Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Lessons Learned in 2014

2014 has been a year for lessons. Most of them have not been particularly easy to learn, but I HAVE learned. Now, the trick is to REMEMBER what I have learned, and put this knowledge into use for 2015 and beyond.

1. Hip replacements are harder to recover from than I thought.

2. I hope God takes me home before I ever have to go into a nursing home. 

3. I can't function with constant noise. 

4. I need to be much more careful where I put my time and energy. 

5. I really CAN'T please everyone.

6. I need to make more decisions with my head than with my heart.

7. I spend too much time reading articles that all say the same thing. Unsubscribing is good.

8. I have got to set even better boundaries if I am to stay mentally and physically healthy.

 



 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Books I read in 2014

A few days ago, I received an email from Goodreads containing a link to a collage of the books that I had read this year. I was a bit dismayed to find that I had only ready 18 books! That may be an all time low for me.

I am blaming some of my lack of focus on "anesthesia brain" from multiple surgeries and tests requiring sedation. My attention span seems to be decreasing as I get older. I have read articles that blame this on things like Facebook and other social media. I don't think this is true. I am just interested in so many things that I tend to read more articles than books. I want to know what is going on in the world now. Not the soundbites that pass for TV news, but in-depth articles about current events. I like to keep up with what research is being done in psychological fields. I like to read about art. I like to read about religious and spiritual things.

My taste in reading has changed over the years. I no longer seem to have the patience to read the complicated fantasy stories that I once devoured. I still keep up with some series and writers, but I can't seem to get into new ones. I love to read biographies, memoirs and "behind the scenes" books. I have discovered some wonderful "young adult" writers such as John Green, Gayle Forman, and Lisa McMann. I wait, eagerly, sometimes years, for the latest Diana Galbaldon "Outlander" novel. And I will read ANYTHING written by Roland Merullo. 

I admit that there tend to be fewer books out there, in general, that I want to read. I find much of the writing in modern novels quite atrocious. I don't like excessive violence. I have enough trouble staying "up" without reading a lot of depressing things. I enjoy a plot that does not have as many holes as a Swiss cheese. And who on Earth edits books these days?

These are the books I HAVE read and enjoyed this year. 





Sunday, December 07, 2014

Missing Parents

'Tis the season...to miss my parents. 

Tomorrow, my sweet father-in-law will have been gone 2 years. On the 15th, my Daddy will have been in Heaven for 3 years. And Christmas night, my mother will have been dead 24 years. My mother always hated the way people tiptoed around, saying the words "died" or "dead." She told me to say she DIED, not that she had "passed", "gone away", etc.

So often I hear adult "children" being just plain rude to their parents. Don't get me wrong, I was not always a paragon where mine were concerned. But, I can't imagine talking to mine (as a grownup) this way. By the way, I am not talking about parents who have been severely abusive, drug or alcohol addicted, neglectful, etc. I am talking about parents who were "there." Who sacrificed for their children and tried hard to be good parents.

Now that all my parent and in-laws are gone, I just want to shake these people (yes, I admit it, sometimes I want to do more than just shake them!!) and tell these "kids" how much they are going to regret some of the things they said and did to their parents when these parents are gone. I want to tell them to be kinder and treasure the time they still have left. We tend to think that our parents are going to be here forever, but my mom was only 57 when she died. Two years older than I am now. 

It also would not hurt for parents to refuse to allow themselves to be disrespected. There is a popular meme that states "If I had talked to my parents the way some kids do now, I would not be around to share this status." Whoever said this must have known my mama!

Disagree. Express feelings. But, do it with civility, kindness, and, if possible, love.

 



 



 

 

 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tone

I admit it. I love the internet age of instant communication. I love being able to "talk" to several friends at once in every medium from text messaging, to email, to Facebook, and Facebook messenger. 

Writing what I am going to "say" makes me really LOOK at what I am saying (at least most of the time!) How can I use my words to convey my message as I actually mean it, without the recipient being able to read non-verbal cues, or hear my tone of voice?  

Unless the person with whom I am speaking is a really good (in real life) friend, those words are best chosen carefully. It is easy to come across in type as judgmental, disapproving, or too "preachy." If the reader "feels" these in the "tone" of the message, hurt feelings, sadness, and anger can be a result. I have inadvertently hurt feelings on Facebook, because I rely a lot on body language, tone, and facial expression, and those can't be "seen" in the written word. Especially the typed word. 

There are some things that just need to wait for a face to face meeting. If the plan is to have a serious confrontation about a serious topic, maybe it needs to wait. I have seen friendships dissolve on Facebook that might have endured had the conversations taken place in person. 

Take that extra second to read what you have typed BEFORE you hit "post" or "send." 

You might be glad you did. 



 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Opinions (Rant Alert)

Everyone has opinions. Everyone has the right to his or her own opinion. Everyone has the right to express his or her own opinion. It may not jive with my opinion, but I try very hard to "agree to disagree" as much as possible. I am not always successful, but I am trying harder each day. 

What is so wearing is when people are aware of my opinions on key subjects, but feel the need to constantly belittle my opinions or to change my mind. I listen to my inner voice. I pray. And I research issues on more than ONE news site. 

A sad thing is that people who constantly belittle the opinions of others, often don't even realize they are doing it. Some people live to argue. That is great if they can find someone who likes to argue as much as they do!

I am not that person. You don't have to agree with me, but, realize that most my key opinions are not likely to change, unless I find good reason to change them.

                                                           Please.


 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Reflections

I saw this on a Facebook friend's wall and appropriated it for use in this blog post. I don't think she will mind. :)

The first part of this quote is what I am really focused on at the moment. I have come a long way with the boundary setting. As I get older, my time and energy are getting more precious by the minute. 

The bottom line is that I need to find a couple of more things to drop from my schedule in order to make more time for things I really need to do for my health and new interests. And, of course, my sanity (no comments from the peanut gallery!).


Of course, I am not going to cut church. Hermanville UMC and the people there have become very precious to me. I need my time with fellow believers. I need the sermons, prayers, and songs. I need time to be with God in a sacred space. 

I am trying to hold on to singing at the nursing home. I am quite fond of my older friends and have made new ones there as well.

I want to continue with my art, especially on a personal level. I am having difficulty finding time to do "my" art and this is frustrating.  I hope to hold on to at least some of my Senior Center classes. I admit that the difficulty of trying to find lessons that will please the more experienced students while accommodating the newer ones or the ones with physical limitations is getting overwhelming. I have been teaching for 5 years now and I honestly never thought it would last this long!

But, I also need more time to go to the gym. I need some time to travel a bit and visit family. I want to get more involved in political and social causes. And, I simply need more rest. 

I plan to spend the next few weeks doing some soul searching and praying. Hopefully, by the first of the year, I will have a game plan for making 2015 what I need and want it to be. 







 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Reaping

I must admit that I truly believe that we reap what we sow. Some people call it Karma. Some people use the saying "What goes around, comes around." They all basically say the same thing. Believing this helps take away the sting of betrayal, hurt, etc. 

I try to sow good things: hope, love, peace, understanding, and joy. But, I am realizing that I need to be more choosy about who and what I nourish in the future. I want to nurture people who will pay it forward and nurture others, not take advantage of them. I want to support worthy causes that use the money for people and not administrative costs. 

However, sometimes sowing in what seems to be the "wrong" place, turns out for the good. It may cause needed changes to occur or  bring dark issues into the light. I believe that all things really do work together for good when done in the right spirit. 

Still, I will strive to invest more wisely in the future and reap good things.

 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Party

It all started with a meme I shared on Facebook. It said: "This being an adult isn't working out for me. If you need me, I'll be in my blanket fort, coloring." 

Before I knew it, dozens of people has replied to my post and most of them wanted to join me in my blanket fort and color. So, as my 55th birthday approached, I began to concoct a plan. Why not have a party and combine it with a fundraiser for one of my favorite local charities, the Good Shepherd Community Center? 

Hawkins United Methodist Church was kind enough to donate their fellowship hall for the evening, and the plans began. A blanket fort was built. Cookies, brownies and door prizes were donated. I ordered pizza and brought soft drinks. I had spent the past 2 months buying crayons and colored pencils on sale and printing out coloring pages. Some colorful dominoes and checkers were provided for folks who did not want to color. Music was a collection of old TV theme songs. 

Dear friends helped with setting up, making sure people were fed, and cleaning up. "The Nana" sat at the front door in her wheelchair and made sure everyone ponied up a donation for the cause. One of the highlights of the evening was when my oldest guest, at 90+, crawled into the blanket fort. I want to be Miss Martha when I grow up! 

I had no idea how many people to expect. I put notices up in several places. There were several other more high profile events going on. Some of my friends were busy with health or personal crises. But, many of my favorite people, both friends and family came, and I was happy and thankful to see each one. 

By the end of the evening, we had raised $675.00 to help Good Shepherd continue to provide much needed programs to local families. 

I can't avoid growing old. But, I don't have to completely grow up. 

Yet. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Double Nickles

Today has been such a lovely day! Up a bit too early at 5 AM, but I managed to begin answering birthday wishes on Facebook, get ready, gas up, buy a cake for our second Sunday brunch, and get to Hermanville by 8:15 to practice my solo before anyone else arrived. 

The congregation sang "Happy Birthday" to me. What a treat! And the excellent sermon by our pastor, Charles Pope, was another treat. 

My husband took me out to lunch and I got to see Peyton Manning play for a few minutes before heading off to Heritage House, where I sing for afternoon Sunday School class on the second Sundays of the month. I got to see some of my favorite fellow senior citizens. 

Then home to eat a second slice of cake. Hey, my birthday only comes once a year! 

It seems like forever since I have had a birthday that was this stress-free. Birthdays of the past few years have been spent with loved ones in hospitals or waiting for test results to see if cancer had returned or spread. I remember being so exhausted that I completely slept through one birthday when my Daddy was sick. 

I am always rather humbled by all the birthday wishes I receive on Facebook. I know they remind folks. Still, I am amazed at how many people take the time to wish me a happy birthday. 

One of the best things about turning 55? The discounts! My age now entitles me to some nice discounts at a lot of places. And, believe me, I am not so vain about my age that I won't be asking for them!

http://www.lifecarefunding.com/blog/senior-discounts/ 

Fifty-five and still alive and kicking!

 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Like Us

I have come across several articles lately regarding the fact that we tend to be attracted to and make friends with people like ourselves. I suppose, on some level, we tend to think that other people should be "like us." I find myself guilty of this more often than I would like to admit.

I have a wide circle of varied friends. They are not all "like me." I would not want them to be. 

However, there are some behaviors that I do not like in my friends or anyone else. Being honest, not just with me, but in their daily lives and businesses is important. Being courteous, (yes, even to family), is high on my list. I admit to not having much patience with people who are manipulative and deceptive. I don't particularly care to be friends with people who are just plain "ornery" as my late Dad used to put it. I am not talking about bad moods or reacting to stressful times. I am talking about people who stiff their waiter or waitress on a regular basis. People who physically harm other people or animals. People who live to argue 24 hours a day. I enjoy an occasional debate, but ALL THE TIME? No.

I am not perfect. I am not even close. But, as I become older, (and hopefully) wiser, I try to become more like the person I want to be. Often, that means surrounding myself with "good" people. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of them out there to learn from. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tagging Along

In a couple of days, I will be headed to this lovely place, Lake Barkley State Resort Park in Kentucky. My friend, Teresa, has traveled with me all over the place in the past for my events and meetings. Now it is my turn to tag along with her to a Fiber Fest. I don't do yarn, but this looks like a lovely place to just relax for the weekend. All my expenses are paid. My kind of trip!

I have not been any further than the Jackson area since May of 2013 and have not been anywhere during the Fall in years. I am knocking on wood, as I prepare to leave Thursday afternoon, that nothing will come up to make me have to cancel this much needed getaway. The past months have been difficult. My husband's lung cancer diagnosis and surgery, my own hip replacement, nursing home experience, and new health issues have worn me down physically and emotionally. I hope to recharge my batteries for the rest of what should prove to be an exciting October. 

Thanks, friend Teresa, for letting me tag along. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My New Best Friend

I have a new best friend. It's name is Synthroid. 

For 20 years, my thyroid function was just over the line, and doctors would all assure me that there was no problem. I had many of the symptoms (weight gain, fatigue, puffy face, joint pain), but they could all be attributed to my other illnesses or medications. But, the possibility of thyroid problems was always in the back of my mind.


Like many other fat people, I have had people say things to me that were thoughtless and rude. I needed to exercise more! Stop eating out! Give up ________! Oh, and I have SUCH a pretty face! I have even had "friends" refuse dessert for me in a restaurant. I am fat, I MUST overeat, right? 

Not necessarily. Granted, I have been on doses of steroids that had me eating everything not nailed down. And, I confess to some degree of comfort eating in times of stress. But, I have never regularly eaten the quantities of food that some people believe. In fact, I am usually eating the smallest meal of just about anyone when I eat out or am at a gathering. 

As of today, I have lost 42 pounds. The last 12 have been in the two weeks I have been on Synthroid. I finally got to the right doctor and received the right diagnosis. Finally. I saw a photo of myself taken last week, and I almost cried. My face was "mine" again. Oval instead of round. My neck no longer looks so terribly thick. And, in a grouping of other people, while I still look heavy, I did not look so terribly out of proportion. 

I am beginning to feel like "me" again.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fear

I used to be a fearful person. I was far too afraid of what others thought of me. I was afraid of trying new things. I was afraid to express my feelings. It was not a good place to be. 

Therapy and my faith helped me learn to deal with my fears. Some fear is normal and healthy. But, as I talk to people, read things on social media, and occasionally listen to the news, it seems that fear is taking over. 


Maybe I am just a "Cockeyed Optimist" as portrayed by Nellie Forbush in South Pacific. I have made a decision to do my best to take life one day at a time and to live it as fearlessly as possible. 

Don't get me wrong. I have money saved for a rainy day. I have emergency supplies that would get me through about a month. I am not going to deliberately put myself in harm's way. But, at my age and stage, I simply am not going to spend what time I have left in constant worry. And, if the worst should occur, I don't particularly want to be here if my family and friends are gone.

Since I was a small child, danger has loomed. I can remember tests of the Emergency Broadcast System that would scare me to death. I remember being scared of "The Russians" and the thought of war with them. My grandmother spent countless hours canning rice and beans back in the 1970's for the hard times that were certainly coming. 

I don't know what the future holds. I know that I might feel quite differently if I had children. I have been through tough economic times. We did without, but we made it through. I have been through unpleasant times, like the aftermath of Katrina, and made it through. I have seen good and bad government and made it through. Things have a way of balancing themselves over time. 

With all my heart, I believe the words to this precious hymn. 


Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.



T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.



Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.



The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Another Day, Another Diagnosis

As expected, my new endocrinologist diagnosed me with adrenal insufficiency. My body simply is not making steroid and probably is not going to in the near future. So, I increase my Prednisone slightly and everything should be OK. Right?

Uh, no. In addition to the adrenal insufficiency, I have also been diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease. This is not uncommon, especially for women my age, but treatment might be able to make a huge difference in how I feel. 

My doctor wants both of these on my Medic-Alert bracelet. The problem is, there is no more room on my (large) medic-alert bracelet. I don't think that it would be a good idea to take asthma, congenital myopathy, severe food allergies, or the fact that there is an epi-pen in my purse OFF of my current one. I guess I am going to have to get another medic-alert to wear along with this one. At least some more stylish ones are available these days. Sheesh!

If all goes well, I might be feeling better in a few months. That would be lovely.

Now to get on the medic-alert website and order my new bracelet. 

Monday, September 01, 2014

Amber Alert

Last night my iPhone went off with a shatteringly loud "emergency" sound. I have to admit, it scared me to death for a moment. 

It turned out to be an Amber Alert for a teenage girl who had been shot and abducted from the Jackson area. I know that there are legal guidelines for the timing of such things, but it seems like this case might have necessitated more expedient handling.

I belong to several groups on Facebook. On one of them was begun about the Amber Alert and the format going from text messages to this loud alarm. I posted that I was going to shut the alarm off for the night as there was little I could do for this child at the moment, except pray for her safe return. 

Whoa! I was not prepared to be blasted for a) shutting off the alarm until morning and b) *gasp* PRAYING for someone. 

I did not even respond to this. I follow several news sites closely and get Amber Alerts without the necessity of having my phone go off and startle me constantly. I don't live in Jackson. I was not planning on going out last night. I am disabled and there is little I could physically do in a situation except call 911. I am also a Christian and a great believer in the power of prayer. 

I will praying throughout the day for this child. If I am out and see anyone fitting her description, I would call the police at once. I will follow her story via the news outlets. 

I don't need to have a constant alarm going off to do all this. 

I am posting the link to the Amber Alert here.

http://www.msnewsnow.com/story/26416889/amber-alert-issued-for-teen-believed-to-be-shot-and-abducted?utm_content=bufferc4429&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

8 Years

During the past couple of days, I decided to go back and scan through my blog entries. Until then, it really had not hit me that I have been blogging for 8 years. I honestly never thought it would last this long. 

There have been times when I have taken the title of my blog pretty literally. I have said what I really think about some issues. This has gotten me "defriended" by a couple of people over the years, but sometimes things just need to be said. Reading over changes in my life and friendships over the past few years put me in mind of this poem. Like the poem reflects, I have had friendships that meet all these categories. I have had to walk away from friendships for my own health and sanity. Sadly, this was not necessarily because of the friend, but constant drama in his or her family that I could no longer handle. I have had to step away from some friendships that strained or threatened my marriage. Sometimes, there is just not enough to hold a friendship together through physical distance. There have been a number of times when I have outlived my usefulness in a relationships and they gave ended. This hurts for a time. But, hurts heal. Fortunately, I have those "lifetime" friendships. The most priceless treasures on Earth.



Reason, Season, or Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
— Unknown

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Limits

One thing I particularly love about watercolor is that it stays within its limits. If there is no water to carry the color, it stays within the limits set for it, most of the time, anyway.

It took me a long time and I still struggle to set limits in my life with other people. Most of my friends and acquaintances know that I am having multiple new medical issues on top of multiple existing medical issues. 




Right now, I am able to make my very basic obligations. Church, teaching at the Senior Center, singing at Heritage House, and encouraging friends are very high on my list. But, after I finish these things, I am absolutely exhausted and it can take several hours to recover enough to fold a load of laundry or heat up supper. 

September promises to be a sea of specialist appointments and tests. I have already had to cancel my first week of watercolor classes to be able to see these new doctors. When I am a new patient waiting for a specialty appointment, I take whatever I can get. I am desperately trying to get well enough to go on a long anticipated weekend trip in October with my best friend. I want to have a birthday party in October, that will double as a fundraiser for Good Shepherd Community Center. 

The rest of August and September need to be my time to work on my healing. 

Right now, I just don't feel like extensive visiting, doing special programs, going anywhere after dark, or even shopping. The rare bits of energy I have need to be going to the things that I feel called to do and to being with chosen friends who understand where my limits are and respect them. 



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My 2 Cents

Like many people today, I am shocked and saddened by the death of Robin Williams. Yet another reminder of the realities of depression and the fact that this disease is no respecter of persons. 

I am a retired licensed professional counselor. At least 75% of the people who walked through my office door suffered from depression. Many of them had suffered in silence for years due to the stigma (which still exists to an alarming degree) associated with getting help. 

Here in the "Bible Belt" depression is often seen as a sign that the person is not close enough to God, is not praying hard enough, etc. This just adds to the guilt and shame that the clinically depressed are already feeling. No wonder suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in this country.

I am sure that I am not the only middle-aged woman who, upon admitting being depressed to a physician, has had her genuine physical ailments immediately dismissed as "stress". Prescriptions for Valium, etc are offered instead of investigating real causes of illness. I never answer the question on history of depression on a new doctor's questionnaire. When my body "broke down" at age 40, what two doctors dismissed as stress turned out to be a neuromuscular disease, sleep apnea, asthma, severe food allergies, and severe anemia. I thank God every day for the young doc at MEA in Clinton who cared enough to refer me to the right doctors and get me treated for these very real illnesses. 

I have been clinically depressed. I was able to ignore the well meaning friends who did not think I needed help and listen to the ones who thought I did. I found a good counselor and anti-depressant medication. I leaned (too heavily at times, God bless them) on my friends. And, eventually, I got better. 

Unfortunately, the stories of others don't end as well as mine did. 

May you find the peace in death that you could not find in life, Robin. 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Hearts

I have had tests done on my heart for years. Because of my family history, doctors tend to check my heart every few years, just in case. They have always come back clear and the problem has been something else. 

When Dr. Distante came in the room Tuesday, I was honestly expecting him to say, "Well, it's not your heart" and ship me back to Dr. LaTorre. 

I was a little taken aback when he told me that the tests had shown that there do appear to be some problems. 

My heart does not seem to be pumping quite enough blood and there is fluid around my it. I am scheduled for a heart cathererization on Friday to see if the other test results were correct and possibly fix problems.

I know that these procedures are routine and very low risk now, but I would be lying if I said that I was not a trifle nervous. I have tried to better my odds of heart problems (no smoking, taking my cholesterol meds, trying not too eat too many fried or greasy foods, and exercising as able with my myopathy) but, as the doc says, sometimes genetics just suck. 

Best case scenario is that whatever they find can be easily fixed and I will get some energy back. I have places to go, people to see, and things to do! As the meme says "Ain't Nobody Got Time for This!" 

I certainly don't!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Miss Mary

When I woke up this morning, it was raining. I had planned to go to the gym, but, just for a moment, I was SO tempted to just skip it. It would have been lovely just to sit down in my chair and play with my iPad. 

I quickly shook off that notion, put my clothes on, grabbed my umbrella, and headed off to Fitness Works. As I arrived, my friend, 94 year old Mary Clark was coming out of the gym. Yes, Miss Mary was out IN THE RAIN before 9 AM at the gym!

Miss Mary amazes me. Even at 94, she has never grown "old". She does not constantly harp on aches and pains. She does not constantly talk about "the good old days." She is lively and interested in other people and what is going on with THEM. I remember getting an invitation to the 90th birthday party that she threw for herself. She wanted to treat her family and friends rather than have them treat her. 

I want to be Miss Mary when I grow up. I want to stay interested. I don't want to waste my time complaining. I want to learn new things. I want to throw my own 90th birthday party!

And I want to still be going to the gym when I am 94! 



 


Monday, July 14, 2014

Saying Goodbye

Almost 25 years ago, I met Denny Allman, the priest at Christ Episcopal Church and his lovely wife, Norma. We met while playing in the local Vicksburg Theater Guild production of Camelot in 1989.

I was cast as Nimue, the nymph who comes to lure Merlin (played by Denny Allman) to her cave and eternal sleep, thus taking him away from his role as adviser to King Arthur. Every night, I climbed up a 14 foot platform, without my glasses, and trailing costume. Coming down was even harder. Denny stood by the ladder and helped me down after I had lured him away to "Follow Me." 

Norma, Denny's wife, was cast a Morgan le Fay, who dwelt in an invisible castle. By keeping Arthur away from Camelot for one night, Morgan allowed Guinevere and Lancelot to be caught together. Thus began the fall of Camelot. 


This was a behemoth of a production. There was such a long period between times when the chorus was needed that people had time to go to Daiquiri World and back. 

I am not kidding. 

Needless to say, there was also time to talk and make friends. While I made several, Denny and Norma became particularly special to me. The next year, after my mama died during the night, Denny was on my doorstep the on the morning of December 26th. Denny and Norma helped me through the severe depression I went through while dealing with my loss. More times than maybe even they know, they saved my life just by being the right people, at the right place, at the right time. They always had time for me. 

I was never a parishioner of Christ Episcopal, but Denny always treated me as if I was. He visited me when I was in the hospital, helped me through the loss of more loved ones, and cheered my successes. 

Denny and Norma are moving to Baton Rouge to be closer to biological family. But, no matter where they go, they will always be part of my chosen family. 




Monday, July 07, 2014

Social Media

Last night, my husband and I spent several hours watching a CNN series on the Sixties. As we watched through historical events from Kennedy's election, to Vietnam, to Freedom Summer, I saw footage of political figures that I had never seen before. I found it ironic, that in this age of social media, I am just now finding out about things from 50 years ago. 

It made me wonder how past presidents and other political figures would have fared had camera phones, Facebook, Twitter, and Vine been available back then. What if they had been caught in that split second before they could put hands over hearts for the pledge? Had photoshopped pictures made that totally distorted situations? What if misinformation could have been spread like wildfire at the click of a mouse? Presidents who have been considered some of the greatest in history have made some pretty big mistakes. ("Bay of Pigs", anyone?) Would their legacies have been the same had the public known about their mistakes instantly? 

Social media can be a wonderful thing. I love connecting with friends and family. I love discussing issues near to my heart in groups. I loved getting to see pictures of my dear friend's newborn granddaughter who was born on the 4th of July. But, I have to wonder if social media is playing a part in creating and maintaining divisions. Divisions between political parties. Divisions between religious denominations. Divisions between races. Yes, racial divides still exist, even today, sadly enough. 

Just for today, think about how social media can be used for good or for ill. Resolve to check out things that might be in doubt. Snopes.com is a good way to see if something is true or false. 

Check things out before passing them on. 

 

  

 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Comfort Zones

There is a Casting Crowns song "Voice of Truth" that spoke loudly to me the very first time that I heard it, and continues to speak to me today. The sermon at Hermanville UMC today was on leaving our comfort zones and going out into the world to share the Good News of Jesus. 

 Historically, I have been very much a "Comfort Zone" person. I broke out of that comfort zone to go back to school and get my counseling degree. But, afterwards, I found it easy to slip back into another comfort zone. While I was waiting to regain my singing voice, I decided to leave my comfort zone again and explore art. I left the comfort zone of my longtime church to follow a call to go where I was really needed. Now, I have left the comfort zone of the politics of my parents to follow my own paths. Each time that I have left a comfort zone, I have found an opportunity to minister to others. Not by beating them over the head with the Bible and quoting endless scriptures, but by loving them, encouraging them, and serving them. I don't always succeed in this, but, I am always trying. Most people in this part of the country know the Bible, but don't really experience the love of Christ.

Consider stepping out of your comfort zone for a day.What might happen?
 



Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

[Chorus]
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they'd have had the strength to stand
But the giant's calling out my name
And he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"
Chorus

But the stone was just the right size
To put the giant on the ground
And the waves they don't seem so high
From on top of them lookin' down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
Singing over me
Chorus
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Passionate

I spent part of last night on Facebook, trying to fix my page so that everyone did not have to see every like, comment, and page that I follow. Facebook used to have an option to disable comments and likes, but I can't find that now. Go figure.

I find that as I grow older, I have become so much more passionate about life and the world around me. Social media has introduced me to people, places, and causes I would never have known about otherwise. This is a "mixed" blessing. I spent much of my early life being afraid to express myself. One of the wonderful things about middle age is that this fear is largely gone. :)

I have become quite passionate about politics. I am passionate about equal rights for ALL of God's children, no matter where they may be found. I am passionate about Fair Trade and trying to buy as many things as possible from local artisans or from places where I know people are paid a fair wage for their labors. I am passionate about art and music. I am passionate about shelter for the homeless, medical care for the poor, and safe daycare. I am passionate about my family and friends. I am passionate about mental health, taking care of self, and setting boundaries. I am passionate about following my bliss. And most of all, I am passionate about my little church in Hermanville and trying to do what Jesus would have me do. 

Go out today and be passionate about something. You will be glad you did.   

Sunday, May 25, 2014

What I Learned Today

Today, in an effort to give our wonderful pastor a bit of time off, I offered to conduct the service and bring the message today. I learned a lot. Needless to say, I appreciate Charles even more after this experience. 

Historically, Memorial Day is a very "low" Sunday for our church. People are out of town and visiting family. To my great surprise, we had 10 people in the service today. One couple even came back from an event early to support me in this endeavor. I was truly blown away by this. 

I never realized what a juggling act it is to manage a speech, a bulletin, a hymnal, and, in my case, an extra book that I wanted to show to the congregation. I did a fair amount of praying that I would not drop anything, seeing as I dropped my hymnal, bulletin, and solo lyrics just last Sunday. 

I never realized how long Charles has to stand at one time. This is something I totally underestimated. My legs do not cooperate with standing for long periods, so I had to abbreviate some things so that I could get to my chair and sit during the special music. 

Part of my neuromuscular disease can also affect my speech when I begin to tire. Not sure I can really do anything about this one. 

I am getting off of steroids, so my vision is changing rapidly, and not for the better. I did not realize how different it was going to be looking at my notes and bulletin from a standing position. Especially if I looked up and looked back down! Double spacing might help this. Or not. 

Even with all this, I did enjoy the experience. Don't get me wrong, I would NOT want the job full time. But, it did reassure me that I can get through a speech and not have the congregation/audience fall asleep on me. I was not even really nervous. I felt the prayers, support, and love, not just from those present, but from those who were praying for me from other places. 

It is nice to know that I can talk when the need arises. But, I would much rather let Charles do the talking. 

And I'll just sing. 









Monday, May 12, 2014

Boundaries

Ironically, I am to give my first talk in church as lay leader on May 25th. My topic? Boundaries. 

I first read "Boundaries" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend many years ago, back in the 90's. It really did change my life for the better.  Sometimes I am more effective at setting boundaries than at other times. Having multiple "invisible" illnesses, my body often sets my boundaries for me. 

I have not been as efficient as I need to be in setting boundaries over the past few months and my body and spirit are letting me know it. I have been using too much of my precious energy for too little reward. Those few more minutes, or one more thing can make the difference between being able to run one more important errand like picking up medication, or going to the bank, before I go home and crash for several hours or not getting these things done. 

I am taking some time away from several commitments for a short time. I need time to recharge the batteries of both my body and my spirit.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

My First Tornado.

This week has been quite eventful, to say the least. On Monday, I experienced my first tornado. I found out a number of things about tornadoes that I did not know. 

For one, I found out that by the time you get that call telling you that you are under a tornado WARNING, it is already on top of you. There is very little time to get anywhere safe. 

Tornadoes really DO sound like freight trains. 

We don't have anyplace in our house that can be closed off that does not have an outside wall. We don't have a tub in our one bathroom, but a shower with glass doors located by a large window. Ummm...I don't think so! We do need to figure something out for the future, but I don't know what.

I also found out that rain can go completely sideways. As we looked out our windows, the rain was parallel to the ground. The (mercifully small) hail hitting our metal roof made it even more interesting. And, when I heard the loud "Whump!", sure enough, our big oak in the corner of the yard had shed a limb large enough to block our street and take power lines with it. 

After the storm was over, as neighbors were gathering outside to survey the damage, I saw something I had never seen. 5-6 inch in diameter limbs were stuck in the ground like spears. When my husband pulled this one up, it had been buried 6 inches deep. 

Overall, we were extremely fortunate. One neighbor had part of his house, his carport, and a beautiful antique car smashed. A family in a nearby neighborhood had a tree fall on the living room that they would have been sitting in had they been home at the time. But, we had no injuries or deaths with this storm. 

My heart goes out to Tupelo and Louisville. They suffered casualties and will have a much harder time cleaning up and getting back to normal. 

Vicksburg essentially dodged yet another bullet, and for that, I am thankful. 


Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Hymnal of My Own

This month I celebrated my first anniversary as a member of Hermanville United Methodist Church. I had been attending before that, but last April was when I decided to make to transition from my former church to HUMC. 

Last Sunday, our pianist, Daphne Bruce and I were presented with our very own personalized hymnals. I was surprised and (momentarily) speechless. Our pastor, Charles, told the story of his first Sunday at HUMC. He was holding off beginning the service. One of the members told him he might as well go ahead and start. Charles asked about a pianist or a music leader and was told "We don't sing." 

Well, the members of HUMC now sing! Hymns, the Doxology, the Gloria Patri, and special music are now part of every service. I feel so blessed to be a part of the two person "music department." 

Many years ago, my paternal grandmother gave me my first Bible. I was a white leather King James Version. I opened it and the first scripture I saw was this one. It is still one of my favorites. 

Psalm 100

King James Version (KJV)
100 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.




 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Book!

After many years in the making, my husband's book about the old cemeteries of Claiborne County is out and available. 

This book was many years in the making. Bill personally hiked to and through these cemeteries himself, with the exception of one that was forbidden to him. He did his best to uncover every stone and, where possible, leave the cemetery in better shape than when he found it. 

Not only did Bill track down and document these cemeteries, he cross referenced names with marriage and death records in order to link families together. The result is a very nice book that should be a wonderful resource for anyone interested in the history of the Claiborne County or Genealogical research. 

The book can be purchased through amazon.com, dorrancebooks.com, and I usually keep a couple of signed copies at The Cricket Box. Cost is $31.00 for a signed copy at the Cricket Box and you would be supporting a local business. You can also message me on Facebook if you are interested in a copy.

The cover artwork is my own rendition of Grand Gulf Cemetery. I painted it for Bill several years ago and was honored that he used it for his cover. I also took the photograph of him that appears on the back with my iPhone 5 camera at Greenlawn Gardens. It only seemed proper to have his photo taken in a graveyard. 

Getting a book published is not an easy task. The back and forth between the writer and the editors can get tedious at times. But, after many months, Bill's dream is finally a reality.

I could not be prouder. 



 
 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Car Shopping

I am not a fan of car shopping. However, our 2006 Town and Country mini-van is making way too many trips to the shop these days. The things that are going wrong are just not cost effective to fix in an 8 year old vehicle.

My husband insists on a vehicle with an "American" label (even if half the parts are made in other countries). He also insists on going out of town to look at every possible choice. I am having trouble getting him to realize, with the transparency of the internet, there is no need to do this.

I have already done some research. I know what I want, where I want to get it, and who I want to buy it from.

Alas, I am certain that it is not going to be that simple.


Monday, March 17, 2014

I Can't See Clearly Now

Don't worry, I can still see to drive, cook, read on my iPad, etc.

After 12 years of taking varying doses of steroids, my new neuromuscular doc is wanting to wean me off of them. They were masking some problems that need attention and I may be able to finally lose some more weight. This is good.

The bad is increased pain from a number of injuries, arthritis, etc. I can deal with those.

Where I am feeling the change the most is in my art endeavors. I have had trouble seeing a pencil line for some time, so I have avoided trying to sketch what I want to paint. As the steroids decrease, my vision worsens, and my ability to see that pencil line is almost impossible. My hands are stiffer and shake a bit more.

Once again, I am having to modify the way I "do art." I am trying different tools and methods to see what I can do with what I have now.

I am not sure what this will mean for the marketability of my art or my ability to continue teaching the classes I love at the Senior Center.

I guess I will be stepping outside my comfort zone and finding out!

Stay tuned!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Figure Skating

The first time I remember really watching figure skating was when Peggy Fleming won the gold medal at the 1968 Olympics. She was so graceful and elegant. And I was hooked on figure skating for life.

Over time, figure skating has changed a lot. It seems like there are times that all the emphasis is on the jumps and none on the artistry and beauty that make the sport worth watching.

Adelina Sotnikova of Russia, last night's winner, had the jumps. But, in my humble opinion, had none of the other qualities that I love about figure skating. There were no deep, lovely edges. No mood was set by her choreography (or lack thereof). Her spins were not particularly distinctive. It was like she just did jump after jump, with nothing meaningful in between.

Contrasting Adelina's skating with the gorgeous performances given by Yuna Kim, Carolina Kostner, and Gracie Gold, I have a wonder about the judging, which is already under fire. I guess bloc judging is still alive and well, even in 2014.

For the most part, it was a great evening of figure skating. Gracie, Ashley, and Polina showed the world that ladies figure skating in the US is a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Bring on 2018!




Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weepy

My healthcare team says I am doing well. I am walking part of the time with a quad cane. I have been out to get the toenails done and the hair "did." The weather is warming up. I go to outpatient physical therapy next week to work on getting back to my version of "normal."

So, why am I crying?? I am not normally a person who weeps much. But, I find myself crying at commercials, at the Olympics, and even at these clips I find on Facebook. 

This morning I saw a clip on Scott Hamilton on Facebook, and being quite a fan of his, I watched all 10 minutes of it. I sobbed. Literally sobbed. 

I hope it is just the events of the past few weeks getting to me. The rehab experience was uncomfortable at the best of times and absolutely frightening at the worst. I have never been this incapacitated for this long. I hate having to constantly ask for help from my husband to do things I just can't do yet. I really hate not being able to drive! 

This week, I get back into my routine of teaching watercolor classes. Combined with the PT, I hope to be busy enough not to let my mind dwell on things past. 

I am telling myself that all this is probably normal under the circumstances. But, I hope it does not last much longer. 

I am running low on Kleenex.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Recovery

Needless to say, my recovery is not going as quickly as *I* think it should. After a brief attempt at walking on a quad cane and pushing myself a bit too far in physical therapy, I pulled a muscle and set myself back a few days. So, I am back on my tricked out walker with the wheels, tennis balls, and Batman tag.

I guess anyone who has surgery of this type hears all about the folks who recovered unbelievably quickly. The ones who came straight home from the hospital and were using a cane the first week. The ones who were doing almost everything they had been doing before surgery by 4 weeks.

Despite my optimism and determination, I was not this person. Not this time, anyway.

The day I was released from the hospital after my appendectomy 20 years ago (this was when they did the big incision), I stopped at Cedar Hill Cemetery to sing for a friend's graveside service. I back in school (as a student) the next Monday. I had little trouble with any of my other surgeries. Nothing prepared me for this one.

My rehab and home health caregivers think I am doing well, all things considered. But, I am not the world's most patient person. I want to be back teaching watercolor, leading the singing at my church, and doing everything I can for myself. I am not good at asking for help. But, it has been an eye-opener to see how many people really care about me and have been willing to help during this time. I am truly humbled.

I already have less pain than before the surgery. I know that I am going to be better than ever before too long. I just have to realize that I am healing at my own pace. And I have to be content with that.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Rehab

I went into my hip replacement surgery optimistically thinking that I would go straight home from the hospital. 

Wrong. 

Due to my congenital myopathy, the surgery left me much weaker than the average person. I had to find someplace to rehab in less than 12 hours. When my two choices in Vicksburg were unable to take me, I ended up at Trinity Mission Nursing and Rehab in Clinton. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least!


For the first few days, I was unable to get up without assistance. Every time I had to go to the bathroom, I had to call someone. Talk about a humbling experience! I would be sitting on the edge of my bed for up to an hour and a half watching CNAs go by. For some, if I was not their patient, they were not going to give me the time of day. Often, my call light was ignored completely. I was thankful that I was alert, had a cellphone, and could yell if necessary! But, most of my fellow inmates were not so fortunate. Scary.   

Needless to say, I was eager to get to PT and get stronger in a hurry. I was not sure how the system worked there, but I wanted to let the therapists know that I was ready to get going. I called my friend Rachel to bring me supplies and I made a sign announcing that I was ready for therapy! 





Tracy and Helen arranged for me to begin therapy every morning at the unholy hour of 6:15. Since I was not sleeping anyway, I figured I might as well use my morning wisely. These two got me back on my feet. Literally!

I also now have an appreciation for parents who have to watch the same TV channel day and night. My roommate had TVLand going 24/7 at full blast the first couple of nights I was at Trinity. There is NOTHING more grating that the voice of Fran Drescher (The Nanny)  at 3 AM!!! I finally began getting someone to turn it off after sweet Miss Bonnie fell asleep. 

Dining was another interesting experience. The dining room manager ruled with an iron hand. We short timers were allowed to have a guest for one meal a day. But, that person had to be signed up well in advance. One of the best things about the meal was the homemade soup. But, if one was not signed up, it was  "No soup for YOU!" 



Fortunately, along the way, I met and cultivated caring people to help make my stay easier. The wound care nurses were wonderful. James, Justin, and George helped me to the bathroom when no one else would, even though it was not technically their job. Believe me, when you are hurting and desperate, you don't care WHO is helping you! And precious Krystal was my favorite CNA. She is trying to go back to school, get her nursing degree, and break a generations old cycle of family poverty. I am rooting for her. 

One of the things that was hardest about the whole experience was the lack of silence. The man across the hall had his TV on 24/7 and it was so loud I could hear the dialogue. Staff members would talk and laugh loudly outside the door no matter what the hour. And, of course, there was always the sound of food, laundry, and medicine carts going up and down the hall. I had earplugs and soothing music, but nothing could drown out the other sounds. I craved silence as if it were a drug. 

Thanks to my friends and family, Bill, my minister, Charles, Rachel (who washed my hair for me), Tammy (who brought me a large Diet Coke from Sonic on a snowy day), to Debbie and Judy bearing gifts of hugs and lemon squares and Robyn, the Little Debbie Fairy, who ensured I would have something for midnight snacks, I made it. 

I am sure I ended up in the best place available at the time. But, I hope I don't have to do it again any time in the near future. 

 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Death Comes in Threes

I remember, as a child, older relatives saying "Death comes in threes." I did not think too much of it then, but, now that I am an adult (more or less!), it increasingly seems that this is true.

Over the past month, three precious people have passed away before they had a chance to get old. One of them was a wife and mother who enjoyed life and the people around her. One was a sweet gentleman who was in pain for many years, but even when he was home bound, reached out to others by way of encouraging cards. The last was a woman who, when I knew her, lived life at a frantic pace. She wanted to make a lot of money and retire early. I was in no position to say this to her, but I always wished that she would stop and smell the roses a little. Just in case. I am not sure exactly how old she was when she passed away recently, but I know that she was several years younger than me. Her death is especially sad to me, because I am not sure she ever really LIVED life.

Every day, I see friends and acquaintances living these frantically busy lives. They simply don't seem to know how to slow down and enjoy life. They use busyness like some people use drugs and alcohol. They stay busy to avoid or numb what is going on or has gone on in their lives.

My prayer is that my friends don't die before they have lived.

Really lived.