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!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Thoughts for the Week -

When someone speaks my thoughts, I listen. Here are a few of those - 

"Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape." 

– Pope Francis
Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion?
~ Rumi

OK, if I could have anything, of course I would ask for world peace. I’m a priest — what else would I ask for?
But I don’t get to have just anything, any more than anyone else does.
So I’m going to make a realistic list of things that are entirely within the realm of human gift giving.

What do I want?
I want a restoration of civility in the world.
I want us to be nicer to each other.
I want the excruciating rudeness and nastiness and boorishness to Just. Stop. Now.
I want us to remember that we all come from ancient space dust, that we were all created in God’s image from that dust, and that we are all related. Whether we like it or not, we are all related. And that in the end, we shall return to that dust. Whether we like it or not.
I want the name-calling and the insults and the sneers and the snark to stop. Right. Now. Just. Stop.
I want people to stop separating the world into “us’s” and “thems.” There are no “thems” in God’s very good creation. We all belong to God, and there’s not a damned thing we can do about it.
I want all of us to remember that we could all be wrong. As in, what I believe about God and what you believe about God not only could be different, but we both could be wrong. And we will not know the answer until we meet God face to face. So stop with this nonsense about my religion being better than your religion.
In the same vein, kindly remember that because one of us says “God” and another says “Allah” and another says “Jehovah” and another says “Dios” and another says “Bwana Mungu” and another says “Wakantanka” doesn’t mean that we worship separate gods. It merely means we speak different languages. There is only one God. Deal with it.
I want there to be fewer weapons in the world, and no more of this so-called “I can carry a gun wherever I want so I can scare the bejesus out of you because it’s my right.” You have the right to carry the gun. I have the right not to be intimidated.
I want our so-called leaders and candidates to stop talking about carpet-bombing people. And no more of this “let’s kill all their family members just because we can.” No one can be a leader whose solution is simply to murder, in cold blood, anyone on earth.
I want people to stop drawing lines in the sand and to start walking together to make the world a better place. United we truly will stand together. Divided? We shall fall. Every. Single. Time.
I want Black Lives to Matter. And Native Lives. And Hispanic Lives. And All Lives. Because all of us are created in God’s image, and all of us deserve to treated well. All of us.
I want less complaining and more complimenting. Stop complaining about how others have more, or have what you want. Start building up those same people, because they have succeeded.
I want more helping and less demanding help. Really, it’s not that hard. As Robert Fulgham said in his book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” “Share everything.” How hard can that possibly be? Remember, you can’t take your toys with you when die.
I know … I want a whole lot of things, most of which I will not be given as a gift.
But I can give these same things as gifts.
I can be more polite and more affirming.
I can give more, and demand less.
I can work harder to get more people across the finish line.
It is all up to me, and I know that.
Oh, and a few more kettlebells would be nice.
So would some silver earrings. Those would go so well with my ever-whiter hair.
The Rev. Dr. Lauren R. Stanley is priest-in-charge of the Rosebud Episcopal Mission (West), serving eight Episcopal congregations on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/opinion/2016/12/24/christmas-gifts-sought-gifts-given/95817462/

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Being Centered -

I need to remember this, particularly on days like today when I'm tired emotionally, physically, and spiritually: 

When I am temporally centered:
1.     Life is not fair.
2.     I am not sure if I have worth.
3.     I do not have time to get things finished.
4.     I am overwhelmed.
5.     I am not sure my Higher Power cares.
6.     I rely on others to make me feel valued.
7.     My life is not mine.
8.     I do not feel forgiven.
9.     My life spins.
10. I do not feel centered or grounded.

When I am spiritually centered:
1.     I feel close to my Higher Power.
2.     I have great hope.
3.     I receive clarity.
4.     What I do each day is of value.
5.     I have less stress.
6.     I can handle my, and others, mistakes.
7.     My feeling of self-worth increases.
8.     I feel free.
9.     I am able to get things done.
10. I enjoy each day.