Below is a promised telling of where I have been the last 8 months -- I warn you, it is long, but I hope you will stay with me - grab a cup of coffee! (Not only did I forget how to stamp, but forgot how to schedule Blogger posts, as this should have been up yesterday!)
Life's events sometimes take unexpected turns, don't they?
If you had asked me one year ago if I thought I would go on an eight month stamping hiatus, and not even enter my stamp room for over six months, I would have laughed unbelievably. I was stamping every day. I did most of the SCS challenges, hosted one of them, was on several design teams, and spent almost every morning in my stamp room.
This week, I went in and cleaned my desk of mostly dust, inked stamps, and piles of ribbon, buttons, pads of Basic Grey paper, and pop dots. There were boxes of things I had just set on the floor, and an order from Stampin' Up! from September that I hadn't even opened. It was a bit like entering a store (well, after the stamp cleaning was done!) and finding all sorts of things that I didn't know I had.
And if you had asked me one year ago if I thought Christmas would be spent without my father, I would have hoped you were wrong. But, as many of you know, he passed away last December 9th, a victim of diabetes that severely affected every other part of his body. He had entered a nursing home in February 2009, as he was unable to walk, and care for him was more than my mom could do. He began to be very ill in October, needing dialysis three times a week. It was hard on him, as the days he didn't have it were spent recovering from the days he did. By the first part of November, the medical team was telling me that I should get my sister from Arizona here. And I did. And she stayed until January. My dad was a fighter and he loved his family dearly. His memorial service was held on the 19th of December, so my son could be home from college. It was a wonderful celebration of his life.
My dad passed away the morning of December 9th, after a big snowstorm that closed all the schools here in town, even the University. On the night of December 10th, the Holiday musical for the community theatre here had Opening Night for "A Christmas Carol." My daughter and husband were leads, the Ghost of Christmas Past and Scrooge, respectively. I was the Musical Director, Choreographer, and was playing the keyboard and accompanying the singers. It was a great Opening Night and the run of ten performances through December 20 was one of the best shows and turnouts we have had in many seasons. It was a good thing for our family to do together and to have something to occupy our minds during that hard time.
During my father's illness, I had put stamping on the back burner. I never seemed to want to pick it up again. I lost interest (and not just in stamping, but in some other things I had been doing - like church music) and began pursuing some other directions that I wanted to try before it was too late for me. I had gained MANY pounds over the last three years (in large part due to sitting and stamping and not being active)and felt that with a family history of diabetes something had to be done immediately. During "A Christmas Carol" I met a wonderful new friend who has kept me on an exercise regimen for over 6 months now. I lost over 30 pounds. The person that hated exercise now can't go a day without it! 20 more pounds to go and I will be at a place where I hope I can stay and be healthy for the rest of my life and for my children and grandchildren to come. For those of you that know me well, Diet Coke is no longer my breakfast, lunch and dinner!
In January, I decided that I would start working on my Bucket List. I didn't have one, but began making one up....
When I was in high school, all I wanted to do was perform. When I got to college, I had two music professors that made me feel as if it wasn't for me. And I listened to them. I wish I hadn't. I have always had that yearning for the stage, but have always done the behind-the-scenes work as a musical director. In January, I auditioned for an acting part in the Community Theatre production of "The Philadelphia Story." And I got it! I played Margaret Lord, the mother of the Katherine Hepburn character from the movie.
I loved it so much that in March I auditioned for a part in "Enchanted April" and got one of the leads: Rose Arnott, a prudish English housewife who blossoms into a vibrant woman on vacation at an Italian villa. I was so thrilled about the role - it just fit.
You theatre people out there know that once you have the bug.....I still do love directing, but have found that I am just as comfortable again on the other side of the stage.
I have picked up some things that I used to do and had forgotten:
horseback riding (my dad's gift to me on my 16th birthday was two horses!), target shooting (I have learned to shoot a .22 Remington rifle and a P22 Walther pistol and those shaving cream cans run and hide from me now!), running (I NEVER ran as a kid unless it was that 50 yard dash in PE), biking (I have biked up to 18 miles a day when before I couldn't even go 5 minutes!), crocheting (I have two afghans going at all times!), and have even driven a John Deere tractor (imagine that, living in Nebraska.....).
Last night I went to my 5th lesson for Argentine Tango where my dance partner and I executed a perfect "Corte." I took my daughter to New York City in March where we spent 5 glorious days immersed in the city's delights (we both LOVE the city) and saw "Jersey Boys" and "Billy Elliott" (Getting there was a nightmare -- that is a story for another day).
In May my son graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a degree in Jazz Studies and Trumpet Performance. It was a beautiful day. We had traveled in April to hear his senior recital and his own jazz compositions and were so impressed with his talents and gifts. We also got to meet his girlfriend, whom we ADORE. Good thing too, as last week he told us they are thinking of a March wedding! I am so excited!
One major thing I haven't mentioned: the night of my son's jazz concert in NC, I began to feel a slight pain in my right eye. I have chronic dry eye syndrome, and am used to my eyes not feeling "right" but this was rather bothersome, as we were out at a great shake and burger diner to celebrate his composition being chosen as the concert closer - it was so good! His girlfriend was with us, as was her family. We were to fly back home the next day. By 4 AM the next morning, I felt as if an ice pick was being jabbed into my eye -- a pain worse than any (including natural child bearing!) I have ever experienced. That was the longest day of my life, as we did not get home until around 10 PM. Two flights, with a 3 hour layover inbetween, and then a 3 hour drive home after landing in Omaha. We immediately went to the ER, where they really didn't know much, but did give me a drop for the pain, which lasted about an hour. In short, I saw an opthamologist on Monday, and began a LONG process of healing an ulcerated cornea due to a recurring condition that I learned I have that has such a long name I can't even remember what it is. Basically, my infection was caused by my eyelid sticking and ripping off the outer layer of my cornea (yeah, sorry about that.....).
It was very serious, so much in fact, that I was sent to a cornea specialist in Lincoln and was seeing the opthamologist here EVERY day - even weekends and her days off. She was AMAZING. At the time, there was a question as to whether I would lose my sight in that eye. The infection I had was deep down in the cornea and all meds we were trying (6-8 different ones every day, every two hours) were not working.
Okay, now keep in mind, that during this time I AM THE LEAD in the play. This is ONE WEEK before we open. I can't even look at light and the pain is so great. But I never missed a rehearsal. I did sport an eye patch all through dress rehearsal week. I was quite upset, as here I was supposed to be this "beautiful woman", and I have this eye that is swollen the size of a
The infection has not gone away - even after months. And I have a scarred cornea in the shape of a Nike swish! Thankfully, it is just off my pupil, so my vision is not affected much. There is a permanent blur in my peripheral vision, but I am so thrilled it's not sight damaging. I am still on all sorts of meds, and will be permanently, but the absence of pain and the presence of sight is such a blessing! And instead of daily visits to my amazing opthamologist, I will see her only every 2 months or so. Can it happen again? Yes. Even with meds. So I am VERY careful.
Where did the interest in stamping again come from? I am not sure. All I know is that I am glad I am doing it again. It was really HARD to remember how to do things, and I am slower even than I was before (yes, it takes me two hours to make a simple card!). I missed all my stamping friends. I am sorry I disappeared without much explanation - to some of you, with no explanation at all. But here it is, finally, and way more than you wanted to read, I am sure. I guess I was, in essence, grieving the loss of my dad by leaving stamping.
A special thanks to my wonderful friends who have sent cards and notes. I hope to post some of the beautiful cards I got at my father's passing over the next several weeks, as well as "thinking of you" cards that I have gotten.
To KATE and SUSAN, thank you for your faith in me.
NOW, if you have read this far, I have a special gift for you. In re-entering my craft room after that long of time, I have found that I really would love to downsize and simplify. I have a medium flat rate priority box I am filling with fun stuff - new supplies and rubber I don't need - as well as cards that I have made. I would love to share. Leave me a comment here so I can visit your gallery or blog. I need to catch up on what everyone is making and doing! I will draw a winner of the goody bag on Monday morning (July 11).
And don't forget........live the life you have imagined........it may be something you have dreamed of doing, or wanted to do, or wished you could do. Life is too short.
Stamps: Love, Life and Lemons by Flourishes
Paper: Very Vanilla, Basic Black, River Rock, Basic Grey DP
Ink: VersaMark Black Onyx, Copics, black ribbon
Accessories: brads, Spellbinders Circles and Squares, Angel Wings Shimmerz