Sleepless Thoughts

Now that I am basically recovered (not quite dancing, but soon) I am back to my routine long nights. Its late. I cannot sleep as usual. I never sleep normally. I lay awake, summer and winter. Hot and cold. Hungry from not eating all day or too full from a heavy dinner. Sometimes completely alone – not even my dog is with me at points in my travels. Other times next to someone I love, I can hear their breathing, I am comforted that I am not physically alone, yet feel guilty that my dreams will likely wake them up. No matter the day or who is with me, I lay quietly, wishing for sleep. Alone in my head, my thoughts often silent, but sometimes whirling.

Some nights I am nothing but apathetic. Others I am filled with emotions that have no name. Often I have no words to share and no tears appear. I simply sit in the dark. Burdened with the knowledge that this is how my brain deals with the reality that is and still functions. Grateful that I still know my name.

Most often I am in silence. At times there is music or crickets and the sounds of the woods. Other times the deafening sounds of the city at night.

I think about Mom.

I think about the past.

I think about the future.

I think about the present.

I think about my family.

I think about some of the worst things that could happen to a person, that have happened to me.

I think about some of the most unlikely and amazing things in life, that have happened to me.

And I think about nothing at all.

I don’t like to complain. I hate the resigned tone of my friends and loved ones when they ask how I am and the answer is usually the same if I choose to give it, ‘tired’. I take the crestfallen look of my people who hold hope for me straight to my heart. I feel like a broken record, ‘can’t sleep, tired’, ‘nightmares’, ‘still can’t sleep, tired’. I’m pathetically predictable like that.

Some people are proud of me, that even broken I am still me. They see that while I do fail, I am as honest as I can be. That even though I am intense, I’m compassionate.  Others are horrified and sad, always worried that I won’t cope because I am broken and therefore no longer me. That I am lost, even though its through wandering that I have found my soul’s home. That I am unforgiving and selfish, even though my hardest lesson is that I have to take care of myself and not everyone else.

I watch the sunrise. I listen to the world wake up. Another day is here, another night has passed. Maybe now I’ll sleep. Either way I’m still here. Surviving. Loving. Living the only way I know how.

Don’t take your sleep for granted ~ J


Recovery Update

I am slowly getting stronger, more mobile and eating more. For the most part every day is a huge improvement over the last, though yesterday I developed a really bad migraine which lasted for hours and dry heaving after abdominal surgery is really uncomfortable, even with small incisions. But with advice from my amazing cousin Lucy, the migraine dissipated and I was able to eat my belated birthday dinner with Kathy & Dave.

Below: What I looked like the first 3 days.

‘Dog Support’

Pete & River were with me as much as allowed. Kathy & Reuben made sure they didn’t get too excited and took them out for walks and such. Once Pete understood that I couldn’t get up and throw frisbee he settled in as my ‘nurse’ and takes his position pretty seriously. Right down to sleep with me on the same pillow… Which is exactly the view I had this morning below.

Waking up to Pete

Waking up to Pete

For my ‘Birthday Dinner’ – In usual Gardner style, we had simple perfection in the form of fresh ahi tuna – both seared and raw. Melts in your mouth, and so damn good that I made my little stomach fit it all. Dessert was none other than Tiramisu, my absolute favorite and a love I inherited from Mom. Kathy made it from scratch and it’s certainly one of the tastier ones I’ve had the pleasure of eating, including whats I’ve tried at high end Italian restaurants. I’m a little floored – both by the amazing dinner and dessert from my dear friends, and by the amount they care for me. Beautiful deep purple flowers for my room, cards, gifts and love ~ Best Belated Birthday ever.

Belated Birthday Flowers

Belated Birthday Flowers

I was going to take a photo of Kathy’s wonderful Tiramisu but I sorta messed it up and ate the pretty pieces… Trust me though, it was pretty and tasty!

Reuben has been a champ, stoically bringing me tea, rubbing my feet, putting up with my opiate sense of humor (its not pretty people) and suffering through reruns of TV shows.

I’m more clear headed today, less medications and more movement.

Slightly more alive Joannie

A Slightly more alive Joannie

I of course still won’t be winning any beauty contests… The whole no shower thing and all.

~ J


Surgery Update

Day 3 here. Surgery was successful, they did find some endometriosis and removed it.

As was somewhat anticipated, I did not wake up well from the anesthetic. It took a couple of hours to calm me down, during which time Reuben (one of the friends there to assist me) was brought back to help. Later, Kathy (other friend) was brought as well.

I woke up in a lot of pain which didn’t help my anxiety level. Once they were able to get my pain under control, I could calm down enough to where we were able to leave the hospital. The first night is pretty hazy for me. As the hospital drugs from surgery wore off, it became clear that the painkillers they’d sent us home with were not up to the job. After multiple phone calls, the doctors upped my prescription and I started new, stronger painkillers yesterday (Friday Oct 11) and have been able to move and walk around as much as I’m supposed to for now.

Kathy and Dave Gardner have been absolutely wonderful, going above and beyond in caring for me, along with good friend Reuben Mikes. The dogs of course have been fussing over me and attempting to snuggle only to be dragged away by someone ensuring they do not pounce on me. River unfortunately seems to have taken some of my stress upon herself, or has just decided to go through the experience with me and has contracted some stomach issues of her own that she has had to go to the vet for today but will hopefully pull through with flying colors.

It is still hard for me to focus on much of anything for prolonged periods of time, so Kathy and Reuben help with phone calls and answering emails, but feel free to get in touch.

I’m missing being able to eat a big, hearty meal and take a long, hot bath… but feel like I’m doing pretty well for the most part.

A big thanks to everyone who has kept me in their intentions and prayers.

-Reuben, as dictated by Joannie


I’ve put off telling the world this for a while now, but I’m having Surgery this week – tomorrow actually. It’s minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to try to find the cause of some of my pain. Without going into too many details – I’ve had a lot of pain for years in my pelvis and very little has helped. It impacts my work, travel, life and such. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some answers and maybe even less pain. The doctor believes I have Endometriosis.

I’ll be in Surgery Thursday (Oct 10th) afternoon – Alaska time. I’ve friends who will be with me and helping to keep me from doing too much in the recovery stage – which is only about a week or two. I’ll have lots of furry dogs to keep me warm and company as well. I’m not one to be fussed over, but I will have time on my hands to read emails if people feel the need to reach out.

~ J

A Quick Note From the Airport

I am actually in route to Alaska as I write this – had some time at the Portland Oregon airport to write this. SO FREAKING HAPPY TO SEE MY RIVERS! Its been much too long since I have snuggled with my Super Rat.

The last month has been a frenzy of classes, travel and new experiences. Overall great and exciting, often tiring beyond belief and sometimes challenging in the most interesting ways. My Healing class with Wilderness Fusion the beginning of September was amazing. If its something you’re drawn to, I cannot recommend it enough!

I had about a 2-week break between the Wilderness Fusion and Tracker classes.  Lounged on the beach (in the shade) hung out with family and friends and planned the next adventures. By September 22nd I was at Tracker School for my Philosophy 2 & 3 class with my amazing Element Sisters – Linda, Tracy & Afsoon! I also got to have my favorite Partner from Philosophy 1 back – Corey along with Tracy’s husband Carl (whom is a good friend of mine as well) and a great friend of Linda’s! Friends everywhere!

The 10-day class was hard, wonderful and scary all at once. The teachers’ great, Tom intense as usual and overall wouldn’t trade the chance for anything. In traditional Element Style, we debriefed at the Brunch Spot in Waretown NJ, after class and laugh our freaking heads off!

I had about 4 days before heading to Alaska upon returning from Tracker, which I spent preparing, visiting with Family & Shaun, A Renaissance Faire and new friends from Tracker!

I expect to be in Alaska till at least Oct 25th – all depends on doctor appointments, Dog training and such. From there I will be on the East Coast will probably a trip back to Alaska for the Thanksgiving Holiday for more Dog stuff & house sitting. My next Healing class is in early December.

 I hope to write about these adventures in more detail and with pictures in a timelier manner than I have been..soon…

~ J