Goldilocks and the Potato Soup

A few days ago I found myself staring blankly at the meal list I had so painstakingly prepared right before the stay at home orders were issued. I remember thinking at the time how useful it would be in making sure my family had 3 square and healthy meals a day for the next month or so. Ah…the best laid plans.

So far that meal list had been a life saver–one less thing to worry about during the day. Just pick a meal and make it. But on this day none of those meals seemed to fit my cooking mood, hence the mindless staring at the paper pinned to the fridge. The mindless staring soon became mindless meandering, searching through the pantry, freezer and fridge, looking for something that would fill tummies and “fit” my mood.

My rumbling tummy soon shook me out of the zombie daze and I began to purposely peruse the kitchen for things that needed to be used soon or be lost. Potatoes, onions, milk. Hmmmm. I quickly realized with it being rainy and gloomy outside it would be the perfect day for some homemade potato soup , so I went searching to find my old recipe. Unfortunately what I remembered as a delicious soup now seemed lackluster at best, so I sought help from the web. No luck there either. Most recipes were either too “uppity” or too simple. I needed easy, yet hearty. At this point I felt like Goldilocks, so I decided to put my cooking talents to the test and create a new potato soup recipe–one that took ideas from the fancy web sites while staying true to my old, worn out version–a recipe that would fit my family “just right.”

It turned out beautifully, so I have decided to share it–hope you enjoy it!

Goldilocks Potato Soup

Prep time: 30-45 minutes       Cook/Simmer time: 1-2 hours      Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

6 medium russet potatoes (about 6 Cups), peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes

1/2 medium onion (1/2 Cup), chopped finely

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Cups Chicken Broth

2 Cans Cream of Chicken Soup

2 Soup Cans Milk (use the cans from the cream of chicken soups)

6 Slices Bacon

1 Cup cooked, diced ham (optional, but adds extra heartiness and flavor)

 

Instructions:

  • Cook bacon until crispy, reserving 1 Tablespoon drippings. Set aside.
  • While bacon is cooking…rinse diced potatoes, place in bowl, cover with water and microwave 5 minutes. This will soften them up a bit and reduce cooking time.
  • In large cooking pot…add bacon drippings over medium heat. Saute onions until tender, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant.
  • Add liquids–broth, can soup, and milk. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes. Return to boil, stirring constantly so potatoes do not stick. Once at a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are fork tender and soup has thickened to your liking (about an hour). Stir every 15 minutes so that soup does not stick.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste after soup has cooked awhile, as the cream of chicken and chicken broth already have quite a lot of salt/flavor.
  • For additional heartiness, add a cup of cooked, diced ham to the soup during last 30 minutes of cooking.

Serving/Additional Notes:

Serve soup with crumbled bacon pieces on top and toasted bread on the side. Additional topping suggestions: chopped scallions, chives, sour cream, cheddar cheese.

  • I added the diced ham to this recipe the day after I made the soup, as I had forgotten I had leftover baked ham in the fridge. The ham really bumped up the flavor and heartiness of the soup and took the dish to a higher level.
  • Note to my fellow RA warriors and anyone who suffers from chronic neck or back pain: this recipe requires quite a bit of cutting, stirring, moving and cleaning of pots/utensils, which can cause pain in the hands, shoulders, neck and back. If you have a significant other or a child who is old enough to help, ask them 🙂
  • The longer the soup simmers, the thicker it will get. On the flip side, if leftovers are too thick, add a little extra milk when reheating.
  • I used russet potatoes, yellow onion, 2% milk and chicken bouillon cubes (to make the broth). If you do not have these exact ingredients, use whatever you have–golden potatoes, red onion, whole milk (or half and half), or can broth.

 

 

 

 

Observations from the Outbreak

“In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” – Lee Iacocca

Words to live by as we, the human race, face such a small, yet seemingly insurmountable foe. It is easy to be sucked in by the mass media coverage and let fear take over, leaving no room for optimism or faith. Struggling with these issues as well, I have observed and learned a few things about myself, my world, and my fellow human beings around the globe. Some are humorous and anecdotal, some are scientific, and some are philosophical. All of them, however, have struck a chord in me and I would like to share them.

1. People have no idea how much toilet paper they use in a month.

I have read countless articles on this phenomenon–noting phrases like the “fear/contagion effect” and “panic driven purchasing.” Yeah, I get it–you see someone in the store with 5 packages of toilet paper and you think, “hmmm, do they know something I don’t” or “wow, maybe I should stock up just in case.” And while I agree with these thoughts, I propose an additional one–we really don’t think about the amount of toilet paper we go through. When it is close to running out we just go buy more. It is a side thought almost, like buying milk or bread. Maybe I’m wrong–maybe everyone else out there can give a number for how many rolls of TP they use in a week and I am the odd ball. Wherever the answer may lie, it is still food for thought.

2. Parents are learning just how difficult it is to teach.

On a daily basis educators must not only teach various subjects but must get and maintain the attention of their students. All of this while presenting the material in an enthusiastic and understandable way. I have read countless stories from tired and frustrated parents who grapple with keeping their kids engaged in their work or who struggle to remember how to do math and science (and then teach it). People who once frowned upon or didn’t “get” the idea of homeschooling are now actively seeking out information and advice from the home school community. I homeschooled for 10 years before returning to the workforce, so I know exactly how these parents feel. Even though I am physically and academically prepared to teach my son at home for the next 6 weeks, I am beginning to feel the pressure to meet all of his needs in a timely and patient manner. Our country is getting a taste of life pre-public school, and while I think it’s extremely cool, I feel for those parents who are feeling lost, scared or unprepared.

3. The mass media and politicians will always use a national crisis to their advantage.

I like being an informed citizen. Reading and watching the news is important to me. And while I am accustomed to yellow journalism and “fake news” it baffles me the amount of mud slinging and fear mongering that has been rampant in the media lately. I understand the role the media has to play in order to keep viewers/readers, and I get that politicians never take a day off from trying to get ahead, but when that gets in the way of helping our nation navigate an unprecedented event, I get a little testy. For this reason I am trying to keep myself from watching/reading too much. This. Is. Hard. It is hard but necessary in order to keep myself calm and not fall into the Chicken Little Syndrome that seems to have invaded the media and politicians.

4. In the constant battle between humans and Mother Nature, Mother Nature will always win.

We live in a digitally dominated society where information and entertainment can be spread in milliseconds. We have biotechnology which provides better medicines to prevent, treat and cure illnesses. Advanced engineering provides stronger buildings that can withstand earthquakes. I could go on and on, but at the end of the day none of these advancements can fully protect us from what Mother Nature has in store. Hackers can infiltrate our systems, buildings can still collapse, and a microscopic virus can bring our society to its knees. Whether you call it Mother Nature, God, or Darwinism, it is times like these that we are reminded (or at least I am) that we are not in charge.

5. Our bodies are fragile, but our spirits are resilient.

For as complex as the human body is, it is also extremely fragile. Body systems that work together to ward off illness and disease can sometimes be no match for a simple, tiny virus. It has been many years since the world has seen such sickness and death, and I watch and read about so many families who have lost loved ones during this outbreak. It pains me to realize how the mere act of going to the grocery store puts me and my loved ones at risk. But when I go back and read stories about pandemics of the past, I see how the human spirit prevailed through it all. Through that loss and hard ship there were still people out there, helping one another to survive. I see that today as well with neighbors helping neighbors, young people running errands for the elderly, and families reconnecting while they are self-quarantined at home. I see medical professionals and first responders working tirelessly to help the sick. Pushing us forward, the human spirit can be a calming presence in the face of sickness and sadness.

6. We are all in this together.

Mother Nature does not discriminate. When it comes to our current antagonist, COVID-19, no one is exempt. There are no free passes. Math is not my best friend–I much prefer a good book, but I do believe that once this outbreak is over, every soul on this planet will have been affected in some way by the virus. Either you had the virus, had a friend or family member who had it, had a co worker who had it–you get my point. At some point we will all be affected physically, emotionally, academically, financially and/or spiritually. The only difference we will all have is in how we handle it. We can freak out and panic or we can approach it calmly and rationally. For the most I have been calm and have prepared as much as possible. Am I scared? YEP. Am I worried? YEP. Have I bought too much toilet paper? ABSOLUTELY. Am I alone in this? NOPE. We are absolutely all in this–the entire planet. But, as always, we will get through it. We will mourn our losses and then carry on as societies and nations. We will learn to hug our loved ones a little more (once quarantines are over, of course), we will appreciate (hopefully) the little things in life, and we will be able to tell our grandchildren about how we survived.

One-Word Theme for 2016: GOOD | Bleeding Espresso Bleeding Espresso

My First 30 Days of Summer Break

“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. for those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. you can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.” ― Deb Caletti

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Ah, summer break–that magical, much anticipated time of the year for both students and educators. We spend 180 days counting down to these first few beautiful weeks–to that first morning where the alarm clock remains silent and the coffee is sipped slowly in the calm of mid-morning.

Summer break gives me permission to slow down physically and emotionally. In these first 30 days I have taken long naps, walked in the park with my husband, and had long, enjoyable conversations with family. I have also been able to catch up on laundry and house work–and all at my own pace.

With the anxiety of a looming bedtime and early wake up taken away, I have the flexibility to schedule (or not schedule) my day however I like. I like being able to grocery shop during non-rush hour times and experience the park at noon on a week day. I like being able to put my hair in a bun, be in my pjs all day and play video games till the wee hours of the morning giving no regard to time.

In essence, I like being able to just…be…me.

I like sleeping in, cooking for my family, playing video games with my husband, sending my kids goofy texts/memes, watching old Frasier episodes at 1am, and calling my mom “just to talk”. Summer break allows me the freedom to do these things without the nagging anxiety of the strict school year schedule. It gives me a break from who I am “supposed” to be and allows me to explore who/what I “want” to be.

This morning I woke up at 5:30. Voluntarily. Brilliantly. Quietly.

I am grateful for this time. Summer has indeed opened the door and let me out.

Summer- like life, is short and you don’t have to be “on” summer break to capture and enjoy its spirit and essence. So even if you have alarm clocks and schedules directing your day, I challenge you to open your own figurative door and let a little bit of that summer spirit into your life.

 

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The last 30 days of school

As an educator, I have a unique opportunity that a majority of the working population does not have. I get to experience that magical time known as “the last 30 days of school.”

We can all remember the excitement that those last days brought as a child–less homework, class outside, fun end of year projects. As teachers we get to see this excitement through the eyes of the kids–and it gets contagious. Despite having to suffer through state testing and end of year reviews, we get caught up in the joy. Here are a few things I have noticed are different between the first 30 days of school and the last.

The first 30 days…

1. Get up 3 hours before school -no pressing of the snooze button.

2. Set out clothes and prepare lunch the night before.

3. Spend way too long on hair and makeup-even though it will all be a mess by 10 am.

4. Arrive at work 30 minutes early to prep for the day.

5. Stay 30 minutes late cleaning classroom.

6. Rush to grocery and then home to make dinner.

7. Eat, clean kitchen, shower, talk with family for a few minutes , then fall asleep watching Netflix.

8. Repeat for 150 days.

The last 30 days of school…

1. Get up 2 hours before school-hitting snooze at least twice to sneak in a few extra minutes.

2. Grab outfit from the “floordrobe”-who cares if it’s wrinkled. Peanut butter sandwich or leftovers for lunch.

3. Hair in ponytail and no makeup-it’s gonna be a mess by 10am anyway.

4. Arrive at work 10 minutes early-make sure coffee mug is full-get ready to give 100% to the students. There is still work to be done.

5. Leave as soon as students are gone–after making note that students will clean their messes tomorrow morning.

6. Skip grocery store–peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. On paper plates.

7. Eat, throw away paper plates, spend quality time with family, then binge watch Netflix for 3 hours. School is almost over, we should relax, right?

8. Repeat for 30 days, wishing we had this attitude from the get-go.

Life is short, y’all. No matter what job you have, remember not to let work consume you. Consume and surround yourself with the people and things you love.

Live like the last 30 days of school.

“Floordrobe”–baskets or piles of washed clothing that have not been put away. Your wardrobe is essentially on the floor.

The Birth of Little Miss Twitch

Nickname: a usually descriptive name given instead of or in addition to the one belonging to a person, place, or thing.

During dinner on our first date, my husband was introduced to my Tourette Syndrome in full force. I guess the excitement and nerves got the best of me and I was twitching all over the place. When he asked if I was nervous I decided to go for “full disclosure” and tell him all about my Tourette’s.

I was worried how he would respond, as most people up to that point had not been too understanding. At least he would shrug it off and say, “well that sucks,” or at most he would ask silly questions like, “do you swear all the time like they do on TV?”  But instead I got something I hadn’t experienced before–compassion. He didn’t make fun of me, ask dumb questions or change the subject. Instead he grinned at me and said, “so then you’re not nervous, you’re just Little Miss Twitch.”

We have been peas and carrots ever since.

After that, Little Miss Twitch became my nick name. This lovingly humorous way of letting me know my tics are out of control has helped me come to terms with my Tourette’s. It has helped me see that I can define my disorder, instead of it defining me.

A year ago when I decided to begin my blogging, I wanted a pen name. I needed a name that was easy to remember yet embodied my personality. I thought on it for several weeks to no avail. Then one night after an especially twichy evening my husband came to me, grabbed my hand and said, “Hey Little Miss Twitch–are you ok?”

I realized at that moment I would find no better pen name than the one my husband had given to personify my Tourette’s.

That night Little Miss Twitch– quirks and all– was born.

 

 

Snow Day Serenity

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Snow days are precious in my home. We see them as special “gifts of time” to enjoy our hobbies and each other. On these days we relax, eat leftovers and drink lots of hot chocolate. Time stands still on these days as Mother Nature forces us to stop and breathe for a bit.

My favorite part of a snow day is getting up around daylight and going for a walk outside–before anyone else has tread on the snow that is freshly fallen. Carol Rifka Brunt says it best,

“There’s something about walking in snow that nobody walked on.”

I love taking in that first deep breath of crisp, clean air as I make my way down the hill and then through the snow carpeted neighborhood. The trees, so delicately decorated in white, look like something out of Norman Rockwell picture; and the snow, still falling, makes the most beautiful sound when it gently falls onto the trees and houses. It is the only sound I hear, as no else is out and about yet.

This quiet, this serenity, brings me a calm and peace that is reserved only to snow days. It is unique. It is rare. It is special. I revel in it every time.

Going back inside to the warmth of my home the coffee, freshly brewed, sends out a welcoming scent as I make myself a cup. I love how coffee just tastes better on these days, as if I have slowed down enough to actually enjoy the flavor. In fact, just about everything tastes, feels and sounds better on snow days.

After my walk outside and substantial amounts of coffee, I spend the rest of my day in the loving arms of my family, soaking in every gifted moment. But it is that early morning walk in the snow that sets me up for a calm and relaxing day and allows me to focus on and appreciate my family.

“Snow days are precious gifts of time that should remind us to slow down, breathe, and enjoy every moment with our loved ones.”—LittleMissTwitch

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The Great Equalizer

Just as there are seasons in the weather, there are seasons in our lives–happy, sad, difficult, mournful, peaceful, challenging. With any luck those more difficult seasons, like a harsh winter, do not last very long and we can look forward to the welcoming warmth of Spring. It is the promise of that “rebirth” that gets us through the cold and dismal times–the hope that things will get better and life will move forward once again.

I am currently in the midst of one of those difficult seasons as my RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) has decided to invade itself upon my happy little world once again. (Yes, I personify my RA.) In the more than 30 years that I have had RA, there have only been a handful of times that the disease has worsened, and the past few months it has shown no mercy. For the first time in my working career I have had to go on medical leave because of the pain, and it has taken its toll on me emotionally and spiritually, as well as physically.

Like being snowed in during a cruel winter, so is my body and mind. For the last month my body has been unable to go out into the world as it once did and my mind has been stuck pondering all the what ifs that go along with the acknowledgment of a disease that is progressing.

I have given a name to this latest season of my life and my RA–The Great Equalizer.

There was once a time that my RA was not so harsh–not so advanced. I could do pretty much what everyone else did, with only a few limitations. I reveled in the fact that I was one of the lucky few that had a very slow progressing disease. But this season of my RA has been especially unforgiving and it has made me come to terms with my own invincibility. Things I used to take advantage of being able to “do” are no longer givens, and I must learn to ask for help.

I have not been able to do much during this time except rest, which is a luxury I rarely give myself, hence the “equalizing.” This rest, while needed and helpful, has also led to some anxiety and questions about what lies next for me in life.

As a person of faith, I am told, “ do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV) How very easy it is to know this verse–how very difficult to follow through with, especially during times of uncertainty while lying awake at night.

It is in these sleepless nights, however, that I have been reminded of yet another verse–one of my go to-s in times of despair.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, ESV)

My body is broken right now, and may never fully be the same. But what I have learned during this time is that I am absolutely not in control. (Hard pill for this control freak to swallow). The Lord is in control of this snow storm and it is my job to slow down and rest–something that He knows I need and would not give myself otherwise. I need to come to terms with my limitations and trust that He is preparing the way for me. I need to be content with my weaknesses so that His glory and strength can be seen and I can move towards the new life He wants me to lead.

I will weather this stormy season and faithfully await the welcoming warmth of Spring.

 

For Daddy…

I have always been fascinated by how brilliantly the human brain connects our senses with memories–most especially sounds and music. With music being one of the grounding blocks for my life, I have a figurative soundtrack of memories in my head to recall the experiences I have had, and I love how just one note from a familiar song can cue up that playlist.

My Daddy and I shared a common love of music–most specifically rock and roll. I grew up with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd–all the greats- and Daddy and I both liked our music loud.  Nearly every memory I have of my father has music playing in the background, but there is one in particular that means the most to me…

Saturdays were for house cleaning, and as a 10 year old tomboy living in the country, scrubbing was the last thing I wanted to do on a sunny afternoon. My Daddy knew this all too well and would occasionally interrupt my cleaning (after I had given good effort to the chores inside) with the excuse that he needed my help outside with some “project.” On one particular Saturday the project was washing the truck, which was one of my favorite things to help him with, and I remember rushing outside as fast as I could.

“Get in the truck,” he said.

“But I thought we were gonna wash it?” I yelled out.

“Just get in the truck,” he hollered back. So I jumped in without further question, wondering what in the world we were really going to do.

He drove down the gravel hill to the road and then to the creek on the other side, where he plomped that big ole Chevy right in the middle of the running water. The water was probably no more than a couple feet high at its peaks and fairly cold for a summer day, but to a 10 year old short girl, it was impressive. My daddy parked the truck in one of the more shallow areas and let me out. He then turned on the radio (nice and loud) to our favorite rock station and got out to wash the truck. We must have spent 2 hours there getting that truck clean, although my daddy did most of the work. While I did a few things to help my dad, I spent most of my time splashing in the water, digging up rocks, and playing with turtles and frogs. Daddy got on to me for playing with them–something about getting warts or being bitten, but I kept on anyways and he eventually quit trying to stop me. Daddy liked seeing his little girl have fun and get dirty–in fact he relished in letting me get dirty and then laughing hysterically when my mother would get upset at the sight of my filth.

Don McLean had a popular song out at this time called “American Pie,” and while Daddy and I were in that creek washing that old Chevy, it came on. We both sang out loudly and without a care in the world. When I asked him later why we went to the creek to wash the truck he simply replied, “Why not?”

Three years ago this past weekend my daddy passed away, and while it was expected it was nonetheless devastating and heartbreaking. He was a rock for me and my family, and we all miss him dearly.

Today while driving home from work, “American Pie” came on the radio, and the soundtrack of memories flooded into my brain. In one moment I was instantly transported back 35 years and 2,500 miles–from the suburbs of Seattle to the backwoods of Middle Tennessee. I could feel the mud all over my skin again. I could taste the cold, fresh water. I could see the beautifully green trees and bushes. And lastly…

I could hear my Daddy singing along with me to that song.

I have always been fascinated by how brilliantly the human brain connects our senses with memories–most especially sounds and music.

I did not cry this weekend on the anniversary of my father’s passing, but today on my way home, the song on the radio made me break down in tears. They were not tears of sadness. They were in fact, tears of happiness. I am so happy to have been blessed  with a father who spent time with me and loved me dearly and unconditionally. A father who loved his family and community with all he had. A father who worked hard every day to provide for that family. A father who gave me many great memories. One who took the time in life to say, “Why not?”

Thank you, Daddy, for, well…everything…

Here’s a link to “American Pie” by Don McLean–enjoy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RciM7P9K3FA

Walking in the Rain

I took a walk today–in the rain. Wait, let me back up a bit…

I do not particularly like being “out” in the rain–and not because I am too frilly or feel like I will melt. I just do not like feeling damp and cold when I come back inside and smelling like wet dog the rest of the day. So with that in mind…

I took a walk today–in the rain. When I began my walk the rain was only threatening, so I thought I could go out before it started. Wrong. Five minutes out the drizzle set in and I turned to head home, but as I turned I realized how silly it was to turn around because of a few drops of rain. So I turned back around and kept on going.

Five minutes later and the soft, bearable drizzle turned to rain. Again I was faced with whether or not to turn back and go home, but again I kept going. The more it rained and the further I walked, the better I felt. I started to notice that others out walking had begun to run back or pick up their paces, and yet I continued at my same calm pace. I did not care that I was getting soaked from head to toe, nor that my body was getting cold. What I did care about was finishing this walk I had set my mind and body to. Then I had this realization…

So many times in our daily “walks” of life, we put off things that are difficult or scary. This doesn’t mean that these things are not important to us, it just means we have some sort of mental block that gets in our way–we are definitely our own worst enemies.

Today I had a choice. I could have turned around when the rain began to pour or I could have powered through. I know that a walk in the rain isn’t really that bad; it is a metaphor however, for what choices we have on a daily basis. Do we turn when things get bad and return to the comfort of our safe place, or do we barrel on past the road blocks to reach our destination?

Today I took a physical and metaphorical walk–in the rain. I barreled through that road block and found a new sense of determination. I came home soaked to the bone, water wringing from my hair, and smelling like wet dog. It was amazing. I could have turned back, but I am proud of myself for powering forward.

 

 

 

A Few Flowers and the Lessons of RA

A few days ago I got to work in my yard and plant some flowers. I know, big deal-people play in their yards all the time. And we all have that friend on social media who posts their latest feats of gardening that would make even Martha Stewart jealous. So what, you ask, is so “blog worthy” about ME planting a FEW flowers?

Flashback roughly 30 years. I’m sitting in Mrs. Montgomery’s 6th grade class doing math and wondering what’s for lunch, when out of the blue I notice my middle and ring fingers on my right hand start to hurt. Thinking I was just pressing too hard on my pencil I eased up and kept writing. It was to no avail though–the pain continued. I muddled past it and was happy when the school day was over. The pain continued for a few days and then my fingers started to swell as well. So I told my parents and they took me to the doctor. After a thorough exam, I received a diagnosis that no 12 year old should have to hear. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA).

In the late 80s, when heart disease and cancer were the kingpins of diseases, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) was but a speck of dust on the medical research radar. Back then arthritis was what old people got because their joints were worn out, and to try and argue that RA was actually a “disease” was a pointless endeavor and waste of conversation. Even worse, to say that a child could have arthritis seemed quite silly to most, so you can imagine the thoughts that went through my family’s head when they heard my diagnosis. I was sent to a specialist who, after lots of tests and exams, confirmed that I had JRA. My family was given as much information as possible about treatment and care and I was given medicine for the pain. We went home and I began my new life as a kid with a chronic disease.

I was fine for a bit, but between the ages of 12 and 19, my JRA moved from 2 fingers to almost every joint in my body. I was able to work and go to college (albeit it in constant pain), but because there were not a lot of meds out to treat or slow the progression of RA, I suffered joint damage. At 19 I was told that if I wanted a family I would need to start soon, as RA (Oh yeah some kids “grow” out of JRA and recover–I did not and moved on to full fledged RA.) affects all parts of the body, including fertility. I would also need to make sure that I chose a career that used my brain instead of my body because I would probably be in a wheelchair by the time I was 30. Words every 19 year old in their 2nd year of college wants to hear, right?

OK, enough back story for now. Long story short, it’s 30 years later and I’m still kicking. Well, maybe not kicking, but definitely giving RA a run for its money. RA has affected every aspect of my life– physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I can no longer do the things I could do even just a few years ago. Exhaustion is a constant companion and I idle at pain level 6–I’ve gotten used to it though, and count my blessings that I can still work part time and take care of my family.

5 years ago I could have worked in my yard from sun up till sun down doing all sorts of strenuous work. These days working outside for just a couple of hours and planting a few flowers in containers sets me back for several days. So being able to work outside the other day was a blessing. I wasn’t able to do much and believe me, I was in pain later, but I can say that for a few short hours, I was able to enjoy a normal life. For a few short hours I was reminded of what life used to be like and how good it felt to work hard and get dirty.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a nasty disease that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It takes your hopes and dreams while mangling your body and depriving you of a normal life. I hate it. I hate that I have it. I hate that there is a chance that I have passed it on to my own children or future grandchildren. I hate being so fragile sometimes and having to ask for help. Despite all this hate, RA has taught me some valuable lessons–the best being to take advantage of every day I am given.

The other day I woke up pain free and I planted flowers. It was glorious. I came back inside exhausted, filthy and happy. After taking a shower (and pain medicine for the inevitable bite that RA would give me), I went back outside and took pictures of those flowers. Later that evening, I posted those pictures on my social media with the happy proclamation that I was “able to do some gardening today.”

I hate RA. But I love that it forces me to appreciate the little things in life…like flowers.

Wanna know more about RA? https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis/