A couple weeks later, I was still mulling and stewing over losing all that money and my tantrum went on for several days.  I was feeling extremely grateful and fortunate, but at the same time, a small tape that was playing in my head still wanted to mull and stew a while longer. There was still a little over three hundred dollars in cash stored in my bed side night stand, so I wasn’t completely broke.  So I consciously keep reminding myself that I was not as broke or destitute as I was feeling. I couldn’t help but question God as to why I had to lose all that money though.  I guess I was still viewing financial security through mans eyes and not through God’s eyes.  For in God’s eyes I had abundant wealth and all the riches I needed.

        Then one night while I was getting ready for bed, I heard what seemed to be a small voice replace the small tape that was haunting me.  I wasn’t quite sure what the small voice was saying but I thought I heard; “If you are still worrying over financial security and if the fear of going back to where you were before is surfacing again, take the rest of that money you are so preciously guarding in your night stand and give it all away.”  You’ve got to be kidding me.  It’s all I have left.  I need it.  Not only did it take almost three years for my disability approval, my monthly benefit amount was still not enough to cover my monthly expenses, even before major things like car repairs, additional medical costs, vacations, entertainment, and all those other unexpected expenses that come up at the very worst time. (Well, being honest, I don’t know if there is a bad time to take a vacation.)  And let’s not forget the reason why I am on disability in the first place.  I can’t work! 

        And then of course there was the time when I left town with just a Ford Escort’s worth of belongings, and the time I left the other area without even a Ford Escort only to move again after two months of living with the woman and her two small children. Wasn’t I entitled to either just a little ounce of fear once in a while or some financial security? I’d even be content with just enough financial security to cover a month’s expenses or have a few dollars in a savings account.

        Then I heard that annoying small voice again; “Give it all away."  My next reply was, "How about half of it?  That’s still a good amount of money."  Then I heard the voice again say a little stronger, clearer and louder; “No, give away all of it.”  Some of you are  thinking that I was hearing things that night and agree with that ‘mental illness’ may have been an accurate reason for my favorable disability decision. For certain, I wasn’t about to tell anyone close to me that I was hearing voices. And I was especially not going to tell them what I heard.  Even though my three and a half weeks in the psychiatric hospital was wonderful and healing, I didn’t want to be admitted to another one, which would most likely not be of my choosing.  That was a once in a life experience and I knew another stay in a psychiatric hospital would not be that pleasant. Ah!  I then thought of one of my new friends from my CFS group.  She was a licensed pastor but was not affiliated with a specific church when I met her.  She even spoke in tongues and had prayed over me before and starting speaking in tongues then.  She would get it, and wouldn’t think I was crazy.  She would know it was the voice of God that spoke to me that night. I was going to give her a call, but I had something to do first.

I never wanted to live in my illness and even though my life was more limited than ever, I never wanted to stop living or for illness to be in the center.  I thank God for the ability to separate the two and to push illness to the side sometimes, so I wouldn’t miss out on life.  I sometimes take that ability to separate the two for granted.  Some people who have a chronic disabling illness spend the rest of their life letting the illness take over.  I pray that I, with God’s help, will never let that happen no matter how far my illnesses progress.  It is a gift and a gift worth fighting for and holding on to. 

    

    

 

What I found quite miraculous, was that even with everything going on between my illnesses and their massive array of symptoms, and with the abnormal test results that were just revealed, I was able to get out of bed at all. Again, I was praising God that I was functioning at all; even if it was not at an extremely high level. I was also grateful that I wasn’t severely depressed all the time. I should have probably been suicidal too.  And in all honesty, part of me really didn’t want to know about all the abnormalities in my lab tests, or any other tests my doctor wanted to run. They only gave me reason to be even more concerned, especially when I knew there was no easy quick fix to remedy my health.  

     In a way, it was a catch 22. How do you balance the willingness to maximize your functioning capabilities with the possible need for drastic treatment options and more medications? Do you really not want to reach your full functioning potential when you chose not to take any drastic or even not so drastic paths to improve your health? Does it appear as though you have given up or don’t want to get better by not taking all the suggestions your physicians offer you? How do you measure “quality of living”? What is it defined by and how much can it vary from one individual to the next? It’s a lot to think about. I also wonder what role faith, belief in God, and His ability to heal us comes in to play? And are we not whole just because we are His child?  And how much does how we feel about ourselves and the level of our inner peace count for, when determining your quality of life? 

With my world whirling once again and my health issues looming, and the beach condo open a week in mid May, I thought it would be a good time to get away and try and relax.  I had a potential move hanging over my head and now every time my treatment gave me a glimmer of hope, I had a major setback. I had very little work all year, which was certainly adding to my stress. I am forever thankful that I learned years ago that sometimes I need to step back and get right within myself.  It is then that I can see things more clearly and be able to discern what step(s) to take next.  I needed to get calm in the center of the tornado and let it blow around me for a while.  Once I was centered again the answers would be clear.  God had them all worked out anyway, so I just needed to get me right again so I could follow where He was leading me. 

     I came up with another one of my brilliant ideas mid spring, as I was starting to enjoy all my newly discovered hours in each day.  I finally figured out that the best way to get clothes to fit me and look good over my protruding stomach and oversized thighs with smaller hips.  But as you know, some of my bright ideas don’t always turn out as expected.  I decided that I was going to start making my own clothes again.  That way I could nip and tuck where it was necessary, and adjust a little here and there to accentuate my assets, or should I say, camouflage my flaws.  I imagined myself creating my own patterns and designing my own line of clothing – Couture Camouflage.  I knew I was not the only one in need of this line and thought it was a perfect name for such a collection. 

    I did my homework and researched sewing machines.  I didn’t want to get too basic of a model since I had plans on expanding my sewing skills, but I didn’t want to by a thousand dollar machine either.  I settled on a limited edition Project Runway machine, somewhere in the middle cost wise.  Several factors that persuaded me to purchase that particular model were that it was on sale, had flex-pay and free shipping.  If you are not familiar with flex- pay, please ask a friend to explain it to you.  It’s the only way to shop.

      I couldn’t wait to unravel the packaging and get to the sewing machine.  It had two- hundred and fifty different stitches!  I hadn’t sewn for years, so I decided to do something different; try to read the manual first before attempting to operate it.  I had made a fairly large investment and I didn’t want to break it before I designed and completed my Couture Camouflage Collection.

     Since Robinette was a seasoned seamstress, I was also looking to her for guidance on how to get reacquainted with this wonderful machine.  Shortly after my new machine arrived, we made a trip to the sewing store, looking for practice material and beginner patterns.  I was in inflation shock when I noticed the price of fabric and patterns though.  You know how much of a budget shopper I am, so I was wondering how I was going to create an entirely new wardrobe with the elevated pattern and fabric prices. 

     As I searched the store, I sniffed out a whole section of discount fabrics, and patterns on sale for ninety nine cents and a dollar ninety nine cents.  Now I was back in business.  I was feeling optimistic, so I decided to grab some discount patterns and fabrics in addition to small pieces in which to practice on.  I knew it would be no time at all before I was sewing up a storm and wearing my Couture Camouflage Collection proudly, ready to market it to others.  After all, I made my own prom gown in senior high school.  How much could I have forgotten over the more than thirty two years that had gone by? 

     When we got back home and turned on my new machine, Robinette was not impressed with the structure of it and we both agreed that they just don’t make things like they used to anymore.  Then once we managed to put thread on a bobbin and thread the machine (that threaded itself) we were ready to experiment.  She was commenting about how much more she preferred the old relic; she had broken in so carefully, while creating her own designs.  It was going really, really slow at first, which was the main reason for her disappointment. Then I discovered a little switch near the top of the machine.  When I moved it over just a little, we could barely keep up with how fast it went.  We were both laughing so hard. So much for reading the entire manual before embarking on my new adventure.  Actually, I did try to read all of it the night before, but with all of my cognitive issues and difficulties reading, I could barely remember anything I had spent all that time reading about.  I did remember how to plug it in and where the thread and the bobbin went, even though I put the bobbin in backwards at first.

     She next responded to the machines speed by saying, “Now I know how they can make a dress in a day on Project Runway!”  The machine practically sewed by itself!  By now we had the whole show figured out.  They would put the material in the machine and be somewhere else, cutting out the next piece of their garment.  Then they would hear the machine beep when it was finished and would go back to the machine and reload it with the next part of the garment they had just cut out.  I’ll tell you; it doesn’t take much to entertain the two of us on a Friday night, as you can see.  We kept each other in stitches for hours that night; pun intended. Then we went on to try out some of the fancy stitches.  I got really good and really bored sewing on my practice material, just going back and forth. 

     So, I promptly proceeded to the next phase of development; actually trying to sew a piece of clothing.  I thought I would start slow

and attempt to make my first pair of pants that consisted of only two pattern pieces.  The words “easy sew” were written in bold letters on the pattern, so I thought I would breeze right through it.  It took a couple tries, but I did manage to eventually read the pattern and get it cut out.  I might want to mention that the only subject I failed in elementary school was cut and paste.  I have never been able to cut a straight line, so I just got close enough to make it look like a pants leg.  After all, this was still practice time.  I had no plans of ending up with a garment that was wearable, at least outside of my condo.