House of Pain

It’s been over two months since my last blog post.  One might think by now that I would be out of the habit of keeping the blog.  And most days, they would be right.  I often think I won’t update the blog again.  It’s a waste of time.  As Willie would sing, “You cain’t make a record if you ain’t got nuthin’ to say.”  But if I am truthful with myself, I miss writing so much it hurts. Like so many things in my life, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.  I have always preferred it that way.  Anything but lukewarm mediocrity.   So the mood swings from “Never again!” to “How could I possibly not?

It has taken me about a month to finally suppress the urge to photograph everything. But I can’t stop myself from looking at every situation as a potential blog post. So the question always comes back to “Would I still be writing if no one but me was reading?” Without any doubt.

Sunset over Dad's Tractor Shed.  View from my bedroom window, parked in the Back Forty..

Sunset over Dad’s Tractor Shed. View from my bedroom window, parked in the Back Forty.

There has been so much I have wanted to say over the last 60 days, but none of it appropriate for public display. I won’t sugar coat it. It has been a House of Pain here. Forgive the cliche, but I have gotten by “with a little help from my friends.” I don’t have enough words to adequately thank my friends and followers who have reached out via email, posted moving and comforting comments, sent messages via Facebook. Since my Mom is my Number One Blog Fan, your words of comfort have also helped to soothe her. I have reaped many rewards from this blog, the greatest of which is friendship.

Although I have lost friends and lovers in the past, this was my first time losing a member of my immediate family. We are a family of five, down to four now.  That’s significant for anyone, but when one is single with no kids of their own, I think even more so.  Although we do not always see eye to eye, we are what many consider to be a “close knit” family. One tends to do a mental scan around the dinner table of life and wonder “Which one of us will be the first to go?” No one wants to consider it could ever be the youngest.

Mom and Dad's "Hi-Lo" Camper.  Interested?  Make an offer.

Mom and Dad’s “Hi-Lo” Camper. Interested? Make an offer.

Most days, I have done okay, but everyone has their weak points. For me, it is seeing my brother’s name in print. In needing to help with some of the official business and paperwork, I realize nothing brings me to tears faster than seeing his name via the written word. I can tune out the conversations. Look the other way during the photo displays. But dealing with official paperwork makes it, well, “official.” I have no choice but to face it. It may get easier with time, but it will be forever a “defining moment” in my life which rocked my world.IMG_2453

Upon arrival back in Texas, I went from perpetual motion of hiking or biking every single day to the vacuous flat, hot Texas prairie like a car at 100 mph hitting a tree. Aside from my family, there is nothing whatsoever that feeds my soul here. For the first time in my life, I experienced what it feels like to withdraw from the “runner’s high.” Endorphin withdrawal; that jittery, agitated feeling, almost desperation to get out and move. Since giving up my work addiction last October, exercise had become my drug of choice.msg 2But the nearest bike trail is 15 miles away. The nearest hiking trail even further. Moving about in central Texas heat is highly uncommon without an air conditioned bubble.  Most even drive their car to the mailbox in these parts. And with the record-breaking May floods of biblical proportions, followed by a June steam bath and a plague of mosquitoes and chiggers, I had only one resort…The Main Street Gym.  I walked in and signed up for a membership on the spot.

“Do you have any classes this evening?”
“Well, we have MMH starting in 15 minutes.”
“Okay, please sign me up…..What is MMH?”
“Micah’s Misery Hour. It’s in the room marked ‘House of Pain.”

I am about to find out just how badly I want that endorphin fix. A quick assessment around the House of Pain reveals that I am the oldest participant by at least 20 years. They all look like models from the Nike summer catalog, some even sporting lifting gloves.

I walk up to what is possibly the most stunningly gorgeous example of the human species I have ever seen….tall, muscular yet perfectly proportioned, sandy-blonde pony tail and closely cropped beard, with a gleaming white smile.

“Are you Micah?”
“Yes, how can I help you?”
“I just joined the gym. I am sixty. Do you think I am fit enough to survive your ‘Misery Hour?” (Hoping he does not recommend the “Silver Sneakers” class instead.)
“How long ago did you join?”
“Fifteen minutes ago.”
“Oh, I see.  So you’re the type who likes to jump into the deep end of the pool right away, eh? Stick around. I think you’ll be okay.”

House of PAIN!

House of PAIN!

This was the beginning of what has turned out to be my favorite gym class of all time. It was a perfect fit, as Micah’s philosophy is “The Good Lord gave us everything we need to stay fit,” meaning utilization of our own body weight as our greatest fitness tool. Given his philosophy toward mind/body strengthening, I later splurged in Micah’s services for some one on one training. We worked together to design a custom fitness plan that can be done in the Winnie while on the road…strength training to round out my “hikers high.”

I have been a “gym rat” off and on throughout my life, but I can never say I really loved it.  However the Main Street Gym has been my inner sanctum for the past two months.  Who knew one “House of Pain” could be so helpful in easing another…micah

70 thoughts on “House of Pain

  1. I’m so sorry about your brother’s passing and your family’s grief. But am glad you are able to write & share about it. My dad died a bit over a year ago & it transformed me. For worse. Then better. I’m RVing fulltime now because of having gone through that despair & putting the puzzle pieces back together in a different way & throwing out the ones that didn’t fit amymore. Be well.

    • Lee, thanks for the comment. I feel your pain, but it is good to acknowledge the puzzle pieces can go back in a different way, and life still goes on. Thank you for your kind words.

  2. How wondrous to find your announcement of a new blog in my mailbox just now. Gary and I have thought and talked about you and your family a lot over the last two months, always wishing for the best possible outcome for you and yours. Special wave and a huge hugs to your mom! Waving ~~~~~~~ to Susan! ;->

    Virtual hugs,


  3. Good to see you coming back from the pain. Healing takes time, and only you will know when enough time has passed.
    Those of us who have enjoyed your thoughts and pictures in the past will wait as long as it takes for you.
    Love your sunset pictures.
    Allen of Allen and Deede

    • Allen, I have thought of you and Deede so many times, and wondered how your trip to Tucson went. I hope Deede got some relief with the warm, dry climate change. Thanks for still being here when I got back. 😉

      • We took eight days counting the two we spent with my sister in Fort Worth to drive to Tucson.
        Tucson was everything you described and more. We could not do the hiking that you did, but we went to all the places you visited and enjoyed what we could from the roads. What beautiful country, what majesty, we learned so much from our drives to explore.
        As to the experiment to determine the effects of low humidity on arthritic hips that did not go so well. Third day in Tucson Deede fell getting into the car and broke the small bone in her right thigh so she wore a huge boot on her right leg for the remainder of our time there..
        I suppose we must return next winter to re-run out experiment.
        Thanks for the trail breaking for us, we enjoyed.
        Allen and Deede

        • Oh, Allen….what a heartbreak about Deede’s fall! I am so very sorry, but hope the bone has healed nicely by now, and she is pain-free. I am glad it sounds like you at least got to enjoy some good views and drives! Yes, a winter return sounds like a nice time to experiment, indeed! Thanks for your reply. I missed your comments while I was away from the blog.

  4. Sixty! Love you, Love your blog. So sorry to hear you’ve been struggling, loss is painful. But also glad to hear you have found a way to get through. Who would have thought a stationary bike would be what moves you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I will patiently wait until you are ready to hit the road, photograph your adventures and write your beautiful words of concurred challenges and discoveries of our country. Lisa

    • Lisa, thank you so much for the nice compliment. I had to do a whole lot of “visualization” to keep moving on that bike!

  5. Your writing has been so missed. I still sit in an office, behind a desk, with a computer staring at me all day. I look forward to a day of retirement and freedom. I have a picture with the saying “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning to dance in the rain”. So dance in the rain, and know your brother is in a good place!

    • Ava, I adore that quote! It is sage advice for all facets of life. I know your time is coming, and I trust it will be worth the wait!

  6. Welcome back!. I too was saddened by your loss but knew with time you would be back. Glad things are unfolding for you as only time allows.

  7. Yeah!! I was thrilled seeing your email. So glad to read your blog again. Life will get better soon and the gym is a great way to start preparing. Methinks you’ll be pulling out all the stops when you leave TX

  8. It was So Good to see a new post! We’ve missed you! You and your family have been in our thoughts and prayers. Hope you’ve been working on your shoulders and core at the gym…

  9. Hi Susan, I’m Debbie’s mom and am looking forward to you all be together again so I see pictures of the “gang” and my grand “dogs” and follow along on your travels. Pat

    • Hi, Pat…thanks for the comment. Yes, we are BOTH looking forward to some pictures of your grand dogs. I will try to catch them standing still long enough for a photo or two. 😉

  10. Thank you for deciding to continue your blog! I’ve missed you!
    I’m so sorry about the loss of your younger brother. The loss was “out of order” if you get my drift. We lost Pat’s dad a little over a month ago. It was unexpected, but not ” out of order”. Parents should never have to lose a child.
    Please keep writing & posting. Miss you! Reta

    • Hi, Reta — I was sorry to hear about Pat’s dad. I sent you a private message on FB, but not sure you saw it? Miss you too, but we will catch up with each other one of these days, either in TX or NM!

  11. I’m glad to see you back Suzanne. It’s hard to know what to say or do for those experiencing such grief and therefore some of us cowards do nothing. But know you were on my mind and in my heart. Your description of Texas is just what I thought when I visited and vowed probably not again. But your gym class and the work out designed for on the road sound terrific. Wish I could find a Micah for myself. Or even a gym that didn’t require you join for a year just to use it for a couple of weeks.

    • Hi, Sherry — I do nothing as well, though I too follow as often as I can. LOVED following Carrie’s wedding! That is what I appreciated about this gym, is they let me join month to month, and it was only $36 for us seniors!

    • Thanks, J.Dawg. I hope to be following in your 6,000 mile tire tracks soon, and I will refer back to all your great CO posts.

  12. I missed your posts and am saddened for your loss. And I am very happy to see you sharing your life, words and beautiful pictures with us again.

    Welcome back!

  13. Welcome back. Have been keeping you and your family in my thoughts and prayers since your last blog. I have always believed one cannot really imagine what pain really is like until you experience it yourself. I could never tell someone what a laparoscopic procedure felt like since I have never had one. Since I was a recovery room nurse for 18 years and Icu for 7 years, I have seen a lot of physical pain and emotional pain over the years. However, the pain of losing someone close is the worst pain of all. We lost my sister in law 2 years ago as a result of a pulmonary embolus 5 weeks post op from “simple” Achilles’ tendon repair. Then, my husband died last May 31st very suddenly, an arrhythmia probably from dehydration in intense heat, don’t know for sure. I am sorry you and your family are experiencing this pain. It’s so raw, so happy you have such supporting friends and family. Your personal faith, eating well and exercise combined with all of the above, will help you endure this awful time in your life. Take care and I am so glad you are back.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Bobbie. I know how painful that must have been. Neither is easy, but those sudden departures leave us stunned for so long. I hope every day is a little better for you.

  14. I was wondering how you were handling the need to exercise these days! Good move my friend, nothing like sweating and straining and pushing yourself to the limit to cover one pain with another. Wishing you good health and healing and a return to the road all in good time.

    • Hi, Lisa — yes, it was a welcome distraction. I am not sure what I would have done without it. I have enjoyed following you and Hans along with Rocky Raccoon, “somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota.” 😉

  15. I was very saddened when I read your last post and saw you would likely be gone for some time. I too have lost a sibling and know the heartbreak of not being able to call her on the phone and talk for hours. I don’t know if I have every made a comment but I love reading your blog and get to take a back seat at the computer on all your amazing adventures. I am glad that you are blogging again and by the looks of all the comments before mine you have a lot of people reading.

    • Ami — Thank you so much for your comment. I am sorry for your loss. I hope you have found ways to still feel like you can “talk” to your sister. I have certainly had some “big sister” conversations with Stephen, whether he is listening or not! haha!

  16. The gym got me through decades of employment that I really didn’t care for most days. It speaks to the power of movement. And now you are moving down the pavement as well. Welcome back, you were sorely missed.

  17. I had an idea that you’d not be able to stay away from writing forever! We’ve missed you but we also understand. I am glad you found an outlet for your energies (and probably some of the pain) at the gym and I had no doubt whatsoever reading this that you’d be fine in his House of Pain – you are in super fabulous shape from all that hiking and biking. Blessings to you and your family and I hope you are able to get back out on the road into YOUR world soon! Hugs!

    • Sherry — Thanks for such an uplifting comment! Micah did have to “modify” a move or two for his token geezer in class, but it was still fun. I hope the summer is going well for you in MT!

    • Susan, I was just thinking about you recently, wondering what you were up to. Any traveling, or spending the summer in beautiful UT?

  18. So glad to see a post from you. I found it difficult to blog when we spent 6 months at Terry’s folks a couple of years ago. But like you I found that I really missed writing, so even though my posts tended to move more towards the mundane, it filled a void within me. I sense you need that as well. To say we miss your adventures is an understatement but we know that you will be back on the road when the timing is right. Terry and I hope to meet up with you again. Although we spent only a short time with you we both felt an immediate connection. Sending you and your family positive thoughts. Would love to hear more about what you have learned about strength training exercises while out on the road. I get bored easily with my routine.

    • LuAnn, I do admit it felt really good to hit the “publish” button once again. I will send you an email with some of “Micah’s Moves” for the road once I get a bit more caught up. Give my best to Terry. I am enjoying your trip to the PNW.

  19. I had *just* been wondering aloud to Pete about you, if you were still in Texas, and when you might be back in touch with us, and there was the email notification of a new post.

    I read a few of others’ replies: “what they said.” They expressed my sentiments for you, and your family, very well.

    I had a yoga teacher who said one time in class, ‘every day the body is different.’ I understood the implication to mean that it’s unrealistic to expect we should have the same capacity, responses, energy every day. It’s another way to say ‘one day (or minute) at a time.’

    I look forward to the next time our paths cross on the road, and in the meantime I will enjoy – and be inspired by – your beautiful photos and writing, whenever that is. -Frederika

    • Frederika, thanks for saying “hello.” I have such nice memories of our chats at Jojoba. I wondered if you heard the news of Ed Gilligan’s passing. So sad. I loved that man. Only 55 yo. Another one gone too soon! I trust you and Pete are well…

  20. So glad you decided to continue writing:) Sounds like the perfect House of Pain to counter the other House of Pain:) Having an instructor that is easy on the eyes sure helps! Looking forward to seeing you back on the trail. I am sure your parents loved having you there during this difficult time.

  21. Love your bravery to walk through “the house of Pain”! You are my hero.
    Your cast of thousands have said it all. Lifts my spirits to see your first post.
    Moves for The View…I’m interested. My best move is the one toe twist to get from the bed to the bathroom…Hugs

    • Linda — thanks for your comment, friendship, and support. I love your “toe twist,” and look forward to hearing it in action again soon! Hope the moving, packing, sorting, shedding, is behind you!

  22. I have missed you, your words, your thoughts, missed reading thoughtful words from a word crafter, not many of those around in blogland. I am glad to see you back. Glad to see that you had a House of Pain to help your House of Pain. I can’t imagine being in Texas in that summer flatness and heat and bugs. I would probably hide in a gym as well. Good for you and way to go. You will be stronger than ever. I am again, so very very sorry that you lost your brother. I lost a dear friend just over two years ago. She wasn’t “family”, but essentially she was. It takes a long long time. I found myself crying at the craziest moments, and months and even more than a year after she passed. Give yourself time, lots of it.

    • Sue — Thank you so much for your very kind words. From a fellow “word crafter,” that really means a lot. I have loved reading about the new addition to your family, little Mattie!

  23. Welcome back, Suzanne. Writing is a powerful healing tool (as you know) and so is a good challenging workout (as you know). Wishing you strength and peace as you continue to walk the path of healing.

    • Thank you, Laurel. Yes, I am feeling stronger in every sense, and eager to rejoin the ranks! Hope you are enjoying your trip up the west coast!

  24. Lovely to see you blogging again. As is obvious from the long ream of comments, we’ve all missed your wonderful prose. You have a beautiful writing style and I think your blog readers would love to hear whatever it is you want to write about, whether it be philosophical or about handsome gym trainers. Will you be revealing a six-pack?

    As for the process of grief, I have no words. I feel your pain and think of you almost every day. I hope and wish the light is showing for you through this dark tunnel, slowly but surely.


    • Nina — No, I don’t have a six-pack yet. A beer lover like me has to really work at getting rid of their “keg.” haha!!

      Your words have given me strength over the past few months, and I am extremely grateful for your friendship. I look forward to your next post when you are ready…

  25. Suzanne,
    I’m glad to hear you haven’t abandoned blogging. Your adventures are always enjoyable to read and have me looking forward to your next installment. Some of us many never have the chance to leave our one-horse town!
    I can only imagine the comfort you’ve been for your parents and family. How blessed are all of you to be able to come together during this difficult time. I hope that your lifetime of memories helps to ease the pain and leaves you with the comfort of knowing what a good sister and daughter you are.

    • Lacy, thanks for the nice comment. I have a few more mundane posts from the “one horse town,” but hope to get back to blogging about something a little more scenic before too long. Thanks for sticking with me!

  26. “We get by with a little help from our friends” is the gospel if ever it was written. Glad to see you back. Have been checking in several times a week and thinking about you. So hard I know. I continue sending healing thoughts to you and yours. Bless you all.

  27. I lost my brother the year I was married. It was days before the day that he had his stroke and days after he past. He did not attend. After the wedding we visited him to tell him it was official. I pray he heard the announcement. He liked Barbara.

    Obviously I remember him fondly. The night I found him suffering is still remembered but I keep it suppressed to give room for other prominent times.

    May your brother lie in peace, Amen.

    Your blog is at the top of the list that I read, and visual attachments.

  28. Suzanne – you have been in my thoughts often during these past months. It must have been very comforting to you all to have been able to grieve together. It will not be long before you are once again surrounded with the silence and wonder of nature … listening to a waterfall, walking deep within a canyon, hiking or biking!! to a mountain top….and feeding your soul.

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