Saturday, December 31, 2011

SURPRISE!!!

I came home from work this afternoon, to find my family furiously cleaning. My dad looked up long enough to say, "Hey, Danny & Danielle called, they may come over later today." Danny is my cousin who lives in Virginia, and Danielle is his daughter. They are in SC only because Danny's mother is in the hospital in very serious condition.

About 5 minutes later (or so it seemed), there was a knock on the door. Danielle's sweet face was the first I saw, followed by..... my other cousin, Danny's brother Ray. Danny was right behind them. I hadn't seen Ray in probably 8 or 9 years. It was fantastic to see him, and he was amazed to see the changes in me. He hadn't been told until they were on the way to our house, when Danny said, "Oh yeah, by the way, don't be surprised when you see Annette, she's dropped a ton of weight."

They stayed for a while -- which heck, they could have stayed longer but they had just a short window between visiting hours for ICU. And they have to hit the road again tomorrow, as the new semester for Danielle kicks off Monday.

As they were here, and for the rest of the night, I've been thinking about family.

I am one of two grandchildren on my mother's side, the other being my brother. On Dad's side, I'm one of fifteen grands. But in my early life, I tended to associate "family" with my mother's side.... after all, I grew up in her hometown, with her large extended family. I had cousins galore on that side, but only saw my first cousins on special occasions -- holidays at Granny's, the occasional Sunday afternoon trip to her place, etc. I wasn't as close to them, because of the distance -- most of them lived within a 15-20 minute drive of my grandmother, and I was about an hour away.

But as an adult, I have grown to love the relationships I've forged with my first cousins. They are so very precious to me, not just because of the genetic link to them, but the bonds that the heart forms. I see the little posts on Facebook sometimes about "Cousins are our very first 'best friends'..." and I get a little wistful. My earliest best friends were never related to me... they were kids from church and school, and then the various cousins' children, but not to the same degree. And I'm glad for social media -- it has allowed our family to keep in touch even more closely, for the big things and little things. From a distance, I get to see my cousin's new baby. And I keep up with the happenings of those who live a little more closely. I get to find out more about my family, and get to know them better.

So thanks, Ray & Danny (and Danielle) for stopping in today and giving me a wonderful gift: your presence, even for a short time, and a good reminder of the beautiful things in our families.

Can't Say It Any Better.....

Sayonara, 2011 .... you were better than 2010 (thank God), but you're not as good as 2012 is gonna be! Truly, I appreciate everything you brought me this year -- good work, good friends, a chance to do something I had cast to the side for way too long, new challenges, new information, and a million opportunities. I only wish I'd been able to take advantage of all the wonderful ones, but I also can say thank you for the curves thrown in my path too.

And here's some awesome, awesome advice for 2012:
http://createyourgreatlife.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/30-things-to-stop-doing-to-yourself/

Just read it. Really read it. Take it slowly -- read one a week or every 10 days and make it your focus. Or if something doesn't apply, be grateful for that, and move to the ones which do matter to you.

Happy New Year, my friends. Make 2012 the best year ever!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday, 12/1/11



1. The holiday season is a mixed bag for me. I like what the season is all about but I really am not a big fan of the HYPE machine that "the holidays" have become. I don't know how a message of love, joy, peace, and hope got twisted into "you are a weenie if you don't spend money you don't have on crap you don't need." (stepping off soapbox) .

2. Snow makes me excited because we so rarely get it. Last year was my first white Christmas EVER. EVER. In 42 years, EVER .

3. The best comfort food to eat when it's cold out is chili and cornbread. Any soup and homemade bread. Or veggie soup with grilled cheese sandwiches .

4. Winter is the best time for getting caught up on things like reading, writing, scrapping .

5. I can hardly wait for our Festival of Lessons & Carols (Dec 11) and our prelude (I have a solo!) .

6. When it comes to holiday gifts I prefer to give gifts cards. I know, so many people think that they're so impersonal, and maybe they are, but hey, at least this way YOU (the recipient) can get something YOU want/need instead of "Oh! How lovely! Just what I wanted!" (clenched teeth smile) .

7. If I were to rate my excitement about the holiday season on a scale from 1-10, I would say I am at about a 3. But that's every year. I just don't get all whooped up for it. Sorry .

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fill In The Blank Friday, 11/25/11

Happy Black Friday!

Today just so happens to be the craziest shopping day of the year. But, hopefully in the midst of it all you'll take a moment to fill in some blanks...it's always more fun when you play along :).

1. Waking up at the break of dawn to go shopping is my idea of pure insanity. There is no deal out there worth all the hassle. Repeat. Believe .

2. If I were to go shopping today I would be on the hunt for a new Advent wreath. I have the typical round brass circle with openings for tapers. I get the whole "eternal circle" thing but frankly it doesn't work for me. So I'm on the lookout for something new and neat. I tried just pillars on a tray, and then tealights as well, but it's not cutting it for me .

3. The best thing I ate yesterday was my parents' dressing. It is DRESSING, not STUFFING, although in the interest of time, they do use stuffing mix in theirs. But it is worth every moment of indulgence to eat it a couple of times a year. Let me put it this way ... a few years ago, I was having a rough time at the job I was in at the time. Just to make me feel better about things, my mama made me turkey breast and dressing one weekend. THAT was love .

4. Something I've been learning lately is I need to trust that the Universe is unfolding exactly as it is supposed to, and that I have to trust the entire process, not just the infinitesimal sliver of it that I see .

5. I cannot start my day without breakfast. This week, I even ate at o-dark-thirty before taking off for the gym. Worked just as well as fixing breakfast once I got to work .... but breakfast is a must, no ifs ands or buts .

6. My nighttime attire consists of like once I get home, or time for beddy-bye? If it's the former, I immediately change into jeans (top stays the same, usually). For sleeping, PJ or yoga pants and a tee .

7. I am looking forward to going back to the ice rink this weekend, this time with my godchildren. I had SO much fun today! .

Lessons from the Rink

Today, I went ice-skating for the first time in almost 27 years. The last time I went was January 1985, at the Eastland Mall in Charlotte NC (back when it wasn't such a scary place, from what I hear). In the lowest level of the mall was an ice rink. My cousin went a good bit, but it was our first time ever. My brother made one trip around, and came back to our relative and said, "Mary, thank you for paying for me to skate, but I think I'll stay over here with you." As for me, I was younger but heavier than I am now, and also way more fearful. I'm not sure why - usually, youth is full of reckless abandon, but I was a way more calculating soul back then. Guess I'm like Benjamin Button, born old and getting younger with each year......

I made my way around that day, very haltingly and unsure. My cousin glided by fairly easily. There was a young girl there that day who was in the center of the rink and she was probably in competitive skating -- she was that good. Great, even more reason for me to not even be out there, because I was a total flop. Epic fail. I stayed on the ice just putzing around, and then we were ready to go. I was never so glad to pull skates off in my life. Roller skating - totally different. Not that I was any more athletic on concrete or wood compared to ice, but I had four wheels under my feet instead of a blade in the center.

Since then, as most of you know, things are a bit different in my life. And today was the opening for a new venture in downtown Greenville: a seasonal ice-skating rink! We have a year-round rink on the eastside of Greenville at one of the county rec facilities, but I have never gone there to skate. In downtown, just next to City Hall and in front of the Courtyard by Marriott, they have constructed "UBS Ice on Main" running from today until January 8.

I knew about the rink, but I didn't think much about it until something struck me while watching TV this morning. And it hit me: GO SKATING! I was planning to get in a workout anyway today, and as much as I enjoy my gym, I thought this might be a good way to burn off some of the feasting from yesterday. (Lesson One: shake things up!)

So I drove over, parked in the garage and walked about a block to the rink. Paid the fee (which included skate rental) and after lacing up the skates proceeded to go to the rink. I stood there for a couple of minutes because DUH... I had laced up on the steps near the entrance and would have to walk on the blades across brickwork. Doofus me. After a few seconds, this nice gentleman who works there said, "Ma'am, I'll help you to the rubber mats." Once I got to the mats, next to the rink, things were much easier! (So Lesson Two: know your surroundings).

I got out on the ice and things were already better than there were in 1985. One, I'm older and no longer care whether or not I look stupid out there. And two, I have better balance and stronger legs than I did then. So right away, +2 in my favor! The first lap around was wobbly, but then I began to do much better. And then better, and better. I got more confident, and while I wasn't doing stunts, I wasn't always hanging on to the sides of the rink either. I learned to maneuver around those who were standing still. (Lesson Three: Crawl, then walk, then....)

Now, at one point, we all had to get off the ice. It had gotten very grooved, with plenty of shaved ice especially along the outer edges. So we all took a break while they cleared the shaved ice and brought out the Zamboni. It gave us all a chance to tighten our laces, check our skates, and just be patient while the rink went through some needed repairs (Lesson Four: Take time for repairs now to save trouble later).

So with ice restored, I got back out there.... WOW! Much better! Smoother surface, easier gliding, and things were going good. I got to Turn Four (so to speak) and ..... I ended up on my left leg, knee down, and circling. I did a full 360 on my left knee. Well, what else could I do at that point except throw my arms up in a Victory formation and go, "Tada!!" Wipeout #1! (Lesson Five: Pride goeth before a fall. Literally, in this case!)

While out on the ice, I felt like my skates just weren't quite right. They were a smidge too big. Unfortunately, they don't have half-sizes at the skate rental shack, so I had to go down a whole size. And re-establish myself on the ice .... learn to rebalance, regroup and get going again! And so I did ... not sure that the shoe change made that much of a difference but sometimes a perceived advantage is all it takes. (Lesson Six: Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!)

After about another 20 minutes, my feet were starting to ache just a little. So I figured one more trip around, and then that would be it. And so it was. But I wasn't ready to leave downtown just yet. So I figured why not walk the few blocks up to the Hyatt (the start of the downtown revitalization area all those years back), and walk my way back down to the garage. It had been quite some time since I'd really walked downtown Greenville, and I couldn't believe how many new things had opened in just a few months. Amazing!

After a couple of stops (Barkery Bistro and Mast General Store), it was definitely time for me to head out..... but I can't wait to go back to the rink! Planning to take my godkids this weekend, and have some more fun! If you are in Upstate SC and are looking for something fun to do, check them out online for the times and additional information. You won't be sorry!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

State of the Me Address

It has been an interesting few weeks for me...... yeah, let's just say "interesting." I wrote in September about having a few days off. I ended up taking an extra day, very unplanned, due to a medical emergency.

On my last planned day off, I was at a meeting of our lymphedema support group. We had a special guest speaker, and as I was listening to her talk, I suddenly felt very queasy and then this overriding sensation that I was dizzy and needed to get some fresh air. My body and brain were not in communication with each other all that well, and swoooooooooon down I went. Short story: there was no medical reason I should have fainted. So they asked me to follow up with my primary care doc -- and as luck would have it, I had an appointment with her the next week. We were due to go over some labwork that I'd had done the week before.

My doctor, to her credit, said, "Labwork, yeah yeah. What's the deal with you fainting?" We went over the labwork which did show a couple of areas of concern -- but she did not want to start me on any medication until they had ruled out a cardiac issue. She set up a referral for me to a cardiologist. Words I never thought I'd utter: "Hi, my name is Nettiemac, I am 42, and I have a cardiologist."

So a couple of weeks later (end of October), I found myself in a cardiologist's office, being hooked up for an EKG. And afterwards, they sent me to another area, where I was immediately fitted with a holter monitor, which I wore dutifully for 24 hours. I go in this week for an echocardiogram, and then we'll go from there.

THEN, a week after that, I was sitting in my office at mid-morning when I felt this pain in my stomach -- the kind that you feel during a bout of food poisoning. Hey, having gone through that just once in my life, believe me, I never want to go through it again. Four hours later, I was driving myself home, sick as could be. I collapsed onto the bed and did not move again for four-and-a-half hours. I swear, I think I stayed in the same position that entire time. I woke up the next morning fully expecting to be okay enough to go into work. But other plans were afoot: I didn't even have the energy to stand long enough to make breakfast. Oh yeah. I was going nowhere but back to sleep. By the evening, I felt well enough to plan to go in the next day. So I am guessing it was some sort of 24-hour stomach bug. But UGH UGH UGH!!!

Health issues aside, there have been some changes at work too. Plans are for our sister company to move under the same roof as us, and so there has been some restructuring and reorganization of duties. So come January 1, I will be the main point-of-contact for payroll and a few other HR/accounting related reports. And we have a new HR generalist to handle the heavier-duty HR responsibilities. I met her this week (first week) and so far, so very good.

The only downside is that my plans for NaNoWriMo 2011 are out the window. Who has time? I can't even hope to make it up over Thanksgiving weekend!

All in all, it's a good life, and I have so much to be thankful for -- a doctor that is looking out for my health, good friends who love me, a great job, and much much more!!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Fill In the Blank Friday

Happy Friday!
Let's fill in some blanks!


1. My favorite thing about this week was/is having dinner with my godson .... my sweet little "birthday buddy" is growing up so fast .

2. Colder weather makes me cold but strangely energized ... at least until we hit full-on winter! (Then, it makes me want to hibernate!) .

3. Three things that make me terribly happy as of late are my godchildren, my dog, and the NaNoWriMo project I'm doing .

4. If I could only wear one kind of shoe for the rest of my life, I'd choose leather clogs/mules. Comfy, dressy, casual, love

5. My personality type is INFP. I used to rebel at the thought of being an "introvert" until I realized that it's not so much a statement on how social I am, as to how I get my energy. Solitude renews and energizes me, so yeah.... introvert .

6. I have a serious problem resisting two things: mindless eating when really stressed, and the kitchen section of department stores. You laugh, I'm not. I am POWERLESS over those lovely shiny tools and appliances .

7. My favorite color to wear is every color except orange and yellow - everything else is fair game. And fabric? Denim. I'd wear it every day if I could! (Oh wait, once I get home, I do!) .

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday, 10/20

1. Nothing says fall like apples, pumpkins, crisp air, firepits crackling on decks everywhere or big bonfires on beaches, cider, football.......
2. My favorite autumnal tradition is I don't really have one, other than football, football, football.....
3. My favorite fall treat is apple butter (making some more this weekend), and Russian Tea (a mix of Tang, instant tea, and spices).
4. Fall makes me think of everything good in life. I am a fall girl, all the way; always have been, always will be..
5. Autumn free form word association, go! birthday, leaves, football, spice, warm fuzzies.
6. My go-to outfit in the fall is jeans and a sweater. Or jeans and a hoodie. Or jeans and...... (I'm also a jeans girl).
7. My favorite fall holiday is (Halloween or Thanksgiving) Halloween!!!! I love dressing in costume (usually). I suppose on one level, I like that for one day I can be someone else.... but I love T-day too!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Silence & Solitude...

I'm in the middle of some planned time off, and it's been nice to run at about 70% for a change! Today, I had a couple of planned appointments, and I ended up running early for one of them, so I had some extra time to spare. I had about 45 minutes to spare for my afternoon appointment, and saw a sign that I had to follow.

My appointment was in the town where I worked for nearly 10 years, and I had seen this sign ("Wildlife Viewing Area") and always thought, "Yeah, right!" derisively. But today, I decided to check it out. Well, I have to admit, it wasn't to view wildlife. Mostly, I wanted a quiet place to do some writing. I've felt the need to do some introspection and writing lately, and I've needed to find the right space for it. Right now, as I type this, I'm watching football and hearing the clickety-clack of my keyboard.... which is fine. But for trying to find and best express what is in my heart and soul, then good old fashioned ink and paper was the only thing that would do.

So I made the turn and was greeted by suburbia... nice little houses with manicured lawns and pretty shrubs and fall flowers. Not exactly "wildlife" is it? But I drove on and suddenly, I was on a twisty little mountain drive. There, I saw the Department of Natural Resources sign announcing where I was, and yes, indeedy, it's a nature preserve, right there about a half-mile from nice ranch houses. Not at all what I was expecting.

I rolled down the car window to do some writing and get some fresh air ... and I heard it. I have no idea what kind of birds these were, but they had a distinctive call, and they were just beautiful in their gliding. They were enormous, compared to your average swallow (African and European, combined!), but next to a condor, probably not so big. But it was amazing to just sit and watch them for a while.

Then it appeared. From out of the woods came a butterfly -- not a particularly showy one, rather plain grey-black with a little blue coloring on the tips of the wings. But it landed right on the hood of my car, almost looking at me, and then it turned around to show me its wings. And it flitted for a second and came back. I was speechless. I was in complete awe.

I thought of the quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne: "Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." Which is exactly what I needed to hear, even if just in my heart. And butterflies, as a symbol, often come up in my life. For those of us who live with lymphedema, the butterfly is our symbol to remind us that the therapist's touch should be as light to us as that of a butterfly, and that new life always emerges. And I have often thought of my own journey of change throughout my life -- in many different areas -- as that of the caterpillar to butterfly. Since butterflies have extra meaning for me, I wondered what this could have meant..... and then I thought, "Stop. Just stop analyzing and enjoy the wonder."

I didn't write a thing. Too awed by the few minutes I spent in solitude, with no noise and no need to do anything except BE THERE.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

If you ever wondered why...

For most of the days of the week, I set my Facebook status each morning with a positive quote, or at least food for thought. Why? Because I need to..........

I need to remember the beauty in life, especially when I feel saddened by the state of the world.
I need to remember that everything really does work together for good, especially when I see things that make no sense in a fair and just place.
I need to remember that there is a higher purpose and a better way to live, especially when I get bogged down in the minutiae of things that really don't matter in the long run.
I need to remember that most people really are good at heart, especially when it seems that so much attention is focused on the ones whose hearts are not in good places.
I need to remember that I need to live my life by higher thoughts, higher principles, especially when I fall so far short of those lofty standards.
I need to remember, and I need to act. I need to aspire, and I need to strive.

Do I succeed each day? Yes, as often as I fail in the same goals.

Every single day is a do-over, every moment a chance to reclaim the good and to eschew the bad. It is a chance to try harder and forgive ourselves - and others - for our shortcomings. It is a calling to go higher, dream bigger, work harder, and to reach farther. And this is why I post those inspirational thoughts -- because I need to remember.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fill In The Blank Friday

1. The best thing I did all week was get things together to do my Godspell scrapbook, and THIS TIME, by God, I'm actually going to finish a scrapbook!!

2. Blue jeans make me super happy.

3. Pets are adorable - I love my furbaby so much!

4. My optimism is the best thing about my life. Okay, really, everything about my life is pretty doggone nice. I shouldn't complain at all ... the annoyances are just that.

5. With the cooler weather I am looking forward to nights on the back deck, firepit blazing and coffee brewing. My brother's deep philosophizing and talk of (and watching of) football. GOD ALMIGHTY, DO I LOVE FALL!!!!

6. Something that's on my "wish list" right now is for someone at the insurance company to take great pity upon me and say, "Yes, my dear, I think we can find a way to cover your skin removal surgery. It isn't just a cosmetic thing..." *or* "What do you know, all the numbers match and you have the Powerball. Congratulations!" :D

7. This weekend I am going to work tomorrow morning, go to a meeting tomorrow night, and HOPEFULLY catch up with my Godspell peeps at some point (I miss them terribly, already!) .... and just be good to myself, as much as possible. OH, and make a big pot of veggie soup for Sunday lunch.... mmm, homemade crockpot soup!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Fill In The Blank Friday

1. One thing that is completely superfluous, but that I could never give up is buying books. I know, I know - that's what libraries are for, and I do love browsing the library, but there's something about owning a book forever and forever and going back to revisit it like an old friend.

2. Dating makes me feel awkward.

3. I can't go a day without music. I tried it once, it was NOT pretty.

4. Popcorn.... no, apples..... no, ice cream.... is my favorite snack. (Never met a snack I didn't like!)

5. Lately I've been way more irritable than I want to be .

6. If at first you don't succeed find a way to make it work .

7. Fall is the most wonderful time of the year! .

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fill In the Blank Friday

1. One of life's most simple pleasures is time alone .

2. People who pull out suddenly ... and then go 25 MPH makes me want to punch someone.

3. I like the smell in the air as it is raining because, I have no idea why, but I do like it .

4. Barnacle is a funny word.

5. If I had to choose one beauty product to use for the rest of eternity it would be the little cucumber-scented facial cleansing wipes that I use ..... love 'em!

6. I'm happy that some of the things I wished for most didn't come to fruition, because I'm pretty happy with the way my life is now :) .

7. I would never get a tattoo, not because I think they're tacky or anything like that. I have a medical condition which makes tats very risky for me (slower healing process). So no ink .... which is fine because I'm not a needle person anyway!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's a Good Kind of Tired

I am tired, but it's a good kind of tired. There's the kind of tired where you're physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually tired -- and you are just exhausted in every way, and that's usually when everyone wants more out of you than you can possibly give. I've been there more often than I care to admit, and it is the most horrid kind of tired.

Then there's the tired that comes from knowing you've done a lot, done the best you could, given it everything you had and a little more, and you walk away feeling good, maybe even a little energized. Lately, that's been more my kind of tired.....

And I think for me, it comes from getting back to a lost love: acting. Performing on stage just for the pure joy of it. Right now, my calves are killing me from the dance rehearsals, my swiss-cheese brain has gotten a few more holes from trying to remember which move or which line comes next .... but I'm coming home from rehearsals feeling pretty dang good. I've been blessed to never have stage fright or any fear of being out in the spotlight in front of people. No qualms at all, no fear. There's something freeing about being on stage, something wonderful about transforming yourself into a character and being that person for a while.

So this morning, I'm two cups of coffee in. I have a full plate waiting on me at the office, I have choir practice tonight, and I will have to pack a gym bag and a lunch when I get home so that I'm ready to hit the door tomorrow morning to get in a workout. And when I get home tomorrow night around 10, I'll still be able to look back and say, "Oh yeah, it was a good day!"

In college, I felt the same way on days when we had awesome service projects, like cleaning the homeless shelter or doing National Service Day cleanups. The kind of day where you looked back and said, "WOW! I did all that? Huh, funny I don't 'feel' it....."

It's tired without being soul-tired. The best kind of tired there is.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fill In the Blank Friday

1. My idea of pure perfection would be sitting on the back deck of my beach house, overlooking the waves with a soft breeze going through my hair, eyes closed and just drinking in the environment.

2. Laughter is as essential to life as air and water.

3. If it weren't for work and bills I'd pursue a full-time career in health/wellness/fitness.

4. Bloggers are people who understand that the written word is still important, and the power that words have to change the world.

5. If I had a winning Powerball ticket I'd buy you a motorhome and a gas card where the bill comes to me, so that you can enjoy your golden years in style -- love you, Mom & Dad!

6. I'm glad it's Friday because I will have my massage tonight and simply revel in being pampered.

7. Something I'm excited about is our production of Godspell -- it's going to be magnificent!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Completely unfair....

A few weeks ago, a friend in Oregon told me about a couple of Facebook groups for two children in their area who were both battling cancer. I signed aboard to be their friends and to keep up with their progress.

Those who know me are quite aware of how much I detest cancer. It has taken way too many people I knew and loved. When I was a child, I knew people who had cancer, but it didn't seem to be quite so prevalent. I daresay it would be quite difficult to find anyone today who hasn't been affected by cancer, whether personally, in their families or circle of friends, or from someone else they know.

And sadly, it strikes regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or any other factor. It strikes without fear or mercy. It cares not what your station in life is, what your hopes and plans for the future may be. It does not care. Period.

It hit two beautiful children, separated by an entire continent from me, but my heart and prayers went out to them from afar. Both their cancers were in advanced stages, but I could always hope and pray for a miracle, right?

Then I learned of two other children, close friends of my friend, also battling cancer (in one case) and a heart condition (in another). Cancer and heart condition -- aren't those diseases of the elderly or at least something that no child should think about? But sure enough, there they were.

My parish has a beautiful tradition: a prayer book out front in which to write the names of those who have asked for our prayers. Then as the gifts are brought forward at the offertory, the book is brought forward as well, and placed on the altar as well. So our prayers are placed there in a very visual manner before God. Four new names went into the prayer book: Ethan, Faith, Keilah, Tyler .... in addition to the other names I regularly place in there and any special needs as well.

Earlier this week, Ethan lost his battle to cancer at age 9. His parents are establishing a foundation in his memory to help other children battling cancer with toys or other things to help them weather the long hospital stays -- to bring some momentary relief and reminders that they are children, kids who just want to be kids.

And yesterday, news broke that Faith's cancer is ever-worsening, and that hospice has been called in. Today, her mother posted that they had "the conversation" with her .... the one where they have told her that their options have run out, and the time she has left is what she has.

There is so much about this that is completely unfair..... two children dealing with things that no child should even have to think about or worry over. Two lives shortened unnecessarily. Two sets of parents and siblings left to grieve, to mourn what might have been, to rejoice in what was, to always have people go "oh, yeah... they lost a child." Their fraternity is one that no one wants to join: parents who have buried a child. And it doesn't matter whether that child was 8, 28, 48 -- all way too soon for their parents' liking.

But the one nice thing I read from both set of parents is a good strong faith that somehow, none of this has been entirely in vain..... that their children are/will be waiting for them in the great beyond, that their pain has ceased, their health and wholeness restored, and that there is something good that can come from all this pain and suffering. If nothing else, it has made people around the nation and around the world take a few moments and think of someone else, to not be so self-absorbed.

And to end on good news, Miss Keilah, the young girl from the East Coast, seems to be responding well to her first treatments. Her prognosis is good right now. Haven't heard an update on young Tyler, but I am hoping the news will be just as good for him.

Let's hope our prayers give them a chance to be kids just a little longer -- and on into a long, happy life!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Strolls Down Memory Lane

It seems as if the Hoover Dam broke and unleashed upon Facebook a whole slew of "You Know You're From (Wherever) When......" We don't have that one but we do have "Do You Remember At Hometown High...." and posting tons of high school memories. I'm always of two minds about high school days. I enjoy when I get to meet up with classmates or share some memories..... but at the time, high school wasn't the most pleasant of experiences.

High school was one of those times of my life that I'd never want to repeat. Living through it once was more than enough. College? Completely different story. And yet I enjoy seeing my high school classmates out and about. We did a meet-and-eat earlier this summer, and it was a blast. But back in the day, it was a different story.

I couldn't wait to get out of my hometown. Once I was gone, I tried to distance myself from the people, places, etc. of those first 17 years. Angry? Perhaps. Coming home was never even a consideration. But so it happened. I still kept a distance. I needed that wall, that angry-young-girl facade. I suppose you could say I felt so ashamed of coming home on my shield instead of carrying it. Weird wounded pride.

It has only been in the last few years, as I have become more at ease with myself and my place in the world, have I begun to attempt to make peace with having grown up here, and my HS days. We were all silly and immature, and as I see it, we've all gotten so much better. The distancing came with a price: I'll never be as close to my hometown friends as I am to the ones from college and my adult life. They are the people who really watched me come into my own, and who have been there for me in my very darkest hours. But there's also a joy in knowing people who will not look at you funny when you mention certain people, places, events. If you're from here and from a certain era, "The Fooder" will bring instant recall, as would Mrs. O'Dell or "the 100 Building." It's a good thing.

Sometimes, remembering isn't such a bad thing after all......

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse, Norway, and a messed-up world

So I'm sitting here at lunch and I see a Facebook post about Amy Winehouse being found dead. I shouldn't be surprised but at the same time, yes, I was. You hope that people get their stuff together and have happy lives, but some people just can't. I cannot imagine what kind of pain she must have felt in life that it was bad enough for her to digest the level of substances she did, but also as often. I spent a few minutes pondering why some people have tremendous amounts of pain in their lives -- from abusive homes to childhood traumas or horrid disabilities, anything that is out of the norm -- and have little trouble making their way through life, and usually with the best attitude ever. And other people can have such difficulty coping with things that most of us would either shrug off or eventually just get over...... Some people are like the Black Knight: chop off their arms and to them, just a flesh wound. Others, you can show them a safety pin at 30 paces, and they are stabbed in the heart for life. There's sensitive and then there's "really, child, toughen up!" just as much as there is "you went through all that, and you're okay? really? Wow."

Then I had another friend post an opinion about the horrific tragedy in Norway, for which there just are no words. Her thought was on what sort of odd combination of environment and genetics could possibly produce a killer like that..... and there are no answers. Here's someone who felt such deep emotion about something that this was his answer to his personal pain..... it is a massively (blank)ed-up answer to 99.99999% of the rest of the world, but his mind would not see that.

Violence.... one full of rage and took it out on 100 people who had no connection to his pain at all. One full of self-hatred and took it out on herself. Both deprived the world of something. Who knows if Amy Winehouse's talent could have blossomed and given us all lots more to enjoy in her music? Who knows what those 100 people in Norway (especially the teens) could have gone on to do and be? We mourn most what might have been...... in both instances.

And sadly, this week, a part of my childhood has gone away too..... No new program for NASA. The space shuttle program has, after 30 years, ended, with nothing substantial to replace it. NASA was something cool from my childhood -- being an astronaut? YEAH! Even as a girl, it would have been super cool! I remember watching launches on the evening news, and we all held our breaths when the very first shuttle went up and came home. I can tell you exactly where I was when I heard the news of the Challenger explosion .... and my teacher's reaction has never been forgotten in 25 years. (Wow. 25 years? Seriously? Oh geeez......) In fact, we used the whole Challenger explosion and investigation as a case study in my Public Administration class. And now it seems that we have other fish to fry. Too many different things wanting a piece of the pie, and oh well, this quaint relic from another time, well..... sorry NASA. You're expendable.

Really? How many of the technological advances that we enjoy today had a genesis or a further development from the space program? What if all that had never happened? Damn those Commies for capitulating .... they took our competitive drive away. (/sarcasm) The one remnant of the Space Race Age that I'll hang onto are some great pieces of ambient music..... or music steeped in remembrance of such a time (e.g., Donald Fagen's glorious The Nightfly, and especially "New Frontier").

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Guess today, I haz a sad. All over.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fill in the Blank Friday (7/22/11)

1. One of my happiest moments ever was This one will sound really strange, but the day I quit a job that just didn't work for me anymore. Things had happened that made my work go from good-crazy to horrific-insane. What I realized I was grown-up and it was time I took my life back into my hands. Made my decision to quit and slept like the dead that night.

2. Summer is wedding season and weddings are usually, very beautiful events.....

3. This summer (to quote Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer channeling Walter Cronkite) has been hotter than a snake's ass in a wagon rut.

4. My summer food of choice has been blueberries and grape tomatoes. Not together mind you, but yeah.....

5. My summer uniform has been more or less my regular clothes...... slacks of some sort, short-sleeved top of some sort, and shoes. It's hotter than Hades outside, freezing cold inside.... so trying to hit the middle.

6. If I could spend the entire summer in one location I would choose wherever the sand is white, the water is blue, and the men don't speak much English

7. My summer anthem is the entire "Bat out of Hell" album...... it just reminds me of some really good summers in my life.