Monday, June 19, 2017

My Mom - and Change -

I received a text this morning from my mother (well, I received several, but I'll talk about one specific). She wrote, "Call me when you have a minute. I promise, it's something good."

My mother HATES change. And this year has been full of changes, and she has done a spectacular job of rolling with the newness, even when she hasn't wanted to. In fact, she's been able to make decisions on her own (tough in the past; she works by consensus); take care of insurance and money issues (she hates money issues); ask for help (where did I get my independence from?); and take a couple of road trips, all by herself.

So I wouldn't say she's embraced the changes that have come since Dad's death, but she certainly has seen that changes will happen, and she can fight them, or surrender to win.

Mom still worries, gets overwhelmed, gets overly-caught up in projects, has a tough time making some decisions, but all in all, she's doing so well!

And today, when I called her, for the good news, she said, "Oh, oops, I forgot what I was going to tell you. I'll call you when I remember." I had to laugh. Because two constants about my mom are her desire to share and her desire to keep the family informed (I wonder who else she shared the good news with, or forgot to share.)

She called me back moments later, "I remember now. You will be so proud of me. Joan and Marianne invited me to lunch with them on Wednesday. And I said Yes!"

One thing about Mom is that she doesn't like "being a burden." Like she ever could be such. And she doesn't want anyone's pity, and typically her life revolves around family. So for her to say, "Yes," is a major event, one, yes Mom, that I do consider good news.

Way to go, Mom. So proud of you. So very proud of you. Thanks for sharing!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Diamonds and Stones -

There are days when the sun shines and bird sing - however -

There are just some days, bundles of them, that feel like I am dragging a rock behind me and have boulders in front of me - that I cannot get over or around.

Since cancer I've felt like I've had more stones than diamonds, and while I'm sure that's probably not reality, these past few days, well, they've been stone and boulder days.

And I'm against a huge rock right now, not sure what to do - I wish I knew there were diamonds waiting for me on the other side.

It's just too hard to move forward into the unknown - aka crazy granite mountains. Ready for some sun - glistening, shiny, diamonds.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Three Cheers for Rigby High School - Reunion Time

I graduated from Rigby High School, May 1977. On June 16, we will hold our 40th class reunion. I am on the committee, as I was five years ago.

Ten years ago, newly married to Scott, I attended my 30th class reunion, held in Idaho Falls, ID. Not many folks knew I had divorced or remarried. Scott and I were still in our little love-bubble and trying to figure out our lives together, blending families, caring for parents, figuring out incomes, and I hadn't taken the time, nor did I think I needed to, to introduce him to my high school friends.

In fact, I really hadn't planned on attending the reunion. I wasn't popular in school - rather quiet and shy, although I think that often came across as "stuck-up." I didn't know how to small talk, couldn't even keep a conversation on a date (sorry, Kevin), I wasn't athletic, and I felt terribly awkward in almost any social setting. Thank heavens I had a few friends who accepted me as I was (forever grateful to you few), and I didn't feel alone. So going to a reunion to see "old" "friends" really wasn't my thing.

Yet for some reason, I have no idea why now, we went. I stressed over what to wear, and we braved the small daytime picnic and the larger evening reunion. It was fun seeing folks, and I was glad when the event was over.

Except for one thing. Allen Lofgran accepted the nomination to be over the next reunion, asking me to co-chair, and we invited all folks living in Utah to join our committee.

And those five years came - so quickly. The September before our 35th reunion, I messed up my back, had been down most of 6 months, and I really thought that had been my trial. I attended the reunion grateful to be on my feet without pain. I was invincible. I had made it through the back pain.

I was grateful for this reunion. We were missing two stalwarts of our class, and some of us had aged more than others, sickness had crept into a couple of lives, and I was grateful to see these classmates. Our old high school was being torn down, so we reunited at the high school cafeteria, one last time. And I was grateful I made the time to attend, even if planning was a pain. Thank you Allen, Dirk, Tammy, Sanette, Renea, Trudy, Diane, Gary, Kevin, LaRae.

Who knew that just one week after this reunion I would find a lump in my breast. Here I was congratulating myself on conquering back issues, and cancer jumped at me. Dare I say it's F'd up my life? Yeah, it has. At times these 5 years have been nearly more than I can handle. Scott and I, and family have not only lost the life we'd planned, but three parents have died, we've had a bundle more grandkids born, and even when I thought my life was really truly over, life continued to happen. Nothing could have prepared me, no one could have told me, and yet, time marched on, as I marched on.

And here it is, time for the 40th reunion, this week. And I'm scared - I weigh more, I have aged, I'm more cynical, more introverted, tired, and honestly - I still feel as I did when I graduated all those years ago - shy, quiet, not-belonging, and not sure if this group of people really need me at the reunion. I won't be missed. But I'm going - I'm on the committee! We volunteered to organize it one more time - we had the spreadsheets, the Facebook group, the contacts, the knowledge, why not. And talk about a wonderful committee - the same folks, a few rotating out, some in - Dirk, Gary, Allen, Sally, Sally, Renea, Trudy, Jean. I'm grateful for these folks. Good people.

So we'll dine, visit, rodeo, visit, crack jokes about age, wrinkles, hair, life, visit. And we'll remember the few who have died these past 5 years, and I'll be grateful I'm able to attend the reunion.

But what I want to say is this - you know during that year of surgeries, chemo, radiation, healing - where did I go? What did I do while just surviving? Remember. My memories were sometimes all I could pick up. And those included my years with my friends in grade school, junior high, high school. So even in my not-belonging, I went to where I did belong - to friendships made years ago, and the memories that accompanied those relationships.

Our class song, for graduation was Seals and Crofts, "We May Never Pass This Way Again." And I've thought of those lyrics so many times over these 40 years. You see - while my classmates may not need to see me, may not need to spend time with me, I need to at least be that fly on the wall to see them - to let them know they kept me alive, even when I wanted to die, was dying, those memories, their faces, were with me. And those who won't be at the reunion - don't you think for one moment that I won't miss you. You mattered; you matter.

I won't be on the committee for the 45th reunion, and although that's 5 years down the road, who knows what will happen - who will die, who will live, whose lives will be dramatically altered.

Friday, June 9, 2017

I Don't Know - And Snails -

I Don't Know - these 3/4 words are really quite powerful. As a young mother I thought I had to know everything. From what was for dinner to who the Interior Secretary was, and I had an answer. This was before the days of Google, so this meant I was constantly on my toes, listening, reading, planning, gaining knowledge. And with this came a certain amount of satisfaction for having an answer to just about anything, and a huge sense of responsibility to be in the know, to have an answer, and to be ready to reply with correct information any time a question was asked.

These days - I Don't Know brings me much satisfaction! I mean, I like to have answers, and I do draw from a lifetime of experiences and knowledge, but I don't feel bad if I have to shrug my shoulders and listen to some else's answer or calmly state, I Don't Know.

With the phrase, I Don't Know, comes a certain amount of freedom! Having answers means accepting responsibility for being correct, and that means truly Knowing, not just blowing smoke or talking off the cuff. And I'm not really a fan of someone who has all the answers - that leaves very little room for conversation and discovery. I'm also not a fan of someone who thinks they have all the answers.

I'm finding that more and more, as I say, I Don't Know, I'm reminded of what I do know. I do know how to do research, I do know how to ask questions, I do know how to back off and listen to others. I do know it's okay to not know.

On Tuesday at work, a patient's stress was pretty high. Why? He had snails in his garden, and he couldn't get rid of them! And if you're a gardener, you understand that pests among growing baby plants is just terror. I knew about snail bait - but that's poisonous, non-organic. That's it. But as we conversed, it really was apparent  this was a true concern. So - finding the answer became my quest, as opposed to having the answer. It's fine and dandy to have an answer (Zinke), but the hunt and collaboration that comes with looking for an answer can be fun and enlightening! Out came my phone, I searched, "Organic ways of getting rid of garden snails," and up popped the best article. As I shared, we laughed, we weighed the options, and we enjoyed the discovery of the answers, together.

Having an answer can be a very solitary position. I Know, no one else does. Finding an answer can bring folks together. And not having an answer means being vulnerable - and I'm enjoying being here.

I'll let you know how the snail removal process goes.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Quotes - Christopher Reeve, Dory -

Positive sayings and affirmations keep me going. There's something about an inspirational thought that speaks to me. I love words - so this is one reason; I can always glean from the written word - there's another reason. And it seems that others have a way of speaking my thoughts better than I can. Reason three.

I'm getting restless; summer does that to me, before I calm down; just in time for fall! And I'm a little down. So Dory and Christopher are where I'm finding some solace -

Monday, June 5, 2017

Letting Go - Of Some Pride -

One of the brain functions I've lost, since cancer, is the ability to sequence anything with more than 3 numbers or 3 steps. So - remembering the class room numbers for my classes; remembering phone numbers; remembering appointments; remembering orders of tasks - first this then this.  And one of the places this is most apparent is in logging my time for work at the hospital. I work for 2-4 different departments, and I have to report my time to each perspective department. But - this is gruesome - this job is more difficult for me than being in a room full of people I don't know (and for an introvert that sucks).

And the toughest part of this is I make mistakes, all the time, and these mistakes affect other people. And when I try to cover up, they just get worse, because I panic! So then my mistake is compounded, and I'm constantly fishing myself out of my errors - my truly innocent, almost unseen errors.

But I made a big mistake 2 weeks ago, and then in my trying to fix it, I made another mistake. And I didn't notice either until I was attempting to report my hours, looking for the department number, and realized this mistake.

So I took a chance - a huge risk, swallowed my pride, and I wrote this:

OK, so I mess this up, ALL THE TIME, and I need to come clean to you! When I had cancer (4 years ago), chemo really messed me up - and my memory and logical thinking were terribly impaired. I've been able to get most of my skills back, but numbers and number sequences are still difficult for me to remember, recall, and reproduce. 
I do my best to double-check everything before I send it to you, but even then my cautiousness does not reveal my mistakes. Just as below - even repeating what you wrote, I still have the wrong set and sequence of numbers. 
I've tried so hard to be competent, but honestly, even a telephone number is something I have to triple check before dialing. I am so sorry you have to be the one dealing with this, and if you have any suggestions for how I can make my reporting to you not so cumbersome and time-intensive, I'd be happy to do it! 
I can think critically, write without a problem, present my thoughts clearly, but numbers - just not there anymore, and for that, and to you, I apologize. 

Happy Friday, and thank you for your patience, Ronda 

And I didn't hear back, and I was embarrassed for exposing myself. But in a sense, there was some relief, because I had acknowledged this weakness - this disability. And today I received this: 


I meant to reply sooner and wanted to tell you I appreciate you sending me this email.  We will both work together to make sure your timecard is correct.

Thank you!

I so wanted to cry. Cry tears of appreciation for sympathy and tears of sorrow for something truly lost. 

Thank you, Liz. We will work together. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Breast Cancer Applause Moments -

Twice this week, twice, I had "Thank you, breast cancer" moments.

The first - explaining to a patient, and our medical team, what lymphedema is, and the need for a lymphedema sleeve for traveling, particularly airline and higher altitudes. Although - I forgot to take mine with me both times traveling this spring.
team, the need for a

The second - a patient asked me if I would spend some time with her discussing hair loss and head covering options, as she is beginning another series of chemo treatments, and this time she will lose her hair.

Both times I could answer the questions with solid experience and a clear "Yes."

I'm reminded, again, of the man conducting a worship service, asking the congregation if there was a pianist in the chapel, and a woman raising her hand to volunteer, grateful she had continued with her piano lessons through her young years.

And while I'm not a magnificent pianist, a know-it-all cancer specialist, I have experiences that give me the ability to share.

So this week - clap clap clap, thank you for the experience that allows me to help others.

Happy Friday -

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Customer is Always Right -

My father taught me, and reinforced over and over again, that the customer is always right. So when a customer complained about a wrongly cooked steak, too cold of potatoes, a piece of pie that wasn't big enough, his employees should smile, ask how the customer would like their complaint to be taken care of, and then do it. He gained customers over the years, rather than losing them, because of the ability to make the customer feel valued.

I wonder if this is still the case in businesses, or if now days, those in retail and service, particularly, think, "Screw you, I don't need your business." And - when a customer does make a complaint, regardless of the size, is it with apology, "I'm sorry, but I ordered this salad without cheese," or with entitlement, "Hey you sob, I ordered this without cheese, and I didn't discover this until I had eaten half the salad." And is it the tone of voice, the seeming apology, the "hey you," that determines the way the business person reacts, or is it the "Customer is always right" policy of the place of business?

And, along with this, does social media make it possible to complain, again and again, about the inadequacies of a business, big or small, without the need to confront the sales person or business owner?

As I travel, I rely on Travelocity, TripAdvisor, and Yelp, for references for lodging, dining, business. I look at their ratings, and I typically read a few of the reviews, if there's time. But what I'm finding is that often the quality of a business is directly tied to how entitled the reviewer feels, or how soon after their experience they wrote their review. So far, they've been pretty accurate, but they can be petty. Often there are complaints that are more related to the customer, not the business - as in, "The food delivered to my table was not what I thought I ordered." Well - what were you thinking? Or, "We arrived late in the evening, later than we had confirmed. The lady at the front desk was grumpy, like she had just woken up." And I get that. But tolerance, folks, tolerance, and the need to not always be correct or right or in charge, seems to take the edge out of being snarky.

And yet - there are some places, there are some people, who do not believe the customer keeps their business running. While I'm not the perfect guest or customer, I'm not a whiner or complainer; I am a "thank you for your help," take the bedding off the bed, don't clean my shoes with the bathroom towels, fold my napkin and put it on my plate, along with silverware, type of customer. And when I'm treated like crap or disrespectful, I am not inclined to return again, regardless of how awesome the food or product was. But I'm also not inclined to whine on social media - although perhaps I should?

So - who is correct? The business, the customer, or the employee who has just had a tough day? And can vulnerability - "What can I do for you?" go both ways in improving client/business satisfaction, hence ratings?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Train Up A Child -

I taught the women's meeting at church yesterday. The lesson was on Raising a Sin-Resistent Generation, based on a talk by Joy Jones. As I prepared this lesson I was continually reminded of the poem, written in 1972, by Dorothy Law. Of course, Proverbs 22:6 says it simply, "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." But this poem - this poem has been my motto for rearing my children - it hung in the bathroom of all of my homes - something I saw constantly, but a perfect morning reminder - a good way to begin the day.

I'm hanging it back in my bathroom, because as I emphasized yesterday, if we cannot treat ourselves and our spouses similarly, caring for our children is nearly impossible. I need to return to this mantra in the mornings - for myself and for Scott - and then for those around me.

             Children Learn What They Live

          If children live with criticism,
               They learn to condemn.
          If children live with hostility,
               They learn to fight.
          If children live with ridicule,
               They learn to be shy.
          If children live with shame,
               They learn to feel guilty.
          If children live with encouragement,
               They learn confidence.
          If children live with tolerance,
               They learn to be patient.
          If children live with praise,
               They learn to appreciate.
          If children live with acceptance,
               They learn to love.
          If children live with approval,
               They learn to like themselves.
          If children live with honesty,
               They learn truthfulness.
          If children live with security,
               They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
          If children live with friendliness,
               They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972/1975 by Dorothy Law Nolte

Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.
This is the author-approved short version.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Pacing Myself -

We arrived home from Switzerland last Sunday evening. Along with some amazing experiences, I brought home a terrible cold. I got sick last Thursday evening, and I spent all day Friday in bed, in Interlaken, Switzerland, in our motel room. Thank heavens it was a rainy, snowy, cold cold day, and I had the best view of the mountains from my bed! Thank heavens also that Scott had a good book, because it was too cold and rainy for him to wander.

But what this has meant is that this cold has had me down nearly all week. I've learned to pace myself, but not to go to far from home this week. Groceries one day. Errands one day. A little yard work one day. And bed and rest the remaining time. I haven't done much sleeping - resting and coughing and post-nasal drip are not the best of friends. So I've read. And that's been nice.

I've been to the office for a few hours, but I've tried to stay away from folks, just because no one wants this virus - which I've heard can turn into pneumonia on a whim, and I don't need.

So just like our traveling - when I planned one day travel, a half day wandering, one night's sleep, a day of exploring, another night's sleep, the next day off to the next place, I've had to do the same here at home. And what I'm learning is not pushing myself, on vacation, or at home, ain't bad!

Pacing oneself means understanding the rhythm of the body, the mind, the soul, and allowing the journey to unfold, rather than pushing it open. I'm liking this pace - I'm not frustrated, I'm getting better, and I'm remaining in that "travel mode" just a little bit longer.

So no epic blogs this week, no travelogues, no photos from our trip. Just a lesson I'm learning - one that I continually need to be taught, but one that's sticking with me just a little longer this time around.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Travelocity - AirBnB - TripAdvisor - Google Maps - WhatsApp -

These four sites are imperative to decent travel. I was able to book all of our travel through Travelocity and AirBnB, and with the ratings, reviews, links, we were not disappointed. TripAdvisor came in very handy when looking for some place to eat - I may not have used it to locate a place, but before stepping into a restaurant, I made sure to look it up on TripAdvisor, and check the ratings and reviews before dining. We were not disappointed in any of our choices.

And Google Maps - hallelujah for them. Not only was I able to calculate directions and distances, but I could find the timetables for the public transportation, and since we traveled solely with our Swiss Pass, this was very very important. I was able to find the stations, platforms, train numbers, times arriving and departing, and this saved us so much time and headache.

Public transportation is amazing in Switzerland. Clean, ran like clock work, and the folks working at the stations and on the trains were very kind and willing to answer questions. We did not miss a train, take a wrong train, or not understand what we were looking for.

The use of these apps and this Swiss Pass really made our trip a great vacation. With these apps and with reservations in hand, we knew where we were going, how to get there, felt secure knowing we didn't have to hunt for a place to stay, and we were able to communicate with our hosts.

Oh the wonders of cell phones and technology!

With that said, I was also able to communicate with kids and Mom via WhatsApp, Instagram, and good old texting. And take pictures!

Below are a few photos, just for the sake of posting some:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Home -

Switzerland was incredible, stunning, spectacular, generous, amazing, glorious.

As is Home.

More later -

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hit "Reset" -

"You have the right to start the day over at any time." 

I find I have to start the year over, or begin a new year, every May. And so beginning tomorrow, I'm hitting the reset button, and taking some time off to reflect, get energized, and decide what direction/s I'm heading this summer. 

As usual, I have a few irons in the fire, and, oddly, I've taken a few out. So now I need to decide just what it is I want to be doing, how I want to spend my time this summer, and honestly - I need to find time to "be." 

Seems like I'm at a crossroads, again, with choices, options, and I need time to review, and then hit reset. So, here's to recharging and renewing, and reflecting, and moving forward! 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Culture - Respect - Discourse

I'm a respecter of cultures and people and their ways of living. That is how I would best describe me, and how I would best describe my aspirations. This is my daily drive - it's why I get up in the morning, and why I can't sleep at night.

I was taught, and I have taught, that while we don't need to approve of everyone's lives and lifestyles, we do need to accept others, and do our best to understand their stories, a very simple simple lesson ingrained in me from my very beginning. And not only was that lesson taught, but the actions were there. My grandparents and parents were genuine examples of tolerance and acceptance, and curiosity. If you don't understand, if you want to know more, ask. Most people are willing and happy to share their stories.

Life is good, and life is great when judging is thrown out the window and appreciation, or at least curiosity, for differences, becomes the norm.

And when that becomes the norm, then understanding takes place, and stories are shared, and songs are sung, and tales are told, and ways are explained, and meals are shared, and lives are lived in tandem, out of respect. And then we become authentic people who care for discourse and lives. And for our stories - once told, we will remember them, and live them. Therein lies the magic of acceptance, appreciation, alive'ness.

And this is my hope, my dream, my drive.

“It is only when our old songs and old tales are passing from one human being to another, by word-of-mouth, that they can attain their full fascination. No printed page can create this spell. It is the living word—the sung ballad and the told tale—that holds our attention and reaches our hearts.”

~ Richard Chase

A side note - my tattoo symbolizes this; happy for it. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

End of the School Year Anxiety - Unwinding -

At the end of every school year Scott and I usually pack our bags and head out of town as soon as grades are posted.
We've been to Southern Utah, Alabama and Tennessee, Northern California, and this year we're off again (details to come).
Leaving is a good way of regrouping - clearing the UVU files from my brain, changing my focus from go go go to a possibility of relaxing. And it takes me a few weeks to do so. While in this liminal space, this transition from one level of earnestness to a level of relaxation, I suffer from anxiety.
And I really do mean suffer. I've had a couple of panic attacks the past two weeks. I can't breathe, my heart races, the walls come closer, I cannot focus, relax, or sleep.
This is new to me. Only happening post-cancer, which, interestingly, does coincide with school ending.
So right now I'm aching, tired, anxious, and I can't focus. I hop from one project to the next, attempting to complete, but almost like a caged animal - I pace and I fidget. I glance around, wiggle while sitting, wander, eat like I shouldn't, I'm cranky, and although I am kinda numb, my mind won't stop. I have a hard time carrying on a conversation, I want to be alone, and I don't really want to do much of anything.
I do think anxiety and burnout are synonymous with focused energy over a long period of time, a mindset that says "when school is out," and then the realization that school is out. I push so hard that it's really difficult for me to reframe.

Hence the need to leave town. Away is where I can refind myself. Engage with me and my honey. Decide what is important, what my priorities are for the summer, where I see myself in August, and then figure out a plan.
But that's not all that happens while we're away. It's a chance to really "chill." And typically with a long drive or plane ride, by the time we've arrived, I'm breathing a little more slowly.
So Scott and I have a chance to be "us." Not a chaplain, a professor, a mother, a daughter, not even a wife. I'm Ronda, Scott's Scott, we're lovers, wanderers, explorers, tourists. I like this us, and this time to gather myself.
And come home clean, ready to be a part of the world where I'm not hyper-focused, hyper-vigilant.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Semester's Over!

Things I've learned this school year -

There is such a thing as entitled students. As much as I didn't want to believe this, and as little as I've seen throughout my 15 years of teaching - there are students who think they deserve more because of where they come from, rather than what they do.

My syllabus isn't credible, tough, strongly-worded, enough. No matter how powerfully I state my course beliefs and my class rules, there are still students who don't believe me.

Some students you love, some you don't, and vice-versa.

Students cannot be friends during the school year.

College professors are under-paid, particularly adjuncts.

Adjunct professors teach what they do - and do teach because they love to share their knowledge with others. There's a big difference between spending 40 hours a week on campus and spreading time between workplace and campus. Students get quite the deal when they get an adjunct professor who works in the profession they teach in.

Students are still "kids" with lives that aren't necessarily tied to school. They need adults who understand this and will be available to them. The best conversations I've had this year are when I ask, "What do you think about . . . " and listened.

Sometimes a student just needs a little slack. Just as I need a little give sometimes, so do my students.

"Compromise" isn't a dirty word. Neither is the phrase, "Read the syllabus."

"Creative" and "Critical Thinking" can go hand in hand. But students need to be taught and guided.

Students are eager.

The classrooms in the LA building suck. IT is erratic at best, and the Help Desk is more than a phone call away.

Everyone needs a break from being in a classroom. Attending school, or teaching, more than two semesters in a row is tough on everyone. Take a break.

I love teaching; even as a professor I am a constant student, and I learn so much from my students.

Now to get to my reading list!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Complex - Complicated -

I've been thinking about these two words quite a bit, since a student used them in a paper, interchangeably. And they're not twins/synonyms, they can't be used in place of the other.

Yes, it's complicated and complex. I'll try and decipher the difference.

Complicated - Today's schedule - workout early this morning while wanting to sleep, hospital, UVU, chaplain meeting are the logistical issues, with patient visits, chaplain meetings, papers to grade, papers to write, whiny students to listen to, finding an LDS employee to give a blessing, volunteer appreciation day and Admin appreciation day gifts and kind words, stay bright and cheery on 6 hours of sleep, directions for roasted veggies to Scott, field chaplain calls that are not mine to field - in kindness, order cake for party tomorrow night, and have the energy and serenity to oversee a meeting this evening. And lunch with Tom and Jenna.

That's complicated.

Complex - My breast pain scare - anxiety it produced, that still hasn't totally left me. Sorting out in my mind what is truth, what is real, and what that truth and reality mean. Attempting to keep this from my loved ones, so I don't have to explain the complexity of my fears. I can't explain the unexplainable.

That's complex.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Breast Scare -

Several days ago my left breast began to burn. It then began to ache. Then it started itching - deep inside. I checked for redness. None. I checked for discharge. None. I did not check the internet. No way.

I waited, waited, it got worse, I even prayed over it, blessing my breast that it would stop aching and heal. And then about four days into the pain, I pulled the office nurse aside; she pulled the doctor in, and on my four year post-treatment anniversary, he put a big black X on my boob, said, "Yes, I feel it," and sent me in for an ultrasound. I had to wait two days for that.

Damn I have had cancer. The fear of reoccurance, while tucked away and logically nearly impossible, is always there. I keep thinking that when I hit my five-year marker that anxiety will leave, for good. Oh I pray this is so.

So I had the ultrasound, and sure enough, there's a fairly obvious horizontal ridge/mass, right above my nipple. The radiologist came in to read it.

He said, "Yes, it's there. But it's not cancerous. About 5% of those who've had breast cancer get this. It's hormone related, and creeps up whenever it wants. It's worth keeping your eyes on, being aware, and I'm glad you came in, and that we now have a baseline to continue watching this. Get your mammograms, and we'll continue to monitor. Have a good day." And he left.

I turned to the ultrasound tech - "What?" She agreed, and said there really wasn't anything more to be done, this was something I'd need to live with, gave me some tiny ice packs for the next flare-up, "because there will be one," and told me to ice it and take ibuprofen. "But keep an eye on it, because we'll want to monitor this."

I did not ask any more questions - breathing a sigh of relief, but also knowing I had to process the "keep an eye on it, monitor this," phrase.

So today my breast is tender, the mass is there, and I'm remembering that every day, every day, every single day is a gift.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

On Grandparenting -

So we made it through the ten days of tending Tempest and Tom while Cliff and Jenna took on the UK. Gosh - I really wondered how we were going to do this journey. Things I've learned:

1. It's temporary. And when there's a timeline, heroic things can be accomplished.
2. Grandparenting is about creating memories - so we played, teased, tickled, and cleaned up rooms.
3. Routine is important - for the grandchildren and the grandparents. We established a routine - thanks to knowing their routine, and worked that. It worked.
4. There must be a "stay at home" grandparent. I worked, full-time, and Scott was the one at home. He had help from Grandma Annette and Cheranne, and they were the angels who gave Scott a break, and Tommy a change of scenery.
5. Adjust your schedules. I went to work early, while Scott got the kids ready for the day, but I came home early to give Scott a break, fix dinner, and prepare for bedtimes.
6. Lighten up. One night for dinner we had beans and rice, chicken salad, asparagus, and chips and salsa. Oh well.
7. Laugh. The kids were hilarious, even in their down-times, and we laughed with them, and with ourselves. Nothing was so serious that we needed loud voices or tears (including Tommy's puking Easter dinner all over the table - at the restaurant).
8. TV and the iPad are fine, but only temporary. Hugs, cuddles, attention to performances and homework, stories, and bike rides are the best babysitters.
9. Ask the kids questions and allow them to have some control over their situation.
10. There's no place like home - and when Dad and Mom arrived, our bags were packed and ready for the car, because we all needed our own beds.

Trans -

A few days ago I had the opportunity to go to court with a young woman who had followed the correct process to have her gender permanently changed.

The judge was amazingly sweet, gentle, kind.

His proclamation - "This is one of my favorite things to do here at court - to make someone happy," was one of the most generous phrases I've heard in a courtroom.

When he said, "Please introduce me to those who are here with you today," I was sad that none of her family were there to support her, but I realize we all have our transitions - and their's must be tough.

But I was happy that I, two of my work colleagues, and two of her best friends were there.

And when he approved her request, I cried tears of happiness. This was right, for her, right now, right there.

I've seen her struggle these past two years; I've seen her stay true to her truth; I support her in pursuing what she needs to be her best self - regardless.

I am grateful I was able to sit beside her, calm her shaking hands, and then hug her with all of my being in congratulations.

Life is filled with transitions - aren't we all just walking each other through them?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tourist'ing -

While in Amsterdam, I purchased this postcard:

As Scott and I were eating dinner the other evening, he asked me the toughest question - "Of all of our travels, what place has been your most favorite?" I typically have a quick answer, but this question led me to really thinking about where we've been in our short 13 years together. And then not only the places we've traveled to, but the experiences we've packed in to our marriage. Seems like we've been trying to pack a lifetime of experiences into the time we have.

As for traveling - the answer was, "The last place we visited." I've loved our travel times. It gets us away from the ordinary and places us in the extraordinary. And I cherish this - we get to be a couple, Scott and Ronda, without children, parents, jobs, a home, responsibility. We're responsible for only ourselves and each other, and that is a joy.

So yes, I love being a tourist - seeing the world through a different lens - one that is free to see, without judging, without calculating, without figuring out how to make it fit.

And this week we're helping Jenna and Cliff have a similar opportunity, and from the pictures they've been sending us - they are.

What's your favorite place to visit? What has been your favorite tourist moments?

Monday, April 10, 2017

One Day At A Time -

I'm amazed at how often I have to be reminded to live my life one day at a time, sometimes even one moment at a time. And, I'm amazed at how often this really works. Take for instance -

Wednesday (I had a plan, but I wasn't sure if it would work with the time crunch and the weather - both not in my initial plan.) - Work out at 6:30am. Diversity Council meeting at hospital at 10am. Pick up goodies for grandchildren lunch before work. Council meeting over at 11am. Pick up first set of grandchildren (3, 6) at 11:30. While driving south to get grandchildren, think of a wind-free warm park to play. Pick up second set of grandchildren at 11:45 (10, 8, 6, 3). Trade my car for family van that holds six grandchildren. Drive to Chik-fil-A for lunch. Remember all of grandchildren's orders while they run to the play area. All orders are fine, get correct meals and drinks to each child, sit down to eat. No tears, no spills. See son in drive-thru! Silently congratulate myself that all children are eating and happy. Gather up leftovers, drive to non-windy, but still cold, park, with playground. Play with Dollar Store goodies, placed in old-fashioned wax-paper bags. Biggest Dollar Store hit was the two bags of colored pipe cleaners! Play on play-ground equipment, have KinderEgg treat (from Amsterdam) and juice boxes. Give five-minute warning. Pile back into van. Drive four children home, trade car, keep two children. Drive other two children home. 3pm. Drive two children to gymnastics. Drive to mall to buy two pairs of summer-dressy comfortable shoes. Buy lovely cuppa while shopping. Drive home, 5:30pm. Homemade dinner - yummy Indian curry. Breath, high-five myself. One day at a time worked!

And I'm praying this works for the rest of the month - thank heaven's Scott is retired and can share in some of this and support in other -

Tend 2 grandchildren for 10 days - with 5 pages of tending details.
Work full-time for 2 weeks.
Host work Spring Retreat.
Two sets of Airbnb guests.
Grade research papers.
Host reception/open house for friend who is getting married.
Sweet-16 Birthday party for grand-daughter.
Visiting Teachers.
Folk Art hands-on for students.
Chaplain chapter meeting.
Grade final papers.
Prepare for finals, give finals, submit grades (May 2).

On top of - exercise, eat right, get adequate sleep, and continue to see chiropractor for healing back/butt.

Did I mention we have "another" adventure planned? Nope? That's 'cause I'm living one day at a time!