Monday, November 22, 2010

How Things Change

Christmas was the hardest day of my year for a long time. Even when I still lived at home, the day would dissolve in tears and screaming most of the time. After I ran away from home it only got worse. I was alone, and intruding on my boyfriend's family... just watching from the outside. I couldn't sort out the part of me that wanted to go home, and rest of me that never wanted to see my mom again. It was a terrible day, and I almost never looked forward to it. That's life with mental illness. Days that should be the best, usually suck the most.

Then a few days ago my three year old daughter was telling me everything she knew about Christmas. "There will be lights, and ornaments, and a tree!" she said. "Mama, is it time for a tree?"

I actually caught myself feeling genuinely excited to put up a tree and decorate the house. I'm not saying that having kids magically makes the day better. It could easily be a terrible day for all of us if I chose to wallow in the past like my mom did and destroy any future hope for peace and happiness. Life is all about the choices we make. And things really can get better.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Well Hello Blog World,

I know I am not the first person to feel this way, but somehow it's November.


Pregnancy is going well in terms of all the things I thought would go wrong. It took me quite a bit longer to get pregnant than I planned (note to self: planning such an event is just silly). I had hoped that I could slide right off the coat tails of remission to pregnancy, and control the pain better that way. I worried the longer it took that I would start feeling really crappy again at any time, but it didn't happen. There were days and weeks that were decidedly unpleasant, but on the whole my pain levels were the lowest I can ever remember. And they've pretty much stayed low in my new delicate state.

So I would say I'm doing great... except for the new Divine Comedy of Hormones that is taking place in my body. Thanks to hormonal irritation, my gallbladder has called it quits. No more red meat, dairy, or greasy things-- let's just say anything that actually tastes good. There's the eczema, sciatica, heart burn, indigestion, insomnia, and graceless emotional outbursts. But on the plus side, my butt looks amazing. No, really. Perhaps my hiney deserves its own blog post.

In other news, I've decided to give this business thing another go. A natural slow down in sales coincided nicely with my first trimester, near-comatose state, but I'm ready to make a run at this thing. In other words... Google gave me free advertising for a spell ;) There will be a few new designs for Christmas. Stay tuned.

I hesitantly put some paintings in the Etsy shop, and watched them do nothing for a while... But then! Someone I don't know gave me money in exchange for art and said really nice things about my work. Let's hope she still feels that way now that they've arrived. It was very stressful to put my paintings in a box and send them out in the world to be seen (and judged) by others. But here's to getting the opportunity to try it again.

Next up-- t-shirts and cute tiny baby things. I can't wait!

Check out my new digs over at

Monday, August 30, 2010


Good News, Everyone!

I'm pregnant :)

My stars, it's been a long time: about 13 months to be exact. I know that's just one month over average, but it felt like forever to me. The first time I was trying to get pregnant, I was excited, but not determined, because I didn't have the fever. But this time I was driven by this artificial goal of spacing my kids just right blah, blah, blah, and just really wanting a new baby. As a result, I went a little nuts.

After several months of letting nature take its course (and nature failing miserably) I researched the crap out of the whole process. Throughout my research I occasionally landed on personal blogs, and repeatedly found useful information and comfort, so I thought I should write down my winning combination.

Step 1: Get your crazy on.
Your well-meaning friends and family will tell you to relax. Once you've finished punching them in the face, then you're ready to bust out the basal body temp chart and get to work. I resisted the temperature game FOREVER because I simply couldn't remember to do it first thing, and I also thought it was loony toons. However, had I been doing it all along, I wouldn't have wasted so much time. Once I started, I thought it was interesting, and rarely forgot to do it. makes it easier to chart.
Charting 101-- It won't quite predict ovulation (you can pee on a stick for that), but it will tell you when it's ok to stop trying each month. Useful info since you might ovulate later than you think... or not at all in my case. The chart will tell you that too, and then you can medicate accordingly.

Step 2: Embrace CM
That's cervical mucus. Read this--

As you get older the number of days with fertile CM decreases drastically. I thought I would help the process along with Pre-Seed.

I only had to use it one month! I really think it made the difference.

Step 3:
Instead Cups... TMI?
They help keep the good stuff next to the cervix longer than just laying flat. Enough said.

Step 4:
Endure the two week wait until you can start testing. I didn't find anything that made this part easier... except Aimstrip Pregnancy Test Strips. I got a positive on 10 dpo!! (days past ovulation)

That's it I guess. I learned a lot more about my body and getting pregnant, but I think this is the really important stuff. I've been holding off the excitement, but I think this one is staying around :) I'm 8 weeks along and will have a new baby in April!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CAPS left and right, just like that Dooce lady.

Haven't been here in a while...

But I have some big news worth firing up Blogger for: I can bend my ankle a tiny bit more. I know... I should have made sure you were all sitting down for that one. If that statement didn't knock you off your chair, then let me explain. RSD/CRPS caused my achilles tendon to shorten, which limited the movement in my ankle to just a hair past 90 degrees. That's not quite enough to walk normally. But over the last month or two I began to notice a change. The stairs got a little easier. When I danced, I found that I could bend my knee and my ankle at the same time (a little). Then finally, I thought I would try walking like a normal person (bending my knee instead picking my leg up, and swinging from the hip). IT WORKED! And it felt AMAZING. I haven't taken steps like that for 21 years. It takes too much concentration to walk like that all the time, but I'm practicing.

In the past I have spent countless hours in physical therapy, or doing exercises at home to loosen my ankle, but it never budged. Here's the thing. I haven't been in PT. This just happened by itself. I feel like the RSD just let go. I was HAPPY with the huge pain relief I got from my Body Project antics, but now my body is physically changing for the better, and reversing some of the damage chronic illness caused. Happy doesn't begin to describe what I'm feeling now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Put the Hammer Down!

My mother-in-law forwarded this letter to me since I've had a rather adventurous menstrual cycle this time around. Let's just say it was 44 days long, rife with prego symptoms, and then turned out to be NOTHING. Which is-- let's be honest-- just awesome when one is trying her darndest to get pregnant. Anywho, have a laugh:

This is an "actual letter" from an Austin , Texas woman sent to
Proctor and Gamble regarding one of their feminine products. She really gets
rolling after the first paragraph. This was PC Magazine's 2007 Editors'
Choice award-winner for the best letter sent via e-mail.

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your 'Always' maxi pads for
over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the
LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go
horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of
running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts.

But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary
Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough
to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I
can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a
little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? I'm
guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is starting right now.
As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through
my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be
transformed into what my husband likes to call 'an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.'

Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no
doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your
customer's monthly visits from 'Aunt Flo'. Therefore, you must know
about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our
intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You
surely realize it's a tough time for most women.

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America
is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants... Which brings
me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of
cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my
uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive
backing, were these words: 'Have a Happy Period.'

Are you f------ kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of
your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling,
laughing happiness, is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything
mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James?
FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak, there will never be
anything 'happy' about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and
Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to
the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to
end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you have to
slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say
something that's actually pertinent, like 'Put down the Hammer' or
'Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong'.

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective
immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I
have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though
I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss
your brand of condescending bullsh!t. And that's a promise I will keep.

Always. . ..

Wendi Aarons
Austin , TX

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Body Project: Update

I really think I've done it! I think the Fibromyalgia is in remission, and the RSD/CRPS is still there, but it behaves itself most of the time. My feet still ache when they get cold, or I exert myself too much. And I get pretty achy at night, but I am 31 years old, so I guess that could be normal. Considering where I've been, and how severe my symptoms could be, I'll take a few age appropriate aches and pains. I am still overly sensitive to small injuries that really shouldn't be painful, so I guess my central nervous system could work a little better but believe me, I'm not complaining. I know that another disruption could easily happen, but I feel like I have the knowledge and the ability to reverse it again.

Speaking of being 31... I just had a birthday. I have been overwhelmed with caring for my sick family (and myself) so I have yet to post my thoughts about getting older.

They are brief, but here they are:
I am proud of myself and my choices.
I believe that I have created happiness in my life, and that I deserve it.
Good for me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Great News Everyone...

I'm sick.

No really, this is great news because I caught The World's Worst Cold from my daughter, and I didn't know it until my throat got a little scratchy.

Back in the day when my immune system was not the greatest, I got sicker/faster/longer than anyone else.

This time I was last to get it, and I'm not that sick. Here's the best part. The pain spike that always preceded and generally enhanced and lengthened illness-- the one that would send me to the bath tub 4 times a day, and to bed the rest of it since I couldn't tolerate the sensation on clothes on my skin, or even gather my thoughts enough to interact with other people through the fuzz of pain-- you know, that one? It didn't happen. Still hasn't happened.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's orders are done! Thanks everyone!

But specifically:

Thanks to Rosie for eating pop tarts and watching Sesame Street happily while I worked.

Thanks to Kris for stepping over the mess Rosie left all over the house. I can clean it up now.

Thanks to Somer for the quality control ;)

Friday, February 5, 2010

It's working!

Here's a message I found in my inbox this morning:

Lissa, wanted to say thanks for the awesome necklace- I LOVE it!! 2 people have already asked me about the "Live Love Breathe" and now 2 more people are schooled about CF. It's getting the word out there and making a fashion statement at the same time, haha
I bought a few more from you for some CF friends, we'll all be rocking them soon!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Come Over!

Sunday, February 7, 2010
12:00pm - 4:00pm
Nobrow Coffee and Tea
315 E 300 S
Salt Lake City, UT

I will be at Nobrow Coffee and Tea this Sunday from 12-4 selling jewelry and paintings. Come by!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Me and My Crackpot Ideas

I have a crazy theory.

My arms bothered me for the whole month of January. I thought wistfully back to December when my arms were peaceful and dare I say, nearly pain free, and wondered what had changed.

I wasn't even making much jewelry, so my hands were getting a nice rest. What happened?! Such is the life of some one with Chronic Pain, am I right? The insanity of searching for the cause of the latest pain flare can even get fairly amusing. So imagine how heartily I laughed when I sat down at my work bench yesterday to do a little carving and discovered an amazing idea. You see, I use a Flex Shaft-- which is a motor with a hand piece that spins various tools like a drill bit, or a bur. After a good session of carving the clay for my jewelry, my whole body is energized, for lack of a better word. I think the vibration encourages blood flow, and acts as a giant tens unit, or chord stimulator. Maybe it overwhelms my nerves with white noise, because after a solid 45 minutes I can't feel much of anything in my upper body.

My arms feel great today. It just goes to show, if you do what you love, unexpected benefits will follow.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Free tickets to Disneyland!

I went to this website to find a volunteer opportunity and this is what I found! Life is funny sometimes.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Yep. That's my goal to donate from my jewelry sales this year. Last year we raised just over $6,000, so I'm trying to almost double my sales. I'm not quite loosing sleep over it yet, but I am shaking in my boots. Although, life is much more interesting if you set your goals high, right?

Why do I do it?! Because I can, I guess. I have been learning to make jewelry for a really long time, and now people are willing to give me money for the things I make (I am still blown away by this!). In the process I have been able to help spread awareness about crappy diseases like Cystic Fibrosis and ALS and raise money for research. I am extra excited about donating money directly to real people for needed medication or equipment.

I love that I get to help other people, but I do it for myself too. Being able to work when I can, and not when I have to is an enormous help-- not only in caring for my daughter, but it also helps my health. I love that I can work with my body and not against it. I don't have to make chronic pain fit into a 8 hour work day anymore, because believe me... it doesn't work well most of the time. I feel so lucky that this crazy idea keeps getting bigger, and I have big plans this year to help reach my goal.

January report... I expected this month to be slow after the holiday rush. I was grateful for the time off, and used it to work on new designs and my new Etsy shop. We have just about reached the $500 mark for January (I need to raise $800 per month to stay on track). That's not bad at all for the second slowest month in the life of an artist (sales are also slow in October as people get ready for the holidays).
So we'll see what February holds. Hopefully lots and lots of Red Heart sales!
(UPDATE!! January = $620... even better!)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oh, Yoga.

I skipped yoga last week because I didn't want to worsen the pain flare. But then I decided somewhere around Wednesday, that I should have gone because the stretching and the movement might actually break the cycle instead of making it worse.

Well I went last night. The class was easier than it has been, but I'm still pretty sore. My teacher does a great job of reminding us to find our own pose, and not to worry about how bendy or intense our neighbors are. I'm pretty sure that the Relaxin (my favorite hormone name, ever) never left my body because I can bend like a noodle. It's the power poses that get me. Here's hoping I can turn the corner soon, and start feeling great again.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Project... because just I'm bursting with free time!

I have opened a new Etsy shop! After years of encouragement from friends and family, I am finally going to start selling my paintings (cringe!) I have been making samples for a few weeks, and I'm pretty excited about them. I have yet to hatch a plan for boyish designs though... thoughts? Requests ;)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I left my heart...

I thought maybe I'd tell the story behind the new title picture.

The husband and I used to live in the Bay Area, so we made frequent trips to San Francisco when we didn't have anything better to do. We would ditch the car and often spent the entire day roaming some part of the city. When we first started these walk-a-paloozas, the pain in my legs got to be such a pain in the ass that I honestly considered my wheelchair options. I figured that I would only use it in place of long distance walking, but damn it I had made it without one this long- (many people with RSD/CRPS are not as lucky). So I stuck it out. Eventually, it got easier.

One of my favorite things to do in the city was chase a flock of wild parrots that lived on Telegraph Hill. The sidewalks get so steep up there that they are actually stairs. I'm assuming this is to prevent calf muscles from detaching altogether, but the endless stairs just hurt in a whole new way. I was walking up said stairs, but also planning to sit down right there on the ground in the very near future when I stumbled upon some public "art."

I now had a slightly more elegant reason to stop hiking while I snapped a picture of the steps. Even with all the gardens, bridges, and other really fancy things I took pictures of in that city, this one remains my favorite, because it was the most unexpected bit of encouragement when a girl really needed it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Time for an intervention

More than my average amount of free time


Hormone Replacement Therapy


Unrestricted access to hair cutting sheers

May equal disaster

The Progesterone is going great btw ;)

The Most Adorable Husband, Ever!

Kris signed Rosie up for her first dance class, and every Saturday morning he skips and jumps with her. The sheer cuteness is overwhelming.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

To Sleep

There is very little that's more important to my ability to function than sleep. This seems like a really obvious thing to say. Everyone needs to sleep. But it wasn't until recently that I realized how much better I could feel after an actual night of sleep. For most of my life, I thought I was doing it right, but I would often wake feeling sore and exhausted, like I had been swimming laps between the sheets all night.

As I laid awake this morning, I was desperate to fall back into a cozy slumber, but knew full well I'd never get there since my daughter was also laying awake and whining, "I can't sleep momma..." I reflected on my college years and how careless I was about sleep. It was my first, "I wish I could write myself a letter" moment, so that I could tell myself to get some self respect, and go to bed.

Then I recalled Rosie's poor sleeping habits (all my fault, and I swear I'll get it right next time) but I must be crazy to want another baby. Between the general discomfort and insomnia at the end of pregnancy, and the nursing around the clock circus, I'm guaranteed to feel worse than I do this morning for the next few YEARS. But... one thing I've never (not even once) been accused of is being sane. Crazy it is. Still waiting for baby number 2.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I knew I shouldn't have said I was feeling better out loud.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Open Lungs

When my darling friend Somer told me about needing an oxygen concentrator (which helps her breathe... apparently her insurance company, which denied the claim, didn't feel breathing is necessary) I had an inspired thought. The small amount of money that I am able to raise would have a bigger impact if I gave it to actual people with Cystic Fibrosis in addition to funding research for a cure. So I created a Special Edition Red Heart, and attached a pretty hefty price tag to it. I figured I would sell two or three a month, and eventually it would add up to the $3,000 we needed to buy Somer's oxygen concentrator. Twenty-one Red Hearts were purchased in the first 24 hours. Less than two months later, we had raised the entire $3,000. I am constantly amazed by people's generosity.

I am excited to add this new design to my collection! $15 of each sale will be set aside to help someone else with CF breathe a little easier.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I admire that Rose is so sure who she is and her place in the world.

"I want to take off my jammies!" She says.
So I help her get her feet unstuck.
"Take off my shirt!"
So I take off her onesie. I know this process is heading towards the blue Cinderella nightgown she has been wearing since Monday. No other set of clothes has been acceptable.
"But then you'll be naked."
She runs down the hall to find her "Lady dress."
"Can't you see that you're naked?" I ask.
"No, I'm Rosie."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Mourn Normalcy

I recently borrowed the first season of Felicity from a friend, since I am a sucker for almost any show on DVD. For those of you who had better things to do in the early 2000s, I'll recap: In the first few episodes, Felicity lays claim to her life, and starts making her own choices. She moves far away from home to go to college in New York, and discovers the joys of cereal machines in the cafeteria, dorm life, and general freedom in refreshing 47 minute increments. Unfortunately, every time I watch an episode, I dissolve into a ridiculous mess of tears and choke on my repressed teen-aged dreams.

A long time ago (longer than I want to admit) I stood in front of a cake I had made myself, and carefully arranged 18 candles in a seemingly random pattern. I called my mother in from the couch in the other room where she spent nearly every hour of her life. She slept there all day, and watched TV all night wedged in sagging cushions that were older than me. When the need struck her (at least once a day) she would settle in her nest of tattered blankets on that same damn couch, and explain in heart breaking detail how I had single-handedly ruined her life. In reality I had done nothing more than grow up, but since that meant I would soon leave her alone in her insane misery, it was an unforgivable offense.
When I yelled that my cake was done, my mom moved slowly into the kitchen, wrapped her robe tightly around her body like a security blanket, and complimented my frosting decorations in her best pretend-happy voice. The two of us sang a pathetically thin rendition of Happy Birthday, and when it came time to blow out my candles, I only managed to snuff out three or four before my breath caught in my throat. I stared at the still flickering mass of candles, trying to breathe, but knowing full well if I let it go, only sobs would follow. I gave the rest of the candles my best shot in a sad attempt to salvage my wish, but a heaving cry which shook my body was all that came out.
As I listened to my mother yell at me for next several hours, and played along with her drama explaining all the reasons she shouldn't kill herself on my birthday, I felt my future slipping away. I knew I would never be able to go away for college like I had planned, because I believed that her endless threats would become real, and I would find her dead on my first visit home.

I watched my friends move out. I stayed home. My mother got worse.
I stayed home. I watched my mother dissolve. My life got worse.

So there I was a week ago snuggled up in my basement and watching a mildly entertaining Coming-of-Age Drama, so far removed from the hell that was my reality for so long. I realized that even if I went back to college in search of that adventure, I would never find it. I will never be 18 again. It was just one more of those experiences in life that we envision happening a certain way-- the normal way-- that was taken from me by my mother's illness.
However, I actually think my lame fixation on Felicity's antics is a sign of progress. Instead of being so damn mad about my past as a whole, I have taken a moment to mourn this small episode, and hopefully to move on.

Next step in the healing process: Enact a Nationwide Labeling System for content which might unexpectedly act as a springboard for deep introspection, so that the damaged and the emotionally fragile among us can watch/read/listen accordingly.

Monday, January 11, 2010

In Progress

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I am a (mostly accidental) Genius

I just went to visit my hormone guru, Dr. Foster to consult about my fertility woes. Things should be looking up from here.

Anywho, I told her all about my Body Project. She cringed when I said Lyrica and Cymbalta, but I explained about the ascending and descending pain pathway theory, and that my goal was to interrupt the pain cycle. She later said that L and C are fine-- she just saves them for people in really desperate situations, and she agreed that they were a good idea. She said, "I bet the doctor you went to is giving that combination to other patients now." I said probably not, since he refuses to treat Fibromyalgia.

Dr. Foster said that by flooding my brain with neurotransmitters and then going off the drugs and plunging into withdrawal, I essentially hit the reset button on my central nervous system. While I feel better than I can ever remember, I hesitate in recommending this strategy to the faint of heart. I was highly motivated to get off the drugs so that I could get pregnant again. Otherwise, I think it would have been much more tempting to go back on the pills, just to bring the awful withdrawal symptoms to an end. I read many posts online from other people trying to beat a Cymbalta addiction, and they were all very disturbing.

I also told Dr. Foster about the supplements I took, (mainly Fibro Response by Source Naturals, Glucosamine/Chondroitin, Omega Mom, and Vitex) and she commended me for approaching my pain with an inquisitive, open mind, and for doing my "homework." She said I did a good job helping my body heal itself (even if I used scary pills to do it.)

It was a lovely visit, and hopefully my hormones will get back under control soon. A little boost of Progesterone will also help ease inflammation, so I'm looking forward to feeling even better!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"one gets so miserably nervous when the Nazi's would take all those people"

My husband's Grandmother Elisabeth came to America after World War II. She has amazing stories to tell about the German occupation in her home town in the Netherlands. We have all heard the stories so many times, sometimes we are impatient and don't want to listen. Goal for 2010: record the stories.

These are the letters that came from a relative, inviting them to come to America. We should remember how lucky we are.

Letter from Theresa Kennedy to Froukje and Children

From the desk of Mrs. Theresa Kennedy
335 E. 19th. ST.
Long Beach , CA.

Aug. 2, 1946

To the Widow of Albert Dykstra
(Froukje Dykstra Hager)
Hitsum - Friesland, Netherland

Dear Froukje and Children:

Mary and I have been talking and thinking about all eight of you. We are wondering what each of you will be doing when Zwaantje (Sally) is twenty-one years old.

How would all eight of you like to come to America? If nothing now wholly unexpected happens to me, to make it impossible to do so, I will sponsor your coming and pay the transportation of all eight of you to come to America, if you decide to do so.

To leave Netherland the country you love, and all the people you love is a difficult and serious undertaking. Think it through and talk it through carefully with your husbands' father, mother and brothers.

Do not hurry this answer to this letter. Take a long time to consider every side of this great change in your lives. To leave your relatives who are so dear to you, that is hard and sad. I have been thinking about all side. I can do this for you if nothing unforseen occurs, but no one knows the future.

If you decide you want to come to America, go to your American Counsul. Ask him what you need to do in order to get visas to come to America. Have your names put on the list of applicants. If your American Consul in Holland has directions for me to follow, which are different from what I will get from the immigration bureau here, I will be glad to get them and follow them.

Since I cannot be sponsor or pay the transporation of anyone outside of your family, I feel it will be wise for you not to tell outsiders of the contents of this letter. If anyone asks me to pay their way, I will have to refuse. I have already been compelled to do so in some cases.

Sincerely yours, Theresa Kennedy

Froukje's reply to Theresas invite to come to America

(Date unreadable)

Dear Aunt,

The 19 Aug, I received what for us was a very interesting letter. I have read the letter and re-read it again. The content was almost too beautiful to be true for such an offer. But Aunt, as you also write, it is something difficult. Especially for my own father and parents in law, where we now frequent every day. To leave, yes, who knows. they are getting older, that we perhaps for the last time separate. And yet even when it is difficult we accept your offer. When I look at the future of my still so young children and now no matter how hard they work they can't bring it farther than to a poor piece of bread. Klaas is soon now l8 years and an alert and strong boy and a best milker. As Uncle Gerlof said, will be able to earn a good piece of bread in a stable or so. Also Elizabeth and Pietje can already help to earn. The 4 younger children must go again to school, but Aunt that would be alright, he? What the future shall bring us there, we don't know, but we are full of hope, to us a new life. If nothing happens contrarywise and everything as are our plans, then maybe we can come inside a year. The bourgemaster of Franekeradeel gave me the address and I will right away write you, dear aunt so that when you receive this letter there shall directly follow another. We received the last l4 days, a total of 9 packages from you and Miss Rees and Miss Elms. That we have already beautiful cloths. All will be wonderful (heerlyk)when we can thank you personally. Mother Geertia finds if diffifult (liet er wel tegen op) and no wonder. The children have been grown up (raised) by them. Be heartfully saluted Aunt, and Maria,

Froukje Dykstra

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Letters from Froukje to Theresa Kennedy and Mary Rees

Dear Mrs. Kennedy,

We are all very lucky. All my girls have nice hair and are in good health. Here little children have had a terrible time- so many big sores on arms and legs from undernourishment, says the doctor.

I have a great help from my oldest daughter, even in keeping the children clean for them to grow healthy again. We are going toward summer and hope much good from that. But, Miss Rees, we have no sheets or pillow cases for what we had is gone for bandages first, then for towels and tiny shirts, etc., but America helps everywhere.

We live in a little village and when my daugher goes to get the packages, then it is full in the postoffice. All from American sent to us. I will give you a little example: A women came to me, she has more then three times my income, but didn't have a needle to sew with. Luckily I had received some needles so I could help her, and she was so happy that she could sew again! Then a girl came and said, "Mother just had one needle yet and I broke it and now we can't sew anything." I gave her five needles. She pinned them carefully on her hankerchief as something precious, and then to her mother. I just write this to show how little we have here yet to help the housework. Buttons, elastic, or suspenders, even if it is old it is all so welcome. I can hardly find words to thank you for all your kind sendings.

As soon as we get the material, I will send you some photos from us all 8. There are no films or they are so high priced. How happy were my children with their shoes and too the beautiful quilt, the children think that is so fine. Pietje (Peggy), my daughter of l5, had hardly a coat and now has that beautiful red coat and beautiful shoes too. How glad she was! I myself had hardly anything to wear and that beautiful black suit just fit me. Oh, what a relief! All the children now wrote a letter to Aunt Theresa, and will also write to Ms. Rees. Each evening one can write for we have only one pen. From the pieces of materials and the (table)runner we made a pair of pants fo the smallest boy and from the other a dress by putting a piece on top and on the bottom - did the same with a little coat and shirt, adding yellow sleeves and lower parts - ditto that for the nine year old. She looks real nice with her new clothes and curly hair. The pieces were nice and warm. I would sew more if I had more thread and yarn. We have offered up many times our night's rest as there is so much to do. My oldest daughter (Elisabeth) is so willing and always working to help and does it with pleasure. How lovely it is to be able to work again after such hard times - to accomplish something!

I will write you again and send you the heartiest greetings from a mother from the far away Netherlands and her children who are all so very thankful to you all.

Froukje Dykstra

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Letter from Pietje (Peggy) to Theresa Kennedy

April 1, 1946

Dear Auntie,

It is Sunday morning and I thought I will write a letter also. The radio is going and it is so cozy in the room. I think it is so nice to write a letter to America. I received many things and am so glad with them. I could not even go out on Sunday, I had no shoes on my feet. And then Grandmother, Geertje did get the package from America. Uncle Gerlof came to tell me that Grandmother wanted me to come and then I got a beautiful pair of brown shoes. How very glad I was to get them Auntie. You can understand that. I keep them for Sundays, and also received a nice brown dress. That too was in that package and am wearing all that not while I sit and write to you. It is a lovely warm dress auntie, you know. And then I got that nice blue wool skirt. I will wear it with a white jacket, and a beautiful hankerchief. I received also, and my friends find it and all so beautiful. I have four friends. I am Pietje, l5 years, weight 95 pounds and am 174 cm. Auntie, we find it so very dear of you to be so kind to us. Mother of course think too and appreciate so much that you make those beautiful packages for us and we are so thankful for the beautiful and so useful things in them.

Now Auntie, I will tell you what I do. I was in the household school, but time became so bad that we didn't have anymore materials to sew, also no thread. I can sew very nice. I am now in the morning by the school principal. They are nice but kind of funny. By and by I will sew again when times are better. We had a lot of men hiding from those Nazi's in this village. Mother's brother was here hiding. He slept behind a wall with some straw. When we woke up in the morning my brother Rinze would knock on the wall and we could call out, "out you go to Smilde." Auntie, you will think they are strange words. It meant when the men from 40 to 60 had to go in the Smilde to dig ditches for them Nazi's to turn off the English and Canadians. and they made deep holes in the roads. The farmers had to give up loads of stuff t them, hay, cows, horses, cheese, butter, about EVERYTHING. You could write a book about those Nazi's. And I better quit.

Much love and best greetings,

(English translated copy)

Letter from Rinze to Theresa Kennedy

Hitsum, Apri 1, 1946

Dear Aunt,

Mother says we all should write a letter to Auntie and then all will go clear to America of which mother tells us so much. I am Rinze, am 10 years, my birthday will be April 19. I am in the 4th class and I am small. I am doing my best in school because I would like to become a teacher. We were sometimes hungry in school, we got only 2 pieces of bread and get such nasty kitchen food. It is now much better and were are nice and warm in the school. I got an 8 for writing and in arithmetic sometimes a 7 and in geography a 9 and in reading a 7 1/2. I weigh 58 pounds. We now go to school with SHOES, it is here always so wet. We can't get wooden shoes, only the workers them them on the bon. I received a lovely cup from Auntie, in it we get milk or tea in the morning. We are longing for the summer, then it is here so lovely in the village. I was so glad when the Canadians came with the tanks. Although I am small, I know a lot of the war. When the Green police came here I was afraid of them, they were always after men. I ams so glad of those pieces of material, I got a thick pair of pants of it that I wear to school.

Now Auntie, I know a lot more but will write later on. I think it so lovely of you to send us those packages.

Greetings and many kisses.
(English translated copy)

Letter from Elizabeth to Theresa Kennedy

Hitzum, Holland
April 1, 1946

Dear Aunt Theresa,

I thought I would write you otherwise I would stay so far behind the other children. They all wrote to you and I thought that was so nice. I'm 20 and in April will become 21. Time goes fast Auntie. I have been in the household school three years now and have received two diplomas, one for householding and one for dressmaking. I always enjoyed it very much and always have had such a good time there. I was always very thankful to you Auntie, that I could go to school, because now I can make all kinds of things. I wasl also in Leeuwaarden with a Doctor to help in his household, but is became unbearable with anxiety for that Doctor was taken as a laborer to Germany. He was held by them for 6 months and when he came out there was such happiness. We would be in the house with curtains draw, the doors locked, just as if nobody was at home. At night there were so many times the Green Police around the house and the Doctor would hide and we would be watching. So that I went home to the peaceful little village of Hitzum. They were not so many soliders there and one gets so miserably nervous when the Nazi's would take all those people.......

We are so glad with the parcels you sent, and it is so kind for clothes are so scarce. I received 2 c oats from your packages, the light gray one looks so nice on me, also 2 dresses and all fitted exactly. I was so very glad for I had one one dress left because I had grown so fast. We say sometimes to each other, "That Dear Aunt, if she was here now we would HUG her." What a lot of work that must be to make all those packages, but if you could see the HAPPY faces! You will get also a photo from us all, but can't yet get the materials.

I hope your hand is getting better because we know about that too. Now Auntie I will end and will write to you soon again.

Heartiest Geetings.

(English translated copy)

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Letter from Zwaantje (Sally) to Theresa Kennedy

March 27, 1946

Dear Auntie,

I am Zwaantje (little Swan). I am nine years old and I sit in the third class. I am 56 pounds. I am tall, 140 cm. In the beautiful little cups each morning we get tea or cholcolate milk. I have received from Auntie a roll of yarn. From it Hizza knit me one sock, and Pietje knit me another, and then I went with mother to Leewarden to Auntie Jantje's, and there I had so much fun. I went to the zoo garden and there I had also so much fun. Sunday we go again to Altewerp with mother and there again we will have so much fun. Once I sat there in the swing and oh, that was so luscious.

I have also four friends at school and I can knit. And we get now chocolate on the ration and oranges on the ration. When the soldiers were here we could hardly get anything.

And I have a doll's bed, but I have no doll. There are some for 10 Gulden. Mother can't buy that. First Lizza (?) had the doll bed, then Pietje had the doll bed, then Geertje, and now I may have the doll bed, but I have no doll. And we have two pussy cats. One is black and one is speckled. They are such dears. They love me so much. Uncle Gerlof has such darling cows and such darling sheep.

Now Auntie, I know no more. Now the hearty greetings.

Zwaantje Dykstra
(English translated copy)

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P.S. Some funny things in English but perfectly correct in Dutch) This letter was translated to English and all letters retyped by P.Kovell as best as I can make them out.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Yoga Superstars (and me)

Let me preface this entry with a Body Project Update:
All three of you might remember that I attempted to ease my neurological and muscular pain disorder by experimenting with a few gifts from BIG PHARMA. I wanted to see if I could break the pain cycle and help my body eventually heal itself. I took Lyrica and Cymbalta for about 6 months, and felt like a drug addict thanks to a multitude of side effects, but I was pain free for the most part. The RSD/CRPS symptoms in my left leg were still in full swing, but my other limbs, back, neck, and face felt fabulous.

Then I went off all of the drugs. It was awful. The HORRENDOUS withdrawal process followed by the WORSE THAN EVER pain flare made me feel like a fantastic failure.

But after about three months, it dawned on me that I was feeling better. I realized that it had been more than two weeks since I needed to take 1-3 baths everyday to cope with pain. I noticed that my energy level was creeping back up. Everyone, pain disorder or not, has bad days and I am no exception. I don't feel great everyday, but I have many, many, more good days than bad. I have been treating this tiny remission very gently, terrified that if I got crazy and walked too far (like, say, from one side of the grocery store to the other) that an unstoppable pain cycle would start all over again.

Then I went to Yoga. I was (am!) sore-- don't get me wrong. But it used too be that my sore muscles would aggravate my nerves, which would cause a burning so intense I couldn't tolerate my clothes. IT DIDN'T HAPPEN THIS TIME!!! Can you tell that I'm a little excited?

I even went back to yoga tonight. I was late, and got sandwiched between Yoga Goddesses 1 and 2 with their headstands and adept Flipping the Dog. At one point my right arm was shaking so violently under the strain of my 97th inverted pose that I had to hold it still with my other hand. But I was there. I finished the class, and I felt amazing.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Candy In One Hand

I went back to yoga with my sister on New Year's Day. I dropped out a few years ago for some reason. There was that pregnancy thing... and then the baby. Somehow-- despite my rampant free time, readily available childcare, and abundant energy at the end of a day with my daughter-- my studio practice became just a fond memory from my past. I kept up at home, but it's never the same.

I knew that my sister had become quite the yogi in my absence, and was prepared to feel less than spiritual compared to her... but holy smokes. She was whipping out full back bands and crow poses like they're easy, or something. I spent more than my fair share of time curled up in a sad little ball, I mean resting in child's pose, when I should have been holding my unayanabonda (not even google knows how to spell that-- sorry.)

But the best part about my first effort to improve myself this new year is that I have not lost as much ground as I had feared. I can still rock the balance poses, I can follow the vocab, and the power poses weren't nearly as hard as I thought they would be.

The workshop as a whole was quite emotional for me. It's probably because I'm in the middle of the world's biggest hormone imbalance, but each time we chanted together my voice would break, and I'd fight back tears (for no apparent freaking reason!) Our teacher asked us to chant our strength and share it with everyone in the class. All told, I had a pretty great year, so I tried to keep my voice clear and strong to share my good 2009 energy and greet 2010... After about my 9th try, I finally managed an OM without swallowing sobs. I'm such a nerd, but 70 people chanting together was such a joyful noise, I couldn't help myself.

My new goal is to remember Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles. Like him I will keep sweets in one hand, and leave the other one open, because if my hands are full I won't have room for something new a fabulous to come into my life.

I am so going back to yoga on Monday.