can contribute to making America the strong nation that will benefit us all!

To win one of these Chicken Littles, please leave your name in the comment section following this blog. A drawing will be held two days after Thanksgiving and the winner announced. Thank you for participating and hopefully you will be the winner.  If not they will be reasonably priced and for sale in my Etsy shop shortly after Thanksgiving! May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We are indeed privileged to live in the USA and am grateful for all of you that follow my blog!

Our final craft sale for this year will be at The Lakes Region Farmer's Market Christmas Fair, at Poultney High School Gym, Poultney, Vermont on the Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  We hope you will come and see us there.