Monday, October 15, 2012

Learning to Stand...

"When push comes to shove, you taste what you're made of. You might bend 'til you break 'cause it's all you can take. On your knee's you look up, decide you've had enough. You get mad, you get strong. Wipe your hands, shake it off. Then you Stand"  Stand, Rascal Flatts

It follows me everywhere.  Cancer.  There is no real break.  Its been a bad week for my stage iv cancer sisters.  Two of them have departed their earthly home, for their new heavenly home. So many have followed the journey of Jen Burgess Thompson and her loss has been felt 'round the internet and back again.  While breast cancer claimed the life of Hutch, another online cancer sister, two more breast cancer sisters have been told they are near the end of their battle.  I can't help but be profoundly sad.  My mind swirls with the weight of all that I can't possibly know... 

Yet, it steels me, girds me, fills me with resolve... somehow...  hurry up and get on with living.

A week ago, Sunday, Rick and I left for Idaho.  Having lived in Twin Falls for nearly 10 years, we are no strangers to the drive between Minnesota and Idaho.  Its 1135 miles, 18 hours, with few stops.  And its no cake walk.  

Our most intense day of driving turned out to be the first day of our trip.  Rick had reserved a room for us at Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone Park.  Without stops, the drive would take 13 hours.  Even with an early morning departure, the sun began setting before we entered the park.  The entrance, tucked in between two mountain ranges on either side, was fraught with switchbacks, rockslides, and ever increasing elevations.  The threat of colliding with wildlife moving within feet of our tiny blue car, met us at every corner. It was pitch dark and spooky. The last 100 miles of our trip were slow and plodding, the whine of our Prius engine grumbling every time it was urged to to make the hairpin turn as the sides of the road fell away into steep gorges and canyons.

It was breathtaking and nerve-wracking all at once.  And when I say breathtaking... I was quickly reminded what high elevations were going to do to my lungs.  We arrived at 11 pm.  I loaded up with several bags to begin the walk to our second floor room.  My breathing became labored almost instantly.  I wheezed with every few steps, my lungs burning as they attempted to adjust to this sudden change in altitude.  

We tumbled into bed and woke early, as the sun ascended above the horizon.  I had to stop for a nose bleed, but with Old Faithful scheduled to go off, we quickly grabbed our photo gear, and headed outside.

It was crisp, cold, but clear.  And awe-inspiring to see Old Faithful, sturdy and reliable, spouting streams of vapor hundred of feet into the sulfur- infused air.

Invigorated, we decided to drive to a few sites and viewed more of the geyser basin.  We're treated to the sight of a herd of buffalo grazing near the road.  We stay in our car and watch and shoot.  The buffalo are unphased by the crowds of people and lines of cars.  They walk right in between the cars on the road, roaming the land freely.  

But the altitude was taking its toll on me.  Climbing the stairs to our room took major effort.  My heart beating rapidly, my air coming in gasps, the tears stinging my eyes.  Are my lungs scarred from all the chemo drugs I've ingested?  Am I just deconditioned- suddenly out of shape? Are more tumors rearing their ugly heads?  I simply don't know. I'm tempted to collapse in bed in defeat. 

And yet, curiosity gets the best of me.  I can't refuse when Rick asks if I want to explore the Inn with him.  My camera is firmly affixed to my neck. 

 We take it slow, his presence calming, his words soothing.  You can do this.  And I push ahead a little more...

It hasn't yet occurred to me... but Yellowstone Park is teaching me... I'm learning to stand...  stay tuned...


  1. What an exquisite place, Vicky. I'm so glad you and Rick are enjoying it and it's definitely a vacation destination for our family one of these days. We've never seen it and hope to before the kids are gone from home. (Cutting it a little close, aren't we?)

    I'm so terribly sorry about the loss of your dear friends and all that means to their families/friends and to you, personally. Yes, they are free from the chains of cancer and we DO rejoice in that. But, as you so eloquently write, it brings up much. Continue to fight, dear heart, because though their battle on this earth did not go as hoped, others have prevailed. Prayers for your healing and victory continue and prayers for your continued AMAZING courage, fortitude, and BREATH. Take breaks and take it easy. And you're just a little thing and Rick is a strappin' guy. Tell him I said to carry you up the stairs! hahaha

    Love your pics and look forward to much more. Loving you from California.

    1. You MUST take your family! Nature, history, and God's handiwork in abundance- its really something to see and experience! Thank you for your ever encouraging words and prayers- you know they are pure light and energy to me- love you dear friend.

  2. Vicky I have been thinking about you so much this last week!

    I am praying for you sweet friend - and wrapping you in big hug!!

    Love, light and healing to you!


    1. Hugs sweet girl- I hope to catch up with you soon- blessings on your week!

    2. would love that! Would love to even hear your sweet voice!


  3. What beautiful big sky country.. WOW. Never been there, hope to some day. Thanks for sharing!

    1. We debated going to actual "Big Sky," Montana, its beyond words beautiful. But yes, so much of the park is very much like it! You would love it- guaranteed :)

  4. I've so enjoyed your photos Vicky...I"m so glad you and Rick got to get away for awhile.

    I'm sorry for the loss of your sisters in the fight...sigh. so sorry.
    I pray for you to continue to be strengthened my dear friend and for Father to hold you up when you need Him...

    love u

    1. Thanks sweet one~ you make me feel loved and I adore your sweet prayers for me. Love you~

  5. Oh, the earth. The earth and its power.

    Old Faithful to me is like the tide of the sea. It comes and goes. It makes a huge powerful presence felt while it's here, and we stand in awe of it. Yet even when it's not here, we know that it is around, or at the least know that it will return.

    And maybe that is like our spirit. Some days, you are gasping for breath and wondering if you have what you need to take the next one. But deep down, you know that your spirit is there, waiting to return, to erupt in all of its force and all of its glory. It's there; it will return.

    I can't imagine the impact of these dear friends leaving our earth has had on you.
    Peace to you with that sadness.

    I hope this trip held much joy and beauty!

    1. Marion, your metaphors are so life affirming. Thank you for sharing this nurturing perspective- I keep holding out and holding on. And what you say is true- most days I don't struggle nearly as much and I believe deep within I am okay.

      It did- so much beauty and joy- spot on! Blessings on your week!

  6. Dear Vicky, what a big journey you are on in every which way.

    And it is a fight that can be won just keep that in your focus. I am truly sorry for your friends and that has to weigh heavily on you. We are all on different journeys though remember that.

    Honey I just know my grandmother was given the absolute worst possible diagnosis and she was darned if she believed any of them. She survived 40 more years. My father 13 more years. Both were stubborn as oxes and just decided they were not bloody going to be going anywhere. Let everyone around you give you the strength to keep on keeping on. Everyone who loves you, and there are so many, will keep you hanging in there.

    The Rascals Flat quote is so true. You get mad and you get strong but in between there has to be a lot of tears, fist shaking and grief. Sometimes you have to let the emotions have their way with you before you can get up and give the best possible fight you can.

    And that drive and those stairs would test the fittest. That is a long way and a big drive for anyone to do let alone someone recovering from some major treatment. However, your high expectations of yourself are important too - you have to raise the bar to keep moving up. Just don't make it too high though ok? A 13 hour drive in those kind fo road conditions is pretty tough.

    The photos are just exquisite. Just wow. You are so talented. I have never seen buffolo before as we don't have them here. Funny that they walk through all the cars.

    My prayers are with you, enjoy your moments away and hang on to Superman. They tell me he is a man of steel, lol.

    1. Yes, lol, the man of steel backed off his pace a bit- just a wee bit after that :) Your Grandmother and Dad provide so much encouragement to me- thank you for sharing that with me! You all do really keep me going!

  7. Vicky--I am so sorry to hear about the loss of two more makes me so angry and sad. It looks like you and your husband had a beautiful trip. I look forward to hearing about the rest of the trip. Blessings and prayers your way, Kim

  8. I've never been there, Vicky....I long to go. I do.
    Thank you for the beautiful photos and the video...they make me want to go even more. Perhaps, one day...
    I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of your cancer sisters.
    My deepest condolences to their families and to you.
    As I read about your struggles with the elevation, I began thinking that perhaps all of us who are not used to those kinds of elevations would have to fight for breaths. I think you did marvelously; I'm glad that you were able to see this beautiful part of our country.
    Continued prayers for you and those you love....
    I pray for you each evening.
    Love and hugs,

  9. Dear Vicky, finally, I've found the time to come over for an update. I am so happy you had this time with your Superman dude, but...aching with you to hear of how labor intensive it turned out to be. And yet, I can pretty much imagine you letting your camera take over. I've seen it before, and it's a powerful thing. Oh, and nature guiding the way of course. :) What shows you've seen lately! So glad you're in my life, Vicky, and in our world. We love you!

  10. "Old Faithful," ... faithful in season and out. Prayers continue for you and yours.

  11. Oh this was a beautiful post. I love the buffalo and you look great too.
    Old Faithful. So many years and he always comes back.
    It pains me Vicky, that you always have to hear about those who didn't make it instead of about those who do. There are many who do make it you know.
    That's your direction to go, to get inspiration.
    Think like old faithful.Go forward and think positive.

  12. Oh Vicky "stay strong" please do. Sending you energy and strength. In a strange way it seems your camera is pulling you up and taking you out.

    I am so very sorry for your loss and I am praying for the families having lost their loved ones

  13. Keep breathing in the good and breathing out the bad... :)

    Enjoy the rest of your vacation with your honey! Love that you guys are doing this. :)

    Blessing and hugs always,

  14. I have been wondering how your trip has been. I am glad to hear that even though exhausted, you've been able to enjoy yourself. The pictures are just stunning.

    I, too, have been overwhelmed with sadness at the passing of Jen Burgess Thompson. Like you, it does send new resolve through me to live every moment although I must say that it takes some time for that resolve to break through the sadness.


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