That Time Again "Rhia's Annual Christmas Letter"

I do realize this seems so quick! I could not fathom it has already came around to time to compose one of the annual "traditions" I hope I will be able to keep for friends and family through the years to go by. My Annual "Catch-Up" the year Holiday Christmas Letter. I share today with you:)
It seems “Annual Christmas Letter Time” slipped up on me this year all too suddenly. As I was thinking about Christmas right about the week of Thanksgiving, I was suddenly overwhelmed with all there is to do, and just how little time is left before Christmas 2012 is here. That means New Year’s Day 2013, is also just around the corner. Honestly, I cannot believe a year has flown by such as this one. I feel like I just completed my 2011 letter to everyone, and put up the decorations. Here it is what seems like a few short weeks, and I was even hesitant about keeping the tradition alive. But, there are some things in our lives, that are wonderful traditions, like for instance, me making the early “no-bake” fruitcake. It just would not be the holiday season without it.

I have found some traditions have been made to be broken, and in a way this year
that hit me very hard, and brought some sadness to my heart in ways. Yet, in others we find out as the “old ways” leave something new aing and Christmas dinner at my Grandmother Svehlak’s house when I and my cousins were young.
It just would not have been Christmas without Granny’s chocolate pie that my cousin Mike and I fought over, her home made cranberry salad, which I make myself now usually for the holidays. It would not be the holidays season unless the women all cooked, while the guys all talked, laughed and cut up in the living room; while all of us kids were in and out, having a great time, awaiting food and presents. It also though seemed to go by so quickly, and within the blink of an eye, a breath’s space, all of us “cousins” are grown, many with kids and Grand Kids of their own, making our own traditions and watching them also change as their families grow up and change also.

Life seems to always be changing. Just as the tides flow in and out ever changing the way the beaches look, life changes us. Often in physical, mental and emotional ways, along with homes, jobs, and just life itself, we seem to always be moving to another goal, another place, another time. We seem to never stop moving, growing and changing.
Change is a magnificent thing, for without it, our lives would grow stagnant. Alas in change means that we must also be able to accept things in a different light. There are times we find out that those changes are not so easy to accept. Losing our loved ones, growing older, our health possibly declining, and all of those things that come with the time we are here as just “human” beings.

We must hold onto the good memories of those days of the past so we can cherish them in our hearts forever. Now my Grand Parents are gone, Dad and his siblings have all passed away, my kids are grown, and my Grand kids are getting big to quickly, and I have had to accept “age” and “illness” have changed me in so many ways. This year has been another one of those years. I went through a total “reverse shoulder replacement” in July 2011. At the time we hoped that was the end of my severe shoulder issues on the right side, but that was not the plan I guess. Earlier this year I began to have severe pain again in the back of my right shoulder blade, down my
Right arm, and running into my thumb. At first, we thought I had possibly done something to the shoulder implant, it has pulled loose, or something with it was not right. After X-rays and other tests, the implant seemed to be as it should be. So, that meant digging further. We did, and after suffering for another 6 months through more testing, and doctor visits, it was decided this new issue was coming from my cervical spine. Yes, my neck was causing the massive pain in my shoulder and arm. At first I was leery. For one thing, it seemed a little crazy and ironic that right after a shoulder replacement I begin to have pain with the same shoulder. Secondly, it was difficult for me to accept that even though I had neck issues and knew about them that,  the pain in my right shoulder should have anything to do with my neck. Yet, the evidence from tests and information the doctors had and we had pointed to the cervical spine. So, after much thought, I went in for a 4 level cervical spinal surgery in July of this year. It was to be the cervical discs from C-3 through C-7 to be worked on. Two of them were taken out completely and implants (artificial discs). The other two they performed fusion on, using bone spurs that came from the area to form what bone chips that were needed to make the fusion heal up and work properly. I was in the hospital overnight. The next day I went home in a “hard plastic immobile cervical collar” that I had to wear 99.9 percent of the time over the next 10 weeks of my life. Right In the middle of the hottest time of year, here I was already burning up with a drought in our area, along with the hottest thing anyone could ever put on to wear any time, much less the middle of Summer!

I survived, somehow I guess, and within 2 weeks after the surgery I began to have a very noticeable change in the painful places in my right shoulder blade, arm, along with tingling, numbness, and other symptoms began to subside. My doctor has told me that it might be a year before I saw many of the changes, and being “nerves” involved we were not made a guarantee about how much or little change for the good etc there would be. “Oh, ME of little faith when it comes to the Lupus, RA, and so forth” you could say. Yet, here I was 14 days or so out of a 4 level cervical surgery, and it seemed like it had been the much belated answer to the severe pain I had been in with the shoulder blade and right arm. Here I am now months and months out of surgery, and so far, I have been able to type, “finish and PUBLISH MY VERY 1ST BOOK!”, and do many things I had not been able to for a long time.

Yes, I said  “PUBLISHED MY 1ST BOOK!” All my life I had written, since the age of 13 or younger. I was told in High School by a couple of my teachers, that my poetry was incredible and I should keep up the writing. All through my life, writing has been my “partner in crime” so to speak, been there as a “friend” when life seemed too challenging, helped me through the wondrous times, and kept me company along my entire roadway of life. I never stopped writing. I have journal upon journal of poetry, prose, short prose and enough of just what I like to call “writing, writing” to fill several books. My dream has always been to be a published Author. Now my dream is true! 3 weeks ago, after so many years of struggling with illness I was able to set a goal to complete a poetry book I had been working on for a long time. I did make my “deadline”, got it submitted for approval, and within 24 hours I had a published book, and I was a published Author!! My life long dream of a book out there to share had happened. I cannot tell you just how incredible that felt. To see it up on Amazon.com, published, with my name on it, or my “Pen Name” was nothing but a large feat for me in spite of all of the illnesses, surgeries, moves, and just all that life has pitched my way, I had accomplished my one goal, to share my “heart’s work” with the world before I was no longer here in this world.

The name of the book is “Ramblings of a Seasoned Soul” - Brush Strokes of Life In Words. It is listed on amazon.com throughout the world, and on several other places that it can be bought throughout wherever amazon sells. My “pen name” is Rhiannon “Rhia” Steele. I am called “Rhia” by some due to it becoming a “nickname” for me years ago. It is a book of what I feel are my favorite 80 poems that I have written. That is out of probably 1000’s. I decided to “share” my heart with the world, especially for those also suffering through Chronic Illness and Pain also, showing them anything is possible if you keep your eyes on your goal, faith, hope and love in your heart. So, it is dedicated in many ways to all souls I have met along the rivers of my journey here, that are also ill with illnesses such as the ones that plague me. Honestly, I never published it for “revenue”. That is not my intention, but if it sells a few copies then that is another blessing in itself. You can find it on Amazon.com in a search for the book name. It is in a “book” and Kindle format and you can do a “Look Inside” and see several of my poems there.

Now I am working on my second one, and I have been again given back my “writing voice” to complete my “book-book” as I call it. I am writing to tell my own personal journey throughout all I’ve endured through out the chronic illnesses and pain in my life. I feel my story may encourage others to keep their chin up, their hearts and minds set on hope and faith. I want to share with all how life can cause you grief, but you can survive and thrive!  So, for exciting news, I guess the book has been the most positive and exciting news through 2012.
Mom is well. She had her other wrist “Carpal Tunnel” surgery done in the summer, and she is doing okay with it. Her hands, neck, hips, and even legs and knees are really giving her heck with osteoarthritis, along with stiffness and pain. Yet, she also gets up and goes when she is ready which is a great thing. We go together when we can, running errands and shopping. I have helped her get some other things in order this year so that has also kept her and I busy through 2012.

My kids are great. The Grand Kids now 14, 6 and 3 are getting too big, too quickly! It is almost impossible to think the oldest, Heather, my daughter, Amanda’s “adopted” daughter is 14! She is a beautiful young lady and involved in all kinds of sports and stays busy with that and keeping grades up thinking about college. The boys are full of energy, and thriving also. So, her “brood” are doing well.

Jason and Danielle still live in the Waxahachie area.They also are doing fine. They both made a job change, for the better. We had an early Thanksgiving holiday weekend with Amanda and her bunch the Saturday before at Jason and Danielle’s home. It is huge and she has it so full of beautiful furniture, a wonderful back yard, and the entire place is gorgeous. We thoroughly enjoyed having all of us together since that does not happen often. With Amanda 7 plus hours away in the Corpus area, it is difficult for all of us to meet at the same time. So, it was a very special Thanksgiving for us to remember.
My husband, Jim, is also doing fine. He continues to work from home with his own company in the web design, development and hosting business. It has been up and down this year with the economic situation all over. He has been fortunate to keep a few of his very best clients “on the books” for the most part. But, we are definitely in need of new clientele, and hoping they come along. He is working on a brand new website for our business, to help show potential clients that we are “rolling with the latest changes” that the internet world is making. He is including the “Apps” part of it, since  the I-pads, I-pods, the Kindles of the world (there are several), as well as “smart” phone technology has opened up an entire new world for being “online.”
2012 has been a busy year for us. I wonder why it has gone by so quickly. Then as I pen this, I can see it is because of just how busy life can keep us.

I hope for each of you, that 2012 has been equally busy full of positive things and brought a year of joy to all! I pray everyone is well, and looking forward to celebrating another New Year that is coming too quickly upon us. We all miss you, love you, and send our prayers and blessings with you. I bid us all the Peace within our hearts that shall remain, even though our world seems to be anything but peaceful around the globe. That is another letter all in itself, so I shall close for now...


Tell all of your families we love them! Merry Christmas! Happy 2013!!!

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