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5.31.2011

POLLY WANT A CRACKER?

I have a massive love of the out-of-doors.  There is nothing better than being out in.  But, if I can't be out in it, I love to have the windows open feeling like all that is between me and nature is a screen.  Sometimes even in the winter I like to crack the bedroom window just a tad to feel the air - to feel connected to the outdoors when you are penned in by winter.  There is something though very soothing, magical, even energizing to hearing the sounds of nature as I drift off to sleep or lay quietly embracing the morning.  Laying in bed with the windows open early one morning recently I could see through the cracks in the blinds that it was, once again, a gray cloudy day.  Spring just wouldn't relent to summer nor did it seem to do what its name implies - move us forward to something different.  For a bit I laid there disgusted that once again there was no blue sky, no sun.  We were facing another day strung onto the rope of gray, cloudy, drizzly days in a row.  I sighed inside longing for the lightness that warmth and sun bring to my soul - the energy I get from those days.  As I paused my mental loop of weather despair preparing to repeat it all over again in my head, I heard the birds.  Wow, I thought, do they not know it's gray, cool and drizzly?  Do they not know it is day 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or most of March, April and May that have not been sunny?  No, I said as I answered my own questions.  For whatever reason and by God's design they were either not aware of the gray that had stretched on endlessly or that was not the focus of their world.  How could those birds sing such joy in the midst of the gray, the clouds, the cool and even the rain?  I wished just for a moment I was a bird.  Maybe then I would really know what it is to find joy and contentment no matter the circumstance, the condition, the disappointment.  I have too many times let the song stop for stretches in my life - sitting in silence, pain, handling and rehandling regret, drowning in grief, buried under the weight of dashed hopes and dreams, losing my perspective and my hope in the midst.  A few days later as I sat on the front porch I heard the sound of a flock of geese flying low and close.  Looking upward I saw the v-formation and heard the sound of dozens of geese.  It was an absolutely amazing sight.  There they were, flying together, squawking in what seemed almost like encouragement to each other.  My mind pictured those in that gaggle conversing in a way that helps us to connect to finding joy and presence in the moments of life (flying for them) - no matter the condition of the weather, or circumstance, or even the state of our spirit. 

5.26.2011

TOO MUCH

Out running this morning I thought about the words too much and what all that means.  Right now there is too much food in my house.  Between a work staff retreat my husband is doing at our house and kids coming from out of town for the weekend, there is food everywhere.  It's too much food and all the things I don't care to put in my body.  What is too much for me might not be too much for you.  If you had to define a part of me, most who know me would say - unencumbered , natural, simple, free spirited, hater of nick knacks, a touch of realism mixed with relentlessness, not attached to things.  Two years ago my only child, a daughter, got married.  Whether she likes it or not, she has part of me in her and part of her dad (I hope she only got the good stuff and the negatives in he and I's personalities escaped her!).  She didn't want a wedding.  Instead, she wanted a destination ceremony or even just an elopement followed by a reception later (how else would people in their early 20's get gifts much needed to offset their great poverty!).  For her a wedding was just too much -  too much pomp, a non-essential - bog you down sort of stuff.  Brandon, her finance, though did want a wedding.  It was her first put-it-to-the-test real life compromise for love - she had a wedding:)  At one point in the planning she folded to the "this is too much" way of thinking, melted down and cried.  She asked if I would just take care of it for her.  I did, but only after asking over and over if she would really be ok with whatever I did.  It took the "too much" away from her and allowed her to be present and just enjoy.  Sitting at lunch this week with a friend whose daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks, she shared the cost of something for the wedding with me.  I laughed out loud and stated, "That is about what I spent on Hannah's entire wedding!"  My daughter got married outside in a park, reception in my sister's backyard, rented a tent, cake bought by my other sister for her gift, my daughter's dress cost $99 (last year's style and only one left in what happened to be her size-a 4), I made the flowers, rented a soft serve ice cream machine, misc decorating items, printed invitations made on my printer (about 100 in attendance), postage, rented tables & chairs, etc.... for yes, around $1,000.  My friend's idea of too much and mine are completely opposite.  Too much of anything feels crowded to me.  Nick knacks, hygiene potions and lotions, clothes, furniture, outdoor plant life, jewelry, making easy things hard - not just tangible belonging sort of stuff, but emotional, spiritual, physical and mental approaches to life in general.  Sometimes I think we attach that too much way of life to God.  We assume because He is God, creator of the universe and man, sustainer of life, author of salvation that He too is in that too much way of thinking.  God is the clearest example of what it is to be complex, but simple and pure and unadulterated all at the same time.  Standing some years ago outside my grandparents home, which was being auctioned off along with most of their belongings, struck me as ironic.  There were tables and tables of "stuff".  Most of it might have had value to gram and gramps at some point in their life.  Right then, the only value was what a bidder was willing to pay for something they had possessed, maybe treasured and acquired while on earth.  Too much eventually becomes nothing to us.  I thought about the scripture that says "it is better to give than to receive".  It's not that Jesus was saying getting is wrong, but that there is a freedom with not living in the land of too much.  That there is a place of less that actually brings more to our spirits and hearts and minds.  There is a unique vision that we get when we aren't looking through stuff or holding onto it with a closed hand.  The statement we say when we see something that appears either not worthy of the price or we are not willing to pay that price is, "that is too much".  Living far under what is too much is probably a great way to live - with money, food, possessions and even self.   

5.25.2011

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS

I got that wonderful reminder card in the mail a few weeks back.  Not for my six month dental checkup (I actually am overdue for that).  Oh no, I got that yearly ob gyn checkup postcard.  Ugh!  Since I have moved a great deal in my life, I have had a splattering of gynecologists.  Some have been great.  Others, not so much.  Two in particular come to mind in the horrible bedside manner category.  The first ob gyn doctor I ever had was when I got married at age 18.  He was our family physician who delivered me and a good share of the kids in my hometown.  He and his wife also went to the church I grew up in.  All that is fine until you cross the threshold to womanhood.  Then well, it's just awkward.  He was a great man who also delivered my daughter.  I still see him from time to time and he usually gets a bit teary eyed when he sees me - the circle of life stuff I think hits him.   That day at age 18 sitting in his office a month or so before my wedding we are discussing sex and birth control (out of body experience at that age and phase of life). In a very matter of fact manner he looks at me and says, "No matter how good you feel after sex, get up and go to the bathroom.  If you don't, you can end up with a urinary tract infection."  There was no build up to it.  Nope.  No segway.  Just those words and he moved on.  I felt as if I had been told that the canned mushrooms could be found in aisle 7.   Fast forward a few years and another move.  I am sitting in a new gynecologists office.  He is a man (That is an interesting and somewhat disturbing career choice.  I'll bet there are far more male gynecologists than there are female urologists.  Just a hunch!).  He really is quite personable.  Too much in fact.  His mode of examination when perched between my stirrup stretched legs was to talk.  And talk incessantly down there he did.  At one point I wanted to say, "Please, just do your job quietly and get the hell out!"  It was a kind of out of body experience.  I wondered laying there what sex was like for his wife.  Had it become just a monologue from him?  After yet another move at some point I had several great doctors.  He laid the ground work for me to never ever have a male gynecologist again.  One female doctor in particular was spectacular.  We hit it off in every possible way and developed a friendship.  She had the ability to empathize, find humor in the process and listen.  Great qualities in a doctor or really a human being in general.  She unexpectedly moved from the area leaving me without a doctor.  The clinic placed me with the new doctor that took her place.  During that period of time I was ill and my weight was low and most systems in my body were not firing on all cylinders - including estrogen.  I suppose not having been with me through my physical journey she was lacking eyes that had seen.  She was also missing ears that listened and a heart that cared.  I never went back again and called the business office to file a complaint against her.  I wasn't the only one who had done that either.  As I called the number on my reminder card this week to schedule my yearly exam, I was asked which doctor in the conglomerate I saw.  I couldn't remember her name only her character.  I replied, "The funny woman who makes putting your legs in stirrups for a pap smear and an ovary check less horrible than others!"  They knew exactly who I meant - Dr. McBride.

5.24.2011

ODE TO SWEAT

I am a sweater.  No, not the wool kind worn in the winter.  I am a perspirer.  In fact, on my dad's side of the family there is a long lineage of sweating.  We don't just sweat lightly.  Nor do we sweat gracefully, beautifully nor in a glistening sort of way.  My grandmother, when she graced the earth, was clearly a pace setter for those of us following her in life.  I can vividly recall her in that house dress sort of full body apron in the heat of the summer cooking in the kitchen with beads of sweat running down her face.  Really though I can recall even when she sat without doing much of anything, there was some perspiration.  My mother is a total non-perspiring sort of person.  She is only connected to the sweat gene by marriage.  My dad on the other hand, rules the sweat gland performance awards as all time winner.  He will invariably change clothes multiple times a day and shower just as often in the heat of the summer when working outside.  I have seen first hand his ability to leave his clothes as wet as when they are pulled from the washing machine en route to the dryer.  His socks included will be totally wring them out wet.  My two older sisters and myself have followed suite with some definite variations in presentation of sweat.  My oldest sister's hair will look like she just climbed out of the shower.  Whereas my middle sister actually has a sweat mustache much like the DRINK MILK commercials.  I don't think any of us girls sweat through to making our socks dripping wet - thankfully!  I though sweat profusely in between my grand four lane highway of a chest (so fitting indeed!) and in the small of my back which creates a river naturally destined to slide down my butt crack!  Believe or not, there is something totally cleansing about exercising or working to a point where you are drenched.  It unbridles everything in you and allows it to leave in this magically wet and salty sort of way - sounds grand doesn't it:)  All of you non-sweaters cannot even know or understand that feeling.   One of my girlfriends once gave me a chamois with verbal instructions to cut it into small squares and place one in the valley of my four lane chest highway to capture the sweat that pools there.  Once after arriving at a property to show a client, I looked down only to realize that you could see the piece of paper towel I had stuck in my lacking cleavage area to soak up the sweat occurring due to the intense summer heat.  What's worse, a bit of sweat where no one can see it or a big wad of paper towel sticking ridiculously bulgingly through my shirt!  I have often threatened to have what must be an extra sweat gland between my breasts removed.  Why do I need a sweat gland there?  Why!

5.23.2011

ALL IN A MINUTE AND 56 SECONDS

I don't have a lot of experience with horses other than a handful of times in my teenage and young adult years.  Growing up our neighbors, who were also distant relatives, had horses on their dilapidated farm.  Once when I was in grade school one of the sons brought his horse over to our house to give us rides.  The horse bucked me off.  Then, when I was in high school my best friend and I tried our hand at riding their horses.  Those horses got spooked on the road and took off in a full out sprint as we both held onto our perspective horses for dear life with Dawn screaming her lungs out for someone to stop her horse.  I could barely hold on myself while laughing at the hilarity of us thinking we could handle these two horses.  Then, on my honeymoon 26 years ago, I road horses in the Smokey Mountains where my first husband's horse kept scarily leaning him over the edge of the mountain and running him into trees.  My last horse experience was with my daughter, then about 8 years old, at the zoo when she was riding a horse named June - a nicely trained horse who seemed almost tired of small, bratty kids mounting her.  Who names a horse June?  The Preakness Stakes was held Saturday - always the third Saturday in May.  Now horse racing isn't totally mainstreamed like other "sports".  It has a huge following, but nationally isn't as big as March Madness, the Superbowl (let alone the playoffs leading up to the Superbowl), nor the World Series, the World Cup, the Stanley Cup, or the NBA championship.  Maybe it just hasn't had its time in the sun yet.  This is what I noticed about the Preakness Stakes (the 2nd of the 3 stake races run) - it was short!  When I say short, I mean the duration of the race was 1 minute and 56 seconds start to finish.  The race distance a mere 1 mile and 3/16.  There is a lot of money in horses.  Not just in the purchase of a race winning thoroughbred, but ongoing care costs yearly of $40,000 on the low end.  Typically race thoroughbreds are valued high not just for the breed, but for the gamble of what that breed will bring the owner and its team.  Which, really is no different than draft choices in any sport - a gamble on who has the talent to perform and ultimately secure a win for the team.  Now if you are a baseball lover but don't have 4 or 5 hours to dedicate to watching 9 regular innings and the possibility of extra innings, horse racing might be the thing for you.  If you are a lover of alcohol and like to partake heartily of it while watching your favorite game, horse racing might involve you starting drinking long before the 1 minute and 56 second race starts.  I once sat through a Cubs baseball game, finally leaving Wriggley Field after an almost 2 hour ran delay and 15 innings (I left before the game actually ended at 16 innings).  6 hours to determine a winner.  I really think baseball in particular should take some clues from the Preakness Stakes.  I still am not a big fan of either, but I will say that if I don't really care for something a small amount of it is far better than hours and hours of it.  The whole Triple Stakes races really haven't been capitalized on for its "convenience to those on a time constraint" or those who might suffer with some sort of attention deficit.

5.21.2011

THE RELATIVITY OF TIME

My former boss called this week just to catch up, have a few laughs and tell me a story about his oldest son.  Many a day when I worked for him he would share his frustration with his 5 year old's uncooperative spirit and scaredy cat approach to refusing to have his training wheels taken off his bike.  All his friends were riding two-wheeled, but not Dawson.  I would laugh and remind him that time usually takes care of those issues, and that I truly had never seen a normal kid in 4th grade still using training wheels.  Time had passed and my boss informed me that Dawson had finally ridden his bike with no training wheels.  They now couldn't get him off it!  Time's passage brought Dawson nearer and nearer to embracing the freedom of riding bike in a more grown up way.  Time is a constant mover.  It moves us closer to things we don't want to get to or have change, and yet at times seems to hold us at bay when we want it to move quickly towards things we desperately want.  It is relative.  It never changes and yet it appears to stop and go at its own discretion.  I can honestly remember being a kid of about 8 or 9 and feeling like I would ride the school bus forever - that I would never grow up.  Time was very relative to my 8 year old head, and it was slow.   Time passed and I eventually stopped riding the school bus and I did grow up (although that is somewhat subjective!).  I am finding though in my mid forties that again time is very relative.  Looking behind me I know that 45 years is simply 45 years no matter how you slice it.  It is 16,425 days and 394,200 hours mathematically.  When I look at it collaboratively it appears to have gone fast.  But when I look at individual slices of those years, some have seemed to stretch on similar to the years on the school bus.  Time is relative to where we are emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.  It takes on different paces to us depending on where we are.  I watched the clock yesterday - it was Friday at work.  No matter how I wished and watched, the seconds which formed minutes, did not speed up. Why did time not realize I needed 5 p.m. to come which starts the magic of Saturday and Sunday?  When my daughter started kindergarten I remember in my heart trying to hold the second hand back - willing time to not move - not wanting time to take her away.  I find myself still at times willing time not to move, for age not to come, for the second hand to pause.  It seems I got off the bus only to wish now that time would slow down.

5.20.2011

THE FINISHED PRODUCT

My daughter has a friend who, as long as I have known her since she was about 4th grade, has been just a natural beauty.  No effort, usually no makeup, no updo's, no glitz, no frills, just simply untouched raw beauty.  She is the type that literally wakes up in this beautiful natural state which she just resides in like a custom built house.  The thing is she really doesn't fully grasp her own amazing born with it beauty which only helps to make her even more beautiful.  I have needed some help and age to move to a partial state of moderate looks. A very late bloomer I was in all things pubertyish and beauty.  I realize that none of us really truly see ourselves properly.  It's as if we are looking through the bottom of an old Coke bottle.  Two people in the course of my life have told me, "You just can't help being beautiful.  Can you?  Even when you cry you are beautiful."  I think I just shook my head in amazement of what love bouncing off the back of a retina can do.  A few days ago I spent the better part of the day with my daughter.  We have a routine on some Wednesdays  - coffee/lunch/or breakfast at Panera, talking about all sorts of things, laughing, then shopping - sometimes a necessity like groceries and other times, just browsing.  This week we shared about creativity, its pitfalls in our lives, how it affects mood, our desires to take our own areas of creativity somewhere further down the road.  I encouraged her and she me.  Our last stop for the day was groceries.  I, hating even grocery shopping, was just plowing through the aisles looking for what I needed not really totally paying attention to people around me.  My daughter slides up beside me declaring that she really wanted to say something to me that means alot to her.  I stop, turn and wait for what I expect to be special, meaningful, important even.  She hugs me close and with great excitement says, "Mom, I am so glad that when we go out you look great.  You are put together."  I am lost and puzzled over her strange, but sweet compliment.  She continues her excitement over my physical public presentation skills by jumping up and down and getting excited as she continues, "I am SO thankful you don't dress like the lady down the aisle who came to the store in her black tennis skirt at 55 years old and pounds that would be better served covered up a bit more!"   I laughed that I merely had won by comparison.  I assured her with great confidence that I would not wear a tennis skirt in the grocery store, ever.  Nor would she find elastic waisted polyester pants on me.  Ever.  I might not wake up beautiful, but I am not going to purposely detract from the beauty that I do have!   At least not purposely or if I have my right mind:) 

5.19.2011

AVERAGES

Remember the mathematical rule; if a number is 5 or over you round up to the next full digit.  How about averages?  Take however many numbers, stats you want, add them together and then divide by the number of single numbers or stats you added together to create a mathematical average.  I thought about averages today sitting with Big D, my dear friend who brings out the junior high girl in me when I am in her presence.  She, from earlier posts if you recall, is not the health nor exercise nut that I am.  Big D takes, as I like to put it, a more laissez faire approach to both eating well and exercise.  I am on the fast track and she, well, she is more likely to stop at the concession stand for popcorn, then sit in the bleachers while yelling at you to move your ass a bit faster.  She was though today, eating a salad and has been working her way down the scale (I am very proud of her!).  She offered me a petit four (a fancy name for small decorated individually iced pieces of cake) from her soon to be married daughter's shower.  I declined.  She ate one (to her defense they are very, very small).  After eating it she asked about the validity of eating a salad and then a piece of cake.  I replied, "Well, the salad was much bigger than the cake.  If we can trick our bodies into seeing the majority of what we eat then we are fine.  I'm sure that small piece of cake was mixed in with those greens and your thighs didn't even see that cake!  The average was higher of salad consumed than of cake consumed!"  We both laughed wishing that the law of averages worked in the area of eating.  There are things in life that we want a higher average, like a baseball batting average.  Did you know that Yuma, Arizona averages 242 sunny days a year?  Did you also know though that Portland, Oregon averages a mere 68 sunny days a year?  How about sleep - we are supposed to average 7-8 hours of sleep nightly.  I never ever get 7 hours of sleep a night, ever.  If they use my hours of sleep in that equation the average recommendation would be far less than that.  How about standardized testing for students?  The average ranges are figured from a splattering of kids scores and then averages are declared.  That's actually frightening!  The average life span (men & women combined) is 78.7 years of age.   Sometimes the word average has a sort of mediocre connotation to it.  We think middle of the road, not stellar, not top of the line.  That's not what it means totally.  It really means the sum of a mathematical calculation designed to tell us the summary of all things into one statement, number or indicator.  It tells us what the norm is for that period of time, that group of people, that test, that season of the year, the performance base for that person.  I average about 5 hours of sleep a night.  I can say that my average number of times that I now eat oatmeal for supper in a week has decreased greatly over the past few months.  On average I floss my teeth 3 times a week but brush them an average of 3-4 times a day.  I swear using one of my trifecta words on average several times a week (maybe a bit higher than that!), but greatly exceed the national average for number of times a married couple engages in sex a week.  I recommend you google that stat average:)

5.18.2011

CHA CHA CHA CHA CHANGES . . . PART II

Everyday everything changes.  I mean literally.  All things morph, grow, die, reproduce, increase, decrease.  All things.  All of creation is faced with a sort of G-forceness causing these outside and inside forces to effect some sort of change.  Creatures and humans have adapted to environmental conditions over centuries.  We have adapted to technology, altered in some way by it both good and bad.  Everything ripples to something else - a connectedness of change.  It would seem that our ability to embrace change comes at times easier than others.  Age diminishes our capacity for what the effects of change bring to our lives, at least for some.  My radar is attuned to change.  The winds of change have been a constant in my world.  Probably in yours too.  A dear friend of mine commented wasn't I confused having had 3 last names in the past year.  I laughed at the reality of it - the realness of what those last names have meant in connection to changes in my life over the last year.  I have morphed, grown, died in some regards, reproduced a life in a changed form, decreased, increased.  It is perpetual motion inwardly and outwardly.  For me, change has been a teacher, a tour guide, a catalyst, a deep cleanse, a free fall, a blessing, a curse, a healer, a transporter of deep grief, but mostly a constant.  It has reminded me again and again and again of the temporariness of all of life.  It has shown me little is in my control - except my reaction to it.  It is constantly teaching me to hold all things lightly but God and family close.  It has brought transformation to lack, healing for brokenness, freedom from bondage.  It has been a magnifying glass when I have allowed it to show me myself, God and truth.  Change has created new streams, new vessels of life.  It has opened my mind and heart causing a sort of everything wants to be noticed way of life.  Change has reignited passion, purpose, and play.  There have been periods where I have felt stretched to a point of breaking with changes.  Some I have desperately wanted all my life, some I have not wanted to release my hold of.  Some have made me bristle a bit.  Others have swept in to my life like a warm spring breeze.  There is not a lot I know for sure, that I would bet all I have on - except God and that change is a constant.  I have felt like a surfer, poised on my board riding the wave - at times getting too far into the wave seeking to crash over me.  Adjusting my balance I want to continue to understand change as an agent of necessity, a literal like oxygen - a part of life, a part of God's language, a vehicle that moves us proving we are alive and part of planet earth and deeply loved by God. 

5.17.2011

REALLY

I am a very purposeful person.  Sometimes pragmatic, always relentless, extremely deliberate, wide open hearted and constantly desiring rich meaning in all areas of my life.  Being that way sometimes delivers itself in great irreverence.  Sometimes in deep connection to others.  But always does it cause me to be present in everything I do.  Really present.  Which has led me once again to those moments of self evaluation.  Those thoughts of the value of writing - why I do it, does it mean anything to anyone, is it purposeful, what do I really have to say that anyone would care to really hear, what do people want to hear, what is my style, is this blog of any value, can I really write in a way that meets anyone anywhere once in awhile-with regularity-or never. Writing is a very one sided experience.  There is no audience interaction.  Silence is the usual response from a reader.  I know I have been guilty of reading things over the years that have greatly impacted me but the author had no clue how powerful the words were in my life.  I took the words as a gift and never let the author know of their sway or influence in my heart, mind, spirit or life.  I suppose because of my way of purpose living it drips into my evaluation of writing.  I want purpose there too.  I don't want to write an article, a book, a blog that is nothingness (oh not in subject matter but in how it connects to the reader).  I want to have a reader feel what I feel, see what I see, connect to something in my life that makes them know they are normal, helps them release the crazies.  I want to take the reader on a mental laughing journey - a break from the hard part of life.  I want the reader to experience camaraderie in the human journey, the power of sarcasm, the magic of word pictures, the frailty of the human condition, the process of hope, the magnifying glass of humor.  Am I really doing that?  Really.

5.16.2011

IN SEARCH OF RHUBARB

Stopping in the grocery store I was merely picking up several things needed to finish off the meal I was serving to my parents later that night.  Like normal, I told myself I only needed a few items and by-passed the carts heading straight to the produce department for grapes, bananas, tomatoes and rhubarb.  There were about eight people milling around the produce department, along with a store employee re-stocking some sort of fresh greens.  Having toured the produce area twice I still hadn't uncovered any rhubarb.  I wanted to make rhubarb crunch for my dad.  As I stood still, I turned around to take another look at where the rhubarb, which was in season, was hiding.  Suddenly in front of me was a man, shorts and polo shirt, blond hair, topping the height chart at probably about 6 feet.  He was smiling from ear to ear - a full body smile, totally lost in just smiling at me.  I still had not picked up any items so my hands were free.  He reached down and took both of my hands in his.  Definitely I was caught off guard as I glanced around to see if he was with someone, where he had come from, why had he not gone up to anyone else.  He stood there, holding my hands, smiling fully but not saying a word.  I searched his face for features of downs syndrome, but didn't see any.  He appeared to be in his forties and smiled as if he were trying to speak through it to me.  I started talking.  At first with a bit of nervousness that he wasn't saying anything, then giving him affirmation and the connection that he was seeking.  Turning toward the employee I removed my hands from his wishing him a happy day as I asked the worker if they had rhubarb.  Taking a few steps toward the rhubarb there is the silent, smiling man again.  He walks directly up to me, takes both of my hands in his and begins his smiling communication with me all over again.  We repeat our whole interaction with only a slight variation of what I say to him.  He responds the same - smiling uncontrollably, powerfully even, holding my hands and listening to what I say but being completely silent.  I bid him farewell, extricate myself and move through the store to finish my shopping thinking about my interaction with this smiling silent stranger.  Why did he come to me?   What would it be like to have to move through life with no words?   I thought about the power of human touch and a smile to communicate without words.  A smiling silent stranger found me while I searched for rhubarb.  I was looking for a bitter controversial vegetable.  He was looking for something too - someone to give a silent smile to.

5.15.2011

PLEASE STANDBY AND RETURN - TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES

To those of you that are faithful, semi-faithful, sporadic or possibly pity readers of this deep, meaningful and life changing blog :) you might have noted that there were no new posts for 3 days.  Blogspot was having technical difficulties on the creation end.  It was in read-only mode for 2 of those days which basically means I could not write or post.  Then, on the 3rd day I was travelling and since I didn't have blogs banked in the edit form to post when blogspot was open for posting again, I had nothing to post or the ability to write while travelling in the car to the great corn state of Iowa.  Sorry for any inconvenience or depression it may have caused one or two of you!  Since my blog is synonymous with a sunny day, it may have felt like you had gray skies for 3 days!  Or, probably not.

A RAISIN CHANGE

If you have been a reader at all of this blog you might have picked up on my references throughout of my disdain, hatred, dislike, abhoration and complete disregard taste wise for raisins - all things raisinesque - of and pertaining to - or containing any form or likeness thereof.  I have all my life touted the raisin as the only food which I don't like.  Family dishes have been altered to accommodate my extreme displeasure of the dried grape.  My own exclusion of this dried fruit has puzzled even me over the years. I literally love all foods and am not normally bent toward passionate opinions on trivial things such as raisins. I have though, held firmly to my position of not liking raisins now for 44 years. That is until several days ago. My husband, much like my mother, loves raisins. In particular, he loves chocolate covered ones. Standing in the kitchen several days ago I noted the bag of chocolate covered raisins sitting in the cupboard which is still lacking a door front from our not quite done kitchen remodel project. I decide that since I have not really tried raisins in years I should try one.  With so many new things in my life I want to give something once hated new consideration - even something small like a raisin.  Under my husband's looks and smiles I pop a large chocolate covered raisin in my mouth.  Hmmmmm, "This actually is good. But, let me try another one," I say with amazement, wonder even. This time I bite the raisin in half to see just how much chocolate is coating it.  A LOT!!  I eat a whole handful keeping them down and enjoying them even.  Driving to Iowa yesterday I bring the bag of chocolate covered raisins.  I do a Pepsi vs Coke sort of taste test on my husband.  In the bag of milk chocolate covered raisins I mixed a bag of dark chocolate yogurt covered raisins (a bit healthier and lower in fat and sugar).  He comments that he likes the first handful better - the milk chocolate full fat drenched in the chocolate vat 12 times as the coating is at least double the size of the raisin.  Not me, I actually liked the dark chocolate yogurt covered raisins better.  I am still somewhat lost in the fact that I actually kind of, sort of, ok really liked the raisins.  I need to call my mom and let her know she can now put raisins back in her broccoli salad as I've had a raisin change in my life!

5.11.2011

SUN, SAND AND WAVES

When I was a senior in high school my grandparents lived on a lake.  Being the lover of sun and nature that I am that spring of my senior year was tough.  First because I was ready to be done with high school, you know ready to move on to different things in life.  And second, I had spring fever horribly.  I still struggle with that same ailment in my mid forties - wanting to be outside to enjoy sun and warmth.  I signed myself out of school on that warm sunny day feigning illness, and drove myself to my grandparents lake.  Showing up in the middle of the day my grandmother had to have known I skipped school.  She said nothing but hugged me, almost silently acknowledging that my desire for sun and nature was bigger than me that day.  She made me lunch before I took the boat out to just float around the lake - thoroughly enjoying my roaming thoughts, the sunburn I was getting and being in nature.   This past Sunday was Mother's Day and after 6 days of being separated from my husband due to a business trip -having not been apart since the day we met, I was looking forward to his return.  Picking him from the airport I ran to him the moment he came into my line of vision.  I wouldn't let loose either as I found myself crying both from being reunited and an overwhelming sense of deep love for him - fully feeling the gift of Doug that he is to me.  Deciding we both needed to enjoy the sun, sand and some waves, and each other without interruptions , we drove to my favorite beach.  Mother's Day is not a big beach day in the Midwest.  Most are taking mom out to eat and the weather isn't usually beach hot.  The beach was sparsely populated with people who were fully clothed on this sunny, breezy and cool day.  Not us.  As we found a tucked away spot between two small hills of sand, we set up our beach chairs and willed ourselves to take off our shirts to get some sun.  There is nothing that I can compare the sensation to of sitting in the sun, watching the waves.  Nothing.  We did just that.  We sat, shivered when the sun dipped behind a cloud, ate a turkey sandwich, held hands, laughed, talked and just were.  The day before Doug was trying to articulate in a different way the bigness of his love for me.  Words limit our feelings sometimes.  He said, "Lynn, I love you as much as the grains of sand on the beach.  I have so much love for you I cannot count it or measure it fully."  Sitting on the beach he pinched a bit of sand in his fingers and began to drop it into his palm as he now showed me his verbal illustration from the day before.  That's part of the lure of the sand, sun and the waves.  It is somewhat immeasurable.  Knowing there are things in our universe that are bigger than us, immeasurable, surprisingly is actually comforting, freeing and gives us the ability to just get lost in it.  Many weekends while I was single I would find my way to the beach.  There was a certain comfort and peace in the sun, sand and waves.  A certain knowledge that something bigger than me was there and at work.  There is a rhythm in nature that I have needed all my life.  I found it again sitting on the beach, soaking up the sun, watching the waves and seeing Doug's word picture to me.  All was well - God loved me, Doug was home and sun blanketed my skin. 

5.06.2011

AN INVISIBLE POWER

Outside running tonight I ran into the wind on the first stretch and on the homestretch, it was behind me.  There was a bit of predictability in it.  I knew if I ran into the wind heading west, when I returned for the jaunt home eastward, the wind would push me.  But there was, despite all my logic and planning with the wind - this thing that really cannot be held in jar, placed in a corner or really even seen - a bit of ebb and flow that I could not anticipate.  Though I knew the direction of the wind, I could not guess its rise and fall - the gusts or lulls - what makes wind, wind.  Life is a bit like that.  We try to know the direction, be sensible, plan but there is part of it that is not controllable.  To get where we might need to go we need to go with the wind - let go and experience the gusts and lulls, to trust this wind we cannot see or hold.  My medical doctor has a sailboat.  This week I asked him about sailing once the weather warms up.  He responded wryly, "Well, I don't need warmth, only wind."   I have learned some things about the wind this past year.  I continue to learn what it is to run into it, fighting, and I am still learning what power there is in letting the wind take me.  I was talking with a friend of mine today.  Conversation lent itself to how love changes us, drives us differently.   I shared with him things about my personality that I can't believe I do now - things that just have not defined me all my life.  He responded, "Well, love is a powerful thing."  Love is a powerful thing.  Both true, deep and rich human love, and the love God truly has for us.  Wind can take us somewhere, if we let it.  It cannot always be seen or defined easily, but its effects are felt.

5.04.2011

THE PENNY ALTAR

Tonight while out walking I spotted a brand new shiny penny on the road.  It's actually the 3rd shiny new penny I have found this week - two earlier pennies on two separate runs.  I stop every time and pick them up.  Every time.  Today as I picked up the penny I noticed a young family with a stroller and a toddler out walking headed my direction.  I held the penny in my hand, bending down to reach the toddler's height, and offered my penny treasure to the only other person who might value such a priceless treasure as much as me.  He beamed from ear to ear and looked at his mom as if to ask, "Can I?  Can I?"  Quietly I heard a faint "thank you" as he lifted the penny from my open palm.  I could see his excitement over a simple, tiny, almost worth nothing penny.  It started years ago, my attention to pennies, nickles, dimes, quarters that I found while out walking, running and sometimes even biking.  As my critically ill years began to fade and health slowly was returning to my body, I began the slow and painful process of first only being able to walk a couple of blocks.  I was struggling physically to regain stamina, flexibility, movement and live with some measure of daily pain.  More than that though, I was struggling with the fact that for the previous few years I had been unable to work - to contribute financially to the household, to use my abilities, to find worth.  I hated that I was out of the races so to speak.  As I crawled up the health ladder with a great desire to re-enter the workforce and life in general, I would pray constantly that I would someday run again, and someday be able to work again.  There it was as I slowly and painfully walked my first 3 blocks - a penny laying in the road.  I stopped and with effort and arguments from legs that did not work properly, bent down and picked it up.  A penny.  I smiled to myself as I walked back home thinking that even though I didn't have a job that earned money I had made 1 cent for doing nothing.  Don't laugh, but I thanked God.  It happened again and again and again in that year of regaining strength leading up to me being able to work again.  I would find money almost every time I walked.  Sometimes it was a couple of pennies.  Sometimes it was a nickle and a penny.  Other times I would find four or five pennies and a quarter.  I began to see God in the money I found.  Every time I found it I heard God reminding me that I was worth something, He would take care of me physically and financially, and I was earning something.  My family giggled at my declaration of what I had earned daily - 5 cents, 38 cents, 72 cents, a penny.  God spoke through the pennies I collected from the road.  Like those who walked with God in the Old Testament and made altars from rocks to signify hearing from God-to mark a covenant, I made an altar to God - a penny altar for His encouragement, presence and reminder of value and worth.  Every time I find a coin I see God in it and remember His provision in my time of need.  Today I thanked Him again as I picked up the penny and placed it in that little boy's hand. 

5.03.2011

LINE WAITING

It's 6:50 a.m. and I pull into the lab facility to have blood drawn for a doctor's appointment tomorrow.  This is the make-up lab from last week when there was a 3 hour wait in line for the lab. It is not Lynn-possible to wait 3 hours for most anything!!  I determine I am getting there before the doors open today.  As I roll fastly and crookedly into a parking space I see there are 3 people already in line crammed in the space between the two sets of doors where you are relegated to wait till they unlock the inside one.  The herd movement has begun.  I release my seat belt as I put the car in park and find myself practically running to be 4th in line slightly beating out an old man in a walking cast and another senior citizen aged woman.  Should I be proud of that?  Waiting in a line is much akin to being in a elevator when the doors shut - everyone facing forward, no one speaking or making eye contact.  We stand shoulder to shoulder in that space staring at the clock willing the minutes to move to 7:00 a.m.  I cannot take the silence so I declare out loud as though I am a comedian working the room, "Who desperately wishes they had a cup of coffee and that they didn't have to wait here?"  They all relax and start to giggle and comment.  The tension of line waiting has been broken.  We all share how we love coffee and if anyone further down the line happens to have a cup of coffee they should fear for their life.  One by one we comment on our worst lab experiences of waiting.  I hear one man say something like, "I never had blood tests till I hit 55.  I hate age!"  I find myself touching the older woman in front of me gently on the shoulder when she tells me this is her first time in this lab.  She is cute.  Somehow I get through registration and back to the lab now 2nd in line there.  I must have talked fast:)  They call my name and I converse with "Sue" about the mob of people forming that may rush the lab and take the phlebotomists hostage!  She laughs at my stupid humor and says April was a horrible month due to all the snow birds heading home and needing lab work done after a winter in Florida.  I am used to needles daily, and blood work is old hat to me.  She pulls out this huge shank and in it goes.  Nothing comes out.  I comment to her that I have horrible veins which are extremely small and usually they use a pediatric needle to not blow through them.  She manages to get the blood out one drop at a time telling me that I do have bad veins and that the size of the needle she used will cause me some problems later today.  As I walk out of the lab draw room I have to inch my way past the huge line that has now formed.  I smile at those in line and can see conversation bubbles forming above some of their heads, "I can't stand to wait!".  I feel their pain as I exit to freedom and finally a cup of coffee:)

5.01.2011

ALWAYS CHANGING CELLS

When I moved back to my hometown after being gone 25 years, it was interesting.  I was still the same person, and yet I was different.  I had a sneaking suspicion that people who had known me when I was a kid, teenager and young adult still had me frozen in time.  They had not lived my life nor did they know what all I had experienced or done.  The first time I was in a store and ran into someone I went to high school with (not having gone to high school reunions) I giggled inside.  After walking away I wondered to myself, "Do I look that old?  When did they become a bit overweight, get gray hair, and develop wrinkles by their eyes?  Wow!  They look way, way older than I do!"   I'm sure you've done what I have done too - looked over pictures or photo albums from your life and noted how you've changed since your first year birthday shot with cake all over your face..  Not too long ago someone wanted to see pictures of me growing up.  As I sorted through them to email I noted how we are always evolving.  It's like we are human silly putty.  We are constantly changing, cells are regenerating, and eventually dying.  Our looks are perpetually being altered.  If you don't believe me, just look at pictures of yourself at different ages and now.  If you still don't believe me, read the anniversary announcements in your local newspaper, especially the 50th anniversaries - the ones that have a wedding picture next to a current picture of the couple.  I love the part in the movie "Hook"  where the Lost Boys don't recognize Peter Pan because he's aged.  They don't truly know it's Pan until one Lost Boy takes his hands and stretches Peter's face back and says in amazement, "It is you - Peter Pan."   Standing in the bathroom today I was slathering on wrinkle cream, trowelling it over my face hoping to slow the effects of age, sun and gravity.  Everyday my husband tells me how beautiful I am (actually it's more like dozens of times a day).  Recently having one of those days where aging seems more up close than others, I responded, "Honey, I am cellularly dying and aging daily.  I really physically cannot be as beautiful today as I was yesterday.  It's just science!"  God really did us a favor in making the aging process happen slowly - it's less shocking.  That is unless you haven't seen someone for 25 years!