Let it

Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
Harvey MacKay

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Let me 'esplain... no, there is too much. Lemme sum up.


I'm just going to start by saying that I'm grateful. As predicted, 2017 so far has been a kick in the teeth- full of stress, trauma, sadness, and conflict.... and joy, beauty, connection, discovery, and so much love.
In January I started Mountain Soul Creations. Now officially Mountain Soul Company.  The healing that has occurred in my brain has brought new and surprising talents. I'm a professional artist. All of the sudden, there it is. It is overwhelming to have something that is quite literally my therapy- carving wood, making jewelry, painting, be so lovingly and widely embraced and in even in demand. I love how personal it is. Mountains are one of my great loves, and every time I get a custom request, it feels like being asked to paint a portrait of someones dearest lover.  I spend time and energy and emotion getting it right. It has to feel right. I get to celebrate mountains every day, and I love it.



How is my health? Well. That's complicated. From the time I started diet and supplementation in September/October, to June, by body has changed immensely.  I lost 25 lbs and went from a size 12 to a size 6/8. In February, after a particularly painful and expensive kidney infection and ER trip, I decided that I really wanted to see what real dedication to yoga would do for me. So I bought a 6 month unlimited membership- which cost less than half what the ER visit did, and committed to going as often as possible. I was convinced I had MS. I had read first hand accounts of people basically putting their MS in remission through diet and yoga. I wanted to try.
I picked my class schedule and started making the time to go, 5 days a week. I thought of it like medicine. I needed it. I had to make it happen. This isn't your fitness center, here to get my bendy on, lets sweat it out kind of yoga. It's balance. Studio yoga- designed by teachers who are forever students. Who have studied for decades world wide. Who know the importance of stability, alignment, and partnering body, mind, and spirit.  And I'm happy to report that it's been so worth it. Immediately the numbness in my face eased up. My anxiety chilled out, and my brain started functioning even better. My spinal health and adrenal health improved. Of course, having chiropractic care has been absolutely invaluable. The care that I receive from my dad and my brothers has quite literally saved my life. And Functional Medicine direction from my uncle, Dr. Chris Frogley has been the backbone of my self care.

So I'm better, right?
Better? Yes. Well? No.
I still have numb spots, and nerve and joint pains that are spreading. I still have constant fatigue and periodic episodes that send me to bed. I'm prone to infection. I still have mental health issues, and weeks when it's all I can do to send the suicidal thoughts packing.  I finally found a medical doc who would listen to me.
From visit #1, Dr. Kennedy was on my side. "I just want to make it clear that you are in charge. You hired me. We are on a team. I have expertise, but you are the resident expert on your own body, and I respect that."  Hallelujah. I handed him a two page long list of medical history and ongoing symptoms. He gawked and we laughed, and then he ordered tests. Blood tests and MRIs.

On June 17th, I was on a trail run with Jenna, Merete, and Katie when Aaron called me. Aaron almost never calls me. He couldn't get the words out. The world stopped. Our friend Zac had fallen off a mountain ridge just hours before. He didn't make it. I dropped in the dirt as my heart cracked to pieces, and sobbed. I told Jenna and the others. We sat trail side and cried together, held each other, dry heaved together. Zac was wonderful. Zac was a careful badass. Zac was every single one of us. He was a Wasatch Mountain Wrangler. It just couldn't be. I needed to be with Aaron. We started back down. Jenna took off. She needed to run. I couldn't even see the trail through my tears.

The fallout has been huge. We speak of the ripple effect. Zac left tidal waves. He was just that good. In the gatherings of friends, and the support of Zac's incredible family, the funeral, the dinners, the meetings and the memorial runs, we've found solace, and camaraderie, and introspection, and so much love. It hurts. So much. And it always will.
We've designed apparel in memory of our friend Zac, with the proceeds going directly to his family. 
We can't do much, but they are ours to care for now. And we'll do all we can.

 My regular blood tests came back normal. Lyme came back negative. The brain MRI came back clean. No MS lesions. My abdominal MRI showed that my 7 liver hemangioma have been growing, and the vessels are dilated, but this wasn't a big concern. So what? Why do I feel this way? As wonderful as you'd think it would be to get news that things look normal, it's not. It makes you question your own sanity. It makes you want to give up.
The day after the MRIs, I had a gall bladder attack. It felt a lot like a kidney stone, but worse. I went from cramping uncomfortably, to curled up in a ball, panting, to vomiting uncontrollably, to writhing and hyperventilating. I knew instacare would send me straight to the ER. I knew the ER would do scans and tell me everything looked fine, and give me pain meds and antibiotics and send me on my way. Besides, I wasn't about to make it to the car. My skin was greyish yellow, and whatever part of me wasn't in excruciating pain, was numb. I called the docs office- which was closing. I told them I'd had an MRI the day before and asked them to check for kidney stones and gall stones. They said everything looked clear. I called my dad. He and my mom rushed up the hill- I've never been so thankful to live so close to them. He examined me, worked my reflexes, diagnosed it as a gall bladder attack, and gave me an adjustment. The pain subsided. I called my doctor the next morning. He set up a surgery consult for later that week. Maybe my gall bladder was just bad.
A few days later, a nurse friend dropped by to say hi. She didn't know what had been going on, but immediately called out the contrast dye from the MRI as the culprit for my gall bladder attack. I cancelled my surgery consult.

The last test came back on June 30th. A blood serum copper test. We didn't expect much from it. I had always suspected copper toxicity, but knew that it often doesn't show up in the blood because the body is so quick to shuffle it off to organs. Besides, it's been over 2 years since the IUD was removed from the side of my bowel.
600.
Normal max is around 110. Copper toxicity. "This is concerning," my doctor said. "If I were you, I'd be thinking about litigation."
Turns out I've been poisoned. For 9 years, I've had strange symptoms that have gotten worse with time. This explains everything. My shattered bones, my kidney stones, my mental health, my nerve issues, my apocalypse style periods, everything.
Symptoms of High (Excess) Copper
  • Feelings of doom
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Hypothyroid (slow thyroid)
  • Mind is in a fog
  • Headaches, migraines
  • Mood swings
  • Supersensitive, weepy
  • Cold hands, and/or feet
  • Depression
  • Dry skin
  • Chocolate cravings
  • Feeling of loss of control
  • Paranoia
  • Despair, suicidal feelings, hopelessness
  • Arthritis, calcium spurs
  • Constipation
  • Racing heart, pounding heart
  • Adverse reaction to vitamins and minerals
  • Problems with concentration and memory
  • Short attention span, ‘spaciness’
  • Eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, overeating
  • Panic attacks, high anxiety, free floating anxiety
  • Yeast infections (candida)
  • Aching muscles or muscle cramps
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Mind races -- insomnia, interrupted sleep
  • PMS
  • Mononucleosis
  • Low blood pressure
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Osteoporosis
  • Jaundice and liver problems
  • Kidney stones and infections
(I'm so glad to finally have an explanation for my chocolate cravings. )
.
.
I had a weird, sobbing, excited dance party when the doctor told me. I have answers. I'm not crazy- well.... not without a cause.
Next step- heavy metal chelation. My doc was the first to admit that he'd never seen this and didn't know any specialists in the area. They are out there though. I'm still deciding which route to take. None of them are pleasant. It has to be done right, and can be dangerous regardless. And my insurance may not cover any of it. We'll see.
I have no choice but to address it. There's no waiting it out without facing Alzheimers, schizophrenia, kidney and liver failure, and worse. But the good news is that I can get better. There is no way to convey in words what that means to me. I can get better. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Dear 2016...

Dear 2016,
We started on a mountain top, in a sports bra in one degree weather, and I called you on.

 I'd survived 2014 and my shattered ankle rehab, and 20-frickin-15 with it's kidney stone, liver lesions, hobo-IUD-surprise-open-abdominal-surgery triple whammy, followed by a job change. "Let's do this," I said. Five days later you dropped me off a 16 foot ladder and giggled while I laid on the floor in a puddle of paint with a foot broken in four places, a torn shoulder labrum, and a raging case of PTSD. We said goodbye to our home of 10.5 years, but took our baggage with us. We declared war on suicidal thoughts and had some pretty deep therapy sessions together. We survived more kidney problems and hospital visits. EMDR did us up right, just in time to discover brain degeneration, early MS and early Alzheimer's symptoms, more liver issues, crescendo my Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, and find a rather surprising propensity for carving wood. 

I didn't stop climbing mountains.... even when I was falling over. I ran a trail half marathon and climbed the Tushar mountains. I stood on Lone Peak- one year older and 20 pounds heavier, but surrounded by the few friends I could still relate with and ridiculously grateful. I searched for experts that could help me and fought like hell. I learned about trauma and my brain and took care of my body. I stopped falling over. I gained a new appreciation for things like reading, driving, coordination and cognitive function. I started teaching yoga again. I ran a 30k. I made friends with my adrenals and my thyroid. I dropped that 20 pounds. My babies are growing into incredible humans, and my marriage is stronger than ever. My husband is a frickin' rockstar. I started writing a book, and turned my mountain love into a creative project that is turning into a business.

We were a hot mess, you and I, and I won't miss you when you're gone. I have outlived you.  And you taught me things I'm proud to know. Things like self-love and true connection, and fire and spit and fight. Things like humility and grace, and the deepest kinds of caring and all the right kinds of detachment. You made me so weak and so, so strong. You showed me that being brave means being scared and trying anyway. You taught me that I can't do everything, but I can do a few things really really well. You taught me that being broken just means more cracks to shine light through. You taught me that kindness matters most.  So I thank you. I know more what I'm capable of surviving from here on out. And I'll step forward into 2017, on a mountaintop, feeling like kind of a badass, with only a healthy amount of trepidation for what is to come, and enough faith to take it head on. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Those kind of days

Is it really worth all the damn effort to keep me alive?

That's the dopamine depletion talking. And acetalcholine deficiency. And autoimmune disease. And all of the other things that are slowly degenerating my brain.

I don't ask that question often, but when I do, it consumes everything.
I am generally a very functional depressed person. I go through the motions, maybe with a slight background hope that being productive will make me feel useful. Worthy. But mostly I go through them numb. Even if they don't make me feel better, they are things that need doing.

Some of my health puzzle pieces are falling into place. And when I find pieces that fit, it gives me hope. Until I get a long stretch of no pieces. Just chaos. A 5000 piece puzzle and I've got a corner, a short edge, and a small blob or two in the middle. Sometimes I find a doctor that is curious and enthusiastic enough to sit down and try to piece a few together. But it seems that eventually they lose interest. I can't blame them. I do too.

I'm not sick enough to raise the alarm system of the western medical model. I don't trust many of their treatment methods anyway. I'm definitely sick enough to not be able to cure it on my own.  It's a maddening limbo. I'm reliant on brilliant "alternative" practitioners that my insurance won't cover. I'm reliant on favors, and what little I can pay for, and piecemeal care. I'm forced to be my own advocate- which means I'm forced to rely on someone who often doesn't care, and cares far too much, and is too exhausted or anxious to even have a phone conversation much of the time. In the meantime, my symptoms come and go. Some days are good, and some bad. But find me on a bad day, and with tears jamming my throat, I'll tell you honestly- sometimes I wonder if it's worth all the damn effort.

This post is far too negative. I shouldn't even be writing it. But I'm nothing if not honest. Shoulds and shouldn'ts be damned, this is how it feels today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Feelings


I am an empath. I feel you. All of you. Buzzing in my head, aching in my chest. On a day like today when emotions are high, I can hardly contain it. You are angry, confused, happy, anxious, worried, saddened, hopeful, devastated, relieved, and tired. So tired. I woke up with the urge to write this morning and when I sat down to channel it, your wave of emotion sent me tumbling. No use. Too much. I'm sorry that you hurt so much. I want to come to each of you with a golden, shining bucket of joy and wash the pain away. It's not my place, and beyond my capabilities, but that doesn't stop my desire to relieve your tension. And after yelling at my kids when even their little voices overwhelmed my senses because I was filled to the brim with all of yours, I did the only thing that made sense. I ran it off. I went to my mountain trails and soaked in the last minutes of light as the sun sank below the horizon. I marveled so fully in the alpenglow on the mountains that I shouted out loud. I let go of all of the fear and worry for a few minutes to throw my arms wide and call to the sky. I found joy and love and gratitude. And for whatever it's worth, I sent it out to all of you. There is always hope amid your pain. This will all pass and we will take the future as it comes. You are so much! You are brilliant and adaptable, capable and kind. You are Hope. Never forget that. You are powerful. I can feel it.

Monday, October 24, 2016

We Keep On Running

My health has played roller coaster games over the past couple of weeks. Between trying to get doctors to dig deeper and not just throw pills at me or write me off, and trying to navigate alternative medicine and play all the insurance games to get the test results I need without flushing our finances down the toilet, it's been an adventure. New symptoms have come and gone and come again. I refuse to stop living, stop being all that I can be to those people that I love. I went to crew friends at the Bear 100 in awful weather and loved every second (except the four hours in the freezing rain and wind as we waited, worried, for our runners at 2 am- that sucked). I have buckled down hard on a clean and very specific diet for my needs and concentrated on controlling my hypoglycemia to slow the brain inflammation and degeneration that is occurring. My functional medicine doc believes I may at least have a lesion on my cerebellum evidenced by an end-reach tremor, the tingly numb spots on my face, and some of my symptoms dealing with coordination. I had a glutathione push after my neurological exam that was supposed to "give me my brain back" for a few days. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that also facilitates toxin release. My body freaked out. Panic attack, splitting headache, nausea and dry heaving, I could barely breathe and haven't cried that hard in months. Doc thinks my body just didn't know what to do with the rapid effects of it. It eventually passed and I did see some marked improvement in my brain function and endurance for a few days.
I started falling over that week. The first couple of times I didn't think anything of it. But when I fell into a bush while running alone in Arches National Park and gouged my shin on a branch, it started to pull at my subconscious. It didn't even hurt, that gouge, I had a glob of fat hanging out of my shin and blood trickling down my leg, and it didn't hurt. I hadn't been dizzy, I hadn't tripped, I just fell over. I kept on running, blood and all. I was happy, and the morning was magical.

Then I got lost. Somewhere in the middle of a 7 mile loop, I just lost track of the cairns and ended up down climbing a crack to a 15 foot drop. It didn't occur to me until after I risked broken bones and succeeded in climbing safely down into a wash that the old man with the hiking poles who had been coming the opposite direction on the trail hadn't possibly come from this way. It took me an extra mile of hiking and running in the wrong direction before I came to my senses and followed the wash back to the main trail. I've never been so happy to see a cairn... or a few miles later, my husband coming from the trail head to find me. My loop was 9 beautiful miles of arches and back country. I actually really loved it.

I'm learning not to get terribly distressed by my symptoms. It only makes them worse. Our family camp out was a much-needed and incredibly much enjoyed escape from daily stresses.

A few days later, while carrying a basket of laundry, I fell over again. Aaron came running in to find me laying on baskets of dirty laundry, and covered in the clean laundry I had just dumped all over myself. "Are you okay?? What happened?"
Straight faced and sober, I answered,"I just fell over."
He helped me up, worry spelled out on his face. And I knew it wasn't just a clumsy coincidence. It was my brain, my nerves.
Later that evening we talked about it. "I have every hope that we'll figure this out and it'll get better. But what if it doesn't and someday soon I can't run, and I kick myself forever for the races I was too scared to sign up for? What if my cognition and memory suffer so much that I can't finish my book? I have stuff to do!" It wasn't motivated by fear. Just matter-of-fact recognition that life needs to be lived.

I had agreed to crew Annie at the Pony Express 100 months ago. I wondered if I could handle the driving and lack of sleep. I hoped that with other crew as company to switch off with, I'd be fine. I wanted to be there for Annie. Over time the plans evolved and she would run the 50 miler in support of our friend Matt. And then two more friends joined the run party- Andrew and Danny. Annie's daughter Savana and I would be crewing 4 people. Just us two. I refused to be overwhelmed. Danny and Andrew were experienced ultra runners and would know what they needed. I knew I wouldn't be able to crew everyone as thoroughly as I like to, but I could let go of that. Game on.
Then Annie threw one of her "Let's live MORE life!" wrenches in the game.
"Hey, I think I want to run the 30k at Dugway the next day. You should run it with me!"
Um.
Um.
I really wanted to run that race again. Am I ready? Who cares? But I didn't have the cash for registration.
"What if I pay for your entry as a thank you for crewing?"
Aaron told me to go and do what would make me happy. Decision made.


In true ultra fashion, Pony Express started early and on shreds of semi-sleep. We saw our runners off at the start and repacked the cars. Then we drove a friends truck out to the hundred mile finish and doubled back to find our little pack in the early dawn. They never needed a whole lot from us. Just food here and there, and water refills, shed the clothing, that kind of thing. Matt was unsure from the start, having never attempted anything remotely like this, so we stayed withing a couple miles at all times. The day was beautiful and friends passed us throughout the day. We started up the dance party in the late morning, blasting music at our stops. And when almost everyone had passed, that is when the hours got long. The running had quickly turned to walking and the walking began to be a shuffle. Annie, Andrew and Danny took turns staying back with Matt so that the others could run a ahead and back a bit. Matt was doggedly determined in his march. We began to wonder if continuing to the finish would be healthy for Matt in the long run. He was becoming increasingly belligerent- not uncommon in ultras, but also a sign of chronic low blood sugar and imbalance. We were all willing to help and support as best we could to the finish, including Matt's son and daughter who had come out to support him. 17+ hours in, somewhere between mile 43 and 45, long after the sun set and the incredible blanket of stars spread over the sky, it was finished for Matt. His body needed to be done. His kids loaded him in the car and took him to the finish line for food and medical attention. The other three were determined to finish the 50 for Matt. 19 hours after we began, three strong runners crossed the finish line together in last place. (Danny really tried hard to cheat the other two of their DFL status.)
We downed some of Pablo's excellent barbeque with chimichurri, said goodbye to Davy Crockett, and started the long drive back to the start at 1 am. Savvy was fading fast and we all were falling asleep on the drive. She pulled over. I wondered if I could relieve her of driving duties, as my eyes refused to focus and my brain was so fuzzy. Thankfully Danny stepped in and volunteered to drive. That guy trains nights and sleep deprivation. It comes in handy! Everyone snoozed in the back while Danny and I laughed over suicidal racing rabbits and told stories to keep each other awake. We dropped Danny and Andrew at the campground and I hopped behind the wheel to fumble us,glassy-eyed at 3 am onto the military base at Dugway and to our hotel room. If I got to bed fast I could get 3 solid hours of sleep for the morning race. Annie's poor feet were blistered from too much walking and she wouldn't be running with me.
6 am. 2.5 hours of sleep. My belly woke me with horrible hot-chili-pepper-magma diarrhea. 4 times before I could leave the hotel room. Great. I downed a salad with grilled chicken for breakfast. My stomach wasn't thrilled, but I knew if I started this race on empty, I'd be out in no time.
I texted Brad in the next room to see if he could take me over to the start line. Bless his sleep-deprived soul, he did. It was cold. Hugs from Brent- I was so happy to see someone I knew. I was nervous. We were treated to a magical desert sunrise as we prepped at the start line. And all 13 of us were off.



I wanted to start off slow, and pace myself, but it was so cold that I needed to move to warm up my stiff muscles! I chatted with Nanette for a few minutes- we'd never really talked before despite being facebook friends. Then she pulled ahead of me. I would chase her for miles. Nanette ahead and Rebecca behind. Both older women with so much grit and experience. I felt blessed to be in such good company as we snapped distant pictures of each other racing into the sunrise. After a valiant effort at keeping up, the heat set in and I lost sight of Nanette. The climbs were brutally steep at times and my hammies and glutes were feeling it. Rebecca was gaining on me through the miles, and I was getting tired. We chatted a bit as she passed me. I didn't mind. I was here to finish, and to love the day. That's all I cared about. Runners from the shorter races began to pass just before we finished the first loop. I filled up on fruit and nuts at the aid stations, snacking steadily on jerky, nuts, banana chips and applesauce from my pack in between to try to keep my blood sugar steady. I refilled my water bladder at one of the water stations early in the second loop. I was feeling good. And hot. The second loop got long fast. The climbs were even more brutal the second time around and I found myself laughing and cursing at them all at once. Cheeky Bastards.

Around mile 15 the wheels started to come off. I was in new distance territory on my hardware. While I had run this race before, I hadn't done it on a reconstructed shattered ankle, or a previously broken-in-4-places foot. Random jabs of sharp pain accompanied my footsteps. I walked into the pain cave and pulled up a chair. I had been on track to beat my previous race time, but despite my best efforts, I watched that goal slip away and tried to shrug it off. My head was getting floaty and painful. I could feel that my blood sugar was off, but I couldn't quite figure out what to do to fix it. And then I ran out of water. What? How could I be out?? I had felt my pack at the last water station and it had felt pretty full! I realized with dismay that I had felt my jacket stuffed in my pack and mistaken it for a full water bladder. Rookie mistake. It was hot. My mouth was cotton, I was having dizzy spells. If I could just get another mile or so to the last water station. Another mile and a half of the steepest son-of-a-gun climbs in the race. Gah. I trudged it out. I dug the last applesauce out of my pack and used it for what little hydration it offered me. My head was throbbing. I missed my husband. I hated running. And I was doing it all anyway. I laid into that water station. Best, coldest, quenchiest water ever. I filled my pack, my hat, my shirt, my sports bra, my mouth and my belly. And then it was time to get it done."Let's kick this pig." (I talk to myself a lot during these types of things.)
I headed down the final, long, winding downhills. The last time I had done this race, it was 18.7 miles. My watch ticked well past that as my painful foot and ankle protested any hurry. The playlist that had saved my mood for so long was getting old. Finally nearing the finish, I turned it off. Turned off the pain, Turned on what little speed I had left and ran it in to the finish like my life depended on it. With a smile on my face and a fist in the air, I crossed the line. I can do hard things. So many hard things.

Jenna was there to greet me at the finish line. I was so happy to see her.
19.8 miles, 3938 Feet of vertical climb,  6:09
3rd place woman (out of a grand total of 4) 1st place in my age group (out of 2) 10th overall (Out of 13)

I picked up my sweet trophy and medal, and the awesome viking axe I had won in the raffle.

Jenna took me to the hotel to gather my things and drive home.
After a long weekend, home sounded just right.

My body may be in crisis, but if there is one thing I'm learning, it's that we just keep moving. Keep living, keep loving. Stay grateful.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Life Can't Wait

I have started so many blog posts in the past few months. I wanted to write about all the good things- the Tushars half marathon, my birthday Lone Peak summit, all of the life I have lived and loved through as I've made progress through therapy. My victories! I couldn't figure out why it didn't work. My brain would get to a certain point and be done. Can't write long. Can't read long. Can't drive long. Something is still very off with my body and brain. So I had some tests done. (I'm skimming over a lot of this because I know my brain energy is limited.) Things are off. My adrenal levels are through the roof and my thyroid levels aren't. My female hormones are whack and my brain function and coordination are sub-par. So I had some more labs drawn. we've tested blood, urine, spit... I've filled out metabolic surveys and brain function surveys.
There are concerns. And I wanted to wait until I had results to tell people, but friends and family are noticing that something is wrong, and life can't wait. All of the in-between is life too, and it must be lived. When I get my labs back and I know things for sure, I think it will all make better sense. So far there have been some scary words thrown into the mix, like "brain degeneration", and "autoimmune disease", and "tumor". They are all just possibilities right now. we don't know yet. It may be simple. It may be very complicated. We just don't know. But we will. And I can handle it. We can handle it.

Am I scared? Yes. Am I confident? Yes. I can do hard things.

I taught my first yoga class in two and a half years today. I kept waiting until I felt confident, until I had more to give, until I was done healing from my shattered ankle reconstruction, and then my abdominal surgery, and then my shoulder injury, and then my broken foot and my torn shoulder, and then PTSD, and then.... and then.
Life can't wait. Do what you can with what you have. And love. Always love the most.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Here Lies The Old Me

"... life does not subtract things, it liberates you from them. It makes you lighter so that you can fly higher and reach the fullness."- Facundo Cabral
I sat on my mat and felt my fingertips pulsating against each other as chills ran up and down my spine.
I have been mourning her loss, this former self. Like a deceased loved one, whom I would forever be incomplete without.  I have every right to miss her. She was me, and I loved her. How could I not? 
The words cracked open a stubborn sadness and allowed new breath.
I have not lost her, I have been liberated from her. 

But how? When she was so strong and sure. Have I idealized her and built her into more than she was? Maybe her time was finished, her purpose played out, her further growth impossible. She and I could not exist in the same reality. Her destruction cleared the foundation, leaving open space and freedom. Her rubble became my raw material; lowly and humbled, but crackling with massive potential. Can I just not see the magnitude of who I am and who I am becoming from the midst of the aftermath? It is exhausting to start over. I have no blueprints. No step-by-step instructions. I can only begin, scavenge for tools, and create as I go. I've no choice but to heal, and trust, and try, and see what comes anyway, so why not do so with hope, love, inspiration? Why not do so on purpose?