Remembering the bright spot in each day, week… month is important. That’s also why I take photos of me and Paul on little every day outings – just enjoying life. Flowers, beer, clouds, us… Also, we take turns singing at the top of your lungs to our favorite songs that have been our favorite songs for decades! 

Because, my life is hard. My life makes Paul’s life hard. Choose Joy and Choose to Remember.

The second week of June, Paul received a text, “I will not be renewing your lease after September 30.“ That was it, nothing more. WHAT?? Not sorry if this an inconvenience, no explanation even though they knew we were basically staying unless something drastic happened with Paul’s job. In the end her 24-year-old daughter wants to buy a house and can’t so she gets this one. Seriously, when they say there is no such thing as fair (we make things fair it doesn’t exist on it’s own) it is true. She is not wrong but it feels incredibly cruel. Rents are still climbing, realtors are criminal in their additions of “fees“ and extraordinarily disproportionate demands to be accepted as a renter. I won’t even start on gas prices jacking up moving truck costs. We’re not sure where we will end up. Most likely not Rochester but only time will tell.

We found out on a Tuesday night. By Friday we headed to friends just south of the Albany area. After a lovely visit we headed out the next day to see a few places around Albany. That didn’t happen. Nothing lined up, appointments were cancelled last minute, no one was willing or able to do earlier. Instead we drove to each property to look at what was available, where it was located and what the neighborhoods were like. These are depressed areas, rundown, no neighbors or neighborhoods and wouldn’t feel comfortable walking down the street kind of feeling. Yes many of these properties have been gutted and updated in lovely styles but this is not the place for us. We crossed many a town off of our list. Paul was in an exceptionally bad mood now, so I suggested a quick drive to Saratoga for lunch before heading home. We had a lovely lunch, amazing waitress in an area to add to our search. I have family ties and my own connections to Saratoga – it feels right. Again, we have to wait and see.

On our return, that Monday, I had injections in my QL (quadratus lumborum). That big wide muscle that is in between the place below your lower back and above your buttocks. Four injections to be exact. It’s just two weeks now and the highest pain level has dissipated but not the awkward movements and stiffness in the things that should be easy. I went back yesterday for injections into my occiput (the lower back of your head at the ridge of your skull). This is the origin of my pain for the last 26 years. I do not receive the number of injections I use to when I was in North Carolina and had amazing Headache Specialist. I have yet to find someone who is willing to do those. So I’m praying that these nerve blocks are successful in someway.

I do wish they could do everywhere, all at once but that’s “too much steroids” so I feel like I never catch up to “all good“ but I keep trying. I need from the top of my head to the top of my buttocks injected all at once so everything gets to calm down at the same time. Seems like common sense but instead I am stuck waiting weeks and months in between which keeps me in a terrible cycle.

I’ve been trying to push myself with the QL injections but it’s proving to be more and more difficult. So focus on something positive. I decided to follow another artist’s lead and choose “30 days of…“ For June. I chose oil paintings. It has been wonderful to take myself up to the studio by late morning and paint. I have completed a 24 x 18, an 18 x 14 and as of this morning the final of six 8x10s. I’m quite pleased with myself. Of course it wasn’t quite every day because we were gone two days and one or two “sick days” but in general I was at my easel!

The challenging parts are the stabilizing muscles working in some odd ways… leaning forward, twisting to get the angle I want and mostly standing for hours. This just causes pain. The joy of painting keeps me going but then I just have to sit down… really lounge, which means not sitting up and not lying down flat. My life is complicated.

Getting in walks could only happen every 3 to 4 days instead of walking for 3 to 4 days. This is discouraging but I have to listen to my body. Even if I didn’t, my body knocks me down.

It’s been a cool June until this last week. One Sunday afternoon we checked out Durand Eastman Park. It is lovely with paved roads through the woods that give you glimpses into the deep forest. Also, little parking lots here and there. We parked at one and found a trail. It was wonderful to be outside, fresh air, quiet in the woods and moving my body.… There was a catch, severe burning in and around my ankles and lower legs the longer I was on an incline. Stop a moment, let it subside and then continue on. I was not going to let it stop me (spoiler, like I can control it with my mind). We came to a clearing at the end of a wooded path and in the sunlit glenn a deer was eating. We watched from the trail but when it was time to step out, he checked us out and decided to continue lunching. We crossed the glenn and re-joined the trail. This was much steeper and I couldn’t move. The burning was going to bring me to tears. Getting out back to the paved road was so much worse but once on the flat pavement the burning subsided. We took the car across the main road to Lake Ontario which looked like an ocean with the waves rolling in. Another decline and incline back up yo the car. I survived. We stopped to enjoy some bubble tea before heading home. I can’t eat many things out and we make better coffee at home so we’ve taken to stopping for a bubble tea wherever we are for a little date. Just remember to ask for lite ice and light sugar (if it’s a place that adds simple syrup, eww, stay away).

I clearly need to work on flexion and range of motion but with all the pain it’s been very difficult and then when I try and do something good, it’s more pain. Again sick cycle. I was super exhausted that night but good. So I thought I would be fine. The next morning the sheets touching my lower legs and feet was excruciating. I could not walk. I spent the day on the couch with ice wrapped around my ankles. Oddly, one day was all I needed and I went back to painting the next day, cautiously. Which basically means making sure I limit my time, take breaks and then stop. Sounds easy but when you’re in it, it doesn’t cross your mind until the pain is louder than anything else.

I have had some inconsequential walks and some when the burn returns. I don’t know what will help my body but I keep going…

As I head into July I want to start some watercolor cards and plan for an art fair in mid August. All the while knowing if the right place shows up to rent we may not be here. I’m not going to worry about it. I’m just going to live each day as best I can – whatever the pain level, whatever the weather, whatever this crazy country throws at us. But I take comfort that LIFE had a major victory and that brings me JOY. If people won’t listen to truth, we must be patient and keep trying. But life has always been fought for and now we have a huge win! There is still so much work and re-education to be done but that seems to be what life is all about and we must take it in stride with love and joy. And thank God Almighty …often.