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From where I sit staring out the window, the sun is backlighting the tree, camouflaging any sign of green on the branches. A tiny red capped bird comes and sits. She’s a lovely little creature. I love red. She turns, stares at me head on and neither of us moves. It’s a standoff. I win. She shakes her feathers and I want her sense of freedom. Amazing, I think before she flies off.


Stop. You don’t really want to be writing about birds, buds, and branches. What’s really on your mind? I don’t want to go there, I say not out loud. We want to hear from you, not your prose. Argh…


Fine. Monday this past week was a hard day, as Mondays can be. Todd had scheduled us to meet for lunch and look at a car that might be more practical for me. He’s worried about me traveling on the Interstates in my Mini. I plan to go to a writing workshop in Iowa this summer and to another on Washington Island in the fall. You need a car you can travel in, he says. I love my Mini but people overlook me all the time. It can be an obstacle course traveling between trucks and SUVs.


So we met a guy in the parking lot at Pic ‘n Save to look at a car, and the first thing out of the guy’s mouth is that he isn’t sure he wants to sell. That went well. Not. Then we went to lunch across the street. It had been a rough morning wondering what the future really held for me. I had slipped on my halo, that’s my extra hair I have named Nicole (if you haven’t noticed, many women have added extensions and such to their natural hair. What is it about women and their hair?) but I really grieve the loss of my own locks from the injections I have to do.


What is it? Todd asks me. Your hair? I nod, brushing off the tears dripping down my cheeks as I’m stirring my soup instead of sipping it. I feel so superficial, I say. Well, I would feel bad if I was sick and losing my hair, he says.


I am ready to shave it off, I say. Low thyroid most of my life, I am sick and tired of worrying about my hair.


It doesn’t look as bad as you think, he says. His words help.


This thing on my head itches, I say. I hate wearing hats and helmets.


Take it off. You have nothing to be ashamed of.  More tears roll down my cheeks. I stir my soup.


Are you going back to work?


Yes, I say. I’m better when I’m working.


Don’t stress. Hope is coming. I tell myself these words over and over again as I try not to stress. The next morning I take a scissors to Nicole and lighten up the locks, then trim the sides so it won’t itch. It’s better. I just want a little extra padding. The world can be a tough place.


By the end of the week, I hear the word amazing slip from the lips of the specialist I’ve gone to for a second opinion, say to me three times. Amazing, she says to the intern as she examines me. It could be worse, she says. And your pain is better? Yes, I say. Amazing, she says again. Your doctor has been taking very good care of you. You’re improving. Amazing!


We were told our only hope was to keep the disease from progressing. There was no cure. There would be no improvement. We were warned of this up front. I think of all the prayers covering me and am determined to write this all down and make a few calls.


Stay on the injections for two more years, she says. Well now, that’s not exactly what I was hoping to hear but it could be worse, I say to myself not out loud, and join the doctor in realizing that what she has discovered is indeed truly amazing. I guess I just needed someone to point it out.


The sun has risen higher in the sky now, and it’s shining down over the trees. I can see the spurts of green sprouting from the buds, reflecting the gold of the light. I’m sensing the same sort of spurts of  life and light in me. Don’t let me lose my wonder, I whisper.


I make Todd and I smoothies the next morning and as he’s walking out the door to work, I look at my social. I see a post on the new project I’ll be stepping into soon. A comedy. Yes! I think. And heartwarming. Oh joy. I’ll be playing the mother of a woman and her friend on a road trip. I’ve been on many. It’s a small role but significant to me. It seems that the director of the film, Ryann Rel, came along to remind me of a few things.


I click on the video and listen to her promoting her new film Mags and Julie Go on a Road Trip. See the amazing things happening around you, she says. Notice how far you have come. Switch the focus from success to the stepping stones you’re on and acknowledge them. You’re further along than you realize. She’s lovely.


I laugh when I hear her say that anything worth getting is going to punch you in the face over and over. Keep pushing forward. Recognize the journey as the gem…Who would have thought that being in a film at this point in my life would be what inspires me to keep moving forward with my own goal of writing another book.


You are the only one who can drive your idea forward. Ignore the roadblocks…like getting sick, I hear her say. This is just a part of it. People get scared off by the barriers. (Right, write that book!)


A bird and a couple of buds reopened my eyes to the wonders right in front of me. A doctor’s amazement pointed me to see my healing rather than my wounding. And an actor/film director reminded me to hang onto my dream and drive that baby forward.


Although the branches may look brown, the buds are blooming. And though the temperature may plummet tonight and snow is predicted tomorrow, (it’s April for crying out loud) spring is coming. See the wonders.


So, this is my way of saying thank you to all of you out there who have been praying for and supporting me. I hope you’re reading this. And thank you, Ryann. I’m so proud to be a part of this gem of a journey you’re on. You’re inspiring. Here’s to all the gems.

Feature photo credit: from the upcoming film Mags and Julie Go on a Road Trip

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