Saturday, March 17, 2018

“Never give up. Never Surrender.”

“Never give up.  Never Surrender.”  
Copyright 2018 by Lori-Ann Willey

Most of you know that we live off the grid in the north Maine wilderness and that both Paul and I are in our early to mid-50’s.  Most of you know, too, that Paul is a man of more than his share of medical problems -a couple of them are words that no one wants to hear when the doctor looks at you while he says them.

I’ve written a couple-three blog entries that referenced how important the state of mind is, and though the state of mind is crucial, many of you believe that there must be something more that prods me along daily.  Maybe you are right, but I have to really stop to think what that “more” represents.  After a while, I guess it all reduces to a few “mindsets" – Life lessons, “I Am Me”, personal growth, peace of mind, and the attitude, “They can’t, but I can!”  I’ll attempt to explain each. 


I believe that you take away something from everyone you meet.  Maybe it is a stranger that casts a smile your way.  Or, maybe it is the stranger that sees you behind them with your arms full yet allows the door to shut in your face without so much as a glance back.  

From the smile, I return a smile, and then, share that smile with others.  I also feel that I can start the “chain of smiles”.  Anyone can. I wished more people would do that. 

From the door incidence, I choose not to be like them – Rude!

I have the choice to appreciate the good experience, just as I also have the choice to learn from the bad experience.  I can turn it around or simply follow suit.  That decision is mine.  I choose to always uplift myself and others when I can. 

I also believe in making sound decisions, to think a situation through thoroughly, and from many angles before taking action.  In doing so, realizing that you are not the only person in existence, too, leaves you with few or no regrets in life.  Regrets are not easy to escape from.  They tend to linger …like forever.


I believe in being myself.  Yes, as indicated above, I can “take” something -the good or the bad- from others, but I do not and will not ever change who I am to suit anyone.  My saying is.  "I am Me and ONLY ME.  That's who I want to be."  Comfortable in my own skin, in my own ways, in my own thoughts, and in my own personal growth, too.  I am ME.  I am not you or anyone else.


This is something that I am adamant about. I believe that life is not about competition. I’m not talking about sports or the competitive business market, etc. I’m talking about my own personal growth. We all have flaws, habits, and a preferred lifestyle.

My personal life has altered greatly with the onset of Paul’s medical issues. We used to hike mountains, go on canoe trips, etc. However, our lives have changed over the years. To live off the grid is how we can both be as much a part of nature as possible. I used to be able to work a job, go for long walks in the woods for hours on end, etc. All that changed when Paul needed more attentive care as his MS and other medical issues progressed. BUT, and notice that is a BIG BUT, I did not let all that change who I am as a person.

Instead of moping around and becoming depressed, I developed new hobbies -photography, sketching, painting, and writing. My wildlife and nature photography turned to more still-life and macro photography. It is the macro photography that I am most thankful to discover. If I had to choose just one lens only, I’d keep my macro lens without hesitation. I’m a lover of all things that are not so readily seen by the naked eye.

I find ways to live a “normal” lifestyle with a disabled husband. Had he not become disabled, I would have never explored writing, sketching, or painting. Because Paul’s physical disabilities are far greater these days, I could not allow it to stall my path of personal growth. I just had to find an alternate pathway is all. My focus and emotions are important. I could mope and dwell at the possible loss of Paul on any given day, or I can maintain a positive mindset by keeping track of my emotions, too. Basically, it all boils down to the “right emotion” that suits me the best. I found it. I’m a happy woman who finds pleasure in the little things in life. Those little things are such great rewards!


Given the above-written so far, I’d be a fool to say that I don’t worry, especially when it comes to Paul. We’ve been through a lot as a couple -loss of a daughter as an infant due to a genetic defect, and almost losing Paul due to his medical issues.

Honestly, I watch him like a hawk. At night, when I wake, I listen to make sure he’s still breathing. I’ve had a few scares when I’d listen for a breath and did not hear one. There are times when I am forced to put my hand on his chest and hope to feel the movement of his diaphragm, albeit shallow. The longer I listen, there is no more of a scare than when my hand meets his cold skin as if death overcame him hours ago. Instinctively, I touch my own body for a comparison. Then, I nudge him quickly and speak sharply. If that scare were not real, it would be laughable the second he speaks or moves upon waking to my antics. That “Comic Relief” within me is felt for days and weeks. In a way, the scare is always there, embedded. Why, at times, I can’t sleep after such a scare as that.  Even if his cold torso is due to being uncovered because he was hot earlier in the night.  We like to sleep in a cold room ...but!

With that said, I cannot let those fearful few seconds take over my life either. Remember when I mentioned being focused and finding the right emotion? Those are real deals. I delve into thought with a curious mind. Always thinking. Always doing. Always trying to do better with my sketching’s and paintings. I’ve learned to “tackle” if you will, one of the hardest subjects to master by the arts -portraits. For me, it stems from the ability to get lost in focus, tunnel vision, if you will. That is when the “right emotion” is achieved. It is not an avoidance of my emotions, it is channeling them. My own personal growth through the arts. Why each piece is important to me …a part of me. Why it is difficult to let them go. Instead, I line the walls of our camp and house as if each were an art gallery.

I delve 100% in everything I do. When I sit outside, I see everything. I hear everything as if with new ears and eyes. For, I truly believe that each minute of each day is a treasure …a new beginning, a new experience. All worthy of capture in the mind and heart.

The critters that I allow to climb on me, I always stop and give them the attention, or snack, that they seek. Sometimes, they, and I honestly believe, the chippies, want to be rubbed behind the ears. If I’m sketching, I allow them to help. Upon my face, big grins of appreciation. I let my mind go. I do not allow thoughts that have a negative value to sit and ponder. That is not healthy …for me or anyone.

I investigate everything from a newly sprouting seed to the clouds moving about the sky. I watch. I learn. I appreciate everything more than I ever thought I could. I find peace of mind in everything I see and touch.

Yes, Ima Busy Woman and this off the grid lifestyle demands it, but I do have time to myself. There is always a long To-Do list with some listings more pressing than others. I prioritize; therefore, I am efficient. When my day often starts during the wee hours of the morning, I have plenty of time to sketch, write, etc. I take advantage of it. While my body is idle, “my time” is always busy in the mind, too. I ponder and theorize a lot. The topic might not be one that surprises you much …how nature finds a way to survive, to mutate, to find its own personal growth. I can relate to the dilapidated plant just as much as I can relate to the most robust plant that thrives. To survive means to adapt to the changes in the environment. Humans are not any different.

Peace of mind …however you can obtain it… find it. Cherish it. You need it, or YOU will fail to thrive, thus survive. See how that works? Work through the obstacles. Appreciate any humor along the way.

A good example of humor is what happened just seconds ago. Paul said, “We’ve got a mourning dove at 9 degrees” He’s a numbers person, so that is what I heard through his mumbles. When I asked him to clarify, he said, “Our morning low was 9 degrees”. To that, we had a big laugh. High spirits here …without whacky tobacco, even. Though I should clean my ears a bit often, ‘cause I should be used to his mumbles by now. Yet again, those mis-heard sentences do offer us both a lot of chuckles!


Though my body is quite squishy and bulbous for a human being, I am a strong and determined woman. I am not out to prove anything to anyone, but I do enjoy sharing my experiences with those who are interested. There is no fabrication or dramatics. What you read/see/hear is everyday life. We are exactly what we portray -a little bit of everything, to include being loonies in the boonies.

I am a prodder. I encourage. I support. I can give a good swift kick in the ass if I think someone is in need. I am also a nurturer and a protector. Our son would include that I’m a natural teacher, as I teach in a way that is not by lecture, but with an ease that promotes curiosity for further learning or exploration. Or, at least that is what he’s told me in the past. Our daughter used to be quick to say, “You always see the other side of things!” And, I think that frustrated her a bit as a child. That was especially so when she complained about someone at school that bothered her. I’d always ask her to try to understand why “Maybe their home life isn’t the best.” Though I can understand why she’d get frustrated with me, but at the same time, whether she wanted to or not, I think she stopped to think about my words at least occasionally.

I know that last paragraph is probably a bit off topic, but when the rambling starts, I follow suit until the thought is out …off topic or not. That is why my twin sister refers to me as “Edith” (1970’s sitcom – All in the Family).

Paul and I had a daughter that passed away at 32 days old. She cannot live, so why can’t I live for her? Paul is either in a wheelchair or uses a cane, thus he can no longer do the things he used to before his disability wreaked havoc on his body. Because he can no longer adventure with me, I took up photography. This way, I can bring the woods to him. Anything I saw that was curious, neat, or thought he’d enjoy, I snapped a photo of it so I could show him upon my return. That was the start of my love for photography. It is a way that we can still share “walks” and “nature” together.

Paul can no longer swim or snorkel, so into the water with me goes an underwater camera. That is how he can “go swimming” these days. I show him what I see so he can enjoy it, too. Even if I do nothing more than press the record button and swim slowly through the water so he can “experience” the swim, too.

We can, in a roundabout way, live off the grid, whereas so many do not have the ability, means or wants to do so. I share our lifestyle so that those who are interested can follow along. So many tell us how they live vicariously through us. I hadn’t heard that word before, so after a few dozen times, I decided to look it up. It is another example, “They can’t, but I can”, so I am willing to share our lives with them throughout cyberspace. Happy to help when and where I can. Besides, I find it is an amazing way to help others understand the beauty of nature and how very precious and delicate it is.

Remember, because someone can’t, doesn’t mean you can’t. Paul can’t, but I can.

Lastly, when people wonder how I can do all that I do, how can I find the time to “play” (critter time, sketching, photography, painting, writing, tending to the garden, swimming, or carving out fun snow figures, etc.), I tell them that I make the time. I may be “too pooped to poop” when I do such things, but I find the time because “time” is very precious to us all.

There is no denying that the workload here is great. That is especially so after a large snow storm. Those literal hours upon hours and days upon days are challenging if you want to call it that. I don’t mind all the chores. I don’t mind doing all that needs to be done here. I enjoy it. Yes, I get tired, but I take breaks and use that time to prepare a meal, see if Paul needs anything, rehydrate, etc. etc. but in all honesty, I love my lifestyle. I am not afraid of the workload or the challenge ahead of me daily. I’m a realist. I face it. I just do it. Why? Because there are people who want to but cannot. I can. And, if I enjoy it, then all the better, and I really do enjoy it. There is no dread. Well, there is the “dreaded dishes” and the “dreaded 5-tree”, but those are other stories.

In all honesty, the second Dread appears in our lives, that will be the time to choose a different lifestyle. As for now, I’m still going strong at 52. On a funny note, I’ve been saying that I’m 52 for a year now. And according to my math, I’ll be 52 in June! DOH! Age is not what matters, it is your mindset that means EVERYTHING!


I’m not saying life is easy because it is not.  It’s not easy for anyone.  We all face our own challenges.  Our challenge is different than yours, is all.  Just as your challenge is different from the “guy next door”.  There is no fairness in comparing your life to others.

It’s up to each of us to make the best of our situation and to remember that …LIFE IS ALL RELATIVE.  You must live YOUR personal life.  Make changes along the way, but LIVE IT while you can.  Face the challenge, and/but keep yourself grounded. 

“Never give up.  Never surrender” -  Galaxy Quest

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