Surrender:  Step One

Am I an addict? A sugar addict? Looking back at my 49 years, I can identify regular intervals of time when sugar was the only thing I thought about. How to eat it, when to eat it, how much, how many servings was too much, when would I begin to feel the sickness, how long would it last, could I get away with it this time, when would enough be enough?

I have been on just about every weight loss program out there. And each time I know that it won’t work, not really. Because in me is this overwhelming urge to eat sugar and lots of it. I can put the sugar down for small periods – at least in the worst form of it, but eventually, it creeps back into my life and takes over. Sugar. Yes. Sugar.

Some of my sugar comes in the form of cereal, cookies, chocolate, candy and wine. Other times, it is straight up scoop of sugar blended with something like cocoa and butter to make my own creamy version of frosting. The only real evidence is the weight. I carry a substantial amount of excess weight. I am not yet at 300. Not even yet at 250. Nor even that close to 225 ..but wait, oh.. WAIT! I am close to 225… Just recently came around that bend. For the better part of the last fifteen to twenty years, I have held pretty steady with my weight at just under 200. I have been just a little proud of that fact… Well, at least I am not over 200! That’s been the narrative streaming through my head.

I can pin point the actual moment in time when I began to use sugar to self medicate. Back then, I didn’t think of it in those terms, but now and even in the last few decades, I have recognized my problem. I just have not completely surrendered to the idea until very recently. Like in the last few days- surrendered. It pretty much started around 1979. And, I am not really sure how I figured out that sugar would dull my pain, but for a temporary dullness, it worked. I became acquainted with frosting and soft chocolate chip cookies which I would eat by the box full after school while my parents were still working about an hour away, in the big city.

 

As a teenager, I was pretty quickly aware of the effects of the sugar on my physique, but the dullness was more attractive to me back then- than being too worried about my body and how other people might perceive it. I was horrified even back then about my fat body but that horror was overshadowed by my need to not feel anything, so I ate sugar anyway.

 

My parents swung into action early on as they noticed me putting on a few pounds. And, I mean- really, just a few pounds. Back then, I believe I was about 115 pounds, maybe 120. On my 5’1 frame, I suppose some of that looked a little squishy and my parents grew concerned. My father, with whom I did not have a very close relationship and who was more often gone on business trips than home with us, offered me the miracle of a shake diet he was selling on the side: The Cambridge Diet. These were disgusting shakes that I should drink instead of a meal to help me lose some of that excess weight. I had my little tumbler that I would bring with me to school; powder and water and voila: lunch. In between shakes, I would eat sugar. Of course, Dad was disappointed when the shakes were not working on his 15 year old daughter. Not a great testimonial there. Never mind that my soul was breaking that the only man in my life was basically telling me I was fat. Not good enough. Needed to be fixed.

He didn’t know at the time that I was using sugar to dull the pain. He didn’t know that the pain was from my guilt which I had been carrying around at that point for about two years already. The guilt that goes back to the death of my brother, which was all my fault. So many things I should have done early on to prevent the literal car wreck that occurred in 1979.

Later in life, bad decisions and poor judgment led me to more abuse from men which lead to more dulling of the pain. Poor luck in this department called romance.

About twenty years ago, I managed to lose about 60 pounds. At that time, I was in the full bloom of romance with the man who was to be my second husband. And, I remember vividly that my slenderness at that time was scary to me. I had lost my screen, that protective coat that I carried around most days that made me invisible to men. I remember feeling that vulnerability so strongly when I walked through a bar with my then fiancé and noticed many eyes from the bar staring at me as I walked through. I was at the skinniest I had been since childhood. I had managed to peel of all the layers using drugs: Fen Phen. The miracle drug being sold throughout America. It worked – swimmingly. I was thin and looking in the mirror, not bad looking. In fact, I was pleased with my appearance. I did not have this feeling back then that I had to lose more- on the contrary I felt good. But those stares, those looks from men. They actually did freak me out- quite a bit.

 
When my second marriage began to go south, when I started noticing his change in personality… I reached for sugar once again. It didn’t take that long. And to be honest, the drugs had melted my fat pretty quickly too- so basically within 18 months, I lost 60 and gained back about 30. So, I sat there at around 160-170 for about seven years. Then, after the divorce, I packed on about 20 and have been sitting at 190 for another ten years now. And, then- just recently, I stood on the scale and to my horror: 218. How did that happen!

Over the years, my doctors have been warning me to get some of that weight off. Suggestions have been offered to join a good program like Weight Watchers, “they really have the right formula” they say. I smile “yes, you are right, I should do that, and exercise more too”. But deep down I know that none of those “programs” will do a bit of good. I have been on programs all of my adult life. I could teach the course! Nutrition knowledge and understanding is not my issue. Sugar is my issue. Jars of Nutella by the spoonful. Chocolates by the bag full. Jelly beans by the handful. Not every day. Not every minute. But the minute something ultra stressful, or sad, or emotional, or unbearable- enters my world… I reach for sugar. Sometimes, I reach for wine and yes, I might have four glasses on a Friday night. I don’t drink excessively and not even several times a week. I can go weeks without wine. So with that – I know I am not an alcoholic. But, I am definitely a sugar addict.

In the last couple of years, I have had some symptoms medically which I believe are likely attributed to sugar. Very recently, I had the full blood panel and learned that my blood looks good on many levels. So that is a relief.

But, I am tired. Very tired- of how tired I feel most days. And, I am tired of the roller coaster and the shame and the overwhelming urge I have on many weekends to stay indoors, anti-social. I want to lock myself in my room and just hang out with my dog. It’s easier.

I skipped Easter Sunday Church – because I didn’t feel like dealing with my clothes, and people. I don’t have anything really pretty Easter to wear, and the idea of wearing black flowing clothes to cover my personal layers ..well, unappealing. I begged off with a comment about having slept badly and stomach not feeling good. And, when the family left for church, I ate sugar.

I knew two days ago that perhaps, just maybe, I hit bottom. It doesn’t feel like the kind of bottom that alcoholics might experience, in terms of the 12 steps idea. But for me, the isolation, the feeling of wanting to hide for the rest of my life if I can help it, is scary. I have friends I share time with and for whom I feel fondness. But the truth is that I think more often about the horizon of losing my parents and what will happen to me then. Alone. Completely. No one to share my life with.

Mom keeps urging me to get out there, to lose weight, to exercise to do something about my future. She, too, worries about what my life will be like when they are gone. She has fairly often expressed that she worries about my mortality with the weight gains. Both parents now in their 70s and 80s. Ten years and who knows. What will my days look like without them? And if I don’t get a handle on my weight, will I follow them soon after their own deaths? Or, will I go first? According to Mom, that is not a distant possibility. The way she expresses it I could drop dead any moment because of my weight.

Then again, I have a friend whose husband passed of a heart attack in his early 50s and he was overweight. Perhaps not such a remote possibility for me.

The pathetic aspect of my life comes to me full on. The image is completely awful.

I ponder my singleness and my chosen isolation. Is this what I want for my life? It’s a separate issue: Sugar Addiction, Abstinence from Sugar and a future with a partner. But they float in my mind and link arms at times and look at each other and say: “how are we going to figure this all out together?”

One Day At A Time.

Inspired by Sigrid

More than one hundred years ago, a Norwegian woman by the name of Sigrid Undset writes her first novel titled Marta Oulie: A Novel of Betrayal. It is a story about a woman who betrays her husband by having an affair with his best friend. In the early 1900s, this kind of novel was scandalous and did not make it to publication until many years later. The story is written in first person, mostly through letters and journal entries.

Sigrid Undset’s life as a writer was met with various challenges, in part due to her conversion to Catholicism, in a country whose citizens were primarily either Lutheran or Atheist.

As I read the entries, I am struck by the emotions that she describes by the act of confession, whether in journal form or in the form of oral confession with the privacy of a screen inside a church, between one soul and her priest. In both cases, the satisfying release of burden which allows the soul to then continue on her journey, unencumbered.

Reading this novel, I feel immediately connected to the protagonist who is writing her letters and expressing her deepest needs, fears and wishes. A character created by a woman in Norway in the early 1900s. There exists between myself and this character, a resonance that bridges the divide of so many years and such difference circumstances. This is the joy of reading, the connection between humans across continents and centuries. And while the words I read are those of a character, they are a depth of the author funneled through her character. I want to know more about Sigrid with each paragraph that I read of Marta Oullie.

While Sigrid’s first novel does not get immediately published by the Danish House to whom she submits the work, many years later she would win a Nobel Prize for another work titled: Kristin Lavransdatter; a book set in the Middle Ages of Norway with a vast array of characters that brought to the page the time period when one found a cross over from Paganism to Christianity and the harsh realities of the Black Death; mid 1300s. Within those pages, we find a rich tapestry of characters that forms an incredible saga of Norwegian history. Within that prize, the committee also acknowledged Sigrid’s first piece of work.

During WW II, Sigrid fled to Sweden and then New York City. She had been known for her outspoken criticism against Hitler, so she felt it best to seek safer shores. Sigrid experienced many tragedies in her lifetime, including the death of two children. Her life and her writing have me enthralled.

I remember as a teenager, with my own mother hailing from Norway, that there was excitement in gifting me with the three volume collection of Kristin Lavransdatter. Back then, I had felt it a very long read and a bit dry in places. I did not have the patience for it then. Now, I am intrigued and want to get my hands on all of Sigrid’s writings, to find her within the pages. To have a chance to get to know her better.

Sigrid Undset inspires me to press on in my own writing and in my readings a continuing education. I long to read more, classics, history and biographies. To spend time learning and most of all learning to write better. I am so grateful for the bold and courageous writers in the past that have laid the path for those of us in the present to embrace our own passions, and push onward to better heights.

Who do you carry close to your heart in your own reading world that offers inspiration and ignites your passion?

A Stasi Spy, A Tapestry Weaver and a Concert Violinist

Romeo Spies Project from the Cold War is mentioned in the podcast that I listen to covering Occupied- the Original Netflix Series. It has me intrigued, I set off to the Internet to find out more information and come across an article in The Guardian which unfolds the typical scenario of the Stasi Spy from an East Germany project. The basic idea is that a Stasi Spy romances a woman that might work in a high up office within the American Embassy and he plies her for information that will help the communist cause. Just such a situation played itself out in real life between Gabriele Kliem and Frank Dietzel. They were engaged for 7 years; in 1991 she was arrested for espionage. Only then did she learn that her fiancé was already married and was an East German spy not the physicist he had claimed to be.

It occurs to me reading this article that this is likely the basis behind a character and relationship development I follow on the fictional serial: The Americans on FX.

And it excites me. This idea of taking viable scenarios from real history and folding them into my own novel. My five year project is in full swing. I suggest five years to take off the pressure. After all, this is my first novel. I was originally saying 1-3 years. And, that grew to 5 recently as I read articles about first time novelists and all the work that goes into the process. And, as I experience that process first hand.

So many layers of my novel require a ton of research, for which I am completely energized. I want to get my hands on as much material as I can to flesh out the various paths, characters and goals.

There is the main character that grows up on a farm in Southern Norway that raises the special Spaelsau Sheep. My character matures and ends up moving to the big city as she follows a blossoming romance with a genius violinist. This guy is narcissistic and temperamental, but my character does not see or acknowledge this through her rose colored glasses. And, in the end, she marries him. In the big city, she works at a Tapestry Factory. All of this occurs just before the Nazi occupation which begins around April 1940. Pursuant to the occupation, my main character becomes involved in the underground, without her husband’s knowledge. He in the meantime becomes involved in the Quisling Regime, unbeknownst to her- at least initially. So much to research. Farms. Sheep. Woolen Mills. Fiber. Tapestry. Oslo, Norway during the 1930s and 1940s. Classical music, particularly Scandinavian and European composers. Professional orchestras in Norway, their schedule and how they are affected during the war. The violin. The occupation and WW II history in general. The Quisling Regime. The underground movement in Norway.

I gather ideas, materials, research. I develop characters based on my findings. It’s a huge project and one that occupies my mind most days. It’s an exciting wave and a dream. And I relish each moment.

 

Occupied

Occupied is a new Netflix Original series that was released in the United States this past January and for which I am completely hooked. Set aside the notion that I am presently working on a novel that covers the occupation of Norway during WW II, this serial set in Norway is chock full of plausible current event scenarios that could lead to just such an occupation. Politics, geography, resources, culture and war. I just started watching the serial and while I have been doing a bit of binge watching, I am only as far as episode #6 out of I believe, 12. Half way there.

In addition to watching the serial, I am listening to an unofficial accompanying podcast which features four young souls that episode-by-episode critic and reflect on everything from the premise, setting, acting and cultural significances of each scenario and action.

Today on the podcast covering episode #4, they discuss a little about Norway’s history and they touch on the occupation, even bringing up the fact that in present day Norway, the term Quisling is an adjective reference to someone being a traitor. This comes from the actual person of Vidkun Quisling, the leader of a collaborationist regime with the Nazi party that was present in Norway during the events that led up to the country’s occupation in April of 1940. Norway was vulnerable because within its government there was a traitor regime that basically welcomed in the Nazis to take residence and utilize their shoreline for the purpose of gaining access to the Iron Ore situated in Kiruna, Sweden. Kiruna is only a short distance from a major port in Northern Norway: Narvik. This may not be the sole reason for Norway’s occupation during WW II, but it is a large part of it.

Can you imagine how excited I was in my car as I was driving to work today and this group of 4 podcaster a was talking about Quisling and his role in WW II and the notion of a country’s vulnerability as a result of traitors in the midst of order? Most people I encounter have no knowledge of the finer points of WW II and the occupation of various countries, in particular Norway. How did it happen? How did people allow their country to be suddenly over taken by the enemy? Was there not a government and military presence to help snub enemy efforts?

I know about the Fort Oscarsborg situated on an island just south of Oslo and which was thought to be closed and considered inoperable and in fact, unknown by the German military. On April 9, 1940, this fortress played an instrumental role in slowing down the military coup of Norway by the Nazi regime. Deep under the fjord waters was a torpedo battery which successed in sinking the sub: Blucher. This prevented the Nazis from taking the king prisoner and allowed enough time for the royal Family to escape Norway with their valuables including the royal gold, before a second attempt was made. Quisling’s regime had previously attempted to declare leadership over the country and announced that no one was to resist the Nazis. The soldier keeping watch at Oscarsborg disregarded those orders, and for his disobedience he ended up in jail. That man was Birger Erickson.

I just recently learned that in the last year and in particular last month, the US Troops have been in Norway on a NATO mission to load up the caves with artillery and military vehicles to arm 15,000 soldiers for 30 days, in the event of a major incident. This project has been ongoing since 2014. And, it is something that is on most major network websites. However, I being a regular news watcher, I have not seen it on any prime time media outlets. In my view this is a good thing. I speak of it here, but hope that this type of contingency military action stays under the radar.

Occupied: the Netflix Series- not so far fetched.
It’s happened before.

I am glad that perhaps we do remember history, our leaders and military higher ups keep history in mind as they watch various strategies being made by various ruling parties around the world.  Avoiding the mistake of history repeating itself is a very good thing.

Missing Violet

Where is Violet?
The final story in the best of episode of The Lapse brings the voice of a young woman whose quest it is to find her mother. Her last memories of her mother are the kisses that she received on her cheeks as Violet dropped her off at neighbors. Looking back it was the earnestness of her kisses and hugs, and in particular, those that Violet bestowed upon her baby sister, that prompts her to reflect that Violet knew in those moments that this was the last time she would see her daughters.
Later we learn that someone witnessed a person in a black leather jacket plunge over Niagara Falls and the event is deemed a suicide.   Violet wore a black leather jacket, the two are connected including her vehicle close to the falls.  The dots are connected.
The daughters move on with their lives.
Twenty two years later, Felisha Martin is still looking for her mother Violet. She has learned from various sources, that this disappearance was likely not a suicide. That it was instead a planned escape into a new reality. Her voice conveys a forgiveness and concern for her; an overwhelmed young mother with two children by age 23. What Felisha later learns is that her mother may have been mixed up in some very bad stuff, including prostitution and drug dealing. She likely wanted to push the restart button. Reboot. Start over.

I listen to this young woman who has such a brave and yet remarkably light voice. She clearly learned to be a grown up very early on. Now, she seeks answers, mostly because she just wants to know. She talks of confronting her mother’s family a while back because they protected her and her sister from her mother’s truths. Felisha tells them they don’t need to protect her, that she wants to know the truth so she can move on.

At one point, someone in her circle saw Violet in a casino and came face to face with her. The woman claimed a different name and rushed out, but this person says she knows it was her. There are certain mannerisms that suggest that there was a 99.95 % chance that the woman in the casino was Violet. Someone else comes forward having known Violet as a child. This woman who had encountered Violet suggests that she was a truly lovely person and that she was quite fond of her.

Another circumstance reveals yet another encounter episode with Violet. This time another young woman remembers Violet walking her to a party. At the time, this young woman was a little girl and she carried great affection for Violet. This little girl presented Violet with a pair inexpensive seashell earrings and she noticed that Violet was already wearing these beautiful gold earrings, likely quite a bit more expensive than the seashells. Violet immediately took off the gold earrings and replaced them with the seashell earrings. She then kneeled down and hugged the little girl and told her how she loved them. She wore them the whole evening. There was tenderness in those actions.

 

I wonder about Violet, her love for her daughters, her knowledge of being stuck in a no-win lifestyle full of violence and perversion. Her worry at exposing her daughters and keeping her daughters in a bad situation that was perhaps only continuing to get worse. Did she leave to save her daughters? Did she leave to save herself? Was she coerced?   Did she continue on the path of destruction or did she clean up her life?   Is she alive?   Felisha wants answers to these questions and so much more. She wants to know she is safe, that she is ok. She perhaps wants to know her better. She wants to understand what happened and put into perspective how she is to live herself.

 

When life ends up a bucket of mistakes, how often do people hit the reset button? And in that reset, are the mistakes completely wiped away? Or do they linger on and filter into the new life? Did resetting help Violet? Or, did she repeat the disaster in another reality with other players and other messes?

 

Habits and tendencies: do these not follow us around no matter where we end up? You can divorce that person for being insensitive or abusive. Will you simply repeat the disaster with someone else? Our human makeup, can it be changed? Can we get out of ourselves and improve so that the cycle does not repeat itself? And if so, how do we do that?

 

I wonder if Violet still doesn’t want to be found. If she is afraid of coming face to face with her past mistakes, that is- her own mistakes of not treasuring her gifts in her daughters, of the hope and joy and promise they presented her. Of not seeing at such a young age what a incredible miracle they were. There is a website where Felisha is gathering data on her mother… MissingViolet(dot)com.

 

Human Stories

This morning, my mind stays with The Lapse podcast “best of episode” from Kyle Gest’s second year as solo-podcaster. All four stories he picked as his best of editions were remarkable. Each one in some ways deeply disturbing.

The first one I already discussed in my previous post; Will and his quadruple amputee journey resulting from a horrific bacteria that came about through a simple but painful cramp in his leg. Will’s journey one of discovery through devastation and of note his ability to soldier on through it all.

The second story is about a man that owns and manages his shop inside a mall somewhere in the UK and while working at the register, he barely sees out of the side of his visions, an image falling from one of the top floors of the mall, past his floor and landing with a loud thud on the floor way below on the ground level. The thud sounds like a very loud bag of sand has just landed. There is barely a reaction from people milling about, likely due to the horrific nature of what they just witnessed; all are in shock. This shop owner goes to take a look over the railing and discovers that the image that fell was actually a teenage kid. Kyle’s episode takes us through the aftermath of what is deemed a suicide. And then, this shop owner shares that death for him became obvious all around him; people seemed to be dying on a regular basis. Accidents. More suicides. Many scenarios; almost like the grim reaper is walking beside him.  To lighten things up, the narrator of this story shares that he would caution people to be careful in standing next to him. One would never know who would be next. Through this, the man is haunted by the loud thud,  he hears it in dreams.  When he closes his eyes, he sees the face of the boy lying on the floor.   There is angst in this episode, confusion and frustration.

 
The third episode is about Jennifer Purdie, a marathon runner who considers herself to be a hobbyist runner; not a professional runner. The episode covers one particular marathon, a massive challenge and journey: The Antarctica Marathon. She trains for three years. Every day, she runs nine miles and then runs up and down major hills. She describes their boat trip down from Argentina through Drake’s Passage, and how they survive most of the four days of 39 foot waves and massive sickness resulting in dehydration and under-nourishment. In some cases they had to seatbelt themselves into their berths so they wouldn’t be thrown around the cabins. I experienced a very small version of this type of boat throw in my cruise on the west coast of Greenland a few years back; believe this waves were not nearly half the size of those she is describing. This is not a great way to start a marathon in Antarctica. The marathon itself is not just grueling, it is brutal. Some runners break hips, wrists and a few are air lifted out. It’s an understatement to say that this is a challenge. Conditions are beyond scary and quickly changing with sideways blizzard rain at some points. In one instance, this runner gets sucked into a mud hole and can’t get out. She is there alone for about twenty minutes, as she had fallen behind and no runners are happening upon her. She rewinds her memory to an episode of survival on TV and remembers a use of a stick to get oneself out of quick sand. She has no stick. She has a water bottle. And she utilizes some of the technique she remembers from the TV episode, and successfully gets herself out of the mud hole. Now, covered in mud, feels like she is carrying a load of weight and she presses on. And in this moment, she has not even gotten to the glacier yet. This episode covers this gal’s first Antarctica Marathon and she shares her goal of being the youngest woman to accomplish two 6 continent marathons. So, she says she will be back and she does not look forward to it.

 

My mind moves into a place of wonder: people’s lives. It’s fascinating to me how we all choose different paths, our minds and bodies select journeys and they are varied. One person might choose to accumulate travel experience all around the globe. Another trains every single day to run marathons. Another discovers early on that he or she likes looking through microscopes and figuring things out scientifically. And yet another is content to ride a motorcycle for miles and miles and miles, with no end in sight; just the birds overhead, maybe mountains in the distance and time, lots of time. And then there is the person who scavengers for minutes each day to put down words on paper (or type words on a screen), satisfied to produce stories. Fascinated with the process of analysis of ideas, which can turn into a different path in the future. Changing our realities through intention and purpose. Better than sitting on a couch and numbing ourselves through binge TV. Although, there can be a purpose in that as well; a stage in the journey, or maybe just a step.

 
Next time, Where is Violet?

Sensation Aware

The Lapse podcast is one of my go to listens in the morning. It occurs to me that this is a weird use of the word listen. It takes me to the frequently used expression by newscasters: take a listen. Anyhow, for some reason the use of that expression by media has me now morphing the word into a different use of the word listen. So, the podcast is one of my frequent listens in the morning; that is, something I turn to to listen to to pass the time as I drive to work.

 
This morning, the episode is a “best of” the past year of stories. Short stories. The episode truncated four episodes that ended up being personal favorites for the host: Kyle Gest. This is Kyle’s second year as a solo podcaster; his stories are for the most part truly amazing. I find myself often wondering how he came across the people he features on the show. In many cases there is such an amazing resonance with circumstances and events that, while they may seem unusual, mirror the human global experience. It’s the depth he reaches in such a short time.

 
In this particular episode of “bests” he opens with the notion that he hates “best of anything”, because he doesn’t want to pick one, or two, or three best. It short changes the possibility that another might be ‘the best’. My words not his, but in a nutshell- his feelings on the subject. He launches into his best of with four episodes anyway, and indeed – for the first two, he has picked really good ones. I remember listening to those two in their full version, months ago.

 
The first one is about a man who had a terrible cramp that got worse and worse. To the point where he ended up in the hospital. The next thing he knows, his limbs- all four, are amputated. My synopsis here does not do the episode justice, you must listen to it. Kyle’s episodes are told by the persons involved in the stories. And Kyle filters in sound effects so that the story comes to life a bit. The voice of the person experiencing this medical emergency that catapulted him into a completely different life, is soothing, reassuring and so gentle as he explains his journey. And his perspective of what happened and why it happened is incredibly touching. He does not seem to have any anger. His goal in the hospital as all this was happening, was to be kind to the staff, to get to know them personally: to be a really good patient. All the while, this overwhelming scenario is playing out for him with necrosis through bacteria spreading to all four limbs.

 
I admit that when the episode was repeating itself in this “best of” version this morning, I was momentarily tempted to switch to something else. The pain of hearing this kind soul’s horrific journey caught in my chest. I stuck with it because it was the reminder of his way of getting through it, of pressing on and of finding hope in certain moments during the ordeal, that kept me riveted. This time around, Kyle didn’t include the part about this soul’s urgent need to listen to a specific classical piece of music which he had trouble communicating to the nurses. Instead of a soft and gentle piece, they misunderstood his request and placed earbuds in his ears with a piece streaming into his head that sounded more like a full brass band. Something like that.

The original podcast had specifics about this music and I can’t recall it completely but remember searching for the music he had intended on my Spotify app and then being so sad for Will Lautzenheiser (the gentle soul losing his limbs) because instead he was listening to something completely different, for hours. I recall on that initial listen feeling such horror for Will be causes he had been forced to listen to this clanging and banging fanfare orchestra, rather than an elegant lilt and shimmer of a nocturne that might help put one to sleep. It might be like asking for a lullaby only to be presented with a heavy metal jam session. Without arms and for the moment no voice because of the tubes inserted everywhere, he was not able to correct their mistake. So, he endured that as well. As I write this, I realize that I must go back and listen to the full episode again (not just the condensed version), for I must know the music he craved to hear.

In the car this morning, the episode also reminded me of the beauty of sensations we have which we take for granted. Touch. Fingers and hands touching something, and feeling the different textures. Will has the opportunity down the line to receive arm transplants for both arms. Real arms. Initially, the arms when surgically added to his body- are not completely connected to his own nerve centers. But as time passes, he begins to feel things. He turns on the shower (not with his hands yet) and places an arm under the water stream. He then turns off the water and brings his arm out of the shower; was that cold he just felt? He talks about other amputee patients with transplanted arms which he had read about – who after time could feel the difference between a hard backed book and the paper sensation between the covers. How most people don’t think about the intricacies of sensation and nerves – the very delicate nerve endings that we have in our fingers which help us to experiences such different sensations.

As I drive, my mind moves to my own hands resting on the hard plastic (pleathered) wheel. It’s a little bumpy. I move my right hand to the passenger seat which has a lambs wool cover. I feel the texture beneath my fingers. I caress the lambs wool and feel it’s scratchy and bumpy nuances. I begin to think about my morning with Sofie, as I get ready for work. She sits on my bed and each time I pass her I talk to her: “hey sweet girl” and occasionally I stop and bring my arms around her neck and back and  I caress her silky fur and then I bring my face down to her forehead and kiss her eyebrows. She lets me, her body goes limp under my arms and hands and she rolls to show me her belly. “Pet me, please” she seems to say through her eyes. I pet her soft belly. The sensation of her silky fur is so lovely and her trust growing more and more is so beautiful. Sensations. Fur. Leather. Plastic. Books. Taken for granted. We don’t know what we have really, until we don’t have it anymore. I supposed we can’t go around on constant high alert of what we have all the time. But this gal appreciates the reminder of what I have, the gifts I have in this life because of how I am made.     Grateful for this awareness brought in part through Kyle and his podcast.   Thank you Kyle… A New Patreon Member is coming your way soon!