Showing posts from 2023

No Longer Afraid, Part 3b: The Amazing Things that Happened After the "Years from Hell"

So that I won't bore you with another long story, I'm just going to list as many of the things that I have experienced and learned during the time after "the incident." (not necessarily in chronological order or order of importance... I'm just writing as I remember them.) Note: If you didn't read Part 3a of this series, go back and find it first. - Started back learning sign language, something I had tried to learn most of my life and had given up on a couple of years before the incident, after finding out that Travis also had started classes a couple of years before we met. We now go to a deaf church and I regularly "sing" (sign) songs during our church services. - After deciding to become a "none" (someone who has completely given up on organized religion), God led me to a church where I'm accepted as I am, and where I can practice sign as I am part of a deaf ministry within a hearing church - best of both worlds! - Learned a LOT of p

No Longer Afraid, Part 3a: The Amazing Things that Happened After the "Years from Hell"

So that I won't bore you with another long story, I'm just going to list as many of the things that I have experienced and learned during the time after "the incident." (not necessarily in chronological order or order of importance... I'm just writing as I remember them.) But before I get going with the list, I have to highlight the most unlikely and incredible event: On the way home from our honeymoon, Travis and I stopped at a rest stop in the northern part of Alabama. As I walked into the building, I saw a dad talking to his son about Fahrenheit vs Celcius while looking at a thermometer on the porch. This wasn't anything amazing, except that the son was a teenager and had Down Syndrome.  I remember thinking - boy, that kid must have some great parents and have had some amazing teachers. (Not that I don't believe those with Down Syndrome can't learn - in fact, I feel totally the opposite - but because of stigmas and fewer opportunities than others, m

When the Progress You've Made Isn't Enough (Coping with Panic Attacks)

I've made a lot of progress through all of the years of counseling, self-help information, addiction support groups, EMDR, and other activities that contribute to healing.  And I've made a lot of progress. Really I have.  However...  There have been two instances in the past few weeks that showed that I still have a loooooonnnnng way to go.  When I woke up for church a couple of weeks ago, I wasn't feeling well. I almost didn't go.  It was one of those times my determination (stubbornness?) was an asset, I guess. I had missed a lot lately due to work and other issues so I got ready and left.  On the way, I started having a panic attack. It's been a while since I've had one and I knew I couldn't handle Sunday School the way I was feeling.  I called my husband who was driving his car (due to somewhere he had to go right after church) and explained my thoughts about a way to cope. My plan was to go to a local Dollar Tree and shop for about the next 45 minutes (

No Longer Afraid Part 2: Provision During "The Year From Hell"

As often happens, it took a while for me to add part 2 to my last post. As I'm incredibly busy right now with work, it would have been even longer to write this, but just as I decided to go to the pool to work out this morning (something else I've been putting off), it started thundering. The pool I go to still has the winter season dome over it so the rain isn't an issue - but if there's lightning in the vicinity they clear the pool. So... I have some extra time to finally finish the "No Longer Afraid" post. (Don't worry - it won't be as long as the other post.) The same day "the incident" happened (which led to what I affectionately called "The Year from Hell"), I interviewed at Sylvan Learning for a part-time job. The director was a former student's parent and she loved me. She called me about the job and as soon as I sat down for the interview, she told me I had the job if I wanted it - the interview was to simply tell me wh

No Longer Afraid Part 1: The Beginning

I can't believe I'm about to share this. I've only shared it with a little over a handful of people - and it happened over 7 years ago. When I tell people I lived in Tennessee most of my adult life, taught special ed for 25 years, and came back to Birmingham because my parents are at the age they need someone around, I wasn't lying. However, I was leaving out an important detail. One of the main reasons I moved back here was because I left my job. You might ask why that was a big deal - pretty much everyone has lost a job at some point for one reason or another. Personally, I've been devastated some of those times I was fired/let go/was no longer needed. This was different - waaaay different. Technically, I resigned. Technically, I wasn't fired. Technically, it was my choice. But it wasn't. Back in the fall of 2015, I made a mistake. It was a big mistake and it's one that has changed the course of my life in tremendous ways - both good and bad.  Before I

My Introduction at a Pathfinders Meeting

This new group of women that I got to meet today are all P.O.N.F - Paralyzed, Overwhelmed, Fearful, and Needy. In fact, that's why we were all there, including the leader.  I suggest that we call ourselves the PONF Pathfinder People. (Try to say that 3 times fast!) When I saw the question in our workbook that we addressed as we introduced ourselves, "Do you feel overwhelmed, paralyzed, or needy?" (we added 'fearful' during the session), my answer was, "Yes!" There was no "or" about it. My life defines PONF... and during introductions was one of those times it showed its ugly head. The leader of the group, a friend of mine, knew how much I was struggling. When it was my turn to introduce myself, she offered to do so for me. However, I knew she would tell the highlight reel of where I am and I wanted to share where I really am. I tried. Really, I did.  But I had been shaking more and more from nerves as my turn got closer and closer... when I st

My "Your Voice" Editorial

I was asked to write this for a sidebar about an article featuring the book "Triumph from Tragedy." Little did I know that they would publish it in the "Your Voice" section of the paper... Originally published in The Alabama Baptist newspaper's "Your Voice" on Feb 17, 2022: "TAB Photographer, Writer Shares How God Opened Doors of Opportunity" By Tracy Riggs Freelance photographer and writer Growing up, I had two far-fetched dreams: to be a professional photographer and a published author. However, I wasn’t a risk-taker and pursued a teaching career instead. While in college, I shot some weddings. I was paid, so technically I was a “professional,” but I felt like a fraud. I had no formal training and didn’t have “professional” equipment. Later, as a single parent with a full-time job, I gave up photography work. I took photos of my family and penned long-winded journal entries, but I had no faith

Scarcity vs Abundance

I'm now on my husband's insurance. It's good insurance but it has a huge deductible, which for someone like me who has multiple mental and physical health conditions, it makes a difference. Last year my deductible was really low and my co-pays ranged from $0 to $30 for regular stuff and then no more than a couple hundred for big tests/procedures. This year so far I've had some doctor's visits that were "only" $80 to my PT for my shoulder being $130 for each session. Why am I starting this blog with this information? Another hit in this area has been my counseling. Last year I was able to afford to meet with my therapist once every week or two. With the increase in fee, I moved it to once every three weeks for now... and it might be once a month those months that money's really tight. When I went from two sessions a week to one due to the cost, my physical therapist gave me more exercises to do at home since I was missing a session every week. So... I b

First Time to Pick Up a Camera Since Rotator Cuff Surgery

I posted this on Facebook yesterday. It's short (so unlike me!), but I so often share my struggles... I thought it might be good to share a success. Unfortunately, I can't share the photos I alude to here, but if you want to see them, go to and look for the post dated 1-22-23. " I feel very amazed... blessed... and just a tiny bit sad. Below is the first shot I've taken since my rotator cuff surgery on November 21st - almost 9 weeks since the surgery. It's with my shorter lens (lighter) because I still can't pick up my best camera/lens (too heavy). The "sad" is that I am still very limited in how much I can shoot. I want to go crazy shooting the action, but I still have to be very careful with my shoulder. I'm just now getting back a decent range of motion and my strength is still way below normal. One really cool thing is that Travis and I have full access passes, including media seats, access to shoot on t

Transitioning to Being Married During Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery

  Marriage is, um, interesting. I still look at him next to me in bed or on the couch and ask him, did this really happen... are we really married? It's been an adjustment, especially since we live with my parents and all the stuff that's gone on since we got home from the honeymoon...  My daughter and her fiance' had to move quickly and they have a LOT of stuff. ALL of their help fell through so he and Shelby ended up doing a lot of the move without anyone else. This was after my rotator cuff surgery where I desperately needed help full time, but he had to work and then go help them move when he got off work.  This also took a big hit on us financially because they didn't have the money to move or to pay deposits, etc. There was no one else to help, so we did. This was on top of me not being able to work as soon as they said I would, so I have made almost nothing for 2 months now... and we had some other unexpected bills that came up after we started sorting out financ

I Am Not My Pain podcasts

Last June I was contacted by Melissa, the host of the "I Am Not My Pain" podcast, about sharing my story through that platform. I was overwhelmed between the surgeries, The World Games, wedding, taking care of my parents, etc... so it took a while to schedule. Then after we finally did the interview, it took a while for her to edit all of my ramblings. However, if you read this blog, you might be interested in hearing my voice through something other than print.  This is how to access the podcasts... Part 1 - Part 2 - If you do decide to listen to them, I would appreciate it if you would email me and let me know what you thought or if it helped you. My email address is Hope you like them.

It Never Seems to End - Post Rotator Cuff Surgery Recovery with Mental Illness

I really thought I had written more posts recently. Thinking back, I pushed myself to write the last post - and regretted it.  I have barely been back to my desk since. To be clear, it wasn't writing the blog post that took me out of commission... it was my anxiety.  This recovery from rotator cuff surgery has been rough. I heard somewhere that it's the 3rd worst pain, just after childbirth and kidney stones. Now that I'm into my 6th-week post-surgery, I would say the pain isn't that bad (though it's definitely there)... it's the limitations that drive you mad. Add to that anxiety and bipolar disorders and being very overweight and it's been, um, fun?  I've had a difficult time staying out of my head while healing. There are mixed signals everywhere you look for advice on how to make it through this time. One YouTube video will say to keep your arm completely immobilized; a website article will say it's okay to move it some; then you'll come acro