Choosing Life…

25 Nov

Life, in the eyes of a medical professional, is determined by beats and breaths. This is true wheather the patient is a newborn babe starting out or a loved one taking their final breaths after a long and happy life. Pro-life and Pro-choice supporters can argue their views on when life begins. But most will agree when it comes to life’s final hours there is a great difference between having a life and living a life.

Living is in part what one chooses to do with the span of time between that first lusty breath and that final feeble gasp. Recently, a 29 year old female made the decision to die on her own terms. Facing an abbreviated life from a terminal disease she chose to live her final year without treatment. She made national news by announcing she had chosen to choreograph her own final breath. The date was set and after saying her good-byes, she quietly left this world.
Reading many comments on countless articles, before and after her death, left me wondering. No, I am not an advocate for –or against those states providing this death with dignity statute. I am also not a 29 year old cancer patient facing a death sentence.
Some say her decision was selfish, others applaud her actions. She chose to live in the short life span she had and end that life on a day of her choosing. Her actions define clearly the difference between life and living.

Finding myself facing one of life’s challenging change points–in no way near a comparison to what Brittany Maynard faced…I find myself wondering if my current life path will leave a legacy. No, I’m not suicidal, just taking inventory. Am I truly living or am I just alive? This question was posed to me yesterday as I was being examined by a new doctor.

After baring my back in order to listen to my lungs he paused. I assumed he may have been warming the stethoscope so as not to place the icy device against my warm flesh. He was not…he was reading my newest tattoo. Turning to look me in the eye he responded, “‘Live Loving the Journey’ (what is now inked on my back) That is a very good philosophy to have. Let us hope this evaluation will allow you to do just that.”

There was a feeling of peace as the exam continued. Much later his query returned…discovery came to me slowly. After years of role playing through dysthymic relationships, my new life philosophy emerged. I gambled, and took a risk in order to learn how to feel…to live being real for perhaps the first time. Was it the best decision? I will never know. What I do know is what it feels like to share passion, to listen without words and how to let go.

Time to take the emotional training wheels off. I’m better having memories of one genuine relationship than to have countless, faceless, meaningless ones. Even if it means for now my heart feels wounded. Learning to feel takes energy and action and yes, is not without pain. Feeling is the key and a giant leap forward on my journey.

So for now…Walls up, heart a bit battle worn and alone but still living the journey and learning to love.

Too Hot to Handle

28 Oct

Recently I burned my hand while reaching for a very HOT curling iron. Some how I managed to grab the ceramic barrel instead of the handle. Leaving behind a palmful of skin for my efforts. In that moment a host of “home remedies” flashed across my mind…I remembered my mom saying to put butter on a burn. Now I love real butter and enjoy it on a variety of foods but somehow it just didn’t seem the right thing to do. Aloe is a natural wonder for burns…but only if it is available. Then I recalled the flour fix, and grabbed a handful of the white powder holding it tight in my fingers as long as I could stand. Rinsed in ice water I expected to see my pealing flesh. To my astonishment I had not a single blister. My palm was red and tender, as were my fingers, but not even one blister. What have I learned beyond the obvious? Some may say I must have desensitized my hand so the burn didn’t hurt. But let me tell you, if not for the “little ears” present I would have exhausted my vocabulary of every word of lament as a result of the burn. As I examine my hand I can sense where the blistered flesh had been. Yet beyond that. there was little to show for my blunder.
Now I had a choice to make. I could either learn from my experience or choose to never again use the implement or anything resembling what caused the pain. Sounds crazy right? My closed minded friends might argue their point that life is always BLACK or WHITE with no room to grow and change. It was not the device that caused my injury–it was my distraction. Life is filled with distractions. It is only by learning how to handle those hot topics that we grow. Mere avoidance, head in the sand, mentalities do little more than add to an already distracted mind. The journey is so much more enjoyable when faced head on full throttle. I know I do.
And friends, yes, I still use the offending hair care device. Each time I do it is a reminder to handle those hot situations with care. My journey continues as I live loving the journey.

The Shattered Jar

28 Oct

There has been an illustration about time management shared for many years. It involves a large pickle jar and a variety of items that fill it up: rocks, gravel and sand. And much debate over each addition as to whether it filled the jar.
The lesson learned is to put the most important things in first (big rocks) while letting the rest filter through. I have even used this concept while teaching. Contemplating this philosophy today I think the concept needs revisiting–and possibly revising.
I have often felt like my pickle jar was all used up with no room to take in anything. The obvious remedy was to change some previously made life choices. How to do this without upending the whole jar? Take out one thing and rearrange the remainder add something new. It is all a game of trial and error–choices and risks.
What games of chance are you playing with your life? Are you mixed up in something that needs pulled out of your jar? In need of changing some life paths? Is your pickle jar too full or ready to spill over? Maybe your life course, like mine. has been ripped apart to the point you need a brand new jar to start over. Shattering the jar of conformity and legalistic teaching I had previously followed was my new beginning. Making wiser choices I refilled the empty places in my life and heart with no regrets.
For you my friend, and fellow traveler I suggest you take steps to insure the big things get put in first and let the rest fall into their proper place. Then time to time revisit the jar, making needed adjustments to keep it safe by guarding your heart. Shards of the shattered pieces of starting over are messy and painful lessons. The journey is yours to make and live and love.

Bedazzled

21 Oct

Have you ever put a positive spin on a bad situation? Not to be confused with making the best of a negative. The battered wife, for example, who will defend her abuser by rationalizing he didn’t beat her nearly as bad this time. We fail to remove ourselves from a bad environment because we have bedazzled it to a point we believe our own delusion.
Grandmother stood at the door patiently waiting for the family pup to return following his evening constitutional. The little girl asked why the puppy was outside but not the kitty. Grandma explained that the puppy went potty outside and it would be very unpleasant if he were to do that inside. Understanding dawned as the little girl remembered the cat had a special box for that purpose, “Oh right the kitty has a glitter box.”
The two words bear little similarity beyond rhyming and were not interchangeable One would never confuse glitter for litter. Yet there are those who try to glitter coat the negatives in their lives often attempting to entice us to follow.
Have you ever been fooled by the allure of fairy tale promises? That ‘too good to be true’ deal being offered. Most will admit that such offers rarely deliver. Hence the concept of “If it sounds too good to be true, then it is.” Unfortunately, too many people only realize after the fact that the job promotion, the corner office, the sweet deal–is nothing more than used kitty litter.
There is no glamorizing deceit. No amount of glitter should entice you to stay in a position, relationship or situation you know is unhealthy to your soul, spirit, mind or body. Don’t be blinded by the glitter…Live loving the journey seeking out the real thing.

Memories

19 Oct

There is appointed a time for all to die, yet it still manages to catch us by surprise or at the very least unprepared when those we love make that final journey. For those who have yet to experience the death of someone close to heart—there is no formula to suddenly know how to grieve. Death is inevitable, loss is loss and everyone grieves in their own way.
The woman lay so very near death. Her journey had been one with tremendous joy and love but not without struggle. Disease fought hard to rob her of her joy…and often succeeded. Yet love covers a multitude of wrong. Hiding in the shadow of the disease—a death sentence no one would ever choose if given the choice. Robbed of physical control she fought to maintain her grasp on every thought.
Privy to her thoughts for a period of time I consider myself blessed to have known her. To know she loved deeply, appreciated much and feared the end more than any other specter–not in the sense of the finality death brings but for the toll it would take on her family.
The time neared and it seemed as if her worst fear was now a reality…body and mind ravaged yet with the knowledge that her care was a heavy burden. She often prayed that her end would come quickly so as to lessen the duration for those she loved…it did not.
Her breathing shallow family members gathered to say good bye—thankful she is at least resting free of pain. The vigil begins. Though death was near, her end allowed for a respite. Jamaican’s call this “traveling” as a loved one lingers. The mind recalls every happy moment to relive it once more—to return at the completion full circle. Only then will body and soul part company to be reunited with those who have gone before. For her a husband, a son, parents long gone.
Socrates is quoted as saying “Death may be the greatest of all human blessings.” Yes, those who remain grieve for their loss but not for her release of pain. Her young great grandson—perhaps too young some might believe to grasp what was happening, is already well versed. He has been here before. His prayer a final farewell, “Jesus, God… thank you for taking my Grammy to Heaven to be with Grampy and thank you for leaving her ashes here for us.”
Ashes to ashes, Dust to Dust. The time of remembering shared. Memory stones containing ashes of the pair were incorporated into each stone. Stories were shared amid laughter as jazz tunes played in the background.
The celebration had come to a close…the plan was to launch lanterns set afire to rise, soaring on the winds releasing the grief of those who remained. One went soaring as if to lead the way and the earth behind…the second faltered —then burst into flame as if to say, “I will not be quenched. My fires will always remain in the hearts of loved ones.”
Yes, Grammy was feisty and stubborn. As I watched the lantern burn I was reminded of the fire that burned inside this woman. She left a legacy and wanted her friends and offspring to know she was still keeping an eye on them and so they better behave. I imagine on every birthday as candles are set ablaze, thoughts will turn to Grammy and smile.

I’ve Got a Secret

17 Oct

No I’m not old enough to remember the television game show, by that name, but the title seemed appropriate for my thoughts this morning. On the show…according to Wikepedia, contestants appeared before the panel and answered yes/no questions. The panelists tried to guess the secret the contestant was hiding. I’m afraid if this show were revisited today it would be more like a Jerry Springer Show than a chat with Katie Couric.
Why? Because we all hide secrets. Some are better at playing the game than others. Children are notorious for spilling the beans. Yet, I’m sure there are others who hide behind the position they hold. Over the years I have learned how to hide. Not physically hide as if in a game of ‘Hide and Seek’ but hide in plain sight. The problem then becomes how to end the game. Unfortunately there is a growing population of the unseen who choose to take their own lives rather than live in their current condition or social standing. Secrets keep us from forward motion…in a word, Stuck.
Are you feeling stuck? I hear from many who, like me, have let the game play out only to find there is no endgame. It’s a battle held within to make a conscience choice to either quit or continue the game. To do neither is to remain stuck. My secret is to shout to the world, “Hey, world, I’m ALIVE!” You have thrown hardship and negativity my way, stripped me naked and left me hanging…but I win. I choose life. Let me tell you living is much harder than giving up. It requires intentional choices and action.
I recently had the tag line of this blog tattooed on my back. The reminder to “Live loving the journey” reenforced my decision to live proactively–to live on purpose. So I pose the question to you…has your journey taken you to a place where you have become stuck? It may be a nice place–offering comfort and rest…yet at the same time confining and preventing you from moving forward. If you are not loving the journey you are on… you are not truly living it. Join with me and claim back your life. Tell the world you too are alive and have a purpose beyond simply existing for the benefit of others. Be passionate, embrace life and take action. Be strong my friend and truly live loving the journey you are on.

Turn it Around

17 Oct

Have you ever stopped to look at something simple only to discover on closer examination a new concept with tremendous depth from the observation? I have had many such observations but few as remarkable as that of the roll of bathroom tissue.
It seems there are many who battle over the “right” way to reload a roll of bathroom paper–personally I have never had a preference beyond the sincere hope that whomever used the last of the paper would in fact replace it with a fresh roll. However, there are “over the toppers” vying for supremacy against the ” down unders” dividing households.
A dear friends mother shared her logic at having a preference as to the direction of the paper. Individuals suffering with chronic pain are always on the lookout for ways to be more independent. She had discovered there is less of a struggle to reach the paper if it is dispensing from the top down and not the bottom up. Turning the roll around I found she was absolutely right. Changing the distance between roll and recipient made a huge difference. As one who struggles with muscle pain I could see how this could be the difference between self reliance and needing assistance at a particularly vulnerable and personal time.
So what is my point–after nearly a 3month hiatus from blogging I admit to being a bit rusty you didn’t really believe I had only bathroom habits on my mind did you? My point is this, as you continue on your journey, don’t be afraid to help those struggling, you may just learn something. Even if to you it may seem insignificant.
If you are currently struggling with a difficult issue, stop–try turning it around to see it from the opposite side. By changing your thinking it might surprise you and find the solution you were looking for. Doing something the same way over and over expecting different results is Einstein’s definition of insanity. After years of conditioning to respond only one way to certain life issues I now find it liberating to be responsible for my own decisions and actions.
My success or failure rests in my own hands. I am responsible for the outcome of those decisions. Yes, I do make poor choices from time to time–with no regrets. Every choice, every motive, every decision has had something to teach me. With each lesson I move closer to the me I was created to be.
Perhaps you are like me and your answer is waiting one step away and all you need to do is turn around. Change your viewpoint, look at life from another’s point of view. put a little distance between you and your troubles. Just keep moving and live loving the journey.

Approaching the Runway

16 Oct

While traveling by air recently I was–for the second time seated next to a licensed pilot. It was apparent the gentleman would have rather been flying his own plane as he explained a few of the nuances of flying to a young passenger seated between us. I listened as he expounded on such concepts as fuel consumption, navigation and time. While waiting on the tarmac he pointed out a row of lights on the runway ahead. A pilot approaching the runway can determine the their positioning by the color of the lights. If the plane was too close for a safe landing the lights would appear red. If the lights were white it indicated the plane was not at the correct angle. Only while flying at the right altitude and pitch would allow the pilot to see the lights as pink and insure a safe landing. When flying blind without benefit of instrument..the lights made it possible to land a plane in obscured weather conditions.
Wouldn’t life be easier if we could be assured of other pending miscalculations in time to correct our position? Our journey is made up of many course corrections over time. We choose to follow one path only to discover it leads to a dead end. We may start on a course of action and realize we lack the resources to complete the journey. Unanticipated delays and road blocks may force us to take an alternate route or abandon the trip altogether.
However, just like the well trained pilot, we too are able to observe what is going on around us. By keen observation we can make informed decisions that will enable us to avoid potential accidents on the horizon. It takes focusing on the right things and avoiding distractions to move us further down the path of life. Successfully navigating provides us the confidence we need to continue our journey.
My friend if your journey feels as if you are constantly flying blind with the path obscured look for the light ahead. Failing to count the cost may cause an energy crisis–providing opportunities to investigate alternative fuel choices… being unprepared to pay the price of poor decisions can be disastrous. It can also be the chance for other fellow travelers to come along side and lend a hand.
Where are you on your journey? Have you faced so many roadblocks you have stopped trying? Are you trying to move forward but running on empty? Maybe you are stuck in the current circumstances like a grounded aircraft or in a holding pattern forced to wait until the path ahead clears.
Maybe your have gotten detoured by circumstances. Don’t give up. Come in for a landing looking to the light of the world to direct you and gage your decent from there. Refuel, recharge and set a new flight plan as you live loving the journey.

The UN-Common Core of Learning

16 Oct

I visited my daughter during summer vacation and both my grand babes were sad to see the school year come to a close. I admit it did bring back memories of my own school days..of course things are very different in todays classrooms. No, I won’t regale them with the hardship of walking to school in freezing weather, up hill–BOTH ways. That was my dad’s generation.  Yet the changes due to technology has been a real difference.  as has the role of standarized cirriculum like Common Core.

So far the only thing that is common about said curriculum is the common dislike of it. My granddaughter who is a very good student, will complete the assignmnets as instructed–taking twice as long as if she completed the task the “old” way. Then spend the next 20 minutes ranting about Common Core. The one bright spot for her in regards to summer break was the absence of the standardized monster. However both my grand children seem to have excelled in spite of it.

I have to admit to wondering just what their educational system is trying to teach with some of the choices they have made. For example a school fund raiser had each family selling pies for the holidays. The incentive was for every child who sold 5 of the tasty desserts was the opportunity to “Pie the Principal”. My grandson was insenced at the disrespect it conjored in his 8 year old mind. The Principal was a nice man not deserving of being hit in the face with a pastry. Both he and his sister met the requirement for a lesser prize–however my grandson refused to attend the assembly as the Principal was indeed pelted with pies. He remained in the school office with at least 2 other staff members in protest. It earned him a reverse tardy on his Report Card but he didn’t care…he had stood by his convictions. I had to agree with my grandson–was the need for a successful fund raiser worth the disrespect ?
Don’t think me against fund raising for education. I have seen far more successful ventures with a win-win outcome. We bombard our children with more than enough examples of disrespect Adding curriculums that are more busy work than education is adding insult to the already overworked/underpaid job of many educators.
The new school year has begun and my grandson has decided there is no common sense in common core. He views the unnecessary work as redundant, busy work that he doesn’t need and refuses to do. After looking at the material I have to agree. So glad this is not my battle; win or lose for I would side with him every time. My journey continues, as I love each day loving the journey.

Hello, Operator?

7 Jul

Remember when as kids “telecommunication” meant 2 cans and a string? Today’s tots are more tech savvy at smart phone operation than many adults. I readily admit my 9 year old grandson is more adept with his tablet functions than I am with mine.

Communications has changed so drastically over the course of a generation. There are 2 former telephone operators living in my building. BOTH were of the “plug and cord connection era” and I am not speaking of a new plug and play device to load on your laptop. I imagine them more as the fictional “Sarah,” of Mayberry fame…you remember, the operator Sheriff Andy was always asking to connect him to the sheriff’s office or maybe Aunt Bea—or the satirical “Ernestine” with her snorts of laughter and witty remarks form “Laugh In” fame. Yes, things have changed.

Speaking with both of these women recently I discovered, one had the distinction of being the final operator to ask, “Number please” before the final switch to automation arrived in this small town. The other had been an operator in Ft Worth. She shared her account of working the switchboard the day President Kennedy was assassinated. It was a day she will never forget. Even with the added trunk line designated to the presidential entourage the operators could not keep up with the call demands that day and the days that followed.

These women, and others like them, were the backbone of all spoken information exchanges. They were the calm voice when a harried first time dad dialed O for operator and announced, “My wife is having a baby!” The voice of information before there was an “Information Super Highway”—a term now nearly archaic. If you were looking for someone and didn’t know the phone number you simply dialed the operator and asked for the information. Later, the 4-1-1 designator, saved a step in the process as the answering operator asked for the city and state you were calling and redirected the call.

We live in an increasingly impersonal society. Call just about any major company and the first auto-answer directs you to choose the language you prefer the auto prompts to spout. It’s frustrating to get caught in an auto response loop making it impossible to resolve your issue. Recently I made a call and nearly dropped the phone when a “live” operator answered. I shared my enthusiasm with her and she laughed…”I get that a lot”

Technology has improved many things…made our lives easier. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if we have done ourselves a disservice by removing the human factor. I will admit I need people around me at times but I’m just a guilty of fading into oblivion staring at my phone or tablet reading comments made. And yep, some of those are from friends living in my building and only an elevator ride away. Guess I will have to add some face time to my “To Do List” which, incidentally is located in my smart phone. I’m a work in progress traveling on this journey.

Long walks and dark chocolate

Life as a wife, mom, nana and follower of Christ; hoping to share from lessons learned

A Word in Your Ear

Stories and Photographs of my travels, Tales of friends, family, animals and my life

Outside The Lines

Fun readings about Color, Art and Segmation!

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