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The secret of health… (Buddha)As a spoonie & collector of quotations, I’ve found so many that inspire me; from the directly health-related like Buddha’s “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly,” to my oft-quoted “If you’re going through hell, keep going,” from Winston Churchill. We spoonies often deal with some pretty Hellish circumstances so we’ve learned (or are still learning :???:) that, for us, fighting back tends to make things worse. Anyone in their own Hell must make a choice; run away or stay, push forward or go backward, change latitude or attitude, continue alone or return home, change direction or avoid detection, whatever it takes just to get out or doesn’t take to give in. When your options are further limited by health, the way out — the only way to go for me — is through; “keep going.”

WEGO Health prompted my consideration of the quotational that’s inspirational as part of their Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC). With a writing prompt for each day of April, WEGO’s first challenge was imagining a Health Time Capsule & this next one suggests sharing a quote that inspires me (either positively or negatively) by free-writing about it.HAWMC: Day 2 – Quote. Find a quote that inspires you (either positively or negatively) and free write about it for 15 minutes. I hadn’t really used this writing exercise since being online, despite encouraging other writers in my life to free write, so was pleasantly surprised to end up with over 400 words in just 15 minutes. Here they are — with typos corrected, punctuation & links added along with some words that seemed needed for clarity [which are in square brackets like these |_|)]:

How can one be inspired negatively? It’s obviously being pushed in the other direction [a negative one, since inspiration is typically considered positive |_|)] but isn’t that “discouraged?” When a phrase is discouraging, the only real inspiration happening [personally |_|)] is that I’m inspired to call a quotation’s bluff. How can an inanimate piece of info be bluffing? It’s about the intent & — just like swearing — it’s how something’s said, why & when it’s said as well as how the person quoting (or misquoting :wink:) means it. Since there are so many factors, it’s surprising that so many words thus phrases & eventually oft-cited quotations (as they become more & more common) end up having a crowd-sourced meaning, & said meaning depends on the crowd one spends time with. Many religious people [for example |_|)] see individual swear words as negative while the generation [usually considered ‘Generation Y’ |_|)] just now getting out into the world & standing on their own with all that entails, including far fewer restrictions, use swear words as adjectives. Since a word that evokes a reaction simply by being said immediately adds meaning to any discourse, how can those of us willing to cuss not use them? Here we are, back at meaning again tho’; for example, saying “fuck” vs “fuck off” [with only the latter having a negative connotation regardless of one's take on swearing |_|)] then there’s “no pain, no gain” for a spoonie [as living with chronic pain changes an otherwise encouraging concept |_|)] which leads to well-known favorites like “c’est la vie.” One such phrase I’ve taken to quoting, expressing that something’s already done or can’t be changed, maybe even referencing a difference of opinion — What is this versatile quotation? — It is what it is. Now, before this turns into a “Who’s on first” routine, it really “is what it is.” No, wait, it’s actually “it is what it is” & I came across an article sometime ago that listed [it as one of |_|)] “7 Popular Negative Phrases.” First of all, context people, context. That’s as important to words as ‘location, location, location’ is to real estate. However, parsing the phrase’s most basic meaning shows that it’s saying exactly what anyone should take from it: that something exists & therefore is; or that the state of something has changed (or been made clear) so is now known, thus acknowledged as being. There are also the times when an opinion is expressed &, whatever the reaction or sentiment aside from that opinion, it too “is what it is” & may or may not change but, regardless of the future direction or hope for change, it just is what it currently is — [at least |_|)] for the time-being. :razz:

When I read the article declaring those seven popular phrases negative, this was my reaction:

As valid as most of this list is, it not only criticizes “Que Sera, Sera” which always cheers me up but the put-down of the 1st phrase was clearly written by someone without any experience with chronic illness or other disability (I hope they appreciate their luck. ~_^). “It is what it is” is not a reaction but an acceptance &, when you live with issues that cannot be readily changed, acceptance is actually the key to staying positive!

/rant from one #spoonie who admittedly says both a lot ~_~

A fellow spoonie added, “i pretty much agree with the list except for ‘I can’t.’ if ur BODY can’t, then U can’t. #spoonies know this.”

Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge

Dorian aka coffeesister <3 & |_|)

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I’ve been blogging off & on for years, have more recently opened up about my health (or lack thereof ~_^) & feel incomplete when my world isn’t as digital as it is physical yet I stopped updating this blog nearly three years ago. There were a number of practical reasons from repeated moving thus intermittent internet to a steady decrease in that so-called health of mine, yet losing my Grandma three years ago seems to be the real culprit. She taught me, amidst many other marvelous wonders & wisdom like “the dread is worse than the doing,” that people have more than one soulmate; we were each lucky enough to have married ours while also having another in each other — our husbands’ souls being complementary whereas our own mirrored the other’s. I’ll always miss her but, as Dan Fogelberg might say, “I am her living legacy.”

HAWMC: Day 1 – Health Time Capsule. Pretend you're making a time capsule of you & your health focus that won't be opened until 2112. What's in it? What would people think of it when  they  found  it?Speaking of legacies, I’ve been challenged by WEGO Health to consider what my own might be. April is Health Activist Writer’s Month at WEGO — a month dedicated to the art of writing… about health — & they’re hosting a Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC) with a writing prompt for each day of the month. If not only I but my health were memorialized, there would be purple & prose & poetry & perspectives that would seem more than just passe but downright preposterous. “What wit,” they would say, “what wisdom — no doubt thanx to these loved ones she’s commemorated — but wait; what’s this? Why would anyone have to go without healthcare?! How did she stay so positive despite so very much pain??”

As those who open my Health Time Capsule in 100 years get caught up in a collection of my favorite things, from a coffee press to the moonstones from my favorite beach, they find themselves longing for such simple pleasures as a picture forms of someone who makes the most of each moment. Then, reading thru my blogs & books, they discover that the simplicity of my life was a joy but not a choice. The more keepsakes, writings & pictures those future kindred spirits peruse; the more they understand the choice I did make, to enjoy. Each new item expressing my limitations either includes or is closely followed by an expression of appreciation for what couldn’t be limited. In the end, it will be my trusty sidekick, Chester C. Cane, that exemplifies my seemingly contradictory existence for the very need of a cane not only pronounces me disabled but announces my disability for all to see — making my illness less invisible. There again, a potential negative proves to be positive. Just as a cane has its own limitations but helps me better cope with mine, my legacy may be shaped by all I can’t do but will be filled with all the more appreciation for what I can.

Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge

Dorian aka coffeesister <3 & |_|)

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My singular guest-poster has returned to celebrate our return to Camp Nelson, allowing me to crosspost his marvelous Xmas Eve reminiscence from the perspective of all three Christmas ghosts at once (thank you, Hunny).

I married a girl some time ago and there was this whole family that came along with the deal.

family gathers on the porch at Christmas

My dad had drawn his final breath way back in ‘76 and, although mom and I were pretty close, I hadn’t had any kind of “real family” for years. I’d get up to see her around Christmas time but it was never a big holiday affair.

I’d drop in, bringing the girl with me after 1990, and we’d stay a day or two, usually around the holiday season but never on Christmas day itself.. that just never worked out. We’d bring her something (one year it was a puppy who ended up being with us for the next ten years) and she’d always have a little something for us.

Mom wasn’t about “fuss and bother,” as she called it. She’d do a bit of Christmas shopping and get it all sent off to distant relatives who seldom came to see her. Sometimes they’d send her something. I always brought mine in person.

In 1993, she joined my dad. We inherited the pup, Rufus, and proceeded to miss her terribly. We still do.

But I always had Camp Nelson.

The girl I married had told me about the place early on, back when we were just hanging out with one another. She said she’d been raised there and that there was nothing closer to heaven-on-earth. Well, that sounded like a good place to get married, so that’s what we did. We tied the knot and vowed to be faithful before God and everyone else right there in a tiny, idealistic little chapel that looked like something out of Little House on the Prairie, except there wasn’t a prairie for miles.. only gorgeous, breathtaking mountains.

A few months later, I was invited to spend the first (for me) of what would later become an annual tradition.. the Camp Nelson family Christmas trip.

Welcome to Our Cabin

You’ll find the place nestled among the Sierra-Nevada Mountains of California in the Sequoia National Forest. You drive past the valley town of Porterville and hit the highway to the mountains, enduring an hour on a twisting, winding snake of a road that brings you into the former first world war encampment of Camp Nelson, now home to mainly retirees and mountain folk.

The place looks like Norman Rockwell and John Muir got together and designed a town, after having first asked advice from Thomas Kinkade and Ansel Adams.

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.”

~ John Muir ~

I remember that first Christmas visit well. I’d been there a few times by then, but the girl was right.. there was nothing like Christmas in Camp Nelson. A silent hush emanated from the snow, broken by the crunch of our footsteps as we stepped from our car after pulling into the little driveway in front of the cabin. If you stood still for just a few seconds, you could hear the trees breathe.

Granddad Don knew a car had pulled up, so the front door flew open and there he stood, his curiosity satisfied once he saw that it was his “little brown-eyes” and her shiny new husband. He welcomed us in, and in we went.

We stayed for several days and, for that whole time,
the welcome never wore out.

Others arrived and they too were ushered in with open arms. Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends.. they poured into the cabin and rendered it a sanctuary of acceptance and love. It was a place to forget the woes of the year, even though they were lightly discussed before dinner, but as if they had happened to someone else. We didn’t know worry and stress while we were there. There just wasn’t room for it.

Granddad Don would fix Grandma Peg a “sock-it-to-me”.. a bit of holiday cheer in a glass. She’d regale us with tales from the old days, about family and friends who’d long since passed. I didn’t know of those people, but that wasn’t a requisite for finding charm in her stories. Granddad would chime in and, as often happens with those who’ve been together for a lifetime, they’d spend a great deal of time discussing the finer points of things that may or may not have happened and how they happened, if they did happen at all, depending on who was doing the remembering.

Aunt Donna visited for a few of those Christmases. My girl’s maternal aunt, she was a gracious soul who’d busy herself with things to be done.. dinner preparation, dishes, a spot of cleaning, a little gift wrapping and then a nice nature walk among those majestic trees to cap it off. Her sister would occasionally accompany her on a stroll along the crunchy, snowy paths and they’d gab on endlessly as if they hadn’t seen each other in years.

It’s been years now since Donna herself was peacefully laid to rest under those majestic trees, after cancer ferociously claimed her fragile body. Her gracious, loving soul flew on and soared like an eagle. Today, as Christmas comes around once again, she patiently awaits the great reunion.

“Take your time,” she says, “there’s plenty for you all to do yet.”

I haven’t had many holiday visits up there in that mountain heaven, where John Denver, Andy Williams and Bing Crosby sang us Christmas tunes and the wispy smell of the fireplace warmed my spirit. But I’ll cherish what few I was invited to with a grateful heart. The time came when life in the mountains was proving to be too much for such hearty old souls as Don and Peg, particularly with the loss of Donna stinging so badly. Things would never be the same for them without her cheery and loving visits so they moved to the valley below, sadly leaving the glorious cabin to be an empty, lonely sentry of God’s creation. Yet, although the memories are cherished, the place only plays a small part of it, since Christmas is really in the heart.

My girl and I have recently passed through a few tough years. A Camp Nelson Christmas has long been a thing of the past, and there have been Christmases spent solely with each other, wherever we have found ourselves. It looks as though this will be one of those years, but after recently having come so close to forever losing my girl, we both know better than ever how much it’s who you’re with and not so much where.

Dorian with her Grandma PegGrandma Peg herself was called home early last year, so Granddad returned to the lonely cabin to wait out that great reunion in solitude. But he won’t be alone this Christmas, because family will be on hand to stoke the fireplace and the memories, to keep both from waning as the night goes on.

We wish we could be with him, but as Grandma Peg is with him in spirit, we are too.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and HAPPY NEW YEAR to our readers!

Cherish this coming new year and each other.

Cherish the now.

Related posts of mine:
YOU so silly! — Written for Grandma
Happy Damn Holidays! — MY holiday post

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