Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wishing You Wonderful Things This Christmas

I wish each and every one of you a safe, happy Christmas. Below is one of my favorites. I enjoy it every time I hear it. 

I'm sending out warm thoughts, wishes for wellness and peace in your hearts. I hope that something wonderful tickles your spirit this season. 

If you're reading this in the comfort of a wrestling robe, you know I've got your back. That satiny red looks more festive than you know. 3 wise men are headed your way to deliver strength, energy and as always, grace. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

She's Down...No, She's Up!

It's been a rough couple of months trying to work through what seem to be multiple flares from Sjogren's Syndrome. It's got me down.

I'm down on the mat and Sjogren's has me in a choke hold. I'm waiting for the ref to call it. He'll grab Sjogren's hand, raise it high in the air and declare it the winner.

The plastic mat smells funny but I don't care. With my face smashed against the stinky hard mat, I will play dead until they bring over a stretcher or something.

I'm toast. Done. Surely someone will notice me all sprawled out on the mat, right?

No? Seriously?

As I pull myself to my feet, I'm glad that my eyes can't focus well enough to see the smug smile on Sjogren's face.

What? Wait, there's another round? Are you kidding me?

In one swift swoop I'm flipped over onto my back and my shoulders are pinned down. At least this time my face isn't planted on that stinky mat.

Sjogren's won again. I'm not even sure those moves were legal.

Once again I manage to sustain my footing but this time I'm going to take the fall myself. I'm beginning to see the honor in those crazy WWE dramatic falls. I'm not too proud to take myself out of this round as long as it avoids another body slam. Let me just contort my body and do my own twisty flip thingy onto the stinky mat.

As I turn to face my opponent I am suddenly keenly aware that I am ill prepared to even be in a ring. I haven't trained for this. How did I get into this position and why am I just now learning how comfy wrestling shoes are?

As Sjogren's take hold of me I twist this way and that. I try to pull off one of those cool turns I've seen on Dancing With the Stars. As I break free I jerk myself backward and down on the ground. I don't even care if it was a graceful fall or not. At least I'm down on my own terms.

As I open my eyes I see a gurney being hurried to my side. My limp body is flopped upon the gurney and I am whisked out of the arena. I'm deposited in a locker room with other embattled athletes.

I had no idea that there were so many of us. Had we known about one another sooner could we have trained together? Maybe if we had a chance to confer with each other we would learn of our opponent's weakness and taken it down. At the very least we could insist on wiping down those mats with Lysol.

My previous battle had crushed my will to fight. I hated taking a fall. My inner spirit was screaming to fight like a badger but my body was spent. Being pinned down by chronic illness was changing my own perspective and I didn't like it.

Knowing that I'm not the only one wrestling with the myriad of body flattening symptoms makes me proud to take to my feet again.

That's why I'm not going to take another fake fall. Why should I let Sjogren's win without a decent fight? If it knew that we all have decided to fight like badgers maybe we could turn the crowd and refs to our favor? Maybe the refs will finally see some of those illegal moves and Sjogren's would be disqualified from competing all together.

My wrestling shoes are hung up for now but I'm heading back to the arena to cheer on my fellow athletes.
Fight! Be brave! And don't you look awesome you badger you!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Brush of Autumn

Falling with grace by Memotions
Falling with grace, a photo by Memotions on Flickr.
Found this gorgeous photo taken by Patty O'Hearn Kickham. A beautiful image of a leave captured taking it's final tumble down back to the earth. Falling gracefully to help feed next year's youthful spring.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Waiting For Grace to Come

I have this sort of routine every day where I greet the day with my garden boots on, cup of coffee in hand, cell phone in the other and cat at my side.

What started out as a means of escape from the early morning school rush madness has turned into a morning meditation. With one step outside I am transformed from ciaos to tranquil peace.

My cat joins me in this daily practice. She demands it really. She has a slight addiction to "the nip", the catnip being one of the many herbs I have on the patio.

Well...hard to deny a habit with bits of the evidence on your nose. 

I usually sit for a brief moment while she snaps off nip leaves and smacks her way into morning bliss. While I take in deep breaths and sip more coffee she slinks off, down the few steps that lead passed the pool to the little chunk of yard I've claimed for the garden.

As she brushes against my garden boots while wandering the yard I scan from the ground to the sky. In the words of Brother David Steindl-Rast, "We so rarely look at the sky." It's always a stunning display of clouds here in Texas.

I soak up the morning's sights, sounds, smells and take inventory of sorts of how my body is "coming to" that day. And I'm grateful. I feel grounded and grateful for even if this is the only quiet peace I have that day, I know I can always call it back tomorrow.

In a Facebook post by writer Elizabeth Berg she refers to a similar practice her friend does every day. She writes of her friend's experience, "She sits for ten minutes every morning, essentially waiting for grace to come. And it always came, in one form of another."

Ms. Berg explained that she tried it herself and she found the same experience. "Grace came, usually in the form of a kind of peace. A stillness inside that makes for a shifting of priorities, so that it was easier for what should matter most to matter most."

I can't find a better way to phrase this morning meditation better myself. Grace comes- and not always in the form you think it might.

Nature goes on and if you ask it how, and you're patient enough to wait for her answer, she'll show you.
Hummingbird egg shell. Grace and beauty come in all packages. 

I bring my phone outside with me because it has an awesome camera and I love to capture these little gems of grace. Some days nature's grace takes on simple forms, like a lady bug. Yesterday it was tiny blades of grass in the most beautiful shades of green only matched by Crayola. Grass growing in our yard during a long drought is amazing.

Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you; You need only be still. 

Carve out a little time daily to be still and wait. Wait for it...wait for it...and there. There it is. Grace.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Falling San Fran Style

If it's been a while since my last post, you'll have to forgive me. I was out...shhh...having FUN

A couple of weeks ago I tagged along with David to San Francisco to hang out with him while he attended VMWare's 2013 Defy Convention. While he attended seminars and workshops during the day, I could hang out in the hotel room and relax. 

I am so glad that my previous "what ifs" were met with "so whats" when I suggested that maybe I wouldn't feel well enough to travel. 

"If you have a flare then you can just relax in a nice, quiet hotel room and just concentrate on taking care of yourself." David said. 

He was right. It was a blast. Besides Hawaii, I think California draws me in and swoops me under it's wing like no other place. San Fran just has a spirit that is unique and vibrant.  

We stayed at Wyndham's Parc 55 which is located in Union Square, perfectly located near the cable car station. When we checked in we had plenty of time to freshen up and then hop on a cable car and head to the pier. 

Seriously, I could just ride the cable cars all day and I'd be happy. The clickety clack of the gears, the dings of the bell at every stop, the commotion of people hopping on and off and the sights along the way is just child like fun. 

If you're thinking that I will tie in my falling with grace theme into cable car riding, you're wrong. I'm happy to announce that I did not take a tumble off of the famed trolleys, as I was previously terrified that I would. 

First, there would be much fun exploring as much as we could between workshops and naps. 

One night we ate at one of San Fran's oldest steak restaurants, John's Grill. When the waitress placed this beautiful plate in front of David,  I would swear I heard a slight whimper. 

He had ordered the surf and turf platter which was a combination of sirloin and shrimp. 

David looked at his plate and whimpered, "It looks like a little meat medallion." 
I couldn't help but let out a cackle as the waitress explained that the menu did say "petite" sirloin. Thank God for the sour dough bread.  

Did I mention that they hand out samples at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory? And if you stand on the street you can position yourself to stand right between the chocolate factory and the Boudin Sour Dough Bakery. It's like standing under an air duct from Heaven. Really. 

We decided on one day that we would take a tour bus through the city so that we could take in as many sights as we felt up to. The tours are a great deal as you can hop on and off as many times as you like. With buses arriving every 30 minutes you can really experience a lot. 

I didn't want to temp fate so we stayed on the bus for most of the tour. The highlight was riding on the top layer of a double decker bus while crossing on the Golden Gate Bridge. 

While waiting for the fog to burn off we hung around Golden State Park North for a while. 

Well...we decided that we could hop on a separate bus that would take us down to Sausalito. We would just need to stand and wait for our bus's arrival. 

It was windy and I had watched this poor bike riding lady's hat get blown off of her head three times in a row. It being very windy, the hat would twirl around and around on Golden Gate Park's heavy pavement. I jumped to her aid to retrieve her hat. 

That's when a gust of wind thrust me into the same vortex the hat was twirling in. I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland spinning and spinning all the while holding on to Bike Lady's hat. After the second spin I thought that David would have grabbed me for a little assistance. It didn't come so off I went into my third and most graceful spin. 

By then, Bike Lady was reaching out for her hat as I apparently had my arm outstretched to hand it to her. 

The Golden Gate Park's brisk wind pulled me back to an up right position and all was well. No clapping. No waiting for the judges's scores. Just the knowledge that I did indeed fall gracefully by the Golden Gate Bridge. 

David explained that he didn't come to my aid because I merely looked like I was doing pirouette. Maybe after watching a week's worth of street performers he thought I was just putting on a little show.  

Nothing was bruised, not even my ego as I suppose it was a stunning example of how to fall with grace. We were off to our next stop, Sausalito. 

Dyed with crushed grapes.

Our last night in San Fran, David surprised me with a guest pass to attend VMWorld's Defy Conventions's last night party. 

Giant's Stadium was turned into a gigantic carnival with free midway games, rides and to top the night off, a performance by Imagine Dragons and Train! 

As I stood there with stuffed animals tucked under each arm, a churro in my left hand and a glass of chardonnay in my right, I was so glad that I tagged along. 

To top off this Falling With Grace post, I'll add this bit of foolish play:

I'm off now to find a piece of stray Ghiradelli chocolate that MUST be in the bottom of my carry on. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

From Tiger Cub to Eagle

In the fall of 2001 I was driving my son through the carpool at school. We drove past an entire camp site arranged on the school's front lawn complete with pitched tent, fake campfire, fishing rods and a man sitting by the "fire."

My son smashed his face and hands against the window and declared, "I want to do THAT!"

The display was the cub scout pack's way of inviting new members to join their pack. There were signs inviting students to join them at their next pack meeting.

My son couldn't wait. We went to the meeting and my son was hooked. He joined as a Tiger Cub and was so proud to wear his uniform. He was ready for the next meeting which would begin with the year's guided programs.

The next week our country experienced our 9/11 attacks. The leaders of the pack decided to go ahead with the planned pack meeting as it was good for the boys to retain some order.

We all gathered solemnly in the school. It was the right decision to meet and even though we were all still stunned by the tragedy of attacks, it was clear that it was good for the boys to have some normalcy.

In the opening of the meeting, the Cub Master addressed the group. Speaking to both the parents and the scouts, he explained that the tragic events that had unfolded made the skills scouting will teach the boys that much more important.

He went on to explain that the programs teach scouts to be self reliant, strong leaders of the community that will know just what to do in a crisis. They would learn skills that will help them survive. The boys will learn emergency first aid so that they can help themselves and others in a crisis situation. As scouts they would be part of the solution to a catastrophe because they would know what to do.

I am thankful for all that scouting has taught my son since those first few lessons all the way through his journey to become an Eagle Scout.

It is with great pride to announce that my son has been awarded the highest rank in Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Rank.

My son Cole shared his Eagle Court of Honor with his old friend Ethan, which made it even more special.

Preparing for the Court of Honor, I was digging out memento items to share with guests at the ceremony. We shared some of his favorite things...and not so favorite. Not so favorite would be the rather picassoesque basket he wove for his basketry merit badge.

It brought back fond memories of being a Den Leader and David as Scoutmaster. For myself, it was very rewarding to be a Room Mom in class and overhear a scout say, "Hey, I learned about this at my last den meeting!"

As the teacher looked at me for confirmation, I nodded and smiled, "Yes. Yes you did."

Boy Scouts is still a great organization that I am proud to have been a part of for so many years. It's taken a few hits here and there and it seems like there are controversies popping up with each year. It's evolving just as our nation is.

The Scouting Program is designed to fit so many faiths, cultures and physical challenges. There is a group out there for everyone and I encourage those to find the best fit for their son.

I'm adding a copy of the movie that my Aunt Janet created that shows some of his journey from Cub Scouts through Boy Scouts. It's a beautiful way to honor Cole's achievements and journey to reaching the rank if Eagle.

Friday, June 28, 2013

She's Baaaaaack.

If I'm not mistaken, I think I may have survived another Bug Camp. I'm just coming to...feeling a little groggy still as if I've been drugged.

A quick scan of my surroundings and I am quite certain that I have indeed persevered through a harrowing week of the daunting exploits of a 5 year old. Not just any 5 year old, I might add. My niece, aka "da Bug"...my God Daughter. God will gladly mention to you that I conjured up a few requests for miracles as I tackled the expectations of my happy camper. 

As I sip my coffee the whispers of "what was I thinking?" are being hushed away by the distinct knowledge that I HAVE SURVIVED. I am a breathing specimen of the capacity of the human spirit to NOT GIVE UP under any amount of pressure. Or whining. 

Grab your own cup of coffee my fellows and let me recount to you the triumphant ordeal as the memories come back to me. 

I seem to recall being poked awake. The air was cold and the wind was brisk. The 5 year old was ready for her first day of "Ohn Mamie Bug Camp". Something average for breakfast was unheard of and the point was clearly made. 

"I would like to have something that I have never ever had before", were the words uttered. 
Having made Mickey Mouse pancakes for dinner the previous night, it was obvious that I needed to consult my fellow camp counselors for ideas. 

The suggestion was made by "Unka Davin" that perhaps a trip to Rusty's Tacos would pass for "something never had before". 

Rusty's Tacos...cheesy breakfast tacos. Cheesy Eggy Tacos for da Bug. 
As the sun broke through the morning clouds it led to the supreme opportunity for the 5 year old to witness a sunroof open, letting in Texas fresh air. Also a rare chance to stick her head out of the window like her dog Zoe Belle.

Our first Bug Camp field trip was to visit the esteemed Perot Museum of Nature and Science. While at first the idea of going to a museum was poo-pooed, the chance to race a dinosaur was intriguing to our guest. 

There was talk of a camping trip which would eventually be ruled out due to weather. Perot Museum to the rescue. Wah lah...a camping trip. 

Look what stumbled into our camp site- a Bug Turtle!

The next days were filled with the usual camp activities.


Wearing down the camp counselors: 

Dress Up Day with one of Ohn Mamie's old gowns:


Thrill rides:

Stuffed Animal Dentistry
Cookie Baking

By the end of the week of swimming, coloring, singing, guitar strumming, baking and cat pampering the 5 year old began to get homesick. That's when she could be heard singing in the 3 way mirror a tragic song about having a fish, a dog, something about the Holy Spirit, a Mom, a Dad...and how she should be with her family. She was ready to go home. 

Bayleigh (Bug) packed up after the 2nd Annual  Bug Camp
So, my dear friends...as I fall gracefully into Sjogren's Recovery Mode I leave you with this last thought. Enjoy life. Surviving IS living, so get out there and give it a go. It's worth it. It really is. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hydrating Nixie, A Symbol of Hope for Sjogren's Syndrome Sufferers

A few months ago Julia Oleinik, writer of Reasonably Well initiated a challenge to create a piece of art that would become a symbol of hope for those suffering with Sjogren's Syndrome. 

Julia wrote: 
I've felt for a very long time that we sjoggies need a mascot, or a symbol, or something that represents us. Something that is immediately recognizable to other sjoggies. Something that needs no words. Something that identifies one sjoggie to another instantly.

I gave the idea thought. Lots of thought. We sort of really need something. Isn't the thought of a super hero of sorts swooping in to save the day a lovely thought? More than entering a contest, I was really interested in exploring what my icon of hope might look like. 

So I shuffled down to my son's bedroom and flopped onto his bed to rest while my foggy brain sorted ideas out. 

"There is an art contest of sorts, a challenge to create a character for people with Sjogren's. I'm having a hard time coming up with something. Maybe you can help me?" I said hanging half on and half off of his bed. 

"Sure." he said as he grabbed his sketch pad and Sharpie. 

I pounced at his willingness to help. I sat myself up as he spun around from his desk waiting for me to dictate some ideas to scribble. 

"Ok, I was thinking like a droplet of water...because we're so depleted of moisture?" 

He drew an upside down drop and added eyes, arms and mouth. He added some blue squiggles around the border. 

"Oh my gosh. That's it." I said as he looked up and smiled. 

"It needs a cape. Every super hero needs a cape...and boots. It needs super hero boots." I dictated to him. 

He added a red cape and little black super hero boots to the little thing. He looked up from his sketch pad as if prodding me to add more. 

"You know what? Maybe it should be a girl. Since 9 out of 10 patients are women maybe more would relate if it was a girl." I said as he was nodding his head as if he already knew that. 

He added a little bow on her head and gave her pretty long eyelashes. 

There she was. She was a crude little sketch but she was ready to take on what ever heist the Sjogren's Syndrome Robber could attempt. All she needed was a name for the people to cry out when she was needed. 

We looked up names that derived from water. We chose Nixie, a German name meaning little water sprite.

I am proud to introduce you to Hydrating Nixie! 

"Tah Dah!"

We entered little Nixie into the contest for fun. What Cole and I created was special to me though. To me it really was a cute little creation that was already inspiring hope. One little droplet can make all the difference to a person coping with the dehydrating effects of Sjogren's Syndrome.

Cole and I are over the moon excited that our Hydrating Nixie won the Creativity Challenge! 

She's sitting beside my laptop cheering me on right now. She helps me to not be so resentful of continuous eye dropping. She actually makes me a little thirsty, which is a good thing because my body can use the extra water. She's been cheering me up while I'm battling pain, fatigue and brain fog. 

If you are a fellow Sjogren's Syndrome sufferer, I wish you wellness today. Nixie sends misty, dewy comfort your way. 

I challenge others to create your own symbol of hope to help pick you up. It's an interesting exercise to  plunge into. What would it look like? How would it help you? Ask and you shall receive. 

Please visit Julia's blog post here to view the other Creativity Challenge Finalists. Amazing artistic expressions of hope.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

While I Recover

Until I catch up on EVERYTHING after falling behind due to double punch Sjogren's flares...may I introduce you to one of my favorite happy boosts? Meet Maru:

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Batter Up!

Sometimes life throws fast balls that are just hard to dodge. Split second choices make you hit the dirt or take the blow for the team.

Whether you're eating sand or shaking off the pain, you know that this won't be the last fast ball rocketed in your direction. 

When my son played Little League baseball he and a few other players had taken a few blows from a wild pitch. Staying in the box is a hard thing for a young player and requires some mental reconditioning. 

Mom confession time...I wish we could encase our kids in bubble wrap. Really. While new safety measures are being designed every season there is always the risk of injury.

I can't recall what method worked for my son so I just looked up some ideas. There are so many baseball sites out there with valuable advice. Good and not so good. Even the "not so good" comments really make me appreciate my son's old coaches all the more!

Most tips were very sincere in understanding the mental anguish part. I think that's probably smart. It's hard to fix something until you recognize the grasp that fear has on moving forward. Patience with a player seemed to be first on most tip lists.

Tips included:

  • Have the player stand behind a chain link fence and pitch to him/her
  • Have the player wear a glove to catch the ball. This would give the player confidence in judging when the ball would cross the plate. 
  • Teach the player how to roll his body away from the pitches defensibly. 
  • Build a wooden "box" for the player to hold his feet in.  

The "not so good" tip I read was to just keep hitting the kid with the ball until he doesn't fear it anymore. The coach added that it seemed counter productive. Ya think?

In passing my son just added that he was helped by a team mate. He told him to just slow down time. My son said that by pretending the ball was coming in slow motion it helped him keep a better eye on the ball. He was able to connect the bat with the ball more effectively which alleviated his fear of being hit.

These tips translate pretty smoothly into great life lessons too. Is life making it hard for you to stay in the box?

I have been there. In fact, I find myself dodging the fast balls a lot these days. I know what my triggers are for Sjogren's and once you've been whopped by one of those flares it makes you run like hell at the thought of another. I'm not only out of the box- I'm out of the diamond, passed the bleachers and in the car. Belted up.

So let's look at those great tips again:

  • Maybe we can learn to ask for help, our chain link fence support system.
  • Learn to catch those life lessons the first time so that the next time there will be a bank of confidence built up. 
  • Learn how to roll with life. Be flexible. Be ready for anything. Life's not always hard hits.  
  • Stand steady and firm in your own beliefs. Your footing and foundation are everything. 
  • Last, slow it down. Take time to notice every frame of your life. 

Life's gonna throw tough pitches, wild pitches and will even smack us from time to time. But if we can stick it in the box and make that gratifying connection to the bat. Crack! Whoosh! Watch that beautiful ball loft it's way up...and up...and up...and OVER THE FENCE! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Should We Really Blame a Rodent?

Punxsutawney Phil 

TMZ, you missed it. I found him and I got the scoop straight from the reclusive rodent who has been in hiding for weeks now.

Some might think that being the celebrity that Punxsutawney Phil is that he would winter in the Florida Keys or perhaps even somewhere in Brazil.

Can you imagine my surprise to spot him in a local cafe in Mayfair, Texas? At first I wasn't sure. It could have been any groundhog...wearing sunglasses. Then he ordered a "pop" with his Waldorf salad. The jig was up!

For one, NO ONE in these parts calls a soda "pop". It's always called a Coke, even if it's not a Coke but a Dr. Pepper you're wanting. Second, a Waldorf salad? Really Phil. You're worse at hiding out than you are at predicting the end of winter.

It seems the poor fella came here to Texas hoping that he could just blend in with the other prairie dogs, take in the local culture and eat some really good Tex Mex.

Turns out he's getting as much grief from the locals about his unfortunate announcement of an early spring. It's got him pretty stressed out and the Tex Mex is only aggravating his acid reflux.

So he is asking for his privacy during these confusing times and has issued the following statement:

To whom this may concern, which is apparently EVERYONE! I am but a lowly prairie creature who has been thrust upon a stage under the false pretense that I can predict the end of winter. By seeing my shadow or not seeing my shadow I am as the tradition goes, the decider of seed planting, garment storing and pedicure scheduling. 

I am under no obligation to reimburse individuals for lost personal days scheduled for picnics in the park. Gardeners are on their own for ignoring instructions on seed packets that clearly state to wait to sow until 2 weeks after the last frost. 

I am deeply sorry for anyone falling for such a silly charade. I'm a groundhog. Get a life people. And please, I respectfully ask that you leave me to live mine in peace. 

I sorta feel bad for the little guy. We were elated, uplifted and singing Phil's praises back on February 2nd. For the first time in years, people were cheering his name. We all thought that we'd have an early spring.

Then this last blast of winter rolled through and we turned on him. We turned on him like potato salad in the sun. We turned bad.

I'm sorry Phil. And I promise not to disclose the location of your new whereabouts. I would just be weary if someone invites you over for gumbo.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Anger Danger

When you trip on something, do you immediately jerk your head around in anger to see what had the nerve to stump you? I do it every time, which is ridiculous. Am I going to have it out with the table leg?

Anger is dangerous. It's no surprise that anger falls smack dab in the middle of dANGERous. 
Holding on to a grudge, bad feelings or displeasure is just weight that our spirits can't afford to hold on to. 

My mother and I talked about this topic today. My mother suffers from Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Severs Arthritis and a sick sick sense of humor.  I explained that I had recently read articles describing the link between chronic illness and anger.  

There is a pattern to my flares with Sjogren's Syndrome. I usually am in denial at first, then I feel anxiety. Pain usually brings on feelings of either irritability or anger. When I catch myself doing this I know it's time to retreat and take care of myself. 

Usually the only thing that can pull me out of a funk like that is looking at pictures of baby animals. That and videos of people falling. Forgive me. As long as no one gets hurt I am amused. That's that sick sense of humor genetic thing I get from my Mom. 

Today I'm shaking off the last twangs of a flare by reading one of my Grannie's books on Ireland. It's The Little Big Book of Ireland published by Welcome Books. It's a compilation of everything Ireland from folk tales, recipes, poetry, blessings and curses. Yes! Curses. 

Love Grannie's bookmarked pages. 

No wonder why the Irish are a spirited lot. They can let go of anger- just let it fly off the tips of their tongues. While I don't condone this behavior, I am at awe of their moxie. 

May you break your kneecap going down the steep step of your rosiest garden. 


Six eggs to you and a half dozen of them rotten. 

and then 

May your spuds be like rosary beads on the stalk. 

and when you're really angry

May your hens get disorder, your cows the crippen, and your calves the white scour, and may you yourself go blind so that you'll not know your woman from a haystack. 

So, a happy St. Paddy's Day to ya! Go about it without anger or you might fall on your arse!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My "Instant Happy" Happiness Tool

"I'm so mad I could just spit!"

What an odd expression of anger. I can't tell you how many times I heard my Grannie say that. I never thought of it much when I was a kid but it really is kind of silly, isn't it?

One of the last times I caught my grandmother saying that I told her to stop showing off. You see, I have a disease called Sjogren's Syndrome. One of the hallmark symptoms of Sjogren's is extreme dry mouth due to my auto immune system destroying my saliva glands.

She shrugged her shoulders and raised her hands as if to say, "Well, you got me kid."

The truth is that if we could just spit out our anger it would be so good for us. Holding on to angry thoughts not only is very taxing on our body but it just sucks any hope of happiness being part of our day.

I try, try and try again to remain in the present moment and not get my mind all caught up with the clutter that a bad day can attract. Angry thoughts are like the junk that clogs up the Roombas of our minds. Our minds can only suck up so much while under duress and angry. Negative stuff just binds up all the rollers. At some point you have to stop and clean out the tray, wash off the filter and untangle  those rollers.

I love a piece of artwork that Karen Salmansohn has included in her new book Instant Happy. She has drawn a picture of a woman who's head is spewing with clutter as if she's Medusa. Karen describes that ANGRY THOUGHTS MAKE YOUR MIND MESSY! 

It's as if she was sitting across the table from me with ink to paper drawing me on one of my "bad" days. She had caught me on one of my own "I'm so mad I could spit" days. It's in black and white so without the green eyes I can't be for sure but it's pretty darn close!

For years I have grown to understand the power that positive affirmations and thoughts have on our well being and happiness. Until seeing the artwork in Instant Happy I didn't see that if you don't let go of the bitter stuff there will be no room for the good stuff.

I had been under the illusion that I could just drown out the negative- flushing away the bad. Sometimes we might need a total reboot to ensure that we are starting off fresh.

Start off with a clear head and you can see the beauty in this idea also created by Karen Salmansohn at notsalmon.com  - 

To learn more about Sjogren's Syndrome: http://www.sjogrens.org/home/about-sjogrens-syndrome

Monday, February 25, 2013

Jennifer Lawrence's Graceful Fall

Last night David and I attended USA Film Festival's Oscar Night Experience. It's a fun night of glitz, glam and celebration of all things Oscar.

Each year the event is held at a local theater. In partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Oscars are streamed live into the theater. We had awesome seats this year, down front and center. It was just like being there.

I love the Oscars. As written in my post Oscar Night, I have long dreamed of snagging one of those lovely golden statues. I don't ask how, I just know that I want one. And not one bought off of eBay either. I want to accept one of my own.

The long walk that a lucky recipient must take down the isle and then up those stairs must be like a floating dream.

This year when Jennifer Lawrence fell as she took to the steps everyone in the theater gasped. What a graceful fall.

The word grace itself is rooted from the Latin word gratia, grateful. One look at this stunning photo taken by Kevin Winter and you can't help but hear Jennifer's whisper of thanks.

Her dress draped gorgeously over the steps and lit from beneath you would swear she may be genuflecting. 

Just stunningly graceful. No acceptance speech necessary.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fallin' Crazy in Love

Years ago I told David that all I wanted for Valentine's Day was the pair of Kiss Kiss bears that Hallmark was selling. Remember them? If you held their little snouts together they would "kiss" each other.

Valentine's Day came and these are the Kiss Kiss bears I received: 

To be funny David had Sharpie'd designs around their eyes to look like the rock band Kiss. Their little mouths were stitched together with a needle and thread in a forever kiss. Needle and thread skills courtesy of the Marine Corps. 

The next year's Valentine's Day he could be found in a Starbuck's gutting a stuffed animal, much to the horror of the woman at the next table.

When I was presented a little stuffed dog at the dinner table that night the stuffed dog started to play the theme song to my favorite soap opera One Life to Live

I said, "How cool! An animal that plays the theme song!" 

The song played again and again. I said I really wished I knew how to turn it off. He ripped into the freshly stitched sutures making me shriek. He then revealed a cell phone hidden inside the dog's belly  that was programmed with One Life to Live's theme as the ring tone. 

I love this man dearly and it's not just for his stitchery skills. He's kind and funny. He's thoughtful and caring. 

When I carry on long text conversations with my sister's dog Zoe, he gets it. He can't always understand what she writes because she writes with a speech impediment...but he gets it. To him there are all kinds of crazy out there and mine seems to suit him just fine. 

Sometimes people think that there is some big method to crazy love. There's not really. It's just love. 

Love ewe David! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

When I Grow Up

A lot of talk around the house these days has been about career and life plans. My son just finished his Eagle project and is working on his life plan essay. Hubby has been blessed with a new job opportunity which is a blend of years of experience. Stepson is in the process of training for the Navy's SWCC program.

So much discussion about knowledge, growth, dreams and life in general has given me time to reflect on my own experiences and dreams of the past.

When I was little I wanted to be an archaeologist. There was something intriguing about digging for treasures from the past. It seemed like life in a hands on history book, lying in waiting for someone to open. I wanted to be that person to open it, document it and reveal it's story to the world.


Today would have been the 100th birthday of Mary Leakey who was a trail blazing paleoanthropologist.
The young Mary Leakey had a love of archaeology and was allowed to participate in digs while traveling to France with her parents. Her passion for the science continued to influence her studies where she would audit university classes on archaeology and geology.

I wanted to be a Mary Leakey. Seeing today's Google Doodle of her made me see my old self's dream vision. (Alter the dalmatians for a sheepdog because I was really wanting a sheep dog like Ladadog in Please Don't Eat the Daisies back then.)

Aside from the dogs, that's me in that doodle. Looks like me. Looks like a content and happy me. It's made me wonder all day about how different my life would have been if I would have stuck to my younger self's life plan.

First, I would have learned the correct spelling of archaeologist.

Second, I would have ignored my mother's remark that it would involve more science than I was willing to choke down at the time. I would have pressed on that I wasn't swept up in the history and mystique aspect of the profession. It wasn't just about the wardrobe and awesome boots I'd be wearing. Awesome boots. Sigh.

Third, I would meet up with my sister who would have traveled the seas via a cruise line where she worked as a cruise director. Hey, if I'm making my younger self life plan work, I'm gonna make my sister's work too.

Dreams can make changes along the way to being realized. They can roll and tumble their way through life and morph into something we never could have imagined. I rather like how my life has turned out and I'm not sure I'd change a thing. And to be honest, I probably would've fallen into one of the big holes only to have my mother tell me she told me so. That's not worth the cool boots.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

When A Cyclist Falls

Many of us can remember when we first learned how to ride a bike. In one of my first posts I wrote about David teaching my son how to ride his bike. In You Fall, I Fall, We All Fall Down I explained how David first taught my son how to fall before he even talked about balance. This worked brilliantly for my son and soon he was peddling on his own. 

Cycling is a big sport in our town. David belongs to Plano Bicycle Association who has done a great deal to keep the sport safe, fun and competitive. The rides are split up into different levels of skill from novice to highly experienced riders. 

For long distance cycling the riders have their feet clipped onto the peddles. For an experienced rider this carries no great risk but a new rider must learn to pull his foot from the peddle to avoid a crash. It's inevitable, when your learning everyone tips over once.  

To hear the members speak of their own experiences of falling and then tipping the others over as well it sounds funny.  Here's a first person perspective of the infamous clipless pedal fail.

Humorous tales aside, the sport can also be dangerous. Hazardous road conditions, distracted drivers, poor knowledge of cycling rules and climate can affect ride safety. 

The ability to know one's own limit is probably one of the most important skill cyclists might overlook. While many set goals at a reasonable pace there are those that would like to compete at a higher level. When it becomes less about improving your own performance and more about the quest for winning at someone else's challenge things can spin out of control. 

I've been interested to tune into Oprah's interview with Lance Armstrong which aired on the OWN Network this week. 

Honestly, I wasn't shocked to learn of his use of banned substances. What did stun me was how many opportunities along the way that he had to come clean. As time progressed it seemed like he created a delusion of the impact of his own actions. 

Clearly we know that the practice of cheating wasn't isolated to Armstrong himself. We all know that doping isn't isolated to the sport of Cycling. Further yet, doping isn't isolated to sport. Winning at any cost has sunk it's way into the lives of our youth. Scoring drugs to out perform others in the world of academics is on the rise. 

I can appreciate a person's right to achieve his or her greatest potential. To push yourself harder to reach a goal or milestone is human. To let it all go to our heads perhaps is where our faulty human genes sets us apart from the other creatures. To know when enough is enough, we still have a long way to go.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Emily Thorne Uses Windows 8?

One night this week Hubby and I went out to dinner at a local Greek restaurant down the street. It's going to be another crazy few weeks so we wanted to take some time to enjoy a nice, quiet meal and each other's company while we can.

As usual we were greeted warmly and sat in the dining room. We love Kosta's not only for the great food but also because of the cozy atmosphere. It's a great place to really enjoy your meal and actually hear the people you're seated with. 

Over a glass of wine David and I replayed the events of the busy previous weeks. My sister had driven up with my niece, the "preen-cess." That gave us lots of material to replay for a laugh or two. Our conversation became muted once we started devouring our salads. 

In our quiet I couldn't help but hear the discussion at the next table. While stuffing fork-fulls of romaine in my mouth I became so excited. Gasp. They were talking about Revenge. Not just the act of it but ABC's hit television show Revenge. 

I leaned in to tell David, "Psst. They're talking about Revenge." 

He nodded knowing this is one of my favorite shows.

I reported to David, "She's explaining the show to that other couple perfectly. She's right. At first it was all about avenging her father's death but now it's a whole level deeper." 

David looked at me and blinked. He clearly didn't share my passion for the show but smiled. He smiled like a parent does when catching a child watching Sesame Street. How sweet. 

The woman continued to recount the previous season, "Well, she's killed off almost everyone involved. We weren't sure where they were going to go with the series this season." 
"Oh, yes?", the other woman said. 
"Yes. It's been taken into a whole other direction. It's been quite interesting actually." the woman explained. 
One man from the table inquired, "Now, this is the show that takes place in the Hamptons?" 

It was all I could do to keep from squealing, "Yes! Emily Thorne's beach house is gorgeous!" 

I didn't. I wanted to spin my chair around and bump myself in between the nice couple. I stopped myself. 

I looked over at David and smiled sheepishly. I was just about to apologize for not paying attention when one of the men in the group started talking about Windows 8. The couple was excited to upgrade to it but was still unsure. David almost dropped his fork. Suddenly he was eavesdropping in the adjacent table's conversation too. 

"I wish I could tell them how great it is", David leaned in to whisper to me. 

"They sound like such interesting people. We should say something. They're fun." I prodded. 

It was fun. It was big people conversation. They made watching TV sound like an intelligent use of one's time. To them Revenge was a poignant peak into the life of the rich and famous. A brilliant weaving of revenge and regret. Windows 8 is kinda cool too. 

Every now and then something happens, maybe something small, a thread the weaves through fabric of our lives and lets us all know we are connected.  Me and Revenge, David and his Windows 8 and the table next to us that provided the bond between our two interests.

photo: ABC

Then the waiter came to ask us if we would like to order dessert. Cheesecake. 2 spoons please. That's one interest we always seem to share.