1. karen53

    I recently had surgery to repair a hiatal hernia. It’s called a Nissen-Funoplication Procedure, although I like to think of myself as Pooh-bear, having my fluff and stuff re-arranged and put back where it belongs. This surgery involved some incisions on my torso, some kneading of my innards, and a challenging diet while recovering. These are some of the things I’ve learned:

    1. Doctors and nurses are awesome people. They can’t fix everything, but they will try. They also won’t feed you bullshit and tell you it’s pudding – and they aren’t afraid to call you out when you try the same.
    2. A functioning plié is a lifesaver. It doesn’t have to be pretty, and should never be performed in front of a mirror (or any reflective object) but when you can’t bend over, a gruesome plié will go a long way towards helping you reach your destination.
    3. In that same vein, my toes have proven to be, albeit unattractive, quite useful tools for the restricted mover. I’ve managed to pick up clothing, a dropped razor, pens and reading glasses with my toes this week. I am thinking of trying to play the piano with them.
    4. Surprisingly, the dishes still come out of the dishwasher clean, even if it wasn’t loaded according to size, shape, and function. Even if the utensils weren’t sorted and all facing the same direction. Even if my husband loaded it.
    5. Expect zits. Your teenage years are a distant memory, but that giant, red third eye that appears the day before your surgery is nature’s way of giving you something else to obsess about.
    6. A warm snuggling pooch, curled up next to your side, her head resting on your knee while you are still too sore to spoon with your husband, is the absolute best medicine.
    7. (After surviving heart surgery almost 20 years ago) Healing at age 53 is not like healing at age 35. What would have been a “blip” in my 30’s is a big deal now – taking twice as long to recover from half the trauma. That being said, I appear to be built Ford Tough. I take a licking and keep on ticking. That is a good thing to know about oneself.
    8. After “eating” nothing but clear liquids for 8 days, a glass of white grape juice has the same effect as chocolate. I have become a connoisseur of all things jello – orange is a hearty breakfast; red a delightful after lunch capper; green a refreshing post supper aperitif. I could go on at length about the different body, bouquet, and presentation of chicken versus beef broths. It will be nice to chew something again.
    9. Never take the ability to move for granted. Rolling over in bed, scooting last minute up the stairs, bending down to pet my pup. I never realized how full of motion we are – thoughtless, effortless motion – until mine was restricted.
    10. At 53 you still need your mom. My mother is more precious to me than I can every truly express. There before they wheeled me in, and there when I woke up. Every day after that, there with smiles, kisses, stories and an ever steady hand to hold. I lived a state away for almost 30 years, and the luxury of having my mama “just ‘cross town” is priceless.
    I am one very lucky woman. I have received so much love and support from family, and friends who love like family, that I am overwhelmed. I have learned that I could never do something like this alone. I have learned that I don’t have to.

    1. mcullen Post author

      Lovely, brilliant writing, karen53. I love your humor, appreciate your honesty and am so glad you are writing your stories. Thank you for sharing what you have learned, what we all can benefit from knowing.

    2. PamH

      For many years I have been interested that the word humus(earth) and humility both have the same Latin root. As you so beautifully expressed, being brought “back to earth” often reveals unexpected riches. Take care. Look forward to seeing you again once you recover.

      1. karen53

        It really is amazing how these “little prompts” inspire us to think bigger thoughts – one of the many things I love about working with Marlene! Thanks Pam, and I look forward to seeing you next week.

    3. Copper Penny

      Thank you for sharing your lessons learned. Amazing what we can adjust to and learn to do differently when we have to do so.
      I especially like the lesson that you do not have to go it alone. A good reminder, always.

  2. writer

    To Follow by Muriel Ellis

    Is it better to lead or wiser by far to follow?
    Long, long ago when I was very small
    I followed my cousin Mary and often we found trouble.
    When I was young—sixteen, seventeen, eighteen
    I followed Bob to marriage in war-time
    And before I could vote became a widow.
    From that day on I followed my dreams
    to live where I chose, sleep, eat, dream, work wherever
    Then to a new marriage and for sweet family years
    Did I then follow or lead? I wonder.
    Sometimes one, sometimes the other
    Until one day I discovered—I was old
    by the calendar, not in my heart
    Time now to again follow those dreams
    Long hidden away, even from me
    Time once again to go, stay, or travel
    Answer to no one but myself as my dreams sent me off
    To London or Vienna, to Oxford and Paris, yes to Paris
    To wander, flanuer as they call it in France, to stroll alone
    And joyful, the old narrow cobbled by-ways
    Sit on park benches, watch babies and lovers cuddling close
    On green park lawns on sunny May days, explore churches, street markets
    Listen to singers and harpists and three-men jazz bands
    Come home again to green paradise
    Those days now are past, golden memories to cherish
    Times to remember and follow the command to myself
    To write it all down, preserve it
    In case anyone cares for the story I followed
    the times that I led.
    More yesterdays now than tomorrows
    To share my long treasure of years.

    September 2015
    Muriel Ellis, 91 years young, has been writing with the Jumpstart writing group since it began in 2005. She has been faithful to writing all this time.

    1. mcullen Post author

      Gorgeous writing, Muriel. Heart-full and thought-full. Thank you for sharing your mini-autobiography.

    2. PamH

      A simple question leading to the unfolding of a rich history. Thank you for the gifts of your authentic stories.

  3. PamH


    Every day
    How boring
    Says mind
    Every day the same

    Silky blue
    Blush peach
    Silvery grey
    Pale glow

    My heart says
    Never existed before

    1. mcullen Post author

      I love the use of color in this piece. It has an ethereal quality, going from mind to heart via a gentle palette of soft colors.

    2. Copper Penny

      Beautifully succinct, yet so full of depth. Love the imagery.

  4. karen53

    Soothing and probing at the same time… a tapestry of pastel color cradled in a bigger question. How do you mange to say so much with so few words, Pam? Simply radiant.

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