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Showing posts from April, 2009

Want it All?

I read an interview with Miley Cyrus in Glamour magazine the other day. She’s surprisingly grounded for a teen who’s already been in the limelight for several years. She respects and appreciates her parents’ authority, and tries not to get into all the materialism that Hollywood promotes. http://www.glamour.com/magazine/2009/04/miley-cyrus-americas-most-famous-girl-grows-up?currentPage=1Why have Americans created this illusion of the American Dream that consists of a two kids, a big house, two new cars, and various other toys and activities? What’s wrong with leaving within your means and being content with less?I love it that people like Rick Warren, Tiger Woods, and Miley give back. It is so much more rewarding to use your success to help provide for the needs of others, than to build up your “crib.”Would we even be in the recession this deep if people weren’t trying to reach for more than they could afford, and if banks weren’t willing to do whatever it takes to get the busine…

Choosing Sunshine

I had a very happy day today. I’m not sure why. It could be my recent exercise program or a good night’s sleep. It could be a recent word of encouragement or an answer to prayer. I’m not sure, but I was actually giggling to myself on the elevator over some mundane thought. What’s really strange is that I had a hard day yesterday. I was in a gloomy, anxious state of mind for most of the day. I started to think about moods and how they spread. On a good day, I can start conversations with strangers. I don’t mind going out of my way to help people. I joke around; I’m playful. When I’m in a good mood, people around me seem to be in a good mood. It’s really a great place to be.Why aren’t more people in that place? What makes the lady at the BMV so full of contempt? What makes a dentist argue with his assistant? What makes a mom raise her voice with her son over bedtime?Is it more rare to feel happy or to feel upset? Or does that depend on the person? Is your mood within yo…

This Little Piggy…

You have a high fever, cough, fatigue, and body aches. Is it the flu? Is it swine flu? What do you do? The idea of a potentially deadly virus spreading from person to person throughout the world is a scary idea. What do we do with all the information available about this disease? We could lock ourselves and families in our homes, bathe in sanitizer, cover every known surface with Lysol and bleach, throw away all the pork products, and wait out this potential pandemic.Or we could live our lives as before, taking precautions we should be taking anyway to prevent the spread of disease, such as washing hands and staying home when sick. About 36,000 people die from the flu every year in the United States. This compares to about 936,000 per year who die from cardiovascular disease, 553,000 who die from cancer, 69,000 who die from diabetes, and 43,000 who die from car accidents. You are more likely to die in a car crash than die from exposure to the flu. Fear is not a way to live life. Fear …

Oh Deer!

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I made sure the ladies from corporate had their reports for their noon conference call. I left the two of them and my administrator in her office.
I clocked out, informed the receptionist, and headed to the car. The clouds were dark and ominous, and a wild wind whipped my hair into my face. It felt like a storm was brewing, and I felt a breath of anticipation in the air.
I drove to my husband’s workplace where we shared reheated salsa chicken and veggie quesadillas. I was proud of him for fixing a healthy lunch. We chatted and before long, it was time to head back.
As I walked into the nursing home, small groups of people were milling about, talking in hushed, excited voices. I slowly walked to the time clock, trying to make sense of what was being said.
“Is he still in there? Don’t open the door! I hope it’s okay. How did that happen? Where’s [the administrator]?”
“What’s going on?” I finally asked the receptionist.
Her eyes were wide. “A deer went through her window.”
I followed a small…

Losing It

There’s a picture of a pizza on facebook. It’s caption asks me if I want to “become a fan.” Now, all I can do is imagine a piping hot pizza, with spicy-sweet tomato sauce, thick slices of pepperoni or ham, flavorful veggies, and loads of gooey cheese all on a thick, chewy crust. Two slices would be be equal to about half my daily calorie needs, and would include all my daily fat allowance. I’d still eat it if you put it in front of me, even though it’s past 9:00 at night, and I just had dinner three hours ago.I read a lot about health and fitness. Maintaining good physical health makes it possible to do all the things you want to do in life. In my head, I know this. I have a little trouble practicing what I preach.I was an athlete in high school. Now I spend a lot of time at a desk. Two kids and 15 years later, I have a little extra baggage. I’d like to get rid of it, and theoretically I know how to do that, but my execution is weak.I’ve never been able to go on a stringent…

Roller Coaster Part 2

Continued from 4/18 post…With alarm, Wendy noticed the two boys walking her direction. She could not be seen like this, almost out of control. Despite the downpour she began walking toward the parking lot. As soon as she passed the front gate, she broke into a jog, then a run. She began sprinting toward the “A9” mounted on a pole that designated her parking area. She didn’t see other people, or cars, as tears blurred her vision and mixed in with the rain, washing over her face.She jammed the key into the lock, swung open the door to her red Corolla, and sat quickly, slamming the door. She swallowed and blinked, trying to regain control, but then crumpled. The sobs came out loudly now, and she pounded her steering wheel.“Why daddy, why?” she screamed. She had called in sick at work that day, not able to face anyone. She tried to escape the inner turmoil by going to the park, but it had caught up with her. The cancer was supposed to be gone. When he was diagnosed the first time, both he…

Until Death?

I’ve been invited to three weddings this summer. Three couples are making the last arrangements as they prepare to start new lives together as husbands and wives.Will any of them use the traditional wedding vows?“I, (name), take you (name), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”When they take those vows, will they mean them? Statistics say they have about a 50-50 chance of staying together. Will they make it?It seems lately I’ve been inundated with the subject of divorce. It may be one of those things that seems like it’s everywhere once you start paying attention. It started when I found out an acquaintance was “looking for a lawyer.” The next day, old sitcom reruns on TV played on the divorce theme. In one episode of “Still Standing,” two teens bet on how soon their aunt’s marriage is going to end. On “Reba,” …

Sweet Spring

I love Spring. I feel like I can finally say that, now that there’s no snow in the immediate forecast and tomorrow’s prediction is calling for temperatures in the 80s. I had ice cream yesterday for the first time in several weeks. Ice cream is the ultimate warm weather food. I thoroughly enjoyed a cold, creamy, rich combination of flavors that melted on my tongue and refreshed me from the inside out.As I was driving home from a meeting last night, I thanked God for the smell of freshly mown grass. I know God didn’t create the mower, but that sweet, earthly smell that follows in its path is straight from heaven. The fountain outside my office is working now. The sound of running, bubbling water flowing over stone and growing green things plays a unique little melody. It has a calming effect, even at the start of the day. Mr. Robin said hello to me this afternoon as I pulled into the parking lot after lunch. He didn’t actually talk. He looked at me, as if proud of his status as the harb…

Surprise!

“I promise I’ll get you something on your day!” the receptionist called out after me as I left work for the day. It was her way of thanking me for the candy I’d given her for Administrative Professionals Day. I laughed. “There’s no such thing!” Nurses, Aides, Social Workers… they all have special appreciation days and weeks. I wished I could have a day to be treated special. I drove to the YMCA where I’d agree to meet my friend and workout partner who I’ll call Michele. We did the treadmill for awhile and then headed to the weight room. I was just finishing up on my tenth machine when she asked me, “How much more do you want to do?”That was strange. Michele wasn’t the type of person to be in a hurry. In fact, she tends to be over-accommodating “About 15 minutes,” I guessed. After we finished working our hip abductors and adductors, we headed to the locker room. I had come straight from work, so I had to pick up my bag. “You’ll want to change your clothes, trust me.” Sh…

Dealing with It

A friend of mine was going through a hard time dealing with a personal loss. “I’m so angry at God,” she said. “How could He let this happen?'”I didn’t have any simple answers for her. I don’t have any special insight into why God chooses to intervene in the lives of people at certain times, and then chooses to refrain from interceding at other times. His ways are not my ways.I did tell her was that it’s perfectly acceptable to be angry at God. Anger is a human emotion. We all experience it. Do you ever remember getting mad at someone when you were a kid, and you said, “I’m not going to be your friend anymore,” or “I hate you.” You didn’t mean it, you were just so angry. It was the only way you knew how to express yourself.Maybe you’ve had the privilege of having your own child yell or scream at you and tell you “You’re the worst mom (or dad) in the world! I hate you!” Unless you were angry too, you probably took the words with a grain of salt. You knew he was angry, and you didn’t…

What’s Eating You?

It was a rotten morning. I arrived at work late. Almost as soon as I walked in the door, a nurse administrator approached me, angry, asking what I knew about an email she had received from corporate. I was caught in the middle and I still had to get my Monday morning report done before the 8:30 meeting. From there I got about half a dozen calls from people who needed something from me right away, and I still had catching up to do from the week before. I was physically tired, emotionally spent, and in a depressed mood. It was only 10 AM.As I tried to gear up to meet with a case worker, I realized I was not my usual self. I didn’t want to be nice and I didn’t want to make small talk. The bright spot was a young man in street clothes who held a door for me. That little bit of kindness was like a ray of sunshine slicing through the clouds of my dark mood. On my way back to the office from the hospital, I caught a snippet of Insight for Living on WFRN. Chuck Swindoll was talkin…

Heart Song

“…and let the music we sing be the song of our hearts.” I don’t remember the exact words our choir director used, but in a brief moment of prayer before our Easter cantata, I realized why I sing in the choir.I’ve always loved to sing. Most kids do, I think. In my early years I was drawn to music, although it wasn’t a large part of my life. I didn’t study it or read a lot about it, although I did learn about Beethoven from Schroeder of the Peanuts comic. I learned song lyrics, although I rarely knew who sang what or what album it came from. Imagine my mom’s surprise when I came home from a sleep-over at nine years old singing, “Like a Virgin.”On the other hand, nothing seems to resonate with me more emotionally and spiritually than a song. There’s something about music that penetrates all defenses and makes its way to the very soul of a person. So I’ve always sang in the choir. I always wanted to be a part of making beautiful music, to take apart the notes, rhythms, and dynamics and th…

Roller Coaster Ride

Wendy slid into the green striped vinyl seat. She pulled the foam padded safety bar over her head. She sunk into the torn seat as if it were a luxurious velvet cushion. She was home.She didn’t hear the chatter of the ride operator. She was in her own world. The car lurched forward, and her stomach fluttered in anticipation. She let out a gasp of air rather than join the screams of the passengers behind her as the coaster raced downhill.Wendy closed her eyes and leaned back, enjoying every move and turn of the giant monster, feeling the wind blast the hair from her face. She opened her eyes, taking in the ground above her at the precise moment the car reached the zenith of the biggest loop.All too soon the ride was over, and the coaster slowed to a stop. She was reluctant to leave her haven. The operator shot her an irritated look. She returned with a withering look of her own, and slowly stepped out of the car. She imperceptibly dragged her feet in an act of petulance, then straighten…

Prejudice-Free?

I don’t have prejudices. I see all people as the same- without distinction in their color, gender, or religion.Yeah, right. Is that even possible? My entire life I’ve been influenced by friends, family, television, magazines, and an entire culture. Beyond whatever I want to believe or think, there are constant voices whispering in my ear from a thousand directions to influence me otherwise.All I can do is act on what I know is right, and true, and fair. Even when I’m the one being discriminated against.“You the one who put us all in the dirtiest, greasiest jobs out there,” he said. Our newest nursing home resident was accusing me personally of relegating his entire race to the worst jobs available at the time he earned a living in a factory. I was speechless. What do you say to something like that? “You been white all your life, ain’t you?” he asked. “Afraid so,” I said, trying to make light of the situation. It really was a silly question. “That’s kinda beyond my control.…

No Retirement from Life

What is it like to pack up some cards, balloons, and the last items from your desk, and walk away from a career of 35 years to a wide open field of possibilities called “retirement?”Wow. I’m not even 35 years old yet.My supervisor had her official last day today. She’s well into the traditional retirement age, and more than deserves some time to garden, travel, or do whatever her heart desires.What is it like to wake up on Monday morning and not have to be anywhere? What is it like to wake up without a schedule or itinerary in mind? What is it like to turn off the alarm and ignore the weather channel? What is it like to go out late on a weeknight with no repercussions? What is it like to take off on a whim to visit a friend or relative on the other side of the country?Retirement is hard for some people, especially men. If you are defined by what you do, who are you when you aren’t working? On the other hand, I’ve noticed that no one in the Optimist Club has had a problem adjus…

Stylin’ with the Students

“I can’t be late today,” I reminded myself. My normal routine is to give myself double the time to get to work, and arrive within a general time frame. I grabbed a container of yogurt, my glasses, my Puffs, my purse, and headed out the door. As I pulled out of the driveway, I sighed. What was I thinking? I do so little to make myself presentable, and I was about to entrust my quarterly salon appointment to a teenager? Would I have time to run home and fix it after? Would I have time to run to another stylist?I pulled into the lot at the career center. Ten minutes to spare. I could see students inside the salon already. I walked in. In the tiny waiting area, three gray-haired ladies chatted quietly while students flitted from task to task. I signed in. How long would I have to wait? I flipped through a style book, wondering again what I was thinking.A tall bespectacled girl with her braided hair pulled back in a ponytail gestured for me to follow. It looked like a typica…

If We Don’t, …Who Will?

When someone asks me what I do for a living, I’m a little embarrassed. I’m a director of admissions at a nursing home, but as soon as I say, “nursing home” most people either wrinkle their nose and change the subject, or go on about how they admire people who work in nursing homes because they couldn’t do it. Nursing homes aren’t dark, smelly places where old people go to die, in case that’s what you were thinking. Our facility has wide hallways, large courtyards, and lots of windows. It doesn’t smell any more than anyone else’s home. We have all kinds of wonderful people who live and work there. We have former factory workers, homemakers, salespeople, writers, bookkeepers, artists, farmers, and everything in between. Each person has a story, if you take the time to listen. One of our restorative aides gave me a poem today that reminded me how special the caregivers for the elderly are:If We Don’t… Hold their hands, Dry their tears, Try to calm their fears ...Who Will?If We Don't.…

On the Cold Front

It was just a tickle Thursday night. I thought it would go away. By Saturday morning my nose had started to run, and by Saturday afternoon I was miserable. It was the invasion of the common cold.Isn’t it strange how sickness affects every part of your daily life? I can’t breathe or smell or taste. I have no appetite and eating is a chore. So is talking, even if my voice has a Kathleen Turner edge. I’m trying to sing during choir rehearsals, but I feel bad for the people sitting next to me who have to listen. Between my clogged ears and rough voice, it must sound terrible. My nose is literally the color of my red “Santa’s Favorite Brunette” T-shirt. My Puffs are gone, and I’ve been using A&D ointment on my nose. I’ve also been taking extra vitamins, zinc, antihistamine, decongestant, and acetaminophen, in various forms, as well as drinking tons of water and tea and juice (and visiting the restroom frequently). Almost my entire life for the past three days has revolved a…

Was it a Morning Like This?

As the sun rises here in Indiana, I want to share my favorite Easter song by Sandy Patti.

Was it a morning like this
When the Son still hid from Jerusalem?
And Mary rose from her bed
To tend the Lord she thought was dead.

What is a morning like this
When Mary walked down from Jerusalem?
And two angels stood at the tomb,
Bearers of news she would hear soon.

Did the grass sing?
Did the earth rejoice
To feel You again?
Over and over like a
Trumpet underground,
Did the earth seem to pound:
“He is risen!”

Over and over
In a never ending round
“He is risen, alleluia, alleluia!”

Was it a morning like this
When Peter and John ran from Jerusalem?
And as they raced for the tomb,
Beneath their feet was there a tune?

Was it a morning like this
When my Lord looked out
On Jerusalem?

He is risen, alleluia, alleluia!

Easter for Real

I was pulling into my driveway, just returning from a last minute shopping trip. I still didn’t have all the ingredients I needed to make a broccoli salad for Easter dinner and I had picked up some Puffs, decongestant and Vitamin Water to treat my nasty cold. It occurred to me, in bailing on most of my plans to go into a Benadryl-induced coma, I wasn’t going to have time to buy an Easter outfit or got a haircut before Sunday morning.

I felt like such a loser. What kind of Easter was this going to be, anyway? I hadn’t made time to color eggs or buy Easter outfits for my kids prior to our Spring break trip. I hadn’t participated with Lent, Maundy Thursday, or Good Friday services. Our choir cantata was taking place the next weekend, since part of the choir was gone on vacations as well. The color of my nose would suggest celebrating another holiday as a certain reindeer. My kids weren’t even going to be home until the wee hours of the morning. Just another Sunday, I guess.

As I…

Good Friday

A lot of people don’t know why today is called “Good Friday.” After all, a man died a horrible, gruesome death. What’s so good about that?

“Good” doesn’t seem adequate to describe the magnitude of the act demonstrated on the cross. One God/man took on the entire pandemic of sin, from Adam until the end of time, upon his shoulders. He accepted the penalty of death in the most humiliating and painful way possible. Such powerful act should be described as “great,” “wonderful,” or “awesome,” not merely “good.”

Jesus’ act was good, though, in a purely moral sense. He took the punishment we deserved upon Himself. He laid down His life so we might have eternal life.

It’s hard to think about the suffering He had to endure for me to be saved from my sins. I wasn’t even able to watch “The Passion” for two years after it was released, because it was hard to conceive that level of commitment under those circumstances. The song, “Feel the Nails” by Ray Boltz haunts me especially this time of …

Creative Complaints

Bright blank computer screenEmpty, used-up headVacated for vacationShould be tucked in bed
Full, bloated bellyToo much Italian for meNeed room for dessertWasn’t meant to be
Not jet lag but van lagOne hundred forty-six milesA measly two-hour meetingRather count ceiling tiles
Itchy t-neck sweaterMakes me look like a tentToo pretty to trash itGiver may wonder where it went
Contacts stuck to eyeballsNeed to use some dropsWishing to afford LasikThen I’d make all the stops
Throat dry as a desertWater only six steps awayBreath smells like garlicToothbrush in travel bag today
Love everybody with my big heartLove them down to my solesWish I could give some moreLike a job or nice new Rolls
Time to call it a nightReady to relax and de-stressTry to let it go without a fightI’m uninspired, I confess

Positive Detour

Driving toward Indianapolis’ southeast side, there were multiple warnings, via both signage and radio reports, that construction and accident clean-up were ahead of us on I-465. On top of that, the impending rush hour led my husband and me to believe there was a good chance we’d get stuck or at least slowed by an onslaught of traffic.Even with adequate warning, with no GPS, map, and little Indianapolis driving experience, we had no idea what alternate route we could take to avoid the impending doom that awaited us. Add to that two geographically and directionally challenged individuals, and we really had little choice but to forge ahead. I wished my sister were with us. She lived in Indy for awhile and seemed to remember every route she’d ever taken to get anywhere. She could have told us exactly which exit to take to lead to the correct road to take us on the shortest route possible.I wonder how many people continue traveling in the same direction in life because they don’t have the …

Horton on Vacation

It’s quiet. My entire family fell asleep within minutes of hitting their pillows. I guess five hours of water play, a sophisticated scavenger hunt, animatronic story-time, and a full-length movie will do that to you. Why is it when you just start getting into the groove of vacation- do what you want, when you want, all at a leisurely pace- you have to pack up and look forward to the next break?When I went on vacation as a kid, there were not many choices. Dad decided when we were leaving, and Mom decided what we could pack. On the way, it didn’t matter if you were hot, hungry, thirsty, or your bladder was ready to explode, we would stop when Dad was ready, which usually meant when the gas tank was near empty. Once we arrived, we weren’t able to go anywhere without adult supervision. Our parents determined when and where we would eat and shop.I am not complaining about our vacations. Our beach vacations were some of the best memories of my childhood. My husband and I have just chosen a…

Enjoy the Journey

I dragged myself out of bed this morning, with a checklist in mind: fold last load of clothes, check the weather, finalize directions, get reservation confirmation, pack snacks…

I’m not good with frustration, especially when I know exactly how I want something done. This morning seemed to be one frustration after another.

I did figure out that if I take some meclizine before I travel, I can read in the car and not get car sick. This was a great first for me, allowing me to pore over Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point” while my husband drove and my kids alternated between being hungry, thirsty, and bored.

As I read, I had this vague notion of missing out on the landscape and landmarks we drove by, but was too engrossed in the rise and fall of Sesame Street to care.

It was around Decatur, Indiana, that I had to finally put my book down. There was a restaurant that resembled a railway car. An insurance business was housed in a large white castle. An auto repair shop was painted a brillian…

Vacation from Vacation

I spent all last week at work frantically tying up all the loose ends. By 5:00 on Friday I finally felt like I had input all the data, made all my phone calls, put copies in the appropriate mailboxes, and programmed a special message to anyone sending me an email over the next five days. I spent the majority of the weekend with my family, doing umpteen loads of laundry, packing, tidying up the house, and making travel plans. We had already made reservations at the hotel. We mapped out our route. We started to pack some food for the road.Now my husband and I are debating departure times. I should be happy he doesn’t want to leave at 3 or 4 in the morning, which is his usual modus operandi. I know he’d like to catch the Reds game, but I don’t know… I’d be okay with waiting until 11, since we can’t check into the motel until 4:00. I’m planning to take my laptop and a few books… I never get extended time to focus on my writing. I know it’s a vacation, and I’ll enjoy time with my family, b…

What am I?

I have come to the conclusion that I am a human being.It may seem strange to that after 30+ years I am finally figuring this out. But I am no ordinary human being.I have lived under the presumption, inoculated in me at an early age, that I can do anything that I put my mind to. Which, over time, I’ve taken to mean that I can sleep less, eat less, exercise less, and communicate less than the average human being. I can take on school, work, family, and thirteen volunteer positions, without batting an eye. I am Super Mom!I am also bleary-eyed, overweight, moody, stressed-out and overwhelmed. One might suggest the word, “balance.” Balance seems a lot like trying to walk a tightrope. I’m pretty sure I can’t do it, so why try?Yet, I’m not sure I enjoy living like this. I have to drag myself out of bed, guzzle coffee out of necessity rather than enjoyment, bark at my children to get ready and at my husband to stay out of my way. I dread work (like most red-blooded Americans) but my …

Violence Solution

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30030756/Fourteen killed in Binghamton, New York. If you read the story, you have to ask yourself, what could cause a person to have so little regard for human life that he just starts shooting randomly at people? What intricate part of the human psyche gets broken to the point he believes this is an acceptable course of action?I was just remarking to a friend that maybe it’s not so far fetched. At some point we’ve all objectified other people. We’ve made fun of someone with an odd appearance, or who walks a particular way. We’ve laughed at jokes based on stereotypes. We’ve dismissed someone as “one of those…” and assumed we knew his motives. We’ve made all kinds of remarks about the car in front of us or behind us, when we don’t think at all about the driver.I’m reminded of a song that I cannot remember the artist, title, or exact lyrics. It talks about not knowing what the person beside us is going through. We may see a man on a bus with unruly ki…

Listen Up!

I walked into the last office, making my final delivery for Doctor’s Day. I walked into the small waiting room, and waited patiently for the receptionist to get off the phone.“11:30. April 14th. 11:30. Tuesday. Tuesday. 11:30. 11:30. 11:30. Tuesday. April 14th. Yes, that’s right. No. 11:30. You’re appointment’s at 11:30. 11:30…”I swear this went on for a full five minutes. I stifled a laugh. Obviously the gentleman on the other end was hard of hearing, and perhaps a little cognitively deficient. Even the smallest bit of information just wasn’t translating for him that day.When the receptionist finally ended the call, she sighed and gave me an apologetic look. “I’m sorry,” she said. “That’s okay,” I answered, flashing a sympathetic look and quickly handing over the carnation intended for the doctor. In my line of work, you have to use some creative communication techniques at times. It is really hard to convey your meaning to someone who can’t hear the words you s…

It’s About Time

Time to take the leap. Time to stop trying to get people to notice me and my abilities and get out there. Time to send in some queries, and find some paying assignments. Time to see what I’m really made of.Time to blog one more night because I don’t yet have a paying assignment. Time to try and figure out exactly which magazines or publications I would like to write for. Time to take my books back to the library. Time to figure out how to balance life with dreams. Time to figure out the difference between social media networking, and playing on facebook. Time to decide how I really want to spend my time. Time to let some things go.Time to take care of myself. Time to take a vacation. Time to figure out how to fit exercise into the picture. Time to watch what I eat. Time to get de-stressed. Time to figure out where these headaches are coming from. Time for a nap.Time to focus. Time to get it done. Time to get all my ducks in a row. Time to get organized. Time to make…