Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I am enjoying the second week of my two weeks off (and trying not to fret over how quickly the time is passing by). I don't have regular internet, only my phone and can't respond to comments on my blog.

Today I am thinking of the joys and challenges of 2013. It was a good year. I think. My memory is spotty. I hope to live next year with more awareness.

Then again, someone on Facebook said there is an old saying that says if you have one foot in the past and the other foot in the future, you are pissing on today (oh, please do 'scuse my French). I surely don't want to do that. Today, now, are all I really have. Aren't they?

Well, as long as I have today, I do still have me, and my spotty memories, and my hopes for the future.

And so it is that I will trudge philosophically into 2014 and discover what adventures await me there. . .

(I suspect my photo will be huge and will make this post look wonky. I do not know how to fix that from my phone. I WILL fix it when I get home to my laptop! Oh, I may have fixed the problem just now. Or I may have made it too small to be seen. Whatever. I will try not to obsess about it and will fix it when I can!)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Recently, a text came through from my son's best friend wishing us Merry Christmas and sending us love along with a blurry picture of a picture of him and my son when they were playing ice hockey.

It reminded me of a video we made one year for my dad's birthday. My oldest daughter was probably 7 and my son was 3. She was swimming. He was roller skating, just learning. He would take a flying start, fall down, and flail about to get back up and try again, over and over. It was a poignant picture of perseverance. The video seems to be lost and I would give my eye teeth to see it again, though, thankfully, it is clear in my mind's eye. It makes me think of what the yoga teacher said, that when you 'fall out' of a pose, you simply begin again. You do not criticize or judge yourself, you simply begin again.

The skating video was, in hindsight, perhaps a tiny precursor of things to come in my son's short life, as well as an excellent ‘teaching moment’ for me about the value of getting up and simply beginning again. Without judgement. Without criticism. Sigh.

But here's the thing, and I've been told this before, but not in these exact words-this is the height of vulnerability: to bring a child into this world where you do your best to love and teach and protect them, and you have far less say in what happens to them than you could probably ever bear to know. In my heart of hearts that is probably why for so long, I could not think of ever wanting to have children—I could not bear the weight of the vulnerability I sensed I'd be facing if I had children. I was afraid. I did not want to be exposed to the kind of pain I have felt. But, since I could not have experienced the love without the pain, I would not now choose otherwise and I am grateful today that I managed (through painful circumstances) to put my fear aside and have children anyway. Unknown to myself at the time, it was probably the greatest risk I've taken in all my life.

It's one of the hardest parts of being a parent: learning to live with your heart walking around outside your body.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Love. Joy. Peace.

There are plenty of us for whom Christmas is a tough season. My wish is that there is always, somewhere, at least a small snippet of love, of joy, of peace for you. And maybe, on a good day, more than just a small snippet. And may you also have someone who can stand with you, waiting quietly, while the darkness passes and turns back to light.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Anniversary of Sadness

It was bitter cold this afternoon at the cemetery when we went to bring the small tree for my son's grave.

The young man working at the place where we bought the tree knew my husband and knew we were heading out to our little place in the country, the young man who is about the age my own son would be, he jovially asked us, "Do you think that tree is big enough for out there?" I took a quick deep breath and told him it would work just fine. He had no way of knowing the gravity of our purchase and I felt it was kinder just to be cheerful right along with him.

We'll be going back tomorrow. December 8, 2013 will make two years he has been gone.

December is, in some ways, a month of loss for our family. My grandfather, my brother, one of my mother's brothers, and my son, they all died in December. So in this season of joy, we also carry sorrow. I know there are others. I feel for them.

But life does go on, and I will acknowledge my loss and remember my son, and tonight I will address my Christmas cards and get them ready to send out. The tears, the memories, happy and sad, will all flow while I work. Love knows no bounds, even in death.

Tomorrow evening we will gather at my parents' house. We will eat dinner together. There will be stories shared and probably a few tears shed. I suppose in some ways it's true: our loved ones are not gone as long as we hold their memories in our hearts.

Cracks. And Light.

Yesterday at the student art fair, I bought two things: a beautiful blue-green bowl, the first thing that caught my eye as I walked around, and the mug pictured above.

I love the handle on the mug. The color is not extraordinary. The price was excellent. There is only one little flaw. It has a tiny crack running through the bottom of the mug, one that is visible when looking into the mug as well as when looking at the base of the mug. It will never be useable for much of anything, other than to sit on my shelf and look pretty.

And also to serve as a reminder of my own true condition. In the words of a wise friend, I am left to "Do what you can. You're handicapped--precisely like all the rest of us!"

I am reminded of Leonard Cohen's song Anthem, "ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

It's also how the light gets out, I might add.

(It occurs to me that this idea of light getting in and out, and accepting my imperfect humanity, are two recurring themes in my life.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A Brittle Fall Leaf Reminds Me

Vulnerable is not a place I like to be.
But I'm coming up on a vulnerable time.
And slowly I've learned: 
there are people who will walk with me in these vulnerable times,
people who will hold the light on the path
and I hope I can remember 
to do that for others 
when they are in their vulnerable places
for, like the man says,
we are all vulnerable in our own way
(and probably more so than we ever know).

Friday, November 29, 2013

Never Far Away

I was okay yesterday, up until my sister said "Here," and pressed this into my hand. We were outside and I turned around to go put it in the truck so I wouldn't forget it and I realized this little gift would not have been so meaningful if I still had my son with me and then I had a few moments of silent sniffling before I went back into the house.

I have appropriated a dressy blue jean jacket of his and I wore it yesterday. The sleeves are too long, and it is a bit big and I look a bit "gangster" in it, and possibly, silly, being an older woman wearing a young man's jacket, but when I put it on, I imagine I am getting a hug from him. It's true, there is still a deep and rich connection that endures, even after death. I'm grateful.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanks-giving and Joy

(I've heard the two really go hand in hand.)

This past weekend, I grabbed hold of the slippery crook in the "J" of joy and rode while I could. The effects have been lasting. The grief and sadness is still there, but it is tempered by joy.
I'm off today and working around the house a bit, trying to get a bit of Christmas around here. The Peaceful Holidays Radio channel is playing on Pandora, candles are lit and I'm taking a small break to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Tomorrow we will head to my sister's house in Houston for the day and then we will retreat to our little house in the country for some relatively quiet time away.

Happy Thanksgiving to you. May your joy not be fleeting (nor slippery!) in this season of Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


This is one I put together on my phone. It's a very good premise. I'm feeling my losses lately and I'm working (sort of!) hard on embracing whatever of life that remains after my loss. It's not been easy.

This is not an easy time of year. It never really was, I don't guess. We're all missing my son deeply and we're each coping with our loss in the best way we know how. Sometimes that coping is not so very pretty.

Monday, November 18, 2013

"You Are Already Naked"

Sometimes, when I make a picture and can't think of what I want to say, I look for quotes that might fit. And occasionally I decide I want to let the image stand on its own. At this moment, I am at a loss for any other words.

But I can't resist sharing three of the quotes I found and considered for this photo. Make of them what you will.

"Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." Steve Jobs

"A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover through the detours of art, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened." Albert Camus

"Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken." Albert Camus

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November, Day 10

I'm grateful for a cool 3.something mile walk.

I'm also thankful for my parents.

My father is going in tomorrow to have a procedure done. They think he might have more blockage. If so, they will put a stint in. They will be going in through his arm which is supposed to be better for the patient. I would appreciate your good thoughts and prayers.

Friday, November 08, 2013

November, Day Eight

Two years ago today, I had surgery for colon cancer. I had a rough time orienting myself to my room in the dark, not to mention the fact that the drugs made me a little bit crazy.

Tonight I am grateful to be alive.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

November, Day Six

There is something wrong with a woman who comes in from work and exercise and eating out for dinner, runs to the dollar store to buy light bulbs because there are none in the house and the bulb is burnt out in the lamp beside her laptop, and then proceeds to play solitaire and watch FB and her email the rest of the evening.
Oh, yeah, the dress she wore to her son's funeral? Her youngest daughter borrowed it and tonight she took if back and tried it on and it is looser on her than it was nearly two years ago when she wore it for the first and only time and she really doesn't know how she feels about wearing it again anyway, but she still could for a little while, if she wanted to.
She bought the dress before she had the surgery, before her son died, because she liked a dress her youngest daughter bought and they went to the store to find it in the woman's size but that dress didn't do anything for the woman's figure. Her youngest daughter was tall and the woman is short so they looked at other dresses and the younger daughter assured her the other dress, which happened to be black, looked better on her than the dress she came looking for in the first place. So she bought it and the dress hung in her closet for a couple of months because the woman really didn't quite feel comfortable wearing the dress, or didn't have the right shoes, or something. And when her son died, and the funeral came, the woman was spared the agony of going shopping at the last minute for a suitable funeral dress. All she needed was a pair of stockings.
But that wasn't all she needed at all and my God, it's been nearly two years now since he's been gone and the dress is now loose on her shrinking body.
And now I take a breath and tell you this could be a piece of flash fiction, I wish it was a piece of flash fiction, but it's not. I have so much to be thankful for but tonight I feel my losses even though I have worked so hard to numb myself against the pain. 

Here are the things I am thankful for in the timing of all of this:
  • I already had the dress.
  • I was out of the hospital and recovered enough to go to the funeral. It would have been horrible had I been still in the hospital when he died.
  • I had time off from work with my sick leave and the Christmas holiday to mourn and just sit with the loss. I could not have returned to work any sooner than I did.
In two days, on the 8th, it will be two years since I had my surgery. This is the beginning of my season of mourning. I don't know why this year seems to be so much harder than last year. I told a friend that there is a part of me that says, "Okay, haven't I been good enough? Can I have him back now?" It doesn't matter how good I am, it doesn't matter how bad I am. I'm not getting him back. Oh, I know, I carry his memory in my heart. But that is not near as satisfying as having him here in the flesh.

And yet, really, I do have things to be thankful for, I know I do.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

November, Day Five

(Ooops, missed day four!)

Doesn't much matter anyway. I don't like showing up here and writing something quick just to mark the days. But, still, here I am again.

Tonight I walked 4.2 miles. I'm grateful for my body that still takes me where I need to go and for the peace I feel when I just get into the groove and walk.

I've been on a plateau with the weight loss but I've still been trying to watch what I eat (most of the time!) and, most of all, to get some sort of exercise in on most days. That has been my strategy, to do good enough to lose a little weight at a time, and to make small changes in my activities and eating habits.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

November, Day Three

Thankful for a safe trip home.

Thankful there were no snake bites for hubby after running into another snake near our wood pile.

Thankful for a cousin's improving state of mind after a rough couple of week.

Thankful for new clothes in a smaller size!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

November, Day Two

It's been a gorgeous fall day. I am grateful for that, and grateful for the gift of creativity.

My uncle created a dining table for my daughter using boards from my grandparents' old house.

Today I gained insight into my own creativity by considering his work and how happy it makes him to do these things. I'm grateful for insight.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 01, 2013

November, Day One

Don't laugh! I'm trying again for another month long project, 30 Days of Thanksgiving. I know I probably won't be too consistent but I will at least begin.

But one thing I noticed, back when I was noticing things those few days in October, was that y noticing brought gratitude, and what a perfect lead in to the Thanksgiving month of November. I did notice many more things than I actually wrote about. I just lost my writing momentum.

Tonight I'm really glad and thankful this little fellow was already dead when I saw him lying underneath the truck, about a foot away from where I was about to step to get into the truck!

Also, today, a friend from Facebook land checked on me because she'd seen I'd been quiet around there. I'm thankful for people who notice. It's been a rough week, there have been so many small reminders that have made me miss my son so much.

I'm grateful too, for the friend who had a blue tooth keyboard she'd ordered and decided she didn't want to use. I was almost prepared to order one that would have cost twice as much. She is a great bargain finder. And now I'll be more willing to blog from my phone when I am in the country and away from my laptop and internet.

I'm also thankful tonight for citrus-sage scented candles from Fred's. They smell really good.

More later. Perhaps. We shall see how long this project lasts!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Noticing Irony

I noticed I fooled around tonight until nearly midnight and didn't get my blog post written.

I ran an errand this evening and noticed something. I intended to get a picture on my way home but it was dusky dark and my phone probably would not have captured the scene very well.

But, imagine, if you will, an empty and faded yellow school bus on the side of a busy road, obviously broken down and waiting for a tow ride into the shop.

Now imagine the name of the company that is posted on the side of the broken down, empty, faded yellow school bus:

Dependable Student Transportation

Do you notice the irony? 

Bless Pat (an expression in my family, I do not know who "Pat" actually is), isn't it the truth that not everyone or everything that announces itself as "dependable" is actually dependable? Yeah, I've noticed that, too! 

But still, grateful for those around me who are dependable!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Noticing My Path

This evening I skipped working out at the gym and went to walk the labyrinth at one of the local churches. This is always a quieting experience for me. There was a slight problem with a woman who entered the labyrinth not long after I did and stayed on my rear much of the time. That's okay, my passive-aggressive self consciously slowed me down so I could breathe and since she didn't seem to think she could pass me, it slowed her down too.

As I was walking along, I noticed it was hard to tell who was behind me on the path and who was in front of me on the path (except for my "shadow" that stayed close behind me most of the time). And it really isn't important who is behind me or who is ahead of me. We all have our own pace on the path, and the we all eventually end up in the center, and then back out again. This spoke to me because I have the bad habit of comparing myself to others. And the majority of the time, I compare myself to others who I consider smarter or more spiritually astute or prettier or more together than my own self. That's not really a good thing to do. We each have our own journey. There is no comparison. We are only up against our selves on the path.

Ha! Maybe my "shadow" wanted to be me and that was why she was following so closely!

Then I came home and walked two miles. The night was slightly cool and I noticed how clear the sky was, and how bright the moon and stars were. I came home renewed.

And now must get to reading the second chapter of "The Artist's Rule."

Monday, October 07, 2013

Noticing Grumpiness

I've noticed habits are hard to break.

I've noticed there is a nip in the air that feels like fall.

I've noticed it irritates me for someone to interrupt me or butt in when I am on the phone and they are only hearing half of the conversation.

I've noticed, about every other time, my killer body sculpting class annoys me because I can't do it as well as I think I should.

I've noticed I've got a lot on my mind, I am discouraged, and I feel heavy.

I've noticed some of these complaints things I've noticed are based on feelings. I've learned that feelings are temporary.

I notice I am a lot better off than this poor guy (who I noticed on my Saturday walk in the country).

And now I notice I am a bit grumpy. Actually, I didn't just now notice it. I've noticed it all day long! I'm going to take a shower and put myself to bed at a decent hour tonight. For a change. Maybe tomorrow I will wake up in a better frame of mind.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Noticing Doodle Bugs and Mushrooms

I know, I missed Friday and Saturday. I was away from the internet, with my only connection being on my phone. I could have blogged but I didn't.

That does not mean I was not noticing things. I posted a video of a "doodlebug" at work on Facebook but I can't seem to save it to my computer to post here. The little bug swirled around in the sand like an ant. I could see sand being kicked up but never saw the bug that was doing all the kicking. Then I saw a small ant-like creature crawl into the hole and he kept sinking down and clawing his way back up but the unseen doodle bug finally pulled him under the sand.

I notice I am annoyed that I can't figure out how to post the video to my blog. It is an iPhone video and does not play well with Windows. Here is some information on them. I suppose they are officially known as Antlions.

I also noticed several different kinds of mushrooms this weekend. Here is a photo of one of the larger ones.

We were in our place in the country. The weather is starting to get a little cooler and it was very nice.

More later. 

(Perhaps this link will allow you to see the video. I am not sure it will work but it's worth a try.)

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Noticing Determination


"All he ever wanted was to be outstanding in his field."

I've noticed some days require more determination than other days 
in order to stay on track and get things done.

I've hit a bit of a plateau with the weight loss. I haven't lost anything in a couple of weeks. When this happens, it is hard to keep on doing what you are doing. But I'm still exercising and watching what I eat. 


I've noticed it's what I need at this moment.

I just remembered, while reviewing my day, this photo I'd taken of something I noticed today at work.

In light of my plateau, I probably should have bypassed the elevator and walked the stairs (four flights), but if I had, I would not have noticed this teeny tiny humorous note. It's good to know the button has been ordered. While going up, I pondered what people who needed to be on the third floor might do...


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Noticing A Need for Grace, From Me, For Myself

Well now. Today I had a problem. I kept thinking of what I was noticing. And then I started thinking that it would be like yesterday and the "moment" would present itself to me.

But nothing really presented itself to me!

I did notice I was carrying an annoyed spirit around with me. My annoyed spirit was "riled up" when I had trouble doing some of the poses in yoga at lunchtime, when I kept losing my balance during the standing thigh stretch. I was supposed to watch my inner talk when I fell out of the pose, and not be critical. I was supposed to say, "I fell, let me begin again." I was supposed to extend myself some grace in this "failure". Fortunately my inability to hold the pose for very long did not trigger my inner critic. She is very harsh. Still, I was not altogether happy about having to "begin again!"

This afternoon, a friend was talking about the idea of extending grace to myself (the same grace I extend to others), and the sassy little girl inside me said to me, "No! You're supposed to live in such a way that you don't ever need grace."

The adult inside me said the sassy little girl needed a spanking, not grace. My friend said that even the little girl needs grace.

Extending grace to myself is apparently going to be one of my life-long tasks. 

So today I noticed a new mantra for myself. Simply spoken, it is "I fell, let me begin again." Or, possibly, I failed, let me begin again."

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Noticing Suffering

Today I noticed a discomfort I could not hold for very long and I backed away.
I was helping proctor an exam. In that room was the aunt of a 13 month old infant who was thrown across the room by the 24 YO boyfriend of the baby's mother, "out of frustration." The baby suffered a skull fracture and the boyfriend just put the baby back in the crib, telling no one what had he had done. The baby died yesterday after being taken off of life support. 
I thought about this as I walked around the room watching for signs of cheating. Following Buddhist tradition, I began the practice of breathing in the grief I imagine that family was suffering around the loss of this precious life. I thought about all the hopes and dreams the mother must have had for her child and how none of that will happen now. I thought of the ache in that mother's heart, the emptiness that she will carry. The second part of this exercise is to breath out whatever you think this mother and her family might need (for me this becomes a form of prayer). Comfort and peace were two of the things I thought of. There are so very few words you can say to someone in a situation like this. But my imagination of their suffering was too vivid and my eyes welled up with tears and I had to back away from my thoughts. I could not hold that pain. 
Lately I've noticed there is much suffering in the world. 
Another thing I've noticed today is that one doesn't always get to choose what one notices. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

For the Month of October

Last Sunday would have been my son's 26th birthday. We had a quiet weekend where we took birthday flowers to his grave. When we left to go there, a song from his funeral was playing on the radio. Also I noticed some flowers blooming unexpectedly beside the road across from my grandfather's old home place. I hope to go back and dig some of them up to plant at our place in the country. I am sure one of my dead relatives planted the flowers there many years ago. At the cemetery, I saw a ladybug as I was arranging the flowers in the vase. And then, on our way home, not far from where the flowers were growing, we saw a turtle coming onto the road. We passed him and then I said something about turning around to take his picture. We turned around pretty quickly but we never did find him to take his picture! All of these sights were strangely comforting to me.

This is the flower I noticed on the side of the road.

The heart in the "Vita Brevis" photo is a piece of paper towel that was on the bathroom floor at work.

There is something about noticing the small things that makes me feel grateful. It almost feels like a gift.

My friend Beth has made a commitment to doing a 31 day experiment in noticing things, to "recognize moments that too easily skip right on by." I think I'm also going to remind myself to be a "noticer" during this month. It's the first month of the last quarter of the year, a perfect time to begin a new challenge.

I'm also going to be working on a 12 week study of the book, "The Artist's Rule." I am not at all sure I will keep up with this challenge but I sure want to. I need more order, and more intention in my life. I am wasting far too much of my time on mindless fillers that really do nothing to enhance my life.

In five months, I've worked on changing my eating habits, eating more mindfully and with an awareness of how what I eat affects me. I've committed to regular exercise, moving in some meaningful way on most days for my health. Surely I can do this, too. We shall see how it goes. . .

Monday, September 16, 2013

Letting Go and Holding On

I saw this quote today and thought it pertinent to my dilemma where I chose to take out my frustrations in a physical way. My friend who works in a floral shop said that holding a rose this way would kill it. I informed her the rose was already dead! But it sorts of illustrates my point, that we can smother things if we are too clingy or try to grasp and hold them with too much force. We have to find that balance, "that fine mingling." I'm working on it!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

How to Bloom

I pushed myself and walked five miles tonight! My longest walk ever! And there was a perfectly good reason for pushing myself.

I found myself in a situation where I wasn't getting something I wanted when I wanted it (attention), and I felt the desire to push to get it. The story I attached to the situation was that I was never going to get the attention I wanted, that all was lost, and that simply is not true. But the story made me want to push and possibly attempt to manipulate things so I could have what I wanted.

I've been thinking about this particular situation for a couple of days now and my instinct was telling me that I didn't need to push, that I needed throttle back and let the situation unfold, whether I was happy about it or not. As I allowed my imagination to envision the story of my throttling back and relaxing into my own feelings (fear of loss) and into the situation, my trust returned that the situation would work itself out and was not at all the catastrophe I had manufactured in my head.

But here's the deal: I still had that urge to do something, that desire to push, and I did not know what to do with that. I was annoyed with myself for being so stupid as to worry about the situation and I thought to myself, "Well, this will be a good night to push yourself to walk five miles." Now, at first I was seeing this as a way to "punish" myself for being so danged needy and getting upset, but as I walked, I began to realize it was a great substitution for my desire to push another human being and it truly relieved some of my stress with the situation!

Let me go ahead and expound a bit more. I told myself I needed to face my fear, which is always a fear of loss, and probably, abandonment, in this case.

I've been working on reading Pema Chodron's Living Beautifully With Uncertainty and Change. She is one of the ones who writes about how we attach stories to things, and get the idea that we HAVE to have things a certain way, when true acceptance is not predicated on whether or not we are happy with whatever it is we are accepting.

I'm smart enough to also figure out that the harder we cling to some things, the more damage we do. My pushing would have been a form of clinging. I didn't want to do that.

And that's another of the advantages to getting out and moving your body. You can expend the energy you might be tempted to spend on pushing other people in an attempt to get what you want when you want it and it really does help to relieve the tension. I "wore myself out" and came to terms with the idea of just riding things out and observing what will happen.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Here I Am, Again

Well, another long absence has occurred! And I need/want so badly to catch up on reading some of your blogs. I've neglected my online friends and I don't know what my excuse is! I was also going so well with the 52 photos project and fell completely off the wagon with that. It's been so hot and I can't say the last time I've gotten out with my big camera to take pictures. Hopefully as the cool fall comes in I will be inspired to get out more.

I am still eating mindfully and walking or exercising at the gym nearly every day of the week. I'm still losing weight. I've added a yoga class to my regime that is offered through our wellness center at work. I'm enjoying that one a lot. I also went to a "body sculpting" class that is designed to tone muscles. That one was harder than I expected it to be! But I suppose I will go back again for some more of it when the time comes next Monday to return.

This is another one I've done on my phone. It was basically a stream of consciousness piece, lightly edited. This is part of the road I walk on when I am in the country.There is just something about walking that clears my head and puts me in a better frame of mind. I don't do it everyday now since I go to the gym and use the elliptical. But on the weekends, I usually get two good walks in, one of them in the country.

I'm doing 10Q again this year. I did them in 2010, skipped 2011 (or just let the deadline pass to get the questions answered, I had good intentions, but you know what they say about good intentions) and did them again in 2012. Reading the answers a year later is an interesting experience.

Friday, August 23, 2013


I'm pondering this one over the weekend.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, August 18, 2013

...Still a Beautiful World

 I planted a pack of sunflower seeds in the country back in May (I believe). It seemed like it took forever for the plants to come up, and then for flowers to bloom. I only had a few of them to bloom. I think I planted them too late and I think it was too dry for them. I wasn't there often enough to water them properly.

Anyway, we were there this past weekend and I believe this is the last one of my blooms.
The weekend was a bit sad for me. My son was on my mind and I was missing him so much. I don't know why sometimes it just hits me again like the grief is all brand new, but it does. And I suppose that is relatively normal. Friday night, I made this one on my phone.

Saturday morning, I got up and someone had sent me a copy of Desiderata. As I read again those familiar words, I decided I'd use my little sunflower quote to make another photo reminder to "Be cheerful" and "Strive to be happy."

"Share your joys and they are multiplied. Share your sorrows and they are divided." It's so true, and I'm grateful it is so.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mindful Presence and Vulnerability

This one was a birthday tribute for a friend.
I'm grateful for the presence of several people in my life
who are able to offer their mindful presence to me.
I need to work on my own ability
to be present to those closest to me, my family.
It's not always an easy thing to do, for family or friends. We get distracted.
And sometimes, presence is the only thing
we can offer in the face of pain and/or problems 
that are not easily solved
(or may not ever be solved, really). 
It takes a courageous person to sit with someone in that kind of situation 
and not panic 
when it is clear 
there is nothing one can do to improve the situation or take away the pain.

This one is just another good quote.
I've found this to be true.
But hard. 
Being vulnerable is risky.
The trick is in finding the "safe people."

In other news:
I'm heading off this morning to visit with a few friends from my younger days. We are going to have an adult slumber party and catch up on our lives from the last, um, nearly forty years. Good grief, how can it be that we have been adults for so long?

I've lost 20.2 pounds. Last night I walked four miles and I needed every single step of that walk! I'd had a rough day and it was wonderful how walking cleared my head and calmed me down.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Resolutions and Luxuries

Don't be worried. It's just a bit of dark humor. I saw this somewhere on a magnet or something and I kind of like it so I put it on the photo of my hand.

Later I saw this quote and thought it was an affirming companion to the other quote so I put it on the photo of my hand!

(This was supposed to automatically post last Sunday. It did not. I don't know why.)


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

August?? Already???

I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted anything! And I can't believe how many of my blogging friends' posts I have missed! I miss writing here but something is "off" and I seem to have momentarily lost my rhythm.

I'm still working on my health and fitness. That takes an hour in the evenings after work. But I'm enjoying the benefits this new habit brings me so I hope to keep on working out.

And on most weekends I am not near my laptop, and only have my phone so my internet usage is relatively minimal.
And for some reason, which I kind of understand, but have not worked out completely in my head, I just have not been very inspired to write or read much. But I do miss both and hope to get back into the loop soon!
I have not even had my big camera out since late May, I believe. For one thing, it's been so HOT, not exactly conducive to walking around taking pictures. For another thing, I have several apps on my phone that make it so easy to create and edit photos. I've even managed to take several photos of myself that I like! They are so strongly edited that sometimes I feel like they don't really look much like me but that is one of the things on my mind at the moment--my image of myself and how I feel about how I look. I don't have things thought out well enough to begin writing about it here yet.

One thing I know is that I have several little "thangs" that I've created on my phone that I have not shown here. I may try to post one or two here every other day or so and see what happens. Maybe I will have something to say and maybe I won't. I'll just have to see. And somehow I will try to catch up with my own blog reading and commenting on some of your blogs!

Someone complimented me today on my growth and affirmed me as an artist and a "see-er". I totally appreciated her words but somewhere I've lost the idea that I have something of worth to say and share here. So I've been quiet. And feeling somewhat bland, I might add.

Life is so often about finding balance. I'm making progress in changing my behavior in the health/fitness area but now other areas are being neglected. I just need to find my balance. Again.

(The photos were all taken at our place in the country. With my phone.)

Here. Here's a first installment on the phone "thangs."

See? Here's the problem with the phone apps! They are often so easy to do and to make changes to that I end up with a couple of different versions of the same thing! I think I like the brighter one best. The background is a standard linoleum floor covering that looks like marble tile and I changed the colors around in one of the editing apps.

I still miss him, my son. I may have written here about this thought I had one day at the cemetery, "When I visit my son's grave I am vividly reminded that fear of loss and pain are not valid reasons to fear loving others." It's true, you know.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Excuses, Excuses

I don't know where the time has gone! I didn't realize it had been so long since I'd posted something here.

I've been going full throttle with my physical fitness work. I've been at it for a little over 2 months. I've been going to the gym after work and have dropped 16 pounds. I feel so much better these days. In fact, I think I may have totally lost my mind because I am thinking about doing a "couch to 5K" program!

On the weekends we are usually in the country, where there is no internet other than what I get on my phone.

So these are my excuses for not being around and hopefully I'll be back with more later. In the meantime, there is this quote by Emerson to consider.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

52 Photos Project, Week Seven: Crimson

Both of these photos are from 2010. I love how the pomegranate almost looks like some sort of (alien?) brain. I can't remember for sure but I think I took this one with an old phone I had.

And this one is "just" an old dying rose. I seem drawn to the old and dying flowers.

This is lagniappe: In my reading, I am learning about how my taking care of my health today is like giving a gift to my future self. I really like that thought and it helps me to stay on track. 

(This is my contribution to week seven of the 52 Photos Project. Go check it out, there are lots of pretty crimson things.)

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Mind Games

I am often all too willing to allow my own tender new growth to be plucked out from the roots by relatively neutral outside sources.

Such was the case this morning when I thought one of my health related phone apps wasn't working right and I thought I was not getting the results I wanted after eating better and exercising for a month.

I drove to work telling myself not to let those apparent setbacks trip me up (“don't let defeat trip you”—listen to your own words, girl), keep on doing what you're doing and trust the process. By the time I arrived, my phone app was working correctly and had received the information and I googled to find out my disappointing results were not as bad as I'd thought.

Sometimes all it takes is a little straight talk from myself to my myself! So—another crisis averted (meaning, mostly, that I did not attack the vending machine and eat all the chocolate candy I could afford)!

Saturday, June 01, 2013


Summertime and the livin' may be easy, but it's hot! I moved from the porch with my book and my iced tea hoping to catch a breeze.

Seems I am intrigued with my feet this weekend...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

52 Photos Project, Week Six: Uncommon Shapes

We see this sight every time we make our drive to the country. And since we go after work on Friday, the light is gorgeous when we pass. This photo does not do the scene justice! I notice it every single time and I have been saying that I'd like to stop and take a few photos of the sight. A couple of weekends ago, my husband pulled off to the side of the road and I got out and took pictures. Technically speaking, this is not a "spot on" photo. The highlights are blown out a bit. But I still like it and I can pretend I blew out the highlights on purpose!

I'd said something similar to this to a friend in email one day and it was suggested the words would do well in a "thang" and I immediately decided I'd like to use this photo. What I did was to make the photo reflect itself and combined that into one photo. I like the way it turned out. You may not be able to see the detail as well in this web-sized version but to me, it looks like there are a couple of faces in the photo. In looking at it, I realized that I had not made the ends of the photo reflect that I'd intended to.

This is what I intended to do originally, to join the lighter ends. But I liked the way the trees came together in the original version so I kept it. I'm waiting for inspiration to come for this photo. In the meantime, I like it as it is. It almost looks like a set of pincers coming together, doesn't it?

Actually, I have a version in the works with a Jung quote on it but I am not sure that is what I want to use for this photo so I am keeping it under wraps for now.

Uncommon shapes, that's the theme for week six of the 52 Photos Project.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tyler's Tree: May

I took this photo earlier in May, just almost waited till past May to post it! The tree is doing very well, growing and putting on new branches. The two flowerbeds you can see in the photo are very disheveled. We planted things in both beds without thoroughly cleaning them out. The theory was/is that the things we've planted will eventually take over the things we do not want in the beds. I have my doubts about that theory! Every weekend that we go up there, I pull a few more weeds. I must remember, gardening, like so many other things, is a process. Never a "once and done" thing.

I've been thinking about that a lot lately, how we never really "arrive," how we "learn" some lessons over and over in life. One of my biggest downfalls is that I think I have to have everything in order before I tackle actually living. It is not so, people! I have to live right here, right now, where I am, or I will have wasted my life.

Begin the work, the task, whatever it is, and know you may work on it your entire life, or you may complete the task only to be faced with other tasks. Such is life, I suppose.

Several weeks ago, I very casually began (or restarted) the task of moving toward better physical health. I signed up for "myfitnesspal" and "sparkpeople." I have been walking almost every day, I've been taking my medicines as prescribed (not skipping my night doses, not pouting because I have to take meds) and I have been tracking everything I eat. I installed the apps on my phone which makes it very easy to enter all the information. I've lost some weight. I'm not sure how much because I did not have a scale when I started and I just guessed my weight based on my last doctor visit. I am now within one or two pounds of where I was in November of 2011 after I had my cancer surgery*. But I still have more to lose. I've almost been doing this long enough that the experts would say I have established the habit. I am not so sure. In some ways, it is a big fat mind game, and I keep having to tell myself that just because I might not being doing the task perfectly, it doesn't mean I should quit altogether.

I checked out a book from the library (twice, I'm going to order a copy for myself) that has been very helpful to me. It's called "The Healthiest You: Take Charge of Your Brain to Change Your Life," by Kelly Traver. It's a 12 week program where you make small changes over the course of time. Of course, I have not followed her suggestions! I am still reading through the book. She does an excellent job of explaining things in terms so that one can make the connection between bad eating habits and poor health. I was planning on reading the book cover to cover and then going back and implementing her various tasks through the 12 weeks. As it turned out, I signed myself up on those websites and began recording my food intake and exercising. So I have begun. And I hope I continue!

Perhaps the "gardening theory" I spoke of earlier will work for me in my pursuit of better health--the good habits I am planting will soon (eventually) overtake the bad habits if I just keep on working on them.

(*A story of varying perspectives about my weight loss before and after the colon cancer surgery: When I went to visit the surgeon for the first time, I was a tad bit proud of my recent weight loss of about 20 pounds. However, I still was overweight. So when the surgeon mentioned the problem of having to go through "some fat" I was just a little bit insulted at first thought! But I realized he was right and it IS a problem.

I was visiting with an old friend the other night whose youngest daughter had to have surgery for Chron's disease. She'd had her surgery done here in town and couldn't remember the surgeon's name. She told the story of how the doctor who recommended the surgery told her daughter the surgeon would LOVE operating on her because she was thin!

I  realized then that she was probable talking about my surgeon so I named my surgeon to my friend and she said "yeah, that's him!" So I was mad all over again at my surgeon for daring to mention the obvious to me!

In spite of that, I liked him a lot and he did a great job. He is known around here as the Colon King. He served in the military and worked around big military jets which impacted his hearing. So you have to sort of talk loud about your business. That part was not so much fun, yelling out in a hospital room where you know they can hear you all through the halls, "YEAH, DOC, MY BOWELS MOVED TODAY. IT WAS GREAT AND EVERYTHING WORKED JUST FINE!")

Two last things and I will hush--My oncologist told me the biggest factor that would cause the cancer to come back is a high fat diet. I read on the internet that not enough oncologists tell their patients that regular exercise is a huge help in causing cancers not to come back. I am trying to work on both of those factors. I can't control these things (and I do not necessarily spend a lot of time fretting about it coming back) but I can do some things to help improve my odds. 

Actually, I have one other thing to say about this current pursuit of better health. I have a friend at work who has done an awful lot of work on her health and fitness. It's been very inspiring to watch her and to see the results of the changes she has made. I won't name her here, but she knows who she is and I just want to say, "thank you very much, friend, for the inspiration and the courageous example you have been." I just might add a few years to my life, thanks to you!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Show up and Shut Up"

(My son's first, and last, pair of boots. Photo taken at a picturesque little open air chapel, a very peaceful spot for me.)

I've seen this quote several places in the last week, with people passing it on from Rick Warren's Facebook page.

In 2011, I was inducted into two tribes, neither of which I wanted to be in. The first was the Cancer Tribe in November, the second was the Bereaved Parent Tribe in December. And, well, a year later I was also inducted into the One Year Cancer Free Tribe, which I wanted to belong to and for which I am very grateful.

These things change your life. And you learn things about how to comfort others, things you might never have learned any other way. But it's a high price to pay for the privilege of learning.

It takes a special kind of person, a hardy person, to be able to "show up and shut up" and, I would add, sit with, a person in such deep pain, in that place where there are often so many unanswered questions.