Sunday, January 31, 2010

I could get used to this

A shoreline spackled with coral.
The sea pounding against the lava rock.
A sunset from our hotel balcony.
A volcanic view from the plane.
The surf pounding against the lava rock wall outside our room.
A little food along the way.
An abundance of flowers ready for lei-making.
And umbrella drinks. Oh yeah.
Hey, how did this guy get in here? I was concerned about him after he did a fire dance. Wanted to make sure he was OK (and didn't do any harm to those 6-pack abs). Yeah, he's winking ;)
This is the one I meant to post.

Tea today: is an umbrella drink considered tea when you're on vacation?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wherein nothing has changed - or has it?

The last half of 2009 defies description. Funky maybe?

I felt like a human casserole of worry, fear, and fog. It was just on the inside, but those close to me noticed. Those who cared, asked.

"I'm fine."

The details of what I blame on getting me there are irrelevant, and to recite the ingredient list of my stew would serve no purpose. We all have things in our lives we want to be different. Suffice it to say that life happens, you take the good with the bad, and you wake up each morning asking yourself "Is this the day things will straighten out?" My heart would race (literally) and skip beats. I'd lay down at night with my fingers touching my pulsing carotid artery, counting the erratic lub-dubs, yet didn't care enough to have the physical symptoms evaluated.

Because deep down I knew, they were not physical. I've seen it a thousand times before in the patients who have walked through my work life. That would never be me.

This blog sat in neutral and may still sit a while. Rare postings. I had nothing except an occasional 140 characters or less. It was like I was floating, watching someone else who looked somewhat like me move ghost-like from day to day.

I was uncomfortable. Uneasy. Totally disconnected.

I had only one way out of this drudgery, and I knew it. I'm well aware that God cares much less about my comfort than He does about my relationship with Him, and that being comfortable so often leads to complacency in mind, body, and spirit. So I dug a little deeper. OK, a lot deeper. I needed to be somewhere else - not physically, but emotionally and spiritually. I read my Bible with more intention. My dedicated time in the morning involved arising early and doing nothing for at least a full hour except reading Scripture, understanding the Word through God-breathed teachers and pastors, and being intentional about where my heart really is. Now. Today. I took friends' prayer requests very seriously (wow, we're a hurting bunch) and felt confident my prayers were being heard. If I told you I was praying for you, trust me when I say it was with fervor and intention. RB and I embarked on praying together. On purpose. Epic.

And I removed my selfish requests from those prayers.

"So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to You."

I realized last Saturday night at church when we sang this song that things have become gradually and gracefully different. I feel a sense of peace and calm, even in the midst of the Haiti heartache. The worry and fear are no longer off the charts, and I seem to have a lot more focus at work, with friends, and at home. I don't feel like I'm floating anymore. It's great not being in charge, or rather fully knowing that I'm not.

What changed? Every circumstance in my life has remained exactly the same. On the outside, nothing has changed. People. Places. Jobs. Relationships. Surroundings. Finances. I did get new tires, but other than that - nothing. has. changed.

God is the same. Everything is exactly the same.

Except me.

I hope I don't stay comfortable with that.

"So I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all
So I'll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours"

Tea today: Jasmine

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Swimsuit Debacle

I have this friend who was told she needed a swimsuit for an upcoming tropical vacation. She had years of collected swimsuits at one point - but they seem to have disappeared. She thinks they went to the last Goodwill run, probably because they were so old she was afraid she'd actually wear them again. And be mocked unmercifully.

She ran across a brand called the Slimsuit. It actually has a patent and is guaranteed to make one appear pounds and inches slimmer. So my friend tried one on at the mall today. She chose the appropriate size and the color that appeared to be the most flattering.

The fluorescent lighting in the dressing room cast a horrendous yellow-green glow on skin that hadn't seen a dose of Vitamin D for months. Undaunted, she disrobed and put her right foot through the first leg hole, smugly pleased that her balance was so solid for a woman her age. Tweeting from the treadmill and EFX really has it's advantages when it comes to balance and core strength. After pulling the suit up to her hips, she felt a strong sense of gratitude.

The upper body strength training was paying off, as she met significant resistance pulling the suit up over her hips. She double checked the size to be sure it was correct. The tugging began. She became warm and a bit diaphoretic with her efforts, but she did not give up. Once the bottom half of the suit was securely in place, the rest was fairly easy. The shoulder straps of the tank-type suit felt a little snug, and as she attempted to take a deep breath, she realized that indeed, breathing would have it's limits.

She turned to look in the mirror and gasped. She had no idea that aged body could look so slim and trim and attractive. It was truly a miracle. Flat stomach, slim hips, smooth back...all encased in a suit of armor.

Unfortunately, loose skin, excess adipose tissue, and a few internal organs take the path of least resistance, and though the "body" of this Slimsuit-clad friend looked fabulous, she was horrified at the sudden appearance of jumbo armpit biscuits, shoulder pads, backfat, saddlebags, and yes, even the outpouring of frontsetts, all having appeared from the relentless compression of the fabulous patented suit. Looks notwithstanding, breathing was difficult, perhaps because of the rebar sewn into the suit to reinforce it's shape. The fabric had very little "give," reminiscent of the heavy vinyl cover she pulls and tugs to snap on the boat until her fingers bleed. And these newly acquired appendages nearly glowed neon green with the glare of fluorescent lights on that winter-white skin. She was a vision of a radioactive Michelin Man.

But indeed, the suit looked fabulous.

With the help of a shoe horn, hangers, and hand lotion, we managed to remove her from the vicious entrapment that someone dared to call swimwear. I took my exhausted friend home, we munched on carrot and celery sticks, and I helped her Google "tropical print gauze Snuggie."

Hopefully the bruises will be gone by the time she goes on her vacation. She's really earned it now.

Tea tonight: Pineapple Waikiki

Monday, January 11, 2010


Just for a bit - the real world is calling for my time and attention, and I feel compelled to listen (this time).

Tomorrow Bridget will host the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival on the word "lust." This is not my way of getting out of posting; perhaps it's my way of taking the time to peruse others' wonderful posts. I hope you do the same.

"Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls."

Tea today: Genmaicha

Friday, January 8, 2010

I want the snow without the cold

I've lived in Iowa all of my life (well, not yet, but so far). I love the changes of seasons, and especially the beauty of the snow. The way the drifts become so beautifully sculpted by the 20 mph winds never ceases to amaze me.

It also never ceases to amaze me that the street plows come after your driveway has been plowed, thus forcing me to call neighbor George back with his scooper thingie.

That's our pond up there. Just to the right, out of view of the lens, is the hole created by the heater that allows my fish to stay alive in suspended animation until the water temperature is high enough for them to move again. Some of those bad boys have lived in that pond for 10 years. I've never heard them complain.

And the birds get fed by berries and seed that Ron Burgundy throws them every day. Yes, on the ground. It sprouts. In the spring. And the seasons start all over again.

But seriously, 30 below zero wind chill? I'll never get used to that. I want 70 degrees and snow - is that too much to ask?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Reflections on 2009

Whether it's appropriately called "twenty-ten" or "two-thousand-ten," I will no doubt write  "2009" for 3 more months. It will take me that long to change my habit for the new year, and then another few weeks while the "2010" written in Sharpie on my hand gets embedded in my brain.

It was an interesting year, starting out with some devastating news about a friend and the spontaneous combustion of wackadoos into a whole new circle of blog buddies (known to Ron Burgundy as the "imaginaries"). I found terrific inspiration from a great writer Sara and her dog Riley and only through an odd hijacking of Pete Wilson's blog comments one day, did we figure out she lives a mere 7 miles up the road from me. As it came to pass, we found that we've had common ties for over 15 years. How weird/coincidental/spiritual/cool is that?? 

I agonized and beat myself up over my kids, and then praised God at the beautiful wedding of my eldest son  which gained me an awesome daughter-in-law whom I allow to pound me in Phase 10 because she may be picking out my nursing home some day. I keep my kids close in prayer, including this one, as our visits are all too infrequent.

It was an tasty year on the food front. I fell in love with generic foods over brand names (other than fire-roasted tomatoes and pomegranates) and found that pennies add up faster than you can say "free food." I fell more in love with whole foods, and further out of love with any food that has a mother. Perhaps it was the 6 months of chicken noodle soup that I made for my dying dog, or just the gag factor of running gears on a chicken, but I could count on one hand the number of times poultry has crossed my chicken lips this year. I Twit-pic'd my way through breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as through a minor finger amputation, my daughter's New York Marathon finish and a spectacular field in Iowa I never knew existed.

I walked my favorite labyrinth more times than I can count 

I stared into mighty Mississippi waters at sunset

And biked into sunsets on land

I got lost in the woods more than once

But continued to meet new friends in the process

We buried two things in the back yard, Lucky and St. Joseph

We don't plan on digging up Lucky since his perfect healing, but have high hopes for Joe.

My resolve for the New Year?
  • Study more.
  • Rid my life of clutter and junk, including toxic habits, people, and stuff.
  • Fertilize, nurture, and prune every fruit of the Spirit
  • Spend more time with my family, taking wisdom from my friend Ginny's post to "Never treat your friends better than you treat your [mother, father, sister, brother]."
Thanks to all tens of friends who stop by here and  comment regularly (I love you!), those who lurk (family), and for those of you who landed here with the Google search "ate his testicles" (who ARE you, anyway?) and found this post (most hits ever) or if you were searching for other oddities like "expensive feet," "waiter fly soup," or "cool steele."

This whole blog thing has taken on a life of it's own. For that, I am blessed. Happy New Year!
Image: Schiaccia