Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out With the Old!

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Year of Treading Lightly

This morning, as we lay in bed, Steve reminded me of this old chinese story: 
Chinese Word for Luck!
Good Luck Bad Luck!
There was a farmer who used an old horse to till his fields. One day, the horse escaped into the hills and when the farmer's neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, "Was it bad luck?  Maybe."  
A week later, the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck.  The farmer's reply was, "Good luck? Maybe."  
Then, when the farmer's son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off the horse and broke his leg. Everyone thought this was very bad luck. The farmers only reaction was, "Bad luck? Maybe."
Some weeks later, the army marched into the village and drafted every able-bodied youth they found there. When the army saw the farmer's son with his broken leg, they let him off. "Good luck?  Maybe."  
It's been one helluva year.  Breaking my right femur on March 6th was certainly some damn bad luck.  It's shaped my entire year, and been a real challenge emotionally and physically.  But there's been some good luck mixed in.  Like the unexpected surprise when Vanderbilt Hospital waived a large portion of my bill last month, after I fretted over it for several.  And although I lost some home buyer-clients in the months while laid up with my broken leg, I just sold a beautiful home that Arita, one of my best friends, gave me the privilege to list, and I'll have some Christmas money.  

I was looking forward to celebrating the home sale yesterday (Thursday) by taking the day off to just lay around and relax.  But then again, did I really deserve it?  After all,  Steve and I just got back Sunday from a nine day trip to Hilton Head, Savannah, and Charleston, where I worked (a little) with Steve critiquing the songs of country songwriters in Georgia.  Some more great luck:  Steve's cousin donated a week's stay in a beautiful condo  and we earned money while we were there!

So, Wednesday evening, while leaving a songwriting workshop, I stepped off the porch of the host's house, landed on an uneven place, and fell all the way to the sidewalk, twisting my ankle and scraping and bending my right knee in half.  The four other songwriters I was leaving with scrambled to pick me up, carried me back inside where I sat awhile with ice on my knee and ankle.  As planned, I spent the whole day Thursday laying around and relaxing.  Today, as bruises and pain have settled in and I can barely walk (again!), I'm relaxing some more!  

I'm just wondering:  Did I really have to fall and re-injure my leg to justify laying around and relaxing?

Bad luck?  Maybe.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lost AND Found

Last week, I got the opportunity to work as a "Screener"; screening talent here in Nashville at an open call for the reality t.v. show, "The Glee Project."  I was hired by my long-time friend, and one-time boyfriend (from 35 years ago), Robert Ulrich, who is a very successful casting director in Los Angeles, as well as one of the judges on "The Glee Project."  Robert recently won his first emmy for outstanding casting director of the hit show, "Glee!"

When Robert called me about the gig, he also asked me to recommend some other candidates in Nashville who might be experienced enough to be a "Screener" or "Camera Operator", so I made some calls, and rounded up several of my talented friends who also got to be involved.  So, in effect, I was a location Casting Director!

The Nashville Casting Crew, with Robert

Robert Ulrich and I both grew up in the Central Valley, California--He in Modesto, me in Ceres.  I was 17 years old when I got involved with the Modesto Youth Theatre after seeing Robert, my sister Beverly, and my friend Brian in an amazing production of the musical, "On The Town."  The Modesto Youth Theatre was an excellent training ground for many talented kids, and for so many of us, it was a huge life-shaping experience.  It was the Modesto Youth Theatre that solidified my desire to become a professional dancer and actress.

So, it was Old Home Week in Nashville.  Brian, (who came out to Nashville to help me with my broken femur in April and is still here) and Margaret Rose, (also from Youth Theatre days) who drove up from Orlando, and I, all met with Robert over dinner last Tuesday night and spent hours talking shop about "The Glee Project."

On Wednesday, November 9th, we gathered bright and early at the convention center, where young people were lined up around the block, ready to try out for their big break in show business.  It was such a thrill to be auditioning talented, up- and-coming singer/dancer/actors and to be surrounded by video cameras, because they were shooting a documentary of the entire process.   I felt right at home in the environment.  I was invigorated and joyous.  The gig only lasted two days, for 12 hours each day.  Long hours that flew by.  We closed out our reunion with Robert at a final dinner where we again talked for hours about the auditions.

The day after the job was over, I noticed I waffled between elation and depression.  I was elated to be a part of the entertainment world again, and depressed that I was no longer living that life.  Watching those young singers pour their hearts out made me realize how much I loved performing, and how I'd lost sight of that fact.  Somehow 13 years have gone by since I moved to Nashville, and 5 years have passed since I last performed here in local theatre.  I've been buried in my "real job."  I realize this was a choice.  I had given L.A. 17 years of my soul, and  left there with the decision that if I couldn't be a "player" then I didn't want to be there anymore.  As far as the last five years, I don't know where they went!  Now, I long to be back in the limelight.  I'm sure I  could play a parent on "Glee," or a teacher, or a janitor?!  Or perhaps a cameo as one of the former stars of the 20-Minute Work-Out, complete with my post-broken-femur limp.   "Hey, Mr. Ulrich, Here I Am!  I'm the Greatest Star, I am by Far, But No One Knows It!" 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

All in a Day's Walk

Although my right femur is no longer broken and I'm walking as well as one can expect at seven months, I'm still "expressly forbidden" by my spousal equivalent Steve, to walk our three dogs without any help.  He doesn't want me to fall again!  Maneuvering the three dogs on their leashes is no easy task since two of them weigh 90 pounds, and the third one becomes a ferocious little bitch when she sees other female dogs walk by.  But I have no choice when Steve and our live-in friend, Brian, are both unavailable, and the dogs are begging to go to the park! 

So, this morning as soon as Steve left for work and while Brian slept, I braved it (as I've done many times).  I risked being pulled, tripping, falling, and getting tangled up in the leashes because I love my dogs and they love going for walks.  

When we got to the park, I saw my neighbor, Mr. Johnson, an elderly man, walking by himself.  I'd never seen him beyond his front yard, so I asked, "what are you doing out here?"  He surprised me when he said he was stiff and needed some exercise.  (I couldn't help thinking that  he ought to give his dog some exercise!)  

My history with Mr. Johnson goes back several years.  I've watched him acquire puppies since 2003, plant them in his yard on a short chain where he leaves them to rot while they live out their short lives. I plotted a few years ago to steal a sweet pitbull puppy he had named Bouncer, but Bouncer was one of the lucky ones.  He broke free from his chain.  Most of the dogs I've seen in Mr. Johnson's yard simply die young.  I've called Metro Animal Control over the years but it never helped.

As he usually does whenever he sees my dogs, Mr. Johnson said, "oh, those dogs, they is honeys"  "Oh yeah, they's honeys."  I said, "Yes, they are!"  Then he said, "We lost our big dog."  (This didn't really surprise me, since I had recently noticed a new little dog chained up in his front yard.)  "Oh?"  I asked.  "Yeah,...she died,"  he said.  "the heat got her."  I felt my rage rise up through my cheeks as I got sick to my stomach.  I had seen that beautiful, sweet and friendly rottweiler chained up outside in the hot sun all summer.

I asked Mr. Johnson how old the dog was.  He said, "I don't know, she was my daughter's dog."  "Maybe, 10?"  Incredulous, I said, "I think she was only about one, wasn't she?"  Then he said, "Well, we all gonna go sometime."  And I said with a disgusted smirk, "Well, I'd rather it be later than sooner.

Trying to impart a little wisdom upon his ignorant, deaf ears, I said, "It was a hot summer.  That's why I keep my dogs in the house all summer.  It's too hot to leave dogs outside.  Is your daughter going to keep the little dog in the house?"  He shrugged, then said with his shit-eating grin, "I don't know."  I wanted to scream:  "YOU AND YOUR FAMILY NEED TO STOP GETTING DOGS!"  Instead, I held my breath, smiled politely, and somberly walked my dogs home. 

I was still upset as I ran the water for my shower.  When I started to get in, I noticed a huge grasshopper struggling to hop up the side of my tub, trying to escape the water, fighting for survival.  For an instant, I thought of killing the grasshopper.  Instead, I ran and got a couple of paper cups and helped him out of the tub.  I covered one cup with the other until I got him outside and released him on the front porch.  I wondered if the grasshopper felt afraid while he was inside the cup.  I thought of how I had his life in my hands.  Then I thought of Mr. Johnson and his innocent rottweiler, and how that poor helpless dog didn't stand a chance in this world.

I went and lay on the couch with my dog Spike, buried my face in her fur, and cried.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Old News

"I broke my femur," is old news.  

I had my six month check-up on September 9th.  When the orthopedic surgeon came into the exam room, I was missing.  I had gone to the bathroom, and was returning down the hall, when he came out of the room looking for his patient.  When he saw me, it was apparent that he didn't recognize me.  He stared, and then said, "If I didn't have this chart to refer to, I wouldn't know which leg I operated on!  You are walking really well!"  (And I paid $400 for this appointment??)

I told the doctor that I was still having persistent pain when bending my knee and walking down stairs.  I mentioned that he had told me previously that I'd be back to normal at six months-walking normally, doing all of my normal activities, even dancing.  "Did I say that?"  He chuckled.  Then he said with a grin, "You'll never be back to normal."  


I sat there, aghast.  I  think he was making a light hearted joke, but I didn't appreciate it.  He went on to say that I was always going to be aware of my injury.  I told him my hip hurt when I walked.  He said, "well maybe you have some arthritis, I haven't checked your hip."  WHAT???  I said, "don't tell me that!  I haven't had any hip problems prior to this accident, I think it's related to my injury."  He said, "maybe."  MAYBE??

The irony is that I had almost cancelled this appointment.  I knew it was going to be expensive (they take $300 worth of 
x-rays every time I go in), I already owe over $30,000, and I figured I wouldn't learn anything new.  The doctor would just say I was healing well.

What a surprise to learn that I would "never be back to normal."  

Note to self:  a)  Doctors don't know everything.  b)  Who wants to be normal, anyway?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Poolside Lesson in Humility

This past Tuesday, my friend Carolyn's husband asked me, "So, why did you break your leg?"  

I was taken aback for a moment by the audacity of the question.  Usually, when one suffers a tragedy, or has an accident of some kind, one will wrack their brain trying to figure out why it happened.  "Why me?," has always been a popular question.  But what he wanted to know was, "why did you create the accident?"

I believe in the spiritual philosophy that I create my own reality, but I told him that I'd not been able to come up with a reason that made any sense.  

Still, he got me looking at some questions that I hadn't bothered to think about lately.  In addition to "Why did I break my leg?" Questions like:  What have I learned over the past six months?  What benefit did I get out of the accident?  Why am I still using the broken leg as an excuse to be a victim, to get sympathy, to be liked, to be lazy, to take it easy. Whaaaa?  What was that last part?  To take it easy?  What's wrong with taking it easy, I wonder?  And why am I still using the broken leg to beat myself up?  Why am I not letting go and moving on with a new story about the broken leg, and what new story can I tell?.... 

After living with these questions all day Tuesday, I went to Senior Water Aerobics class on Wednesday with a renewed sense of acceptance.  (Although I hadn't come up with an answer to "why" I broke my leg, I know I wouldn't have joined a "Seniors" class had I not needed gentle water therapy).

After the class, I stayed in the pool to do extra leg exercises.  An elder woman from the class whom I'd often smiled at, but never talked with before, made a casual comment:  "You haven't had enough, huh?"  I answered with, "well, I just need to strengthen my leg."  She asked me if I was recovering from a surgery.  And I said, "yeah, I broke my femur in March."  I saw the sadness in her eyes as she said, "my son did that."  She paused.  Then she said, "he got a blood clot."  I paused.  "Did he make it?" I asked.  "No."

She went on to tell me that her 37 year old son fell in a hole, much the same way that I did, and landed wrong, just like I did.  He had surgery, just like I did, was recovering well, went home, and two weeks later developed a blood clot that traveled to his lung and killed him.  She said she didn't understand why the doctor hadn't prescribed a blood thinner, why her son had only been prescribed aspirin.  (Blood thinners are usually prescribed after femur surgery, because the risk of developing a blood clot is so high).  She said she didn't understand why her son, who was a good Christian, happily married with two children, was taken so soon.  But, she said, she had to accept that "the Lord must've needed him for some reason." 

As I quietly listened, I thought about the fact that I chose not to take the blood thinners that were prescribed to me after surgery.  And I wondered why I escaped a blood clot.  Why was I so blessed?  Why was I given the opportunity to survive, live, grow, change?

Today, I'm still pondering all of the questions and I am filled with humbleness and gratitude.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Great Big Party!

Monday, I had a great big party.  It lasted for hours!  Clear into Tuesday evening.  I didn't invite anyone.  Who'd wanna come anyway?  I'm talking about a Ginormous pity party.  The kind where you wake up angry, and before you've even had your first cup of day old re-heated coffee, you feel that life couldn't get any worse.  You cry and rage and cuss and nobody wants to be around you.  Steve tried to soothe me with his classic matter of fact self-help line, "a mood has you."  "Duh, no fooling you!" I said, with my most charming witch face.  Brian offered (with the kind of authority that most men seem to have on this subject),  "it must be your menopause!"  

At first, I couldn't figure out what was going on.  Was it all the sugar I'd eaten over the weekend that caused me to plummet?  Nothing else out of the ordinary could've caused this journey into the deep, dark abyss.  Just a casual conversation on Sunday evening with a fellow real estate agent who appears to be doing sooo much better than me financially.  That, combined with my ever-present hospital bills, and the ever-present pain in my right leg--the leg that's supposed to be completely back to normal in six months according to the doctor.  (My six month check up is only three weeks away!!)  

So, I woke up mad, and feeling sorry for myself, and completely oblivious to the underlying cause:  I was comparing my failings to another's success.  It's no fair that I broke my leg and couldn't work for several months.  It's no fair that I'm still not operating at peak productivity, doing as well as Ms. X.  

I recognized this old trait of mine while in the middle of my wallowing.  I remembered my Hollywood acting years when jealousy ate away at me most of the time.  Sometimes I would be so upset after seeing a great film, because I wasn't in it, that I'd be depressed for hours.  At one point, I determined that it was my jealousy and competitiveness that were keeping me from attaining my dreams.  Now I wonder, are these same ugly attributes keeping me from succeeding again?  And as I have this thought, I realize it's just one more negative thought to beat myself up with.....

Comparing what you have to what others have is a good 
way to make yourself miserable.  


There will always be someone smarter, stronger, prettier, thinner, wiser, healthier, happier, and more successful than me.  

There is one good thing about comparing myself to others though.  It usually pisses me off enough so that when I've worked through my "mood," my competitive nature kicks in and causes me to come up with creative ways to be better at whatever it is I want to be better at, and I focus on that.

When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”  Lao Tzu

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The New Normal

I just got home from my first traveling vacation since my fateful fall.  I flew to San Francisco, California with my friend Brian, and we met up with a friend from L.A. acting days (hadn't seen her in 15 years),  then we attended a reunion with old theatre friends on the Russian River.  After Brian flew back to Nashville, I stayed five extra days and went on a road trip with my two sisters to the Monterey area, where we hooked up with two of our cousins for an extended girl's va-cay!

I love traveling, and it feels normal to me.  I've been blessed with many traveling adventures in my life so far.  Checking in and going through security are as natural as drinking a cup of coffee.  This time, however, I had to tell the security officials that I have a metal plate and screws in my leg.  At the Nashville airport, they simply told me to go through the big 
x-ray machine and I didn't set off any bells or whistles--what a disappointment--no fanfare of any kind!  Since I usually travel on Southwest Airlines, I knew about their open seating policy, and I was prepared to ask for a "pre-board" pass, so I could be seated before everyone else and get an aisle seat where I could stretch out my right leg.  All I had to do was show the ticket agent my 12-inch gnarly scar over my knee, and I got to pre-board!

Months ago, my surgeon told me that at six months I would be completely back to normal.  I'm still counting the weeks and it's been 21 weeks today since my accident.  Almost everything is "back to normal" except it's a new normal.  I walk with a different gait, (a slight limp) and I walk very carefully, especially up and down stairs.  

I feel so fortunate to be traveling again, and many times over the past two weeks I forgot I ever broke my femur!  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Independence is Bliss!

This past week, I spent hours and hours at Fido, my favorite coffee shop, working on the computer.  Fido was my office on the road.  Why is this so exciting?  Because I drove there myself.

At 18 weeks (and still counting) into my broken femur recovery, I'm no longer at the mercy of being driven around by my friend Brian, or my spousal equivalent, Steve.  I can go where I want, when I want,  in my own car and I'm in the driver's seat.  That's not to say it wasn't fun being chaffeured around and having Brian at my beck and call to take me places.  We went to so many fun places, but just being able to get in the car and take off feels so liberating.

Over these past couple of weeks, Brian has torn down the wheelchair ramp at our front doorway, and thrown it in a pile for the dump.  My shower chair was delegated to the basement.  The wheelchair, walker, and crutches, are waiting to be returned to their lenders or donated to Goodwill.  And I am driving!

Life is getting back to normal.  But it's a new normal.  One where I have to stretch before I can even get out of bed in the morning if I want to walk.  And one where I have to exercise every single day in order to keep my knee joint lubricated and my leg functional.  Water has become my best friend.  The wonders of water aerobics and the healing powers of the pool are amazing, and more than ever before in my life, exercise MUST take priority over everything else.  So, over an extended 4th of July weekend, while Steve was out of town, I drove myself to Senior Water Aerobics, and another water exercise class almost everyday, and Brian and I went to Percy Priest Lake, where I exercised my leg as well.  I drove myself to Radnor lake, where I took two hikes (2.5 miles each), and I actually danced on two occasions.

But I digress... 

I drove myself and a friend to the Nashville Sounds baseball game for the 4th of July fireworks, drove myself to the Bluebird to see songwriting friends perform, and I drove Brian back from Arrington Winery, (because I had less to drink).

On the road to recovery, driving equals independence, and independence is bliss!

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Could Have Danced All Night

Yesterday marked 16 weeks since I fell and broke my femur.  For the past 6 weeks I've had to walk with a cane, but yesterday was my own self-determined cut off date--I decided to leave the cane at home.

My friend Brian and I went to Tribe again, our favorite gay bar, for Show Tunes Sunday.  At Show Tunes Sunday, all of the video screens run musical numbers, and most everyone in the bar sings and dances along to their favorites.  The bar was a little slow last night, and I was a little tired.  I just went to keep Brian company.  

That is until Maurice showed up.  (Maurice is a tall, sleek, handsome African-American, who we noticed last week when he high kicked and twirled along with the musical "A Chorus Line").  Maurice spotted me from across the room and recognized me!  We'd not been introduced before, but he remembered I was an admirer.  So he came over and said, "let's dance!" and pulled me quickly up out of my seat before I could say anything.  I jerked away and said, "wait, I'm recovering from a broken leg, I don't think I can dance!!"  Maurice just smiled and said,  "I'll be very careful."  He held my hands and we danced around and around, and my eyes welled up with tears as I thought about how grateful I was to be dancing again!  (I was a little wobbly, and limping some, and it hurt, but damn it, I was doing it!)  We finished off our number with some step-kicks just as a gang of regulars called Brian and me over to join in the sing-and-dance-along to "Springtime for Hitler" from the musical, "The Producers."

When I got out of bed this morning, my right leg was stiff and sore and I could barely walk.  But I don't care.  "I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night, and still have begged for more!"  (From the musical, "My Fair Lady").

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cicada Sense

The cicada insects were here in Nashville for several weeks this Spring/Summer, and they were everywhere.  They flew into my hair, rode into the house on my dogs' backs, even got caught buzzing in Steve's pants.  Then, as abruptly as they showed up and seemed like they'd be here forever, one day I noticed they were gone.

In a way, this is like my recovery.  One day I abruptly broke my leg, and while it felt like it would be forever before I would walk again, one day I stood up and began walking.  Now, I'm driving and back to trying to earn a living.  When I see friends lately they say, "wow, you're walking already?  You've healed so quickly, time has sure flown..."

But while the cicadas shed their skins and become a better, more beautiful version of themselves with a new sense of purpose, I've fallen back into my old self:  The me that is worried about money, frustrated by my decreased productivity, and stressed (which shows up physically as a burning red hot ear).  I actually caught myself telling a friend the other day that I liked it better when I couldn't walk because I was so much easier on myself--I was helpless and innocent!--This is craziness talking.  

My leg is healing beautifully, but my life is not.  My emotional healing is proving to be the ugliest part of this journey.  At 15 weeks into this experience, my leg hurts constantly and I'm not fully functional, yet I expect myself to be.  My friend Julie likened me to a toddler who is struggling to walk and gain independence.  Yes, just like a toddler, I'm finding myself throwing tantrums because I want my way and I want it now!  I expect my life to be back to normal, but then again,  I'm discovering that I don't want it to be like it was before my accident.  I don't want the stress, the fear, or the overwhelm that seems to be ingrained in me.

So, I'm striving each day to get out of this old skin and fly gloriously like the cicada--with purpose, patience, grace, and acceptance of what is--and damn, sometimes it's an ugly process.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Back in Business!

As a real estate agent, there is nothing that thrills me more than finding a fantastic new listing on-line at 11:30p.m., getting my buyer-clients in to see the home at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, (because I know it's perfect for them), writing up an offer for them because they love the home soooo much, feeling the excitement I know my buyers feel, and best of all, getting the offer accepted.

Since I broke my leg on March 6th, it's been pretty difficult to generate any real estate business.  I was referred to the above-mentioned wonderful young potential buyers on March 21st, just two weeks after my surgery.  I knew I couldn't drive to any appointments and I couldn't show any homes because I couldn't walk!  Nonetheless, I scheduled an appointment to meet the couple and show them homes, and my friend Jennifer agreed to drive me (my first time out of the house post surgery).  I didn't mention on the phone that my leg was broken.  My new clients found out when they met me in person, and they were more than happy to have Jennifer show them five homes that evening.  

Over the course of these past three months, my buyers have looked and looked and have made several offers.  They have gotten to know my drivers:  Steve, Brian, and Jennifer.  They lost out on a great house, patiently waited for weeks on a "Short-Sale" that didn't pan out, and passed on many other homes that just weren't quite right.  They saw me go from a real estate agent stuck in the car in her sweat-pants, to a real estate agent in modified professional attire walking with a cane!

After the excitement of finding this couple the home of their dreams yesterday morning,  Steve and I went to senior water aerobics and Steve saved the life of one of our 90 year old classmates--she had gotten in over her head and panicked, and Steve carried her to safety while soothing her fear.  Then we went to the doctor for my three month post-op follow up,  where I was granted permission to start driving, and I was told I can discontinue physical therapy.  

All in all a great day on my road to recovery--I am back in business!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Progress, not Perfection

I'm such a sham.  

I write these posts, and I attempt to come across somewhat positive, but behind the scenes I'm a whiner.  I cry after every single physical therapy session.  I cry not only from the overwhelming pain, but also with the fear that my right leg may never be like it used to be. 

I started my New Year (June 1--see my last blog), and it started out well.  Steve and I went to the Senior Water Aerobics class and I felt stronger.  My pain was tolerable.  I even swam some laps in the pool.  After we got home though, my energy was zapped.  I needed a nap.  I kept reciting my new mantra, "do what inspires you," as I rested in bed most of the afternoon until my physical therapy appointment.  

I really expected June 1 to be my last P.T. appointment.  And I reserve the right to be wrong again!  They keep upping the ante with more exercises and I continue to feel that I've not made enough progress to stop.  They say, "good job!" as they tell me, "you should be doing these exercises every day.  The Senior Water Aerobics is not enough."  At the end of every session, I sob.  Then my friend Brian picks me up and we go to "Happy Hour." 

I also occasionally shed a few tears when a potential real estate deal falls through--I'm especially vulnerable now, with my hospital bills looming.   This past Friday, a deal fell through and I found out by phone on the way to Senior Water Aerobics.  As I danced in the pool, I fought back the tears when I shouted out to Steve with a forced smile:   "Ah well, it's the Summer of Fun!"

I'm at the 13 week mark today.  Life is back to business as usual.  I'm back to making dinners at home, back to work with real estate, and back to trying to keep my self-imposed fear demons at bay.    I've come a long, long way with my leg, but I have no idea when I'll be walking normally without pain and a cane. 

So today, I recite the mantra:  "Expect progress, not perfection."  (A slogan borrowed from Alcoholics Anonymous)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Follow The Fun!

June 1, 2011.  Happy New Year!!  (For me anyway....)  Today officially begins my New Year 2011.  I figure I've got seven good months to make up for lost time.  

I had so many plans for the New Year last January.  I had a to-do list of aspirations that included getting my health in optimal condition, (and lining up health insurance), getting our home de-cluttered, and somehow balancing my creative life with my "job" of selling real estate.  I was having trouble getting motivated though, and finally, in late February, I decided that my new year would officially begin on March 1, 2011.  I was doing quite well for five days, until March 6th,  when I fell and broke my femur!
Life is just what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.  (John Lennon)

Now, 12 1/2 weeks later, I'm walking again (still with the help of a cane).  I've been out of sync and out of commission--literally, since my employment is commission based--for quite some time.  As my friend, Vickie said, "I've been incubating."  Well, the hell with "incubating," I need to start hatching!!   I never did get that health insurance lined up, and I've got hospital bills to pay!

Thank God I was able to call another friend for emotional support.  A conversation with my good friend, Arita Trahan, was the perfect medicine to quell my squirrel mind.  She told me that I don't need to get "motivated", I just need to be inspired.  She said, "if you feel inspired, do it!  If you don't feel inspired, don't do it!"  She told me to "follow the fun", to think about what I really enjoy about selling real estate and do that.   She said if I just "follow the fun", all my good will come to me, people will want to work with me, and the money will follow.  OMG, I love this!

After listening to Arita, I decided my New Year 2011 will officially begin on June 1st.  And my New Year's Aspirations are as follows:

Follow the Fun
Do What Inspires Me
Follow the Fun
Do What Inspires Me
Follow the Fun

Happy New Year!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rich Little Poor Girl

5 years ago on Sunday, May 28, 2006, at 12:00 noon, my mama died.  It was a new moon and Memorial Day weekend.

Winifred Anne Butler,  "Winky", was born in Chattanooga during the depression.  She graduated high school at the age of 16 because she was super intelligent.  She became Miss Chattanooga (I don't know the year), toured with Mickey Rooney in a traveling medicine show, and then  joined the army when she was 20, so she could travel the world.  Her plans changed when she got pregnant, and got married instead.  My oldest brother was born in 1951.

Mom raised 6 kids, while teaching Spanish at a high school full-time. She became so involved with her job (and her students) that she became an absentee mother for a while, and throughout high school I felt much closer to my dad.  But once my parents finally got a divorce when I was 18, I moved out with Mom to help her cope.  

My mom performed in a production of Hello Dolly with me, and loved coming to see every play I was ever in.  She showed up for a one-woman revue I did once dressed in a t-Shirt emblazoned with the words:  "Holly Butler Fan Club, Charter Member."  When I started to write songs, my mom started writing songs too, and had high hopes for both of us!  During my lowest point when my own marriage was failing in 1994, Mom gave me a pep talk that was quite possibly life-saving.  In her final years, she wrote a memoir titled, "Rich Little Poor Girl" about her childhood, and I sure wish I knew where her manuscript ended up.  

During these past three months I've really just wanted to call Mom and tell her about my broken leg.  I keep remembering different events, like when she flew down to L.A. in 1985 to nurse me back to health after a car accident, and about the time she visited me in Nashville in 1999.  She was always tearful as she said goodbye at the airport, about the wonderful time she had.  I realize that I inherited her tendency to cry easily, and her love for high drama, and I cherish both of these qualities.  

I miss you, Mama.  Did I tell you that I broke my leg 12 weeks ago today?  You'd be so proud of my progress--I'm walking again!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stagnation or Incubation?

Stagnate:  to stop developing, growing, progressing, or advancing: as in "My mind is stagnating from too much T.V."

I was complaining to my friend Vickie on the phone yesterday about how I am sooooo over this  too-long-of-a-broken leg vacation.  How I'm so upset over not being able to grow my real estate business while I've been nursing my leg.  How I've not been able to write any songs, or practice my guitar, or try writing a novel.  How now that I'm finally attempting to walk with a cane at 11 weeks, the pain is worse than ever.  I'm not progressing, I'm just stagnating.

And Vickie said, "Maybe you're incubating."  (Huh?)

Vickie went on to say that when she was pregnant with her only child it was a very difficult and sometimes painful nine months, but of course the birth of her daughter was well worth the long process of incubation.  (I thought, oh please dear God, don't let this pain go on for nine months!!  Coincidentally, I recently read an article that claimed breaking a femur  is more painful than child birth...).

My wise friend Vickie continued,  "Maybe you're just incubating, you know, you're healing, and then when you're done healing, you'll be a creative genius, and you'll be more productive than ever!"  This made me feel better. 

So I looked up incubation and found these definitions that I really liked: 
1. incubation - Latin incubare, the source of incubate, literally meant "lie down on"; incubation once had the sense of sleeping in a sacred place or temple for oracular purposes, 2. incubate - grow under conditions that promote development,  3. To form or consider slowly and protectively, as if hatching.

So I'm incubating.  More like a chicken with her head cut off, screaming the sky is falling, but I'm incubating! 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"A Blip In Time"

That's what the doctor said at week five.  He said I'd be back to normal before I knew it and it would feel like a "blip in time."  Now I'm saying, "Like Hell!"  I'm coming up to week 11 and I am NOT back to normal.  Last week, I was all brave, and determined and with gusto, walking up those flights of stairs with my walker trying to impress a potential real estate client (who still hasn't hired me or returned my phone calls, thank you very much!)

That was sooooo last week.  This week I'm walking with a cane, and paying the price.  My right leg is throbbing regularly, and most of my other body parts are sore from overcompensating.  And my old pal, Impatience has come to call.  I know her well, and I haven't missed her.  It's been nice not having her around on a regular basis (like when I'm really busy and stressed out while working for a living).  But this morning, I woke up and Impatience was back, screaming in my head:  "I'm frustrated, angry, and tired of hobbling around!  No more Miss Nice Girl!  Everyone says I've been handling this situation so well.  Well Bullsh-t, I'm sick of it!!  I want to walk without a cane!!!  I want to run!!  I want all of my energy back and I want and need to make some money.  I'm tired of this so called "life of leisure."  I'm tired of laying around!"

My friend Brian said, "You're not yourself today.  Where's my Holly?" 

Steve said, "A mood has you.  Stop talking with that potty mouth, you sound like white trash."  

Because all I could do all day today was cuss!  "F this" and "F that".  "Where is my F--king book?"  "Where did I put the G--Damn, Mother F--cking paper I need?"  "I am so F--king pissed."  (I read a scientific article recently that stated that cussing helps to alleviate pain.  And damn it, I believe it!)

Now I lay me down to sleep.  Tomorrow is another day.  A Blip in Time?????   My Ass.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Beginning of the End

This past week I took three senior water aerobics classes with Steve (I fit right in with my need to move slowly and cautiously).  At physical therapy, I walked "hands free" for about eight feet and was given the go-ahead to walk with a cane if I preferred.  And, I had my first real estate listing appointment since my accident.  

I didn't tell the potential listing client in advance that I'd be showing up in jogging shoes and getting around with the aid of a walker (I chose the walker because I knew the home had some stairs and I wanted the extra security).  I told him that my husband would be chauffeuring me, because we had taken my car in for an oil change (I didn't mention that I still wasn't driving, since I broke my right leg).  I didn't want the potential client to imagine that I'd have any limitations as his real estate agent.  

When Steve and I arrived for the appointment, we both exclaimed, "Oh, no!  Look at those stairs!"  The entrance to the home looked grand, but daunting.  Steve was especially worried, but I was determined to appear completely capable. The steps up to the front porch turned out to be shallow and I managed them with unexpected ease.  I knocked and we waited.  The home was vacant and through the windows it looked newly renovated and gorgeous.  

Finally, the potential client, David, came around from the back of the house and said that unfortunately, he had forgotten his keys and that we'd have to reschedule!  He didn't seem to pay much mind to my walker and jogging shoes.  He said, "we can walk around to the back of the house and look in the windows.  You'll be able to see most of the house that way, and you can tell me your opinion on a list price."  Then he asked,  "Can you get around okay?"  "Absolutely", I exagerrated,  "I'm just using this walker for support while I recuperate."  We strolled very slowly to the back of the house, then I spotted the three sets of stairs up to the back deck.  (YIKES!)  I didn't let on as I winced in pain with every step up.  We walked back down, across rocks and cobblestones and uneven terrain just as David's brother showed up with the house key.  So, a tour of the inside began with yet more stairs and much more standing and walking.  Steve was invited to come in from the car and he listened to my entire listing presentation.  Talk about being put on the spot!  

Afterwards, Steve took me to lunch and told me how impressed he was with my real estate knowledge and my sales presentation.  I asked him to tell me again at least three times.  I felt a great sense of accomplishment even though I was  exhausted and in pain when we got home and I had to nap for several hours.  

I haven't heard back from David or his brother, even though I followed up.  I'll be disappointed if they don't hire me, but I know I did my best.  It's been 10 weeks, and although I'm not completely healed, I'm getting there.  I'm slowly re-learning how to walk.  I'm slowing getting back up on the horse (figuratively) as far as remembering my real estate skills.  I'm slowly thinking ahead to getting on with my life.

It feels like the beginning of the end of my broken leg odyssey, and the beginning of a new beginning.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Water Therapy

Mother's Day.  It was a gorgeous, sunny, spring day, and it started out horribly.  I'm nine weeks into my broken leg recovery and it seems that during this time almost everything else in the house is broken as well!
This morning, Steve and I woke up to a flooded master bathroom.  My renovated bathroom, completed just over a year ago, is falling apart.  The toilet tank has mysteriously cracked down the middle and I noticed it when I saw water dripping onto the floor a couple of days ago.  I had wiped  it up then, jiggled the toilet handle, and the toilet stopped running.  It seemed fine.  Steve called the plumber who said he could come this Monday.  I turned the spigot behind the toilet, thinking I had turned off the water.  The toilet was silent, so I thought our problem was temporarily solved.

While we were in bed last night, I heard the toilet start running again.  I thought of asking Steve to go down to the basement and turn off the main shut off valve, but it was after midnight and we were both sleepy.

So, this morning there was a half inch of standing water on the floor, water gushing from the tank, water running through the grout of the tiles, through the sub-floor and into the carport below.  The carport where piles of junk still sit from last year's May 1st flood.  
I was so freaked out by the floor that I temporarily forgot about my broken leg as I attempted to get on my hands and knees to mop up the mess with the only towel in the bathroom.  Bad move.  "Ouch!"  "Steve!", "Steve!", "Steve!"  Steve was nowhere in earshot and Brian was still asleep in the guest room.  I was in pain trying to get up off the floor with my right leg only able to bend part way.  Somehow I balanced most of my weight on my left leg and got back up.  I hobbled over to the shower seat, sat with a thud and waited. 
As usual, poor Steve takes the brunt of my wrath.  I hear him come clunking down the hall.  "Where were you?!", I scream at him while he leisurely plods past the bathroom in his slippers.  "What do you need?", he asks.  I scream, "What do you think I need, the floor is flooded, get me some towels!  I would think you'd be a little more concerned about our floor being destroyed!!"  (I found out later that Steve was outside trying to keep our three dogs from escaping the back yard.  I had heard the ruckus, but I was focused on the flood).  

It took me a few hours to shake my foul mood as I went into overwhelm about not only the broken toilet, but the broken kitchen faucet, the broken water filter, the broken microwave, all the other broken stuff around here, and the crap sitting in the carport for the past year, now wet again.

I don't know when we would've gotten back to combing through the stuff in the carport, if it weren't for today's flood.  And after Brian helped me get rid of a dumpster full of junk from the carport, we went to the YMCA where I spent an hour exercising my leg in the swimming pool. 

Turned out to be a cleansing day!


Friday, May 6, 2011

Two Steps Forward

I'm bummed today.

One week ago, I met with the doctor and he said I could start walking (with the help of a walker or crutches).  He said I could start putting more and more weight on my right leg and that gradually over the course of the next month I'd be strong enough to walk normally.  Well, waaaaaaaah!  I want to walk NOW!

When I left the doctor's office, I was so thrilled that I secretly decided I'd be walking sooner than a month.  On Saturday morning, my pal Brian and I went down to the Country Music Marathon.  Although I have a temporary handicapped parking placard, we couldn't find anywhere to park close enough to see anything, so I walked more than a mile, with crutches, putting almost full weight down on my right leg.  I found myself walking alongside marathoners on their 16th mile!  I was inspired by the runners, and although my leg was tight, I kept a slow pace alongside the race route.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I loved being outside walking.

I crashed that night, and the next day I was in so much pain I could barely stand.  But it wasn't only my right leg.  It was my left hip, my shoulders, my triceps, my neck, and my back!  Needless to say, I didn't walk much on Sunday.  

In spite of the pain, I've been religiously doing my exercises, practicing shifting weight to the right leg, walking as much as possible, and pedaling at least 20 minutes a day on the stationery bike;  all with the hopes of being fully recovered by nine weeks.  Alas, nine weeks is this Sunday, and I'm not there yet.

My life felt almost back to normal last night.  My friend Nancy picked me up and we met four other friends at the Hillsboro Village Art Crawl.  We had dinner and I walked around the village on my walker, looking at art, seeing friends, and drinking margaritas for Cinco De Mayo.  Today, my entire body is in pain.  Arggggh!!  (I think I may have had too many margaritas...)  

The catchphrase, "two steps forward, one step back", was rolling around in my brain this morning, and I found this quote on a motivational website:  "Two steps forward, one step back" is usually a negative term to describe someone who is having trouble making progress. But switched around, "1 Step Back, 2 Steps Forward" means that instead of grousing or feeling guilty about a misstep, you can still come out ahead if you put your head down and push forward.

I'm still mad as hell, but I just rode the bike for 30 minutes.  Two more days until nine weeks!