“Let’s think outside the box, people!” Synergy
Really, it’s a very simple question, isn’t it?
What are you willing to do in order to improve the quality of your life?
Notice that I did not say “lose weight.” That’s just a nice side effect of a new approach to living. I’m down 53 pounds so far! However, the physical change is more dramatic than the number suggests because I am building lean muscle and reducing my overall body fat percentage.
“Well, what did you expect?”
Has anyone ever said that to you? Or have you ever said it to someone?
My response to both questions is “yes.”
My mother said it to me more times than I care to remember . . . always after she warned me that something would not turn out well for me, I didn’t listen, plowed ahead, and then came home dejected, disappointed. True to the ages-old conflict between teen-age daughters and their mothers, I swear that sometimes she enjoyed being right. I can still see her standing in the doorway to my bedroom right here in this house, with her hand on her hip, scolding me. “Well, really, Jane, what did you expect?” (She called me “Jane” when she wanted to be sure that the salt went straight into the wound because she knew how much I hated that name.)
I’ve said it to myself more times than I care to remember after trying to achieve something that I knew from the start was most likely unattainable. In particular, I chastised myself with that phrase when a couple of romantic relationships went sour. “Well, what did you expect?” I asked myself while looking in the mirror. “Did you really think that _________ could ever be (or stay) interested in you? Did you honestly thing that things would work out between you?”
I’ve said it to other people a couple of times, although I don’t recall ever doing it gleefully. In particular, I have asked the question of a couple of friends after they returned to unhealthy relationships and then came to cry on my shoulder when, as predicted, they had their hearts broken yet again.
If someone tells you enough times that you are not worthy, not deserving, not capable, not competent, not important, not valued, not pretty, not attractive, not desirable . . . after awhile you begin to believe it. If the people in your life tell you enough times that you will not succeed — or you tell yourself that — it won’t be long before your list of failures becomes quite lengthy.
How then do we infuse our lives with the optimism needed to set and attain goals, tempered by realistic expectations — of the world around us, the people in our lives and our own ability to reach those goals?
How do we reach for heaven, all the while knowing that we are living here on the imperfect earth?
In one of my all-time favorite books, The Road Less Traveled, the late Dr. M. Scott Peck posited that we must obtain a valid “map of reality” exposing ourselves to the “criticism and challenge of other map-makers.” We must be willing to live a life filled with personal challenges in order to live totally dedicated to truth. We find balance in our lives through the exercise of discipline. About achieving balance, he says, in part:
One measure — and perhaps the best measure — of a person’s greatness is the capacity for suffering. Yet the great are also joyful. This, then, is the paradox. Buddhists tend to ignore the Buddha’s suffering and Christians forget Christ’s joy. Buddha and Christ were not different men. The suffering of Christ letting go on the cross and the joy of Buddha letting go under the bo tree are one.
So if your goal is to avoid pain and escape suffering, I would not advise you to seek higher levels of consciousness or spiritual evolution. First, you cannot achieve them without suffering, and second, insofar as you do achieve them, you are likely to be called on to serve in ways more painful to you, or at least demanding of you, than you can now imagine. Then why desire to evolve at all, you may ask. If you ask this question, perhaps you do not know enough of joy. . .
A final word on the discipline of balancing and its essence of giving up: you must have something in order to give it up. You cannot give up anything you have not already gotten. If you give up winning without ever having won, you are where you were at the beginning: a loser. You must forge for yourself an identity before you can give it up. You must develop an ego before you can lose it. This may seem incredibly elementary, but I think it is necessary to say it, since there are many people I know who possess a vision of evolution yet seem to lack the will for it. They want, and believe it is possible, to skip over the discipline, to find an easy short-cut to sainthood.
There are no “easy short-cut[s] to sainthood.” For Christians, that’s a powerful statement and reminder of the source of our identity, i.e. the sacrifice already made for us. Jesus took no shortcuts. So why should we think that we are entitled to take any?
Every time I have found myself being asked, “Well, what did you expect?” the answer to that question has been at odds with the truth and, hence, the outcome. Each time, the question was posed only after I reached for something that I could not grasp, but my “map of reality” inched one step closer to accuracy because of the feedback received from others or my contemplation about why I failed. Each time, I learned from the experience. And each such experience helped me fine-tune the identity I am forging for myself. Each time, I was ultimately happy that I had tried, even though I failed, rather than give up at the outset on the dream of winning.
And sometimes, of course, I have succeeded and it has felt like a little glimpse of heaven.
But just a glimpse.
In “Other” Words
Trackposted to Perri Nelson’s Website, The Random Yak, Adam’s Blog, Maggie’s Notebook, Big Dog’s Weblog, Webloggin, Leaning Straight Up, The Bullwinkle Blog, The Amboy Times, Conservative Cat, Pursuing Holiness, third world county, stikNstein… has no mercy, Blue Star Chronicles, Nuke’s news and views, Pirate’s Cove, Planck’s Constant, Dumb Ox Daily News, Right Voices, Gone Hollywood, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.
You can learn more about the Carnival at An Island Life. Let Kailani know if you are interested in hosting a future edition. Entries must be submitted each Saturday evening by midnight Hawaii time.
Next week’s Carnival will be hosted by Leisa at downwiththekids.net.
Kerri of Play Library presents Dangerous Pool Toys.
Laura Young of Dragon Slayer’s Guide to Life presents When Your Old Self and New Self are out of Sync: Social Drag.
Karen Flores of Karen Flores presents By the word of their testimony – More Read Alouds
Kevin of More4Kids Parenting presents Parenting Tip of the Day: Avoid Punishing When Angry.
Super Saver of My Wealth Builder presents Investing for Our Daughter.
Erica Douglas of LittleMummy.com presents Parenting: Micro-Management v. Complete Delegation.
Riley of All Rileyed Up presents The Latest in Hair Trends.
Sara of Suburban Oblivion presents One of Those Real (Bad) Mom Days.
Csara of Baby Talkers presents Sharing.
Shera of There’s A Frog In My Soup . . . and other mixed blessings! presents Brother for Sale.
Julee of Homeschool Daze presents I’m Serious.
Summer of Wired for Noise presents Poop.
Kate of Babylune presents Unassisted Childbirth Considered More Normal.
Megan Bayliss of Imaginif. . . presents Saying No Takes Practice: Play Idea to Help Kids Say No.
Pamm of We Survived the Teens presents Teens and Sex.
Vicky of Little Legends Blog presents At what age do you let your children go out on their own?
Carol of Can’t Holder Tongue presents Bathtub Advice.
Michelle Sweeney of Tonic Gifts presents The meanest mother in the world.
Nathania Johnson of The SEM Zone presents I’m a Proud SEO Mom.
Maureen of Trinity Prep School presents Peak Experience of the Week.
Ben Cotten of Ben’s Soap Box presents My Apologies to Golden China for the Spider Monkeys.
Here in “Livable, Lovable Lodi,” we are blessed each Memorial Day by Cherokee Memorial Park’s annual “Avenue of Flags.” Today marks the fiftieth year that Memorial Day has been commemorated by a breathtakingly beautiful display of American flags.
These are not just any ordinary flags, however. When a veteran is buried, entombed or inurned in the cemetery, his/her family may donate the flag and purchase a flag pole. Thereafter, the flag, bearing the veteran’s name, and dates of birth and death, is flown each and every Memorial Day.
The photo on the right, taken a couple of years after my father’s death, is of my mother and my boys standing next to his flag. A veteran of the United States Army who served during World War II in the Pacific Theatre (Australia and New Zealand), my father rarely talked about his military experiences. We knew that it was a painful subject he preferred not to reminisce about. But he was proud to be a veteran and every Memorial Day he made it a point to drive out to the cemetery and see the flags displayed. In fact, I have the home movies he took many years ago and it is amazing to see how the cemetery has expanded and the number of flags flying there increased over the years.
So after his death, there was no discussion needed. We knew that he wanted his flag, presented to my mother when he received full posthumous military honors, donated to wave proudly in the breeze in his honor each year.
The cemetery has added a new section called the “Garden of Freedom,” designated as the final resting place for not just veterans, but also peace officers, fire fighters, support staff members and spouses. It is marked by this elegant monument:
I was moved by the juxtaposition of the large flags waving along the roadways that weave through the grounds and the densely packed field of small flags.
I hope that wherever you were today, whatever activities you engaged in, you stopped to remember those who are currently serving and risking their lives, as well as those who served in past conflicts, but never made it back to their loved ones.
I don’t care what your political opinions are . . . today is not a day to think or argue about politics. Today is a day when we need to stop, pause and look at all these flags dotting the grass and remember that each one represents the life of a young man or woman that ended far too soon. Irrespective of what you think about the wisdom of the leaders of this nation who sent them into battle, they died bravely, in service to this country. They died doing the job that they were sent to do and they are survived by grieving families and friends.
Most sobering to me is the fact that the majority of these 3,400-plus flags represent the lives of men and women who never celebrated their twenty-fifth birthdays — and never will.
Tomorrow we can resume the debate about how to bring their brothers and sisters still serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations back home safely. Tomorrow we can pick up where we left off in the battle to select a new president. Tomorrow we can again argue with each other about whether Rosie O’Donnell’s remarks were right or wrong, whether George Bush should finish out his term or be impeached, and all the rest of it.
But just for today, we owe it to all those who gave up their very lives to take a break from our own busy lives to light a candle and say to each and every one of them:
Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, The Virtuous Republic, Perri Nelson’s Website, Mark My Words, Big Dog’s Weblog, DragonLady’s World, Leaning Straight Up, Pursuing Holiness, Stageleft, stikNstein… has no mercy, Pirate’s Cove, The Pink Flamingo, Dumb Ox Daily News, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, Committees of Correspondence, DeMediacratic Nation, Maggie’s Notebook, On the Horizon, the so called me, , Webloggin, Cao’s Blog, Blue Collar Muse, Diary of the Mad Pigeon, Allie Is Wired, The World According to Carl, Blue Star Chronicles, Gulf Coast Hurricane Tracker, CORSARI D’ITALIA, High Desert Wanderer, The Yankee Sailor, and Gone Hollywood, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.
Any form of writing requires discipline. It requires devoting yourself to the task, setting aside a time and place to do it, and making a commitment to work diligently at developing your individual voice.
Even when you feel as lousy as I do right now.
Yes, I have a raging sinus infection. I saw the doctor yesterday and got the antibiotic, but it has not yet kicked in. So I have a very stuffy head, extremely sore throat, and the entire left side of my face feels like it is squished into a pressure cooker. In short, I’m pretty miserable and really just want to go crawl into my bed and forget about the world.
However . . . guess what? I have a deadline. I am a writer, I have committed to providing you with an article each Sunday — and not just any old article, but the best I am capable of writing — and so here I am with my Kleenex and Hall’s Mentholyptus, determined to live up to my promise.
And as I was sitting here wracking my congested brain for an idea, it occurred to me that I should simply write about what’s happening with me right now: I don’t feel like writing anything, I don’t much want to write anything, and I don’t feel particularly brilliant, inspired or motivated to write anything. . . and from those realities came my motivation.
We all have days like this whether because of physical illness, preoccupation with problems in our personal or professional lives, other commitments to which we must attend, the dreaded writer’s block that I have written about on several previous occasions or . . . myriad other reasons.
Determination and perseverance are what, in my opinion, transform an average or mediocre writer into a great one.
Listen to really successful writers talk about their personal habits and routines. You will hear them say over and over again that they set aside a specific time and place to write, and are very disciplined in their approach. They adhere to their commitment to write no matter what, slogging away when they don’t feel well, are distracted by other matters or events, and don’t feel creative or even competent at that particular point in time. They don’t allow anything to interfere during that designated time period and keep plugging away no matter how discouraged they get. Truly great writers will tell you that their best ideas frequently emerge during such times.
It’s about personal accountability and self-respect, too. Had I asked Karen to write something for me and gone to bed, I know myself well enough to realize that I would not have been able to relax. I would be lying there thinking about the fact that I should be writing my weekly column, wondering what she wrote for me, and probably write an article in my dreams all night long. If you are, like me, a “Type A” personality, you are nodding your head right now, empathizing. The rest of you have words like “obsessed” popping into your head and you are absolutely right. Being “Type A” is all about obsession and compulsion.
So there you have it! Write whether you feel like it or not, whether you are inspired or not, whether you feel motivated or not. Employ a highly disciplined approach, living out your commitment to your writing and monitor your results. I’m betting they will be spectacular.
And now I am taking my leave with my Kleenex and Hall’s Mentholyptus, bidding you a wonderful rest of the long weekend!
This post is also an entry in the Carnival of Family Life
Yup. It’s official. Bloggers will make virtually anything the theme of a contest. Even doo-doo.
So here’s my entry. It is short and not graphic. But every mother will relate.
This actually occurred before I was a mother. And I did not babysit as a young woman so by the time my oldest nephew, Paul — ironic that his first name begins with “P,” as in poo, but I digress — was born, I was quite clueless about how to take care of a baby. But I was crazy about the kid and I hung out with him whenever I could.
On the day in question, we went shopping at Macy*s. Paul was just a few months old . . . not talking or walking yet. He was adorable and I thought it was fun to push the kid around in the stroller because all the other shoppers smiled and cooed which gave me a chance to try on motherhood without thoroughly committing. And if they asked me how old he was, I declared my status as proud auntie. My sister appreciated my willingness to stroll because she had thoroughly committed to motherhood and enjoyed having a few moments to herself.
My sister went one way, I went the other and, being the clueless auntie, I pushed and shopped, not paying as much attention to what the kid was doing as, in retrospect, I should have. He was a very contented baby and this day was no different. He made happy baby noises, other shoppers smiled, time went by and I eventually decided I had better go find my sister.
I thought she would be pretty delighted to see what great care I had taken of her first-born and thrilled to know that the little trouper had ridden contentedly all over the store without shedding one tear or letting out any ear-piercing “let me out of this stroller” screams.
So as we happily approached her, I was quite surprised when she nonchalantly asked me, “Did you give him a cookie?”
Cookie? “What in the world is she talking about?” I thought to myself. “Where would I get a cookie and why would I give one to a kid this young?”
We both looked down at Paul, smiling happily in his stroller, and came simultaneously to the same horrifying conclusion: That was no Oreo cookie he was playing with.
Yup, I had been strolling him around, oblivious to the fact that his diaper had failed to contain its contents, so to speak, and he had his fingers in what was escaping around the elasticized legs. And those shoppers smiling at us? Yeah, they were probably mothers and fathers laughing at the clueless auntie who would eventually figure out that the kid was curiously examining the texture of something, rolling it around between his fingers . . . that he definitely should not have been playing with.
By the time I had my own kids a few years later, I had learned to pay close attention to what they did while in the stroller.
Paul is now a handsome, successful 23-year-old.
But my sister and I still laugh about “the cookie” incident whenever someone mentions Macy*s.
As the years roll by, what will sociologists make of us?
I find myself pondering that question sometimes when I think back to “the way life used to be” even in my lifetime. I find myself pondering that question today having spent some time reading the entries from my fellow participants in Sunday Scribblings, many of whom write about a desire to live a more simple life.
What does that mean?
There is no simple answer, it seems. I visited dictionary.com to read the actual definition of the word. Random House’s Unabridged Dictionary provided 29 different meanings. Even the word “simple” is not, as it turns out, so simple, i.e., “not complex or compound” (meaning #6). Roget’s New Millenium Thesaurus cites “uncluttered” as the second adjective describing simple, including terms like absolute, austere, classic, clean, folksy, humble, modest, plain, unaffected, uncompounded, unfussy, unostentatious, unpretentious.
The generations in my family were separated by many years. My grandfather was born in 1875 (the same year the telephone was invented) in Norway and emigrated to the United States in 1893. My grandmother came to the United States when she was eight years old. The year was 1889. She, too, came from Norway, traveling with her mother only after her father had worked here for seven years to earn enough money to send for them. She used to tell the story of getting lost in New York City with her mother, who did not speak English, of course, and finally making their way to the south Dakota prairie and the sod hut that my great-grandfather had erected upon the 160 acres he received from the United States government. I assume he also got the mule.
My mother came along in 1916, ten years after my grandparents married. She was the sixth of eight children, three of whom died before she was born — one was stillborn, one lived a few hours and the girl born immediately prior to my mother lived about three months before dying of pneumonia. My grandparents did something that most people today would never dream of doing: They gave my mother the exact same name so that she not only lived in the shadow of a child lost, she also bore the same identity. And hated seeing a tombstone in the little cemetery alongside the Lutheran church that bore her own name.
By anyone’s standards, these people lived a simple life:
I was born when my mother was forty years old. We moved from South Dakota to California when I was only six months old. Why? My father was in search of a simpler life that did not require him to work sixty hours per week as an auto mechanic in the Buick-Chevrolet-John Deer dealership, in addition to being on-call with the tow truck. Oh, yeah . . . he also farmed “on the side.” California looked like Nirvana: No snow, no tow truck and unionized car dealerships where he would be paid by the hour, not on commission, and work “only” forty hours per week.
My parents’ dreams were simple: To earn an honest living, raise their girls well and see them finish college, and own their home “free and clear.” They accomplished all of it. And anyone who knew my parents could tell you that the adjectives about describe them. They were folksy, humble, modest, plain, unaffected, unpretentious people.
And yet . . . in their lifetimes the world was transformed from the simple, small environment in which they grew up to a complex, complicated place. I remember well the look on my father’s face as he sat glued to the television screen watching Arthur the “Scud Stud” something-or-other reporting on the Gulf War. He simply could not believe, even in that post-Vietnam era, that he was watching the war unfold before his eyes on a 25″ screen. He was fascinated. After all, his letters home from Australia and the Philippines took weeks to reach my mother back on the prairie and gave no comfort as to his well-being on the day they finally arrived.
What would my father think about all the electronic gadgets that reside here in the house he built? Would he be tickled or annoyed by the fact that his living room now hosts two computer desks, two pcu’s, two monitors, not to mention the scanner, printer, digital cameras, cable box that connects us to hundreds of different channels and allows us to transmit information around the world in milliseconds? Would he be fascinated by the technology or horrified by the way in which the simple world he knew has been transformed?
And what does the concept of a “simple life” mean for the people who reside here in the house he built? How do we define and shape that concept to give context to our crazy twenty-first century lives?
Confucius said, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” With all due respect, Confucius did not live in an age of mass communication within a celebrity-driven culture where medical science has advanced to the point that average human beings find themselves baffled and overwhelmed by the decisions they are called upon to make.
With all due respect, Confucius did not have to deal with his personal land line and cell phone ringing concurrent with a call coming in on his business cell phone and e-mails requiring attention popping up on the screen in front of him. But that is a typical day for me . . . and probably for many of you. That is the world in which I reside. And sometimes, especially when I pull out old pictures like the one above, it perplexes me.
Still, pondering the notion of a simple life while looking at the photos of my ancestors, it seems to me that our lives are more similar than they might, at first blush, seem. We are the same in many ways . . . our core beliefs, moral centers, ultimate priorities. Although we may conceptualize and worship the concept of “God” somewhat differently, we still believe essentially the same things. They were honest, hard-working, tax-paying Americans motivated to provide for and make the lives of their children more comfortable and successful than their own. What was their utmost priority? Family. So, you see, when you evaluate life on its simplest terms, we are the same.
But what I have an abundance of is something they were not offered and could not even imagine: Choices. From that perspective, I think Confucius’ observation was timeless. It is the choices laid before us that complicate our lives. Hindsight will compel sociologists to conclude that it isn’t the advances in technology, science or communications that make a difference in our lives. It is the choices we make about how we will respond to, cope with, make use of and, ultimately, accept or reject the trappings of the world in which we exist that will define us, not the world itself.
When I consider the idea of a simple life from that perspective, it is less murky. When all those phones are ringing and the e-mails are popping up, I must prioritize. My choice? When the call coming in on my cell phone is from one of my kids, it is simple. That call takes precedence and I choose to turn off or block out all other distractions. That reality unites me with all the prior generations no matter how different the backdrops and surroundings in the photos are.
I feel crappy.
It started a few days ago . . . that familiar ache in my cheekbones, radiating up into my eye and down into my gums. Yesterday, I developed a very stuffy nose and scratchy throat. By last night, I was miserable so it was off to the doctor today. Sure enough . . . the sinus infection has returned and I am back on an antibiotic.
I never had allergies until a couple of years ago, which a lot of people found pretty amazing given that I live in a “Big Valley” that is a notorious allergy zone. Things got really out of control in May 2005, when I traveled to Oregon with the rock band I was playing in. We stayed at a church-run camp. Trying, literally, to be a “good camper,” I stayed in one of the cabins. I knew when I walked in that I should run back out the door . . . the smell of mold and mildew was palpable. But it was a long way back to the nearest town via a dark, twisty road that I simply could not navigate by myself with my post-retinal detachment vision. So I fired up the small wall heater in an attempt to rid the air of as many harmful molecules as possible . . .
Ironically, I had undergone a root canal a few days earlier and the doctor told me that the infection in that tooth was probably not completely eradicated when I spent one sleepless night in that cabin. The next night, I did go to a hotel in town, but the damage was done. When I got on the plane to come home the following morning, I could not open and close my mouth because of the pain in my cheek and jaw. Antibiotics, breathing treatments, inhalers followed but it seemed that after that episode, I was always out of breath, congested and miserable.
Finally, last summer, I went to my doctor and declared, “I can’t live like this. You have to do something.” Allergy testing and injections were the next order of business and, of course, she recommended exercise and weight loss. Duh.
I had attended water aerobics classes previously, but discontinued due to a combination of scheduling conflicts and eye surgeries. I determined that day in the doctor’s office to get back in the pool.
It was the best decision of my life.
I also decided to resume using Advocare‘s Metabolic Nutrition System (as discussed in my previous entry) and adhere once again to a healthy eating plan.
But on days like today when I feel just crappy enough to be miserable, but not fully sick, the temptation to overeat is palpable. Why is that? I know that overeating is not going to make me feel better, but that doesn’t change the fact that I want to.
Is it about comfort? Or consolation?
On days like this, knowing the difference between a diet and a healthy eating plan really matters for me.
When following a healthy eating plan, there is no need to be hungry between meals. Physically hungry, that is. It is imperative to discern between true physical and psychological hunger. True physical hunger should never be allowed to continue and I think people who tell you to drink a glass of water to hold it in abeyance are, well . . . all wet.
True physical hunger should be assuaged with healthy food choices and water is not one of them. Yes, you have to drink plenty of water each day, but if you are trying to trick your body into believing it isn’t hungry when it really is, you can give it up. It’s smarter than that. And by engaging in starvation diets and such silly trickery, all you succeed in doing is slowing down your metabolism. Yeah, you might lose weight but you will find it again — faster than you can imagine — once you give up the starvation plan. And you will. Trust me on that. Nobody can sustain it forever. Been there. Done that. Have the clothing in various sizes hanging in my closet as I type this to prove it.
Quiet true physical hunger with food that is good for you, thereby keeping your metabolism running in peak form.
Quiet psychological hunger by distracting yourself. If you just can’t, such as on those days when you really feel the desire to crunch or munch, enjoy a snack like carrots and celery with nonfat Ranch dressing or a couple of rice cakes. The vegetables are great for you and allow you to hear that crunching sound you long for! So long as you dip in nonfat dressing, your “binge” won’t hurt you at all.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself and acknowledge your success. After all, in the old days, that binge would have been comprised of a package of _______ (insert your favorite binge food) as an appetizer, washed down with _________, and followed up with __________ (insert your second favorite binge food). If your “pig-out” involved carrots, celery, rice cakes or a similar healthy choice, look yourself in the mirror, smile and remind yourself that “you’ve come a long way, baby.”
Now I’m off to the frig for some of those baby carrots . . .
This Week’s Theme: Colorful
Thanks for reading “Colloquium”!
Name a sound you like to hear.
Music! All kinds, all day every day!
What is your favorite kind of cheese?
Sharp cheddar which, fortunately, is now available in nonfat! Hooray!
Do you sleep late on Saturday mornings? Why or why not?
What’s your definition of “late”? I sleep until 8:30 and get to water aerobics by 9:00 a.m.
On Sundays I sleep until I feel like waking up . . . could be any time . . . usually not before 9:00 a.m.
When was the last time you forgot something? What was it, and how long did it take to remember it?
I know I forgot something today, but I can’t remember what it was . . . so who knows how long it will be before I remember it!
Fill in the blank: I notice ____________ when _____________.
I notice my mother’s roses in full bloom by the front step when I come down the street toward my house.
1. If raising children was going to be easy, it never would have started with something called labor.
2. My mind works like lightning these days. One brilliant flash and the thought is gone.
3. A husband is someone who, after taking out the trash, acts like he just cleaned the whole house.
4. My next house will have no kitchen, just vending machines and a large trash can.
5. When I was young we used to go “skinny dipping.” These days, I “chunky dunk.”
6. The worst thing about accidents in the kitchen is eating them.
7. Wouldn’t it be nice if whenever we messed up our life we could simply press ‘Ctrl Alt Delete’ and start all over?
“Mom, I know why they rated the new ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie PG. They would never hear the end of it if they rated it ‘Rrrrrrrrrr.'” ~~Mattie-Boo~~
8. Stress is when you wake up screaming and then you realize you haven’t fallen asleep yet.
9. I overhead BigBob telling a neighbor: “My wife says I never listen to her. At least I think that’s what she said.”
10. My neighbor was bitten by a stray rabid dog. I went to the hospital to visit him and found him writing frantically on a piece of paper. Being an attorney, I told him rabies could be cured and he didn’t have to worry about making out a will. He said, “Will? What will? I’m making a list of the people I want to bite!”
11. The early bird still has to eat worms.
12. Don’t argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.
13. And I leave you with this blessing: As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way.
Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Blog @ MoreWhat.com, A Blog For All, The Random Yak, DeMediacratic Nation, Adam’s Blog, the so called me, The Pet Haven Blog, Webloggin, Cao’s Blog, The Bullwinkle Blog, The Amboy Times, The Florida Masochist, Conservative Cat, third world county, stikNstein… has no mercy, The World According to Carl, Planck’s Constant, The Pink Flamingo, Dumb Ox Daily News, Right Voices, Gone Hollywood, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.
Thanks to those of you who voted for my entry:
(I took my entry in June 2005 on the lawn of the Sheraton Moana Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii, just as the sun was setting. I am not a photographer, but I got lucky with this shot using my friend’s Canon Sureshot camera.)
David Letterman used to do a regular bit on his old NBC show called “Brushes with Greatness” during which members of the audience would stand up and tell their story about seeing or meeting a famous person. Usually the stories were funny because the audience member didn’t actually meet or interact with the person at all . . . I remember one guy telling the story of seeing Richard Gere in the automat, for instance. Dave would heckle the story-teller and everyone had a great time.
I’m still watching Letterman regularly and no, I didn’t get to attend a taping in NYC, much to my disappointment. I really wanted to because I was lucky enough to attend tapings of both Merv Griffin’s show from the Hollywood Palace and The Tonight Show starring Johnny, Ed, Doc, and the band. So I really wanted to be able to say that I also saw Dave live. Alas, I was not able to get tickets in advance.
So on Monday evening, our second night in NYC, we had a banquet attended by all members of the band and the folks traveling with them. It was at Carmine’s on West 44th. So we just walked there en mass.
We were about half-way through dinner when one of the kids seated at our table said, “Oh, you didn’t see that guy out in Times Square passing out Letterman tickets? We walked right by him on the way here.”
I froze. I never saw the guy, never heard him trying to lure tourists into the theater for the 5:30 p.m. taping. Had I seen the guy, I would have said, “Dinner? Fuhgetaboutit. I can eat any time.” I would have been in that theater with Dave, Paul, etc. (Sigh) Oh, well . . . I’ll have to see Dave during my next trip.
The week went by in a flash. Our performance at Carnegie Hall was outstanding . . . I’ve never seen our director with as big a smile on his face as he had at the end of that performance. We really made him proud which was important to all of us. We made ourselves proud, too, which was almost as important, considering that for most of us it was, in all likelihood, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I got back home on Saturday night and spent Sunday trying to recoup. Then it was back to work on Monday, resumption of the routine.
You all know that I am obsessed with The Sopranos, right? The final nine episodes began airing on April 8. There are only two episodes left, but even though I just typed those words I refuse to believe them . . .
Anyway, in New York, I stayed at the Sheraton Towers at 53rd Street and 7th Avenue. Radio City Music Hall is at 1260 Avenue of the Americas. This map shows you how close the two buildings are (the green dot is the hotel).
So on Sunday, April 8, after we came home following a lovely Easter dinner at my sister’s house, I watched the first episode of The Sopranos, and then was reading a couple of articles on the ‘Net about it. I happened upon this photo.
On March 27, I was at the Sheraton Towers while the entire cast of The Sopranos — including Gandolfini — was assembling just three short blocks and one long block away? Oh, man . . . I was sick to my stomach. I could have been one of the throng outside Radio City Music Hall snapping photos of all of them as they walked the red carpet. I could have posted those photos here.
I could have had a major brush with greatness. Damn!
I wasn’t exactly having a bad time, mind you. I enjoyed a leisurely meal at Ruby Foo’s Times Square and then saw Mary Poppins which was fabulous! And I’ve met my share of famous people over the years, but we’re talking here about the cast of The Sopranos. It’s only the best show ever in the history of television.
At water aerobics a couple of days later, people were talking about The Sopranos. So I told my tale of woe about my near-miss with the greatness of Gandolfini, et. al. And one of my fellow students pipes up with this announcement: “Oh, I met all those people once at Harrah’s Tahoe. Yeah, my husband and I used to gamble a lot so we got a lot of perks. A couple of times they invited us to Sopranos weekends, so we met them all and had our pictures taken with them. I didn’t even know who any of them were since I’ve never watched the show.”
Hey, let me open that wound a little further so you can pour the salt straight into it, ok?
It gets worse. She came back to the next class . . . with the pictures! Here they are:
Message to Mr. Gandolfini:* We look good, huh? Call me! I’m buying lunch.
*(Hey, don’t laugh. It could happen. He could be sitting around Googling himself now that shooting on The Sopranos has wrapped and find his way here. Ya never know!)
Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson’s Website, The Random Yak, DeMediacratic Nation, Adam’s Blog, Big Dog’s Weblog, Webloggin, The Amboy Times, Pursuing Holiness, Rightlinx, Diary of the Mad Pigeon, third world county, Wake Up America, Alabama Improper, stikNstein… has no mercy, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, Pirate’s Cove, Blue Star Chronicles, The Pink Flamingo, Planck’s Constant, CORSARI D’ITALIA, Right Voices, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.
~~ Carol Brazo ~~
One of my all-time favorite Bible passages:
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.””Ah, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
There are no accidents. There are no coincidences. Not one single person is living on this planet at this moment in time who wasn’t placed here as part of God’s plan. Each of us has a specific purpose, a particular path we are meant to walk, neither of which is necessarily easy to discern. We each have something to say, whether we do it verbally, via prose, poetry, musically, theatrically . . . We have each come into this world according to that plan for our life . . . and should leave it in the same way.
We are all equal. We are all worthy.
We are all modern-day Jeremiahs.
My “secret weapon” is a product I was introduced to about ten years ago by one of my clients who was a coach and distributor.
Whether you are trying to lose, maintain or gain weight, it is very important that, in addition to eating properly, your plan provides you all of the important vitamins and minerals in the amounts necessary to maintain good health. I use Advocare’s Metabolic Nutrition System.
There is a beautiful blog that you simply must see: Defining Spiritual Presence authored by Greenwoman. Each Monday she posts a “Monday Candle Moment” entry. Her reasoning? “There is great power in community prayer.”
A few years ago, I took a class on prayer and the facilitator said some thing that I had never — in all my years spent in church week after week — heard before. It was profound in its simplicity and changed my whole outlook and approach to prayer — and, ultimately, life. When I happened upon Greenwoman’s blog and read her philosophy, I knew that I had to participate because she echoed precisely what that facilitator taught me:
Each week, I’ll be lighting a ‘candle’ here of prayer and I encourage you to pray along with me about these situations . . . but I wish to urge you to pray in a certain way. That way is not to pray for specific outcomes . . . Instead, let’s pray for the help, health, strength and wisdom of all concerned. I say this because when we pray for specific outcomes, we limit our manifesting to a certain thing . . . which may not be the best thing in the long run. This is especially important when praying for others. We don’t ultimately know what’s best for anyone else and often don’t really know what’s best for ourselves. I’ve been awed when I’ve let go of my micromanagement of my outcomes and just let Spirit do It’s thing . . I’ve got outcomes that I didn’t even imagine and which were far better than my own ideas.
In the class I took, I heard for the first time that we should pray for those who are ill, for instance, to have “the best possible outcome” and one that is in alignment with God’s will for that person’s life. That facilitator noted that when someone becomes unwell, it may not be their destiny to be healed and make a full recovery. That is indeed a difficult reality, but by praying for that outcome all the time, we are bound to be disappointed. I believe that is why you often hear people say, “God didn’t answer my prayer” and they lose faith. I believe that God always answers pray, but sometimes the answer is not the one we were looking for. The answer is always in accordance with the Divine plan for our lives. But by praying for the best possible outcome for another person in whatever situation they face, we send positive thoughts and affirming, loving prayer out into the universe for them. If, for instance, a person is ill because they are on a path leading to their crossing over into eternity, by praying for the best outcome for that individual, we are really, I believe, praying that they not suffer or experience intractable pain, but, rather, experience a peaceful, dignified transition after resolving the issues they confronted in this life.
A subtle difference, perhaps. But it is one that has informed and guided the manner in which I have prayed ever since attending that class. And it has helped sustain my faith.
Greenwoman also wisely points out:
Likewise, we don’t know what lessons others need. Sometimes illness, tragedy and being downtrodden is exactly what a soul needs to grow and expand . . . removing that experience will not be in that person’s best interests therefore . . . This is why I pray for help, health, strength and wisdom for all concerned and send my loving energy to be used in whatever way is most needed to secure the best outcomes for all concerned.
So please pray with me each week. I encourage you to make your own candle vigil about what concerns you. Be that something in your own life, something in your community or something in the National news. . . let me know if you set your own vigil so that I can come pray with you and I can leave a link here for others to note and pray with you also…because there’s power in sang ha and there’s power in joined prayer. Let’s be strong together and help as we may.
For Christians, the concept has validity because the Bible is replete with references to folks gathering in groups to offer up prayer. After all, Christians are taught that there is tremendous power in prayers said when “two or three are gathered.”
But you do not need to be a Christian to participate. Everyone can offer prayer to the god, higher power or deity in which they believe. After all, Colloquium is a place where all persons and viewpoints are welcome and all visitors are encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings.
So tonight I join with Greenwoman in holding up a candle and sending out prayers for the best possible outcome for anyone in need of assistance, healing, answers . . .
In my particular case, my little Mattie-Boo is on a school trip and will not be back until tomorrow, so I ask for the best possible outcome for him, his classmates, teachers and chaperones — safe travel home.
Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, Perri Nelson’s Website, The Random Yak, DeMediacratic Nation, Adam’s Blog, Big Dog’s Weblog, Webloggin, Pursuing Holiness, Diary of the Mad Pigeon, Rightlinx, Right Celebrity, Wake Up America, Alabama Improper, stikNstein… has no mercy, Nuke’s news and views, Pirate’s Cove, The Pink Flamingo, Planck’s Constant, CORSARI D’ITALIA, and Right Voices, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.
Well, the tangible response to my challenge was pretty pitiful, by anyone’s standard.
I am not disheartened, though, because I think that you all thought about the challenge. You just didn’t post about it. Most of you claimed to be too busy . . . working on your computers, of course!
I think that Ron spoke for a lot of you when he left this comment: “The time I would spend thinking about it would be the only free time I’m not on the Internet, so it’s considerable.”
Heather wrote very eloquently and honestly about how her life would probably be different were it not for the Internet. I recommend that you read and consider her thoughts. Likewise, Tammi engaged in an assessment of the pros and cons of life without the Internet, but she concluded that, overall, it “wouldn’t be so bad.”
As you know, I recently spent a week in New York sans computer (except for my Blackberry which belongs to my employer and with which I receive only work-related e-mail), so I know that I can do it. Do I want to? That’s the more important question.
I spent some time this week thinking about how my life has changed since the Internet came into being . . . for better or worse. An apt phrase because it is rather like a marriage. I actually spend more waking hours with the Internet than I do with my spouse.
On a professional level, I am connected from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Those are the hours that my Blackberry automatically turns on and off each day. Since it is also a cell phone, I am readily available during those 16 hours per day. If I am working in my office or at home, I am in front of the computer and connected because being either place means, for the most part, that I am researching, writing, and talking on the phone. So I respond to e-mails pretty much immediately.
Except for the Blackberry which is a fairly recent acquisition, my professional endeavors have been conducted in that fashion since 1994 — that’s when I first signed on to America OnLine. I was the first attorney in my office to do so and the partners were very skeptical when I began giving my e-mail address to clients, opposing counsel, et al. That was long before courts began accepting documents for filing in electronic format and nobody had yet conducted discovery that way, but it sure made communicating with clients and keeping them apprised of their cases a lot easier. No misunderstandings, no complaints about calls not being returned. I loved it immediately . . . and still do.
On a personal level, I confess that the first thing I do in the morning is read my e-mail and the comments left on my blog. It is frequently the last thing I do before retiring, as well.
And I spend a lot of time either blogging or working on the numerous websites I have designed and maintain for various charitable organizations. I built my first website in about 1997. I just got a book on HTML from Barnes and Noble, some free space from Geocities and set about figuring out how to build it. On a dial-up connection, it was really slow going . . . and I laugh now at how primitive my design was. I remember wanting desperately to put sound on the site and having no clue how to accomplish it because I did not have the technology available to create a .wav file. Finally, a friend took pity on me and sent me one, but it took forever for the site to load. Later, I wanted to feature video clips. Anybody remember the Snappy device? A friend gave me his when he bought an improved model. So my son and I spent hours trying to figure out how to hook it up from the cable television decoder box to the computer. Extremely short, grainy files that took forever to load were the result, but I was thrilled.
I have always been a multi-tasker, so I learned to build those websites while doing laundry, dishes, watching television, supervising the kids . . . that part hasn’t and won’t change.
And for the last few years, of course, blogging has really overtaken website building. In fact, I am in the process of either converting most of my websites to blogs or at least adding a blog to the existing sites. I’m having a lot of fun figuring out how to modify the templates, add widgets, etc.
Like Tammi and so many of you, I could not function professionally without a computer. It is absolutely mandatory in order to earn my daily bread.
Besides that fact, however, I made a list of things I need the Internet for and discovering that without it, I would not:
The computer and, more specifically, the Internet have completely changed the way I live. There is no going back at this point. It has made life infinitely easier in many, many ways and I admit that I take for granted that I can handle many things with a click of the mouse that I used to be required to invest time and effort in attending to, e.g., shopping.
So yes, I spend a lot of time using the computer for lots of activities beyond blogging. And I don’t foresee that changing any time soon, if ever.
I am breaking my own rule. I have to because I must speak out. I am compelled and convicted to do so.Just the other day, I told someone at the office, “Oh, yeah, I have a blog and it reveals what I do for a living, but I never talk about my work, my colleagues . . . that is all off limits.”
My mother’s roses are in full bloom right by the front step of the house. The sun is shining brightly this morning and it is a beautiful 62 degrees right now but will warm into the 80’s as the day progresses.
“Man in the Mirror” and “Below the Surface” by Dan Fogelberg (from “Captured Angel”)
This Week’s Theme: Cooked/ing
The table was set. I had just cooked Thanksgiving dinner and was about to serve it.
Thanks for reading “Colloquium”!
Thea, one of the founders of the May Day Weight Loss Challenge site, “Tales from the Scales,” writes a weekly column, Thea Thursdays. This week she offered some tips to assist in making good food choices when dining out which I enumerate here and expand upon and modify to conform with my own nutrition plan.
Remember that I am only writing about what works for me! There is no single plan that is perfect for everyone!
1. Plan ahead– Thea suggests that, if you know where you are going to eat beforehand, you visit the restaurant’s website to review the menu and any nutritional information provided. Alternatively, you might talk with a friend who has been to the restaurant to get an idea of what to expect. She noted that www.dietfacts.com has information about restaurant menus. All great ideas!
I suggest being prepared at all times by keeping nonfat items in the refrigerator that you can put in your bag and take to the restaurant with you.
List 3 emotions you experienced this week.
Frustration, anger, elation.
That is what Tony Soprano shouted at the end of this past Sunday’s fourth-to-the-last episode of the all-time best show in the history of television, The Sopranos.
It’s also what I was mumbling to myself a couple of hours later.
Earlier in the day, I was channel surfing and stumbled upon “The Soup” on E! which I love. They showed a clip of Rosie O’Donnell, as they have been doing every week for the past year since she joined “The View.”((E! has never had as much material for “The Soup” — what will they do when she leaves?))
Let’s play Caption This!
What are these girls frowning about?
Leave a comment with your ideas and write a caption!
I will post the name, a screenshot and the link to the blog of the first person who guesses what caused those sour expressions. The girls in the photo will pick their favorite caption and I will also post the name, a screenshot and the link to the blog of the author whose caption they select!
In my experience, water aerobics are the best form of exercise.
Here are my reasons:
* Comfort ~~ I exercise strenuously and really sweat, but I don’t care. I just splash some water on my forehead and keep going. That’s the most important reason why water aerobics is the perfect form of exercise for me. I hate to sweat. Ever. Anywhere. For any reason.
There are some aspects of the May Day Weight Loss Challenge that I cannot embrace or take part in. If they work for other people, that’s wonderful. As I said in my initial post, weight management is a highly individualized matter. No single approach is right for every body.
The first issue is the planned weekly “weigh-ins” after which participants are supposed to post a graphic on their site saying how many pounds they have lost. The graphics are being offered in 5 pound increments. Additionally, the hosts will be posting gold stars on their site for each participant, with a link back to that individual’s site.
Unless I have occasion to visit the doctor’s office again during the challenge, there will be no gold stars or links for me because I do not weigh regularly nor do I have any intention of starting.
My mother, Ethel, left this world on October 13, 2005, but she left her family long before that. She left us gradually, slowly inching further and further away until she finally retreated into her own little universe — a little corner of her own mind where we could no longer connect or interact with her. And eventually, I did something I never would have believed I could do: I wished that she would die.
For the last two years and three months of her life, my sister and I visited her every week. We always went together because having a companion made it a bit easier. We had each other to talk to about things as we sat at her bedside. Most of the time, though, we didn’t talk when it came time to leave. We would drive home in silence, both thinking and feeling the same things, none of which really needed to be verbalized because we had said everything there was to say on numerous previous occasions.
After every visit, I wished and prayed that it would be the last. Then I would feel guilty for wishing that, even though I knew that my mother was living out her worst nightmare on a daily basis and I was powerless to help her escape it. Thinking about it that way, I would reaffirm my hope for her death to come about, and so the cycle repeated itself over and over.
When I came home following each visit, I would tell myself that I just needed a few minutes to regroup as I strode toward my bedroom (which used to be my parents’ bedroom and then, after my father’s death, her bedroom). Settling down in front of the t.v., I would wake up two or three hours later with the realization that my visit with her had once again worn me out to the point that I had collapsed. BigBob and the kids learned to just leave me alone because “Mom just got back from visiting Nana” and they knew rest was what I needed.
The kids visited her regularly when she lived in this house and for the year that she resided in an assisted living facility. At that point, she was still ambulatory and conversant. Although her memory was fading and she was definitely becoming more frail, she could walk to the dining room for her meals, participate in activities, and visit with the other residents. Every Sunday, the boys and I took her out for lunch. She enjoyed getting out and eating food that was different than that served at the facility. It was the boys’ job to help her in and out of the car. They each took one of her arms, walking slowly with her to make sure that if she started to lose her footing, they could intervene.
“Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins, but only one mother in the whole world.”
~ Kate Douglas Wiggin ~
While she was still living here in her own home, her eyesight worsened, due to macular degeneration, to the point that she could not see well enough to dial the phone, so we programmed the numbers for her and she memorized the associated prompt. We thought, when she moved to assisted living, that taking the same phone with the same programmed numbers would mean she would still be able to make calls. Unfortunately, the act of moving the phone and change in her surroundings apparently caused her to lose the ability to use it. So she was never again able to call us. I remember distinctly the day that realization really “hit” me. I was at the office and I called her. When I hung up, I noted how long it had been since she had called me and then had to come to grips with the fact that I would never again pick up my phone and hear her voice at the other end.
The loss of simple little things that we take for granted are frequently the most devastating side effect of goodbyes.
Sometimes, we had to laugh or we would never have been able to cope. For instance, we went to the assisted living facility for her eight-sixth birthday celebration. It was fun! They played records and a lot of folks even danced. At that juncture, she was habitually reliving my father’s death and how hard it had been to say goodbye to him. It was a strange phenomenon . . . she talked incessantly about it as though it had just happened, saying, “I lost my husband, you know.”
On this particular day, she was sitting between my sister and I. She turned to me and said, “I lost my husband and it was so terrible.” I responded, “I know, Mother. He was our father.” Without missing a beat, she exclaimed rather loudly, “No! He wasn’t your father!” Several people, including our friends who had accompanied us for the party, heard her and burst out laughing. I said, “Mom, is there something you need to tell me? Is there a family secret you want to reveal after all these years?” and that made them laugh more. What else could we do?
Another time, she pointed to their fiftieth wedding anniversary photo on her dresser and said, “That’s the guy I was dating!” Again, my sister and I said, “Yes, Mom, you married him. He was our father.” She spun around to my sister and said emphatically, “We never had any children!” So we just changed the subject. Folks with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease say and do all sorts of inappropriate things. You learn to be ready for the unexpected and take whatever they say in stride.
When she could no longer walk and quit eating, we had to place her in a facility that would provide total care. My whole life she had said, “I hate those places. People just sit there waiting to die. I never, ever want to end up in one of those places.” So you can imagine how much like Benedict Arnold I felt sitting in the office signing the admission forms.
What choice did we have? Neither my sister nor I had the training, equipment or financial resources to quit our jobs and take care of her in one of our homes. She would never have wanted that, anyway. She had desperately feared becoming “a burden” in her waning years and would be furious at the thought of disrupting our lives or careers. After all, she was the one who wanted a college education more than anything in life, but it eluded her because she graduated from high school in 1934 at the height of the Great Depression. Thus, she instilled in us the notion that a failure to complete our education was a life failure.
I reluctantly got her settled into what would be her final residence.
For awhile, she still remembered us and the boys, so they visited, too. But I always gave them the choice. Both came to the conclusion, in their own time, that they no longer wanted to see her in her debilitated state. Both expressed a desire to live with their memories of her in better days and I honored their request, telling them, “That’s fine because that’s the way Nana would want you to think of her.” My sister and I could not make that choice, though. We had to continue visiting her long after she had no idea who we were.
When she finally died, I didn’t have a lot of tears to shed. When I wrote my initial post four months later, I noted “that made me feel guilty, too. And still does.”
A year passed and those tears never came . . . I have now resigned myself to the fact that they never will.
A long, slow death from Alzheimer’s or dementia is among the cruelest for the patient’s family members. Ronald Reagan, in his 1994 letter announcing his diagnosis, acknowledged what lay ahead for his beloved Nancy, who called it “the long goodbye.”
The patient doesn’t suffer, for the most part. My mother’s physician repeatedly assured us that she lost the mental capacity to appreciate her circumstances. She was in a mental time warp where she and her two older brothers (pictured here with her when she was five years old . . . see a resemblance in my profile photo taken when I was four?) were walking to Sunday School across the South Dakota prairie. Once, when my sister and I arrived to visit, she told us that her mother, who died on April 29, 1971, had just visited her. And for quite awhile, after she finished reliving his death, she talked about our father as though they were young. She’d tell us that he had just left and would be back soon. My sister and I would just look at each other and say, “Don’t we wish?”
She talked incessantly, but we could not piece the words together into coherent form and, even if we tried, by the time we responded to her she had moved on to another jumbled thought.
For a long time, after she could no longer recognize us and say our names without prompting, she would get very excited when we told her who we were. She’d look at me with a brief flash of recognition, saying, “Are you Janie?” I’d remind her that I was her daughter, but within a few seconds she would forget again.
Intellectually, it is hard to become too distraught about the death of a person who has spent nearly 89 years on this planet, after all. It isn’t the same as when a young child dies tragically or a middle-aged person is diagnosed with a terrible form of cancer and dies quickly, leaving behind children and a spouse. After all, this is the way the cycle is supposed to work, right? We are supposed to bury our parents and, in turn, our children are supposed to care for us in our final days, and so on and so on . . .
So I guess that I really shouldn’t have been surprised to find that, when she died peacefully after hearing the Scriptures and words of comfort, I didn’t have a lot of mourning left to do. She lived a long, purposeful, meaningful life doing a lot of things that brought joy to her and her family. She lived independently until she was 85 and a half years old.
I was happy when she was finally released from the steady debilitation that punctuated her last couple of years. I don’t lose any sleep at night wondering where she is now. She is reunited with our father and the rest of her family. I’ll see them all again.
What I came to realize is that it truly was a “long goodbye.” By October 13, 2005, the day her shrunken little body finally surrendered and followed her mind into eternity, there just wasn’t any mourning left to do because I had grieved her leaving in the same way that she left, i.e., a little bit at a time, slowly, gradually, inch by inch.
It was a very different experience than losing my father, who was sick for many years, but had long periods of good health between bouts. And he never looked or acted his age, never became senile at all, remaining perfectly lucid until the very moment he died as I stood at his bedside talking to and reassuring him.
And that’s why I felt so disconnected and guilty about it . . . wondering when my mother’s death was going to “hit” me, so that I could go through those five stages of grief that Elizabeth Kubler-Ross educated us about.
Finally, I understood that I went through those stages at such a slow pace, so gradually, that I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I just put one foot in front of the other, dealing with the situation as best I could. In reality, I was saying my goodbyes to my mother but didn’t comprehend that I was doing it. There was no final emotional catharsis. Peggy Lee asked musically, “Is that all there is?” and the psychologically disconcerting answer is “yes.” That was it. That’s how it works.
Perhaps that’s the ultimate “punch in the gut” that Alzheimer’s delivers to the patient’s family members: Not only does it rob you of your loved one, it also robs you of the chance to grieve in what society generally perceives as a normal, healthy manner. It robs you of the chance to say “goodbye” in the way we have come to expect under other circumstances.
Instead, you experience both the loss of your loved one and your grief about that . . . in slow motion.
On this Mother’s Day, if you are lucky enough to still have your mother with you, go call or visit her. Take her some flowers. Take her to lunch. Enjoy her company and conversation while you can. Give her a hug and a kiss. Thank her for all she’s done for you over the years because “[a] mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.”
Inspired by the Sunday Scribblings Prompt: Second Chance which provided me with a second chance to share this article in honor of Mother’s Day.
Included in: Carnival of Family Life, Mother’s Day Edition at Be a Good Dad.
Back to the topic broached a couple of weeks ago before my life took an unplanned detour: Just how much time do you spend on the Internet? Per day? Per week?
I suspect that few of you us are very excited about the prospect of “getting real” on this topic. So I have come up with what I think is a fairly spiffy, creative approach.
This Week’s Theme: Five
Thanks for reading “Colloquium”!
I have lost 50 pounds since last autumn when I started back to water aerobics in earnest. I’m not done losing weight yet, but 50 pounds is a nice round number and I am happy with what I have accomplished thus far. Obviously, I look better, but I also feel better and have gone from taking four different medications daily to just two (Singulair and Zyrtec). I have also gone from three different inhalers down to just one, and I use it rarely.
I am not on a diet. I have made specific lifestyle changes. My commitment to those changes cannot terminate.
Any weight loss program is an intensely personal and individualized thing. Having been engaged in the battle to control my weight since I was a child, I have learned a few things over the years. Specifically, I have learned what works for me. More importantly, I know what doesn’t work for me. And bluntly, some of what is advocated as part of mainstream weight loss plans simply does not work for me. In fact, some of the advice offered I know to be completely antithetical to weight loss success.
Unless I have occasion to visit the doctor’s office, I do not weigh and have no intention of starting. I can only tell you that I had lost 50 pounds as of Thursday, May 3, 2007, because I went by the doctor’s office and asked them to weigh me and tell me how many pounds I have lost. They pulled my chart, found the highest number reflected there, and then I stepped on the scale backwards, as is my custom, at which time they took a current reading, did the math, and congratulated me.
Getting on the scale facing backward is a trick I learned and adopted more years ago than I can remember. Why? Numbers are judgments. They have a life and meaning all their own. “I weight XXX pounds” can be a badge of honor or shame, depending on the day. The number pervades your consciousness, lodges in your waking thoughts, taunts you. If you finf you have lost weight, it can be an opportunity to binge, as in “Woohoo, I lost X pounds so I can eat dessert!” On the flip side, however, if you appear to have gained a few pounds, that fact can serve as an invitation to sulk, pout, and binge. “Well, I starved myself for X days and what good did it do me? I still gained weight. I might as well eat.” How many times have you said that to yourself or heard someone else say it?
People proclaim that “the scale doesn’t lie.” Maybe not, but it doesn’t tell the whole story, either.
Women, in particular, are extremely susceptible to temporary variances due to, among other reasons, temporary water weight gain.
More critically, if you are exercising regularly, you may not see a huge drop in your weight, especially at the beginning, even though your body is actually changing. Exchanging fat for lean muscle is not a one-to-one trade. So it is entirely possible to be developing muscles and seeing a dramatic change in your overall body size that does not seem as dramatic when viewed solely in terms of the number that registers on the scale.
What is most important is how you feel and whether or not you are decreasing your body’s overall fat percentage.
I judge by my clothing. My motto is: “Waistbands don’t lie.” And my lungs don’t lie. I knew that I had made significant strides toward better health through weight loss and exercise when I was able to wear clothes that I hadn’t zipped in several years and found myself able to walk further and further distances without having to stop to catch my breath.
Tell about a time when you had to be brave.
I could spend the next several months writing about all the times in my life when courage has been required of me, some of which I have mentioned here previously, e.g., arguing before the California Supreme Court, as well as the Third District Court of Appeal and trial court in order to save Robert Wendland, who was conscious, interactive and neither “minimally conscious” nor in a persistent vegetative state, from death by dehydration.
Additionally, I had to be brave when dealing with both of my parents’ health issues and deaths. In my father’s case, that meant sixteen years of being constantly “on call” — I used to envy people who talked about turning off their answering machines to “sleep in” on weekends because I could never do that. I lost count of the number of times I had to rush him to the emergency room. As it turned out, I was the one with him at his bedside when he died. In my mother’s case, it was a long, slow good-bye, but my sister and I were called upon to make decisions that required us to courageously do what we felt was best.
Another time that immediately comes to mind is Matthew’s birth. When he was just twenty-four hours old, I was prepared to be discharged and take my new son home. But only I was released from the hospital that day. He had to remain there for another six days because a very competent, observant nurse did not “like the sound of his cry.” Had she not been vigilant, the doctor told me we could easily have taken him home, completely unaware that he had aspiration pneumonia, and “lost him”. After giving birth, leaving the hospital without a baby is extremely difficult, as is seeing your newborn in the Neonatal ICU, hooked up to all kinds of machines by tubes attached all over his little body. Fortunately, the ending was happy and he is now completing his first year of high school.
Which upcoming movie are you excited about seeing?
I can’t think of one. I haven’t been to a movie theater since last summer when we saw the second “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, but I did finally see “The Queen” on DVD a couple of nights ago. Helen Mirren certainly deserved the Oscar.
Name an item you try to always have on hand.
I am never without my inhaler and prescription for Zyrtec.
Imagine the most relaxing room you can think of. Now describe it!
It is large and rounded, with near-white walls and gauze curtains hung next to floor-to-ceiling windows all across the front, overlooking a pristine, deserted beach. On one side of the room is a computer center, equipped with several PC’s, giant monitors, printers, scanners, etc. — all state of the art. On the other side is a grand piano, positioned so that the view of the beach is perfect when seated at the keys. There is also a series of stands holding several different makes and models of flutes, clarinets, guitars . . . even a couple of violins, violas, cellos and a string bass. There are banks of recording equipment, music stands and assorted comfortable chairs.
Facing the opposite wall the bank of windows is a large “pit” area with a circular, extremely comfortable couch and some soft, cozy loungers. Mounted on that wall is a huge flat screen and state of the art speakers. The projection controls are on the big table in front of the couch, along with plenty of chilled water, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other healthy snacks.
Finally, on either side of the projection screen are bookcases, packed with my favorite books, as well as the ones I have not yet read, in addition to volumes and volumes of musical scores.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest), how spiritual or religious are you?
I no longer attend or have any involvement in the institutional church or any form of organized “religion.”
1. Water aerobics classes finally moved outside. Hallelujah! The sun felt great.
2. BigBob came home from the hospital yesterday.
3. The doctor informed him that he had five different types of infections raging when they operated.
4. BigBob is lucky that he responded to the antibiotics.
5. The surgeon told him that the appendicitis set in a few days earlier than BigBob seemed to think it did.
6. Beats me how he managed to ignore the symptoms that long. The surgeon said the first night that “he must be a tough guy.” Ya think?
7. BigBob woke me up at 7:00 a.m. with the sound of water hitting the plants outside my bedroom window. Yes, the big dufus actually went out in the backyard and started watering. Did I tell him to get his butt back into the house and rest? What do you think?
8. I had to do the grocery shopping on Monday night. I couldn’t tell you how many years had elapsed since I last set foot in a grocery store. I don’t shop. That’s BigBob’s job. But my cupboards looked like Old Mother Hubbard’s so I made #1Son accompany me and we got it done.
9. I hired a gardener today who will start working on Monday. The neighbors will just have to be patient. Not that any of them have said anything, but I’m sure the Gladys Kravitzes of the ‘hood are clucking their tongues and speculating. And yes, we do have a couple Gladyses but I’m not naming names.
10. Schlepping off to the hospital every day to visit pooped me out so I’m glad that’s over.
11. I actually went to bed at 9:30 p.m. last night. And I fell asleep a little after 10:00 p.m. That’s about 4 hours earlier than normal.
12. Did I mention that I’m still tired in spite of having gone to bed so early last night?
13. I plan to spend this Mother’s Day sleeping.
Last week I explored the issue of maintaining balance in one’s life, pondering how anyone could possibly maintain multiple blogs while doing justice to their remaining responsibilities. I planned to continue my exploration of that topic after spending the week paying conscious attention to the number of hours I spent reading other people’s blogs and maintaining my own.
Unexpectedly, however, life intervened and my attention turned, of necessity, to other matters. So it was not possible for me to perform the planned self-examination. Once things get back to normal, though, I plan to revisit the questions I posed here. I appreciate your insightful comments.
Before leaving for New York City in March, I contemplated purchasing a laptop computer to take with me and decided against it because I wanted to disconnect from the computer for that week and really savor my experiences there. Afterward, I was glad I took that approach.
This past week, however, there were several times when I wished that I had purchased a laptop. A whole day in an emergency room, and more hours in a surgical waiting room or sitting in a hospital room trying to read while a loved one slept were times when a laptop would have come in handy, and allowed me to explore and write about my feelings as events were unfolding.
Forced to postpone writing until after I came home from a couple of long days in the hospital, I found myself in front of my computer screen having a hard time formulating the words. I wrote and rewrote several blog entries that I never published, instead opting to delete them and give it yet another try. I was exhausted, but unable to sleep because of the adrenaline still surging through me. As a result, I experienced some of the worst writer’s frustration ever.
But I found an excellent interview in the current issue of Writer’s Digest with one of my favorite authors, Anna Quindlen. I was inspired by the practical advice she offers other writers:
It all comes down to the Nike slogan. Just do it. So many people tell me, well, I’m thinking of writing a book. Does anyone say I’m thinking of performing surgery, or I’m thinking of designing a building? Writing seems to be the only profession people imagine you can do by thinking about doing it. No. Put your butt in a chair and write. And never mind feeling blocked. Everyone feels blocked all the time. Madeline L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) once said, “Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.”
Deceptively simplistic? Perhaps.
But it worked for me. After reading her words, I toggled back to the window with a blank dialogue box where I had just deleted yet another attempt to write something that made even a modicum of sense. I was determined to, as she suggested, “just do it.”
Unlike Ms. Quindlen’s, my efforts won’t win any Pulitzer Prizes, but I completed and posted a couple of entries by simply keeping my butt in the chair and writing, persevering until I had a product that I could live with.
Feeling uninspired? Tired? Drained? But have a deadline you must meet? Give Ms. Quindlen’s recipe for success a try: Put your butt in the chair and “just do it.” See if you find inspiration while writing, rather than before you begin.
This Week’s Prompt: Ocean
love builds up the broken wall
and straightens the crooked path
love keeps the stars in the firmament
and imposes rhythm on the ocean tides
each of us is created of it
and i suspect
each of us was created for it
~~ Maya Angelou ~~
If you read my Thursday Thirteen entry, you know that BigBob underwent an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday evening. He is still in the hospital, but doing much better. He continues to receive antibiotics via i.v., but is not running a fever. I don’t know how much longer he will remain hospitalized. He will definitely be recuperating for a number of weeks.
Today he finally ate some solid food, but just a tiny amount. I had something akin to an out of body experience as I found myself trying to convince him to eat. I told him, “Boy, I never thought I’d see this day!” He also needs to get up and walk more . . . today he didn’t get very far because he became dizzy.
An appendectomy is a pretty routine occurrence, as medical situations go. However, it becomes more complicated when the appendix bursts before it can be removed, as Bob’s did. But in his case, there were a couple of extra “added attractions.”
For one, the thing had not only burst, it had developed gangrene which means that either he wasn’t having symptoms that alerted him to just how serious things had become — or he didn’t tell me. I suspect the latter, because although he had been complaining that his stomach was “bothering” him for a couple of days, he never said anything about pain in his side until that morning. And he sure didn’t tell me how bad the pain was becoming until the very last second. When he finally told me, I grabbed the phone and started to call our family doctor. That was the point at which the man who never goes willingly to the doctor even for a routine check-up said quite emphatically, “F— Annie! Take me to the hospital!”
That’s the moment at which the world tilted for me.
Because, as noted above, the guy won’t even schedule physicals for himself. For 22 years, I have scheduled appointments for him and demanded that he keep them. And listened to him gripe about it, before and after.
That is going to change.
Immediately after the surgery, the surgeon told me, “he’s a tough guy” when I assured him that I did not delay in getting him to the hospital — once I knew what was going on.
To Bob he said, “Mr. Siess, you were a mess.”
Indeed. In addition to the appendicitis, the doctors also discovered that he is diabetic. So learning to deal with that will be the next order of business.
When something like this happens, emotions come like ocean waves — for the patient and his/her loved ones. The initial fear of the unknown eventually gives way to relief when the diagnosis is made and intervention is successful. Then comes the realization that life as you once knew it has ended and the process of becoming acclimated to your new reality begins.
To say that this experience is rocking BigBob’s world is a major understatement. Aside from a childhood accident that he remembers little about, he has never before had any major health crisis, never been hospitalized or undergone surgery. He is a guy in the truest sense: He gets a cold or flu and keeps going. He doesn’t know any other way to live. But this week he has missed more days from work than in the preceding 22 years combined. In fact, my mouth fell open when he told me to call his boss and get the details about his sick leave benefit. Get this: I never even knew that sick leave is among his employment benefits — because, as his boss put it, “he’s never used it. But after all the years he’s worked here, he’s sure entitled to it.” I’ll say.
The guy who never went to the doctor until his wife forced him is going to have to learn to monitor his blood sugar, modify his diet, exercise, and submit to ongoing medical supervision and treatment. He is going to have to be more in tune with his bodily systems and alert to minor changes. I have been begging him to join the gym to which I belong and come to water aerobics with me — he wasn’t having it because he doesn’t think water aerobics are manly. But now he has agreed to schedule a meeting with the manager who has offered numerous times to design a work-out program for him.
One of the nurses already broke the worst news of all to him: The days of popping a couple of Budweisers while watching Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are over. Beer and diabetes don’t mix.
BigBob is having to face the fact that he is neither invincible nor immune to the frailties that befall the human body, especially as we get older. He is coming to grips with the fact that he’s not 25 years old any longer and he’s never going to be again, so he can’t continue living as though he is.
Some aspects of life as he knew it are gone as surely as is the sand castle you built with your kids on the ocean shore prior to yesterday’s high tide.
I think such realizations come easier to women because of the physical changes we face as we leave our child-bearing years and pass through menopause.
So on this Sunday I’m looking at the changes in BigBob’s life — and, of course, mine and the boys’ — as blessings. Had he not said something when he did so that I could get him to the emergency room, the outcome could have been much more grim. More importantly, it is a blessing that the diabetes has been diagnosed so that it can be dealt with. We are fortunate to have an excellent family physician who will oversee his care.
I’m thankful that BigBob acknowledges this as a “life-changing event” (his words) and appears to accept that he is going to have to modify his lifestyle in order to remain healthy.
I think I’m most grateful for the fact that he has not lost his off-the-wall sense of humor. BigBob is the king of the off-kilter one-liner. Everybody knows someone like him: He sees the world a little differently than most folks and when you least expect it, will come up with a bizarre observation or wisecrack that lays you out on the floor. For instance, the morning after surgery, I picked up the phone at 7:00 a.m. to hear, “I have seen the mountaintop” and found myself laughing hysterically.
Yesterday, faced with the prospect of watching Nascar races sans beer, he decided to write a country-western song, certain that George Jones would want to record it: “They took my appendix, they took my beer . . .” At that point, I finished the verse for him: “And if you don’t quit singing, your wife is gonna be out of here . . .”
It could be so much worse. It’s just a bump in the road. He’ll be home in no time and then Buddy can quit lying by the door waiting for him. Sophie can stop standing on his side of the bed looking at me as if to say, “Well?” Before we know it, he’ll be back to work, mowing the lawn, making his Saturday morning 0’dark-thirty Wal-Mart runs, buying more Earnhardt
treasures crap on EBay, spoiling the boys by making waffles for them every morning even though they are capable of doing it themselves, and generally driving his wife nuts.
In short, life will be mostly back to normal.
Today I think that’s the best blessing of all.
Blog Your Blessings
Here’s how this meme works:
Deb from Surviving NJ interviewed me. She lives in Hunterdon County, New Jersey and has been in that state her whole life, hence the name of her blog. In addition to her husband, she lives with her two teen-age sons, two dogs and a cat. I don’t know how, but she maintains six blogs!
Want to participate?
Still one of my favorite photos of my boys.
In this 1993 shot, Robert was 6 and Matthew was about 15 months old.
Thanks for reading “Colloquium”!
Name something you would not want to own.
A septic tank service company.
Describe your hair (texture, color, length, etc.).
Current: Picture in the upper left.
Former: Artist’s rendering on the right.
Next: Who knows?
I want to be like one of the dolls that some of the kids in my neighborhood had when we were growing up. She had a knob in the middle of her back that made her hair short or long as you turned it.
Finish this sentence: I’ll never forget ___________.
I’ll never forget the days on which my children were born.
Which famous person would you like to be for one day? Why?
Sir James Galway. Just for one day, I’d like to know how amazing it must feel to play the flute as well as he does.
Write one sentence about yourself that includes one thing that is true and another thing that is not.
I was born in California — and have lived here my entire life.
1. “Which side is the appendix on?” That’s what BigBob asked me this morning about 10:45 a.m. At the time, I was unsure but told him, “I think it’s on the right side. Why?”
2. A few minutes later, we were in the car on the way to the ER.
3. He was in excruciating pain.
4. He could not walk up the steps going into the hospital, so I called, told them I was pulling into the ambulance bay, and asked them to send someone out with a wheelchair.