Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Traveling Light - Leaving Baggage Behind -

A key tenant for chaplains endorsed by my endorsing organization (CPSP) is that we "travel light." This belief is that we hold no animosity toward others, we choose to not judge, we carry no bundles of books and robes and collars and banners, and we own no buildings. We are travelers, bringing with us who we are, not what we have.

This principle goes well with my personal beliefs - baggage only makes the journey harder, heavier, less enjoyable.

When I was going through cancer treatments, there were days when I lay in bed and cleared my mind - sorted and sifted through my own emotional baggage, and asking for forgiveness where possible, giving forgiveness where necessary.

And on the days when my blood count was low, but I was functioning, I sorted and sifted through my house. Cabinet by cabinet, room by room, corner by corner, I touched and tossed or saved every single item in my house.

By the time April 18, 2013 rolled around, my mind and my house were much lighter.

But just because my house is more clean and better organized does not mean my traveling lighter has ended. I notice my baggage often, and I try to attack it immediately rather than letting it sit around taking up space.

For instance - my "no" last week? That mess was with me for quite some time, but as soon as it was over, I reviewed the experience, looked for what I could learn from it, and then moved past it. In fact, even the thought of undertaking that potential journey was heavy, there was baggage from the beginning that I would have to carry - baggage that was not mine. Last week an encounter with a work colleague that wasn't smooth took a short, "I'm sorry, how can I do better," and then a promise to do so, and a step forward. Today I had a tiny melt-down with Scott. And rather than even carry that with me through the day, I quickly owned my anger (really anxiety and doubt), asked for forgiveness, and moved into the day - and thank heavens so did Scott, also choosing to travel light. Emotional house cleaning is as beneficial as literal, and when the two are combined, as they were today, well, I feel so much better - and both of my houses look dandy!

When we left for Amsterdam we took an extra piece of luggage, just for keepsakes, and we spent a decent amount of time looking for things we could bring home - mementos as well as gifts. And the gifts we shared were awesome and well received.

But we decided our trip to Switzerland would be a great opportunity to travel lighter, with only our backpacks and no room for souvenirs.

Talk about freedom! Traveling around the country with only what we could carry on our back gave us the opportunity to not shop, but to look, linger, savor, our experiences. We each bought a small item, and we brought home some chocolate, but otherwise, we arrived home with what we took from home. Wow - did that make unpacking easy!

Now I'm not talking about living a life with no obligations, responsibilities, or memories, but I do know this - that when I'm traveling - whether in my heart, my mind, or with my own two feet, that I'm lighter when I'm carrying less - when I'm not burdened, but lightened by my load.

As a chaplain this is extraordinarily important - if I bring my burdens into a visit with a patient, they can sense this; I add to their load, and then, interestingly, I add their load to mine - I don't want to bring any type of illness "back with me." As a teacher this is so important - if I carried every student's "my dog at my paper," excuse I would be stuck under a pyramid of dog poop. I listen, reflect, and then move on, praying those I serve will find answers to their burdens, not praying that I will find an answer to their burden. And when I travel - particularly lately - I enjoy the few items in my suitcase, but knowing my choices are limited leaves me free to use my energy in other ways - especially of having experiences that will turn in to fond memories.

And my house? Oh goodness - ask me - "Where is your . . . " Because I'll know. I won't have to wonder and hunt and sort through piles to find it.

I keep reminding myself that the only things I can take with me are my experiences and my memories, and I will not leave my burdens or things, for someone else to carry when I'm gone. Some days I carry excess baggage, too much, belongs to someone else; I think we all do. But I find when I drop what's not mine, the world is a better place for everyone.

Travel light - part of the Hygge experience, part of Nourishing myself, Gleaning - taking only what I need, what I can use.
   


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sherman Alexie said "No" -

I thoroughly enjoy Sherman Alexie's writing. Brutal, honest, painful, hilarious, stunning. And this article about him pausing his book tour is so rich for me. It validates what I did this week. Self-care, we all need to say "no" when our heart, or our mothers, tell us to. If only we'll listen.

Read a report about his decision here.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Confident NO - And Sinuses -

I did it - I said "No," to something that's been creeping up on me for the past nine months. And oh, I had major angst about this "no." I tried and tried to figure out how a "yes" could work. I could get a loan, push through faster than normal, sacrifice for the betterment of society (i.e. Mormon's in chaplaincy particularly), and yes, I could make this work.

But I'll tell you something - I don't operate on confusion. When I can see a project clear, or mostly clear, I can take hold of it and make it into a blooming success. And I have enough of these to be confident in my abilities to make something out of nothing.

And this - no matter how I looked at it, I was wandering into a dust cloud - with too many folks telling me what I "should" do, too many unknowns, too many entities involved. Typically I talk these types of situations out with a confidante or two, but this one, it was for Scott and I to figure out.

Until I took a leap and called a colleague - not even a bestie, but someone I could trust, and who understood the magnitude of this decision. After listening to me, as I rambled and sorted, she said, "And what is in it for you?"

I hadn't really thought about this, because I figured I'd be altruistic here, doing what was best for the other, pushing for another two years, making this happen, forcing it to work, and, as the bargaining chips fell into place - well, it looks good, and they have confidence in me, I am the best person, so why not. But I'd forgotten about me. There was nothing in this project for me! Why on earth was I stewing over it?

And with that question, and my answer, I finally had my entire answer - NO. No excuses, no options, no negotiating, just a "No."

I have a tough time saying "No." I don't want to disappoint others, don't want to minimize their efforts or their confidence in me, and I'll make sacrifices to make things work. But this time, I realized I don't want to make sacrifices; I don't want to make things work for someone else. I want to make things work for me! And when I had to tell two organizations that I was not interested, "No," I felt free - really really free.

So here I am. I've been flowing snot, swallowing snot, coughing snot non-stop, since saying "No." And I believe my mind is purging, cleansing, removing, and I'm doing my best to honor this. And it feels so good to be releasing the expectations others had for me. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when the release will be finished, and I can input my plans - my dreams - my goals - that I've had on the back-burner for far too long.

Tissue, liquid, cough drops, nasal spray, good music, good book - gonna be a great day!




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Yes - No - Yes - No -

Have you ever said "yes" when you really meant "no"?

Have you ever felt pushed into saying "yes," because someone has said "it's for your best" and then you felt obligated, thinking "then they must know"?

Have you ever had to say "no" after having said "yes"?

How do you do that? How do you say, "I know what's best for me"? "Thanks for the opportunity, but no"?

Even if it will make you "the first," "famous," "a rock star," a "pioneer," a "ground-breaker," and all you want is to do what's best? All you want to do is be a good person, a listener, a guide, a mom and grandma.

And then what?






Monday, July 10, 2017

Sunday Dinner and Ex's -

Keegan turned 9 on Saturday. He is a beautiful child, so much like his father, so much like his mother - kind, funny, fair, friend to all, still a hugger, loves to run around without a shirt (suns out, guns out), loves people, cautious, tease, and so much more. 

Yesterday was his family birthday dinner. Tyler sent me a text mentioning it was for "all" the grandparents. That's at least seven grandparents. Five of those grandparents came, two were in Hawaii. That means - Alice (great-grandma), Scott and Ronda, Ex and his wife. 

It's the first time we've been together without any other in-laws. And having us all in the same room has been worrisome for most of us; I think to some degree it's been tough on Jenna and Tyler and their spouses - how will their parents behave?

Why is that? It's been 14 years, life goes on, we're all adults, there is proper etiquette, etc. Nothing "bad" is going to happen; the worst thing that ever happened was the divorce. But that fear is still there - interesting how memories of the past can be actual physical triggers for the present. An upset stomach, shakes, sweats, headaches - all points of tension that can surface. 

This happened to me yesterday, and I push through "for the sake of the children," and then, nine times out of ten, it's just fine. And it happens to the kids, and they bully through, not allowing their parents' issues to become theirs.

And yesterday was decent. We even laughed together, joked about the past, Ex even making a remark that had me laughing out loud, and Tyler breathing a sigh of relief, stating, "Ok, I think we can move forward now." 

With the relief also comes some pain for me. Because as I'm listening to conversations, I thought of missed opportunities, mistakes, my anger, and the unrealized, or unmet expectations from that past life. 

There were things I wanted, things I thought I needed in my first marriage, that didn't happen - for either of us, and with this came my anger, my frustration, my fears, my dread. 

Why - in a relationship, is it that it's not necessarily money, sex, or in-laws that kill a marriage, but those expectations, that aren't even discussed, just assumed, that bring a marriage to its knees? My marriage dissolved because my needs weren't being met - or better yet, I claimed he wasn't meeting my expectations - over the years, not just over-night. 

And this time around - I've had to make sure that my expectations for Scott and my expectations for me are clearly verbalized, all of the time, and that I analyze and parse out what it is that I need from myself - not just what he needs to give me. And when my expectations aren't being met - well, I have to look at myself, reign the future back into the moment, and move forward in reality.

This morning, upon perusing Facebook, a friend had posted this - "The Silent Killer of Relationships," and guess what - Expectations. And I found validation, and to a small extent, sadness. I try not to live in the past; I'm so happy with Scott and I, but I wonder . . . 

Happy Day - 


Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Value of Education - Regardless - Call to Action -

As a young child, during the hot Idaho summer days, my friends, siblings, and I liked to play school. Funny - out of school, wanting to play school. And yet, when it was time to think about what I would do after high school, I felt like my choices were limited - get married or go to school to become a secretary, teacher, or nurse. I chose marriage.

I began college in 1991, I was 31, no college experience. I began school the year Jenna entered first grade, at Shoals Community College in Tuscumbia, Alabama. My first classes were mythology, sociology, and math (probably math 95).

I had always loved learning, but the day I stepped onto the college campus I fell in love with higher education.

We were in the quarter system, and I went to school there for about 6 quarters - taking math, literature, sociology, and a writing class.

We moved back to Utah one December, and in preparation for continuing my education, I contacted my friend, Merilynn, who put me in touch with her friend, Dawn, who was an academic advisor in the English Dept. at Utah Valley University (UVCC at that time). Merilynn had suggested a couple of her favorite professors, and Dawn helped acquaint me with the college.

After getting Tyler, Jenna, and Clark all in school, I began that journey myself. My first classes at UVU were an Organizational Behavior class, and Women's Lit class, and a Wordperfect class.

And I was off. After taking all the classes I could at UVU, I moved to BYU, where I took 2-3 classes a semester.

I graduated with my BA in English from BYU, and then, still hungry, I traveled to Utah State University weekly, and took summer week-long workshops, until I received my MA in American Studies/Public Sector Folklore in May, 2003.

That's 14 years ago, and I daily count my blessings for a family who supported me on my academic journey. While the kids complained about classes, homework, tests, teachers, I did the same. While the kids studied and wrote papers, I did similarly. When they were figuring out their class schedules, I did as well. And we all saw the value of education.

A year before I graduated from USU, I began teaching Folklore at UVU. Tyler and Jenna both took that class from me - what a blast to have my own children in the classroom. There were many days we drove to school together - and had great conversations as we did so. And thank heavens for Aunty Dawn and others who gave Tyler and Jenna the same great advice they gave me, and they helped them with class schedules just as they did me years earlier.

I never have left the classroom (well, I did take a leave for cancer treatments). I went directly from being a student to being an instructor. And I have loved every minute of it. I love, love, love learning. And the classroom - regardless of age and stage and gender and knowledge, is a tremendous place to learn.

I'm not saying we can't learn in a non-traditional environment - I have my chaplain certification because of a non-traditional classroom-hands-on learning situation, and the online learning world is rich. And I have learned through reading, studying, watching, creating - my entire life.

But there is something about tradition - the classroom, that breeds inquiry, questioning, critical thinking, and an environment rich and ripe with like-minded folks.

Lately I've been thinking about going back to the classroom, as a student. I hunger to be fed, to feed. To a large extent learning has been my sanity. It has kept me happy, functional, at peace with myself. I am a restless soul, and I can't even, don't even want to, imagine where I would be if it hadn't been for the ability to attend college. Learning is something I do well. And because of this, I have some sense of self and some self-confidence.

And as I listened to Eva Witesman's talk about Women and Education, I realized, again, how fortunate I have been to know the classroom, to know professors, to know students, and to be on both sides of the desk. Formal - or traditional, learning is incredible. And it is available to nearly every woman. Even Malala Yousafzai, and her champion father, understand the value of educating a woman.

We, women, MUST be the mirrors for our children, our husbands, or communities. We can speak, not only from a lifetime's worth of experience, but from our knowledge based on stretching our minds in a classroom, from being fed by those whose brilliance is that of a teacher. And we can share - by studying, complaining, writing, choosing, testing, thinking, with our children - by our example, we can teach the world, or at least, inspire our own to continue to learn.

I'm amazed, that in 2017, 27 years since I began my education, there are still men and women who say women don't need a higher education. I am worried that there are women (and men) who believe women are not worthy, capable, financially able, to get into a classroom to learn. Or that there is no need for them to have a higher education. I am saddened that talks such as Eva's are still necessary - and that we applaud them as spectacular.

When will we listen? When will we learn that learning is important for everyone? When will society understand that it's as important to know how to double as recipe as it is to understand the Socratic way of teaching and Kepler's laws of planetary motion? It is important we not only know how to grow tomatoes as it is to understand botany - and the need for healthy soil. We need to know not only what to do when our kids have snot noses, but to understand the respiratory system. We need to understand how the United States government is set-up, and how it can break down - so we can teach and vote and advocate for what is right - we must know our rights. And soooooo much more.

Someday, just as I was, there will be a time when necessity is as important as breathing. Whether that be the intense need, not just desire, to learn, to leave, to work, to find independence. And higher learning is a journey - which means, that just as buying a week's worth of groceries takes budgeting and planning, so does getting on that path to a Higher Education - and don't let anyone tell you there is no money for you to go to school. There are so many many many resources.

Eva - thank you for your talk, it was beautiful. And I'm saddened it was necessary.

(Addendum - I keep thinking of so much more I can say about this topic - never-ending, but one thing I've learned from being in the classroom all these years is this - sometimes you just have to push "print" and be finished.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

AA and Scott -

Today is Scott's Independence Day. 25 years ago he declared his independence from alcohol, or as he calls it, Jim Barleycorn.

I am so proud of this man, his journey, and his continual diligence in staying sober - he serves, he preaches, he teaches, he examples, he lives his sobriety.

Scott's youngest daughter, Julie, posted this on Facebook today, and I'm sharing here - to honor both of them.

Today Marks 25 years sobriety for my father! We will be celebrating tomorrow his mile stone! I have many different feelings growing up in a divorce home! As a little girl my dad was my hero! I have had many feelings I have had to work through as an adult! I do however believe it has been the change in him that I have been shown the capacity a person can change and over come with seeing this in him. I am grateful I was able to live with him the short time I did before I had Madison!! I can see a lot of my father in myself! I have learned the valuable lessons from him such as not caring what people think! Learning to stand up for what I believe in even if I am the only one standing! I have learned to be true to myself above all else! I have learned that life doesn't always turn out the way we may want but there is always a new day to begin again! I admire the honesty of what I can share with my father and the compassion he has always shown the under dog struggling! I have held this trait throughout my life because of him! I see the value in everyone where many would see it lacking because of him! I saw a man at my young age loose everything, not want anything to do with his religion, family You hold a love for your family and religion in your own way today.... and made a change to be a better man! I love you dad! I don't say or see you nearly enough! I do value the lessons that you taught and the memories you gave that you couldn't otherwise if you had not made the choice to change!! Much love and respect to your day of Independence from your old self!!! I love you!!






Saturday, July 1, 2017

Women and Education - Eva Witesman -

Regardless of your religious persuasions, listen to this -
well worth the 28 minutes,
and then let's talk. 





Thursday, June 29, 2017

Quiet - Introverts -

I've been quiet the past several days. Too much running around in my head to really sit down and write about it all.

Writing really does take energy, and sharing my writing has been a risk I've chosen to take these past nearly 5 years. But some days, even weeks, putting my thoughts, or better yet - exposing myself, in print is pretty scary.

So occasionally I choose to be quiet - on paper. However, the writing that goes on in my head never stops.

It seems when it's the noisiest around me, I want to tuck away, leave the madness - even if the madness is only just clutter in reality, and take time to be.

And that's where I've been.

Thanks for your patience, and love.

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: 



Ronda,

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!