Monday, August 31, 2015

Of Barbecues and Circuses -

There's a Polish proverb with the catch-line becoming a popular phrase:

Several years ago I had a therapist tell me that she and her husband (second marriages for both with children) decided they would not get involved in each other's ex or children issues. When one would bring up their ex or children from their first marriage, they would say, "Not my barbecue" as a way of saying, Keep me out of this, not my issue, not my problem, not necessary, keep the peace.

Well, Scott and I have tried our best to be involved in each other's lives - which includes children, and when issues in today's world come up, we work through things together. Yet when issues are brought up from the past, that need to be dealt with today, the "Not my barbecue" phrase becomes relevant. It's a reminder to not put our noses, and opinions, where they don't belong.

I've adopted that phrase for many areas of my life. My friend, Marv, likes to call me "Mother Russia," because it always seems, to him, that I'm caring for someone or something, or worrying about someone or something, or getting in to the fix-it mode. And, I probably do, but over the years I've learned when to not solve the world's problems, and this is where "Not my barbecue" comes in handy.

It's a great phrase for really stepping back and acknowledging I have no reason to be involved, to involve myself, or to try and work through someone else's issues.

Child late for dinner? Not my barbecue - then I don't have to get upset, ask questions, worry. They just are late, their issue, not mine.

Student begging to be added to a class he/she was too late in registering for? Not my barbecue - I can't change the lateness or the lack of course offerings.

Neighbor who is just a little too needy and seems to need to know everything? Not my barbecue - I can do what I can do, but part of the issue is her need to be needed, not mine.

Colleague who is always pissy and whiny and wants to pull me into issues? Not my barbecue - I'll stay in the mood I want to be in, not buy in to her's.

Prices at the restaurant higher than usual, and someone wants me to complain? Not my barbecue - I'm fine, it's you who's bugged.

Friend who says, "You really should . . ." meaning, "Could you do this for me?" Not my barbecue - I'll support you, but I'm not getting involved.

I have the urge to stick my nose where it doesn't belong? Not my barbecue - steer clear.

Deep desire to tell my adult children how they should behave, what they should be doing, impart wisdom, when not asked? Not my barbecue - I reared them to be responsible adults, let them be.

It is awesome to have this "cop out" in my "responsible for myself" tool box. I typically use this phrase to myself, so I don't get pulled in to someone else's nonsense, and Scott has seen this phrase in action - arms bent at the elbow, hands out to my side with palms facing back, a flip of the hands forward, with a nod of the head, repeating - "Not my barbecue," is so freeing and empowering. I give myself the permission to walk away, to step back, not get involved, not put my nose where it shouldn't be, not walk into a situation where I don't belong, and not to get emotionally invested in something that is of little or no consequence to me.

"Not my barbecue," she says, boldly, bravely, and then she walks away.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Adventure -

I am a sucker for an adventure - I love to travel, explore, learn, experience, discover! I know my boundaries physical exploration, risking my body, is my least favorite - but then I made it through cancer treatments, and that was quite the adventure!

I like to try new foods, visit new places, take the unpaved trail, the dirt road, the small town. How about a new hairstyle, rearranging the furniture, eating peaches with basil, grapefruit with chocolate. It's one of my most favorite things - adventure - 

Every new semester brings with it an adventure and a challenge - take 23 students, mostly strangers, get them to talk with each other and me by the 3rd class, create a community that is engaged and learning. Quite the experience! 

I've been seeking new adventure - what am I thinking - and it is just around the corner, with processes just about finished. I'm excited. 

In the meantime - this showed up via email this morning: 

“Then, one day, when you least expect it, 

the great adventure finds you.”  

Another of my favorite adventure quotes is this: 

"Go out for adventure, come home for love." 

This has been a motto of mine for years - decades. I'm not seeking outside love and recognition, just adventure. I have all the love and support I need in my home, my heart. 

May you all find a little adventure this week - it's worth the energy! 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

School Starts - UVU -

I've been going to college since I was 32. I am 56! I love learning, teaching, being among 20 year olds, watching them, listening to them, seeing what they are wearing, what is important to them. Every year when I step onto campus I feel like I am the one who has changed, and for 24 years the college campus has remained the same. It's almost as if I'm stepping back in time, and I love it. I feel secure in this environment.

Ladies and gentlemen, the world is in good hands - 90% of my students are amazing, and I trust them, honor them, and I look forward to collaborating with them.

I am teaching 3 1010 (exploratory writing) classes this semester. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30am to 2:15pm.

Today's conversations will begin with:

Share one thing you did this summer that was unique -
Share one thing you did this summer that was normal -

I look forward to hearing what they have to say.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Chemo Brain and US News -

Last year,  mid-September,  I wrote a post on chemo brain. I'd link,  but I'm working from my tablet,  and I can't figure out how to do that.  Anyway,  Living Beyond Breast Cancer,, shared it.  A week ago I received a call from an LBBC media rep.  Lisa Esposito, from US News wanted to write an article on chemo brain, could they put her in contact with me.

We had a great conversation,  and the story came out today.  Very nice, and I don't think she misquoted me or took things out of context.  Good reporter!

Here you go -

Thanks for the opportunity to share,  Lisa.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

All My Ex's Live in Texas -

This story got me thinking about two of my ex's.

Last week Tempest turned 5. 5 years old, and I remember the moment she was born - seeing her beautiful top lip, knowing it was exactly like her mother's, and feeling so blessed to be at her birth. I've been blessed to be a part of her life, she was one of my biggest cheerleaders as I went through my cancer journey, and we have tons of fun together. But - this post isn't about darling Tempest.

This post is about my ex. Our divorce was final 12 years ago, right around this time of August. We were married 25.5 years (almost a marathon!). We had a troubled marriage, and I blame a lot of that on being too young to marry, living too close to a controlling father (his), and growing apart rather than together.

We've both remarried, we live in the same valley. We have rarely spoken since our divorce, coming together, congenially, for children's marriages, grandchildren's births and birthdays, a couple of funerals, that's it. And we've greeted each other with a civil buddy hug, then quickly separated and tried to not make eye contact with each other.

I tried, once, at Tempest's blessing (similar to a christening), to have a conversation, just to tell him how grateful I was that we were able to rear such beautiful children, but I think I scared him, and that conversation didn't happen.

Last week his wife did not come with him to the celebration. Scott and I, and my mother, arrived, I said hi and hugged other family, then walked to him, seated on the couch, he stood, we hugged, and then I sat down, next to him, just to see what would happen.

We visited! It was mostly a catch up on the latest news we'd heard about each other's lives and family, through our children, but we conversed. It was interesting to visit with him. In some ways I could have probably finished his sentences, and in others I was speaking to someone I'd met in the elevator. Small talk with absolutely no commitment. We were comfortable, and the conversation was good, and I had so many questions for him, so many things I wanted to share. I wanted to say to him, "Good to see you my friend, good to see you again, my friend," and as Scott and I left that evening (so glad it was Scott I was going home with), I wondered if we'd ever have a chance to do more than lightly catch up. I wonder if he'd even care to.

Several years ago, and I was single, I had a friend who became more than a friend. And we talked, long distance, for several months, making plans for a long-term visit. We shared, played 50 questions via telephone and email, and these conversations allowed both of us to look at our lives, our dreams, our motivations. In the end, we separated, and we have not seen each other since. He lives on the East Coast, I'm deep in the West, and yet there are times I yearn for a conversation with him, even in an elevator - just to catch up. I want to say the same, "Good to see you," to him. But it will never happen, ever. 

I find it extraordinarily interesting that I can hear a song, read a blogpost, smell a particular scent, see a waxing moon, feel humidity in the air, and I am in a place where I want to share with an ex, and I can't. So I send out a little beam of gratitude - for the good times, the bad times, but mostly, for today and for the memories that surround my todays. 

And - Scott is not one tiny bit jealous. (Fist bump.)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Post-cancer Treatments - Healing -

Scott and I work out every morning. It's either a trip to the gym/Cody, or a 45 minute walk. We get our exercise in, and we're allowed the time to visit, uninterrupted, before our day gets hectic.

This morning we were talking about the need for post-cancer treatment. After I finished my treatments, my doctors said, "Go home, sleep, get healthy."

Pretty vague, but that's all I really wanted at that time.

What I wish now they would have said, is this - "We're now going to turn you over to our post-cancer treatment center. Here you will have medications, vitamins, supplements, support, diet, exercise, that will help you as you put your body back together."

See, I was brought in, given a chemo tutorial, a radiation tutorial, and away I went, with my "care team" killing the good and bad in my body. But where was the care team that put me back to health? There are cancer support groups, online chat groups, "alternative" medicines, coaches, but where is the medical world when it's time to heal? Where's the package? Shouldn't there be physical therapy for post-cancer, just as there is for post-surgery?

I've had to find that on my own. And the hit and miss of this aspect of healing has been very frustrating. Turning my healthcare back to my primary care physician has not been the answer. Hormones, thyroid meds, anxiety meds have not healed me. I've had to be very assertive, at some times aggressive in finding my way to healing. And I don't think that's right! Kill me, but don't heal me! Phfff.

These days I'm exercising, lifting weights, eating clean, taking supplements, drinking lots of water and green tea, and spending some time each day reflecting and dreaming.

It's been almost 3 years since I found my lump, and I'm still finding my way to health. Bizarre.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Comfort and Prayers -

My dad's in a precarious spot right now - his health is not holding. Prayers of comfort, both for him and my mom would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks -

Friday, August 7, 2015

Proofreading -

I spend a significant amount of time reading and editing. This summer I've been editing a Business English course. I have to be super-critical about the material I'm reviewing - watching for numbers and numerals, quotation marks, commas, periods, spacing, indents, overuse of words such as that, you, misspelled words, font size, and the list goes on and on.

Then when I read for pleasure - I find myself doing the same thing - Aaaha - found a typo, way too many you's in this paragraph, shouldn't that period be inside the quotation marks? And the list goes on. Often these errors leap off the page at me. In fact, I can read a sentence or paragraph two or three times, if it doesn't make sense the first time, to try and figure out where the error is. I think, "Where was their proofreader/editor?" "Obviously the publisher was sloppy."

This makes me a good teacher, a good editor, but it makes me critical of what I should be enjoying.

I've been thinking about that - It's one thing to be professional, critical, but it's another to be engaged in the content rather than critiquing the content.

In life, this likewise applies. I can be the proofreader, the critical one, looking for, and finding, fault in others, in myself, for that matter. As I've been caring for my father these past 2 weeks, there are plenty of times I have found fault - feeding tube kinked, nurses who didn't respond as quickly as they should have, pain meds that don't do their job, a doctor who was a little too knife happy, a room just a little too cluttered.

I have tried, diligently, this time with my dad and my mom, to, rather than be critical, be compassionate. What am I to learn from this experience? How can I be better because of what I've seen and heard? How can I be honest without being hurtful? Am I asking for too much? Can I be patient with the process? How can I care for others, make this experience good for them?

The response has been amazing, if only to me. Instead of finding fault, I have overlooked mistakes (not ignored, but a choice) and in doing so, have found peace, and ultimately, joy in this journey. And honestly, it's easier - not being the proofreader allows for me to enjoy the surroundings, the message. I'm tired, my eyes are tired of reviewing, I need a rest, I need to do something for enjoyment, but joy has filled my heart. I am not frustrated, not anxious, not upset with the situation, because I have chosen to overlooked the "" that aren't up to my standards, the over use of "that" when "who" would be better, and in doing so, I have been able to focus on the content - Dad and Mom.


Lord, by Your grace, 
please replace my critical spirit with 
Your love and compassion for others.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Beggars -

"For behold, Are we not all beggars?"

I see this time and time again working at the hospital, teaching at the university, and in my daily life.

What are you begging for? What do you want so much that you are willing to stand on the street corner, with a sign, and ask a stranger for?

"Don't we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers?"

And - one step further - what are you willing to give to a beggar - one who you do not know circumstances, status, need? Can you say you have done all you could?

Seldom do I post something religion specific, but in this I find a connection -

Financial assistance         Space               Generosity             Trouble
Shelter                           Food                 Grades                  Return
Friendship                      Peace                Leniency               Change
Relief                            Care                 Understanding        Water
Forgiveness                    Family              Faith                     Touch
Another minute               Health              More                     Tolerance
Job                                Wealth              Love                     $7.96
Time                              Hope                Mercy                   Chance

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dad - Liminality -

August 2 is my father's birthday; he'll be 84.

On July 27 my father had hip replacement surgery. It has been a week of wondering - will he live, will he die, will he rally, will he diminish, and then - what would he want. He was supposed to leave the hospital for rehab on Thursday. He didn't, and complications due to, well, stuff, mean he may, or may not, leave the hospital this next week.

It has been a liminal week - where the routines get lost in the "crisis at hand." My family is great when dealing with crisis - we know the business. We know how to drop the every day and move into motion to deal with the "event." Priorities are dropped, what was important is no longer, and what filters to the top is typically family - not nails, not swimming, not webinars, not concerts, not . . . He's not dead; he's certainly not among the living; and we're "not sure" what is next. We're all in that liminal space - in fact, a hospital is a clear example of liminality - waiting, wondering, waiting. To patients - crisis; to staff - work, every day, same thing.
July 2010, Dad, my sister, Sheri (one of those who cleared her calendar and stayed).
There are 7 of us kids, 3 of us daughters live nearby, and we have juggled home, work, family, to spend time with Mom and Dad - because both of them are in crisis.

We've had frank talks, we've laughed, we've been angry, we've talked about dying, living, last wishes, goals, and we've filtered the news from the doctors and hospital staff to our other siblings, family, friends.

It's been a circus - but one we're very comfortable with being a part of. An observer, this week, said, "Looks like you've done this before." I said, "Well, does living in the hospitality industry - whether for profit or pleasure, count? Does being an entrepreneur count? Does being an event planner count?" Because see, we know how to plan, how to shuffle, how to deal with the minutia and the grandiose, in a relatively calm fashion. It's in our genes - in our upbringing - in our makeup as Walkers and as Mormons. We know how to serve one another, how to get outside of ourselves, how to let others be in the limelight while being the messenger.

August 2 is my father's birthday - August 3 - we'll cross that bridge tomorrow. One. day. at. a. time.