Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012 is now a memory. All the planning, prepping, stressing, and wrapping are done. Whew. As I have gotten older the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas has gotten shorter, somehow and I believe Thanksgiving was actually early this year.

There is one word that wraps things up nicely for me, been with me my whole life and my Mom claims she has nothing to do with this word...Procrastination! We, us kids, get it from our father and she would be right. No matter how hard I try at times I never seem to finish anything until the very last minute. It wasn't until Dec. 1 or after that I decided to make many of my Christmas presents. Some of them didn't even get finished and so a gift was purchased but for those who did get something I made it was a pleasure to make them. Now if my computer wasn't being stupid today I would have great pictures to show you of the things I made. So, until my husband can solve my computer issue this will be a photo-less post.

My youngest nephew is four and a big fan of Star Wars, so in my searching with Google I found these cute little Star Wars finger puppets. Click here to see their cuteness. I also made him a pillow, here, it is a shield, and I found some monkey fabric and some contrasting fabrics for the other two parts. It turned out very cute and I still know how to sew. I needed my mom to set up the sewing machine as I didn't know how to get to zig-zag from straight stitch but I did okay. Considering I had to make my own pattern, it was a little haphazard but in the end I was pleased with the results.

I also knitted a scarf for my niece, who is 12, of which I didn't take a photo nor of my joke of a gift for my older brother. Being a Dr. Who fan and turning me into one I decided since I now own a stash of felt from my Star Wars gift I decided to make him a felt sonic screwdriver. Similar to this one here, but you can't have sonic screwdriver without a TARDIS, so I made that too but in the form of  knitted dishcloth, here. If you don't know about Dr. Who I highly recommend watching it, find it on Netflix but start with Season 1, 2005. Trust me you will think I am nuts but after a few episodes you just can't help yourself.

Anyway back to Christmas 2012 it was really great. We celebrated with my family over the weekend and had a great time. Food, fun, gifts, and most importantly sledding! It took all I had not to sit myself down on that red plastic sled and fly down the hill but I thought better of it and so I watched the kids fly down the hill and climb back up, time after time. I got tired just watching them climb the hill especially the littlest, four-year-old Kai. Those little legs got tired but he kept at it. I loved watching him and my older nephew, ten-year-old Cooper, go down in the sled together. Cooper was the pilot sitting up right facing forward with his legs outstretched using his arms as his turning force and Kai, face down stretched out in Coop's lap as they flew down the hill. Apparently he didn't want snow in his face. It was so cute and comical, I only wished I would have snapped a picture.

It was such a joy to watch the kids, and to be able to walk back up the hill myself only having to rest because my thigh muscles felt like they were going to  explode but my lungs did just fine.

These are the moments that life is about, watching kids having fun, great conversation and time spent with siblings and loved ones. Even though the gifts are fun to give whether made or purchased. It all comes down to love, family and friends. Those who surround us make our life beautiful and each of those moments spent with them is the greatest gift to receive.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Here in Minnesota the joke is we have two season, winter and road construction! We have officially entered the winter season. Also if you are a Minnesotan you know that today it could snow and tomorrow it could be 50 degrees, or suddenly below zero, take your pick.

Last year, winter was something to laugh at for anyone who has lived here for years or their whole life they know that last winter was, to say the least, unusual. Unless you are an outdoor winter sport enthusiast or just love cold, damp weather then last year was a perfect winter. The only real problem is we, as in, farmers and crop growers, need the moisture. If last year was your first winter experience, wow you were lucky and no that is not typical. After a dry winter and even drier summer the snow yesterday was much appreciated. It also helps to put one in the holiday spirit when they aren't running around in t-shirts.

Yesterday after the first three inches of snow I decided in the beauty of it all I would take a walk. So I bundled in my multiple layers, hat, scarf, and not so appropriate hand attire, strapped on my Yak Track knockoffs and headed out. It was glorious! As I walked there was the scent of wood burning fireplaces in the air, kids were rolling balls of snow for their snow men and chipping away places for nose, eyes, and mouths. I saw the most creative snowman with a tiny bird house for a hat and evergreen branches for the arms. I also saw a group of kids putting up a whole family of snow people, it made me chuckle. I thought of Calvin and Hobbes, for those who are familiar you get my meaning.

I also saw kids jumping on their sleds and traveling down the smallest of hills for the thrill of winter sledding. In my day those hills would have been a bump, but beggars can't be choosers when you live in town.

With the snow clinging to the trees and the still of the day it was like walking around town in the days when there were no digital toys to play with, no two hundred plus channels to watch, and no xbox or Wii U. To see kids playing, and families working together, or going for walks was like days of yesteryear.

Growing up snow was the best part of any winter, when you are under the age of 16, snow is fantastic. Not only is there a chance of a snow day but there is nothing greater than playing in the snow. It always seemed that we had very few snow days when I was a kid even though we had PLENTY of snow. Back then it was like each snow fall was at least six inches, that was on the slim side.

Growing up on acreage there was a million things we could think of to do. I have memories of my brother and I making cockpits out of a snow bank, each in our seat with controls on both sides. Something tells me it was more my brothers idea and quite likely Star Wars inspired, I loved it. We also had some great hills to go down, or when we were less inclined to walk half a mile we would pile the snow off the back deck and create a run, that went off the back deck, under the clothes line, past the apple tree into what was at one time the garden. Each time down we went a little further. Seriously, as a kid, exercise is disguised as fun!

When we got our first set of tubes for sledding it was the most awesome thing. We could glide over snow like we were riding on butter. Occasionally ending in Sarah having some sort of injury, but well worth it. Of course as usual, I blame my brother. He really was the reason for most of my injuries as a youth, he doesn't recall most of my memories but I swear it to be true.

Our neighbor had a small pond that in my early years we would go down to skate on, I don't remember doing it too often but I do remember the time my dad made it seem as though had fallen with one leg through the ice - that joker. To this day he still get's a thrill out trying to scare/shock you, and he usually succeeds. Don't even ask about his April fools jokes!

I have great, absolutely great memories of winter growing up. Even our little dog Poopsie used to lift up her back legs and walk like an acrobat on only her front paws in the snow. Not only did she think she was a cat but a gymnast too.

So, even though the winter weather is awful for driving in, and then the whole cold factor there is great beauty to be seen and had in the winter. So, pull those twenty year old snow pants out of the closet, slip on your Sorels, or moon boots if you're lucky and go have some fun in the snow. There is nothing more beautiful than a snow angel. 

Monday, November 26, 2012


Being at home as much as I am, and alone, I have a lot of time to think. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. When I have time to be in my 'studio' I keep the music playing just to drown out my thoughts.

Last week Wednesday afternoon I was sitting with a new doctor, a hypertension and nephrology doctor. My blood pressure has been high and my kidneys are working at about 50% of what they were before my transplant. So my current standing is this, diabetic, hypertensive, high cholesterol, kidney issues, and bone density which has decreased instead of increased as hoped. So never having met this doctor and he not having read my chart AT ALL, before coming in he was surprised to hear my whole story in about three minutes. What I walked away with other than three new prescriptions is that my life before the ventilator has become a blur. I am not sure if that is because that life no longer effects this one because I don't have those lungs or what. Every time he asked a question it was, 'I think before the vent' or 'maybe it was on the vent', I just don't know. Call it PTSD or just plain forgetfulness but how does one whose life consisted of such turmoil day in and day out forget so much?

I spend many days going between two thoughts, time on the vent and my new daily life.

Having been on the vent is such a long time ago it has been over a year since my transplant. I however can put myself back in that room in a heart beat if I let my mind. I have moments in time that I remember. I have memories of my aunt being outside my window across the street waving, that was priceless and also one of my best memories. I remember my grandma's last visit, and sadly her funeral via internet from my room as my brother set up so I could watch it as it happened. I remember when the panic would set in every afternoon toward, the end, as my mom would wash my hair, suddenly I felt like I couldn't breathe. The fear of having a machine breathing and being in control is scary. I remember the night RT Ashley sat at my bed side while I fought with the vent, feeling it wasn't in sync with me.

I remember the night before my transplant when the article came out in the paper, for the first time in months I felt calm and didn't go to sleep wondering when it would come. Chris and I had finished Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Mark was my RT, and Nicole was my nurse. Thanks to my pastors for bringing me to a point of contentment too, I was ready to leave this earth if that was the plan, I was tired of struggling, tired of waking up at six every morning to the same routine, and hating every suction and every beating and every vest time. The best part about RT was the therapists, not all mind you but the good ones know who they are. The lack of control in everything was the worst, when you are always in control it is a nightmare to let go.

Skip forward 12 months. This past week being Thanksgiving and all about being thankful, I was blessed to spend the time with all my family this year. First meal back at my mother-in-laws house since Spring of 2011. This Thanksgiving my siblings and their children all came for Thanksgiving and I got to spend every day with them. I even had my brother, sis-in-law and the two nieces over for lunch and we got to do some artwork together. As I was moving about that day and up and down stairs I couldn't help but think how great this was and how lucky I was to have these days with all of them. I sometimes stop and wonder what would be going on if I hadn't made it. It doesn't plague me, but I do wonder. I also know that someday that will be the case, but I will cherish these moments. I will cherish the things like Kai saying the word 'her' instead of 'she', or the way he crinkles his face. I will cherish the way Josie always finds a way to be close, even as she gets older she isn't afraid of laps or hugs, or any form of affection. How Grae sits and reads a book so big I would have cried at her age if someone gave me it, but she loves it. The girls laughing together is like music. And Cooper the one who didn't get to stay, that boy has so much love in him and he is so sweet.

Each moment is priceless, and my family means the absolute world to me. I would be nothing without them, they have been through hell and back with me.

So maybe there I days I think too much, but I maybe that is a good thing. I get to chance to relive the worst part of my life but followed by the best part of my life. It may not be perfect but being able to have one more day is better than anything.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Defining Myself

I think I said at one point I was going to try and get better at posting. I think I will try that again, maybe I need a more specific plan. Such as plan a post every Tuesday or Wednesday. I can collect ideas through out the week. Goodness knows I think about ALOT of things, especially when I am alone, at home, cooking and or doing other things around the house.

At this particular moment I am realizing my laziness has caused me some discomfort. What discomfort you ask? I choose to cut up my Serrano chili without wearing gloves - oops. Today I have two doctor appointments so I am trying to get dinner in the crock pot, tonight's menu, Chicken Tortilla soup. I have combine two recipes, one from Pinterest and one from Ree Drummond. We shall see how this tastes.

Yesterday, as is every Monday, was transplant support group. I don't go every week, other things going on, like my MCAD class that was every Monday for two months. Sometimes I am just tired by 4 pm, so I don't go. But when I do go I feel good when I leave. I realize that support groups aren't for everyone. I started going, very infrequently, when I was on the vent. I was invited by my transplant buddy, George, so I went. The longer I was on the vent, and then when I had to leave my room only on the portable vent I went a whole lot less often. One gentlemen that I have gotten to know over the last year plus, told me the other day I had a very emotionless face when I was on the vent, or rather the same expression, possibly fear. He also told me he really thought I wasn't going to make it, and he is happy he was proven wrong! Each meeting has many similar people but then others who are past transplant recipients who come back for their check ups and others who are on the waiting list. I can't tell you how many people I have meet over these many months, but a lot.

I also learned something about myself. As I struggle with the realization that the Graphic Designer I once was no longer exists. Not that I don't do it, in fact I do, but I also have stretched my artistic talents further than just digital art and frankly I love getting dirty creating with paint, pencils, and inks. There is nothing like it. But being the CE graphic designer, in some way defined me, it was something I put my stamp on and it felt good, even though stressful at times.

I have had, since transplant, a hard time defining myself, when I was on the vent I had many conversations with my brother about this life I was living at the time, patient, CFer, unknown future. Since my transplant I have had a hard time defining what this new life means, and often times wondering why I received this gift, why I was given this chance when so many others will not be so lucky. And if I am not the graphic designer for CE, who am I, what am I?

What I am is a survivor, I have been given a chance to redefine, or rather finally define who I am and why I am here. The one thing I get great satisfaction out of is meeting other lung transplant recipients or those waiting. I realize that each one of us has a different situation, from the underlying health condition to the place we live in this country. But the one things that is the same is that it is a struggle to understand that someone will die to save our lives, and what will life be like with new organs. Will the pains, and difficulties with transplant ever subside. Those are the things that bring us all to the same point.

I have meet another CFer, who is walking the same path I did a year and a half ago. I can't do much for her physically but I can give her the encouragement she needs to make it through this. I think support is the greatest thing anyone needs when dealing with this kind of situation. She is in great hands medically. CFer's are already resilient people, they know how to fight with all they have. But that positivity is imperative.

So, back to what I realized. There is nothing I know more about then what I have gone through these last many months and my knowledge, however difficult some of my memories are can help me help others. When it comes to life I think that is what it is about, our relationships with other people. It is our responsibility to help others when we have the knowledge to share. I love being able to share, and in some cases ease people's hearts. I spend 45 minutes talking to a woman I had never met about her husband 5 day old double lung transplant, by the time we were done she visibly was more comfortable. I didn't tell her things would be perfect but did say, bumps were normal and time would improve things. I remember having more questions than answer after transplant, and I know what these people are wondering.

What I realized is that I am an expert, of sorts, in something I never looked to be an expert in. Sometimes we look so hard we don't see what's right in front of us. I am still not exactly sure how to define this, but I will figure out how to fully share this knowledge I have. It makes all I have gone through worth something, suffering is difficult when going through it but if there is something to come of that suffering for someone else, it is worth every difficult moment.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, October 23, I received the best gift of my life. A gift that one can never thank the giver for. Today I celebrate the one year anniversary of my new lungs in this old body. Okay old is relative but my new life with these lungs is beautiful.


Saturday, October 13, 2012


Today was one of those fall days you dream about where it's a little chilly, rainy, and it's the weekend so sitting on the couch watching old movies is all but okay. I however did not do that. Apparently it is also the day to bake, and bake things with apples. My sister sent me a photo of her apple crisp, just as I put mine in the oven. She invited me over to have some, I would love to if only she didn't live 1.5 hours away. I had a good laugh about that.

I also baked up my squash and froze that today. I had purchased four squash at the Farmer's Market last weekend and today finally felt alive enough to take care of them. I love squash and now I will get to enjoy it during the winter months. This week seemed to be my week to freeze things. I cleaned and chopped onion and green pepper for the freezer also. Guess I am hunkering down for winter, kinda like the Ingall's family but nothing in my freezer came from my hard, sweat over gardens. Nope mine came from someone else's. Next I figure I will buy a side or quarter of beef for my freezer, then I will truly be set.

Of course all this will come crashing down on me tomorrow when I have to actually function for the day and my body will then want to sit on the couch. Likely it will be a gorgeous day!

I am watching the calendar closer these days. You know when your a kid and your birthday is just weeks away and it is so exciting? Well my first, 'second chance at life' birthday is just ten days away and I still can't believe it. I can't believe that we have made it back around to another October, let alone soon to be 23rd. I recall there being some weird things around that day and I am trying to remember all that happened the day before. I don't remember anything past 7 a.m. on Oct. 23 until I ate the best popsicle of my life after surgery. The awful pictures tell that story. I will see what I can recount from those days over the next few. I sometimes wish there was a video of my surgery (which there probably is). I would like to see it. Gross as it may seem, it is also quite the miracle and how often in life do we get to experience that.

I see the doc on Monday. Results and further bronch discussions I am sure. As I was all prepared for a stent and didn't get one, probably a good thing but so curious when and if I will ever know life again without a PICC line.

Time to go put my feet up for the night, it's been a busy day.

Happy harvest everyone. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Autumn Winds

Fall has arrived! The air is crisp, the leaves swiftly blowing across the lawn down the street and into someone else's yard. Though the colors are quickly receding it has been enjoyable to watch summer leave and fall come.

I had a great summer, minus the health issues. I got to enjoy so much time with my friend Karen at her pool. It was a great time, I usually included it as part of my exercise, meaning I would got for a walk and end up at her house. Due to my PICC line and transplant restrictions I had to keep my right arm out of the water and my face. Other than trying to fall into the deep end where the shallow goes into the deep there were no mishaps in the pool.

After that last visit in August, I believe I haven't had much walking outside which is sad. It has nothing to do with the pool but rather with how I felt and the weather. I am mostly tied to my treadmill these days, there were many days over the weeks when I didn't even get on the treadmill I felt so rotten. But today, knock on wood, as last time I boasted about feeling better I was slammed a week later with feeling like shit. So I say this lightly. My numbers have been increasing in the lab these days. Today I blew an FEV1 of 2.65, which translates into a 84.2% lung function. I think my highest blow in the lab is above 2.7+. This has been one wicked climb back up a hill.

The real issue still exists, and 'what is that?' you ask! That is where the scar tissue from the new lung meets the old airway likes to shrink. Part of the reason I have been on IVs every six hours for the last two+ months is because with that airway closing I can't cough out any junk in there, thus collecting and causing infection. I also now have fungus in there so I do five different rounds of inter venous medicines a day, the 4 am is the worst. It never fails the alarms goes off at 4 am and I can't decide in my sleepy confusion at first if I am hooking up or disconnecting. The med takes an hour to run in so I sleep for the hour it runs in.

I hadn't been in my studio in weeks, but late last week I got in there to finish my homework for my Children's Illustration class. Today I am about 90% done with another project I have been working on that makes me feel good.

Every day is still a guessing game. I usually have a couple good hours each day, and sometimes even a half a day. I have yet to have a whole day where I wake up feeling fantastic but that still may come - I can hope.

So the airway issue will be addressed once again this coming Tuesday, I have a bronch scheduled. Apparently they have decided a stint might be the way to go. The infection doesn't clear up and at this time appears to be our best option. So, here's hoping the right decisions are made and I can start feeling better and getting back to my 'normal' life. Only time will tell.

For now I am doing what I can each day. I give a lot of credit to my husband for helping while I was really down and out. I spent most of my time on the couch or at the clinic and he was a laundry and dishwashing machine. He proved his worth!

I will try to post some of my children's illustration projects soon. The final is doozy, but let's hope well worth the energy.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Back in the Slammer

It's kind of hard to wrap the head around being back in the hospital after being out nearly five months. I am a much better patient now then I was before my transplant and time on the vent. Much more relaxed, but I think that has to do with how I feel. Meaning, with my cf lungs I went in to the hospital not feeling well and never feeling better when I left, just more drugged. I also always worried my port would get neglected and clot off, that no longer exists. Now i try not to get bent out of shape when my meds aren't on time, I try to give more leeway. I draw the line at my transplant drugs, 45 minutes late I start getting a little edgy, for the most part they are on time. 

The frustrating part is I had felt so good until that first bronch just over two weeks ago and then it all went haywire. I am glad the bronch revealed the ugly fungus that is in there but not happy with how the bronch left me feeling short of breath. I am trying to keep my frustration contained and in perspective, this is the land of transplant. The ground at times is firm but sometimes shaky and you never know when you will return to the solid ground you were happy to be on. 

There is no one path that transplant takes, and you never ever forget you are living on borrowed time. You can go about your day, plan your life, dream those dreams of things to do but always in the back of your mind is the fear that it will all slip away. You try not to dwell on it but it's like getting a song in your head out of nowhere. You sing the song for awhile then get annoyed and it goes away for some hours or days then boom, it comes back. The mind is the worst trap and the one thing you can't run away from.

I am getting sprung from here today, feeling some better but not like a shiny new coin. I am however ready to go home to my own bed. I will miss the prepared meals, yes I do enjoy the hospital food, but I can eat on my own schedule at home. 

I don't think I will ever know a normal life, which is nothing new since it was far from normal before. I just have to figure out how to define my life. Right now I am so scheduled with meds my day is full and they make me feel sluggish also. I hope someday this pseudo and fungus will remove itself from my lungs. I won't hold my breath but I will hope.

I have had nearly eleven great months, grueling and hard at times but I wouldn't give them back for nothing. Life is not guaranteed perfect nor is it ever defined as smooth. Life is ever changing and undefined. If you are lucky enough to do something you love every so often then life is good. Eleven months ago I had no future plans because I wasn't sure I would survive another week or month, but here I am. The only plan I have now is the one to take this day and enjoy it. It is the only one any of us is guaranteed.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Here is the project I have been working on. I promised on FB to post it once I was finished. Here it is. And no I am not worried about my friends stealing this, I am more those who might come across it, thus the 'do not copy' watermark.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Life's Beauty

I went for a walk Sunday, big surprise as I take a walk everyday. Yesterday I walked west toward John Adams, my junior high back when I was a whole 12 to 14 years old. I walked down past the ball field and water tower and up 18th avenue to 37th street and home. It was around the water tower when the drizzle started and I thought how smart I was to leave my umbrella at home, in the closet, on the hook where it does no one any good. I also realized I wouldn't melt so I enjoyed the rest of my mile walk home.

As I started my walk yesterday I was thinking about all the great things I got at the Dick Blick art store and all the fabulous things I want to paint, draw, create and so forth with my bounty. I also realized as I walked that I am so overwhelmed some days by the prospect of creating that it cripples me.

Since transplant I notice things different, I notice the color of the sky is bluer, the grass greener, the flowers more vibrant and contrasts between colors and textures just pop like I am looking through some sort of special lenses. I guess in some way, as cliche as this may seem, I liken it to what Dorothy must have felt landing in Oz after leaving Kansas. A world that just existed to a world with more promise and excitement that could have ever been imagined.

When I am outside I am overwhelmed by how beautiful things are and I wish with all my heart I could capture it in some form. That is why I use my camera so much, hopes of capturing something that I can hardly describe when it speaks to me.

On my deck, right now, I have  flower pot with sweet potato vine and  petunias. The vine is the most beautiful chartreuse and the petunia is a fuchsia, the combination is wonderful and when the sun shines on it and the leaves cast shadows upon itself it just stirs me to want to do something with those colors.

I have thousands of ideas for paintings floating through my head, I wake up with ideas, I go to bed with ideas and often I lose ideas. I would need a sketch book strapped to my hand in order to get down everything I think of.

Everything in life is beautiful, I only hope that others can see the beauty that surrounds them everyday. It can be the way the shadow from the tree dapples the ground or side of the house. The way the sun reflects off a piece of glass on the wind chime. It's those moments that something captures my eye and makes me catch my breath that I realize how lucky I am to have been there at that moment.

What is beautiful in your life?

Old Home Farm Summer 2012

Old Home Farm Summer 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August Already?

As I walked in the door 15 minutes ago I took a breath and realized I had absolutely no where to be, nothing pressing to do and what on earth was I going to do with my acquired time? Then it hit me, I need to blog.

I feel awful seeing that it has been nearly a month since I last blogged. It has been quite the month, to say the very least, and I guess summer is also a much busier time. It isn't that my life has suddenly become boring and I have nothing to talk about because it has been a roller coaster of emotions and appointments and uncertainty. But there have also been beautiful moments and those I like to think are the best part.

So where does one begin? Two weeks ago I was told I likely had Lymphoma, after four days of thinking the worst but hoping the best it was confirmed that I do NOT have Lymphoma but rather a nicely infected lymph node. So, my lovely friend pseudomonas has reared it's ugly head once again and is likely here to stay, as it is like trying to remove a tattoo with an emery board. But I will take it all in stride, I am good at the antibiotic, medication/pill thing, it's like a skill. I can't control what happens but I can do what is asked of me to try to make it better in the short term that will in some way help the long term. I know what pseudomonas does, it's what killed my original lungs. I will continue to give it the old one two punch and see where it goes.

The good news for the last month is I have been able to paint, and create. I always have way more ideas then I have time to try. I had the great opportunity to drive farm machinery, I have had many great bike rides, and walks. I have spent many a days at the pool, relaxing chatting and allowing my stress to wash away with the beautiful glistening water. Read some really great books, four or more, I lost count.  My oldest and dearest friend gave birth to her first child, a baby girl, this has been such a joy. Having known her since I was 13ish, it is crazy to see those dreams we have talked about for years come true. I am so excited and proud of the woman she has become and the mom she will be.

I will be honest I have had some blue days, when I realize that this can all be taken away so quickly and that the dreams I had growing up are nothing of what my life is today. I don't think there is one thing in my life, other than getting married, has turned out like I had dreamed. So some days I mourn that. Some days I mourn that I will never be that full time career woman, or the ranch wife in Montana (I know, completely different paths there), or the mom whose little blond daughter will go with her to the grocery store like I did with my mom. But I also sit and thank God for all I do have and for still being here on this earth with the ones I love.

I don't know where life will take me, wish I did. I am so eager and full of expectation of doing things, of making beautiful artwork that I fear it being taken away. But fear gets a person nowhere and I can't go down that road to many times. I always feel, and have since transplant that something is out there, just beyond my reach. It isn't that it isn't unreachable it's just that right now I am not tall enough to get my hand on it, but one day soon I will reach out, and it will be within my reach. When it does show up I will be ready.

Driving this big daddy!

Peacock Acrylic on Canvas

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Exploration Complete

I am back from my week long vacation to MPLS and MCAD. I am totally not sure where the week went. I woke up early last monday, 4:30 a.m., for bloods then off to the cities for the 9 a.m. class start time. It was like being shot out of a cannon and the next thing I know it's friday evening and time to head back home. I was so exhausted by the end of the week I wasn't sure I could pull myself out of the car when I got home, but it was so worth every minute.

We learned a great deal this past week, starting with mono type prints, that was the first exploration and I pretty much didn't care for it, but that was because it took me a few days to come to a conclusion on how I could make it work for me and be creative with it, like painting. So, it became my friend. We then learned collagraph, basically taking a piece of masonite and glueing all sorts of textures to it. Once coated with clear glues and sprays it is then used in the press to create embossings, and or you can add ink to it and do an embossing and print, or you can go one step further and add pieces of other paper that are then glued on during the embossing/printing process and that is called Chin Colle. Are you following this?
Monotype plate after print


Printed Collagraph Embossed/Inked

Then we learned lithography Intaglio and this is where I was most excited and apprehensive. This is where you create an etching on a copper plate, in this instance, give it an acid bath, cover it in ink, remove the ink and then run it through the press, this then pulls the ink out of the etched lines and on to the paper. It took me over an hour to come up with a drawing, another three hours to scratch in the drawing, an hour and 15 minutes to soak in the acid bath before I could even print. That is all while hoping the whole time I have not over or under soaked it in the acid.
Lithography (copper plate etching)

Monotype with Chin Colle, embossing, and Lithography

In the end I spent my time combining all of these processes into my concept. It was friday afternoon before I really got down to business and there wasn't much time, especially when you have to leave things dry before you can do the next process. I think I calculated it took me 12 minutes from the time I put the ink on the plate until I was able to print. I wish I had a video or photo of me cleaning the plate but I didn't think of that.

It really was worth every minute and the exhaustion I felt, it was an 'I accomplished something and had a good time' exhaustion. I also met some really nice people, all of whom are educators and that allowed for some good discussions on how to do some of these projects in class/school rooms on a budget and without the expensive and bulky equipment in the printmaking labs.

I also can't forget that this was a week I got to spend with my brother. The last time we spent this much time together was when I was in the hospital and before that probably when we both lived at home. I felt very much at home at their place, my brother and sister-in-law made me feel very welcome and took me to some great places to eat, went on walks with me, and even when he was dead tired he helped me out by taking me to see my dearest friend so I wouldn't get lost on my way home.

Tony on the press
I feel very fortunate to have had this experience, I hope the energy and inspiration I received from it will stick with me and help propel me forward as I continue to explore art in my world.

(I do apologize for my less than great sample photos. However the one of Tony is quite nice.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

To MCAD, huh!?

I have been busy the last two days trying to pack for a week-long vacation of sorts. I am so excited and yet so afraid I am going to forget something. It isn't like I am going across the pond, rather I will only be less than 1.5 hours away in Minneapolis but just the same I don't want to forget anything.

Why, you may ask am I going to the cities for a week? Seems like a silly week-long vacation destination, I agree. In fact I am actually taking a class at MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art a Design). Ten years ago I was accepted into their graphic design program but turned it down for the opportunity to got to St. Mary's University in Winona. I loved SMU and am so glad I made that choice, of course I always wondered what it would have been like to go to MCAD. Well this week I get my chance. I am taking a printmaking class that is all day, everyday this coming week. No pressure to be creative, I am sure. We will be doing Intaglio, Collagraph/Embossment, Monotype, of which I am familiar with Monotype, and haven't done that since SMU.

Not only do I get to take this class but I get to take it with my brother. How sweet is that, of course we haven't spent a week together in a very long time so let's hope we get along great. Only kidding I know we will. We spent a lot of time together last summer as he frequently drove down to spend time with me during my wait in the hospital. He blames me for his lack of garden last year, yeah, blame the invalid! In any case, we will have a great time and will produce wonderful things, it will certainly make me want to do more creative stuff when I return home. I still want an old printing press, that is in the back of my mind. Patience!

So, I will let you know all about my week when I return - unless I  find myself in blogging mode while I am gone. I am also going to be exploring MPLS on a bike, Henrietta and her owner are going to get a work out. Yea for us!

Have a great week!

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Broke Through

Okay, not sure if I really broke through creatively or just that I worked on a painting that I have been putting off and in so doing felt that spark again. Yes, I have been procrastinating, I know not a big surprise if you know me or my family (not my Mom, she isn't a procrastinator - she blames my dad). Back to me, because that is what this is usually about anyway.

I have been putting of doing the painting of my nephew for like a year now. I knew when I saw the photo of him last year that it NEEDED to be a painting, one he and/or his parents will cherish forever, because it is so him. I haven't painted a portrait in years and flesh tones are about the hardest thing to do, for me anyway. I watched videos on YouTube to get some hints and basically those people just irritate me because they are so good. Really, could you make it look any easier? When it isn't! In any case, as the rain came down last night outside the window I picked up my brush and my six colors and began working on Kai's portrait. Layer after layer later, I am getting there. I hit it again this morning and I think I am pleased with how it is turning out. I will post a photo here once I get it done.

So, six hours of painting and I am nearly done with something that's been waiting a year to be done. I am glad I did it, I am glad I just told myself that it wasn't going to paint itself and most importantly to not be scared. I can always try again, that's why there is white paint - it was delete before there was a delete key/button. That's the problem being a graphic designer, on the computer deleting and changing is easy, not so easy with paint but still doable.

Fear and procrastination aside I can say this has been a good day, I can't wait for my brother to see it. And I can't wait to hear Kai say in his little voice, 'that's me'. Or at least I hope he realizes it's him I have painted.

Thank you Kai for your inspiration and mostly for just being the awesome little boy that you are!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Creativity, Where Are You?

To my loyal readers, all three of you, I apologize for my lack of blogging. I have been in a creative slump lately. Last week was a great week, probably partially because I had a birthday but I also was painting like crazy with all these new ideas flowing in and out. I think I used up my creativity last week and now I don't know which way to turn. I am sure just like the weather it will change back one of these days, or hours, I am hoping for the later.

I was telling my husband this morning that I feel like I am missing something, like there is something in front of me that I am to be doing but I can't quite put my finger on it or see it clearly. I am not sure if it is a mental thing or a creative thing or a personal thing. It's just a thing. Kind of akin to Dr. Who always telling Ms. Pond that it's at the corner of her eye, she just can't see it. Then again maybe I am watching too much Dr. Who. However, I don't really think that is the case.

It was shortly after that conversation that I received an email from my sister-in-law about a printmaking opportunity at MCAD and I was so excited to see it. I am hoping I will be able to partake, I will keep you posted on that. I feel sometimes I am looking for something creative that I haven't found yet. I keep trying new things and discovering new ways to brake out of old habits. The reason I started working in watercolor for awhile, a new challenge that has it's own benefits when it comes to painting different subject matter.

It seems when one creative area slumps they all seem to, even my writing, thus why I haven't blogged lately. I need a new spark, and you would think I would be endlessly sparked by the fact I have a whole new lease on life but sometimes it is still difficult through these new waters. I still have days where I don't feel well, likely because on the days I do feel well I work really hard and then pay for it a few days later. That old saying make hay while the sunshines, that's what I do, I work when I feel well then suffer (of sorts) later.

Like the moon to the tides I am also directly affected by the weather outside my window, give me sun I move with it give me clouds I can't seem to find a direction.

Here's to sunny days ahead and finding my creative spark again. I have been contemplating the 30 posts in 30 days challenge, but I am not sure I could keep up or even keep you entertained with that many posts. But it might also be a good way to pull me up and out into the light again.

I will leave you with a few photos from last weekends photo session.



Monday, June 4, 2012

Creativity and Beyond

A year ago, June 1, I entered the hospital only to stay there for five plus months. That's a whole year that has gone by in the blink of an eye in hindsight. In real time it was a nightmare that never wanted to end. One of the hardest transitions and decisions for me last Spring was stepping aside from my job as I struggled with my medical crisis.

Last July was my seventh year working for Community Education as their graphic designer, and it was a rewarding job but also a very stressful job. Deadlines, calendars, working ahead months in advance, being 'creative' every day of your life, and working when feeling my absolute worst, between bleeding and collapsed lungs I still managed to get the job done. CE was kind enough at one point to lend me a laptop that I could work from home (and occasionally the hospital) if need be and I did my best to get in to work even when I could hardly drag myself out of bed. I think you will find most Cystics are that way, the disease that pummels can't keep you down and when it finally gets to the point of defeating it's staggering. The reality hits like a train bearing down - how can this be, how can I not function to get the job done, not possible!

It has been a crazy year but today as I am sitting at my desk from home, trying to clean up the remnants of my CE job, electronic file folders filled with design ideas, concepts, past and future projects I am overcome by the the joy that it brought me, yes even with all the stress and illness, within that was my creativity shinning through. I came  across the cover I had planned to use for Fall 2011, I already was working on last May 2011 and it is beautiful. So there, in the computer sits a creation that will forever be a digital beauty, never used, never seen but today it reminded me of 'what was' but, more importantly, 'what is' part of me.

Design and art, it's what I do, and if I may say - it's what I am good at! It doesn't matter if what I do is digital, or with paper and pen/pencil/paint it's in my blood and what keeps me going from day to day. The ability to create what emanates from the soul. It doesn't matter at the end of our time on earth whether we had the biggest house or car but rather did we enjoy the journey along the way and do things that made us happy inside and out.

Sometimes we forget our way and neglect that things are the most important and those things are different for each of us. Go find what that is, go live the things that make you happy, discover something new about yourself or rather rediscover. Life is fleeting, life is beautiful, and today is your chance to capture it.

I will leave you today with more of my 'aperture' beauties, thanks to my good friends beautiful back yard.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Photo day!

Having spent a few days in Madison and enjoying my time with family and the city itself I have decided to make todays post a photo post. Here is what I saw and how I spent some of my time.


Farmers' Market

Farmers' Market
Farmers' Market

Farmers' Market

Farmers' Market

State Street

Speaks for itself!

Something about this bench spoke to me!

Monday, May 21, 2012

All Things Pretty!

Wow! Been nearly a week since I lasted posted, I blame the nice weather and traveling for my lack of posting. The blogs I read I get disappointed when there hasn't been a post for days so I should really avoid the same pitfalls and make it part of my daily activities.

So what have I been up to lately? Good question, maybe a better is what haven't I been up to? In the last week I have painted, planted (or rather supervised), photographed, traveled, cooked, visited friends, family and Marco, shopped, and napped (only occasionally). I haven't however seen a doctor in over two weeks - that is unreal. I haven't gone a week without seeing a doctor in nearly a year - huge. I do however see the doctor on Wed. but that was scheduled, not an emergency.

Anyway, back to what I have been up to. For the last few weeks I have been working on a very special painting, and though I can't say much about it at this point I will say that I chose to work in watercolor for this particular project. From the day I decided on this project I knew that watercolor was the media of choice and I am so tickled by it that I can hardly contain my joy some days. I have, since starting that painting, done a couple other watercolors as exercises and am really enjoying it. While at a shop this last weekend there were watercolors a plenty and they just speak so differently than acrylic paints, don't' get me wrong I still love the thick and denser feel of acrylic on my brush but the subtlety of watercolor and the range of light and dark is unmatched.

Last week my husband handed me the camera, one I haven't hardly used as it is new to us this last year, and told me to go take 20 photos in the yard. I was wondering how I was going to find that many things to photograph and by the time I was done I had way more than 20. This camera allowed me to capture nature in a way no other camera has allowed me to do, with up close focusing it was breathtaking to see what turned out. I now can combine my two new loves, photos and watercolor. Stay tuned!

The real highlight of the week, if it wasn't great enough as it was, my husband and I went to Duluth. We haven't been back up there since our honeymoon nearly seven years ago this summer. The first day was cold and rainy, could have worn long underwear but day two was hot, hot, hot. Welcome to Minnesota right, always be prepared for any type of weather. I got a lovely new hat, which I love! Thanks to my husbands persistence. This is also the furthest I have been from home in, I think, five years.
Duluth May 2012
It was a great week. I can't expect them all to be as fantastic, or maybe I can, I guess it all depends on perspective. Today is more planting aka supervising, exercise, hopefully some painting and maybe a Marco visit. With the weather so nice it's great to spend time outside with him. He has four dog siblings at his new home and he is happy as can be. I love watching him play in Liz's back yard he just is full of joy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


When I was a kid and mowed the lawn, a big lawn, I remember when I was done how my fingers would tingle from pushing or riding the lawnmower. All that vibrating and jiggling around, I rather found it odd and funny at the same time. So today as I got back from my walking tour of Elton Hills, and I see why they say 'Hills' once again I find my feet are tingling like my hands used to.

Just like riding the bike, stationary riding doesn't translate well into actually outdoor riding and neither does walking. The treadmill is certainly doing it's job, or rather helping me do mine but when it comes to going outside to walk it is a whole different story. Wasn't sure today how far I would get, I have an appointment this afternoon and though I was on a time crunch I felt I would just head out and get a walk in. I might even pull my bike out later this evening, I know overachiever. We'll see how tired I am after dinner.

In any case it was a great walk, I ended up behind my old school Hoover elementary (and yes Karen I should have stopped but I was in a hurry, next time I promise). I haven't been at Hoover since I left there after sixth grade, so that would be 20+  years ago. My big question is, did I forget there is a park behind the school yard or is that part of the school yard or am I missing something, even a ball field. I had a nice time walking around it though.

I stood looking over the school yard remembering when we would run the mile around and around the stupid laps wishing the world would end so I didn't have to run another step as you know it took like 300 laps to make a mile (or so it felt). I also remember beating out the erasers at that back door on the wall and the cement and those bars outside the back door that stopped the doors from banging open too far. We used to hang on those bars and do flips over them. I also recall that Mr. WIllis' room was right in that corner. I really liked that school. So many memories, so long ago.

Funny how this area of town has so many memories for me, friends who lived here, three years at the school during those all important young years. I do have fond memories of elementary school, it was junior high when all hell broke loose and people divided and conquered based on the brand of jeans they wore. Let's just say I didn't land in the Esprit crowd I was the Levi or worse the Lee crowd. Ironically one of my favorite pair of jeans today is Lee. Talk about a crazy tangent.

So, today has been great and it's still early. I am off to get my car fixed, sounds like I am driving the biggest piece of junk with a rattly muffler. I pretty much want to pull up my mask and pull down my hat so no one can see me, the driver, in this ear hurting metal box.

Hope you have beautiful weather where you are. If you do, get out and soak up some sun.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Oh, the month of May

It was a year ago this week that the nightmare started of what would become my new reality. It was the Tuesday after the CF walk of 2011 that I came down with a head cold, who knows where it came from and why I had to pick it up but it did and that is how life rolls.

It was the head cold from hell that three weeks later put me in the hospital and, which come June 1st I will likely be blogging about that day as well - it's been an interesting year.

In any case, as of late I have been spending some time on some old internet stomping grounds, I guess you could say, the cystic fibrosis forums. I used to spend a lot of time reading through questions, posting questions, learning about all things related to CF and others who have CF. It's been a long time since I have been on there, I don't think I visited it but once while was on the vent and not since then. But I realized something strange or different - I have a whole different perspective now of what having CF meant/s, and how drastically life is different, and yet in someways the transition was way easier than I would have expected pre transplant.

I guess I didn't realize how much CF lungs are vial, filthy creatures. Not their fault, genetics made them that way and yes they gave me the 34 years I have had - so I don't hate them as much as I see how difficult they made my life. I see videos of other CFers, hear them talk, watch them cough, try to catch there breathe and think, wow, that was me. How did I do that and how difficult it is to watch that, how painful and utterly heartbreaking. I feel such compassion for those who continue to fight this battle daily, those you find themselves in the hospital once again to try to get some sort of comfort and care so they can go back to living a 'regular' life, even though their regular is much different than everyone else's.

It's really little things that make the difference, just having a good nights sleep, or being able to eat a meal and not feel stuffed and breathless. It's walking up stairs without having to drag a plastic tube behind that gives you the only comfort when the stairs feel like trying to reach the mountain peek. Those are things that we just accept and deal with having CF and lungs that degenerate in a fashion that we adjust and don't realize that we are heading down a slippery slope. No one wants to have a transplant, and no one wants to admit that their lungs are failing, because even though these CF lungs are going to give out they somehow make us think that they are giving us a better chance at living a life then having someone else's lungs inside of us because God only knows there is no guarantee, transplant is fickle. But the true reality doesn't hit until the deed is done, transplant is over and it has become your new life.

I have been on this roller coaster, I have had many ups and downs with these lungs and still some days I am caught off guard when my brain processes the fact that I am breathing because someone else once breathed with these lungs inside of me. It is a mental exercise is acceptance and emotion. Whatever time I am given, whatever direction this all goes these last few months have been better months than the last five or more years of my life. I may have some pain, but it is not chronic and daily pulling me down mentally and physically. I may not breath perfectly but I breath the best I have in over 10 years, and I am not breathing through muck. I am enjoying doing things that I can do and not sacrificing myself for doing them.

Daily I feel the strength returning, weekly I find something new and bewildering about this new world I am living in. Monthly I look back to think where I have come and as my brother said, what transpired six months to a year ago seems like a decade ago. How utterly touched and honored that I am still here on this day to walk the earth. Whatever capacity, in however I chose to spend my day I have been given the greatest of gifts. Until your life is nearly snatched from you is it hard to truly grasp how special each and every day is, and how trivial some things in life really are.

This day is always the only day we have, and even though I have my days where I forget this blessing and let the unimportant things in life bother me, we need to realize that it is a special day no matter what we are doing, working or playing. This day will be the best day of our life, everyday has that chance.

I pray for all the CFers out there tonight struggling to breath, fighting another day to beat the big bad beast that is CF. I may no longer fight the nasty lungs but my heart aches for others and prays that one day CF will no longer be the vial creature that it has a tendency to become.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tour de Elton Hills

That is a misleading title post but I needed something different. In reality my bike ride today was about an eight to ten block ride, which is way better than the one block ride I took the day I got my bike. It was a gorgeous day today and I spent all of it inside until about an hour ago. Why you ask, would one waste a day like today being inside after such a nasty weekend? That my friends is a good question. Mostly because I had things I wanted to do inside, and since I am really not to enjoy the sun too much for fear of you know cancer, I opted to wait until this evening to take my bike ride. Which in the end was quite nice, it reminded me a lot of growing up rural as a kid and going for bike rides in the evening with our dad. I remember how we would go up and down the hills and always in the bottom of the one hill, just below below Emrick's driveway , the dip would have that cool evening air. I can still feel it when I think about it.

In those days we didn't wear helmets, and considering we were always riding on gravel or around the yard we never even gave such a thought to anything like a helmet, and mostly because there wasn't such thing when we were kids. We just rode to enjoy and didn't worry about getting injured. So, tonight as I rode my bike, again sans helmet, I thought how crazy I probably look to the world riding without my safety net. I will get a helmet and after having had one on this weekend while riding the Segway, I decided I don't actually hate having one on.

In reference to the Segway, the CF walk on saturday was good as usual. I don't have final numbers for what the Rochester site raised, but I know Chris and I raised over $1,600 thanks to all our great family and friends. We had a little smaller turnout as far as walkers this year, but the weather wasn't exactly inviting. It was cloudy, chilly, and damp.

To prove that I actually wore a helmet and rode the Segway here is a picture. And no I didn't run anyone over, however I did try a couple times, those things really need horns. Thankfully I learned quickly how to stop and avoid hurting the innocent.

CF Walk 2012-Segway (Me and Chris)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

And the Winner is!

Thank you to all who took part in donating to the CF walk and a chance on winning the painting. As promised the winner was randomly selected and the winner of the painting is, Michael A. Siebenaler.

I am so thankful for all of you that participated. You helped me raise more money than my goal. We raised over $1,000 in this last month because of all of you.

May God Bless you all!


Friday, April 27, 2012

Being Me

Today I looked down at my feet and smiled. Not because I haven't seen my feet in awhile, but because I painted my toe nails and doing so just makes things seem so much better. Just like a few weeks ago when I first painted my fingernails and got all excited, this is the same thing - yet different.

As I looked down at my little pink toesies, I felt this over whelming sense of me. What does that mean exactly? It means that somewhere along the way the last few years the Sarah I knew got lost, the Sarah that had fun and did fun things, and painted her nails, fingers or toes, purples, pinks and shimmery colors got lost in all the crap of feeling like crap and trying to live each day just to make it through. I think I got lost not only in being sick all the time but in trying to also be the good wife and do all the daily things wives (of the 1950's) do.

For some reason when I looked at my shiny toes I had a flash of the last seven years. I recalled how I used to go for walks in the morning before work when we lived in the town home and how absolutely shitty I felt walking and how my chest would hurt and I would have so much pain, but it became the norm. It was an awful norm and to think that is seven years ago. Because I thought I was 'well' then and in reality I was not. I guess after I had a part of my lung removed back in 2004 things changed. I was so focused on wanting to get the wedding over so Chris and I could start 'living'. I guess the first year was okay, my health stayed fairly stable but that second year as we moved to the new house all hell seemed to break lose and I was sick a lot.

I guess until one looks back on things they don't realize what exactly they have done, changes made to make my life 'easier'. Like planning trips up the stairs with laundry, or planning how many trips to the basement, or not going somewhere with friends or doing something late at night because all of it will in some way cause you pain, discomfort or just plain ill feeling. I don't know how many times I bowed out of doing something because of how I felt, it wasn't always because I didn't WANT to do something it was that I didn't want to face the consequences of doing something that would in the end make me feel like crap when I already felt like crap.

So, little by little my world changed and morphed into something that was no longer me. I disappeared a little everyday and I didn't know it, but now I do and I refuse to let my life be ruled like that completely again. Not that my health won't dictate me but I will do my best to do the things that bring me the joy I once had.

Today I found out my bronch showed no Acute rejection, meaning A0, but it did find Chronic or C1 rejection. What exactly does that mean? It might just be because of the current infection, that's what the doc is thinking, because some result say I have healthy lung tissue. And I refuse to Google it. So for now I am putting the C1 on the back burner until Monday when I go back in. For now C1 is nothing more then a combination platter at Hunan Garden that is part of the Happy Family menu. I refuse to let it ruin my weekend as I have a lot planned.

I have felt more like the old Sarah in the last week then I have in years and I rather kind of like it. Now if I could just break out of my shell and buy a polish color that is something other than pink or purple.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Simple Seven, Simply Retro!

I have a new friend! She is going to help improve my overall health, take me on journeys to magical places, and mostly put a smile on my face every time I see her.

Henrietta or Henri for short!
I am so excited to get in shape enough to actually ride her further than around the block and actually up the hill. I took her for an inaugural spin yesterday, glad I decided to just try the block rather than a discovery trip through the neighborhood. I apparently thought that even though I can walk 3 mph on the treadmill and run for five minutes that somehow I would have the thigh muscle to push up  a hill, I was very much wrong.

But all things take time, right? Guess I will just have to go around the block everyday, or many times a day and when I can finally get up the hill I will move on to two blocks and then three and then one day I will find myself on the other side of town. I will be so excited I made it that far only to realize I have to go back the same distance as I came because in my excitement I will have forgotten that part!

I have also been informed by my sister and niece I need a helmet, wrist guards, knee pads and likely bubble wrap to keep me safe. At this rate I think I need to add training wheels, you know, just to make sure I don't topple sideways.

Thursday is my six month bronchoscopy, I am really trying to be hopeful and positive. It isn't alway easy to do when there have been so many bumps in this road but I keep telling myself a positive attitude is needed here, if I think negative, negative happens. So only hopeful thoughts.

I will keep you posted on Henrietta's and my journeys through the neighborhood and some day around Rochester.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Six Months

Six months ago today I went into surgery to receive new lungs. Can you believe it has been six months already! I remember just about three or four weeks after transplant sitting at my parents house wondering how on earth I was going to make it through. I was sore, underweight, tired and scared to death of these new lungs inside of me. Will I ever feel normal? On top of that will I ever know a life without pain and will these legs and lungs of mine ever work again, happily.

Fast forward to today. Where am I and where do all things stand? Let's recap, I have had three rejections, an abscess, and now a return infection of the lovely Pseudomonas and Aspergillus. That's just the crap stuff that happened. Now on to the good stuff. I have traveled to the Twin Cities more times in the last six months then I did in the last two years. I got to see my nephew play hockey for the first time in two years. I went to my sisters house this past weekend for the first time since Oct. 2010. I spent the whole day with my husband in the cities a few weeks ago, eating at a restaurant for the first time in nine months and traveling a whole day without a care or thought. I have painted more in the last six months than I have the previous nine years since I left college. I painted my fingernails, I ran five minutes, and now I am walking on the treadmill at 3 mph daily. I have read more books then in the whole Harry Potter series since transplant and finally walked around my neighborhood. Whew, I am sure there are more things I have done but right now I can't think of them.

My pain is still a daily thing, my chest feels like it isn't part of me most days. I still have issues eating with bloating and a sense of food just sitting there at the end of the day. But I still love food and I go at it like it's going out of style. 

There are many days lately that I am suddenly overcome by the realization that I have someone else's lungs inside of me. People say they are mine now, and to some extent yes they are but there is no denying that I have a part of another being in me. It also makes me nervous when I realize how delicate this whole thing is. I try not to dwell on it. I kind of say a little thank you and take hold of the moment and the day, that I am still here for whatever reason and to cherish this very moment. Then I move on, because dwelling on it will only make me sad for knowing it can all be gone too quick but yet how thankful I am for being given this extra time. Funny though the more days you are given the harder it is to think about losing it all again. But I won't travel that road today. Today I will rejoice that I have had a good day and I got to go to Hobby Lobby and Home Depot with my dad, lunch with both my parents, and finish assembling our new bed with my husband. I can only be thankful.

Happy six months lungs, and thanks for my donor for this celebrated day!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Listen Closely

I have been purposely not blogging for a few days to keep my Donate and Win! post at the top. I will likely post it again to keep it up there, but if you are looking for that post click here this will take you to the site about rules and regs regarding donating and winning the painting. Or if you already know the rules and just want to get to the donation part, click on the Great Strides link to your left.

With that said, I shall move on. This has been a week of many things, not least of which is a lot of thinking and reflecting. Self reflection is great but it can also be difficult. I have had thoughts this week about where my life is at and where it may be going. I know I have talked about this times before but lately it just seems different. 

Today was the funeral for SM, the young woman with CF who passed while waiting for her miracle. It isn't hard to sit here and think that today could have been me just months ago as I withered away on the ventilator waiting and hoping that these lungs would come. I was lucky enough to receive that gift, but as I sat there today in the beautiful church listening to the music, and the homily and watching the family grieve their loved one, I wondered who was luckier, me or SM. I realize we are both lucky and for some reason, which who knows if we will ever know, God has given us this path. For SM she is now standing and breathing freely, no tubes, no machines, no holes in her body, and free from the confines of this earth and it's limits on making her feel better. She is standing with her brother, free. 

I on the other hand am breathing much more freely than six months or two years ago but I don't know what it is that I am suppose to be doing at this point, other than I feel some obligation, not a negative obligation mind you, but a duty or calling to make something of this life I am given for all those who have suffered with CF and lost the battle. I have been given the chance to live another day to do whatever it is that I please, within the confines of new lungs, rules and restrictions dictated to me by the medical community. Which means mostly I can do whatever except eat pomegranates, dirty fruit and veggies, not sit in hot tubs ever again, avoid sick people and a few other things that I probably wouldn't do anyway. 

I am trying to figure out what my role is as an employee, a wife, a designer, and a transplantee. How does one feel so lost sometimes when they have been given so much and have so very much to be thankful for? I sometimes look at people when I am out and about, or when I am on Facebook and see people's posts about the cool things, or the mundane things they do and think how strange it is that all we do here someday means absolutely nothing when we are gone. Yet we are set here to do something with our life, learn, teach, explore, help, all of the above or none if we so choose but life is something and about something. We are here for such a short period of time and yet need to be able to make something of what we are given.

I guess that's why I think SM is sometimes lucky, she is free of these grips we inflict on ourselves, in our lives here on earth. We make a big deal out of unimportant things and not acknowledge the small things that mean the most. Do I wish I would wake up and just know what it is I am suppose to do, you bet. But then there are days like today when a 10 year old boy exhales in surprise at his birthday gift that I painted for him.  I couldn't have been happier that he was so tickled with his gift. And maybe that's my gift to the world, one smiling face at a time, giving the gift of myself to others. God will provide, that being said, maybe his provisions are through love and his tool is me. Maybe what I don't think I know, I already do, maybe what I am searching for has already been found.  Maybe it isn't a neon sign I am looking for but rather a whisper on a breeze. All I can do for today, is listen.

Rest in Peace Stacey!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Donate and Win!

Donate and win - that means two things. I am collecting donations again this year, as I have for the last 17+ years for Great Strides, the walk to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis. The money raised is used for research to advance and improve the lives of those with CF. 

This year I have decided to sweeten the pot, for those who donate at least $15 by 5 PM CST, May 1, 2012*, your name will be put in a drawing to receive a painting done by me. The painting is acrylic medium on a 16 x 20 canvas frame that is 3/4 inch deep. I will put all names in a hat and draw a winner, so everyone has an equal chance of winning. Not only could you win a painting but you also win for being an awesome person donating to a great cause. 

WIthout further adieu, to donate to the walk, click on this link Cystic Fibrosis Great Strides Donation Page - Sarah Hackenmiller
and donate today. If you choose to mail a donation to me remember to make checks to CFF or Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and mail to me at 3320 Ninth Ave NW, Rochester, MN 55901. **

Painting by Sarah Hackenmiller

*Winner will be chosen, and announced by 5 PM, May 2, 2012 on my blog and Facebook.
**Donations need to be made online or sent to me to be eligible for the drawing, donations mailed to CF Foundation I will not know of in time for the drawing. If you have questions please email me at

Anyone who has already donated is included in the drawing, and again everyone has the same chance of winning. 

Thanks again for all your support, Sarah
Pass this along to anyone you know and or direct them to my blog, Exhortation of the Dawn.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Angel in Heaven

Today the heavens got a new angel. My friend SM, who has been waiting on the vent unit passed away today. She waited ten months on a ventilator for those lungs to come. She was a fighter, with more strength and fight in her than most people, her courage is one of legend. My prayers go out to her family and friends. She will always be treasured.

You will never be forgotten.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Look, Same Blog

I was hoping to give this blog a new look and so I did. Not sure if I will stick with it but it certainly is a bit more upbeat.

Today was Monday and all day I kept thinking it was Sunday, that usually happens with a holiday. It also happens when your sister decides to stay a day past the weekend, it completely throws off a persons sense of time. Although you would have thought spending my whole morning at the clinic/hospital, waiting, I would have realized it was not, in fact, the weekend anymore.

However today was a big day, today I got my tiny little stomach tube removed. Seven months after it was placed it is gone and in its place a second belly button. Sweet, another scar, I've lost count. It was very painless to remove, the hope is now it closes up fairly quick so I don't have to worry about leaking all over the place...gross! Had to be careful what I drank today, only thicker things and I had to sip. Do you know how hard it is when all you really want is to guzzle a glass of water?

Not only did I get my tube or rather my button, since that is really more what it was, removed but I got to see a friend of mine that also has CF. He is a doctor in his 50's and I just love running into him, we always have such great conversations and it is so great to connect with others with CF. We always seem to run into each other at just the right time. I am inspired by him and I think others with CF should be also, to be a pediatric anesthesiologist in cardiology - pretty impressive. He's very supportive and always leaves me with a smile.

Well, enjoy the bright, shiny, new look.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I thought my walk yesterday was fantastic, and it was, but today I topped it by running. As I walked on the treadmill today I kept increasing my speed and at one point I just started running, and I did so for 2 minutes. From there I was able to walk at a higher speed then I have yet to do on my treadmill. So, after years of not running, I ran and it felt exhilarating and freeing.

So, even thoug I laid awake for over an hour last night I had a really great day. I even ironed a shirt and dress for Easter Sunday service, as I wasn't sure if it will be a dress day or pant day tomorrow. I still struggle with the gut no butt issue so no matter what I wear I feel awkward, but that doesn't mean I can't be pressed. Now talk about not doing something for a long time, I don't think I have laid an iron to close since we left our last house and I had to actually locate my iron and buy myself a new squirt bottle. But I actually enjoyed ironing.

I better call it a day and hope for a good night sleep. Wishing you all a Happy Easter.