Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The 20-pound weight loss diet I don't recommend

By Monica Vest Wheeler

Purchasing my August ticket for the ski lift in New Mexico, I saw the option for senior discount: 60 and over. It hit me that I had turned 60 in June and thereby qualified to save a few bucks. And the guy didn't ask to see my ID.

Hmm … I wondered afterward … did I really look that "old"?

Last month, I saw Midwest Pilot Club service organization friends I hadn't seen since April 2017 because I was caring for Mom in Indiana. They were so loving and complimentary about how "good" I looked, asking if I had lost weight. Yes, I had dropped some, though I laughingly didn't recommend the "grief diet" … losing Dad and Mom in 19 months.

I went for a regular checkup yesterday and discovered I had shed 20 pounds since July, when Mom passed away. What a "pleasant" surprise!

Yes, my "grief diet" has evolved in the last three months … from complete lack of appetite … to contemplating the need or consequences of virtually every bite I consume … to the elimination of junk food.

My poor husband Roger has had to not only get used to me living at home again full time after most of 10 months away taking care of Mom … but my drastically revamped eating habits. I simply don't have a hunger for anything beyond healthy essentials as I also walk at least every other day to rebuild my endurance. My comfort food? Pickled beets, like when I was a kid …

I still have an appetite for LIFE … though I have to stimulate it every day. Poor Roger also puts up with an almost relentless daily round of my tears, which seemed to have intensified in the last few weeks. A day without tears … well, it just ain't happening right now and I hate that loss of "control."

I can hardly make it through a conversation without succumbing to unexpected tears. Just ask the dear friends I saw yesterday … And without a word, they just hand me tissues and hug me as I laugh off the flood.

Yes, just keep holding me tight … as I make it easier for you to wrap your arms completely around me …

Friday, October 5, 2018

When we rewrite our life's missions

By Monica Vest Wheeler

I know there's "Throwback Thursday," but I needed a little "Feel Good Friday," and found it when I came across this image as I try to organize my digital life …

Ten years ago this month, in 2008, I met this amazing stroke survivor, Pat Dach, and her supportive caregiving sisters, Holly Stukenberg and Faith Long, at Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp™ ( at Living Springs camp in Lewistown, IL. It was my first year and fourth weekend of being part of the Stroke Camp experience.

I captured Pat as she worked every ounce of energy she had to climb that wall. An amazing moment to say the least … and in that vision, I knew that I HAD to continue to be part of this life-changing project for stroke survivors and caregivers … hoping that founder Marylee Herrick Nunley would "allow" me to return the following year … I wasn't waiting for an invitation … :-)

And to watch fellow survivor David Keyes (Shirley Phelps Keyes) congratulate her was awe-inspiring and tear-provoking. If I could only imagine then how I would still "live" for these moments 100 camps later …

I had no intention of going to more than one Stroke Camp beyond my first in June 2008 … just interview survivors and caregivers and go on my merry little book-writing way.

I've "failed" my original mission in some ways — writing a bunch of books — but discovered a far greater one when I picked up my camera at my first camp and haven't set it down since. I came up "short" in some respects, but I'm taller than that climbing wall when it comes to the conversations that matter in life … and the abundance of hugs and love that came with the package.

I've experienced a little bit of everything at Stroke Camp, but I never attempted the rock wall. My hands and arms have never had the strength. How ironic that it's my hands and arms that carry and position my camera to capture the big and little moments of life for others … And give me the energy and courage to keep wanting more …
To Pat Dach and all those other survivors and caregivers … you keep ME going …