Monday, December 29, 2014

A Review of 2014: The Year of Adventure

I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas had a wonderful and peaceful holiday! Larry and I had a quiet but very enjoyable time.
It’s hard for me to believe that this is the last post I will write in 2014. The years go by so quickly now!
Before the start of 2014, I chose a word to guide me through the year: Adventure. I did have some adventures during the year, some fun and exciting, some not-so-fun but life-changing, some big, some small.
Here are some of my adventures in 2014:

January: I opened a freelance editing business.

February: I started thinking about and making notes to write a mystery novel. I went sledding for the first time in years and had a blast!

One of my favorite photos from 2014. It was taken by Larry.

March: I covered the Group 1A boys basketball finals in Richmond and wrote a story about it—me, a non-sportswriter.

April: Larry and I started our first garden in the raised bed.

The raised bed garden in June.

June: Relationships with family members changed forever.

July: I started to knit. I went on a ride-along with a deputy with the county sheriff’s office.

Chase Bird doesn't seem to think too highly of my knitting.

September: I made an adjustment in my medications that made a big, positive difference in my depression. I didn't start talk therapy as I planned. I put that off until 2015 because of scheduling problems.

October-November: I started and finished physical therapy for a problem that remains to be diagnosed for sure: Neck? Shoulder? Both?

November: Larry and I tried authentic Japanese food for the first time. We found snow at the Peaks of Otter on Thanksgiving Day.

One adventure I worked on the whole year was reading. Yes, reading is always an adventure for me. I set a goal to read 24 books. I thought that was manageable and not so high that I would set myself up for failure.
I actually went over my goal and read 27 books. That might end up being 28 for 2014 since I’m currently reading one of my Christmas books.
I read a lot of articles and essays, too.
All but three of the books I read fall into the mystery/thriller category. I’m not sure what that says about me. Yes, I love mysteries. But maybe I needed some escape time, too.
Of the mysteries, 15 of them were by John Sandford. I discovered him last Christmas, and as you can guess, I found his stories captivating.
Here are the three nonfiction books I read:

The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness. By Elyn R. Saks.

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. By Palmer J. Parker.

Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World. By Shirley Hershey Showalter.

I’m not sure yet what number of books I will set as a goal for 2015, but it will be higher than 24 or even 27. And I hope to include more nonfiction books.

So there’s a quick overview of 2014, one that in no way reflects the complexity of life. I am glad to put 2014 behind me.
On Thursday, let’s talk about 2015.

Readers, what one word sums up your 2014?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Season’s Greetings

I’m sorry I was missing at the end of last week and didn’t post as I normally do on Thursday.
I have been having a bit of a hard time.
Physically, I haven’t been up to par.
For the newspaper I’ve been covering a lot of court recently, some very hard cases that make me think (for a while only) that there is no goodness in the world.
And I’ve been struggling with my decisions regarding my mother.

Late last week, as I drove back to Altavista from court in Rustburg, I wondered how Christmas and the other holidays this time of year can even occur when there is so much strife and unhappiness and despair in the world.
I still put a Christmas CD on in the car, though. And I heard these words from “Who Comes This Night,” a song written by Sally Stevens and Dave Grusin and sung by James Taylor on his album “James Taylor at Christmas”:

Who sends this song upon the air,
To ease the soul that’s aching?
To still the cry of deep despair
And heal the heart that’s breaking.

The light and the hope of the season aren’t just for those happily getting together with family, singing carols, opening presents, and eating big meals together.
The light and the hope are for those who feel lost, those who feel sad, those who are at the point where they feel nothing.
The light and the hope remind us of the good in the world. They are comfort to those who need it.
And we all need comfort sometimes.

May all of you who celebrate a holiday this time of year enjoy the season. And may all of you have joy and peace always.

I’ll be back next Monday, Dec. 29.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Where I’m from

This weekend, Larry and I drove to Rustburg, the county seat of Campbell County in Central Virginia.
I grew up in the country, so I don’t really have a “hometown.” But Rustburg was the closest thing to a town around our farm (six miles away), so I’ve always thought of it as the place I’m from.
To call Rustburg a town is a bit generous. It’s really a village. In fact, the road that runs through it is called Village Highway.
When I was growing up, if my parents or a neighbor said “We’re going to town,” they meant they were going to Lynchburg.

In my work for the newspaper, I visit Rustburg frequently to cover a court case or a Board of Supervisors meeting.
But our trip this weekend was for something fun: the Rustburg Christmas Parade.
After we parked the car, I got out my camera and snapped some photos of some of the “landmarks” in the village to share to give you a sense of where I’m from.
This first shot is actually from 2013. I took it before last year’s parade and liked it because it shows the main road through the village with Long Mountain (not very high) in the background.

From this year, here is the Citizen Services Building. It’s the newest county building, constructed to house the offices that closely serve the citizens. It includes the Treasurer’s Office, the Commissioner of Revenue’s Office, and the Community Development Office, which includes zoning, planning, and stormwater management.

I took this photo from too far off to get a clear shot, but I wanted to show you the building that the public library was housed in when I was a young girl. This is where I spent many happy hours.
Now the building houses the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office and the Farm Agency Office.

This is the current Rustburg Library. The School Administration Office is closer to the street, with the library at the end. It’s one of four branches in the county. One branch is in Altavista.

This is probably the most recognizable building to those knowledgeable about Campbell County history. It’s the Historic Courthouse, built in the 1840s. It was used by the courts until the new courthouse was built in the early 1980s.
The Historic Society of Campbell County is doing fundraising and working on renovating the building to enlarge its museum and preserve the county’s heritage.

This is the “new” courthouse. It’s not as impressive as the old one, but it’s nice. Some weeks I spend a lot of time within these walls.

Here’s another view of the courthouse. The adult detention center is connected to it.

This is a side view of Rustburg Presbyterian Church. It’s not a great shot, but it was what I was able to get with the parade crowds around me.
I don’t know how old the building is, but the way the brick is laid makes me think it has been around for a while. I’ve always thought it was a pretty church.
Members of the church give away free cookies and hot chocolate at the parade each year.

So there’s a little view of where I’m from. Altavista is part of Campbell County, and I’ve lived there for 11 years. But it still feels a bit like I’m visiting my old “home” when I go to Rustburg.

What do you consider your hometown to be?

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Yes, I am frustrated. Whenever I can’t find the answer to a question quickly, I tend to feel frustrated.
My question is: why are my shoulder and arm still hurting?
The pain started a few months ago in the upper, outside part of my arm. Then it spread to my shoulder. Sometimes I had tingling and a slightly numb sensation in my hand.
My orthopedic doctor thought I had a pinched nerve in my neck. I had five weeks of physical therapy. At one point, the pain got better. But it never went away. And I started having more intense bouts of pain.
My doctor ordered an MRI of my neck and referred me to a colleague of his, a spine doctor.
I saw her on Monday, and she said the MRI showed degenerative changes in my neck, but no nerve impingement.
So, where is the pain coming from?
She doesn’t know. She said the neck and shoulder have a lot of overlapping areas. She scheduled me for an electromyography, or EMG. It will test the health of my muscles and nerve cells in the problem areas.
The test can’t be done until the first week of January.

Accepting uncertainty is not my strong suit. So I’m frustrated. I am challenged to accept that I can’t always know something for sure, that sometimes I must just live with uncertainty.
I’m dealing with the pain. It’s worse at night, so I am keeping up with my regular activities during the day. I’m thankful for that. I’m taking a prescription NSAID, and that helps. Most nights, I put heat on my shoulder while I try to relax.

I have done Internet searches, trying to figure out “what’s wrong with me.” Compulsive searches for information is one way my OCD manifests itself. But I am aware of what I’m doing and try to pull myself back from Google.

I have to go with the flow of the medical field right now. I have to accept that the doctors don’t know what’s causing the pain. The answers will eventually come, I hope.

And I choose to continue to try to find the fun and peaceful and beautiful moments of each day.
Here’s one: The other day, I walked by a car parked in Rustburg. On the front of the car was a red spongy-looking ball.
I wonder what that is, I thought.
Then I saw the reindeer antlers.
Car as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!

How do you deal with uncertainty?

Monday, December 8, 2014

A pause in the overwhelm

“The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”
-Buddy in the movie Elf
A hectic week behind me and another one ahead. Or so it seems when I think of all that I have to do. I remind myself that I don’t have to do everything at once, and it will all get done eventually. Right?

Larry and I spent some time outside the Land of Overwhelm Sunday. We got out the trees (one large and one small) and decorated the large one that we put in the den. Here’s a photo taken with my phone:

We still need to add the finishing touches, including the tree skirt.

While we decorated, we watched the movie Elf. My blogger friend Keith Wynn of Musings of An Unapologetic Dreamer recommended the movie as one of his favorites, and he recently sprinkled Facebook with quotes from it.
We enjoyed Elf. It made us laugh and feel a bit more lighthearted about the holidays.

As we go through this week, let’s find ways to take a break from the work and stress and enjoy the moment.

Chase Bird isn't sure what he thinks of the intrusion of the tree. His expression says it all.

What is your favorite holiday movie?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Getting in the holiday spirit

I'm sharing some shots of nature-based ornaments that were on the tree in the Peaks of Otter Lodge.

The other day, a friend told me he just wasn’t in the Christmas spirit yet. Even though lights and trees and other decorations seem to have spilled out onto the landscape within the last week or so, he’s just not there yet.

I’m not quite there yet, either. I think part of it has to do with the differences in planning and decorating that have occurred since I was a child.
When I was a child, stores didn’t usually put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. When I went with my parents to Lynchburg to shop in December, part of the pleasure was to walk along the sidewalks and look at each store’s window displays.
Each store had something different—angel figures or a Santa Claus or trees. If the display had a moving part—like a Santa that waved his hand—that made it even more fun.
And I would start to get excited.
We always had a live pine tree that my father set up in the living room. It would go up about a week before Christmas. Putting the lights on was the first hurdle. Back then, if one light on a strand went out, they all went out. Someone would have to check each one to find the burned out light.
Then came the ornaments and finally the crowning touch—icicles. I loved the sight of the silver strands hanging from the tree.
Then the time crawled by until Christmas Day.

How things have changed. Whether they’ve changed for the better depends on your perspective.
Christmas decorations show up in the stores after Halloween. Christmas music starts playing on the radio before Thanksgiving. The effect on me is that I start feeling behind before December even gets here.
I haven’t started shopping! Should we put the tree up this weekend? What about outside decorations? Everyone has their decorations up except me!

Once I start participating a little in the season, at my own pace, I begin to feel less panicked. I remind myself that I don’t have to do everything that everyone else does to prepare for the holidays.
I haven’t finished my shopping, but I have done some. And it was all online. Shopping online takes away a lot of my stress about shopping. I just don’t like getting in the crowded stores if I can help it.
We’ll probably put up our tree this weekend. Larry and I put up pre-lit artificial trees. The lights are LED, so they don’t get so hot like the big bulbs would.
No icicles. Little kitties might eat them. And they seem irritating now, with the static electricity that makes them stick to everything.
Christmas movies also get me in the holiday spirit. Larry loves “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby, and we check the listings to make sure we can watch it at least once during the holidays. We also like some of the Hallmark Channel’s movies. I always watch out for “A Dog Named Christmas” and “November Christmas.”
We have our favorite Christmas music, too. Larry likes the older pop songs the best. I like the carols best. We both like listening to the CDs of Susan Boyle, Josh Groban, and James Taylor. I listen to them as I drive, a way I can include celebration in the day.
And then there are the parades. The Altavista Christmas Parade is tonight. I’ll be taking pictures for the paper. The Rustburg Christmas Parade (Rustburg is our county seat) is Dec. 14, and I’ll be there, too. By then, I will be excited.

My Christmas spirit has grown quieter as I’ve gotten older. I listen to the words of the songs more closely. I meditate more on what the meaning behind the celebration is for me. I think about all the holidays people celebrate this month.
 Times have changed. That’s normal and that’s OK. But do you know something that hasn’t changed? I still have a hard time falling asleep on Christmas Eve.

Has the way you feel about the holidays changed as you’ve gotten older? If so, how?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Doing more than just getting through it

I took this photo out my kitchen window last Monday. The town has been busy scooping up the leaves left at the curbside. They "vacuumed" up a large amount at our house last week. Larry has been busy gathering more for them to pick up this week.

Happy December! Is anyone else finding it hard to believe that the end of 2014 is upon us?

December is a particularly busy month for many. Work may be busier than usual with end-of-the-year assignments. The different holidays call us to prepare, often with shopping, cooking, cleaning, and decorating. The obligations can pile up. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

I’m facing a workweek that seems overwhelming to me. In fact, I’ve been dreading it. I have some challenging assignments with the newspaper that will keep me working late at least two, possibly three nights this week. And I have some personal obligations to take care of.

Even before I started my four-day Thanksgiving weekend, I looked forward and hated the thought of this coming week. It would be one of those weeks that I’d just get through, I thought. Just put my head down and do it and anticipate the weekend.

But . . . I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want to feel like I have to “get through” certain days. I no longer want to wait until everything is “perfect”—not a hint of depression, no anxiety, no obsessive thoughts, no obligations, no responsibilities, etc.—to enjoy and appreciate life.

Granted, we all face difficult times when through necessity we just put one foot in front of the other. But this is a workweek I’m dreading. These weeks are a regular part of my life. I don’t want to wait for the good days anymore. I want to allow myself to have a good day any day.

This thinking harkens back to the post I wrote a couple of weeks ago about what makes for a good day. Shirley Hershey Showalter kindly posted it on her blog.
I can’t keep the good days for just those outside the newspaper office. Yes, things get hectic. I feel anxiety when facing a tight deadline, when covering something particularly controversial.
But I enjoy the work. Why not enjoy the day? Why not make each day, in some way, a good day? Even if I feel anxious, even if I fall into some OCD compulsions because of the stress, why not see the opportunity for a good day?
After all, this day is really all I have.

So I made a list of things I could do throughout the day to enjoy the day, to do meaningful work, to handle any extra anxiety, to do more than “get through” the day. And I’ve done some other planning and some preparation.

This week will be an experiment for me. I’ll report on how it goes.
In the meantime, please share in the comments section something that you do to get through the overwhelming, busy times. I love reading about others’ strategies, and I’m sure the other readers will appreciate them, too.

I’ll be back on my regular blogging schedule this week, so I’ll see you Thursday!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Snow at the Peaks

We had read online that there was four inches of snow up on the mountain. We didn’t have any snow in Altavista Thursday morning as we started west toward the Peaks of Otter, but as the road started to climb in Bedford County, we began to see patches of snow. And we could see snow on Sharp Top Mountain in the distance.
By the time we got to the Peaks of Otter Lodge, it was clear that for the second year in a row, we were going to have Thanksgiving dinner in a snow-covered natural setting.
You probably know by now that Larry and I love snow. When we visited Mountain Lake in Giles County last Thanksgiving, we were thrilled to find snow.
This year, the forecast for snow caused us a little concern because if it got too heavy, the Park Service would close the Blue Ridge Parkway, and dinner would be canceled.
We made it safely to the lodge, though, and enjoyed a beautiful buffet of roasted turkey, cornbread and apple stuffing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and so many other meats and side dishes.
It seems that now Larry and I have started a tradition: we must eat Thanksgiving dinner where there’s snow.
 Once we parked the truck, I got out my camera and started taking photos. We slowly walked to the lodge as I stopped again and again to try to capture the beauty around us.
This is the first photo I took of Sharp Top.

When we turned back around a few minutes later, clouds were rolling in.

 There seemed to be at least four inches of snow resting on the ground around the guest lodgings.

This is a view of Abbott Lake behind the lodge.

These red buds were a pretty contrast to the brown of the weeds and the white snow.

 Snow on trees—one of the loveliest ways snow decorates nature.

Another view of Sharp Top.

More views of the lake.

They already had their Christmas decorations up. A large tree stood in the lobby.

I especially liked these decorations because of the bears included.

Our table had a good view of the lake. A small tabletop tree stood beside the table. I took this photo with my phone against the light, so it's not a great shot. But I liked the rustic decorations.

Once we sat down to eat, facing the lake, the sun broke through the clouds and shined directly into Larry’s eyes. So we quickly adjusted our seating at the table. You never know when nature will change.
No, I didn’t get any photos of the food. But it was delicious. And I ate a lot. The first thing I did when I got home was to change into sweatpants. My nice dress slacks seemed to have gotten tighter just since that morning. Wonder what caused that?

Monday, November 24, 2014


I'm obviously very thankful for this little critter. He's lounging in front of the gas logs.

This time of year, my thoughts, like many others’, turn to the things that I’m thankful for. I could give you a list of what I’m thankful for. But I thought instead I would tell you a story about a little adventure Larry and I had yesterday.

We went to Lynchburg to do some shopping and decided to eat lunch at a Japanese restaurant we haven’t tried before.
We’ve both had Japanese food before, and Larry loves sushi, but compared to what we were served and the way we were served Sunday, we got more of the “real” food we were looking for.

As we walked through the dining room towards our seat, I saw a lot of people using chopsticks and eating dishes I didn’t recognize.
Then the host left us with menus plus a paper sushi menu with pencils.
What were we supposed to do with these?

The waiter, a very nice young man who looked like he probably attended one of the local colleges, appeared to take our drink orders. I decided to be straight-forward.
“We’ve never been here before,” I said. “What do we do with these little menus?”
The waiter said we would order any sushi by filling out the paper menu. Everything else would be ordered off the other menu.

So Larry and I looked over the menus. We didn’t recognize a lot of the dishes. We laughed at our own confusion. Then I remembered I had my phone. I Googled a few things on the menu to find out what they were. For example, I learned that sashimi is raw meat or fish thinly sliced.

Larry wanted sushi with salmon, and I wanted a vegetarian roll with cream cheese, avocado, and cucumber. We filled out our papers. Then we decided on the main dishes: teriyaki steak and shrimp for Larry, vegetable tempura for me.

The service was so nice. We got our sushi and rolls, then onion soup, which I had never had but found delicious. A green salad followed with a dressing that tasted good even though we didn’t know what kind it was.
When the main meal came, it was on a tray, with a bamboo mat covering the bottom. It was a multitude of food.
I loved the dishes—the small ones for the sauces, the soup spoon perfectly shaped, the pretty plates.
No, I didn’t get any photos. I was concentrating on the food and atmosphere, but now I wish I had snapped a few.
I wanted to try the chopsticks and took them out of the wrapper. I couldn’t figure out at first that I was supposed to pull them apart (don’t laugh). I fiddled with them a little, but I couldn’t seem to get the hang of it.
Larry brought his chopsticks home and practiced this afternoon. I think he wants to go back soon for more food.

So why is this something to be particularly thankful for? I spent time with my husband, we ate good food, and we had fun experiencing something new. We might have been a bit embarrassed by our lack of knowledge, but we just joked about it and had a good time.

These little adventures—these moments of life—they mean so much to me nowadays. I no longer wait for the perfect time to have the perfect day. Any day can be made an adventure, don’t you think?

Blessings to all of you, and if you celebrate Thanksgiving, have a wonderful holiday!

Note: This week, instead of posting on Thursday, I’ll post on Friday.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A good day

A good day is not the one where the exciting things happen.

A good day for me is a quiet one, with some work, some reading. My husband is doing his own good things, but we come together for a meal and a walk, and always, talk.

That is the start of a guest post that I wrote for Shirley Hershey Showalter, writer and memoirist and blogger friend. I have learned so much from Shirley as she considers how to make a good life. I treasure her quiet wisdom.
Shirley is exploring what makes “a good day.” Everyone probably has a different idea of what a good day is. She invited me to share my version of a good day.

Shirley is the author of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World. It is a lovely memoir about growing up in a Mennonite community in Pennsylvania and learning to connect the way she grew up with the “big life” she wanted to live. I put this book on my Christmas list last year, and it is now a treasured addition to my bookshelves.

I invite you to read the guest post HERE and consider what makes up a good day for you. And read more about Shirley and check out her book. You will not be disappointed!

What ingredients are part of a good day for you?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sharing our secrets

Our second batch of leaves awaiting town pickup.

So many more leaves left to fall.

Somehow, I let my blog anniversary pass without remark. Nov. 14 was my third “blogiversary.” The time has flown by for me. I really have a hard time grasping that I’ve been a part of this blog community for so long.

Before I wrote my first blog post on Nov. 14, 2011, I had never shared a lot about my mental health with others.
As I began posting on the blog, as much as I wanted to be as open as possible about OCD and depression, it was difficult for me to decide what to share and what not to share, and how to express myself.
I had spent a good portion of my life hiding my OCD. Occasionally, I shared with a friend that I had OCD, but I never offered details about what that meant for me in my daily life.
I was a little more open about my depression because that seemed to be a bit more acceptable to others, but, again, I shared few details with others.

I have become more comfortable writing about how OCD and depression fit into my life and how I deal with them. I am more comfortable sharing how I live my life while “bringing along” these mental illnesses.

Recently, I discovered that talking about OCD with another person—speaking about it instead of writing about it—is a whole different experience for me.
As I was talking with this person, I felt more self-conscious about revealing the details about OCD than when I write about them.
Just speaking out loud about OCD jarred me. I heard the words coming out of my mouth, giving explanations about obsessions and compulsions, and I thought, “This disorder is weird. What is this person going to think?

The experience was a positive one, and I’m glad I talked about OCD. Each person I talk to, each person who reads my posts, may learn a bit more, may understand this “weird” disorder a little more.
And if the person is experiencing OCD symptoms, then maybe he or she can be encouraged to get treatment.
I was reminded that sharing such secrets—which we could argue shouldn’t be secrets because having OCD is nothing to be ashamed of—with others isn’t easy.
We have the right to privacy. There is nothing wrong with keeping close to our hearts things we don’t want to or need to share with others.
But for me, sharing my secrets can help show others they are not alone.

Have you ever found relief in revealing a secret?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Looking out the window

One morning in late October, Chase Bird and I shared some time looking out the window that overlooks the driveway and side yard.
Chase Bird is Chief of Lookout Activities in the Barbour home.
We saw squirrels and birds going about their morning activities.
Here’s Chase Bird in position.

We thought the squirrels were showing off a little bit just for him.

I was surprised to see a robin this late in the year.

We liked this little brown bird, but I couldn’t tell Chase Bird what kind it was. Anyone know?

Despite his name, Chase Bird doesn’t chase birds. He’s an indoors only kitty. And I keep telling him, “Birds are our friends.”
He nods and smiles a little. And goes back to look out the window.

What have you seen out your window lately?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Feeling strong physically and mentally

Last week, I “graduated” from physical therapy I was having for a pinched nerve in my neck. I didn’t receive a diploma, but I received a cool T-shirt that says “Physical Therapy Brings Motion to Life” and a sheaf of papers showing me the different exercises I need to continue to do on my own.
More important than any diploma is the strength that I found in physical therapy.

Darius, Katie, and Kyle made up my  PT team.

Different people in my family and in Larry’s family have, over the years, given physical therapy a bad name. In my opinion, they haven’t seemed to take it seriously and have seemed to view it as something to get through—to go through the motions—before what was really desired could happen: surgery.
I was determined that I was not going to have that attitude.
Surgery is sometimes needed. It’s sometimes the best option. But if other, less invasive, options are possibly in the end just as effective, why not try them and give them our best shot?
My orthopedic doctor was very clear with me about my options and even wrote out a list: medication, physical therapy, epidurals, surgery. He circled medication and physical therapy and said we would start with those.
I pointed to the word surgery on the paper and told him I had no plans for that.
“Work hard in therapy, OK?” he said.
And I did. I have done the stretching exercises at home and the movement exercises at PT, lifting weights, pulling on resistance bands, lying on my stomach while I lifted my affected arm over and over.
And I received so much encouragement from the staff at the rehab center. They had such positive attitudes. They challenged me physically and celebrated with me as I became stronger.
And I saw how they treated other patients. Sometimes I could see pain in the faces of people as they struggled to get better. The therapists and assistants were partners in that journey.
At the end of each PT session, I used the cervical traction machine. It was in a room off the main area where most of the therapy was done.
As I lay on the table and had my head pulled away from my neck (sounds painful, but it actually felt good), I could hear sounds from the main room. I heard therapists and assistants asking other patients how they were, expressing sympathy, setting out plans, counting out exercises, encouraging them.
What a positive place to be, I thought.
I still have pain. It got worse after I stopped taking prescription NSAIDS. But it’s not as bad as it was. And my muscles in and around my shoulders and neck are getting stronger. I know more about how my posture affects how I feel.
I had a talk with the main physical therapist on my last day, and we discussed future options. He assured me that I could get better.

That helped strengthen my belief that I have a lot of control in my recovery. There is a lot I can do to get better. And isn’t that true with anything in life, physical, mental, and emotional? We don’t have control over everything, but we can do our best with what we do have control over.

Now I’m going to work on my strength at the Altavista YMCA, where Larry and I are members. My plan is to go over today after I finish at the newspaper office and sort out which machines will work the right muscles. I also have elastic bands to work with at home.
And I am going to get even stronger.

In what ways are you trying to get stronger?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


On Friday, Nov. 7, eleven years ago, Larry and I went to the Campbell County courthouse and got married. The past eleven years have been the best of my life.
Larry and I had planned on a small church wedding. But the arrangements began to seem complicated, and we started thinking more about what we really wanted: to be married.
A few months before our planned wedding in January 2004, I moved my furniture and most of my things into Larry’s house. But Waddles and I still lived in Rustburg.
One day, while I was over at Larry’s house, he asked, “Would you ever want to elope?”
I was surprised, but we talked about it and decided that the best course to take was to get married at the courthouse by the judge so our close family could be there.
Six weeks later, we got married.
That morning, after I got dressed and ready to go, my brothers and mother and I gathered to drive to the courthouse. One of my brothers was a volunteer EMT at the time, and he had brought one of the ambulances to Rustburg to pick up some things for a fundraiser.
He suggested ferrying me up to the courthouse in the emergency vehicle. He didn’t run the lights, though—that was against the code.
So Larry, standing outside the courthouse with his parents and daughter, saw me arrive in an ambulance. Unfortunately, we didn’t get pictures of that.
We went up to the third floor to the circuit court, and Judge Samuel Johnston performed the wedding.
He said he was glad to have a happy task to do since he had presided over a testy divorce earlier that week.
Years later, the now-retired Judge Johnston wrote a book, and I interviewed him about it for the newspaper. I told him that he had married my husband and me.
“Did it stick?” he asked.
“Yes, sir, it stuck,” I said.

Happy Anniversary, dear Larry!