The Bear, the Racoon, and the Skunk

Have you ever made a plan to do something, and then when the time comes you completely disregard everything you planned and went in a completely different direction? Yeah, me neither.

Which is why it was such a surprise when I started writing this post. I mean I am the most on-point, on-task, single-minded person I know (and if you believe that I have some beautiful land in sunny, swampy Florida I’d like to sell ya!). But alas, for whatever reason my attention went in this direction and because I am so single-minded I could not deviate.

Living a rural life

If you have read my about page, you may remember that I live in Cushing, Minnesota. Cushing is a small town located between two slightly larger towns, which are between larger towns over 25 minutes away in either direction. We rent our home, which is slightly odd as we also own homes that we rent out to others, and have lived here for the past ten years. We absolutely love it here. Our landlords are great, our nearest neighbors are a mile away or more in either direction, and Camp Ripley is right across the road from us which means… lots of wildlife.

We have seen deer, turkeys, muskrats, coyotes, wolves, skunks, raccoons, bear and I’m pretty positive I’m missing some, but you get the picture. While most of them do not come close to the house; over the years a few in fact have. The bears especially as they have figured out there’s some good eating around here. A few years back there was one particular bear who knew the garbage route. Our pick-up was on Wednesday, so every Friday or Saturday he would show up and start ravaging through our garbage can.

Come Monday or Tuesday he would disappear and while we thought it was quite odd, we didn’t really put much thought in to it. Until the day we were talking to a DNR friend who shared the bear moved on over about 5 miles from us and raided garbage cans during the week. Funny thing was he then disappeared over the weekends. I still am trying to figure out if he had visitation rights on the weekend with his cubs and that’s why he was at our house, or if he really was just that smart.

Coyotes are quite the nuisance, and when they start yipping and shrieking at 11:30 at night, it is an eerie sound. They do come close to the house sometimes and so my husband devised a plan. He brought up some old bottle rockets he had from years past and starts shooting them off when the coyotes are around. It’s very effective and does exactly what he wants it to do – scare them away.

‘Hubby’

In fact, it was so effective that one night when there was a bear attempting to steal our garbage, he started shooting off bottle rockets and at 2:30 in the morning my daughter and he were running around the yard in their pajamas attempting to put out all the little fires he started in the long grass. My poor daughter had scratches and cuts all over her arms and legs from the thorns.

Where was I you ask? Well that was about the time I was undergoing chemo and the thought of running around the yard in the middle of the night was definitely NOT on my radar. As soon as I realized the house wasn’t going to burn down (it was nowhere near the house actually) I went back to bed. My thought was “idiot”.

You would think we would learn, wait a minute, why the heck am I saying “we”? You would think he would learn his lesson but apparently not. Yeah, can you believe it? There’s more!!

Learning a Lesson

Last summer we had a problem with all of the cat food disappearing. We have two outdoor cats, that my husband believes need to be fed otherwise they are going to starve to death. Even though we supposedly took the kittens so that they would become mousers. Hint – why would a cat go chase mice and eat them when they can just go into the cat condo (yes, you read that right – a cat condo…two stories, heat, air conditioning, only thing missing is a toilet) where dinner is waiting… that’s right. They don’t. And thus we have two very chubby kitties.

At the same time my dog Harley, was acting really weird over by the cat condo. Running from shed to shed, trying to get underneath them, trying to climb trees, he was definitely letting us know there was something out there. Hubby finally decided that we needed to go get a live trap, and when he got home he read up on how to capture raccoons. Amazingly you can use cat food! Who would have thunk?

Fast forward to about 3:00 a.m. and all of a sudden we hear a tremendous racket out by the cat condo. Well, I did anyway. Hubby, whose idea this was to get the live trap, slept through it all. As it was dark, and I couldn’t really see anything and hubby was fast asleep, I too returned to my warm, snuggly bed and drifted back off to dream land.

Harley

Come morning there was… yep! A raccoon in the cage and that poor little guy/gal had broken the cage attempting to dig its way out. Hubby, feeling sorry for the little guy/gal, decided he was going to take the raccoon and re-home him. Yes, you read that right. He drove the raccoon about six miles directly west from our house and let him go. Not like he would come back or anything right? I mean after all, I can’t think of a single animal who would turn away free food, free water, and free lodging.

Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden Harley started acting like something was living out by the cat condo again. But then I realized it probably was not the raccoon as Harley, and the other dogs I dog sit for, started smelling realllllyyy bad. Like when you smell a dead skunk on the road bad. Which in a way was a good thing for hubby, because if it had been a raccoon he never would have lived that one down.

I started to get really tired of the dog smelling like skunk, and so did my Search and Rescue Unit, and well anyone who came near Harley as they all said “EWWWW – what is that smell?”. I insisted hubby get rid of the skunk and the next thing I know, the live trap has been resurrected and set. Wanna take a bet as to what he used to bait it? Yep – cat food. (I’m starting to think those two are more of a hindrance than a help.)

Next morning there sits Pepe Le Pew trapped – fantastic! Now maybe the dog won’t smell anymore.

However, there is now a bigger problem. Wanna take a guess?

Yes, that’s right. How do you remove a live skunk from a live trap without getting sprayed?

Don’t worry, their won’t be a test because honestly I don’t know because what we tried DID NOT WORK.

First I attempted to get close enough that I could get a blanket over the skunk and trap. Huge fail. Luckily, I was far enough back, and the blanket caught the majority of it that I walked (ahem ran) away without smelling too bad. Hubby and I spent quite a few moments attempting to figure something out when finally I told him I don’t care what you do. Shoot the dang thing for all I care.

Which he did.

Do you know what happens when you shoot a skunk and it doesn’t die right away?

It sprays.

All over.

We “fondly” remembered that skunk for weeks.

And now a year later we are still fondly remembering Pepe. Why you ask? Well because when I reminded hubby that he had to remove the dead skunk from over by the cat condo, he put it in the wheelbarrow to dispose of it.

A few weeks later I notice Harley is over in the tall grass going to town digging and rolling in something. I immediately called hubby and asked, ever so sweetly, “where exactly did you get rid of the skunk?” To which he replied, “Oh, about 2′ into the tall grass over by the edge of your garden.”

Yes, my hubby will re-home a live raccoon six miles down the road, but when I ask him to get rid of a skunk he dumps it 50 yards from the house so we can relive this experience for a lonnnnngggg time.

Embracing the Ups and Downs

While there may be a lot of ups and downs living in a rural area, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. These bumps and blips along the road are what makes life interesting and fun, and presents opportunities to tell funny stories for years to come. (Check out my last post on 4 Ways to Move Beyond Anxiety and Fear where I share how funny stories can help!)

I know life is chaotic right now, and scary, and full of the unknown. If we put all of our attention on that though, that is exactly how we will live our life – in chaos and fear. Rather, I focus on the good I see and if you can see past your fear there truly is a lot of it out there….. hearts on windows, hundreds of people lining up to make homemade masks, people coordinating meals for those who are working incredible hours, medical personnel fighting the battle of their lives, and people doing what they are asked to by staying home.

I was listening to author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) on Instagram the other day, and she spoke about how humans were resilient and adaptable to change. And that’s so true. From stories I know it happened during WWII, I remember it happening during 9/11, and I see it happening now.

Out of the ashes, a phoenix rises; and so do we as human beings.

Until next time, capture your life!

Myra

P.S. Be sure to visit my website and fill out the sign-up so you never miss a blog post!

P.P.S. Just wait till I tell you the story about the Mountain Lion in our yard.

Four Ways to Move Beyond Fear and Uncertainty

Feel the fear…and ways to overcome it

So if I asked you right now if you were feeling the fear; or if you’ve heard about the Coronavirus would you want to smack me? <teehee> Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, and even then I’m not so sure you wouldn’t have heard about it. It’s every where!! I have never seen grocery stores, especially the bulk ones like Costco, have such empty shelves. It’s crazy! So what do you do when it appears like the whole world is caving in to pandemic pressure and you’d rather not be among the masses?

Glad you asked, because I have four ideas to move past fear, stress, or anxiety.

Sort through old photos

Of course I’d be completely remiss if I did not start with my favorite one first – sorting through old photos. Or maybe organize them; take them out of the plastic sheets and put them in an acid free album; write down who all those people are wearing the funny looking clothes because I will guarantee you that whoever you are sharing the information with will not remember (not that I am speaking from experience or anything).

black and white photo of a dark haired baby looking at someone who is holding them
Baby Myra, circa 1966

If you are lucky enough to have grandkids, nieces, or nephews, heck even the neighbor kids will work, ask if they want to go on a trip with you and start sharing information about the photos. If you traveled talk to them about where the photo was taken, who was there, why did you go, did any funny stories happen? This is a fantastic way to talk about other parts of the country with children, and incorporate lessons and learning at the same time.

Retell funny stories

Remember that one year we went camping after October 1, and we had to go camping three hours north of us? And do you remember how cold it was that night? Like so cold that I threatened you better take away all sharp objects from me because if you moved and all the cold air came swishing into the sleeping bag you might find piercings on your body? Do you remember it was so cold that certain bodily functions were frozen to my body? My nose was dripping people! Seriously!

Remember how we found out that the temperature had gotten to almost 10 degrees Fahrenheit? That when we went to the National Forest you found out National State Forest Campgrounds were free after October 1st and so we had to go to another campground that was a bit more north? And how we had to drive through the whole campground so that you could find the absolute perfect camping spot?

How about as we were walking around the camp site I asked you what was going on with the trees and you said oh it’s just some beavers cutting down trees. And how we felt like we were on a rotisserie because we just kept turning around in circles directly in front of a HUGE campfire trying to stay warm? Even the wolves were howling their displeasure as we crawled into cold sleeping bags.

THAWUMP!!

If you guessed that was the beavers coming back to the campsite to cut down another tree, you would be correct.

After a couple days we decided to head over to the Chippewa National Forest … because the campsites were free? And that campground had bear warnings all over the place? And we had to drive around the whole campsite again because we had to have the perfect spot?

Remember how it was slightly warmer and you were sitting on one side of the fire and I was sitting on the other side and we started hearing this rustling sound coming from the hill. How about how you were hissing at me to “DO NOT MOVE!!”. Like that would be my first thought as Pepe Le Pew ambled right through the middle of our campsite.

Do you recall how you laughed and said this was going to be a camping trip to remember? Still not amused darling.

Funny stories are a great way to turn your spirit from a negative energy to a positive one. Especially if you can add in some laughter to get those endorphins raised.

Call a Friend | Ask for Help

I know, I know. You are probably saying well duh… but I would almost guarantee that there are a few of you who might not call a friend because you don’t want to bother them. Or you feel like you only reach out when you need something (that’s a whole other post), however, I will also guarantee that at times like these your friend is wanting to hear from you just as much as you want to talk to them.

Black and white photo of a man holding his cell phone smiling
Hubby on the phone with his Texan buddy

Somehow we have become a world where we don’t want to bother anyone. I live in the community now where when I was young I spent a lot of time as my dad ran a gas station up here after my grandfather passed away. Back then (and no it wasn’t the early 1900’s. It wasn’t even the mid-1900’s.) grandma always had cookies made and coffee ready because you never knew when somebody was going to show up at the door for a “little chat”. There is something reassuring about that for me. Sort of like the television show Cheers, were everybody knows your name!

Another option would be to ask for help from a professional such as a counselor or maybe even a Life Coach. A Life Coach is someone who can walk you through various obstacles you are facing in your life whether it’s a fear, a job change, a mid-life crisis change, whatever you want to discuss. The best part is the Life Coach doesn’t “tell” you what to do, but listens and directs the conversation so you can develop your own plan. Oh don’t worry – they will hold you accountable and sometimes they will tell you things you may not necessarily want to hear. But they will be there for you! (If you are a cancer survivor or fighter, I offer free Life Coach servicescontact me to find out more!)

Do Something You Love

As I was looking at my file folders yesterday I discovered that I had only been out taking photos once during the last three weeks. Once! That is unacceptable for so many reasons, but the main one is I absolutely adore taking photos. One of my greatest joys is walking around and seeing what I can take a photo of that someone else may not see as a portrait.

I know this is one of my greatest joys because when I am done, I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and relaxed. Find what makes you relax and intentionally do that. Make an effort – no, that isn’t right. If you make an effort, you can still come up with a reason why you don’t have to. There is no excuse not to do something you love to do… as long as it isn’t hurting anybody else. Like robbing a bank, or driving drunk, or making fun of someone – those are not cool dude.

photo of a fawn colored Labrador dog with brown eyes
Harley Jones Horner

It’s also a great time to find something new to love. I have a friend who has been working on learning to knit this winter and she is making a weather scarf. Each color of yarn is associated with a different temperature and depending on what the temp was the day before, that’s the color of the row you knit. Pretty cool project for a Minnesota winter. I would suggest finding colors that coordinate though. Considering it can be -30 one day and 45 the next. Mother Nature in Minnesota is going through menopause I believe, but shhhh! Don’t tell her I said that!

So there you have it. Four ways to overcome your anxiety or fear when things are looking pretty chaotic on the outside. I know there are plenty of other ways – but for your sake I decided to stop at four. Right off the top of my head there’s going for a walk, playing board games and cheating… oh wait. That was my dad. Never mind!

Now, if you want to know all the different things you can use in place of toilet paper, hit me up! I’ve got those outlined as well.

Stay safe my friends and know that while being quarantined, self-contained, or simply staying home can be tiresome and aggravating, you are helping to potentially keep others healthy and well. And on behalf of all of us whose immune systems don’t work – I thank you.

Capture Life and Chase Your Dreams!!

Until next time….

Myra

P.S. Wanna follow along on this crazy journey of mine? Contact me to be added to the post updates list.

P.P.S. Have any other suggestions that may seem out of the box? Keep it clean people, keep it clean. 🙂 Leave me a comment and share!

Why is There Air?

In facing life after cancer, one of the biggest struggles may just be watching friends and family lose their battle to cancer

Why is there air?

Why is there air is probably not a typical question you would hear. However, that has been going through my mind all day. To the point where I went to YouTube and pulled up Bill Cosby “Why is there air?” If you have never heard this album, please do yourself a favor and go check it out. If you’re not standing at the gas pump filling your car up, doubled over in laughter, crossing your legs (just in case) because you are laughing so hard your funny bone is not working. Seriously.

I’m not sure why I, probably because I am always relating a thought, or a word to a song, or a movie I’ve seen. Every time I hear “I am not a child” I think of the movie “Raising Helen” starring Kate Hudson. Or if I hear the song “Ain’t no mountain high enough” I think of the movie “Stepmom” starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon. I’m pretty sure it’s a gift. Despite being told otherwise by hubby and daughter. So whenever I start thinking about the question, why am I here, I think of …. yep, you guessed it! Why is there air? There is a deeper connection than the fact that they sound similar if you say it fast enough, but I’m getting ahead of myself so let me back up a bit here.

Four year survivor

As you may know I just recently passed my four-year anniversary of being diagnosed with Triple Negative IDC Breast Cancer, stage 2 a/b, grade 3. The form of cancer I had is typically very aggressive and without preventative actions (mastectomy, hysterectomy, oopherectomy (ovaries) – basically anything that is feminine gets yanked) there is a 95% change of re-occurrence in the 3-5 year range from diagnosis. I’m smack dab in the middle. June 9, 2020 will be my four year anniversary of my last chemo, which is the date they use to gauge your 3-5 years. So, as you can imagine, while I have done everything I can to prevent any re-occurrence, way in the dark deep depths of my mind lies the fear that I am not out of the woods yet.

Female nurse mom dad daughter holding cake and sign celebrating last chemo day
June 9, 2016 – Last day of Chemo

In the meantime, specifically within the last ten months, I have lost three people very, very dear to me due to cancer. They were all diagnosed after me – and fought hard, long battles. My daughter’s best friends mom, was diagnosed with Leukemia and fought 2 1/2 years in an attempt to kick that bastard right where it counts. Unfortunately, her body could not fight like it needed any more and she went to a more peaceful state. She happened to be my advocate for my chemo journey. She was the first person who met me at the doctor’s office and gave me and Rodney the biggest and hardest hugs. She made sure that if I was in pain, I received pain medication. Nauseous? It’s 7 p.m.? No problem! We will call the drug store now, you head out. She was a rock for me and the day I found out she had been diagnosed with cancer, I sat down on the floor and cried. How could someone, who gave so much of herself to others, be diagnosed with that nasty, fricking word. To say I was devastated could be, might be, an understatement.

A little while after she was diagnosed, a friend of mine, who lives in Texas and was a fellow avid photographer, announced she had been diagnosed. This gal was an intricate part of the group of friends who raised money to bring dad and I to Washington D.C. so he could see the World War II Memorial before he died. She underwent treatment and heard the blessed news that everything looked great! That is until she went to see the doctor approximately three weeks ago and was told it was back and it had come back with a vengeance. She entered hospice care a few days later and went to be with her maker Friday evening.

Almost a year ago, to the date, I found out my cousin, who was more like a sister to me, had been diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome or MDS. MDS is a rare form of blood cancer and in December of 2018, Christmas Eve if I remember correctly, she found out it was Leukemia. Five months later, she too ended her battle. She was another soul who devoted her life to the act of giving. December 2019 was the first Christmas in my daughter’s 23 years that she did not remember receiving an Advent calendar from ‘Tia L’. I don’t have any proof, but I think she bought Advent Calendars by the case loads because she sent every niece, nephew, great-niece, great-nephew, cousins, friends, for all I know she may have sent them to strangers too, a calendar. Even after they had grown-up. She was an educator, a mentor, and the impact her life made on others was tremendous.

Three great women who have all died in the last ten months, and I am still here.

rodney myra horner
Rodney & Myra Horner
(one month after last chemo)

Why am I here?

But cancer did bring me back to photography, which I had not been doing for a while. It brought a tribe of people into my life that I cannot imagine what I would do without them now. It made me come to terms with things in the past, and made me realize that I was not unheard, or insignificant, irrelevant, or trivial. I think my relationship with my husband is better than it was ever before. There are a lot of good things that came out of that bastard cancer.

Crap ton of bad things too.

Like every time I hear of someone dying from cancer, I wonder why was it them and not me?

Cancer changed my reality so that I cannot live like there will always be a tomorrow, because I am not invincible. It aged me so that things I should not have had to worry about for another ten to fifteen years is prominent now. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. There are days where trying to move I feel like I am moving through a pool of Jello with 100 pound weights attached to every limb. If I’m going to be honest, I have memory “blips”.

Which, funny story by the way, when I was diagnosed with cancer I was told how lucky i was to be so young, and that that was going to help me fight cancer. Two years later when I bring up memory problems I get told, “Well at your age…”. Seriously? I went from young to old in two years? Not helpful medical field.

I have had people tell me how incredibly tactless it is that all I can think about when someone dies is why am I here. That just shows me how little they understand. The reality is, that is another “gift” left by cancer. For good or for bad. It is neither a good thing nor a bad thing I think that, it just is. It’s not something I try to think about. I just do.

What is my purpose?

Earlier I mentioned there is a greater correlation between why is there air and why am I here than the fact they sound similar when spoken fast. On Bill Cosby’s album, there is air to blow up volleyballs or basketballs, but I don’t think that’s what a philosophy major would ask. Think about it for a minute. We don’t see it, unless the wind is blowing we can’t hear it, and yet it surrounds us with a life sustaining source that without its existence we would die. It’s purpose is to take what it has been given, and gives us life. But why?

I too, have been given many gifts in my life. I have survived severe bullying when I was in school, a self-esteem that was so low I had to use a step-ladder to climb to the bottom of my self-esteem. I survived being hit by a pick-up truck walking across a road in Mexico. I survived driving my car during an ice storm through a wood fence and into a brick building where I broke the windows of the building. I survived a car accident on a one and a half lane bridge. I love to sing, and to take photos, and to share the beauty of the world I see around me. I love making others happy with my photography. The joy I have when they see something that resonates with them is the most incredible thing. I have survived cancer (so far). But why?

Bless you if you have gotten to this point. I know this is a very long post but the keyboard has been pulling at me all day to get this out of my head and out in to the world. Writing is a way for me to purge all these voices in my head. Oh come on! Admit it, you have voices in your head too! Everyone does and if someone told you they don’t they are a liar. Either that or they have no conscious, which based on what I see around me sometimes is a very high possibility as well.

I am a Champion

I have been guided, not for the first time, to share my journey. Not just the cancer part, but the whole reality of my life. The ups, downs, and huge misadventures. While I probably will not be able to share the deepest and darkest secrets with you because I still have a lot of fear around those things being found out, I finally believe I know why I am here. I am here to share the story of so many others who battle life. I am here to make sure that people know there is someone in there corner. I am here because everyone deserves a champion, especially if they cannot be a champion themselves.

myra horner

To quote a very dear mentor, “Now don’t mishear me!”. I am not a champion in the sense that I am better than you, or am the winner of some glorious and grandiose prize. I am a champion of life. Looking up the definition of champion on http://www.dictionary.com, the second definition shows it as a verb: to act as champion of; defend; support.

I am here to defend and support. I am the voice for all those who have gone before me. I am the voice of all those who are too weak from fighting to speak. I am their champion.

Looking for Clarity?

In addition to my mission, I want to empower you! If you’re anything like me, after cancer brought so many questions such as who you really were now, what really makes you happy, how you want to live life after cancer, you know… all those wonderful “gifts” cancer gives us.

Or maybe, and God I hope not, your life does not look the same because a loved one could not handle the journey, despite the fact you were fighting for your life.

If so, I want to help. I am offering free Life Coaching to cancer fighters, survivors, warriors!

Please contact me and let’s talk. I have some paperwork to ensure you know your information and what you share is confidential. We can talk via video or via phone – you don’t even have to leave your couch!

Reach out! I can’t wait to talk to you!