Reflections on October and a Seasonal Mandala
I had big plans for October. I was dreaming about a 2-part gathering to find closure after loss. Diving into planning a very unique Halloween party. Writing recipe upon recipe to test out in the kitchen, and envisioning all kinds of magic in the ceramic studio as well. It was a lot for someone with several chronic illnesses to manage, but I thought it would all be do-able as I’ve had a lot of practice in working around my limitations.
Then, October threw me a curveball I definitely wasn’t prepared for. This month played out a little differently than I’d hoped. Going into October I couldn’t eat and could barely drink. I had immense abdominal pain any time I tried to move or eat. My family stepped up to help me, and I pulled off the first half of “Stones and Bones” directing them from a fainting couch. (At that point I was clearly in denial.) Even so, it was a wonderful evening full of warmth and vulnerability and I enjoyed every second of it from my perch on the couch. After my guests left, I still felt the warmth in my heart, but I also started to notice the pain creeping back in.
A couple of days later I had my first ambulance ride. I’d gone to urgent care for an IV since I could no longer even drink on my own, and my blood pressure was low enough to cause concern so I was whisked away to the hospital. There, they monitored me, gave me an IV, and sent me home. This repeated a couple of times (minus the ambulance) before a doctor was concerned enough to check me into the hospital. I was there for a week, being monitored closely and kept on IV nutrition. Part-way through my stay the excruciating pain I’d been dealing with reached a level I could barely stand (and trust me, I am no stranger to pain.) Some tests were run and I found out I’d need emergency gallbladder surgery the very next day! My gynecologist was also available at that time to come remove a bunch more endometriosis and cysts, so I had a sort of double surgery. I recovered in the hospital for several days since my blood count was a little concerning, but was finally determined to be well enough to go home to my family, my dog, and the hospital bed my parents rented to help with my recovery. Since I’ve been home, healing has been slow but I’ve had enough good days to keep my hopes up. I’m still struggling to eat (thankfully broth seems to be working well!) and have had a few other complications. I know that this long recovery time is to be expected for the state I was in before I made it to the hospital as well as for the invasiveness of my procedure. It’s never the straight line to health that one hopes for. (More of a loopy squiggle, to be honest.)
During this recovery period, I have also been co-hosting a wonderful online course called “Wondermaking” with my good friend Victoria Smith! We both struggle with chronic illness and unpredictable health, so we got our materials ready well in advance just in case something came up (and boy am I glad we did!) I’m not up for creating recipes, taking photos, or filming a video, but I am finding a lot if joy in interacting with the community we built through the class’s Facebook page. (For those of you who missed the chance at taking this course, there has been talk of a self-study program to extend the magic further… I will let you know if it happens!) Discussion and conversations have been another way I feel connected through my recovery. In fact, this experience prompted a couple of really personal and meaningful bits of writing: “Why I’m Still Here: A Story of Holding On” and one about why I can still be so productive when I’m sick. I have also been awash with an ocean of gratitude. Never before have I felt so appreciated, supported, and loved. So many people have helped me in so many ways I don’t even have words to express it. But believe me, I sure do feel it.
So, alas, I haven’t been able to dive into the projects I was so excited about. I’ve missed being able to create and share interesting culinary exploits (as well as being able to taste them myself) and I’m sad I couldn’t follow through on the plans that had me so enraptured at the beginning of this month. But nothing keeps me away from creating for too long, so even while I’ve been completely bedridden, I’ve been doing a lot of dreaming. And planning. And sketching. I have new projects to be excited about again that I can work on during my good days! Creative ideas I might not have thought of had I been able to be more active. And, as always, hardship provides perspective. I’ve become even stronger in my resolve to share kindness and wonder with others. Life is too dang short not to follow your calling.
All of that said, I did manage to share some special recipes this month! Before I got so sick, I created several awesome recipes that I’ve been able to share with you now. I was thinking about just how bountiful my city is, and yet how much of it goes unused: buckets of crabapples, fields of rose hips, feral and ornamental fruit trees on just about every block… those unused treasures inspired a couple of delicious donut recipes: one filled with rose hip jam and coated in sparkling rose hip sugar; and another gluten-free cider donut recipe that can be made with fresh-pressed apple or crabapple juice. Yum! They were a hit at the first part of “Stones and Bones.” Pumpkins have also caught my attention, whether they are stuffed with gooey thyme-spiked fondue or a wholesome main dish for a vegan or vegetarian holiday celebration.
I’m not entirely sure what November holds in store for me. Hopefully, lots of healing, the ability to eat solid food again, and the health necessary to get back to the projects I miss the most. But whatever is in store, I know I can handle it. Because I have the best support network anyone could ask for. Thank you all so very much! Whether you’re a regular patron of mine, have donated to my GoFundMe to cover medical bills, or have been sending me messages of support, I am so very grateful and humbled by your care.
Which brings me to the business part of this post: the wonderful reward for my regular patrons! If you’d like to download a high-res version of this photo to use for a variety of projects while also supporting my mission to share wonder, you can support me on Patreon for rewards like this one!
And if you’d like to get this design printed on everything from greeting cards to throw pillows, take a look at my Society6 Shop! This design looks lovely on an autumnal harvest platter!
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