|Forest Park - The Basin - slowly thawing out after a long, cold winter.|
Hello My Lovely Friends
Well, it has been a long, long winter...and even a longer season of life for me that has finally ended. I am both excited and very nostalgic as I author my last post on blogspot. (Please pardon the pics, as they are all from my old iPhone and just really learning how to take pics with my phone, believe it or not!)
Yes, this is my last post here - The Adventures of Elizabeth is moving on to a new site. Will reveal more later in this post. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, my last post is a long one...go figure :-)
What started out to be a post about my new bicycle and recovering from a long and painful knee mishap, this post actually has come full circle, purely by the grace of God, and very (but happily) unexpected.
Let me explain...
Three years ago last month, I hurt my knee in such a way that limited my abilities and I had no idea (and I mean no idea) of the pains, struggles, limitations, and losses that I was going to experience for the next three long years. One of many losses I experienced was my severe limitation in physical movement and the amount of pain I was in when I actually did move. As a result, I could no longer exercise at all. I missed being outside, missed being on my bike, missed being so active.
After a horrible mishap of my first knee surgery, and several ER visits later, and after 100's of hours of rehab, I had to eventually get my knee replaced completely last Feb 2014. This past year has been so painful, very limiting, and depressing. Only my barber husband knew the amount of constant real pain I was in. I had just recently come to the point of accepting what is, is, and began moving on with my new normal, which I blogged about here.
|My training shoes...grown to love them now...|
It has been a year since my total knee replacement (TKR) and I was ready to just accept my limitations and find a way to get on with my life again. So...I bought a bike only a month ago and decided I was going to make it "pretty" since I could no longer go fast, or race, like I did years ago in mini triathlons.
So, I set out and ordered my bike and all the fixins that I could find to "pimp it out" and make it vintage, pretty, but practical. I ordered a new English saddle, vintage French panniers, trendy helmet, and of course, the bike itself....
My bike finally came in and Mike, at Maplewood Bicycle, customized the fit for me. I was so excited to take it out for a spin. He fit me on it, and that day, I happened to be in my construction boots (see above) and it turns out that my boots were the best thing for me to wear to help keep my foot on the pedal for now.
So, about three weeks ago, I was so excited to get up on a Saturday and ride to one of my favorite cafes for a little lunch and ride all around town. (I was so in denial about my limited abilities...)
Well, it didn't go well at all for most of the ride. I think I had the proverbial bar set way, way too high on my expectations. My knee was so stiff that my left foot pointed inward, like pigeon-toe ....what is that all about? Never had that issue before, and don't sit/stand pigeon toed, so why is my foot so far in that it is hitting the front fender? I even dented my new fender with my boot.
I was shaky, unsteady, and felt very unstable. This ride was going downhill very fast. I felt myself getting emotional as I struggled to ride. I felt myself tear up, thinking, Can't I do anything like I used to???
I used to ride/race road bikes - bikes so light I could literally lift it up with only a couple of fingers. My old bike was sleek, fast, and my bike shoes clipped into the pedals as I whizzed along the road. Now, I am wearing clunky boots with a heel (to help hold my left foot onto the pedal because my knee won't bend well), and am riding on the sidewalk because I am too unsure of myself to trust myself in traffic. I am huffing and puffing at the slightest hill, never mind that I haven't exercised in three years, my mind is being mean to me and I am chastising am myself for being so out of shape. The lowest point was when I had to call my husband to come pick me up at the park because I was too tired and in too much pain to ride home again.
I felt so defeated, so depressed.
So, my beloved arrives in his pickup truck, as I sit on the park bench feeling defeated. I put on a brave smile, and shrug my shoulders trying to pass off my ride as no big deal. We ride home silently...
Have you ever had that moment where you are trying so hard to convince yourself that everything is okay, and are trying to pretend that what happened was no big deal? Well, I wasn't fooling anyone...we get into the house, and before I could protest, my beloved grabs me and hugs/holds me tightly and says it will be better next time. That's it...the dam burst. I start to cry on his shoulder and tell him I am so SICK and TIRED of being SICK and TIRED!! I tell him that I "lost it" and will never again be the same - or even close to it. Biking was something I could do with my eyes shut (or so I thought).
He insisted that the very next day, we were going to the park and I will ride as slowly as I want while he walks. I wasn't excited about that idea, but agreed to it.
|Love my little retro headlight :-)|
I rode slowly, as he walked quickly. The ride was much better this time, mainly, I think, because my expectations were so much lower than the day before. My beloved barber husband walked behind me and agreed that he could definitely see my foot turn inward and that my stride was really off. He decided that we need to go back to the bike shop and get it all customized again for my new "normal" limitations.
|I love my little vintage bell - it even as an "E" engraved on top of it!|
The next day, was a Monday, and I decided to ride it one more time. It was a cold day (only three weeks ago) and snow on the ground. I struggled some, but not as much, and after about an hour, my knee had loosened up just a bit, which was a total surprise. I actually was enjoying my ride! I went to a little coffee shop in the park, locked my bike up and sat inside to rest and read my new Instagram account (please join me on IG - I finally got on and love it! On the side bar of my blog you can find me).
While inside resting, having a little lunch and reading my IG, a very cute, trendy young couple came over to me and told me how much they loved my bike and thought how cute I looked riding it. Well, that made this fat, middle-aged, physically-challenged lady brighten right up. Here I was in my own world, my own thoughts, and I get a little tap on my shoulder from these people who just made my day.(Don't you love those totally unexpected day-brightners?)
Well, they made me feel so good, I took my first selfie for my new IG account and posted it three weeks ago. This is me sitting on my bike, on that cold Monday:
Well, like I said in the beginning of this post, this whole experience came full circle for me these past few days.
The other part of my complete circle is my trying to get up my new website. I have been working on this website for over two years, off and on. Pain, rehab and setbacks have keep the site from going up as I wanted to so very long ago. I had my computer crash completely, then would get an assignment that took all my energy, or had zero energy after yet another procedure or rehab therapy session to even think straight. Well, my new site was supposed to go up two months ago and I came across yet another issue that delayed it yet again.
|Love my vintage French enamel vineyard sign for my basket!|
Then something short of a miracle happened only a week ago. I took my bike in to get a chain guard installed and adjusted once again to help me ride with my physical challenges. I got new pedals, and an extender on my left pedal to help my foot stay on straight. After all my adjustments, the winter storms then hit and my beautiful bike sat inside, begging to be ridden, but the weather was too wet, too cold, and too snowy to take it for a spin.
So I waited.
And it snowed and snowed.
While I waited out the weather, (two weeks ago) I also had an appointment with my knee surgeon to check on my progress. He wasn't happy with it (nor I) as it was bending only 95 degrees, the scar still looking pretty red. I learned that in order to get up out of a chair without a struggle, a knee needs to bend at least 110 degrees and most knees bend normally 120 degrees. So, no wonder I found daily life so challenging! The surgeon decided I needed yet another procedure - a manipulation - where they put me under in the OR, and bend my leg all the way back and move it all around. The risks are that my thigh bone could break or muscles could tear. Most of those that I spoke to said they would never go and do it because of all that I went through, but I am determined to give it one more try.
I love my 1963 vintage French pannier. I found them on Etsy and they just shipped in from France - just the perfect size. :-)
So, last Thursday, (a few days ago), I went into the OR again, praying that I leave walking, and not admitted for surgery. Well, I was in pain/sick just for that day and Friday, but the very next day, I went for a long bike ride and haven't felt this good in literally three years! I was an emotional mess for two days - but in a good way. I couldn't believe I could cross my leg to put on my shoe - haven't done that in three years! I was shocked that I didn't need to grab my pant leg to lift my leg out of the car anymore! I was shocked that I could lie in bed, on my back and then roll onto my side without searing pain in my knee - a sharp pain that woke me up several times every single night for three years. I teared up when I sat down and suddenly I could get up without grunting, in pain, or with help from my beloved. I had no idea how much I had adjusted my life, lived with pain, and avoided activities these past few years.
So, I had to go ride my bike!
So, as I rode in Forest Park this past Saturday, I thought about these past three years, my website, and a season in my life that is finally coming to an end. It was the first beautiful spring day we have had this year and still chilly. But I had the park to myself and my thoughts. And the most ironic thing about it all? All along, I wanted to be "the same as before" but I am so different now - and would not have it any other way. The changes that are now a part of me are changes that I am grateful for.
I want to share with you my ride, my iPhone pics, and my thoughts as I close out my final post...
I rode up to the famous Jewel Box art deco building. It was a big hill, but so worth the climb. I huffed greatly, heart pounding, but I had the entire place to myself for a bit.
These past three years changed me in ways, I believe, that God needed me to change. Because I slowed way down (against my will), I discovered so many things that I may not have ever found.
I traveled many paths these past 36 months. Some paths were very lonely and depressing. I learned who my real friends were and who I could count on - and not. I learned my true value as a child of God, and not to value so much what I create, but rather The Creator. I learned that if I were not to ever create a thing again, I am just as lovable as before in the eyes of Jesus. I also learned that I enjoy my solitude, and that while community is important, there is also a lot of peace in knowing that I am accepted for who I am, where I am, no matter what, in the eyes of God.
I also learned how tired I am of "modern culture." I am definitely not anti-social, but rather anti-culture. I enjoy the quiet, the basic way of living. I discovered gardening again, growing our own food, and taking in the small things that I so easily overlooked when I was fully functioning and whizzing about from one thing to the next. I rediscovered cooking again and realize how much I missed it.
I discovered that feeling good is way better than looking good! Ha-ha. I discovered while wheeling around in my wheelchair, or walking so slowly for months with my walker, the world is faster than I enjoy it. There is a fine line with "keeping in touch" and "keeping up" with others. It is so easy to read/see other blogs or social media accounts and think how I am falling short, or falling behind, or have nothing of real importance to share...and how wrong I would be to believe those modern cultural struggles. I struggled greatly with my new website and how I wanted it to be - something that pleases God and if others like it, then that is great too. If not, then I (shrugging shoulders here) can't help that.
But it wasn't until yesterday, Sunday, when my barber husband and I spent the entire day in the park, riding our bikes slowly together, stopping, resting, laughing, him playing his harmonica for me...did I really feel the full circle come to a tight close...
We started the day at our favorite coffee shop, Blueprint coffee, on Delmar Loop and we had couple of people compliment us on our bikes - everyone was in a good mood because of the beautiful weather. We sat, enjoyed ourselves, and excited about starting a new day together.
I had a great night's sleep and was feeling no pain - a day to celebrate. I posted to IG how happy I was that morning. We rode up to the Art Museum and looked at the a beautiful metal/silver tree sculpture and that is where I pondered my thoughts even more.
I decided just how apropos this metal sculpture was for me at this juncture in my life. On this most beautiful day, the closing of winter, this steel structure stands strong and shiny, among the dried winter grass. For so long, I felt like the dead winter grass, and now I relate to the steel tree. After years of slowing down, asking for help when I needed it, accepting help when offered, I am ready to walk out of this season and into a new season of life. Three weeks ago, I had no idea I would be having another knee procedure, nor did I have any idea I would ever be pain free again. The timing is just incredible to me that I am about to embark on new adventures just at the moment I am finally "healed." The timing was not mine at all - it was His - the most perfect timekeeper anyone could ever hope to have.
Amongst the winter grass and leaves, standing behind me is the steel tree - such a strong symbol for me at this time.
I am so ready to close this book and begin a new book in my life. I give all credit to Jesus, who knew my pains (both physically and emotionally), who knew my fears, my worries, and my heart. It is through Him that I give all credit for my healing. I hope I learned what He had hoped to teach me these past three years....I am not my old self - I am better than ever before!
...And so, the next post I post here will be a link to my new site. It still has issues, and things to work out, a work in progress....much like my life. It is a very humble site, not "new" or "shiny" or the latest and greatest of anything. Some pages are not even linked yet, as they are not ready to be linked but I figure, why not put up the site and my readers can grow with my new site?
Here is a preview:
I will have a SMALL online shop - mainly like a yard sale - cleaning out my house. I either no longer need, want, or can use items and decided to sell what I have, when I have time between photo gigs. It will be a place where I will explore and share my new interests, as well as revisit some old passions as well. I adore design, but it isn't the center of my life. I am fascinated with many topics that I will explore on my new site, and hopefully I will encourage or inspire others to explore their personal passions more fully as well.
I will very soon announce on Instagram my new website and put a final link on this site for you to find me. I will keep this blog open for those who are new, or for those who would like to revisit my old pics and stories. I honestly believe that the website wasn't due to go up until this moment in time. All the delays, frustrations, and so on...and now, I am feeling just about 100% again - how wonderful to begin something like this feeling so good!
Thank you dear readers for being there for me during so many events these past years. I began this blog in 2006, right after my divorce. You saw me through my very first book that I photographed, the death of my mother, the discovery of new love, my new marriage, a bad car wreck, health issues, and many fun activities, travels, and creative projects. I have met the greatest readers, befriended many, and am in awe of your sharing. I can't even begin to tell you how much you mean to me and I look forward to sharing, encouraging, and inspiring others who seek a lifestyle that is more authentic to who we really are meant to be, rather than what others feel we should be.
May God bless you always,