Archive for the ‘Heather Schichtel, Writer’ Category

Dog-gone it, it's my turn!

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

I am racing in the heat, and then I stop for a break and hang out my tongue. I get back up and sniff the grass, but I prefer it when I get a ride and can encounter the whole world, smells and all. I ride in a white bag sitting atop rolled-up towels.

My name is Zoey, and I am a very cute, very smart miniature dachshund. Hereís my stats: weight, 8.6 pounds; height, 2 hands; length, very, very long; age, 1 Ω years; cuteness factor, 10.

Shelley, the keeper of this blog, is letting me write this month. She and I blog on Shelleyís website, whatever it is all that tech stuff does. I just type.

I bet you donít believe that Iím typing, but Shelleyís brother rigged up a special dog-friendly keyboard with 1-inch keys that are in alphabetical order. Donít give me any of that QWERTY stuff. It was hard enough learning the ABCs and how to spell.

Shelley and I blog once a week. Weíre telling our story of how we met and bark about important subjects, like chasing birds, befriending feral cats and calling out to possible friends, human and dog alike.

Oh, the white bag, you ask. Shelley carries me in it when we go on walks and I donít feel like being on a leash. I let her know by taking a seat and looking around at beautiful nature. I like the bag for making me taller, plus itís nice to take a breather once in awhile. I am kind of squat and though the smells may be better at ground level, I like seeing†what's beyond the blades of grass or Shelleyís high heels. It is so busy with all the changes in smells and motions and noise; it reminds me of squirming all over my siblings before we parted ways.

(P.S. Shelley told me about her friend Heather's daughter Samantha, who has left us for greener pastures. Dog-gone it, I wanted her to play with me. I heard she is beautiful and kind and lovely and anyone like that is a friend of mine. I am sorry, Samantha,†your Mommy had to say goodbye to you before you got to experience all the world's smells and she got to see you become who you would become when you're very being was what made her want to sniff up so much love, she couldn't even keep†you in her heart, she had to let all that love flow into words and hugs and kisses, oh and so much, I can't even describe it. I'm just a dog, you know, and I don't understand love that big, but can anyone?)

All things? Really?

Monday, July 26th, 2010

"You must have the capacity to endure all things."

My meditation prompt this morning seemed a bit large to wrap my consciousness around.

It is so easy to endure joy ñ such as the excitement I felt at the Colorado Women of Influence Women of Vision Gala last Wednesday night. I saw Heather Janssen honored as mother, publisher, woman. I saw Heidi Olinger honored for building a business model that creates self-awareness and self-esteem in young girls and tweens. I saw Temple Grandin honored for inspiring us to greater heights as human beings in our treatment of animals Ö and one another.

It is so easy to rethink those moments and smile to myself, happy for them.

Ah, but to endure sorrow, that is another matter.

To hear my Friend say she has stage 3 cancer and see her go through surgery, tests, chemo and radiation. To hear my Friend say she has discovered a lump and see her go through a surgery, checking lymph nodes, chemo and radiation. To hear my Friend's 4 year-old daughter has died, knowing the heart-rending ache she and her husband must now bear.

These pains are much more difficult to shoulder. Endure? How? I know hearts are breaking all around me - how do I face this carnage?

I force myself to breathe in-2-3-4. And then to breathe out-2-3-4, just as I learned in childbirth classes a lifetime ago. Slow down my breathing. Slow down my tears. Slow down the wild beating of my heart.

Do I have the capacity to endure all things?† Really?

I must. How else can I help those dear friends, than to continue to accomplish the day to day tasks required of me? Of what good is it to collapse now?

No, I must accept what cannot be changed and go forward.† Be at the ready in case I may be of any small assistance.

Nothing says this will be easy or without doubt.

But one step at a time ... forward I go.

I write to honor sweet little girl Samantha Schichtel.


Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

I am working on a memoir. It is quite a process to write a storyÖ.about yourself.

A couple weeks ago I sat in a memoir workshop. The instructor asked us to pull out a memento we had with us and write down why it had special meaning. MementoÖ. an object given or kept as a reminder in memory of somebody or something.

I looked through my purse; shuffled through old receipts, my wallet, sunglasses, and cell phone. At first glance, I didnít carry a thing in memory of somebody or something There was nothing special in my big, black, bag. So, I kept quiet and listened to what others had to say.

ìI have one,î said the man behind me, ìI have a tattoo on each arm to remind me of my quadruple bypass surgery. My left arm has a heart with a band aid on. My right has the names of my grandchildren. They are the people who got me through this surgery.î

Well, I certainly donít have a memento like that.

The woman down the aisle stood up. ìI have my i-phone which has a GPS. The last map on it was a run up Horsetooth I did three days ago. Iím training for a half-marathon. This winter has been the first time Iíve felt strong enough to run since my chemotherapy. The half-marathon is in three weeks and I think Iíll be able to do it.î

Story after story was told; heartbreaking, yet strong stories, stories of the human spirit.

I opened my purse again and found an old syringe used for Samanthaís medicine. I pulled out the ëtoolí used to open oxygen tanks for Samantha. This tool doubles as a key chain. Ironically, it was wrapped around my Childrenís Hospital badge.

Are these mementos? Are these keepsakes? Is the scar from my c-section just as much a keepsake as my great-grandmothers quilt? They all tell a story of who I amÖ.MY life.

I watched the people around me pull out items and create stories; the tiny threads of their experiences and I thought that being a writer, being able to capture life within a plastic syringe, is pretty darn cool.

Love Letter to Holden Caulfield.....My tribute to J.D.Salinger

Friday, February 12th, 2010

It's really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes. ~J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Oh Holden!

We meet in Mr. Stough's English class. You were so real, so jaded, so naughty. You smoked, you drank, you flunked out of school.

And yet we were told to get to know you. It was an assignment! Who was Holden Caulfield? What were his dreams? His failures?

It was the happiest day of my young English Literature career.

So different from Huckleberry Finn, the sonnets of Shakespeare, you were tragic like Hamlet but so relatable! You Holden, would never wear tights and hold a conversation with a skull. You were way too cool.

Oh Holden! You were nestled in my book bag, with your dog-eared pages I circled quotes where your voice touched my inner teen-angst! I had found my soul mate. If only you had been here† as a senior at Bear Creek High School! We would sneak cigarettes in the parking lot, we would wear black, listen to the Smiths and comment that everyone else was a phony and that goddamn money....makes you blue as hell.

It would be perfect.

And then we moved onto Macbeth.

Sadly Holden, I am now older. Today if I sat with you out in the parking lot, I would tell you to stop smoking, call your parents, stop pissing away their money, buck up and go back to school.


Pat, God and Haiti

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Haiti has been on my mind. Haiti has probably been on your mind too. I have tried to put my feeling to words but sometimes things are just too awful to verbalize.

So I have said nothing.

But then Pat Robertson said something....putting words to my emotions.

In case you missed it, Pat said the Haitian earthquake was "God's punishment for Haitian slaves' 'pact with the devil' to win freedom from France."

Instead of sorrow, I felt rage, disbelief, horror and embarrassment. The Christian Science monitor stated that his remarks "got the usual chuckles of disbelief among local intelligentsia about American culture."

Boo, hiss, Pat.

I gathered my rotten eggs in retaliation. I came up with poopie-head names to call him. I started to throw my stones. And then my smart friend Renee posted this on Facebook; A Response to Pat Robertson's Comments about Haiti. I read Don Miller's forgiving, intelligent post and lowered my eggs.

When Samantha got sick, I used to comment that we must have done something in a past life to anger the Karma gods. . I would think, why us? Where was God in the ICU?

And then I discovered that God was not in the seizures or the sickness, not in the sadness. God was in what we discovered from our hard times; the people in our lives, the amazing doctors, the ability to tell our story, our fight for Samantha and others. God was in our ability to keep loving and be loved.

God is not in this earthquake; not in the overwhelming death and destruction. God is in the doctors who fly in for 20 hour triage missions. God is in the small miracles that we hear about day by day. God is in the outpouring of aid to this poor nation.

This is not my sermon. People who know me know that I am far, far from a Saint. This is my speech, for myself, to keep me from throwing rotten eggs at Pat.

I want to say I feel sorry for a man whose spirituality is embedded in guilt, blame, hell fire and brimstone but I can't. His words are too damaging. Instead I will search for the good and compassion in people trying to help. We will make a donation to help the people in Haiti and I will put down my stinky eggs.

Too bad...I was hoping to clean out my refrigerator

-Heather Schichtel

The Perspective Elephant

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

It is the holidays....

I am thinking about what I'm thankful for....

I am thankful for my support who stop in and read what we are up to; provide support and well wishes. Thankful for seizure meds and the ketogenic diet. Thankful that we live during a time that can provide medical care for Samantha.

But this year I am especially thankful for a little perspective.

Three years ago, around Thanksgiving time it became clear to me that Samantha wasn't progressing the way a baby should. But I didn't talk about it. In fact no one really talked about it, not even Samantha's doctor....

"Place her on her tummy more often and up her calories in the formula." Doctor's advice...

Oh well she's fine...just needs a little more tummy time....that's what the doctor said.

So the holiday season was spent placing Samantha on her tummy as much as possible and trying to convince myself that everything was fine. I never really talked about how scared I was....scared that Samantha wasn't 'right' scared that something could be wrong with my child. Terrified that our lives would be different from what we expected.

It was the big, stinky elephant in the room.

No one talked about the elephant.

Elephant's take up a lot of takes a lot of energy to not acknowledge the elephant.

It was a crappy way to spend the holidays.

This year I am grateful for the fact that we know our lives are different and we don't pretend otherwise. I am grateful that we don't have to relive that first, uncertain year.

The silent elephant moved out as soon as we acknowledged that she was indeed in the room and there was indeed an issue...something about moving onto another family who needed a big, obvious, pachyderm

This was good because elephants eat a lot.

Happy Holidays