About

I know words and phrases like “minimalism” and “slow living” are super trendy right now, and in all honesty I never expected I’d be blogging about them. But then of course I’m not trying to live a slow life because I’ve got a crazy life packed with children and career and volunteering and a husband; I’m in the slow lane because I have none of the above, except for thank goodness, the husband part, and he is amazing. And then there is the cuddly cocker spaniel, Fiona, one of the great loves of my life. I’m stumbling along in the slow life because for over twenty years now, I’ve had fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome, along with a neck injury and chronic migraines that began a few years ago. And then there is the PTSD (since I was 19) and treatment-resistant depression…I’m lucky, I have a fantastic psychiatrist and therapist, and they’ve helped me, but…I have a lot of relapses, especially when my pain flares up.

My doctors think my fibromyalgia is connected to several back surgeries I had in my late teens to correct scoliosis and Schuerrman’s Diesase, a rare deformity that causes kyphosis. I’ve had lots of physical therapy, medications, acupuncture (didn’t help), etc. Currently I do physical therapy exercises every day, yoga, and take medications (antidepressant, muscle relaxers, along with anti-seizure meds–I have a seizure disorder too, fun!–asthma meds, etc…I keep our local CVS in business). I’m not able to work, although I did manage t get my MA in Theology (my dream was to be a hospice chaplain), and I haven’t been able to have children. These are the two huge, gaping, losses I struggle mightily with every day of my life. This is not how my life was supposed to be. And so I am trying to embrace slow living to make sense of both my lost dreams and to find ways to remind myself of what I have to be grateful for.

 

My journal and blog, and my camera, are my coping tools. So, using my two passions, words and images, I dig into stories of discouragement and heartbreak, of contentment and joy, of love and grief and what it means to be human. And photographs about finding grace in the little things–like flowers (always, lots and lots of flowers!) puppies, and sitting on the rocky shore of Lake Superior and, old letters written by my grandmother in the 1930s… I have experienced a lot of dark places but often I find that grace shines through, although it takes me a while to see it.  In my hospital room, in the dark of night, in my struggles with childlessness, in my worst nightmares, when I buried my parents…all of these are places where I have experienced God’s presence in special ways. And more and more, I have come to think that the people who love us, whether friends, family, teachers, neighbors, etc., show something of God’s love for us…

It often requires conscious effort on my part to notice these everyday wonders, and tell the truth, there are days I can’t see them at all. I’m not a saint, pain makes me irritable and gloomy and bitter and resentful (on my worst days, and I have many of them). It’s been years since I have felt “well” or had a day without pain. Sometimes I feel as though I my entire youth was stolen from me…and then I remind myself how much fun I’ve had in spite of it all, and how blessed I was to meet my husband, to have a circle of supportive friends, to find a fantastically awesome parish that has represented the best of the Catholic Church to me.

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This is my life. This is my one life, the only one I will ever get. As a favorite poet, Mary Oliver asks, “…tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?” In the final analysis, I refuse to live an unlived life. Although I have many bad days, I still have made a conscious, deliberate choice to seek out the everyday wonders, the small miracles, the graces. And there I have not been disappointed. I’ve also found activities that nourish my soul, my mind, my heart–photography, writing, long walks in nature, reading, gardening (when my back and neck can stand it!), learning to cook, researching my family history…And then there are the family and friends who love me and even treasure me even at my worst, sort of like God does. I’m not sure I understand it, and many times I have trouble believing it, but I know this love is real, it’s palpable, and I don’t think I could survive without it.

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42 thoughts on “About

    1. Thanks for the nice comment! It’s all about gratitude, I think. Remembering that all we have comes as gift from the God who loves us.

  1. Welcome to Bloggers for Peace, Barbara. I feel so honored to have a future hospice Chaplain on board. I have been thinking about doing hospice care as well. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  2. Thanks for somehow finding my blog. I’m happy to find yours too. As a recovering Mennonite who still connects with a very liberal congregation about 10 times a year I appreciate grace, though can feel turned off by religion. Singing gets me right to the core, especially. When I’m not in public I look forward to listening to the music in your recent post. Be well and warm wishes for your adoption and your health.

    1. Nice to meet you, too! I’ve been receiving your posts by email and enjoy them immensely. I love that you have a blog to honor your dad’s WWII service!

  3. I try to look for the little things as well because the little things in life add up into gaining a feeling of being at peace with the present moment. I also noticed on your bio that you sing in a choir. I love to sing too! 🙂

    1. Singing helps me relax! And I agree with you about looking for the little things–I’m really working on trying to live in the present moment for a lot of reasons. Life is so short, and I don’t want to look back someday and realize I was never grateful for all of the wonderful things in my life.

  4. Congratulations! I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award! The Liebster Award is also known as the “favorite blog award”. And since your blog totally rocks my world, that’s why I chose yours. Check out my post to find out the steps to graciously accept your award, and keep up the great blogging! 🙂 Jenn xx

    1. Thanks Jen! You made my day…week…maybe even month! I have been neglecting my blog the last few weeks because I am struggling to keep up with a demanding grad school course and internship combined with a nasty fibro flare. You, however, have inspired me to set a goal of blogging at least three times a week!

      1. That’s wonderful that you’ve been inspired! 😉 however, it would be best to tackle the flare first. I understand how it is when you have a lot of strenuous things on your plate and you’re dealing with a fibro flare. Take care of yourself first, and you can take your time with the liebster award steps. Hope you feel better soon! Jenn xx

      2. Often I find that writing (stuff I don’t have to write for school, that is) helps me relax. But you’re right about the flare, of course, and I will pace myself. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Hi Barbara,

    We came across your blog and wanted to reach out to you. Mutual of Omaha’s aha moment tour is going virtual, and we’re looking for stories just like yours! During the month of November, we are looking for aha moments from the Minneapolis area. On November 29th, we’ll be giving away $1,000 to one lucky local who shares their aha moment story, to help them continue their aha moment journey. Would you be interested in sharing your story?

    To enter, submit a photo that represents your aha moment, along with a brief description of your story, to our entry page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/myahamoment/app_451684954848385. The winner will be announced on Friday, November 29th.

    It’s all part of Mutual of Omaha’s popular aha moment tour, which exists to uncover the real stories of positive life change from people all across the country. Through a 20-city road trip each summer, the aha moment tour has collected nearly 4,000 individual aha moments over the past 4 years in an Airstream trailer custom designed as mobile TV studio. You can view them all and learn more about the tour at http://www.ahamoment.com

    Please let me know if you have any questions about submitting your aha moment or the tour in general.

    We look forward to seeing your aha moment, and good luck!

    Olivia


    ahamoment.com

    olivia@skadaddlemedia.com

  6. Thanks for starting following my blog! Just about to explore yours! I really like the “About” section: you wrote it so well! I agree: it’s the little things in life we should pay more attention to!

    1. Thanks for the compliment! I’m very insecure about my writing, so it means a lot to me. I’m very excited at the idea of using my blog to advocate for mental illness–love yours.

  7. Thanks for checking out my blog! I’m looking forward to reading more about you and your story. I love that your faith is so important that you’d emphasize it over and over in this section… faith is very important to me too, but I seem to be in quite a dark place with it right now. Absolutely no pressure at all but if you’re interested, I have another blog (that mostly documents my meltdowns related to my trauma, honestly) http://storybehindthesmile.wordpress.com/ Take care!

  8. Thank you for following my blog–otherwise I may not have discovered yours 🙂 I’m on a journey of self-discovery after having held secrets of childhood sexual abuse for a lifetime. Many years ago I left the Catholic church but have had such a niggling desire to find out if I made a mistake. When I see all the topics on your blog to choose from, I don’t think it’s sheer coincidence you landed on my blog-step. Thanks!

    1. What is that saying, something about how coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous? I’m glad we’ve connected!

  9. Hello – You are so wise to make the choice to “look for the little things”, I applaud you. It takes courage to make that choice and not give up. Thank you for reading my blog and choosing to follow it. We have so many choices to read, I am grateful you chose to follow mine. May you continued to be filled with new revelations of God’s love for you every day!

  10. Hello Barbara,
    We have many similarities. I struggled to get through 10 straight years of college and university. I kept a full class load and interned during my undergraduate and graduate classes. I pushed through with the help of the disabled student programs; at the end of my last term my internship was at a psychiatric hospital and I was completely burned out. My doctor and Supervisor advised/allowed me a month break or I would not have completed my Master’s in Social Work; Child and Family Therapist. There were not many jobs available when I completed my degree and when the money was available for these services to serve again, I was rear-ended. I am in the same position as you are; for two years I can’t work. I also was injured cognitively (slighter than many others but still very vexing) and mentally. I have PTSD with anxiety and depression also. Of course, my blog is about Fibromyalgia as I have had it for 16 years. I too look for the gifts and usually find them. If we wait for the moment, it will arrive, and we will serve others whether we work or volunteer.
    Lucinda

    1. Lucinda, it’s lovely to meet you! Were we twins separated at birth, I wonder? Thank you for shari g your story and your encouragement, and I look forward to reading your blog. Blessings! Barbara

    2. Lucinda, please forgive my fibro fog–I didn’t recognize you/your blog at first. But of course now I remember that I have read some of your blog before, and it is fantastic! You have such great ideas.

  11. I tried to post this on “So What Now” but it would not take this reply.
    Hello – may I share from revelation has provided to me when I too have believed “the pain has defeated me again”? Just because your enemy continues to attack you (John 10:10), does not mean you are a failure. Think of England during WWII … attacked over and over and over and over not because England was a failure or bad … only because their enemy hated everything for which they stood. Sound familiar? Maybe your ministry looks different than your current perception of what it should be. My prayer for you is that our Heavenly Father will open the eyes of your heart, and let the light of His truth flood in. That He would Shine His light on the hope He is calling you to embrace. Revealing to you the glorious riches He is preparing as your inheritance, including the gift of seeing you the way He sees you (Eph 1:18) to shatter with His light (John 1:4-5) and truth .. Jesus Himself (John 14:6) and His love (Romans 8:32) the lies the enemy is feeding to you that “it has all been a waste”. May you be strengthened as you allow each weakness to be a connecting point and portal to receive the waters of eternal life from the very throne of God (Rev 22:1) to be able to know with Paul that His divine influence upon your heart and its reflection in your life keeps/puts you in His custody; guards you and is your defense and protection. (2 Cor 12:9-10). May all this and exceedingly abundantly above what I can dare to dream to ask by yours (Eph 3:20) because of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. Amen.

    I remember a time when I flat out told God I needed more than “my grace is sufficient for you” because that just wasn’t working for me during an extremely debilitating Fibromyalgia flare. That’s when he took me back to the Greek to research 2 Cor 12:9-10 and brought a clearer translation to me and with it this revelation. Whatever “thorn” is in a person’s life reminds us that not only that we cannot “do it all” whatever all may be, e.g., keep our self safe, well, joyful, prosperous — but it was never God’s intention for us to carry that burden for ourselves. He wants us constantly aware that it is His divine influence upon our hearts continually and how that is reflected in our lives that is our supply, our guard, our protection. God’s desire is for the power of Christ to continually tent upon; abide with; rest upon us and for us to constantly have our hearts and minds attuned to receiving this miraculous supply!

    Like Joseph in Pharoh’s prison, life does not look the way you want it to look right now. But also like Joseph God has not forgotten you and His plans for you cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2). Be real with God with all of your hardest questions and He will provide you real answers. That His promise and He is good for it (Isaiah 1:18). He has done it and continues to do it for me. He will do it for you.

    1. So sorry you had trouble posting this, and thanks for continuing to try. Yes, I hear what you are saying, and I agree. I know that with time my path will become more clear…it’s just so hard to be in that in between stage where I haven’t yet discerned what it is that I’m called to do at this time in my life!

  12. Your blog is beautiful! And your story and attitude are an inspiration. I too love Mary Oliver, and I live (I think) on the other side of the Mississippi (western Wisconsin). I wish the best for you and look forward to seeing more of your blog. Cheers!

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