Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I Resolve To Live in Fresh Water -

When I was newly married, trying to make a happy life and comfortable home on minimum wage jobs, a friend shared this message with me - "Sometimes we are so busy existing that we forget to live." I decided I would make this my motto and do some living every day. And I have tried to live my life in an adventurous fashion.

Well - life does get in the way of living sometimes, and we often just have to endure to make it through the discouraging day, depressing week, disheveled month. And really, existing sometimes takes all the energy a person has. I should know - correct? These past 2 1/2 years have certainly been more about existing than about living. I'm alive, although quality of life does come into play. But multiple surgeries, cancer treatments, and residual side effects can only control me to a certain point.

As I've mentioned before, this healing time has also been a time of grief for me; the grief I've felt has touched me to the depths of my soul - I've grieved the loss of me, the loss of the could-haves. But I refuse to linger there, standing in that murky pool of water called existing. I'm moving forward, perhaps slowly, but pushing, one wader in front of the other; the stream is calling, the fresh water called living bids me onward.

And with this new year upon me, I am focusing my intentions on what is upstream! I can't wait to dip my toes into this new stream called 2014. My simple New Years resolutions are to live, to be excited about living.

A good goal may contain these elements:

1. Attainable - "Be kind to my spouse this year" may be unattainable, but "Work at being kinder to my partner" is doable.

2. Positive - Don't trash talk your goals. Our mind hears positives, so perhaps "Eat healthy foods" rather than "Don't eat so much junk food" is a better goal.

3. Goals should be for the individual - "Make my boss understand me," probably won't work, because it's not about you. Whereas, "Work on my communication skills" is about you.

4. Action-oriented - "Ponder on the gifts of life" isn't really measurable. Yet, "List 3 things a day I'm grateful for," is achievable.

5. Trackable - Break your goals into edible pieces. "Lose weight" is tough to track, and if you wait until November to begin that goal, you may be disappointed. So instead, "Lose 2 pounds a month," or "Exercise 45 minutes 3 times a week," may be within your reach (remember, keep it positive, so do not say, "Don't gain weight this year").

6. Specific - "Write a novel" may be a worthy goal, but can you do it? How about "January - build an outline, February - set a list of characters, May - break outline into chapters"?

7. Bring Happiness - Set goals that make you roll-out of bed with happiness rather than dread! "Live in joy each day," may bring with it a positive twist rather than "Never be grouchy."

8. Flexible - Remember you have the right to start your day, week, month, year over at any time. Just because you didn't get that outline finished in January doesn't mean you should throw away your book goal. Don't get discouraged - tomorrow is a new day.

Now remember the saying, "A goal not written down is only a wish"? So write those goals down, share them with someone who can "help" you be accountable, rather than "hold" you to accountability. And then begin!

My goals for 2014 include:

Be excited about today and tomorrow
Smile a little longer
Say, "I love you"
Do something uncomfortable
Dance a little (I'm having a Wii dance party for my birthday in January!)
Be calm, remove anxiety
Show gratitude, if only in thoughts and prayers
Be kinder to myself, to my body - I am a walking miracle

To start new means letting go as well. Some suggestions for letting go can be found here

I'm not sure which streams I may "find myself" in this new year, but I will embrace what comes my way, learn my lessons well, and pack a few of those into my knapsack, and travel on, living -

My New Year's toast to you, my friends - May you be found with a handful of happiness, a simple solution to problems, and comfort in your chaos. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Doctor's Visit

This morning I saw my radiation oncologist. I am 8 months post-treatment, and this was my second visit with his staff.

Good news - no news! Nothing could have made me happier. And I did get applause for the 20 pounds I've lost and the "How did you do it," compliments. Living a healthy lifestyle and eating correctly are so important to me, always have been, so moving toward reclaiming me is just good stuff.

My boob is still sore, particularly the region where the surgeries and radiation took place. I have glands and ducts and tissue that take awhile to heal, so I'll continue to be patient, and monitor.

Again and again I will beg you to do your monthly exams and know your boobs, or the boobs of your loved one.

So, 3 months until my next visit! Away I go - loving my breasts and my life!


Monday, December 9, 2013


So - do you come across as the dew on a spring morning's grass, or as a thunder storm on a hot summer day?

What type of person are you attracted to?

Do your children fit into either category?

Or - is this metaphor too binary? Do we gently touch at sometimes and rain down heavy some days, are we dry on some days, and blustery cold on others?

I've been thinking about this - how I come across to myself, my spouse, my kids, my friends, strangers; as well as in my written language versus my body language or my spoken words.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Last Tuesday in class I brought up two words - Homeless and Panhandling - and then watched as the conversation ran away, without any further help from me. My goal was to get my students to think objectively about a very emotionally charged topic - something they all had opinions on. We talked about binary thinking (either-or) and critical thinking (more than 2 sides to the story). It was a great discussion.

Recently an LDS Bishop (pastor in the Mormon Church) dressed up as a homeless man, and then attended his congregation's worship service, to see the reaction of his congregation; he revealed his true identity during this meeting. An interesting concept and quite the conversation starter! (A pastor in Tennessee did similar.)

Many communities are pushing for folks to not contribute money to "pandhandlers" (often showing that panhandling is a scheme and detrimental to the truly needy), rather asking those who give to panhandlers to donate to shelters and other venues that help out folks in need.

I keep thinking about a scripture in the Book of Mormon, "For behold, are we not all beggars?" I know I certainly am - whether it's begging for one more hour of sleep, for this week's budget to go just a little further, for yesterday's snowstorm to be delayed, for my honey to remember to mail a package, for my students to "please turn in your assignments on time," for the light to stay green just a little longer, for the next oncology appointment to be positive. Maybe I'm not on the street corner with a sign, but I am nonetheless dependent on the goodness of others for so much.

I don't want to be deceived, but I don't want to be hardened toward the needs of others.

Mosiah 4: 17-19. 17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Striplings and Wounds and Scars -

"Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you." ~Unknown

Many years ago two groups of people, coming from different backgrounds, fought constantly. They would battle for a city, then retreat and repair and prepare for the next fight. It became, that even within the cultures, people argued with each other, to the point that they were not watching what was going on outside of themselves. So just when this inside bickering became great and divisive, the original "enemies" prepared to attack the largest cities of these folks. 

However, during the times of peace, the men of one of the battling group decided they would live a peaceful life, they no longer wanted to be the ones who would fight, kill, or moreso, shed another man's blood. They made this pact with each other and with their families and their God, and they buried their weapons. 

It was at this time when the other group decided to attack these folks who had determined they wanted peaceful lives. 

As these people were being threatened, it was determined that something needed to be done to save their families and their communities. So as not to break their promise of not fighting, the sons of these men decided they would go to battle and protect their families from bondage and slavery and ruin. They were anxious about this, but prayed and asked God to give them the strength and direction they would need in battle. 

These boys (perhaps between 10 and 20 years old), about 2000 of them, asked a man in the community to be their leader - and he agreed. So these young men, in spite of their youth and lack of training, became good soldiers. They were successful again and again. 

After the battles were over, all of these young men returned home, victorious and changed. Not one of them had been killed - they fought, and they were not afraid of death, in fact - their motivator was the freedom of their fathers, the lessons of their mothers, and the honor of their God. They knew "that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them."

However - all of these young men arrived home with wounds - whether visible or not. Images abound of these boys going off to battle, but I have yet to see one of these young men returning home: weary, wounded, victorious, to their parents, siblings, girlfriends. (Just found this one.)

I've been thinking about this story quite a bit these past couple of weeks. Although what these young men did is held up as honorable, I'm sad they went home changed - different from when they left home - perhaps for the first time, losing innocence, gaining . . . what?

What sorts of wounds do we have? How did we receive them? Most of us have stories that surround our woundings, the time we were hurt - physically or emotionally and the outcome.

I have wounds - visible and not. But more than that - I have scars. I believe these young men came home from battle with injuries, but with the help of those who loved them, and the support of each other, the wounds healed and became scars. It is often said that scar tissue is stronger than the original tissue. I'm not sure about the science behind that, but I do know most of my injuries have healed, and I have chosen to use these scars to become stronger, better, and my scars tell the story of the battle and the victory - not loss. I don't volunteer for war, but when battles arise, I rise to the calling because of my scars, because of my knowledge that wounds do heal. Life ain't easy - we're forced into battles we don't often volunteer for, but we can learn from them; if we choose to.

I think of Jesus Christ - most pictures of the resurrected Christ show the scars in his hands. It is with those scars that we are taught He died on the cross, was resurrected, and healed - and we can be as well. Our wounds can be healed, yet our scars are the constant reminder of not only the injury, the lessons, but the fact that we can heal, that life does go on, that we can move forward.

"Every wound leaves a scar, and every scar tells a story. A story that says 'I survived'."

(The story I told? A Ronda'ized version of the story in the Book of Mormon, Alma. Often labeled "The Stripling Warriors." I'd rather think of it as "Two Thousand Strapping Young Men Who Became Strong Because of The Lessons They Chose to Learn.")