Category Archives: #gratitude

He’s Always Happy, Isn’t He?

Sometimes people who meet Kepler make comments along the lines of “He’s always happy, isn’t he?”

Well, he’s happy a lot of the time, but not always. Case in point:

On the way home from dance class yesterday, he asked me to take him to Wendy’s to get french fries. I said no. I told him the next food he could have was cheerios with milk, and the next drink was going to be water. Dance class is about 12 miles from home. During that drive, he asked for fries at least 20 times, and told me he didn’t want Cheerios another 30 times.

Each time he asked, he heard the same thing: “Next food is Cheerios, next drink is water.” Poor thing wore himself out fighting against these particular goads. By the time he had fallen asleep in the car, then refused to get out, then littered the basement with his coat and shoes, and finally agreed to cereal, there were only a few minutes until his Fine Arts Night at his school.

Ready to sing!

Sees mom and sister in the audience!

Enjoying his classmates

Happy to be here

He loved being in the show, and showing his sister and me around his school. Not to mention, the huge number of people who greeted him, clearly delighted to see him. One of the fourth grade teachers last night called dibs on him for fourth grade (two years from now). He brings a lot of joy to a lot of people.

Kepler’s not always happy, but then, neither is anyone else. But we could probably all take a page from his book about rebounding from stuff that upsets us, and let it go completely when we finally accept what is.

I Miss my Spleen. A Story.

I am reposting a blog that appeared here a couple of years ago. It is the story of how I lost my spleen.

I’ve been missing my spleen this week, as I have been fighting a mean infection.

This is the first time in the long and storied history of Siouxsies Musings that I have ever reposted something. But it is simply the next step in my story.

Realizing that not everyone wants to click links, I will also put the text of the original post here:

MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2013

S is for Storytelling: A Sled, A Spleen, and Siouxsie

With only two days left before Christmas vacation, the snow began falling early, but not early enough to score a snow day. We all focused on the snow even as the teachers asked us to focus on the blackboard.

After school, Linda and I completed our chores, put on our snowpants and mittens, and met outside in her front yard with our sleds and our excitement. We knew Judi’s yard had the best sledding on the street, and we were more than ready to ride joyfully down the hill after a year of memories and anticipation.

While Linda stood contemplating the hill, I noticed there was a little bit of an extra hill behind us so I suggested we start from the tippy-top to enjoy the extra speed that would surely result from such a daring start.
Gallantly, I offered Linda first dibs. Her face clouded up. No, she said, I’m too scared. Overly bold, I declared I wasn’t scared, and hopped into her sled (it was cooler than mine).

All of the kids on the street had been down this hill a thousand times, but this was the first time this year. Eagerly, I started down the hill. Just as my descent began, the back corner of my sled bumped the corner of the sandbox and altered my course just enough so that I knew immediately that I was on a collision course with the tree.

In this “artist’s re-enactment” you see many trees. But in reality, the tree I was headed for was one of only three on the hill. And there was plenty of space between them.

In an attempt to miss the tree, I rolled partway to my right, and then a little more, and just a teensy bit more, effectively stretching out the skin on the left side of my abdomen just as taut as could be, and

 BAM, hit the tree.

I knew I was hurt. All I knew was I needed to get home. I jumped up, and ran full-tilt all the way down the street to my house, thereby inadvertently allowing the internal bleeding to ramp up to a fast flow.

Once home, we settled into our normal injury/medical routine: wait to see if it gets better on its own. Judging by the stabbing pains I experienced all night long (due to internal bleeding), it would be safe to say it wasn’t going to get better all on its own. However, I was still alive in the morning! Barely able to walk; weak as a newborn kitten; unable to keep even a sip of water in my stomach. “I … want … to … go … to … school … … please. Can’t …… break … perfect … attendance … streak.” Mom decided that perhaps these symptoms were suggesting a trip to the doctor, rather than the preservation of my perfect attendance streak, so off we went to see Dr. Blatt.

In about ten seconds, he had me diagnosed: ruptured spleen, need surgery NOW.  I didn’t really care at this point. Thankfully, it wasn’t up to me to get it done!

Back before hospitals and health care were so strictly monitored, one was admitted and kept for quite some time for such a procedure. I was in the ward for two weeks, which constituted my entire Christmas break. My two sisters bravely agreed to postpone Christmas until I could be there with my family.

What remains:

  • This lovely scar, eight inches across. 
  • The opportunity to write on a million health forms, Splenectomy 1974, and to answer the consequent questions about what happened. 
  • An amused recognition that all I really needed to do was roll out of the sled and I would have missed the tree completely!
  • complete set of non-perfect-attendance records in my school days. 
  • boss immune system which picked up the slack resulting from losing my spleen.
  • precious memory of playing Boggle for the first time with my dad that Christmas and finding the word SPLEEN. (I didn’t ever think to ask if he had stacked the cubes!) 
  • Gratitude that my body did what it was designed to do, stopping the bleeding on its own, and getting me through the night and through the surgery.
And a lovely quote from Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee (highly recommend!):
“On the girl’s brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking, Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moons on your dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.” 
― Chris CleaveLittle Bee
A scar means I survived. 

Testing out the Creaky Writing Fingers Again

Hello? Hello? Anybody there?

I guess you can’t see all the blog posts that are in my mind, because they never got written down.

Remember? I started working at the grocery store in June. Two times I crept home from the store and wrote about my experience. Most other days, I collapsed on the couch and pondered the state of my aching knees, hips, feet, shoulders, arms, and hands. Even with that, it took me four months to quit the job, in tears, and begin to heal.

At first, I dreamed about the store. I missed it and had to clothespin my lips closed when I went in to shop lest I blurt out my desire to come back to the familiar pain.

A month of recovery later, my knees could bend without constant pain; my hips went back to their normally schedule programming; and the knot in my back had loosened.

Two months of recovery later, I can walk in the store, buy my pomegranates and cereal and grass-fed beef, and have but a distant memory of stuffing product on shelves, cleaning up after customers (such messy people), and rushing, rushing, rushing to get the unending and unreasonable to-do list a little smaller.

I do miss T., one of the store co-managers, and L., my remarkable boss, and N., a co-worker.

In the quiet of my home, the memory of the non-stop sensory stimulation continues to become more distant. No longer does the advertisement for Forever Stamps echo in my head. The ache in my hands from baling the cardboard has faded. Straightening hundreds of bottles of shampoo and body wash no longer takes up any space in my life.

Retail is kind of brutal, when all is said and done. Local store personnel, dedicated and committed, are constantly dealing with choices made by distant corporate types. Distant corporate types who occasionally come by, unannounced, and see that their minions are doing it all right. The pay is low, the hours are long, the work is hard, and the workers are faithful. Not all of them, of course, but the core group at my store were committed to providing the customer with a great shopping experience. And they did, as great as it can be when the shelves are mostly full of highly processed products, all crying out for attention — Buy me! Extra roll enclosed! See my colorful packaging! New! For a limited time! 

Plenty of other women my age, in my season of life, don’t have the luxury of deciding the job is too physically demanding. If nothing else, that brief foray into working in the retail grocery business opened my eyes to what many people have to do to earn minimum wage.

Testing. Testing. Check 1. 2. 

Blogging while Uninspired


Sitting down to blog every day is similar to taking time to work on a book every day. Both involve writing. Both are for the purpose of communicating something to an audience. And both writers have days where the most important thing is to put pen to paper, or fingers to keys.

Today was largely unremarkable. I returned books, lots of books, to the library. (Oh, how I love that drive-through drop-off.) Stood in line to return an ill-advised purchase. Met a friend for coffee. Think I might have experienced a hot flash.

As with several other universal experiences, I had decided not to experience this whole hot flash thing. The other times I have politely declined to experience what so many others before me have experienced, my intention did not line up with my reality. Somehow, I have expected a pass from certain common experiences. Some aspects of parenting teens come to mind.

It is when I choose to focus on what I am grateful for that I am reminded that every day is filled with gifts of all sizes and shapes. Today, the rain misting while I put Kepler on the bus. The gift of my new office space. The blessing of a mother who senses my exhaustion and whips up a tasty dinner for my family. The blessing of my husband and children. And I am reminded once again that my story about my story is the one that makes my experience what it is. I want to be sure to have a story that includes lots and lots of gratitude.

Sometimes the act of recounting the sources of my gratitude is enough to inspire me to move toward what is right with my world.