Friday, June 28, 2013

5 minutes: in between


I read in between the lines of his letter as he talks about things he saw last week, trying not to make me worry. But I can read his fear in between his reassurance that he is alright and everything is going to be okay.

I write and tell him all the latest news, trying not to make him worry. But I know that he will read in between the lines, and he will feel my fear in between my reassurance that I am alright and everything is going to be okay.

I read in between the lines in the letters of Paul and John. They write to new believers and churches, words of reassurance that they are alright and everything is going to be okay. The archaeological study bible I purchased for myself thirteen years ago is well worn, and I know the realities of their lives.

I don't know if I could be that brave, and yet ... I know that I have the strength of God behind me and in front of me ... and everywhere in between. I have His reassurance that I will be alright, that we will be alright, and that everything will be okay.

I read the letter telling me I didn't get the job I needed. In between the next piece of mail to read, I pray. I read the letter telling me that my food stamps are cancelled because I make "too much money." My projected gross income for the next month will be $423.00. I close my eyes and pray again. I am in between everything these days. In between a full time job, in between being homeless, in between cancer worries, in between ... life.

Thank you, God, for this day and for taking care of me in the "in between" times. I have Your reassurance that I will be alright, that we will be alright, and that everything will be okay.

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, June 27, 2013

rituals ...

Early morning, and a young boy is dropped off by his mother at the summer school day care program where I am working part time. I watch as she tears off a corner of paper from one of the flyer reminders telling parents that we will be closed on the 4th of July and what the dress code is. The two of them hold it tightly and heads together they talk quietly together. I hear a soft "Amen" as she gives him the paper then turns to leave. He slips the paper into a pocket, and as I watch him during the day, I see that when he is anxious ... a dispute over a toy, or a reprimand for being too loud ... he reaches into that pocket.

A girl dropped off not long after the boy performs a ritual of touches with her mother before they separate. Right fingers clasp together, then left fingers, after the umbrella the girl is carrying is shifted into her right hand. The mother gives a quick kiss on her daughter's forehead, and she in turn gives her mother a kiss back. They say goodbyes peppered with "I love yous."

We all have them. Those simple rituals. A mother's prayer. A touch, a kiss, "I love you too." Things, actions or a simple word that connects you to someone in a way that no one else gets. They create rituals that bind you in love, make you feel secure, and gives you "home" in your heart.

They give you more.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

community ...

I've lived in this community for almost half of my life.

I was thinking about that this morning as I drove past the high school I graduated from in 1980. Thinking about community and what that means. What it meant to me then, and what it means to me now.

I grew up as a military brat. We packed and moved almost every two years of my childhood, and I never had a sense of community ... or family. I envied my cousins who celebrated birthdays and holidays with cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles that I barely knew. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen some of my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents ... and still have fingers left. My grandparents are all gone now. As are my father, two uncles, two aunts, and a cousin.

When we moved here in 1974, shortly after my father returned from Viet Nam, it was the first time we ever owned a home. We got to watch it being built from the ground up and moved into it in 1975. Two years later, my parents divorced and I moved again. My first two years of high school were spent in a city on the opposite side of the state before I returned to spend my senior year with my father. When he passed away in 2007, he still owned that house. He was a part of this community simply because he out-lasted the outsider stigma.

It was always difficult for me though. I was always "new kid." Even though I knew most of my senior year classmates because we had attended half of 6th, and all of 7th, 8th, and 9th grades together ... I was still an outsider because I had gone somewhere else for 10th and 11th grades. I wasn't in the community. I was just someone who longed to belong ... somewhere ... anywhere.

Several years after graduation, I moved to California with my then boyfriend. We became engaged, got married, and got divorced all within three years.

I met my next husband the month my first divorce was final and we married the following year in 1989. After twelve years I was without a community again. My divorce coincided with my twenty-year high school reunion. I had thrown myself into planning the tenth and twentieth, and I think feeling that I was part of something gave me the strength and courage to walk away from his abusive manipulations and his community of addictions.

In 2001, I came back to live by the water again ... a land-locked mermaid who had spent too many years in the desert. I was still seeking community ... and family. I thought I had found it a few times with friends who were those former classmates. But then I realized that no matter what, I would still be an outsider because I hadn't been born here. I had wanderlust in my blood that would always make me the "new kid" because I didn't stay. I didn't have history here. I can drive the streets and know the landmarks like the freckles on my arms, but because I came here from somewhere else ... and left ... I wasn't part of this community.

In 2010, my husband and I tried to find a new community in the desert of Texas, but it wasn't meant to be. Two years later, we came back to this home I thought I would never see again.

Today while I was driving these familiar streets, looking at buildings, businesses, and even trees that I know like the back of my hand, I realized that the community I've been seeking all along has always been with me. It is my husband, my dogs, my cat, my familiar walk on the beach ... my community is the place that God fills in my soul. With or without all of the other things that community may mean to someone else ... where I feel at home the most is where I am. 

Right here, right now ... right with God.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

falling ...

My husband and I had a very fast courtship. We were married just five months after we started dating, although we had known each other for a year at the time we married. This November, we will celebrate our third anniversary, and in the past three years, we have had to deal with almost half of the most stressful life events as listed by Holmes and Rahe.

More than what most marriages deal with in ten years ... or twenty... or even fifty.

It isn't a first marriage for either of us, and maybe because of that, or in spite of that, we are trying to make this one work ~ against the odds. We live in a society that makes it easy to throw away marriages, to walk away from relationships and people. I won't say that we didn't think about walking away from this one when things really got bad. I had copies of divorce papers ready to file ... but kept procrastinating getting them to the courthouse. His family kept encouraging me to file the papers ... as did mine. But we stuck it out ... fought it out at times ... and when it was all said and done we realized that we are together for the long haul. Our vows, said just to each other in front of a Texas Justice of the Peace with no family or friends to witness it, are vows we intend to keep. For better or worse. In health and in sickness. For richer or poorer. Vows which have been tested. Again and again.

God brought us together in spite of ourselves, and He has kept us together in spite of the world.

Because of things that happened in 2012, my husband and I have been separated geographically for almost a year now. We both made mistakes. Neither of us are perfect. For a time, it was almost too much for me to deal with. Our families live out of state, and were getting bits and pieces of information about what was going on from what we would share, and what was being embellished and exaggerated upon as news traveled the family grapevines. They've all jumped to conclusions, made assumptions, judged and condemned ... both of us. We are alone in our struggles ... except that we both know that God is always with us and will never forsake us.

None of our family or friends know everything we have been through in the past three years. A move across country, job stress, unemployment, health issues, cancer, the death of my uncle ~ my father's twin brother who stepped in as my "surrogate" father when mine died in 2007. The emotional impact that being away from my husband's children had on him. Loss of financial stability, the prospect of being homeless, loss of pets, separation ... things that neither of us handled very well. Everything has worked against us to bring us to our knees, to tear at us, and to try to drive us apart.

But God knows.

When we hit that wall going 1000 miles per hour, everything stopped for us. We were forced to face what we had, what we were about to lose, and what we wanted. We began to put our faith and God first in our marriage, and our lives. We cut ties with family and friends who never had anything positive to say about either of us. We stopped listening to what others think, and started listening to what God's word said and what each other said. We no longer react ... but instead we act with love. Kindness. Grace. Laughter.

Being apart forces us to communicate on a different level than what being face-to-face 24/7/365 can do. Questions asked in a letter may not be answered for days. A crisis today may be resolved in two days, but the letter telling about the resolution may not be received for eight days. We are learning to distinguish what is really important enough to be shared in a letter, and what is best saved for a face-to-face visit.

Even being together for what little time we can has become a lesson in grace and communication. We forgive more ... and faster. We laugh more. We talk more about dreams, goals, plans ... life.

I'm not saying that we won't face bumpy roads again in the future. That is just what life is at times. But I think that what these trials have done is put both of us together on solid ground. It has given us a foundation to stand on ... against whatever life throws at us again.

When we are together again ... in the same space and time ... we plan on renewing our vows. This time in a church, with God as our witness, and hopefully with family and friends who will bless us.

Until then ... we've been falling in love again ... and again ... and again.

X is for ...

Lately, I have been accused of being an xanthippe.
I've come to believe though that it is more beneficial to be xenodochial.

I suffer often from xerophthalmia.

Every so often I see a xiphosuran by the house.
I've never seen a xeme, although you'd think that is odd, considering where I live it is actually more likely I would see a xebec.

I also recently saw a xenurine on the side of the road, but I couldn't tell you exactly what it was, it was quite an unflattering pose, probably for [this] book.  But I was delighted to see this live young'n while on a Sunday drive.
Channeling Robert DeNiro ... "You lookin' at me?"
One day I would like to have an outdoor xystus,
surrounded by xerophyllum.
I think I would enjoy that.

Monday, June 24, 2013

at the edge ...

I sat at water's edge last night to catch a glimpse of the "Super Moon." As I waited I could feel "no-see-ums" crawling on me, biting my arms and legs. I listening to a distant cardinal singing his courtship song, and a mockingbird practicing his calls. Cicadas buzzed in the trees, and fish jumped and splashed in the water. I realized from the distant glow of occasional lightning in the clouds that I might not see be able to see the moon at all.

I was soon sitting in the dark, surrounded by sounds and shadows, waiting to see if the clouds would break enough for me to see the light of the moon.


It occurred to me that sometimes faith is like that too. We often find ourselves sitting in the dark, surrounded by distracting or even frightening sounds and shadows ... waiting for the light to guide the way.

It would be wonderful if there were never storms in our lives that kept us in the dark. But without those storms, we would take the sunny days for granted. Never appreciating what we have, never fully grateful for the sunshine ... and rainbows.

Lately my life has been wracked with storms, and there have been times when my fear has been paralyzing. The sounds of what others think I should do, and the shadows of what I have done have kept me twisting and turning in the darkness, unsure of what to do or where to go.

I finally stood in the darkness, brushed the damp sand off me, and began walking in the dark towards home. Trusting that I would be able to find my way, knowing that even though I could not see the moon's light, it was still there behind the clouds.

Almost to the house, I turned to look one last time ... and the moon was there ... just as faith told me it would be.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring. But I know that the moon will rise regardless, just as the sun will rise in the morning. When I walk in the darkness, I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other ... until I can see the light again.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

a Sunday drive #1

  Recently a friend wished me rainbows.
Today on a rainy Sunday drive ... I found several.Image
Beautifully following me for almost an hour around town...
This was near one of my favorite hidden beach spots.
A rainbow of color in these wild flowers.

Friday, June 21, 2013

5 minutes: Rhythm

  The rhythm of light rain on the skylight wakens me, and as I shift in bed, Trooper's tail takes up a rhythm matching the sound of the rain.  Distant thunder from the approaching storm rhythmically rolls, and Trooper's tail picks up speed.  He hates thunder and knows that if he beats the drum I call my bed, I will become fully awake and reassure him that he will be safe.

  I drive to another job interview, and as I listen to the rhythm of the road under my tires, I am grateful for the friends who helped me get a new alternator installed.  While the rhythm of my walk to my summer part-time job gave me time to listen to the rhythm of sounds around me and think of all that has changed the rhythm of my life ... my aching joints told me that it would not be a rhythm I could keep up for long.  The rhythm of friendships come to mind ~ the safe trust in the give and take, knowing that even if the roles were reversed, the rhythm would be the same.

  Home again, I listen to the rhythm of music filling my house.  I think of you, how we used to kitchen dance to the rhythm of Santana.  I long to hear the rhythm of your steps on the stairs, the rhythm of your heartbeat and breathing, and to know that you are safe.    

  Without you, there is no rhythm to my life.

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, June 20, 2013

reminding you to save the va-j-j's

[Disclaimer: This is a re-tweak of a previous post just so that it stays in the front of every woman's mind]

On 30 May 2012, I had laser surgery to remove some cancerous cells that have invaded my body. It isn't past tense on purpose. The cells are still there ... just waiting. The rare vaginal cancer that I have ~ Vaginal Intra Epithelial Neoplast ~ has an 80% chance of returning ... and spreading. So I'm really kind of in limbo.

It still amazes me that so few women that I've spoken to about my cancer have ever heard of it, or knew that it was possible.

The National Cancer Institute believes that vaginal cancer is a rare cancer that affects less than 2% of all gynecological cancers in women. I believe that percentage is wrong. I believe that more women get it, but because they don't get annual pelvic exams, it isn't detected until it gets to Stage IV when it has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.

This is a cancer that is caused by HPV. The delayed and unexpected gift from an unfaithful fiancée almost thirty years ago. That said ... mothers, protect your daughters [and now sons] by getting them the vaccine. It will protect girls from approximately 19,000 cancers, and boys from 8, 000 cancers as they grow up. [stats from here]

The information below is paraphrased from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America's website. I'm sharing it not to cause panic, but to show how important it is for women to continue to have annual pelvic exams even if they have had a hysterectomy (partial or full) or have ever been told it wasn't necessary to continue the exams.

The point that I really want to stress is that this IS a cancer that can spread if it goes undetected. You must be an advocate for your own health. Get annual exams especially if you have had to have a hysterectomy due to any kind of dysplasia. Get annual exams even if you haven't.

I had my hysterectomy in March of 2006 and continued to get annual pelvic exams every six months for two years after. Then I was able to go back to just once a year for the next three years. I didn't have any abnormal test results (again) until December 2011 when my test came back showing dysplasia in some cells. The vinegar colposcopy & biopsy done in January came back VaIN 1. Another one in February came back VaIN 2, and by the time of my surgery in May ... it was VaIN 3 ~ Cancer. That is how quickly it advanced. The surgeon felt that he had removed 95-98% of it ... which sounds good, but still leaves "something" to begin again.

This is the shadow I live under. Not the "if" it comes back, but the "when" and the "where."

I'm supposed to go back for a pelvic exam every six months now, but because I no longer have health insurance, I had to go to the county health clinic for the one in December 2012. They'd never heard of my cancer before, so did a simple exam, without vinegar which is now being used to see cancerous cells. I'm due for another one this month, but don't see it happening because I'd like to go back to the doctor who did my surgery a year ago, I just can't afford it. I'm praying to get a full-time job with benefits so that I can be proactive about my health again and stop living in the shadows.

Breast cancer survivors love to hear the "save the ta-ta's" catch phrase. I doubt my catch phrase will ever show up on a t-shirt, but I don't care. If just one woman gets an exam and doesn't have to experience what I've had to ... I'll be happy.

Vaginal Cancer:

There are a combination of guidelines set by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) to stage vaginal cancers. These guidelines help doctors get an overall picture of the extent to which the cancer is affecting the body by taking into account size, shape and spread.

"The TNM system evaluates the size and extent of the tumor (T), the spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes (N), and whether or not the cancer has spread (M) to other sites, using the letter M to indicate metastasis. The combined summary of the categories TNM are reported as Stages 0-IV. The FIGO system, on the other hand, stages vaginal cancer based on the size and the extent of the tumor (T)."

"TNM Stage Grouping for Vaginal Cancer

The following are the TNM stage groupings for vaginal cancer:
  • Stage 0 Vaginal Cancer - Called carcinoma in situ (CIS), this cancer appears in the epithelium, the top cells lining the vagina. Women may also hear their doctors call this Stage 3 vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia (VAIN)
  • Stage I Vaginal Cancer - The cancer may have grown throughout the vagina, but it has not spread beyond the vagina. It has also not spread to the lymph nodes or other distant sites. 
  • Stage II Vaginal Cancer - Doctors have discovered cancer in the connective tissue near the vagina. The disease has not spread to the wall of the pelvis or other areas of the body. 
  • Stage III Vaginal Cancer - The vaginal cancer has spread to the walls of the pelvis and/or the nearby lymph nodes. No distant sites are affected by the cancer. 
  • Stage IV Vaginal Cancer - In Stage IV, the cancer may or may not have spread to the lymph nodes. There are two ways to classify stage IV depending on where else in the body the cancer has spread to: 
  • Stage IVA - The cancer may be found in the bladder, rectum or other organs located next to the vagina, and possibly the lymph nodes. Distant organs or sites are not affected. 
  • Stage IVB - This is the most advanced stage, indicating the vaginal cancer has spread to distant sites elsewhere in the body, such as the lungs."

Monday, June 17, 2013

One morning ...

I was an eagle soaring over the mountains ...
I was an astronaut floating above Saturn's rings ...
I was a super hero zooming across the Atlantic ...
I was seated in a hang glider, the wind in my hair, circling in thermal air drafts ...
I was six years old again.
Then I opened my eyes and put my feet on the ground.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

selections #125

My tiny herb garden ~ L-R: rosemary, oregano, basil, lavender.
[my cilantro died after a spider mite (?) infestation]
When I'm cooking, I often forget that I've got them on the upstairs deck, but truthfully ...
I think I grew them just to rub the leaves between my hands and relax with the scent.
For six years I waited for these vines to bloom.
Now ... my last summer here ...
they are exploding in blossoms.

It is good to know that it will be here long after I'm gone...
Sunday Selections was originally started by Kim, of Frogpondsrock , as an ongoing meme where participants could post previously unused photos languishing in their files. It is now continued by River at Drifting through life and Sue at The Elephant's Child.  The rules are so simple as to be almost non-existent.
Post some photos under the title Sunday Selections and link back to River.

Friday, June 14, 2013

5 minutes: listen

The room is dark, save for the lights on the computer modem.  I listen to the fans blowing the hot air this way then that, and kick off the covers from my sweating-still-damp-from-a-cold-shower body.  I listen to Annie walk around the room and shake, her collar tags jingling like bells.  She comes over and sets her chin the the edge of the bed and I tell her to go back and lie down.  She doesn't listen and instead jumps up on the bed and flops down hard at the end where she can take advantage of both fans.  I close my eyes and listen to Trooper breathing, his head near mine, he feels safer sleeping at the head of the bed rather than the foot.  Too many long ago memories of a mean man kicking him from under the covers when he was a puppy.  It has been eight and a half years since those nights, but he still listens for the sound of movement in the dark and I know that he will eventually move off the bed before the sun wakes us all.  I listen to Oreo calling me in the dark down the hall.  He has woken up alone where he was sleeping on the cool tile floor in the bathroom, and so I call to him to let him know where I am.  He listens, calls, listens again as he walks into the bedroom, then jumps to the bed and walks on me before stopping on my chest and smacking me in the face with his head to tell me I should have woken him before I shut the lights off.  I listen to him purr as I rub his head and chin, then he moves to the pillow and settles down for the night.  I close my eyes again and talk to God, thanking Him for this day, and listen in the dark for His voice, His reassurance, His presence.  I listen to the sound of my own breathing and before I know it, I am listening to the cardinals and mockingbirds singing to the rising sun as the squirrels outside the window chatter that the day is a'wasting and I need get up.  I listen.
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, June 13, 2013

in the palm of His hand ...

  It has been a long, long day for me beginning with a 9 a.m. interview 20 miles away.  It doesn't sound like that far to drive, but I like to be early, not just on time, and I had an errand to run on the way.  So off I went at 7:40 a.m. after walking the dogs.

  More errands on the way back, and I pulled into the parking lot early for work at 11:05 a.m.  Seven hours and 82 wild and "off the chain" kids later, I headed home.  Walked and fed the very appreciative dogs and listened to the cat yell at me about getting home "late."

  As I stood in the kitchen waiting for my leftover rice to reheat, I felt the exhaustion of the day pour over me, and for just a moment stood there in tears feeling the weight of my life on my shoulders.  I'm tired.  Tired of being alone, trying to do things alone, worrying about packing and moving alone, not knowing where I will go, worrying about jobs, interviews, money, and all the things that every single one of us worry about at times.

  Life as we know it.

  Just before I left work, I talked briefly with one of my co-workers about feeling that the interview this morning didn't go well, that someone who interviewed just before me and sounded like she had history and familiarity with them, had more of an edge than me.  "A" said that I shouldn't feel that way because no one expected David to become King.

  Faith.  Hope.  Belief.  Blessings.

  God works in mysterious ways, especially at times in my life when I need a kick in the seat of my pants reminder.  There are no coincidences.  There is only His plan and pieces of the puzzle.  Tonight when I logged onto a social networking page, there were these two messages from Joel Osteen:

"Quit being worried, stressed out, wondering if it will happen. God has you in the palm of His hand. He has never once failed before, and the good news is, He is not about to start now."

"David said in Psalm 27:13: 'What would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord's goodness?' No matter what has come your way, believe and declare that you will see God's goodness again.

  I am not alone.  Never have been.  Never will be.  I am, and always have been, "in the palm of His hand."  That is so reassuring for me tonight.

2 Peter 3:13

13 But we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. Godliness will make its home there. All of this is in keeping with God’s promise.
~ NIRV ~
2 Peter 3:18 Grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Get to know him better.
Second Peter is a short three chapters long.  But it says so much about who we are, and who we should strive to be.

2 Peter 1:3 God’s power has given us everything we need to lead a godly life. All of that has come to us because we know the One who chose us. He chose us because of his own glory and goodness.

4 He has also given us his very great and valuable promises. He did it so you could share in his nature. He also did it so you could escape from the evil in the world. That evil is caused by sinful longings.
5 So you should try very hard to add goodness to your faith. To goodness, add knowledge. 6 To knowledge, add the ability to control yourselves. To the ability to control yourselves, add the strength to keep going. To the strength to keep going, add godliness. 7 To godliness, add kindness to believers. And to kindness to believers, add love.

I especially love this verse:
2 Peter 1:9 But what if some of you do not have those good points? Then you can’t see very well. You are blind. You have forgotten that your past sins have been washed away.

I have been struggling with guilt lately ... for bad decisions, and for things out of my control.  I've been wearing the guilt and burden of things that others have done which have hurt people I love, and the mistakes that I have made.

I heard on the radio a few weeks ago, a discussion that Wally on Way-FM was having with his listeners about forgiveness, and how so many people believe that they can't be forgiven for their sin.

They have forgotten that your past sins have been washed away.

That was so powerful for me.
I beat myself up daily for things that I should have done differently, and they are things that I can no longer control.  Things that have been forgiven, and washed away.
Why do I do that to myself?
God doesn't.  Why should I?

2 Peter 1:10 My brothers and sisters, be very sure that God has appointed you to be saved. Be sure that he has chosen you. If you do everything I have just said, you will never trip and fall. 11 You will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom that lasts forever. It is the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 So I will always remind you of these things. I’ll do it even though you know them. I’ll do it even though you now have deep roots in the truth. 13 I think it is right for me to remind you.

I have been forgiven.  
Maybe it is time to forgive myself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Parallel Universe Me ...

  I rearranged my bedroom the other night so that my desk now is to the right of the mirror closet doors.  I'm looking at a wall which I've put my calendar on, and other things my brain must remember to occasionally do.  I wish I could face it towards the window so I could look out over my serenity deck, however, the plugs and cords necessary for things to work ... wouldn't.

  Sitting here for the first time after rearranging the room, the dogs were wandering around behind me when suddenly, Annie spotted my parallel universe alter ego hiding in the closet.

  She growled fiercely, barked, then began to do that beagle baying noise that can be quite unnerving.

  For thirty minutes.

  Even though I was sitting right here, and she could turn her head to see me, it was my reflection in the mirror that made her go crazy.

  She's been comfortable with her own reflection in the mirror since last December, and I'm sure has seen my reflection when I have stood directly in front of it.  But she could not make the connection between me sitting off to the side, and the fact that she could see me in the mirror.  She was convinced it was my evil parallel universe alter ego.  The more I moved to try to comfort her, the more she growled at barked at my reflection ... yet she would turn her head to me and wag her tail.  She was so confused, and I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe.

  I finally had to open the closet door and let her inspect the inside before she would relax and ignore it.

  Gotta love her bravery and willingness to protect me!

Living the dream...

  During the week I get an encouraging email from Mike Dooley and his Thoughts Become Things website.  Some days they are funny, some days they are right on target.  Often it is only the next day that I realize how closely they hit to how my day went, or what my mood was.  Most often they say something that really strikes me with how profound it is.  Like today.
  Now, of course, the whole bit about fitting into the jeans I wore back in the day ... not gonna happen.  But what struck me today was this statement:

"It's having a dream and wanting to live it so greatly that one would rather move with it and "fail" than succeed in another realm."

  I'm so "there."

  Once upon a time [like all good fairy tales start] I wanted to be the next bestselling author.  I wanted the J.K.-Rowlings-Stephenie-Meyer-Lana-Turner-discovered-at-a-drugstore-soda-counter success story.  I wanted to live "the good life" and in an abundant lifestyle that I would be happy to become accustomed to.

  I realized this morning that I'm so "there," only better.

  My blog and books have a small following.  The blog gets daily hits from around the world.  Occasionally a book sells.  My life is good.  It is, truly, good.  The fibromyalgia pain that almost crippled me a year and a half ago because of the stress I was under in my life is gone.  Gone.  I'm pain free.  I've learned that "abundance" is a relative term.  I don't have an abundance of things or money ... but I have all I need for right here and right now.  

  How much more do you need?

Monday, June 10, 2013

It's a small world after all...

I started my summer job today.
Day care for 85+/- elementary age children.
We watched Madagascar 3.
It was a cute movie,
but what was even cuter was hearing this song,
sung by 85 little voices,
perfectly in sync with the movie.

Priceless day.

At the end of the day,
the icing on the small world cake ...

I had spent the day working with someone who once was a student I worked with,
when he was at the United Cerebral Palsy Child Development Center.

I was fresh out of high school, an eighteen-year-old with big dreams.
He was a four-year-old pre-kindergarten student who wanted to get into everything.

So nice to see that he did.

Priceless day [squared].

Sunday, June 9, 2013

censoring normal ...

  Lately I've been feeling as if I need to censor my blog posts, knowing that there are people who read them to get "ammunition" to use against me.  I tried to blog about just the "window dressing" and the "sugar coating."  But that felt unnatural.

  I was changing who I was to fit who they think I should be.  I can't do that anymore.  Been there done that so many times before that the t-shirts have all shrunk.

  Then I read this post [Just Be... Normal] and realized that was the answer I had been looking for.

  Normal is more than just the setting on the washing machine.  It isn't just conforming.   Normal sometimes is loud and ugly.  Normal sometimes is hurtful and painful.  Normal isn't always pretty.

  I don't blog about my life hoping to get sympathy like I've been accused of.  I blog about the ugliness, the beauty, the pain, the joy, the hurt and the healing ... my "normal" ... because somewhere out there is someone who is feeling the same kind of "normal" that I am.  Someone who needs to know that they aren't alone, that they don't have to be afraid, that maybe, just maybe, they are "normal" too.

  This past four months I have learned a lot from my autism students.  The most important thing I've learned is that "normal" is a subjective term.  There were days when my "special" students were smarter and better behaved than those "normal" students they were supposed to be like.

  Why do we try to fit everyone into a "normal" sized box?  Why can't we just recognize that we each have our own special gifts, talents, and wings to fly?

  Why can't we realize that sometimes it is what happens "outside the box" that makes us feel "normal?"  One of my favorite quotes is this:  The true worth of your travels lies not in where you come to be at the journey's end, but in who you come to be along the way. ~ Unknown

  What if instead it said this:

The true worth of your life lies not in where you are in your journey
but who you came to be at the journey's end
~ Letting the Words Escape ~

Saturday, June 8, 2013

selections #124

[Disclaimer:  I promise that these are the last of the water lily pictures ~ but I was able to get to them early enough in the morning when they were still in open bloom and could not resist!  I have taken the liberty to filter them with a dry brush effect, as I did the last ones, and love how they came out.]

Sunday Selections [as it is Sunday in Australia when this meme starts] was originally brought to us by Kim of Frogpondsrock as an ongoing meme where participants could post previously unused photos languishing in their files.

The meme is now continued by River at Drifting through life. The rules are so simple as to be almost non-existent. Post some photos under the title Sunday Selections and link back to River.

As a teaser for an upcoming Selections collection ... I offer you [this link].
BUT ... my desktop computer is dying and I cannot download pictures from my SD cards anymore!
I'm not sure when I will participate next in the Sunday [in Australia] Selections.

Anticipation ... makes it all the sweeter!

Friday, June 7, 2013

5 minutes: fall

I hear the rain fall on the skylight,
and I wish I could fall into your arms tonight.

When you fell, I wanted so much to catch you,
but I knew it would be this fall
that would change it all.
The man you were, is no longer the man you are.
You have become the man you were meant to be.

Those who doubted and turned their backs will never know,
how the choice you made was so very difficult.
But it was so worth the reward in the end.

To be Redeemed. 

Five Minute Friday

Thursday, June 6, 2013

WHEN the ZA occurs...

Yesterday was the last day of school.
I'm actually going to miss those kids.
Even the ones that made me want to pull out my hair.

Last week I overheard a discussion between several of the sixth grade autism students.
It was totally serious.  Really.
It was all I could do to keep from FOCROFLOL.
[falling off chair rolling on floor laughing out loud]

They were discussing what to do WHEN [not if] the Zombie Apocalypse happens.

First you need to paint a blue cross on your forehead to indicate that you are not infected.
Then after gathering the food, clothing and weapons you needed,
meet at Mrs. M's classroom where you will be safe.

On the one hand, I think that it is a credit to Mrs. M that they feel her classroom is a safe place.
On the other, I have to wonder what they are hearing, watching or playing on the computer that makes them so convinced that there WILL be a zombie apocalypse.

When I was in the sixth grade all I ever worried about was whether or not the kids at my new school would tease me about my red hair, where the nearest library was, and when my Dad was going to be home from Viet Nam.  When he did come back and we moved to Florida, I added palmetto bugs and oily skin to my list of things to worry about.
I think I'll add blue face paint to my shopping list.
Just in case.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

howling with my pack ...

I've taken the liberty of awarding myself the Semper Fidelis award by way of Elephant's Child who in the past year has become part of my gathered family.  I would nominate her in return, however, that seems like it would be redundant.  But I will say this about her ... I treasure her.  Her words, her photos, her thoughts, her honesty.  The fact that I can be awake at midnight and know that she will be there to listen to me.  She has been there for me in more ways than one, and on nights when I was lost ... she was my GPS.  If ever I get the opportunity to travel again, my hope is to one day sit with her to watch the sunset, our feet up, and settled into that comfortable silence that says "Yes, you are home here.  Welcome."

The award comes with rules/conditions.

1 : Add the Semper Fidelis Award logo somewhere on your blog.
2: Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
3 : Nominate five bloggers whose loyalty, friendship you value and you consider being part of your "pack of wolves."
4 : Post something special for each one of your nominees and dedicate it to them. Such as a quote, saying, poem, picture. Anything you think would pertain to that person.
5 : Let the nominees know that you've nominated them.

The first two rules are simple.  Like EC, I had difficulty with three and four, but to avoid being a copycat, and because there are some bloggers that I look forward to reading like I look forward to the sun shine each morning, here are my nominations:

This Old House 2
I love the work that Karen does for finding forever homes for shelter dogs.
I love her honesty, and her bravery at times for not withholding her opinion on current events.
I love the encouragement she has given me in emails as we've chatted about common interests.
I love the work she has done on her house, her garden, and how beautiful she is ...
inside and out ...
Thank you, Karen.

I love love love Chris' photos.
Her birds, her trees, the snow, the flowers.
Seeing that she has a new blog post is always exciting because there is so much beauty in them.
Not just in her photographs, but in her words.
Simple and to the point.
Life.  Love.  Joy.  Family.  Happiness.
She brightens my day with her view of her world.
Thank you, Chris.

Chronicles of a Country Girl
I'm new to following Kate's blog, but that doesn't change how much I admire her work.
Her photos are incredible, but also her honesty and humor.
She's got a lot on her plate, but handles it with grace and beauty.
I've learned a lot from her.
Thank you, Kate.

creating space ...

  I'm joining this afternoon with Jamie Ridler Studios and wishfully (wistfully?) creating space ... even more than I have been lately.

  The space that I wish to create would begin with a home where this would be my "night light."  A place so isolated geographically that the night sky would glow and not be dimmed by city lights.

  A home where I could fall asleep to the sound of the wind in the trees, or the rain on the roof, and not be woken by the noises of traffic on the street or neighbors on a binge.

  A space where I would look forward to coming home to each afternoon, and miss when I had to leave for work in the morning.  Where I could grow vegetables, herbs and fruit.

  I long to create a space of minimalist living, where all we had was all we needed.  Nothing fancy, nothing extravagant, nothing that was unnecessary or simply decorative.  Where the rooms filled with memories were in our minds and hearts and never needed dusting...

Monday, June 3, 2013

destination unknown ...

When I was younger,
with less white hair and fewer worry wrinkles,
my most favorite thing to do when things became overwhelming
was to disappear into a book.

A lengthy, historical romance,
with more history than romance.

I would travel to places I had never been,
written about time long past.
I think sometimes I would actually begin to fade,
as I became part of the characters.

Books were, and always will be, my best friends.
They were my safe havens.

I think this summer will be a perfect time for me to fade away again,
destination unknown,
deep in the pages of a book.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Serenity Sunday ...

Sitting on my Serenity deck ... serene sounds of the water fountain, the scent of vanilla
Sharing the foot stool with Oreo ... Worry Free ... yes, I am ...
"Excuse me.  Do not misinterpret my affection." 
"This is my foot stool.  I do not share."

Saturday, June 1, 2013

selections #123

Just some odds and ends from the week...
This is a narrow leaf yucca.
It seemed to bloom overnight in the field where I run the dogs.
Close up of the flowers.  The plant itself is only about four feet tall.
My imagination keeps seeing these as sweet fairy faces with blond hair.
On Memorial Day (27 May) I was blessed with an invitation to dine with a co-worker & family.
This is the view from their dock, with just the sounds of the wind in the trees, an occasional frog ... and alligator!
This is an owlfly [more info here], whose antenna tickled Trooper's nose
when he investigated.
Sunday Selections was originally started by Kim, of Frogpondsrock ,
as an ongoing meme where participants could post previously unused photos languishing in their files.
It is now continued by River at Drifting through life and Sue at The Elephant's Child
The rules are so simple as to be almost non-existent. 
Post some photos under the title Sunday Selections and link back to River.