Sunday, August 21, 2016

Summerfilled

Be silent and revolve with no will.” (Rumi)

driving along the Spanish Fork river, looking for a spot … winding down among the tall red rocks and juniper trees that jump towards the skies at every corner in a desperate feat to be seen … thinking road is too narrow for two cars, and we have a camper … driving by small pastures, not big enough for our outfit … keep on driving … finally the perfect spot appears, on the left, a wide meadow, at the foot of the mountain, with the river at its root, snaking around it ... the prairie grass swaying in the lazy breeze … sunlight draping over everything like a silky, breezy curtain – it looks like a painting, completely unmoved … 
 
we were to fill the afternoon and another day with lazy … get a cold drink, loaded with lime … get another cold drink, full of bubbles … and yet another one, just water, to cool off … eat lunch – cold, ripe tomatoes, in a salad … eat a snack … and another one later … walk around camp, shoot the mountains … open a magazine with a yawn … and another one … read the weird, 800 pages book, what else is there to do in a lounge chair when the sun is baking your skull through the awning above?! what else are summers for other than losing them in endless pages?! … look at the time... only half past one … the sun at its peakest … the heat, liquid in the buggy, dry air …

a tickle is barely felt … right there... above the ankle... a bite and a twitch … must be ants … again … it will leave a mark ...

for a brief second, looking up from the book … the air is littered with dragon flies, butterflies and no-nos … chasing each other, with so much energy, losing (perhaps not losing, but giving up) track of where they're coming from and where to they're going … the trees above, on the steep slopes are hinting of fall … shhh … don't say the 'f' word too loud, not even too loud in your thoughts... it's August still … we shall persist …

another snack tastes like garlic … and yet another one like chocolate … just eating our minutes away … looked at the watch again … only 10 minutes have passed – feels like eternity …

unnamed and unseen birds are squealing … maybe they're happy … maybe a snake ate their babies … or maybe it's just summerlust … shrieks and wings flutters above the water … ahhh, the water – the stream trickling like a broken faucet, over the rocks … crystal clear, inviting like a perfect host, the sky and forest to get lost into its reflection … beside the timeless water and the birds, there is an eternal buzz in the air, maybe the deaf sound of the time passing, but could very well be a cicada or a snake … it's splendor in the tall grasses ... we're swallowed ... 

the silky peace of the summer afternoon is ripped to shreds by gun shots … and then again … I startle … we're in the West, all right: rocky cliffs, prairie grass and gun shots … if Buffalo Bill would wake up from his eternal slumber, he would feel right at home … shovel nearby, to round up the d├ęcor … 

... there is no smell ... the air so dry, it could break with a crunch - you can feel it in your dry nostrils ... but no smell ... no pines around ... only sage and juniper, crispy from heat ... prairie grass is odorless ... just dust ... not more ...  

eventually, the sun gets lazy, too, and slips itself, slowly, at first and then gaining more speed behind the mountain … dusk feels like someone left the fridge door open and a surreal coolness blasts at our warm, sun-tired faces, and the shade takes over the earth with a newly found loud shriek of 'a-aaahhh'... we get hungry ... yes, again … we make fire and cook like cowboys – beans, sausages, corn …finally, we smell like wood and bacon ... 

the next day, a morning hike to loosen our joints … take in the morning heat fighting with the dew … a baby rattler crosses our path, just in case there was any doubt that we're in The Rockies, anymore …

we leave empty … empty of stress and empty of whatever humanity tried to put in us the weeks before … it all stays at the campsite ... we just dumped, we poured all our city stuff out there, with the rattlers, the dragon flies, and washed it off in the river … it will go down with the water, purifying us, into the world, and beyond that, into the oceans … it all recirculates … we head home empty of 'stuff' and ready to feel anew and crisp again … whatever life will have in store for us now, we're ready …

Our camping spot - beneath the mountain, along the river ... 

A hint of fall ...

The wild life 

Can you hear anything at all, besides the water drops and the sun melting the leaves?! 

Lazy fire in the evening 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

We Stopped to Smell … the Lavender


So, essential oils. That's a thing nowadays, if you didn't know it. I have friends selling them, and till recently I have worked in a building where one full floor was taken by a billion dollar company that sold them. Their floor smelled like someone intentionally broke about a million bottles of perfume and the ceilings and the floors and the walls were coated with it.

Me?! They're too strong for my taste. I cannot see how you can be around even one little bottle of the smelly stuff and not be high. And, as you know, control freaks like me do not do “high”. Anyway … this billion dollar company around here harvests their lavender for their oils on this farm, just South of where we live.

I don't do essential oils, but lavender has always fascinated me. Since high school, reading French novels about sachets of lavender being stuck in ladies' purses and in between sheets, I have thought of lavender as the equivalent of pure gold in the aromatic and herbal industries – rare and coveted by anyone who knows style. Since then, it's always symbolized the very essence of femininity and grace.

I am picky about my lavender “products”, but I love the plant pretty much unconditionally – the smell, the look (it's purple, for crying out loud!), the said French history (in my head), the frail, gorgeous wreaths it yields, everything.

This past weekend, the said company celebrated Lavender Days on their farm, an event that I have been wanting to go to since we moved here, over 6 years ago. The whole experience, though, left much to be desired.

The grounds were beautiful – pristine landscaping, peaceful setting, a stream running through it, tall trees lining up the trails. The lavender fields were gorgeous, too, as I expected – with lavender bushes mathematically laid out equidistant from one another, gently swaying in the prairie wind, like a huge sheet. The air smelled like lavender and chamomile, and by the time you got into the middle of the grounds you could almost feel the smell enwrapping you, like a magic aura. 

 
The well manicured grounds at the foot of our mountains. 

Since it was announced as a festival, I thought local artists and merchants will be present, too, or maybe their own folks would show us the art and the craft of making things out of lavender, as a celebration of the plant. But almost no one was there. For food, they had just a couple of booths with food (one with watermelon, one with burgers and one with lavender ice-cream and lemonade), but I was expecting something savory cooked with lavender – which I know exists. The lavender lemonade that I had was a very weird mixture of very sweet and very bitter. My jaws hurt from too much flavor.

They had a jousting competition with actors dressed up in Queen Elizabeth I era costumes which played on a backdrop of 90's disco music. Connection?! I could not find one, other than maybe lavender being an age old herb?! They had a buggy ride around the farm, which I guess could have been entertaining, had it not been for the 10 kids to 1 adult ratio inside the buggy. 

 
The old time-y castle and the horse drawn buggy/ cart  

The Visitor's Center had some interesting artifacts, which showed the old distiller barrels, and they run documentaries about the industry of harvesting lavender and distilling the oils, but the building could only host 20 people at one time, so there was a long line to get in. The line also deterred one from watching the documentaries, as we had to rush in and out of there.

I wanted to buy some 'products', you know, just to support a local business, but it took two cashiers about 20 minutes to figure out what the prices were – they only knew the prices for the members of this multi level marketing business that was running the show, there were no retail prices easily available for us, mortals. 

 
Artifacts in the Visitors' Center 

Probably the most disappointing bit was that no one was giving anyone a tour of the grounds or the distillery. The latter was all but abandoned, with not a soul in sight, when we went to visit it. I do thank them for leaving it wide open and accessible so I can see the huge distillers up close. They smelled like soup. 

 
The lonely distillery. I loved the pile of harvested lavender spread out to dry in front of it. Reminded me of my childhood, when my sister and I made hay in the mountains. This smelled the best, out of everything else.  

 
The bottom of the huge distiller. This is what smelled like an herb-y soup.
  
 
The old way they did the distilling, back in France.

 
The only thing that explained how everything is done. 
 
It was a gorgeous day, hot, but windy – which helped make it very pleasant. I got as close as I ever wanted to be to lavender, and I am glad we went, for this reason. If you took the practical out of it (lack of explanations, lack of easy access to 'product', poor organization and disconnected activities), it could have been a beautifully quiet and natural experience. The  loud people and the disco music contributed to ruin that, too.

I am in no rush to go back. Maybe try another farm like this, but not this one. Not for a while. I will still buy their products at the Farmer's Market downtown, just to bring home a token of that femininity and age-old gold. For some reason, the people they send there seem to know the prices on everything. 
 
Gorgeous fields of purple. 

And because I am not good enough to say it better myself, I am quoting The Bard: "Forgiveness is the smell that lavender gives out when you step on it". (Mark Twain)

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Tourist at Home: Silver Lake and Solitude Resort

This year, we'll have to be creative with travels. I am not all there yet, energy-wise, and the last thing that I want to do any time soon is to jump on a plane and visit some place remote from here. Or even going on a road trip that's more than 4 hours away.

So, we have to figure out where to go, what to see around here, to feed that spoiled rotten beast inside of us that demands us to hit the road yearly, monthly, weekly. Usually.

Because I knew this would happen this year, I made a rule that whatever we do around here would have to have some new component to it. Something that we have never done or seen before, just to keep it fresh and still very much interesting. I always feel like a tourist when I visit some place new, and see it with fresh eyes, even if it's just 30 minutes away from my doorstep.

With this makeshift plan in mind, we headed up to Big Cottonwood Canyon, to hike around Silver Lake. It's a very easy hike, but at over 8000 ft in altitude it's still challenging for me. I think it's about a mile long, a complete loop around the lake. The beauty of nature is undeniable, the freshness and crispness of the air, too. The only downside to the whole experience is that it's very crowded. It's right off the Big Cottonwood Canyon highway, and right off the parking lot. Very small kids and people in wheelchairs are on the path, too. It can feel very claustrophobic, despite the big, wide open valley you're in. Definitely not a place to 'get lost' in nature, 'cause you'll have plenty of companionship.

Silver Lake was our destination for the day, but we started off by having lunch at an old favorite, Silver Fork Lodge. We needed the energy for the hike, you see. I love everything they make, and the place will always stick with me for having the best trout for breakfast. That's how you truly know you're in the mountains, right?! It's my second favorite place around here (besides Sundance) for log cabin living, too. 

 
Coffee table in the waiting area of Silver Fork Lodge 

This time, because it was lunch time, I got the vegetarian burrito which did not disappoint – I hate sweet potatoes, but this burrito had them and they were delicious. I think The South did me in for sweet potatoes, because all the ones I ever had there were wreaking with butter and sugar. But these were just simply baked, wrapped in a soft tortilla with rice, black beans, jalapenos, chili verde. It was fiery and delicious. The portions are pure insanity here, so you'll eat for five people.

The giant burrito lunch 
 
We headed to Silver Lake next, the beauty of nature around us juxtaposed with people's conversations about how they'd like to shoot the moose we were seeing, 'to have enough meat for a year' (you know, just in case Macey's and Fresh Market and Smith's Marketplace are closing down and famine is on its way), and 'how 'bout this Brexit thing. The Euro is not even real money'. 

As hard as it is to un-hear all this, it's easy to ignore it, while you're looking at mountain peaks still covered in snow, crystal clear waters, happy moose, clueless that people are ugly and mean, beautiful, fragile dragonflies with wings of lace, chasing one another in the sun, hoppy potguts looking for grub, fresh wild flowers kissed by the sun. I am happy that my feet take me places, still, and my heart is strong enough to keep them going. And people – they will always disappoint. But nature seldom does.

Dragon fly around Silver Lake

 
Moose are amazing, impressive creatures. Their massiveness alone is a thing of wonder, and beauty. 

After spending a couple of hours just walking and shooting this beautiful place, we headed to another old favorite, Solitude resort. The name is fitting. It resembles a resort in the European Alps, and time really stands still here. The air, even, is still here. It's like you're listening for someone, a person or a creature to breathe, and there is nothing. Life, moments are just suspended in air. Still and unperturbed. Ultimate aloneness. 

 
It's fitting that the Solitude staple is a giant clock. You would have no idea, otherwise, that time is actually passing.  

We had a “snack” at Honeycomb Grill in Solitude, another eatery we love, right at the bottom of the chair lift. I had this unexpected concoction named “gazpacho blanco”. It was an almond soup base, with cucumbers, olive oil, avocado and lime, garnished with a giant grilled prawn. It was like nothing I have ever had before – light and smooth and frothy and very summery. Think a little heavy on the lime. 

 
The gazpacho blanco, at Honeycomb Grill.  

Calendaristically, summer has just started, but with the wave of heat we've had for the past three weeks or so, I feel like it's (or should be) almost over. I am wishing every morning for more adventures like these, where we take in nature and good eats right here, at home.

I wish you all plenty of days of sun, cold sprinklers and foamy waves, ice cream and chilled soups, crisp, tan skin, ripe tomatoes and cool cucumbers, frosty margaritas and starry nights under a soft blanket where you wish for love, luck and everything in between.

Whether it's coming or going, the summer is here now. So get out and make memories!

https://wanderworldpics.shutterfly.com/21465 
Silver Lake, Utah. Click on the picture for the whole album from this weekend adventure.








 
 








Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Milestones, New Things and Everything in Between - My Recent Life In Pictures

Never too tired for words, but I do this every once in a while - I let the images speak for themselves and account for me. 

Some of the things that took my breath away or made me stop and think for a bit, lately: 

Reaching this elevation, with still a (literally) broken heart, and living to tell the tale. Really grateful to my doctors and to God for this milestone, as I am for every day.

First camping trip this year. There is nothing more peaceful to me than looking at mountains over an open fire and smelling the pines.  

A first ever for me: camping and painting. Loved it and hoping for much more of these cozy days.

I hate dandelions in my yard, but I love them "in the wild". The mountains are just now starting to breathe life.

The aspen are awake, too, up there on the peaks.  

First harvest from the yard.

Another milestone: my first ever US passport expired this month. This means I have been a citizen for 10 years. How time flies! 

My favorite food find was on my own grill so far, this year: tuna steaks, marinated for a day and a little bit beforehand. So delicious and way too filling. 

Parade of Homes is on, our favorite yearly tradition. A candle poured in a wood block really stayed with me.

Second harvest from our yard. So deliciously sweet.   

I relate deeply with lotus flowers. I finally made time to paint this, this month. 

I usually never say "never", but in this case I mean it: I can never get enough of these mountains.   

A sign in one of the Parade of Homes houses. I try to live by it.

Monday, May 16, 2016

'Bonsai and Buddha'

I know this will seem trivial and useless to most people, but today is a huge milestone for me. 

For those who know me closely, they have known that I have been working on my second "complex" cross-stitch for more than 10 years. I venture to say, I probably have started it closer to 15 years than 10 years ago. I have worked on it around holidays, and vacation days, and on days when I was home sick, generally. 

My life has changed in so many significant ways during all this time - jobs, time zones, relationships, I have become an aunt twice, I have traveled the country and Europe, I have raised three cats and lost two of them because of old age, and I am grayer, much much grayer. 

This is a milestone for sure!
I had to stop for a second and record it for posterity - picture below. It's not framed yet, but I finished it today, so the day should be marked. 

Today is also the last day of my first ever medical leave. 97 days ago today I was taking time off from work to have open heart surgery. May 17 seemed like an eternity away, and here it is. It's how life works, I guess. I am glad that sometimes we manage to leave something behind to show for all this time past. 

It's called 'Bonsai and Buddha'

Thursday, May 05, 2016

About Spring, Birthday and Easter

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” (Mark Twain)

You noticed right. I posted nothing in April. My favorite month, my month, “the cruelest month” that it is, I had no inspiration. Not totally true – I just stopped breathing there for a while, in awe of this life, and this world around me. And I had to be quiet for a bit to take all the awesomeness in.

Anne Lamott says at one point that “in Easter — and Passover too — something that happens is that we stop. This is the 'dark night of the soul' stuff that John the Divine writes about; that in that stopping we may fall into an abyss that we have been trying to outrun since we were little children. (…) But in Lent, if you are a person of committed spiritual growth, you do stop.”

So, that's what I did, I suppose – just stopped and observed the big world around me with care, and keen eyes. It might be the last time I did – who would know?! We're not giving precise expiration dates.

This April, was the first time in as long a time as I can remember that I really was happy about my birthday. Ever since I was in elementary school, for whatever reason, my birthday was sad to me: another year, vanished and not half of the things I planned to do are checked off the list. So disappointing! Time running out, never returning to me. The mouse in the wheel running out of steam. But this year, the world looks different to me, from the other edge of the precipice that I just hopped over in February.

Like an old poet once said, my “doors of perception were cleansed” and the “world appears now to me as it is – infinite”, and most of all vibrant. I might speak in platitudes here, but there is something humbling about your heart literally being stopped for a bit. To come out of that and still see the light of day is character changing and direction altering. How can it not be?!

As much as I previously hated my birthday, I have always loved spring, and Easter is my favorite holiday. They usually all fall around the same time. I just love sitting still and listening to the life coming back in the spring. The light this time of the year is the light of Easter to me – given to us secretly in the dark church, at midnight, like a big mystery that only we are chosen and fortunate enough to partake into. I love spring because it allows me to enjoy that light, of hope and renewal and “another chance”-ness with every day, unlike the light of Easter, on Resurrection night, for one hour at church.

This year, I enjoyed spring slowly, with every flower, every bloom that showed up in my yard. It's amazing how much time you have when one is not working. I relived, again, every year of my life, with every sunny hour and every tulip that popped open. Since facing death a few months ago, my senses are sharper, and my attention is keener than ever before. I realize more acutely that the end is in every breath. Or could be. Therefore, I am that much grateful when I outlive it. The leaves look sharper green, the sun is warmer and brighter, the music is sweeter and every breath is a blessing. Every touch from my loved ones is uplifting and gracious. I am so unspeakably and undeservingly lucky!

Spring has always been a happy awakening for me, a welcome gift of re-opening my heart to the world once again and trying once more to do it right. For the first time, this year, I associated my birthday with that sentiment, as well. Took 41 years, but I am grateful I finally got it. I hope it forever stays this way – such a gift to be able to awaken my soul as the world awakens its own!

Instead of brooding over the year past and what I did not get to accomplish, I now cherish the simple fact that I made it over another threshold. I cherish people around me, and the fact that they are on this side of the dirt with me. Strawberries taste sweeter this spring, and the wind in my wrinkled and wintry cold skin is a gentle kiss.

Rumi asked “What is this heart? It is not human, and it is not imaginary. I call it you.” Just like the Alchemist, I finally found the treasure – it's always been here, it's always been inside me. This year, I got to meet it. Full circle. Now, I am home.

*Note: Orthodox Easter vigil started April 30th this year. Easter Sunday was May 1st



 "April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land"
 
Shades and colors of my garden, in April.

The Light. At Easter.  

"The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough" 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

From Chrysalis to Butterfly

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland 


Have you ever watched a butterfly come out of the shell of its chrysalis? I mean, really watched it and really saw every single little detail of what happens? It's not pretty.

First, there is some oozing and “bleeding” and goopy stuff comes our, as the chrysalis cracks open. Then, the butterfly pokes a little bit at a time from it, first one antenna, then, another one. Then, a foot, then, another one. Then, the tip of a wing, and then another one, till it frees itself up from the straight jacket it's been in, which all of a sudden is no longer big enough for it.

But even when it's free, it's sort of in a shock. It just sits there, a little wobbly, kinda trying to figure out for itself what the heck happened and how it will be supposed to move and function in the new body it just got. It will look dizzy for a bit, a little shaken up, still with goop all over it, maybe still a bit in pain from the birth, but it will try to move about and try to find its new feet.

Like I said, wobbly at first, shaky, but pushing through it. It won't be for a little while till you see that Monarch spreading wings and taking off on its own. And it is what's it supposed to happen.

Although the drastic transformation is mostly internal, this is kind of what coming out of heart surgery feels like. You go in as you, no doubt (just as the larva thinks it goes in as itself). And they take you away in this … room you only heart about afterwards, because you won't remember… They, then, completely transform you and then, when you finally come to, you start noticing how much your body has changed. And you have no idea what's inside, either!

It's not pretty, at first. When I came to, it was probably 2 AM on February 12, in the ICU, and all I felt was thirsty. I never crushed ice in my teeth before, but then, it's all I wanted to do. I noticed a scar on my lip, scabbed over – I figured from the breathing tube I had in me during surgery. Then, I noticed my right arm had a brick taped to it with catheters going into my wrist. Then, I noticed I could not feel my left arm and leg. I said all these things to the nurses who were hovering over me around the clock.

I asked a lot of questions (the butterfly would, too, had it had a voice, I am sure of it!). I had no idea what happened after I had fallen asleep in the anesthesia room the day before – I asked if I had a stroke (no), if they did circulatory arrest on me (look it up, it's fun – they freeze you up so your brain won't eat up oxygen) (yes), I asked how long was I in arrest (38 minutes), if they fixed my heart (yes, 'I had a looong surgery' they said), if my husband was there (no), or the surgeon (no) – it was 2 AM and they had a long day, so they went home. I didn't ask what they did to me, but the nurses volunteered that information: my surgery was very complex, and very long (12 hours); they replaced my aortic valve, my ascending aorta, and they did a quadruple bypass surgery. I remember being scared: “Oh, my God, I have so many new and moved around parts in me! How will this all work?!”.

Then, the next day, I started feeling more and noticing more: three catheters in my neck, four tubes in my chest, another catheter in my bladder, bandages around my left leg, bandage on my chest and lots of scabs and lots and lots of bruises: my whole left leg was blue, my groin was blue, my stomach, too. I was an experiment. Will I ever come out of this? Will I ever heal? Will I ever come out of this bed?! All I wanted was ice – this is as far as I was thinking.

But I did come out. After 2 days in ICU I took my first walk and ate my first half of a banana and 4 grapes. After 7 more days of pain and grumbling and more tests, and even a random heart attack, just for safe measure, all in the regular hospital room, I got to come home, one chest tube still in me. I got to be driven home in our own car, and sleep in my own bed that night. Well, “sleep” is a metaphor for “laying there all night staring at the ceiling and whining in pain”.

After coming home, the process of breaking loose into my new “me” started. I was the same person, but my body had to learn a whole lot of new tricks to be able to get around. After two more weeks, the chest tube came out. After a month from surgery, I took my first nature walk and started shooting (camera, not gun) again. After 6 weeks, I drove for 10 minutes again. I thought it would feel freeing, but it didn't. It felt painful once more. After 7 weeks, this week, my cardiac rehab will be done. I built up endurance to walk up to 45 minutes at 2.8 mi/hour. I started (with the drainage tube in me) with 8 minutes at 1.8 mi/hour and I was sure I was going to heart attack again on the treadmill. But I didn't. I did all these in my new body, with new limitations I had no idea that were possible, with new pain, and new sensitivities everywhere. But I am not stopping. You can't stop once you're up straight.

I have two out of countless scabs still hanging onto me. The bruises are all gone.

How do I feel looking back?! I feel speechlessly lucky and breathlessly humble! After all that I just told you they did to me while I was asleep, I am alive, you all! I am breathing! I eat and lay down, and walk and hug my cat and my husband and I have my brain all here with me. Now that the strong drugs are long gone (gone with the tube), I am, in my head, the same person I ever was before. Hard to believe they drained my body from all the blood, moved it to a machine and put it back in me, changed the course of my blood stream, froze me, for crying out loud, and then put me all back together again to make me look to you all as me again.

How does that not just wanna make you cry?! I just want to hug my surgeon till I die and thank him forever for this. I don't know how many years I was given with this, but I am grateful for today. I am grateful that I kept my brain and that my previously clogged up vessels can now function and pump life giving blood to all my body. I am grateful that I get to see the sun every morning, still. I am in awe!

Just as yoga taught me a billion years ago, the hardest part, really, of all this was quieting down my monkey mind. I am born to be a control freak. So, my nature is to always put my mind in control of anything that happens to me. But with this, you completely have to relinquish everything (your body, your functions, your freedom, your health, your brain … everything you are) to strangers, and let yourself go down that slippery slide. You must trust them (and boy, what a lesson this is in trust!) that they know what they're doing, and trust God that He'll bring you back. After that monkey climbs down from your shoulder, and walks away, you can, too walk into the hospital and volunteer yourself for this life giving surgery. This body stuff, these pains and limitations, these are easy to manage – I am back in control now, you see. But the hardest part was that letting go, closing the eyes and letting the doctors transform my heart to prepare me for my rich, beautiful life to come.

Right now, I feel like the butterfly who came out of that shell, but it's still trying to figure out how it all works now. I am still wobbly. I still need help doing most of everything around me, but I can do more every day and definitely more than chew ice, like that first night in the ICU.

One step in front of the other. Just like the chrysalis doesn't kill the butterfly, it just makes it better, prettier, different, the surgery didn't kill me, much, much to my surprise. It didn't make me prettier on the outside (sorry, all), but I hear it did make my heart prettier. All I know is that it's beating and my surgeon thinks “my heart has completely no murmur (music to the ears of a heart patient who has been used to the murmur for 15+ years now) and my lungs are gorgeous”. I'll take that as inside beauty for sure.

One day, slowly, I'll grow into my wings. One day, I will fly again. For now, I am figuring out my limbs, two of which are still numb. Still, I am in awe of this miracle that the human body is and of its power to regenerate, transform and keep going. There is no way there is not something magical, something we cannot explain for ourselves, something beyond out ability to comprehend in this world to make us come back from something like this! No way!

Good to be back!

Before - the morning of the surgery as I was taken into the anesthesia room.
After - a month from surgery, walking on a nature path.