Glancing down as I walked the dog along the creek bed, my eye was caught by a thin, rectangular, gray stone. I was compelled to pick it up and run my hands over its satiny surface and put it in my pocket to bring home.

I have become somewhat of a rockhound over the years. Instead of T-shirts and knickknacks from trips, I have opted to bring home stones from places of significance to me. The Russian River in northern California provided a number of rocks I collected while training as an expressive arts therapist over several years of weeklong retreats in Geyserville. One of my favorites is a small heart-shaped blood-red stone with white marbling.

There are several stones taken from the southern shore of Ireland while visiting where some of my paternal ancestors came from.

On a trip to the grave of my great-great grandmother, who died on the Oregon Trail in Wyoming in 1852, I brought back several stones from her gravesite and others from ruts of the Oregon Trail. On another trip, one larger rock, that sits on my front porch, came from the campground in eastern Oregon where the ancestors’ wagon train left the Snake River and headed west to the Willamette Valley.

The newest member of my collection, from Whychus Creek, has been sitting on my kitchen counter, encouraging me to think about the forces of nature that smooth out the wrinkles of creekside rocks – freezing temperatures that break rocks apart, the power of water that wears down a rock’s surface, and the tumbling of rocks against one another.

I have also been reflecting on comparable forces in my own life that have, as I often say, knocked off my sharp corners and edges. Like the stones, I have been worn to a smoother surface by life events and people. The latest event started with an unbroken fall in early October when I landed flat on my face, hitting my head and breaking my nose. For the first several months after the fall, my nose healed and I seemed to have escaped any other injuries.

However, since December, I have been experiencing a variety of symptoms — headaches, brain fog, dizziness, confusion, and memory issues. Are they post-concussion symptoms, something else entirely, or a combination? My calendar has been full of appointments to deal with my current conditions and more are scheduled.

These past several months have certainly increased my appreciation for my mental capabilities and what it is like to be dealing with limitations that dictate what I can and can’t do. This has been a very humbling experience.

As hard as I have pushed to keep my regular schedule and meet writing deadlines, it is time for me to take a full rest and temporarily put my writing on hold. Hopefully, this will be a short hiatus, but the health of my brain and its cognitive functioning must take precedence.

I hope to be back on the pages of The Nugget soon. To all who have provided words of encouragement and offers of help, a sincere thank-you.