Creativity Doesn’t Die

I’ve never been much of a dreamer…at night at least.  If I do dream while I sleep, I rarely wake up with memory of it.  As a result, the vivid dreams I’ve had the past couple of weeks are surprising to me.  I’ve dreamt about Rudy and just the other night I dreamt of me singing…standing up and playing the guitar.  I seem to be dreaming about the things I’ve lost so although the dreams themselves are pleasant, a heavy heart settles in when I wake up and realize it was only a dream.  It leads me to question, why is my subconscious choosing to create nighttime movie reels NOW – after all these years?!!!  It’s like my mind is on hyper-drive and doesn’t take a break even when I sleep.

I wonder if my mind is missing my creative outlets as much as my heart.  😉  This time of year is typically filled with a ton of creative expression for me through music and jewelry making.  I miss time spent in my little shop making my jewelry designs in preparation for my holiday trunk shows and open house.  And although I’m still helping to lead worship at my church, what I’m able to offer vocally is becoming severely limited and my arms are feeling the fatigue of playing guitar so the joy of music making is beginning to wane a bit.  That’s a tough realization this time of year too as my heart longs to sing “Mary Did You Know” with my friend Darlene as was tradition for many years or break out my guitar for impromptu carol sings.

The good news is creativity doesn’t die.  As the doors to certain creative expressions close, it seems I’m led to alternatives.  A friend of mine introduced me to the practice of praying with prayer beads last year when I shared that I was having a hard time focusing long enough to pray.  I was intrigued by it and did a little research on the history of Anglican/Protestant prayer beads (a cross between the Orthodox Prayer Rope and the Catholic Rosary) that led me through a fun journey of discovery.  I read a number of different suggested prayer guides and tried a few on for size and ultimately came up with an adapted compilation of my own.   It has been a sweet creative exercise AND benefit to my prayer life.  Win/Win!

Here’s a link to a .pdf of my prayer bead compilation if you’re interested!  You don’t need prayer beads to pray it with me!…

Daily Prayer

There is real value in adopting new practices when the old become stale or, in my case, die off.  It’s a helpful reminder to me that life is still being lived and my heart is still being inspired to express itself no matter how “stuck” I feel.  God is, truly, ever present!

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A sweet little collection of meaningful artifacts is growing on the arm of my wheelchair. 🙂

‘So, so grateful Darlene and I recorded our rendition of “Mary Did You Know” several years ago with the help of our friends Jake and Jeremy (I don’t even care anymore that I’m a little pitchy).  I’m sharing it again here in honor of our tradition.  🙂

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Speaking of tradition, we were so touched to see that Rudy was included in the Christmas decorations at the flagship Kyles Kitchen again this year! Thank you Ferros…you bless us!             Hi Rudy!

 

OUCH!

Oh man, this holiday season is going to be tough.  In part because, as I mentioned before, my grief over Rudy seems to be more vivid this second year without him…the first year was cluttered with so much grief that it was hard for me to compartmentalize the pain…this year my grief is easier to distinguish…this year grief over Rudy is specific and deeply felt.  The other reason this season is going to be a challenge is that it’s our first “real” Christmas without Rudy.  You may recall that last year at this time our community was held captive by what turned out to be the largest wild fire in California history at the time…schools closed, many local businesses closed, whole communities evacuated and all the holiday festivities we typically participated in were cancelled.  We basically hunkered down at home and stayed put.  It was a hard time, for sure, but it was so far from what was familiar that it kind of just added to the clutter.

Thankfully our community is moving forward & rebuilding and with the much needed rain we’ve gotten this week, there is no threat of a fire this year…life around us is moving on and holiday fun has returned.  It’s a good thing but Rudy’s absence in the spaces he used to occupy in all our familiar Christmas fun is so totally obvious.  It’s gaping wide and filled with an ache that is so, so deep.  I missed him last night at the SBRM Staff Christmas Party and I’m already missing how ever single day in December used to be filled with some holiday celebration or preparation whether is was for church or school or the rescue mission and how Rudy was my constant companion in it all.  Ugh!

That being said, I’ve also been thinking about some pretty bold heart-to-heart conversations I’ve had with a few friends in the last year about the hope of seeing Rudy in heaven some day.  I was reminded of it again yesterday while watching the State Funeral Service for President G.H.W. Bush and the many references made about his finally being with his beloved daughter Robin who died of leukemia when she was 3 years old.  To be honest, that’s a tricky concept for me and runs the risk of being over-simplified when referenced as a potential “silver lining”.  As much as I miss Rudy now and know, wholeheartedly, that when the time comes for me to be reunited with him, it will be an amazing experience, that reality holds little comfort for me at this stage in the game.  I wish I could say it brings me peace on some level but it doesn’t because I really don’t want to die in my 50s and leave the rest of my family.  The other reality that plays into this for me is that my relationship with Rudy was defined largely as his caretaker and his cognitive disabilities limited the way we interacted on many levels…it blows my mind to think that so much of what our relationship was based on won’t even exist in heaven.  I know I’ll recognize the love we shared but it will be a very different relationship in the eternal realms and it’s hard for my small, temporal mind to grasp the comfort in that right now.  Does that make any sense?

What a strange mix of thoughts and feelings.  Welcome to my twisted world!

Bottom line?  Today hurts.  And there is a lot of piercing Christmas cheer ahead that I want to push through and stomach because I don’t feel the freedom to step back.  If this were a different kind of grief journey, I would have no problem saying “This is hurting a little too much right now.  I’m gonna choose to step back this year, take a break and reengage next year”.  Instead, there’s a need to be present in it all this year (no matter how emotionally crippled I may be) because I feel the constant movement of that damn hour glass…no time-outs, no stepping back to take a breath, no reprieve, no chance of remission.  Aw man, I better stop before I get any further down this rabbit hole.  You get the idea…it’s complicated.

Your continued prayer is so greatly appreciated.  I think I’ll let you sort out the above and pray as God leads you to pray rather than share a list.  Today kind of feels like one of those Moses moments when our family needs the faithful to do the hard work of holding our arms up for us…not due to a lack of faith, just a lack of energy.  😉

Rudy’s smile always makes me smile so to close this post, here are some memorable moments we shared with our boy our last December together in 2016..

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Rudy the Christmas tree.
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Outing teacher Todd as Santa at his school party!
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Charming the local news media sent to the rescue mission to cover the homeless feast.
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Singing Christmas Carols!
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Christmas eve at church.
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Christmas Day at the Rescue Mission.
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Family time

 

 

It’s Officially Christmastime!

It’s officially Christmastime.  Yay!!  We were blessed with another family gathering over the weekend, this time in San Diego.  Rolf and I drove south on Thursday to visit some friends in Los Angeles and catch Wilson leading worship at an APU chapel, we then made our way to San Diego where we enjoyed some down time with Max on Friday.  By Saturday, Olivia and Wilson joined us in SD and we all got to attend Max’s choir Christmas concert…a perfect way to usher in December!  In the midst of all the family fun, Rolf made arrangements to surprise me with a mini reunion of my good friends and former co-workers at the restaurant we all gathered at 26 years ago for Rolf’s and my wedding rehearsal dinner!  What a sweet time of reminiscing, affirmation and prayer with old friends.

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Our first stop was a quick visit with Justin and Victoria Nelson…Moriah’s parents. It’s always a sacred time with these two!
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Rudy and Moriah in 2013.

Wilson has been a percussionist in the APU Liturgical Chapel Band since he was a sophomore and we’ve not attended any of his chapels in person so going to Thursday’s chapel was an extra-special treat.  Wilson has a love for hymns and it shows in his leading of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”! 🙂

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It was a blustery day in SD on Friday and the surf was wild but oh, so mesmerizing to watch!
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The leaning Christmas Tree of Ocean Beach!
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EL INDIO dinner with the Vans!!!!

Wilson, having never seen an eyelash curler before, asked Olivia what she was doing and so she demonstrated on him!  His eyelashes never looked better!!!!  Ha ha

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A family selfie on Shelter Island!
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Why?!? Why do they always end up in a headlock?
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Our mini reunion…The kids? A bit taller. The grown ups? A bit grayer. The friendships? So much sweeter!

PLNU’s Annual Cider Celebration was, once again, a blessed time filled with a variety of goofy and worshipful moments.  Max’s professor always includes really fascinating arrangements that leave the listener thinking…like this unique arrangement of “Silent Night”…

It’s tradition to close every concert with this benediction.  The camera work isn’t anything to look at so turn up the volume, sit back, close your eyes and receive the blessing that it holds for you.  😉

The VERY astute Rudy’s Beat reader will notice I’m in a new wheelchair.  My custom wheelchair was delivered last Wednesday just in time for our road trip.  It’s just like the loaner I was using in function but has much more comfy chair pads and fits my measurements perfectly.  I ended up sleeping in it two nights in the hotel because I can adjust my body position automatically as needed throughout the night…something that’s getting harder to do in bed by myself.  I’m very thankful for the comfort and function it gives me and I don’t take for granted the gift it is even though it’s bittersweet.  I catch glimpses of my silhouette in storefront windows all hunched over in a wheelchair and think “Who is that?…How did I get here?…I’m not the person people see at face value?” and yet it IS me…it’s part of the ever-changing definition of me.  A definition that’s hard to deny the more durable medical equipment I need and the more dependent on others I become…my mind, however, is slow to adjust to the transitions my body is making.  And so, I come home from a really fun and full weekend like this past weekend, surprised by how wiped out and completely useless (practically speaking) I am.  I have a couple of big events this week but mostly I’ll have time to rest up and hopefully regain a bit of energy.  You know, ‘kinda feel the need to listen to that blessing again…

Happy December Everybody…’wishing you fun and festive holiday prep in these few weeks leading up to Christmas!