Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mysterious Ways!

Lots of people say that the universe works in mysterious ways. Here is one part of my life where it did for me and my family. (Warning -- this is VERY long!)

Before my husband and I got married, we talked about children. We had agreed that we would have two or three biological children, then we would consider adopting more. Though I knew it was a good idea, and I believed in adoption, I was a little nervous about the idea.

A few years after we were married, we had our wonderful daughter. When she was two years old, we became foster parents. The first child was only 3 and had had a rough life. After a short period of time he went back home. Though I was not confident it was the best decision for him, he and I did not bond and I was relieved when he left. I was a little worried about fostering any more kids because we didn't bond.

Our second foster child, Sam, was 11 years old. He was a great kid! His family had a once-in-a-lifetime situation that they fixed. He fit right into our family. We loved Sam, our daughter loved him, my parents loved him, our siblings loved him. After a few short months, he went back home. I did not realize how much I could love a child who was not "ours" until we had Sam. If Sam had been available for adoption, we would have kept him.

For a variety of reasons I don't want to get into, and unrelated to Sam, we stopped being foster parents after he went home.

Over the next year or so we tried to get pregnant again. Nothing we did worked and I felt like a failure. As the months of treatments went on, I felt that God was punishing me. What on Earth did I do that was so horrible that God would punish me this way? Were we such horrible parents that he would not want us to have more kids? It was devastating. We talked about stopping the expensive treatments, but I kept wanting to try -- one more time.

One day in early December I had an epiphany. We had talked about adopting when we were finished having biological children. Why was I continuing to torture myself this way -- we could just speed up our adoption plan without having more biological children.

I called my mom to tell her and she was thrilled! It broke her heart seeing me suffer for so long. After many discussions and phone calls and seeking advice on adoptions, we decided to adopt from Mexico.

Though it took a year, things fell in place in an oddly smooth way. To me it felt purposeful. I was beginning to believe that God wanted us to go to Mexico -- that there was a child there he wanted us to meet.

With everything in order, we finally arranged to go to Mexico in early February. Everyone asked if we wanted a boy or a girl. It actually confused them when we said it didn't matter. Though neither of us really had a preference, we didn't want to eliminate half of the available children based on sex. I was nervous and prayed a lot, asking God to help us to recognize the child he wanted us to meet. My only criteria was I did not want an infant. Our daughter was already 7 years old, plus, to be honest, I'm not a big fan of infants. (Long story.) So we were thinking between 3 and 6 years old.

We jumped through a bunch of legal hoops and finally, after being approved, we sat in front of the desk of the social worker and said, "We are ready to meet children." There were just a couple of days left before we had to return home.

Ms. Jimenez had a folder sitting on her desk. She picked it up and said, "This is Juan. He just became available. I know he is younger than what you were thinking, but you can look at his file while I locate the folders of other children for you to meet."

Juan was only 15 months old and adorable. He was younger than what we wanted and we knew he would be adopted quickly, but we still agreed to meet him. Ms. Jimenez also picked a couple of pairs of sisters for us to meet.

I'll shorten this here. We missed our appointment to meet Juan because of confusion about where he was living, so we had to reschedule for our last day in Mexico, a few hours before we were to fly out. In the meantime, we met the sets of sisters, and a bunch of other kids. It was rough, no one seemed right, and on that last day, we were discouraged and convinced that we would have to come back in a few months to meet more children.

The staff at the orphanage where Juan lived did not want Juan to get individual attention, think we were his parents, then have us leave and never come back. We were told we had only 30 20 minutes. They took us to the cottage where he lived and we walked into a playroom full of about a dozen children from a year to maybe 3 4 years old. We immediately sat on the floor and started playing with the kids. Several climbed on us, others wanted to show us their favorite toys, and we were an instant hit with every kid in the room -- except Juan. Juan pretended to ignore us, looking at us out of the corner of his eye to see if we were watching. He did some amazingly cute things, but would not go near us.

After a while, the teacher started bringing Juan to us to sit in our laps or to play with us, but he would jump up and run away. Ninety minutes later we were still there and reluctantly had to leave or we would miss our flight home. (Obviously, the teachers liked us or they wouldn't have let us stay so long.) We had a great time playing with all of the kids, but Juan was amazing.

In the cab, my husband was glowing. After a stressful and discouraging week, he was happy! "You want Juan, don't you." He turned to me and said, "I didn't know I wanted a boy until now." When the cab stopped, we went to a pay phone to call our attorney.

Here is where the universe is mysterious:
1) At first, I wasn't sure if I could love a child who was not biologically related to me. Because of Sam, I knew it would be OK.
2) We had planned to adopt from a specific city to make things more cost effective. We met a family who lived near us who had adopted from that city, and their attorney agreed to represent us.
3) Juan was born (we think) the week I decided to stop fertility treatments and look into adoption.
4) I didn't want an infant. Juan was 15 months old when we met him and 27 months old when we brought him home.
5) Juan was just available for adoption about the week we arrived to meet children, and his file was sitting on the social worker's desk.

Other mysterious universe moments:
1) When our daughter was in high school, one of her friends ended up in foster care. Because we had been foster parents years earlier, it didn't take a lot of work to get re-licensed. Her friend lived with us for 18 months.
2) It's been about 6 years since the friend moved out. We had the honor of visiting her at college for parents' day!
3) We are lucky enough to see this friend, our "other" daughter, often!
4) Before we were married, we had wanted three or four kids. And even though I could not get pregnant again, we still ended up with three great kids!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Do It Anyway

I tend to suffer from seasonal depression. To combat the effects, I exercise, go outside as much as possible and try to maintain a positive attitude.

Recently, I found a podcast that discusses mental health issues -- mostly depression -- and how famous people deal with it. At the end of his interview, Adam Carolla recommends acting as if you are not depressed as a way to help get through depression. He said something like this:
If you don't feel like getting out of bed, get out of bed anyway. If you go for a run and feel like quitting, run 1 mile farther. If you don't want to shower, take a shower anyway.
His point was, while you are trying to work through depression, it helps to act the part. When you act as if you are feeling some way (happy, sad, brave, scared), you eventually will start to feel some of it.

So, my goal when the seasonal depression really strikes hard once winter in Ohio turns cold and gray, is to act as if I'm happy and see if it makes a difference. In the meantime, I'm just enjoying that the days are getting longer and that I did get to see sunshine today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Appropriate Quote

Today I received an email with this quote:
Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.
 The author of the quote will be revealed later this week.

Though I would LOVE to believe that this is true, Elaine Benis was a passionate dancer and everyone laughed. (Sometimes I am Elaine!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Somewhere in my neighborhood is a girl with just one shoe.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Feeling a Mother's Love

Several years ago, I was going through a rough time. I was feeling depressed and alone -- it felt as if there was nothing I could do that would make a difference and there was no end in sight.

One day during this dark time, I was sitting in a quiet room (I might have been editing, I don't remember) and deep within me, I felt as if someone was praying for me. I stopped what I was doing and tried to figure out what the feeling really was. As I tried to pin it down, I realized it was physical and both a good feeling and a feeling of calmness. I was hopeful that things could get better.

Later that day I decided it was just my imagination -- no one can feel that he/she is being prayed for, right?

As the week went on, I had the feeling several more times. I talked to my husband about it and he seemed to find it interesting, but put no credence in it.

After a few days I had to know -- who is praying for me? I thought about everyone I know, everyone who loves me and who could possibly pray hard enough I would feel it.

The phone call went like this:

"Hi, Mom. How are you?"

"Good. How are you?"

"Pretty good. I have a question that you might find weird. Are you praying for me?" There was complete silence on the other end of the line, so I repeated the question. "Mom, are you praying for me?"

After another pause she said, "Why do you ask?"

"I feel like someone is praying for me. I thought about everyone I know, and you are the only person I could think of who could pray hard enough that I would feel it."

She was quiet and I could tell she was thinking. "Yeah, it's me. I was so worried about you and I just wanted things to get better."

Whatever my mom said in those prayers, it helped. Things did get better.

So, as I am missing my mom already this pre-holiday season, I think about that one dark week, and how my mom loved me so much, I could FEEL her prayers. I'm feeling pretty lucky to have had her in my life!

I hope my kids are never in a situation where they feel depressed and alone, but if it does happen, I hope they too will feel my constant prayers that they will be able to get through it and will be OK.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Motivating People -- One Step at a Time!

Sometimes, I just want to stay in bed all day with the covers over my head -- hiding from everything. I don't know what inspires me to actually get out of bed -- well besides the need for a pay check -- but somehow I do it.

I have a lot of stress in my life. Sometimes I think it is chronic because I don't necessarily cause the stress -- it seems to seek me out. Many of my stresses are temporary -- they just seem overwhelming at times and I feel as if I just can't handle them.

Then I read about someone inspiring, such as Karen Stewart, and I realize I am a wimp and need to put my petty little stresses into perspective.

You see, Karen has recurring relapsing MS. There are times when her brain and hands don't communicate all that well. She may want to pick up a pencil, she may even tell her hand to pick up that pencil, but it doesn't always work. There are days when she just cannot pick up even a pencil.

In a story that I found about Karen online, it says she has spent plenty of time in wheelchairs, with walkers and with canes and then one day decided to "embrace" her disease and make it her "friend." She was going to find a way to use her illness to make herself stronger.

She started walking a little bit at a time until she finally was inspired to walk a marathon. After finishing her first marathon, she was motivated to keep going, and going and going... Here is a quote from the news story about her that I loved: "Not everybody is motivated to do marathons, but everybody can do something. ... you never know if today my story will inspire someone else to get off their duff and do something."

This month Karen finished her 47th marathon in Savannah, GA! She hopes to complete her 50th in February 2012! (Shoot -- I've done only two full marathons.)

I find Karen to be extremely motivating! Here is a woman who has been stuck in a wheelchair and she was still able to walk 47 marathons! Wow! If she can deal with a horrible disease like MS, what can't she do? If she can do all of this, what excuse do I have not to try to overcome my burdens -- or even more importantly -- what excuse do I have not to at least try to face mine. (Yes, getting out of bed tomorrow will be easier for me.)

This is all of the information I was able to get from this interview by WSAV-TV (http://www2.wsav.com/news/2011/nov/03/one-step-time-ar-2651781/). There are so many questions I have that this story didn't answer.

I have never met Karen, but I can tell you right now I will. If not in person, I'm going to talk to her by phone. My goal is to interview her and include her story in a book I'm currently working on. If any of you have questions you want me to ask her, leave a comment.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Views on the Media and a Major Crime

Baby Lisa Irwin has been missing for quite a while. (If you don't know the story, Google it.) The parents were helping the police at first but are not any more. They are under suspicion and under attack in the media. I have opinions on all of this and feel the need to share a different perspective.
  1. Do not believe everything the police say in public. How the police work on TV shows is not necessarily how they work in real life.
  2. The police can make mistakes. The person they "hint" committed the crime may not be the real criminal.
  3. Just because family members have stopped working with the police or refuse to take polygraphs does not indicate they are guilty, no matter what the public message might be.
Here is the story behind my attitude:

A couple in a major US city was murdered in their home. The police were stumped with very few real leads or clues. Because the couple was well respected and loved with no known enemies, the adult children were considered suspects, even though none of them lived in the same town.

Knowing that family members are always suspects and wanting to be eliminated as quickly as possible, the adult children all agreed to take polygraphs. The results were "inconclusive," according to the police. Even though none of the kids was in town at the time of the deaths, they were kept as the prime suspects.

No matter what the adult children did, the police were convinced that they were involved. The police tried unsuccessfully to get the kids to turn on each other. They SUCCESSFULLY got other relatives -- aunts and uncles -- to believe that the kids were involved. The kids as a group agreed they would no longer cooperate with the police -- no more polygraphs, no more interrogations, nothing. The relatives would say if they were innocent why weren't they cooperating with the police? A major rift was caused in the family and for about 10 years the kids were the only suspects.

Does this series of events sound familiar? How many times have you heard in the news that family members of a victim have stopped cooperating with the police? How many times have you heard that polygraph results were "inconclusive"? How many times did you automatically assume the family members were guilty? (If they were innocent, they wouldn't refuse to help, would they?)

Let's leap ahead 10 years.

A serial sexual criminal broke his parole and was being sent back to jail. He said he would tell the police who committed the unrelated 10-year-old murder if it would keep him out of jail. He gives up his brother as the murderer, who at that time was living in a different state. The police in this other state bring in the suspect and the suspect admits he killed the couple.

The murderer is convicted and sentenced to death. He is currently sitting on Death Row.

Did the police apologize to the children? Did the police apologize to the aunts and uncles? Did the other relatives ever admit they were wrong? Did the police admit they lied about the polygraphs? Did anyone ever say, "Oops"?

The answer is a resounding NO!

Some relatives still feel it would have been solved quicker if the kids had continued to cooperate -- even though the police had absolutely no other suspects, were not looking for anyone and had lied to everyone.

So, when I see a family that has experienced a tragedy -- such as having their daughter kidnapped from their home -- that is no longer cooperating with the police, I immediately feel a great deal of sympathy for them. I wonder if they are being subjected to the same police games. I know there is a chance they are completely innocent and the police are making a tragedy even worse.

There are plenty of cases, such as Susan Smith, where the supposed victim was guilty of the crime that made national news. But, there are just as many situations where the police abuse a family, lie to a family and have tunnel vision so severely they cannot see the truth. And the fact the family was victimized twice is rarely a front-page story.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Nice Encounter in the Dallas Airport

While between flights, I was standing in front of the map of the Dallas airport and having trouble deciding where to eat. I was surprised when a nice-looking older gentleman with beautiful silver hair and wearing a green vest asked if I was lost. I explained that I wasn’t, I just couldn’t figure out where to eat. He then proceeded to explain to me what my restaurant options were.

As I looked around, I noticed there was a small information podium (it was way too small to be a desk), across from the map. “You are the first person who has ever stopped me in an airport and offered assistance like this,” I said.

He explained that he was a volunteer. “I used to work for a couple different airlines, but I retired,” he said. “I knew I needed something to do to keep my mind active, and I know this airport very well, so I volunteer here.” He said he also encouraged his grandson, age 15, to volunteer. Similar to most high schools I know of, his grandson's school requires a certain number of volunteer hours for graduation.

“It’s important for teens to learn the value of volunteering,” he said. In the program at this airport, teens make a commitment to work at least two days a month, not a lot for even the busiest young adult. “It’s also important for teens to learn how to talk to people. He definitely gets that opportunity here.”

He gave me good advice on where to eat AND made me smile.

It's not often that a random encounter with a stranger can have a positive impact. The friendliness of this gentleman, his attitude on life and the pride he has in his grandson made my day. Unfortunately, I didn't get his name or I would recommend that everyone who flies through the Dallas/Fort Worth airport look for him.

In the meantime, I hope he knows that dining advice was not the most important thing I gained from him that day.


I wanted to include more information about how this proud grandfather bragged about his grandson. Unfortunately, I just couldn't make it work. It's still not worded quite right to convey the picture in my head, but here it is.

The grandson also volunteers in Concourse A. Recently he told his grandfather he knows everything there is to know about terminal A -- he knows every restaurant and he knows every inch. He said it was time to move on to terminal B. “You know how young people are now,” said the grandfather. “They learn everything so fast.”

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Which way do we go?

The other day, my husband and I were driving to meet some friends out for dinner.

As we got close to our turn, I suggested he get in the right lane since we would be turning right. He disagreed and said that we would be turning left at the end of the road. I was convinced he was wrong and repeated that we would be veering to the right.

Finally he asked if I knew where the restaurant was. "Yes," I said. "It's at the Kingsdale mall." Then he asked what street I thought we were on. I looked up and noticed we were on Reed Road, which runs PARALLEL to Kenny Road, where I thought we were.

I was pretty embarrassed, and he teased me about my more and more frequent "brain fades."

Finally he said, "If it makes you feel any better, I had intended to go that way. I pulled out of the driveway and realized we were facing the wrong direction and didn't want to pull back in and turn around."

FYI to our kids -- In the near future I think GPS will make a great gift for your parents.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dance Like you Are at an Art Festival?

Last weekend my husband and I went to an art festival held downtown by the river.

After we grabbed some food, we sat in the amphitheater to eat and listen to local bands. We showed up a few minutes before the band was to start and listened to recorded music blasting from the speakers while we waited.

Understandably, there weren't a lot of people sitting there. The weather had been rotten all weekend and the turnout for that day was very light.

But, there was one guy who seemed to be really enjoying the music. In the space between the stage and the first row of seats, he danced all by himself. He seemed oblivious of the people sitting there watching him. His movements were both erratic and graceful as he alternated between moving with the music or on the off beat. For at least 15 minutes he danced -- moving in his own little world.

As we watched him, at first I was simply amused. What a silly man he is, I thought. After a while, I tried to figure him out. Was he with one of the local bands and he is just relaxing between sets? Is he just someone who loves music? Is he mentally ill?

After a couple of minutes, though, I started to become jealous. Here was a man who felt like moving to the music and was totally uninhibited. He wanted to dance, so he got up and danced. He wasn't doing it for attention, he wasn't dancing because he was required to, he just wanted to dance.

How many times in my life have I wanted to feel that free, but I just couldn't let go. What if I look stupid? What if I'm not good enough? What if people laugh at me? (In my defense, I have no rhythm. People do laugh when I dance.)

I've spent my entire life being conservative and restrained. I'm very good at NOT making a spectacle of myself. I'm very good at watching other people have fun and enjoy themselves.

Over the past year or so, I have tried things that are outside my comfort zone. And the truth is, I don't remember regretting any of them. Despite the positive reinforcement I gained from those experiences, I am still that inhibited, conservative person. (I have to laugh because I was just thinking that I should plan to have a spontaneous moment.)

I hope that someday I am comfortable enough with myself that I, too, can dance like I'm at an art festival.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First Kayak Trip

(Edited to include photos 7-2-11.)

Sunday I was able to use my kayak for the first time! Because of the amount of rain this spring and early summer, and the freelance work I've been doing, I just haven't been able to get out.

The actual kayaking was everything I thought it would be! It was relaxing, the river was pretty, and the workout was pretty good, too. (My arms are still a little sore.) I loved the fact I could just "toss" it in the back of the truck, drive somewhere close and with little effort be paddling on a nearby river. It was great!

There is only one minor problem with this entire scenario -- I have no upper body strength.

A couple of weeks ago, my husband tried to show me how to get the kayak on the top of my car. I have runners for a luggage carrier and it would be easy to tie the kayak to the runners. I couldn't do it! In my defense, part of the problem is that the end of a kayak is pointy. I could lean it against my car, but I couldn't balance it to stand upright for me to then boost it up. Once I did start to boost it on top, I would lose control of it, and it would fall over.

We finally decided I'd be better off putting the kayak in the back of my husband's pick up truck. That should be pretty easy except the tailgate doesn't open. That means I still have to lift the kayak up high enough to get it over the tailgate. The good news is, with a little bit of effort, I was able to get the kayak in the truck -- all by myself! Yea!

So, after experimenting with the proper placement of bungy cords Sunday, I was off! I got the kayak out of the truck no problem and even got it to the water OK. (Dragging it.) But, after paddling for an hour my arms were pretty tired. I dragged the little boat to the truck up a small incline that felt like a mountain.

After a little maneuvering, I got the kayak propped against the tailgate, but I was spent. I climbed in the back of the truck to rest and think of a way to use leverage to get it in easier. Just as I was ready to give it one more shot, a woman walking by offered to give the kayak a boost! Yea!

So, I didn't do it entirely by myself, but I did not have to resort to calling my husband or son to drive down to the river and help me. This was a success!

The result is -- I know I can do it, though it won't be easy. But to be successful, I see some upper body strength workouts in my future.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Facing my Fears

It's funny how you can go your whole life and not know you are afraid of something. In the past year, I've had a few hints, but in the middle of the Warrior Dash it was confirmed -- I'm afraid of heights!

Being at the top of a two-story cargo net wall is not where you want to discover something like this. Actually, I had a pretty strong feeling at the bottom of the wall that I might be afraid. Looking up the wall made my hands sweat and my heart race. But at the top of the wall -- well all doubt was removed. It is not easy to swing your leg over the top of a tall wall when you are holding on for dear life and totally terrified.

But I did it.

And even though my legs were so shaky afterward that I could not walk the planks, I'm really proud of myself. I was scared to climb the wall, but I did it anyway!

Kinda gives me a feeling of invincibility.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Here's Your Post

Today I was told that I have got to post something on this blog because -- my last post about the dying man made her sad. I normally try to post a little more often. In fact, I even have a few drafts I have not yet finished.

So, you know who you are -- thank you for coming home for dinner -- we are so proud of you!

Now you have no reason to be sad.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wish I had Known Him

On May 5th, my daughter recommended that I checkout a blog she found: http://www.penmachine.com/. The post by Derek K. Miller started out with, "Here it is. I'm dead, and this is my last post to my blog." I was hooked and had to read the entire thing. Derek died May 3 and had pre-written this particular entry to post after his death.

The first thing that struck me about Derek's blog is that he wrote in a very conversational style. I could almost picture him sitting in front of me and us having a conversation about his life, his illness and his wonderful family. I did not feel pity, I was intrigued. I wanted to read more. I wanted to know him.

The second thing I thought was that everyone who knew him was lucky. I could tell from the words of this post that he loved a lot of people and that he was loved by them. He truly loved his wife. It sounds as if they had a fantastic relationship.

I wonder if Derek was always such a great guy, or did his illness form him into something better than the original?

These types of people always make me think: if something happened to me, if I died suddenly or even after a long illness, what kind of an impact would I leave on my family and friends. OK, lately they would all just think I am an editor bitch, but I'm thinking about outside of this past week.

Other than being listed as the author of a variety of articles ranging from dental health or cleaning hotel rooms to racewalking; other than being listed as the editor of all kinds of publications from a technical journal for CPAs to radiography textbooks; have I made an impact?

Lately, I have been under tremendous stress having to do mostly with money, work, bills... I am obsessed with the cost of gasoline and groceries, how much water we use, what is the interest rate on that debt.... I am also extremely frustrated with people who are not following through with the work they promised.

And though all of those things are somewhat important, are they worth all of the energy and stress I devote to them? If I died tomorrow, will someone be saying, "Thank goodness she worried about that Visa bill." "It's a good thing she met that deadline!"

Boy, here I am thinking about how skewed my priorities are, and I am running off on a million tangents, unable to focus or prioritize. This is not the direction I had intended to go. So, I'm just going to finish this and not stress that I lost my point.

I wish I had known Derek. And even without knowing him, he has impacted my life in a positive way.

I hope that I can do a much better job of putting things in perspective, doing what is right, supporting the people I love, being a better friend and wife and mother, and just being a better me ... without having to face a life-altering illness.

Derek, thank you for letting someone like me get to know you just a little bit.

I don't really want to say anything negative about Derek, but there was a section of his writing that made me feel sad. He stated that he feels there is absolutely nothing after life on Earth. When you die, you die -- that is the end of it. I personally can't imagine living my life thinking that this is it -- there is nothing else.

And I hope he is pleasantly surprised that he was wrong.

Monday, April 25, 2011

An Act of Kindness

Typically, when someone brags about an act of kindness, it is something that person did for someone else. Today I'd like to do the opposite.

Saturday when I left for the grocery store the weather was fine. By the time I came out of the store, it was pouring rain!

I stood outside the store doors looking at the rain and trying to decide what to do. Should I run for it or should I wait a few minutes to see if it slowed down?

While I was thinking, a woman I did not know and had never seen before walked up to me. She looked at me with concern and asked, "Do you have an umbrella?" I told her no.

She looked at the parking lot and the pouring rain, then turned to me and asked, "Would you like me to walk you to your car with my umbrella?"

I was stunned and at first speechless! I declined the generous offer, but she made me smile. She replied, "Are you sure? Your hair will get wet."

Though I was very touched, I still turned her down. In truth, it wasn't raining that hard and it wasn't very cold out. (If it were February, I might have accepted.) And my hair is not very long.

This is the first time in a very long time I was the recipient of an act of kindness, and I gotta say, it felt great! Not only was I happier for the rest of the day, I was nicer to other people, too.

And it didn't stop Saturday -- I'm still talking about her.

So, to whoever the generous woman at the grocery was -- thank you! You made my week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

With red pens in hand...

Sometimes, life is boring. Sometimes, it is just the task ahead of us that can be boring or tedious. When you are an adult, as much as you want to, you can't just skip the tedious or hard parts of life and only do the fun things.

I thought about that today as I geared up to edit some text I knew was dull, I knew was poorly written and I knew would be frustrating.

But, I also knew that as soon as it was finished, I could move on.

So, with red pens in hand and plenty of caffeine to fight the fatigue, I spent a good part of the day doing nothing but finishing the edit. It was pretty tough and I used a TON of red ink. And you know what? I feel so much better getting that monkey off my back! And the best part is, I was able to push it off on to someone else. Whew!

Now I just need to do a better job applying that attitude to other parts of my life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

All of that for Nothing

So, I spent the day Monday starving. The vile liquid was even worse the second day, especially since I had not had any food. And I needed to stay even closer to the bathroom than the day before. What a way to spend a day off!

I got to the appointment an hour early as requested. I had not had anything to drink for 2 hours before that. I laid on a gurney in a little hospital gown with an IV in one arm, a blood pressure cuff on the other and waited. There was no TV, I had nothing to read, I couldn't bring my iPod (no valuables), and the only thing separating me from everyone else was a little curtain. I could hear everything everyone else in the room said.

Luckily for me, I did not sleep well the night before and I did fall asleep a few times. Unluckily for me, I waited a VERY long time!

The nurses kept coming back to tell me it wouldn't be long. One told me the worst part was over and from here on out it was easy. I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was tired and I wanted to go home.

But the nurses were right. The previous 40 hours were the worst part. Once the doctor gave me the sedative, I immediately fell asleep and woke up with my husband next to the bed ready to take me home.

The doctor arrived to say everything is fine. They found absolutely nothing. I think it must have been the fact I was still partially sedated, because my first reaction was, "I went through all of that, and you found nothing!" I was ticked! I went more than 40 hours without any food more substantial than Jello! It definitely was not worth it.

Luckily I didn't say anything aloud, but when we were alone and I told my husband I was mad, he reminded me that finding nothing was good news. Oh, yeah -- that was the goal after all.

Let's just attribute that moment of rage to hunger pains and sedation. Let's attribute everything I repeated repeatedly and the other stupid stuff I said (for a couple of hours) to the same thing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Being Tortured by Docs

I'm pretty healthy for my age. I don't see the doctor unless I have a very good reason. Up until this year I didn't see the need for annual physicals, but because I just turned 50 I figured I should start doing better.

At the end of my physical, after getting a clean bill of health, my doctor asked if I wanted a colonoscopy. My reply was that no one "wants" one, but if you say I "need" one, I'll do it. He said I need one.

So, the dreaded day is tomorrow and the appointment is not until 1 p.m. I have not had any solid food since 11 p.m. last night, and I can't eat anything until AFTER the procedure. To add to the pain and suffering, several hours ago I drank a half gallon of a really horrible liquid -- eight 8 oz glasses over 2 hours. The lemon-lime flavor that came with it did not help at all.

Those of you who have been through this know what the liquid does -- but for those who have not, let me just say it cleans out your system in an intense way. You definitely want a clear route to the bathroom.

I haven't even had the procedure yet and I already feel as if I'm being tortured!

First, I am really, really hungry! Second, drinking half a gallon of that crap was horrible, even with the flavor added. I need to drink another half gallon in the morning. The cramps this caused were pretty intense and it is a good thing we have more than one bathroom in the house. I've eaten a ton of Popsicles and jello because they are considered liquids. Nearly everything I've had today has been a variety of citrus flavors because I can't eat or drink anything that is red, blue or purple. I am so tired of lemon and lime! I drank a couple mugs of warmed up chicken broth earlier just to have something that wasn't sweet or fruit flavored.

So here is what I think.

The person who came up with this test loved torture. The person who decided that a patient needs to be without food for over 24 hrs enjoyed torture. The person who came up with that vile liquid and the worthless added flavor enjoyed torture.

And finally, the person who prescribed this test for me -- my own personal doctor -- wanted to torture me directly.

I can't imagine what he would do if I weren't healthy! (I'm still hungry.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Thought You Were Dead!

Recently, I received an e-mail announcing the death of someone I barely knew I'll call "Bruce." I've occasionally been in meetings with Bruce (and 40 other people) and I'm sure I have talked to him -- though I can't remember a single conversation. Let's just say I didn't know him well enough to mourn for him, though I felt bad in general for his family.

Last week I was in another meeting that attracted about 30 people from all over the country. The room was filling quickly and I was arranging my notes when I looked up to see Bruce walk in the door! I was speechless! How was this possible?

During the meeting, I kept sneaking a look at him and was finally able to verify the name on his name tag -- yes, this was Bruce! When I got back to my office, I found an e-mail from a different source announcing the death of Bruce -- this one with a photo. Oh, yeah! THAT Bruce! There were similarities, but definitely different people.

In my defense, I didn't talk to him much either.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Things added to List

I have a bunch of things to add to my list of New Things. (I've been in meetings for three days, putting words together well at this point will be tough.) I'm traveling for work in San Francisco and not only is this my first time here, it is a great city for first experiences!

1. I road a trolley! As soon as I knew I was coming here, I had this on my list of to do's.

2. I saw and climbed up the famous Lombard Street. The incline is much more intense than I expected!

3. Walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. Actually, on my list was to get a good look at it -- walking across is a good way to do that.

4. Saw a Redwood forest. This might be a little deceiving. There is a small park here in the city that boasts of having a Redwood forest. In reality, it is a small city park with 12-20 Redwoods. Still, I saw Redwoods!

5. Entered and finished a 12K race. I have never raced that distance before. By the way, that also means I set a personal record! We finished in 1:55:54.

6. I had dinner in a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Maybe what this one should really be is that I visited a Chinatown -- but I like the fact we ate there, too.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prophetic Tagger

Though not the most artistic piece of graffiti, the message is a good one.
(Yes, Tiffany, I knew you would appreciate it.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Raindrop Memories

Yesterday while on hold, I was treated to the Muzak-version of the Burt Bacharch song, Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head. At first I laughed, trying to remember when the last time I heard that song was and surprised to discover I still know all of the words.

As I hummed along and pictured the bicycle scene from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, I suddenly had an upset stomach. Then I had memories of a weird smell -- a very specific weird smell. "How do I know that smell and why would I associate it with this song," I wondered.

Just as the song ended, a light blue dental chair popped into my head. Ah ha!

Starting at the age of 9, I went to see my orthodontist once a month for 5 years. It was not a pleasant experience as he often jabbed my gums, tightened wires or caused pain in a variety of others ways. While sitting in the waiting room, I remember my stomach churning, anticipating the torture he was about to inflict -- all the while smelling those chemical smells and listening to 60s and 70s hits converted to Muzak.

Who knew that a simple song not heard for years could bring back such intense memories? Who knows what will happen if I hear a Muzak version of the Mamas and the Papas or even Michael Jackson!

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Seaweed and Potstickers

The other day, in the middle of a sleet storm, I suddenly decided I needed seaweed and potstickers. The seaweed was because I read an article about seaweed helping to prevent the body from absorbing fat. (Up to 75% of fat consumed!)

The potstickers were because I really love potstickers and if I was going to get seaweed from an Asian market, I should get potstickers at the same time.

After roaming the market not being able to read more than half the packages I picked up, I ended up with a jar of shredded seaweed and a huge bag of potstickers.

While in line at the register, the woman behind me asked if I knew how to cook the potstickers. I said I was just going to read the package. She gave me very specific instructions for how to boil the dumplings three times before browning them in hot oil. When I asked her if I had picked a good brand she said she didn't know -- she always made hers from scratch. (Made me think of my great grandmother and her pierogies. Could not imagine her buying them -- ever!)

It felt a little weird being the only caucasion and not being able to read the language. But when the woman in line offered advice on how to cook the food, I felt better. It was no longer people looking at me just because I was different, she wanted to be sure I knew how to prepare the food correctly. I felt accepted!

So, not sure which item it is on my 50 new things list, but shopping in an Asian market is on it! And it probably will not be my last time there.

Followup: I ended up following the package directions for cooking the potstickers. They fell apart and stuck to the frying pan. I really should have listened.

I bought the totally wrong seaweed. I think the stuff I bought is for adding to recipes. It is fishy tasting and not what I expected to find. I ended up locating a toasted seaweed snack at Trader Joe's. Though it still has a slight fishy taste, it has a light toasted texture that is nice. The pieces are very thin and crunchy and are lightly salted. I think I could eventually get used to eating it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Being Dogless

Monday of last week, we had to put our dog down. Rylee was a beautiful yellow lab with a great personality! She was very sweet and loving. She was a great dog! She was 12. It was definitely her time, and she looked at us with those big sad brown eyes and seemed to say she was ready.

As some of you might recall, last year about this time, our dog Ozzie died. He was only 6 and had a seizure of some type in our kitchen and died suddenly. Later that year, we had to put my mom's little poodle down, too.

So, last year we went from having three dogs to just one. Rylee had not done well as an "only dog" before and we were worried about her. In fact, we got Ozzie 6 years ago because she was so lonely and sad after Annie (golden retriever) died.

Maybe because she was older, maybe because she saw Ozzie die, and maybe because we have play dates with Page (the black lab mix puppy who belongs to our daughter), Rylee did OK being alone this time. Actually, Page is so energetic and tiring, maybe she was afraid we would get another puppy who would never leave!

So, for the first time in over 23 years, we are dogless. Though I have been frustrated with mud tracked in my house constantly, dog hair everywhere and too much barking, I'm having a little bit of difficulty adjusting.

Friday I came home to a totally empty house for the first time ever. There were no kids, no dogs, nothing -- just me. A house feels so different when it is that empty, when there is no one to greet you.

In the mornings, I look into the kitchen corner where Rylee slept. It is still a surprise not to see her there or standing at the back door waiting to be let out. She was always so happy to see me in the morning -- wagging her tail like crazy.

So, I'm not sure I ever want another dog. I've been saying for years how tired I am of having a dirty house. I'm tired of dirty floors. I want new rugs that will actually be clean for more than 5 seconds! I hate dog hair on everything. I'd like to walk out in my backyard without having to watch where I step.

At the same time, the hole in my heart where Rylee and Ozzie were is bigger than I thought it would be. I cannot believe how much I miss them both. (I think I miss Ozzie more now because we are dogless.)

We stopped by Petland last night before going to a movie like we usually do and it was hard. The puppies were as cute as always. They have lots of foo foo dogs I would never own, but are fun to look at. I was doing pretty well until I saw the yellow and chocolate labs. I remember when Rylee was that little and cute!

So for now, I guess I'll go ahead and clean my rugs because I know it will last. I'll wash the walls in the kitchen where they would lean. How can dogs get walls so dirty! And I'll really clean the dirt out of my hard wood floors knowing they won't be covered with mud after the first winter thaw.

Then I'll just see how I feel.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Death Lasagna

In our family, death and lasagna sometimes go hand-in-hand.

Lasagna is a time-consuming dish for me to make. The sauce takes most of a day and putting one together takes a little time, too. In fact, when I make lasagna, I usually make a couple at a time and keep them in the freezer. It is not unusual to find a lasagna (or two) in our freezer on any day

Our Family History
It was about 24 years ago when both of my in laws died. Immediately after their deaths and leading up to their funeral, everyone we knew was amazingly kind and concerned. We were inundated with so many offers of kindness, there was no way we could have accepted them all. In fact it was overwhelming. Though dealing with their deaths and funeral was the worst thing I have ever faced, at the time I had no idea how numb we were -- and needed to be -- to get through it.

As time went on, everyone around us began to forget. After three months, the numbness had worn off and the pain was unbearable -- again. Our friends had all moved on. At times we would get looks from people that seemed to say, "You mean, you aren't over that yet?"

One night still sticks out in my mind. My husband had come home and simply asked what was for dinner. I burst into tears -- the stress of deciding what to eat was more than I could handle. The simplest things were overwhelming, yet everyone expected that we would be "over it".

It wasn't until years later that I learned this is normal. As part of the grieving process, people tend to have a rough time three months, six months, nine months and a year after the death of a loved one. Why isn't this common knowledge?

10 Years Ago
A friend of ours died. It was sudden, he had no insurance and his wife was devastated. Because of his death being so unexpected, many of our friends offered help and support a little longer than is usual. Still, as is typical, it eventually tapered off.

I wrote the three-month anniversary of his death on our calendar and had planned to fix dinner for her. When the date rolled around, I was pretty busy at work and didn't have time to cook, but I did have a lasagna in the freezer. I grabbed the lasagna, bought a bag of salad and some Italian bread and dropped it off. "I thought you might not feel like cooking," I said. "Here is dinner." Her eyes teared up a little and she admitted the stress was bad and the food was appreciated.

After that, I started trying to make more of an effort to remember and offer our friends dinner about three months after a loved one had died. As it turned out, not only do I usually have a lasagna in the freezer, over the years I've discovered it is one of the best dishes I make and given a choice, most people would rather have my lasagna than other dishes I cook. Plus, if it is frozen there is no pressure to eat it within a set time period.

A couple of weeks ago I was making a big pot of sauce for lasagna. My goal was to make more than usual -- maybe six pans. I was pretty excited that the store had two packages of Glad plastic baking pans so I had enough pans for six.

When my daughter came home she asked, "Are you making 'death lasagna'?"

Then it hit me -- it is death lasagna! Though we usually eat lasagna the day I make several, it is not often that my family even gets to eat a frozen one. I almost always give them all away.

And this is why I should buy stock in Glad.

Right before I made that big batch of lasagna, two co-workers lost parents. About a week after making them, one friend lost her mom, then the next day her husband lost his mom! It's been a pretty rough couple of months for parents!

There are a couple of reasons why I use the Glad plastic baking pans. 1) They can be frozen and go into the oven. 2) If they are not returned, it just doesn't matter. When you are too stressed to cook, the last thing you want is the responsibility to return someone's favorite baking dish. Actually, I discovered the Glad pans after losing three different Pyrex dishes. Yeah, the Glad pans are a little cheaper and easier to replace.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I'm 50 -- Now What?

It was my original intent to end this blog on my 50th birthday. After all, the entire point was to fret and stew about turning 50 -- once you've passed the landmark, what is the point?

Well, several people have asked me what I plan to do, and I just could not figure out a great to end this. One friend so enjoys this blog as her best connection to me, I thought maybe I'll keep it going.

So, one of my goals on my 50th birthday was to do 50 new things before December 13 this year. Now that I'm "old", my life has become somewhat stagnant and I need to do something to add in a little excitement and some new challenges. 50 new things seems like a great way to do that. Before deciding that I would blog about those 50 things, I have already completed three. One will be a blog post in a few days -- the others will just make my final list.

Since 50 blog posts in a year is not a lot, I'm sure I will just feel the need to write about something or to vent, and this will be the venue.

So thank you to everyone who has helped me make it to my halfway point! Thank you to everyone who made it to my birthday party. And if you have any ideas for somethine for me to try this year, let me know!