Thursday, August 22, 2013

Post Workplace Abuse: Life Goes On

Life goes one.  Whether you are struggling with cancer, post workplace abuse, whatever, life goes on.

It never stops.

Adding this to the mix.  Maybe subtracting that.

But always, it goes on.

For me, in my journey, life going on has included the last birthday and six weeks later the death of my mother, almost exactly a year ago.

Also the long anticipated wedding of my nephew lsat year.

Throw in our entire nuclear family's birthdays and anniversary plus a long road trip to bury my mom (and back again), you've got quite a scenario.

Many stressors all converging in one small slice of time.

As I struggled through that six week period, some events good, some bad, all stressful especially to a body already overwhelmed with stress affects, it became a pivotal point or milestone in my journey.

A point where the rubber met the road.

A point where God somehow gave me the grace and strength to make it through that slice of time.

Yet, after all was said and done.  The wedding, the death, the burial and I was back home, all the feelings I'd set aside, all the grief, all the tiredness came pouring back in like a flood that could not/would not be stopped.

I was like an electrical grid that got completely overwhelmed and overloaded with too much demand and too little supply.

Much of the months after that slice of time I simply don't remember.

I remember bits and pieces.  Certain events.  Most certainly I remember the day I broke my wrist.  I remember our Canadian Thanksgiving where I tried to shop for supplies needed for the meal and was so overwhelmed that I had to call my daughter on my cell phone to talk me through.  I remember feeling so exhausted that I could not even think of Christmas.  So we had a "Charlie Brown" christmas.  I bought a "Charlie Brown" Christmas tree, we had a bonfire on Christmas Even, sat around and enjoyed Christmas DVD's on Christmas day.  Nothing to get up in the middle of the night about.  Low-keyed.  But enjoyable nonetheless.

But for the most part, each day melded into the next in a sameness of grey.  Overwhelming fatigue.  Affects that mimicked brain injury.  Not being able to think, to talk accurately.  Being out in public was difficult as sometimes I was so overwhelmed I could not even choose what drink I wanted.  My daughter would thankfully intervene and choose for me.  But I've never forgotten the looks on people's face when that happened.  How they would suddenly look down.  Stop interacting with me totally.  The perception was that I was mentally deficient.  That hurt.  That hurt a lot.

Fear, especially of people, became overwhelming.

I stayed home, for the most part alone as my husband had to work.

In fact, not only did I stay mostly at home, but within the house I was comfortable only in two rooms:  my bedroom and what we call "the office": the computer cum knitting/craft room.

My world shrunk.

Now, a year later, I still struggle with the after effects of not only that time in my life when life so rudely interrupted the recovery process from workplace abuse, but I also struggle with all the added injuries/affects from that time.

Yet, life goes on.

Recovery goes on.

And I've found that life, even life altered by unpredictable events, can still be good.

Different, to be sure.

But still good.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Many Roads or Facets of Recovery Post Workplace Abuse

My blog postings have been seesawing all over the place.  Sometimes here; sometimes there.  Then back again to here.  Swinging all over the place.  Seemingly with a mind of their own.  No plan.  No reason.  Just from here to there and back again - or often someplace else entirely.

I'm supposed to be blogging about those 18 months of desolation after abusive workplace situation #1 and the beginning phases of recovery from a lifetime of situations.

Yet, here I am malingering over photos and tales of baptisms and other assorted wanderings.

I'll be getting into a very serious topic like the first abusive workplace situation, how it played out, the dynamics involved, etc. and then at a crucial moment I'll pull back.  Unable - or unwilling - to move forward on that topic for a time.  At least for a time.  Often I have to literally force myself to go back to that time, that place and relive that experience in order to complete the series.

Worthwhile in the end.  Very worthwhile.  But difficult in the telling, the living.

When this abusive situation happened, I had no choice in the matter.  Or rather I felt I had no choice in the matter.  What were my choices really?

To leave or to stay.

To leave would have meant not fulfilling my contract which was important to me.

To leave would have meant validating their perceptions about my character.

To leave would have meant failure.  To me.

It was not something I even thought about.  Much.

Now I do have a choice - or rather choices in the matter.

I choose to grow, to recover, to do what I have to do in order to get past all of the crud.  The stink,  The defamation of character.  The abuse.

And sometimes, or rather often times, I choose to pull back in order to let the mind rest a bit.

This seesawing also has a lot to do with the road I travel these road.  A road that changes constantly.  Scenery that changes.  Emotions.  Processing.  Always processing.

Why?  Because one of my main strengths, according to my counsellor, is my ability to problem-solve, to analyze.

It seems that my mind is always working on a piece of the puzzle.

Journeying through complex PTSD post workplace abuse is, to me, like trying to put a complicated jigsaw puzzle together - with pieces missing.

There are so many facets to this puzzle called "recovery".

Survival definitely is not only one of the first but is also on-going.

Finding ways to rebuild or reclaim my life in my current circumstances.

Dealing with the myriad assortment of disabilities or altered abilities incurred as a result of the stress of the workplace abuse.

Throw in recurring nightmares or vivid dreams which leave me feeling more unsettled and restless than when I went to bed the night before.

And there is more.  Much more.  I just can't think of them at this time.

And so, in this blog - as well as in my - life, I need times to regroup.

To enjoy and experience the "insignificant" things.

Sometimes I need to stop entirely and just let the mind rest for a few days.

That's what I have to do in order to survive.  To ultimately recover.

So please, dear reader, bear with me as I stumble and blunder through this path which is sometimes blocked by obstacles I need to find a way around - or over - or through.

Bear with me on those occasions when the thoughts won't come.  The fingers won't type.  The blog is silent.

Bear with me as I take detours into lighter topics.

Because after all, it's all part and parcel of recovery.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Adjusting to Life post Workplace Abuse: 20 Things Wish List Revised

In February, 2012 I blogged about 20 wishes; 20 things I would like to do.  Here is the original list from that blog:
  1. go to Alaska with Papa Bear - not a cruise but a land trip; not a packaged one either; taking time to linger and enjoy the beauty and wildness that is Alaska
  2. canoe Lake Labarge (yes, dear friends there really is a Lake Labarge)
  3. visit Vancouver - our original honeymoon destination
  4. buy professional DSLR camera.
  5. take photography classes 
  6. write a book
  7. get published
  8. be read
  9. take classes in writing
  10. go to writing conferences
  11. use my writing skills to tell others' stories:  everyone has a story to tell
  12. become as proficient at knitting as I am at crocheting
  13. bond with a good friend at a European style spa
  14. conquer my fear of driving on bridges, causeways and interstates/expressways (depending on which country you happen to be reading this from)
  15. do the CN tower with friends and family to cheer me on
  16. learn to swim
  17. go to Winterlude and ice skate on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa
  18. conduct seminars on the affects of trauma and PTSD along with seminars on walking with, encouraging and supporting friends and family who are victims of trauma
  19. become a motivational speaker
  20. visit Newfoundland
Looking back from the perspective of the reality of "now" rather than the wishful dreaming of "then", I see how totally unrealistic this list is.

At the time, I thought that with rest and careful attention, I would eventually get well.  Meaning that all the affects, all the disabilities, all the altered abilities would magically go away.

Sorry to say, but that is not happening.  And is not likely to happen.


My "now", my reality, is learning to live life as fully, as joyfully as possible within the limitations imposed on me by these affects.

As I continue to slog through the journey post workplace abuse, I see that while I have actually accomplished one or two of these goals, most are simply not realistic.  At least, not realistic within my current framework.

My life consists of coping daily with the physical - and emotional - affects caused by the escalating stress of those four years in abusive workplace #2.  The affects come and go.  Seemingly at will.

I have good days - and not so good days.

My life consists of learning how to cope with these disabilities or "altered abilities" that are invisible to the outside world, and find ways to have a fulfilling life.

These disabilities or "altered abilities" are generally invisible to those who don't know me.  When they're at their worst, I stay inside.  Away from people.  Away from triggers.  Away from anything or anyone which could cause the situation to disintegrate.

So ... going back to my list and taking a good, hard, long look at it, what is feasible at this point in my life?  Given my disabilities?

Or rather, maybe I should look first at what is not realistic on this list and then go from there.

What is not realistic are any of the goals which involve public speaking.  I don't do people well.  My mind gets confused.  I get overwhelmed easily.  The words don't always come.  It's frustrating as the mine is still there.

So what is feasible, what is realistic is to be able to use my mind and my writing skills in my "safe" place, my home, to partner with others who are able to address groups of people in what trauma is, how it affects people, how to walk with people like me, what to do and what not to do.  How to protect themselves emotionally when walking with people like me.  And that just scratches the surface.  Realistically, I can write the content.  Others would need to give it.

Another entire category in the list involves travel.  While theoretically travel is possible, there are problems.  One:  I would need a companion as there are times the cognitive skills desert me.  Another is money.  I've not touched on this part of the affects of workplace abuse, but when a target is bullied to the point where they are either terminated or leave the workplace "voluntarily" due to health issues, etc., they have lost their source of income - usually permanently.  I am too young for Old Age benefits.  I am not deemed sick enough for disability.  I fall between all the cracks there are.  Let's face it, travelling involves money.  It also involves energy.  People.  As I've said before, I don't do people well.

So what is left on the list?  What is doable?  Photography.  Writing.  Knitting/crocheting.  Taking classes on-line.  Participating in groups on-line.

Things that allow me to progress at my own pace without pressure.  Things that allow me to work at home.  Within my safe place.

And that is where I am now.  Today.

Where will I be next week?  Next month?  Next year?  Who knows.

I sure don't.

But what I do know is that even though challenging and often frustrating, life after workplace abuse can be good.  It can be fulfilling.

So with that thought, I will sign off for another day.

God bless each and every one of you who is taking this journey with me.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

1692 Salem Witch Trials - An extreme scenario of bullying.

Above is a picture of a display at the visitors centre in Salem, Massachusetts, a town known for centuries in the United States for its 1692 Witch trials in which 20, in all likelihood innocent, human beings were murdered, 19 hanged and one pressed to death (tortured) for not cooperating.

Over three hundred years later, the infamy of those days lives on.  In history books.  In references to the town.  Etc.

Salem itself, as a tourist town, capitalizes on its infamy in many ways.  Unhealthy ways to me.  There are now shops specializing in occult paraphernalia.

But that's not what the witch trials were all about.

Salem isn't where witches trod.  It is where ignorance and superstition lived.  Where lives were ruined and snuffed out on the accusation of others.  Where innocent people were accused, jailed and ultimately executed on the say-so of others.  Their cries of innocence unheard and unheeded.

Now, more than three centuries later, people are beginning to realize that what happened in that time to those people was wrong.  It was not about their being witches.  It was about other things.

Things like being bullied.  Things like being unfairly accused.  Things like being voiceless and faceless.  Unheard.  Judged unfairly.

The victims of the massacre are no longer considered witches, perpetrators, but are considered victims.

In 1992 the town of Salem erected a memorial to those who were murdered in the name of justice in 1692.  The memorial is at one side of the cemetery.  

It comprises a stone wall with shelves or benches alongside it.  One for each of the victims.  Their date and method of execution.

To get into the memorial, the visitor has to step across a stone pathway in which are permanently etched the last words of the accused. Words such as:  " I am wholly innocent"; "I was wronged."  Words that went unheard at the time they were spoken but now, three centuries later, reverberate across the corridors of time with their strength, their power ... and their futility.

As a victim/survivor of workplace abuse, I could feel the oppression in the air surrounding Salem especially in that corner of the town where their memory lives on via the memorial and some of their last words and protestations.

As a victim of workplace abuse, I could relate.  As I said before, I felt the oppression.  I also felt almost unbearable sadness and despair.  Similar to current victims of workplace abuse, it didn't matter what these victims said in their defence.  They were ignored.  It was what others said.  The others had all the power - and used it.  The victims were powerless, voiceless.

Add caption
Here are some of the last words of those executed in this travesty of justice:
Brave Words of Some of the Accused Witches All of Whom Were Executed
"I am an innocent person. I never had to do with witchcraft since I was born. I am a Gosple woman." Martha Cory (March 21, 1692. From the Rev. Parris account of the examination at Salem Village Meeting House.)

The lord above knows my Innocencye ... as att the great day win be known to men and Angells. I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die, and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood may be shed ..." Mary Esty (September 1692. Written while in prison awaiting execution.)

"If it was the last moment I was to live, God knows I am innocent ..." Elizabeth How (May 31, 1692. From the Rev. Parris account of the examination at Salem Village.)

"Well! burn me, or hang me, I will stand in the truth of Christ ..." George Jacobs, Sr. (May 10,1692. From the Rev. Parris account of the examination at Salem.)

"Amen. Amen. A false tongue will never make a guilty person." Susannah Martin (May 2, 1692. From the Rev. Parris account of the examination at Salem Village Meeting House.)

"I can say before my Eternal father I am innocent, & God will clear my innocency." Rebecca Nurse (March 24, 1692. From the Rev. Parris account of the examination at Salem Village Meeting House.)

"The Magistrates, Ministers, Jewries, and all the People in general, being so much inraged and incensed against us by the Delusion of the Devil, which we can term no other, by reason we know in our own Consciences, we are all Innocent Persons." John Procter, Sr. (July 23, 1692. Written while in Salem Prison.)

"... I fear not but the Lord in his due time will make me as white as snow." John Willard (May 18, 1692. From the Rev. Parris account of the examination at Salem Village.)

For most last words of the victims of these witch trials, check out this site:

Today, a play is performed in Salem called Cry Innocent about the trial of the first person accused, condemned and executed as a witch:  Bridget Bishop.  An unpopular woman.  Prone to gossip.  Not very well liked.  So when she was accused, people went along with the accusations.

In present day Salem, the tickets are sold for the play, a "town crier" announces the arrest of Bridget Bishop and the charges again her.  Actors drag a struggling "Bridget Bishop" down the street vainly crying out her innocence and outrage towards the charges.  The people (audience) who are witnessing this event, fall into the procession behind the accused (actors) to make their way to the hall where the play is performed.

I had a strong reaction watching this procession.  All these people falling into line.  Blindly following the leader.  Believing the accusations.

That, my dear reader, is the core of what workplace bullying, neighbourhood bullying, church bullying, etc. is made of.  People blindly following those who are stronger, louder.  People not bothering to stand back and think for themselves.  People caught up in plausible lies.  In the emotion of the moment.  Feeling they are part of something - whatever that something is.

Whatever the dynamic, lives are irreversibly ruined.  

You might say:  "That was then. This is now."  You might also say:  "You're being a bit dramatic here, Cassie, don't you think?  Workplace bullying doesn't resemble this kind of scenario."

It doesn't?  Think about it.  One person (usually at a time) is selected to be the target of accusations, gossip, exclusion, etc.  One by one the bystanders join in.  It doesn't matter what the target says, to whom or how often.  He/she is tried in the court of public opinion, convicted and "sentenced" (the usual form in the workplace being fired).

So what? you might say.  That person is alive.  They can get another job.

Can they?

What about the damage done?  Are you aware that many targets of workplace abuse commit suicide?  Because they've believed the lies rampant in the workplace.

What happened in Salem Massachusetts all those years ago in 1692, was a form of bullying, purging of people that didn't fit in, people who weren't well liked, etc.  It continues on today in many forms.  Most of them not easily recognizable.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Post Workplace Abuse - Life is Largely What You Make of It

Today is my birthday.  I am 64 today, although I pride myself on not looking my age.  

Yet every year takes its toll on me whether good or bad.

As you know from reading this blog, the last few years have been lalapaloozas.  Yet, at the end of the day - or is it year? - I'm still here.  Still trucking - or is it toddling - on?

Having good days - and bad days.

Yet, the good days, the good times are what I try to focus on.

Take last year for example.

Over a thousand miles (if I wasn't, it sure felt like it) away from home on the Eastern Seaboard of the US in Salem, Massachusetts for the much anticipated wedding of my nephew.  Most well known for its (now infamous) witch trials of 1692.

A piece of U.S. history.  A thriving tourist town.

Usually we celebrate birthdays with a family barbecue in our backyard.  In the last several years, family has become more and more important to me.

But last year, family was in various stages of transit from home to Massachusetts for the wedding.  Those who were already in Salem were the principals in the wedding, focussing solely on the next say's event.  The wedding took precedence over everything - as well it should.

The Friendship, a replica of a War of 1812 frigate, permanently moored and open for tours
Yet, during the last few years if I've learned anything I've learned that life, largely, is what you make of it.  I've leaned that while I cannot change anyone else, I can change myself.

I couldn't stop the adversaries from targeting me, from excluding me, from gossiping, slandering, defaming my character to anyone who would listen and ultimately to libel.  

I couldn't stop them.  I can't change them.  

But I can choose to recover.  I can work lifestyle changes which lead to a healthier, happier mind frame.

I can change myself.

And so, on this day which was probably not important in the scheme of things to anybody but myself and a small circle of friends, we chose to celebrate where we were and with what was at hand.  With my long sufferin' hubby who promised more than three decades ago to love, honour and be my travelling companion through the journey of life.

First up, explore Salem, find a restaurant for a birthday lunch, explore Salem some more, take pictures, walk around, take more pictures.

Doing one of my favorite things:  exploring.  Okay two of my favorite things:  taking pictures.

There was so much to see.  So much history.  Especially in the area we were in.

To celebrate, we took a cruise aboard a replicate of a War of 1812 frigate around the harbour area.  A sailing schooner.  

Something I've never done before and will probably never have the opportunity to do again.

An old rope shed at the mouth of the harbour
Enjoying the scenery.  Being with my best friend and hubby.

An interesting tidbit:  there are various versions floating around about who won the War of 1812 - depending on which side of the U.S./Canadian border you live on.  The Americans say they won.  Us Canadians know that we won.  The most interesting take on who won was by the captain of our sailing vessel:  the Indians won.

Take your pick.....

Historic buildings are everywhere, especially in the harbour district.  I loved this eagle atop this building.
Words cannot adequately describe the voyage, so I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Aboard the Fame, a replica of a War of 1812 Frigate, for a tour around the harbour

Give me a lighthouse and I'm a happy camper

Ahhhh, the peace and tranquility of living in the moment.  Since it was a sailing schooner, no noise.  Heaven.

Getting a decent picture of this lighthouse became my personal challenge for the day.

The scene on the river heading back to where The Fame is moored

The cruise ended all too soon and we de-boarded.  Walking back to the hotel - and real life.  Our interlude ended.

Yet more adventures await us.  Some good.  Some not so good.  The wedding the next day.  Family.  Travelling home again....

The death of my mother two weeks later.  But that's another story for another time.

Life ...

... is largely what you make it.

Trite ... but true.

Today, I choose to make this the best birthday ever.  


Cause I'm alive to celebrate it.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My Family; My Support System In the Journey of Recovery from PTSD

In the recovery process, family has become very important.  These are the people closest to me.  These are the ones who walk with me day in and day out - whether they want to or not.  These are the ones who hear my tales both of woe and of victory.  These are the ones who encourage me to keep on keeping on no matter how discouraged or depressed I get.

It was a level playing field, so to speak, when we all came into the journey of PTST, trauma and ultimately recovery eight years ago.  I say a level playing field because none of us knew what had just happened.  We were all clueless.  In many ways, we were all stuck in our not knowing, our cluelessness.

We all thought that like a flu it would all just go away sooner or later.  Hopefully, sooner rather than later.  What none of us realized at that time was that what had happened was more in the realm of a "major event" than a minor illness.  That it would take time - a lot of time - to rebuild and recover from the losses.  Making it even harder was that unlike a major physical event such as a flood or a tornado - or even wind damage, all the damage was internal, invisible.

So when these people who have suffered with me and walked alongside me on a long-term basis, made a request, I wanted to honour that request.

My two oldest grandchildren were taking a huge step in their faith journey by deciding to be baptized.  Not in a church building, but in a lake at a church camp where the family would be that weekend - the Civic Holiday weekend.

So when these people who are closest to me and have borne the brunt of my journey through trauma expressed a desire that I be there, I wanted to go.  It was important - both to me and to my family - for me to figure out a way to make this happen.  Not going was not an option.

If these people can be there for me and walk with me through a journey fraught with emotional landmines, then surely I can make the effort to be there for them when a once in a lifetime event occurs.

A significant event in both the life of the family as a whole and the lives of the two grands as individuals.

Narrative, words, fail me so I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story....

My two oldest grands and their parents in the lake - receiving instructions

Whoever said "ladies first" didn't know my grandson, as he took the plunge (literally) first.  (My youngest grand's head in the foreground)

I don't know what it was like in the early church when people went under but here in this location at this church it was a joyous occasion with shouts and cheers

Nest up - my granddaughter.  I would give a lot more than a penny for her thoughts at that moment, looking down at the water and knowing that it is COLD ... and she was going to get colder momentarily

Looking at the various expressions, joy, excitement and - I'm not sure how to read my granddaughter's face, really says it all.

A day of emotion.  A day of joy.  A day of victory.  A day of determination - not only to follow Christ in baptism but also the sheer grit it took to be totally immersed in lake water on a cold, windy day.

I'm glad I went out of my comfort zone to experience this momentous occasion with those who have shone me sacrificial love.

Thank you for inviting me into your lives and into experiences like these.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Enjoying the Civic Holiday Weekend while Coping with Severe Stress Affects

What's in a name?  The first Monday in August in Canada is commonly called Civic Holiday, a chance to enjoy another three-day weekend in Canada.  It goes by several names according to what city or province you live in.  But the idea is the same:  celebrate; enjoy; live.

Three day weekends become problematic when you're coping on a daily basis with "altered abilities" caused by unrelenting, escalating, brutal stress over a period of years. When the energy tank in your body gets so deleted that there are no reserves left.  When at the best of times, you're running on fumes.

That is me.  My life.  What I deal with daily.

You've heard the saying that "the eyes are bigger than the stomach?"  Or the Biblical quote:  "the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak?"  In my case, it's the opposite:  my spirit is willing BUT my flesh is weak.  What I want to do, what my mind tells me I can do, I find I can't.

Learning to live with this - and live like this - has been a difficult change for me.  I once did.  I now be.

So we came to yet another long weekend, thinking of options.  What can I realistically do?  The key word being "realistically".

My mind fumbled through several options finally deciding on a visit to the Toronto Zoo - about an hour or so away from us.  A day trip.  Bringing, of course, two indispensable items:  hubby and my camera.

Before even leaving the house that morning knowing that (a) energy is severely limited and (b) unpredictable as in I can go from feeling physically and emotionally on top of the world one minute to having trouble breathing the next, we formed a "plan".

The panda exhibit is on.  Two pandas on loan from China.  Therefore, the plan was to see that exhibit first and then go from there, monitoring the energy levels constantly (almost sounds like I'm a car with an oil leak, doesn't it?)

It was a good plan.  Especially considering the wait for the interactive exhibit.  We became part of a long line snaking around lines formed by ropes before finally entering the building.  Following hoards of like-minded people, we snaked through the exhibit before finally funnelling through the bamboo tunnel.  Each step getting us closer to our intended goal:  the pandas.

Success at last!  The two pandas, one male and one female, are kept separated.  Above is the female who was enjoying the Toronto sun; while the male was kept inside with a separate (crowded) viewing area.

Leaving the panda exhibit, emotionally I felt good.  Physically was starting to get challenging.  We decided to "bite the bullet" and find the zoomobile and ride it around rather than walking.  A good choice EXCEPT that it took a lot of walking to get to the next zoomobile location.

By that time, I was thoroughly tired and ready for a rest.  Breathing coming in spurts.  I was starting to look longingly at those who were using mobility devices.  But I persevered - and had a riot taking pictures.  (So, what else is new?)

By the time we got to the zoomobile stop, I was barely able to function.  I broke out in a sweat all over trying to access the machine for tickets.  A feat only accomplished with the assistance of my long sufferin' spouse (and part-time sherpa).

The zoo has renovated its Eurasia exhibit and the only way to see it is on the zoomobile - so besides the practical consideration of not physically being able to walk any further, the zoomobile allowed us to see a part of the zoo we would not have otherwise been privy to.

The train actually goes through gates into the enclosure.  Taking pictures on a moving vehicle proved to be a challenge - but a fun one.

As we wove around the zoo on the train, it became more and more evident that walking around was not going to happen.

So we rode around - a couple of times.

It was actually more fun the second time around as we knew what we were going to see and could try to get the camera ready in advance.  It was also fun knowing that I was coping with the limitations imposed by my altered abilities - and coping well.

Pictures like this one.  Experiences like this are what keep me going.  Even when the body wants to lie down and say:  "I quit."  These good times spent with my best friend (who also happens to be my husband) are what give me hope for a better - which in my case translates to less challenging - tomorrow.

Accepting that I now have limitations which are not easily understood because they are not linked to an organic cause has not been easy.  Yet, it's a necessary part of the recovery process.

What will my world look like?  What will my "new normal" level out to be?  I'm not going to know unless I keep on keeping on.  Muddling through.  One day, one experience, at a time.

This day, it was the zoo.  Tomorrow, it might well be something else.

Going home through Toronto we came to a slow down - rather a bottleneck.  Bumper to bumper traffic creeping along.  We saw a cloud of smoke.  Not one but two fire trucks raced past us.  At one point, we saw flames.  By the time, we crept past, this was all that was left of the commotion.

Needless to say, someone was having a rougher go of it at that moment than I was.

For that I am thankful.