Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The holiday threw me off my schedule, a bit. Well, the holiday and a bit of a personal problem, but that's a topic for another time. The important thing is--this afternoon I got back on schedule.

Part of my new, healthier regiment involves water aerobics. I go twice a week to the afternoon class at the Wellness Center, in Memphis. Let me tell you, this isn't your grandmother's aerobics class!

When I first started Willie's class (Willie is our trainer) I couldn't keep up. In fact, I wasn't really sure if I would be able to get out of bed to go to work the next day. After all, you always feel worse a day or two after you start a new work out program.

My body was so unaccustomed to exercise that I took an Ai Chi water class for a couple of months just to limber up. In time, I felt I might be able to graduate to the more strenuous aerobics class, 45 minutes to an hour of constant movement; running, jumping, reaching.

At first I couldn't keep up at all. I was constantly fighting the tightness in my ankles and calves. Sometimes I would have to work out a muscle cramp. I haven't had any of those problems in awhile.

I am stronger now and my body is a little more limber. At the end of the workouts Willie always asks us to stretch a leg behind our back and grab the ankle. I have never been able to do that stretch--until today. Today I was able to grab both my right ankle, then my left ankle.

There haven't been many people attending classes this December. Willie says that the pool will probably be packed next week. After all, everyone will make New Year's resolutions to get healthy.

I think I can successfully say that I have completed that portion of my resolution this year. I will access this in further detail in my next post.

Monday, December 6, 2010


My post yesterday caused some concern among readers. I didn't mean to worry others. I just wanted to share a feeling that many have during the holiday. I wanted to say that the way to get through it is to focus on those moments of joy until the stressful times pass.

Focus on the Joy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Joy To The World/Broken

Living life is often a stressful task. The holidays seem to accentuate our emotions, whether good or bad. This week, emotions have run very, very high. Part of it is economic. Part of it is about cultural differences among a religious community. I have prayed about this situation, cried about it, and feel no peace.

I recall that haunting Johnny Cash song, Broken. The song was one of Cash's last recordings. His voice, tired and gritty, accentuates the lyrics. He truly seems broken. --And I that is the way I felt today--broken before the Lord. He knows my situation.

As I walked into church this morning I was beaten by the world. I was looking for a moment of peace, a bit of sanctuary. The service had all ready begun. As I entered the church, I heard the melodious chords, Joy To The World. The loft was bathed in twinkling white lights and poinsettias blanketed the front stage. For a brief moment I wasn't broken; I was truly joyful.

The holidays are like that.

Nothing about my situation is different. My problems are still there. Monday I will go to work and my stomach will be tied up in knots--but for a brief moment there was joy.

Sometimes a moment is all you get.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


What is it about Christmas that makes people want to see the same movies that they have seen year after year? Do they think that Kris Kringle is going to lose his competency hearing, that Scrooge will refuse to change his ways, or that Clarance won't get his wings? No, we all know how these movies will end. We have seen them since we were children. In fact, many of us own copies of our favorite DVDs, stored away with the ornaments, waiting for yearly viewing.

I think it is about our efforts to return to a time that seems so much more innocent. Christmas is about the birth of a Savior and a time for reclamation.
There are few time in the year more positive, more joyful than the Christmas celebration.

That is why I think people always return to those corny movies about new beginnings, second chances, and acts of kindness.

Yes, I know what the Ghost of Christmas Present will say before he says it, but I will watch the movie again this year. When I find White Christmas I will auto-tune it onto my TV. I will quote Luke 2 along with Linus, and sing "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch." The movies and cartoons are life affirming. Christmas is life affirming.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

This has become a traditional part of my Thanksgiving meal. I make a big pot the day before Thanksgiving and have a bowl with a sandwich or grilled cheese--an easy, satisfying meal after a day of baking.

My family has its Thanksgiving meal in the afternoon, so a bowl of Pumpkin Ginger Soup keeps me from being grumpy while I smell that turkey cooking.

This soup isn't sweet like Pumpkin Pie. It is hearty and using a tart apple in the recipe adds a nice flavor. It also taste better after taking a moment to count a few of those blessings we take for granted
the rest of the year.

Here's my recipe. I believe I found it at cooks.com:

Pumpkin Ginger Soup
2 cups--or 1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie)
3 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup light cream
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium apple, diced (I used a Granny Smith apple)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Saute onion and apple until tender. Stir in pumpkin, broth, and spices. Remove from heat.

Process or blend until smooth. Return to saucepan and stir in cream.

Heat through and serve.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


The Pilgrims were a serious group of individuals, believing in the virtue of hard work. They weren't big on telling jokes, having parties, or other such vain endeavors. Maybe that is why it was so remarkable that they would take three days to celebrate the end of the harvest that first Thanksgiving. The community came together to celebrate. Work was postponed (with the exception of the women cooking & cleaning up) till another day.

That is why I am a bit dismayed.

Communities no longer make the time to stop and reflect on their good fortune. True--hospitals, gas stations, and some restaurants have always stayed opened during the holiday. Yet, recently, I have noticed other businesses now remain opened most of Thanksgiving Day. Other families are forced t0 rush through a meal, unable to really reflect or fully rejoice.

We must stop and take a moment to be grateful, whether we are obliged to work, or whether we are fellowshipping with family and friends.

I wish joy to all.

Don't get me started on Black Friday.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seeing Clearly--Part 2

Last week I posted about making changes in my life and observing others for inspiration. Today I wanted to write about the other side.

Lately, I have become exposed to people who talk and think much as people did in my mother's generation. That was okay for my mother's time period. However, as times change, people must also change.

Example 1:
I know a woman who has a strong need to control every situation around her. If she is in a conversation, she will control it. If she is involved in an activity, she MUST tell everyone how this activity will be done. She is very close to a bully--though I believe this is a compulsion she may not be able to control. She feels that her way is the right way. It is the way she has always done things and the way things were done by the adults when she was young.

I once listened to this woman tell how she yelled at a waiter that hadn't given the service she wanted and that the waiter was asked by the manager to apologize to her. I had to control my laughter. I remember my college days as a waitress. I know that restaurant employees often apologize--for anything--but revenge is sweet for the last person who touches your food or drink, before it goes into your mouth.

Whereas rudeness to restaurant employees may lead to gastric distress, inflexibility with medical workers could be dangerous. This same person was uncooperative to health care workers during a serious illness. She would attend appointments on her terms and wonder why no one ever wanted to follow-up when she missed appointments. Whenever anyone would question her decisions about her choices, the response she would give was, " My body, my choice."

During the storms of life, trees are often broken, while the bending reed survives.

Example 2:
Businesses that function in the old ways can't survive well during harsh economic times.

"That's the way it's always been done," is the cry of the lamp lighter, the town crier, and the maker of oil lamps. Businesses that don't change with the times, to meet people's needs, become obsolete. There is nothing more frustrating than to work for a struggling business and have an idea to help the company, only to hear, "We've never done that before," and have your idea dismissed.

When your ideas aren't valued morale plummets. When you are asked to take on more and more tasks, but are never told, "Thank you," you begin to feel under-valued.

What's a person to do?

God let me be like the reed and bend when the storms come my way. Let me have the flexibility to change when change is necessary.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Seeing Clearly--Part 1

Remember the old Credence song, I Can See Clearly Now?

I've been people watching lately. I hadn't meant to do it, but I guess I have been looking for inspiration. Something about seasonal changes cause me to pause and assess what is going on around me. I have pondered the way people accept or reject change and the consequences of those decisions. I have also thought about how others have influenced change in me. Today I would like to post about a couple of positive examples.

1) I remember when I was new at The Wellness Center and thought about walking the track. I was around people who worked out regularly, and was intimidated. Everyone on the second floor would see me and know how out of shape I was. My inner voice said that people would all know that I might only be able to walk 1/2 a mile or maybe only 1/4. How humiliating. I was so embarrassed that I practices walking my block the week before the intake so I wouldn't make such a poor showing.

Then I met a trainer for my intake evaluation and began to walk the track. Right in front of me was an elderly woman bent over a cane, walking laps. She would take a step or two, then move her cane forward. Then she would take another step or two.

I felt overwhelmed. This woman had the courage I seemed to lack. From that day on, whenever I have been asked by an instructor to do anything I didn't want to do--because of embarrassment alone, I remember that lady, slowly walking the track with her cane.

2) Teen-agers (even the very best of them) are egocentric by nature. That is not a judgment, but merely an observation.

We have a new student this year, from the country of Yemen. I heard from one of his teachers that he fasts twice a week and I was intrigued by this. Teen-agers are frequently known for a lack of discipline. When I asked the details of his fast, the boy grinned with pride and explained that he fasts twice a week because Mohammad fasted twice a week and he wanted to be like that.

There was something in the boy's eyes that impressed me. If he could be that disciplined, why couldn't I? I know that discipline isn't the only reason for a fast. It's more complicated than that, but still, it might be something that I would consider.

I have made drastic changes in the past few years. The changes have been necessary for my survival. As I have made these changes I have looked to others for inspiration.

Next week I will write about those who have insisted on doing the same thing the same way for as long as they can remember. Their situations aren't faring so well. What can we learn from them?

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I know that many people see October 31 as an evil day. I guess a lot of that would have to do with the state of one's heart.

Today I find the candy in my home is a very real temptation, but I have to get used to that because from now till New Year's day, my home will be filled with tempting food. I will be invited to social occasions where I will be repeatedly tempted by wonderful food. I must learn to prepare tempting, but healthy dishes if I am to become the healthy person I want to be.

You see, I like to travel and the last trip I took--to see my sister--was filled with difficulties. I
haven't traveled, even to go on mission trip, since. --But I want to travel and I believe I will.

Anyway, I have been searching for some substitutes in my favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes. Here are some links I found on the Internet. Maybe you will find this information helpful, too:

1. http://www.cfs.purdue.edu/extension/pdf/recipesubst.pdf


3. http://weightloss.about.com/od/holidayweight/a/bakingsubs.htm

4. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-recipes/NU00584


Wednesday, October 27, 2010


When we begin to watch our weight, we immediately begin to add salads to our meals. The thing is, a salad can become a high calorie side dish--especially if you love those creamy salad dressings.

I've tried using light dressings, but they all seem to leave a bitter aftertaste. I've also tried using less dressing, but then the salads seem a bit plain.

Then I stumbled upon this recipe for an oil, vinegar & herb dressing. I'm not exactly sure how many calories the dressing has, but the canola oil I use is 120 calories per tablespoon--and one tablespoon will sufficiently coat and flavor a large salad.

A good thing about an oil and vinegar dressing is that it doesn't cling to the lettuce. It lightly flavors the salad and drips to the bottom of the container, without adding extra calories.

Another additional benefit of this recipe is that it is very economical. Once you purchase the ingredients, they will last far longer than a $2 to $3 bottle of regular dressing. Here's the recipe:


olive, peanut, or vegetable oil (of any variety)
wine vinegar
salt (I like kosher salt best)
parsley flakes
crushed pepper
You may also add:
crushed garlic

1. Combine 1 tea. salt, 1 tea. crushed pepper, and 3 table. wine vinegar in a jar.

2. Cover and shake hard so the salt mixes with the vinegar.

3. Add 3/4 cup of oil, 1 table. parsley, and shake the jar some more. Add any other ingredients and shake.

4. Refrigerate the rest.

I hope you enjoy this!

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Spring and autumn are my 2 favorite times of the year. The weather is usually mild in the part of the country where I live--if you don't count all of the allergens that both seasons seem to create. In my part of the country the leaves have begun to show their vibrant colors, the last of the goldenrods are disappearing, but mums are in almost every yard. Hay is baled in the fields and bins transporting cotton are often spotted on the highway.

There is something about this season that makes me crave pumpkins. I love the smell of cooked pumpkins--pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake, and pumpkin soup (really great stuff), yet I don't care that much for pumpkin pie. I found a new recipe for pumpkin cupcakes, just haven't had time to try it.

I think the thing I like best about spring and autumn is that both signify change. Change is both frightening and exciting, two sided to the same coin. The air is changing, the colors are changing, the length of the days are changing.

The excitement of all this change around me seems to inspire me, to encourage me. Perhaps I, too, can change something for the better. I could do with a change or two in my life.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Last week I attended my family reunion. We rent a lodge at a state park in an area where my mother and her family once lived. That gives people from out-of-town a place to spend the night.

At one time we had a large attendance and I loved getting caught up with cousins, uncles, and aunts. Over time, things changed. Cousins eventually had their own families to raise. That sometimes led to economic problems, but the demands of time were the biggest hurtles. Work and furthering one's education took its toll on the fragile weekends.
Fewer and fewer cousins attended the reunions.

Then the older members of the family faced health concerns. Some are no longer with us.

I enjoy the peaceful setting of our reunion spot. Sometimes there's not enough hot water. Other times it is a bit too cold--or hot.

--But all of that is okay.

I have learned that all things are ephemeral. What is today may not be tomorrow. The smaller turnouts at the reunions emphasize this. Those I love may not be on this earth next year.

That alone makes escaping the world for one weekend worth while.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Today's Check Up

Three months ago Dr. Morris strongly suggested I make lifestyle changes to improve my health. I wasn't too happy about it--mostly because I didn't believe it would make that much of a difference. The thing is, I was out of options. At the moment there isn't much, medically, that can be done about my condition and that was too much to deal with.

So I followed the doctor's advice. I have almost completed my Healthy Body class. I have been trying to do many of the things I learned in that class--though I confess I bought white bread instead of wheat bread today. I do backslide from time to time.

I have made an effort to work out 3 days a week, though I sometimes haven't been able to fulfill that task. When I do miss a work out, I often make up for it by walking or exercising at home.

Now what were the results of my efforts? I am 10 pounds lighter and have improved blood pressure. As soon as he came into the room, Dr. Morris said he could tell that I had followed his advice, just by looking at my chart.

Though the weight loss is modest, it feels good to know that my effort is paying off in many ways. Now I just have to keep it up.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


There was a generation that remembered December 7 as clearly as December 25. It was the first time that generation truly felt unsafe on its own shores. It was known later as Pearl Harbor Day and caused the USA to enter WW2.

A war or 2 passes, a cold war, and for a few years we forgot what it was like to be afraid in our own country.

Other countries knew or have known this feeling of terrorism. We were just lucky that for about 50 years there was no actual major attack of our people on our soil.

Yea, terrorists attacked Americans elsewhere, lots of times, and we can't forget the first World Trade Center attack either. --But we did ignore the warnings and the first World Trade Center attack. Denial is always a dangerous thing.

So our eyes were opened--no matter how tightly we tried to keep them shut. We now have our own December 7 and will share our memories with children and grandchildren, but they will forget. Some have all ready forgotten.

Unfortunately, the next generation will have its own disasters to face.

All we can really do is hope--and pray for wisdom and courage.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Assessing My Goals

In about 4 months the year will be over and I need to assess how I am doing with my New Years resolutions. I had 2 resolutions; to improve my physical and financial health.

Few Improvements So Far:
Surprisingly, my financial health has been the hardest part. I have gone from being unemployed to working at a very small private school. The pay is quite low, and though I've tried, I have been unable to find a part-time job or to start my own business.

Still, I may have a new source for my writing. A publisher may be interested in some of my short pieces. Perhaps that will lead to something. I have to keep trying. This is supposed to be my year.

Positive Steps:
On the positive side, I have a diagnosis for my thyroid illness--after all these years. It feels good to know that all those symptoms aren't psychosomatic. It is powerful to know there is a reason for why I feel as I do.

After seeing several doctors, one put me on an exercise program that has helped with the achy, stiff joints, depression, and lack of energy. I do enjoy the water exercises.

I have already seen some results from my first month at The Wellness Center. People say my posture has improved, I stand tall again, and have less of a limp as I walk. I am in much less pain--can sleep through the night without leg cramps. My sleep is deeper and I wake up more refreshed. I have actually lost a few pounds, too.

Though I have room to grow, I am making positive steps toward my resolutions.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Labor Day--A Holiday Read

It is the last holiday of the summer in the U. S., the last time to squeeze in a trip, a party, before settling down to autumn and winter. In a troubling economy many of us are opting to stay home. Whether you are staying home this Memorial Day or are laying on the beach, I would like to suggest a book for those who like to dream.

There has been a faithful following of the works of Madeleine L'engle since the 1960s. Her most popular trio was A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind at the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. Yet in 1986 she added to this trio with a 4th book, Many Waters.

I bought a copy of all 4 books to read to my son back in 1992. We had a bedtime ritual that involved reading together before sleep. We moved about 4 times during that year so I thought the reading ritual was quite important. He enjoyed the first three books which I had also read as a pre-teen. The 4th book, however, was new to me and we never got around to reading it.

--And so the book lay in my bookshelf all these years.

I buy books for my classroom faster than I can read them, but this summer I did put a dent into that reading list . Many Waters was a magnificent discovery, a book that can cause and adult to wonder what if as well as a teen.

Though it was the 4th book in a series, the time frame is
between A Wind at the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet. If you are not familiar with these books, Many Waters is a strong stand alone book.

The twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys Murry, are the children of 2 scientists and are accustomed to their parents bringing experiments home. Unlike their brother and sister, the twins, aren't interested in these experiments and, up until this point, have avoided the adventures of their siblings. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, they miss seeing a warning sign on the lab door and are accidentally transported to a desert where small mammoths and virtual unicorns are as natural as lizards and puppy dogs in our world. Angels converse with people and stars sing at night time. --But times are changing and a massive flood is coming.

The Murry twins must find out where they are and find a way home--if there is a way home.

This book kept me trapped in its magic, long after I had turned the final page. "What if", I kept thinking, "What if Madeleine L'engle was onto something."

This was, without a doubt, the finest of the four books.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Listening to the Positive

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People are funny. Well, you have to look at them with your sense of humor intact or you'll simply become frustrated.

I completed my first real week at the Wellness Center. I stayed faithful to my goals. When I walked on the scale--one of those giant things they use in a vets office--I noticed that my weight fluctuated from one day to the next. By the end of the week, however, I was 3 pounds lighter than the week before. It wasn't a lot, but I hadn't really changed my eating habits all that much, so I was satisfied. After all, the exercise program is about a lot more than losing weight. I have felt miserable for so long, I just want to feel good again.

I did exercise and show some restraint so I felt good about the results.

I mentioned the 3 pound loss to someone close to me. This person's response was, "That was probably fluid loss. Take a drink of water and you will get that all back."

Isn't it funny how some people respond with only negativity? To keep those people in your life, you have to learn to take their comments with a grain of salt--or maybe sugar.

I used to be that way, but I was in a dark place back then--very unhappily married. When I became happier, my attitude improved.

Anyway, I can't let this person's negativity get me down. I should also avoid drinking 3 pounds worth of water.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Setting Goals

May through August I felt like that guy on Office Space. Fan of the movie, know who I mean. A guy who hates his job goes to a psychiatrist and explains that each day at his job is worse than the day before. That means, on any given day he is living the worst day of his life.

When my doctor said I had to wait till I was worse before doing anything to get better, I battled a wave of depression. My future was to live each day feeling worse than the day before.

Then another doctor told me what I didn't want to hear. I had to do the best I could with the cards I was dealt. He gave me two specific things to do. 1) Take healthy body classes at The Wellness Center--formerly The Hope and Healing Center and 2) Start an exercise program several days a week at the center.

I assumed this would be like attending any other health spa or gym. I've been to gyms that give you a set of machines to work on and you are miserable afterward. Instead, I had trained professionals who worked out a program tailored to my needs.

Today I attended a class on setting goals. This is what I learned:

One should have short term goals that lead to a long term goal. That way you can periodically evaluate your success or failure.

Goals should also specific so they can be measured. Otherwise how can you monitor your behavior and see if you are on target?

The instructor didn't ask to see my goals but I will post them here.

I intend to work the water program at the Wellness Center 2 days a week & take a class, walk, and use the hand bicycle on Saturday. As an alternative I will walk at home.

I will have healthy, low calorie snacks in the evening (at least 4 evenings a week) instead of high calorie, unhealthy snacks.

I think these 2 goals can be easily measured. I hope they will be 2 steps toward the long term goal of regaining a healthier body.

I hope it will work. Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hope & Wellness

My 6 month physical was Friday. When you are my age, the last thing you look forward to is a physical. I feel like an old car with a mechanic who is bound to find something wrong.

Still, I made a New Years resolution and this blog is supposed to keep me honest. I wanted to do 2 things this year, improve my physical health and my financial health, too. I'm halfway through 2010 and it appears that I keep banging my head into a brick wall on both accounts.

--But I haven't given up on either goal. I found a venue for advertising the business I want to start, but the space I thought for the past 6 months that I might be able to rent, just pulled out of the deal. I am still looking and perhaps soon a new space will be found.

On the health issue: I haven't felt well for about 5 years, though now I realize that I had symptoms for much longer. Doctors gave me a clean bill of health time and again. Then there was a breakthrough. I had a diagnosis. I was sure that would mean that I would soon have a treatment or a pill and would begin to feel better.

Unfortunately, that was not going to be the case. At this point, there is no medical intervention that can be done. I was crushed, feeling that each day would be worse than the last until I was so ill that I could receive necessary treatment.

Fortunately, my doctor threw me a life saver--but not before giving out some tough love. He said that, for whatever reason, my body was flawed and my only choices were to work with the cards I had been dealt or to do nothing and continue feeling miserable and helpless. He suggested I join the center's wellness program. This would be a time consuming program involving health classes and an exercise program.

Take the cards God gives you. That was the advice I told my son about 15 years ago when he struggled to read and found he had dyslexia. I told him that I didn't know why he was made this way and had to struggle so hard to do what others found so easy.

Now my own words had come back to haunt me. These are the cards I am dealt. To fight the depression maybe I can build up some endorphins with exercise--perhaps stimulate my metabolism at the same time.

Can I do it? Can I find the time and the energy to do what I need to do? School starts next week. The first few months of school are the hardest.

Maybe posting this blog will help.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Travels

I had a rather uneventful summer--had to work--no vacation. --Not too different from a lot of Americans. Fortunately my job has allowed me about 2 hours a day tending to napping children.

I wanted to rest. That's really what summer is about--escape and rest from the normal working world. Some escape in a movie theater. Action and adventure movies are most popular during the summer.

Others like fantasy video games and can play them for long periods of time. --And they have every right to do so.

I wanted to rest and renew in a peaceful place. While my students slept, I spent the summer visiting Mitford, NC. I escaped the hot Tennessee summer in the cool, rolling hills of a sleepy little town. I worshiped with Father Tim in The Lord's Church and was a tourist in his community. When I finished reading the Mitford series I was sad. So nice was the respite from my real world.

I took a brief break to a lake cottage in Wilson's Cove, OK. This was a tourist town in A Time To Heal, by Linda Goodnight. I enjoyed this book because of the setting. Adam, my son, and I have taken several trips to Natchez Trace State Park in TN. We enjoyed the lakeside cabins or the scenic lodge. We have enjoyed those brief respites and felt our spirits renew.

Ah, I hope I can take such a trip again soon. Maybe I will rent the cabin for grand kids someday!

Okay, maybe these weren't real vacations, but it was a poor girl's escape. With a little bit of luck and a prayer, the family reunion in October will be the rest I need to get me through until next summer.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In Stitches

In keeping with this year's theme of health I will share my latest medical adventure.

Well, one of my medical problems has been corrected. The dermatologists removed 2 cysts from my scalp. It was an in-office procedure--not a big deal. It was kind of interesting non-the-less.

The doctor put local anesthesia in my scalp--like the dentist puts in the gums. My heart instantly started to pound and I prayed that I wasn't going to stroke out, right there. Amazingly, they took my blood pressure before I left the office and it was normal.

Next, was the incision. Of course, I felt nothing. It was the sound, however, that I found intriguing. I could hear the grating of the scalpel moving against my scalp. It reminded me of that faint sound made when cutting apart chicken before cooking it.

One of the cysts came out with ease. The other was more troublesome. --But the good news is that the dermatologist feels that the cysts are not cancerous. The cysts will be sent out for tests, but all indications, so far, is that everything is okay.

The doctor cut away only a little bit of my hair, so when the stitches are removed and I get a trim next week, there will me only a little indication that anything has been done at all. Yah!

For now, I am donning scarves. I don't want to scare my students with the stitches in my scalp or the messy medicine in my hair. The children seem to find the scarves festive.

The children are curious, though. One of the cysts was in a noticeable spot. Perhaps I will make my unveiling a sort of teachable moment to help with their own fears of visiting the doctor.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4, 2010

What can I write that hasn't all ready been written? Entire books have been written about our forefathers, our freedom, our wars, and our history. What can I say differently?

As a little girl I was taught patriotism right along with reading, writing, and math. We sang rousing patriotic tunes about our country, Texas, and our forefathers. That's just the way things were in Texas in the early '60s.

The innocence of the '50s was fading and people understood the flaws and corruption that exists among our country's leadership. Now-a-days such a thing is accepted, but in the'60s that was a grand disappointment. Patriotism suddenly seemed naive. People began to feel that this country didn't deserve respect.

I have traveled throughout this country and abroad. Something interesting that I have discovered is this: all countries have corruption. Despite the corruption, people love their counties, their land, their homes.

Today I was a part of a very patriotic church fellowship. I enjoyed singing patriotic songs, both old and new. I loved seeing children waving American flags and wearing red, white, and blue. I watched the big screen and saw pictures of men and women in their uniforms.

I am glad patriotism has returned to our country. I hope it remains.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Americans work hard and don't take time to rest--or play. That's a fact. Finding a way to rest now is even harder, because so many of us are making less money than we have ever made before and we have tapped out a good chunk of our savings.

I didn't get to take a vacation last summer. Finding leisure has become an endeavor in creativity. Years ago, while a student in college, I was determined to give my son an enjoyable summer. I decided to explore our city and charted the discount days of every museum, park, and recreation facility in the entire town.

For next to nothing we attended the zoo, the local amusement park, the art museum, the children's museum, and several sporting events. My son and I bonded together and both had an enjoyable time.

No, it wasn't really a vacation but it was a summer I still remember joyfully. We anticipated the trips and returned home rejuvenated and ready to face the rest of the week. That's the good thing about leisure. It helps to recharge the battery and makes facing dull ordinary days a bit easier.

I will have a few more suggestions about rest and leisure later in this series.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rest & Leisure

Last night I Googled the campsite that I attended many times as a teenager. I can't say why the years I spent at Camp Linden came to my mind. I remember how getting away from my normal routine had such a profound effect on me. Even today many, many, many years later, I remember some of those camp experiences.

My former husband was a man who had great difficulty leaving behind any schedule. He didn't like changing jobs because it meant getting accustomed to a new work schedule. He was always anxious during vacations, because it meant he had no schedule at all. He always seemed relieved to get back to work. I wonder, sometimes, if his inability to rest and relax had something to do with his unhappiness and early death.

I am always amazed at how even a small rest renews me, both physically and emotionally.

I occasionally get writers block, or realize I am not as efficient as I could be in my teaching. Often I find that, instead of thumbing through a teaching magazine, or studying a text about writing, what I need is to go to a movie or experience something different. I need to take a rest. It renews me and makes me more creative.

When I take even a small trip I am even more renewed.

With our economy the way it is, it is difficult for some people to take that vacation--or even a staycation (a stay-at-home vacation), but we all need to find some way to achieve the rest we all need.

Friday, June 4, 2010


As you recall, I wanted to take the theme of self-improvement for this year's blog. I thought about this over the Memorial Day Holiday. Memorial Day means a lot of things to a lot of people. Of course it began as a time when people would take the day to clean the grave sites of soldiers, remove the grass and weeds, and remember the soldiers who were laid to rest at these sites. Flowers were laid, and then picnics were enjoyed by all who participated.

Picnics are about the only part of that original tradition that still exists. Hopefully people still stop and remember those who gave their lives for freedom.

Most people think about Memorial Day as a time for school to end and summer and rest to begin. With the economy as it is most people are working harder for far less money. I know I am. I will work year round this year and make 1/4 of what I made for 10 months of work 2 years ago.

Still, I must find a way to squeeze in rest and joy. Studies have been published about the mental and even physical health that rest and happiness bring into our lives. Proverbs 17:23 says it like this:

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

Now research proves what the Psalmnist knew all along.

Friday, May 28, 2010


It is sometimes frustrating to work on ones own personal health issues. It can be frightening to know that something is wrong and to try to find out it could be. It is even more difficult when a doctor says that nothing is wrong and and you are sure that there is.

That is where I have been for several years. I feel like a wind up toy that is steadily winding down. After years of prodding, I finally found a doctor that believes me. I finally have a diagnosis. The illness is one that runs in my family. Hmmm, I had a family history of this and still doctors would not listen.

Now comes the hard part. Doctors have 2 philosophies in regards to this illness. Some do nothing until the patient can't manage without meds. Others are proactive and give small amounts of medication throughout the patient's life. Needless to say, I am hoping my doctor will be proactive.

I had an ultra-sound this week and will see a doctor again, soon.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Tennessee is still recovering from the floods that hit us the first of May. Things are beginning to return to normal for some, but others will never be the same again. Let me give you an example:

For the past 2 weekends the weathermen have predicted violent weather. I never used to consider flooding in my neighborhood or even my city. Everyone else seems to jump at the thought of bad weather, too.

I must also say that I am very proud of my city and the way we have come together to help each other. Churches are standing in the gap with work & cleaning crews and food for those who are rebuilding and going back to their homes. I have a friend who put it this way, "We are suppose to be about this kind of work. We are far more efficient than the government."

I hadn't thought of it that way. We should all find a way to bless others.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What a difference!

It has been a week and I am moving on with my life after experience a 1000 year event. Yes, this is on the official record book as a 1000 year event. The Cumberland River, the Fork Deer River, and the Loosahatchie River have not flooded at this rate in at least 1000 years.

Though many of our lives have returned to normal, let us not forget those whose lives have not, and will not return to normal for months or perhaps years.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Whai a Difference

Well, I was spared.

My home was 4 and 1/2 feet above water level. Neighbors 5 houses away were not so lucky. The church & school down the road was hit twice, first by the actual flash flood, and the 2nd, and more devastating event, when the water was diverted from the city of Millington.

The worst thing that happened at my house was when the city cut off the electricity and that caused the sup pump to stop working. Water filled the crawl space for about 48 hours. It makes the whole house smell like a lake. My sister suggested sprinkling Lyme in the crawl space. It would kill the odor and prevent mold or other bacteria from growing. It sounded like a good deal to me. My brother-in-law also suggested spreading laundry detergent. I thought I would pass that along because, with all the flooding in Tennessee, I am sure there are many others in my predicament--and many many who are in far worse shape.

By the way, I was glad to hear the country music and contemporary gospel music community hasn't forgotten those who are trying to put their lives back together. They are all ready planning fund raisers.

You heard all the people in Hollywood gathering to help during many of the previous natural disasters, but I haven't heard much from the west coast in support for these people who lost their homes, jobs, and sense of security when flood waters woke them. These floods didn't happen in a single city, but throughout the state.
People will get back on their feet, because they are hard working individuals--but it will take a long, long time.

People could use your prayers and support.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What Would You Take?

I have just been through a very new experience. Tornadoes have ripped through the Memphis area for 2 nights. Exhausted, I slept through my alarm. I wanted to go to church to see how I could volunteer in my community. I knew there were many who had lost their homes in the flooding. The spirit was willing but the body was weak. I slept.

I was awaken by a neighbor telling me that our neighborhood would soon be evacuated. Water had been diverted from our city, to a nearby river. That river was near our subdivision. The water was rapidly rising. The water was less than one block away.

My decision, what do I take? What do I leave? What is most important?

Tonight, I don't know what bed I will sleep in. I don't know if I still have a home. I pray for God's mercy and grace.

If you had been me, what would you have taken?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Moving Slowly Forward

Things are moving slowly, much more slowly than I would like. I have never felt that I had time for patients.

Today I will see if I have a tax refund. Tomorrow I will see a doctor that might be able to make sense of some symptoms that seem a bit bothersome.

I hope to soon know if this little job will get off the ground.

I have a lot going on.

I have to wait to see how it all works out.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


It never fails that when you get a plan, a vision, obstacles come about to prevent you from reaching your goal.

I made 2 resolutions this year. One was about a business, of sorts, that I wanted to start. I needed, very much, to supplement my income. The first thing that happened was that my computer--that I need to start this business--lost its ability to connect with the Internet. I also lost my part-time job that might have given me the income to have my computer fixed.

I still intend to pursue this plan.

My second resolution had to do with trying to get myself in better health. Several things have happened on a positive note. I found that I do have some health issues that had gone untreated.

For those of you who are reading this and live outside the U. S. our health care is good, but it is sometimes tricky to get the treatment you need. I was unemployed for almost a year, then underemployed. I lost the health care that I once had. Now I am playing catch-up.

1. I now have the arthritis medication that enables me to move about with far less pain.
2. I found out that mysterious breathing problems that I thought were signs that I was out of shape, actually had a medical cause and am now taking medicine that allows me to actually exercise again!
3. I found out that I don't have any kind of skin cancer.
4. I am about to see a specialists that may be able to change my life--for the better.

On a random odd little note. My general doctor is no longer on my health plan, so I have to find a new doctor.

I guess you can't have everything.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Is This Legal?

That's what I'm trying to find out. It is a long story, but the short version is this. I had some financial problems and fell behind in cell phone payments. While I attempted to get back on my feet, the payment went to collections. I tried to make arrangements to take care of that bill with EOS CCA collection agency. I gave them my debit card #so I could make monthly payments. I wanted to make payment of 50.00, but they insisted on they would take two payments of 140.00. When I said, "No." they said there was nothing I could do about it because they had my debit card number.

I called my bank and was assured that I had taken the right steps to keep my account safe. You can imagine how surprised I was this morning to learn that EOS CCA had, in fact, removed the 140.00 from my account and First Tennessee Bank allowed them to do it. When I called my bank and asked why they had allowed this when I made 2 phone calls to prevent it, I was told that I had talked to a new girl and had been misinformed about the steps I needed to take to protect myself. Isn't that just like a bank. They make the mistake and the common people pay for it.

Now I am wondering, how am I going to get an extra 140.00 to pay my mortgage this week?

It sure seems like something illegal happened to me.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Disaster Again

Another earthquake and our hearts go out to those in Chili. I haven't heard from Hollywood like we did a few weeks ago after the disaster in Haiti. I think that is the point I was trying to make with the last blog on this topic. Hollywood people are unpredictable. One week's cause is to adopt children from undeveloped nations and the next week it is to sing to raise money for a disaster-ridden country. The Hollywood elite will hop on a private plane to fly to Brazil to tell us that we must carpool to fight global warming, er-uhm-sorry, the new phrase is climate change--not global warming. How foolish of me to forget.

The point is that we need to make our own decisions about the causes that need our help. Then we don't have to wait for Hollywood to decide for us. Yes, I will give to a charity that will helps both the people in Haiti and Chili. I didn't need anyone from Hollywood to pick the charity for me. I did my own checking and found it to be on many lists of effective charities, too.

Enough of this rant. Be safe my dear readers. Share your love today.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I was watching TV while getting ready for church. Professionals were talking about why some people procrastinate I didn't really have to hear why--I procrastinate about most things. It is about fear for me. I am afraid of failure, of the unknown, or of being in uncomfortable situations.

Now that I have begun the process, I am not as fearful about this job venture. The problem I am finding now is that it will be difficult to find my clients. These are people who are scattered about. All the addresses and phone numbers that I found on the Internet were old and outdated. It will take much research to find anything new.

In the meantime I am asking people who might know people and hope that word of mouth might give me enough people to start this venture. I have a couple of leads and hope that they might lead to a couple of more. So on and so on.

* * * *

God is Good!

For the past 2 weeks I have received less than what I expected salary-wise. I won't go into great detail about the matter, just that it had something to do with snow. Anyway it put me under a good deal of hardship at a time when my son was also unable to make up for the difference.

Both weeks I prayed that God would give me the grace to deal with this hardship and prayed that I would trust Him to help me make ends meet. On the 1st occasion someone walked up to me and told me not to worry about my medical insurance bill, that it had been taken care of. I was both stunned and grateful.

The second week someone from church came to my door and gave me a months worth of groceries. He just said that God had put us on his heart. Again I was stunned and grateful.

On both occasions, the amount that was given was about the same amount as I lost from my paycheck. I am in awe. God is good and I have surrounded myself with many good people.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I have always heard that necessity is the mother of invention. I didn't really understand that until just recently. I need extra work and no one is hiring so it is necessity that I get this new business underway. I need to get it going by summer because it looks like summer will be very rough otherwise!

I guess that is the way God has to be sometimes. He has to push us into trying new ideas, that we might not otherwise try. This idea is very uncomfortable for me, but I guess my biggest fear is failure, or looking like a fool. If I don't ever try, I will have had a good idea. If I try and fail, I won't have even had a good idea. I will be a total failure.

Anyway, I do now have at least one location that I can afford. That is a big step forward. Up until this week the biggest stumbling block was an affordable location. It is out of the way though. That is why I might also look for an alternative location, too.

Baby steps. I am taking baby steps.

My deadline is Mid-May.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Today's The Day

I have an idea for a part-time business, a way to earn extra income and help my community. It may be a risk, though. Right now money is tight.

I have been putting this off for awhile. I guess I am a bit afraid. I know there are a few steps I need to take, but I'm not sure which to take first.

I made some calls and a couple of contacts. I spent some time on the Internet to do research, but since my computer is down, that is difficult, too.

Anyway, I am tired of not doing anything. Today I am going to make up a questionairre. I won't be working on President's Day, so I think I will make a few calls then.

Hopefully I can visit some support groups this summer so people will know me. Then maybe I can drum up some customers and get things started before the fall.

FYI: It is a good thing to have special friends who pray for you. I got a call from a good friend, Susan, who said she had been praying for me. I believe her too. After talking to her, my spirits are always lifted. Surround yourself with good people. It does make a difference.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

After the Snow

I live in the South and we just don't know how to handle snow here.

The South and snow is a lot like San Diego and rain. I was in San Diego a couple of years ago and had to laugh when the noon news did a special alert because there was a summer shower. It wasn't even enough rain to wash the dust off the roof of the apartment.

I heard they have been getting a great deal of rain lately.

--And we have gotten some snow, too.

My dogs, Dixie Belle and Taz don't like it either. They sniff the ground and get snow on the tips of their noses and then want to go inside. They look at me, blink their eyes, and cock their heads as if saying, "Can't you make it go away? I know you can. You can do anything."

You just have to love dogs.

* * * * *

Now about my New Year's Resolutions:

1. I went to a training session for work and hoped I would make some contacts. I am not sure I made any, but one has to try.

2. I made some follow up visits to the doctor. Without going into detail, things didn't really go as I hoped and I found one problem I didn't know I had.

I am like an old car. You don't know anything is wrong with the car till you go to the mechanic. He can always find something wrong to fix.

On the plus side, now that I have a name for the problem, I can be proactive and fix things a bit.

--Oh, and I can't forget, I think I lost the 3 pounds I put on during the holidays.

Yeah, for me!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Who Decides

Let me preface this post by stating that I have all ready made a donation toward the Haiti relief effort. I have several other organizations that I support on a regular basis.

Two nights ago I flipped through over thirty channels on my TV to see the telethon for the Haiti relief effort. This isn't the first time that celebrities have come together to "guide" or "enlighten" us about a specific cause.

This all got me to wondering, with all the natural disasters on our planet, who decides which ones get the media attention. Stars gathered to sing about famine in Africa and the earthquake in Haiti, but not for the Tsunami in Ecuador. Why? I mean, who decides? If there are 2 big disasters in one year, does one cancel out the other?

--And after the Red Carpet is rolled up and overhead is paid, who benefits more--those who needed the relief, or the careers of the stars? I don't know, but there is no harm in asking.

Don't get me wrong, agencies need money to do their good works. Right now I have school children collecting pennies to buy chicks for families in undeveloped countries. The kids won't get Red Carpet treatment and they won't appear on a telethon, but I know their hearts are in the right place and I pray that the money they collect will help change lives.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Faith and Hope

I have decided to jump into the deep end of the swimming pool, so to speak. I sent a manuscript to a publisher. Now I play the waiting game.

I have been down this road many, many times. Why? After all, there are more failures than successes. I guess I just don't know how not to write. It is in my blood, something I must do.

I have been working on my resolution and heard a sermon that really touched me. The key scripture was Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.

Hope gives us a goal, a vision for the future. Faith is acting upon that vision. I guess I had been getting it wrong all these years and what this man preached made real sense to me.

It reminded me of the story about the farming community that was suffering through a drought. All the ministers and community leaders planned a prayer meeting. Everyone in town attended and prayed great prayers asking for rain. One young child, however, brought everyone else to shame, for that young child was the only one to arrive with an umbrella in his hand.

It is our hope that gives us the vision that causes us to pray. It faith that causes us to find our umbrellas.

I guess that is why I continue to write and try to publish articles and books. I hope to make it as a writer and faith is what causes me to keep at it.

If this attempt doesn't work out, there will be another down the road.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Doing Things Differently

My Sunday school teacher, Al, says that he writes his New Year's resolutions and mails them to himself after about 6 months so he can see if he has made any progress. I realize that I am going to need more than one reminder to hold myself accountable to my resolutions. That is where you, my friends, will come into my plan.

I have decided this year that I will use my blog, not only to display my writing, and connect with the world, but to hold myself accountable to my resolutions of self-improvement. I plan to do this on 2 fronts; economic & career wise, and physical health.

The economic problems that hurt so many people last year and the year before, have left me struggling. I am not as young as I used to be either. I plan to do something on a regular basis that will somehow help to improve me and make me more valuable to the job market. I also want to explore ways that I can increase my earning so I can stand solvent in a struggling economy.

I also want to increase my health. I lost some weight last year. I would like to do more in that area, but I need to explore other health mattters. I have already had some tests run--now that I have healthcare again--and am all ready seeing some relief for some constant pain I was enduring.

I want to keep this all in a spiritual perspective. I have believed for many many years that the year 2010 would be a special year for me--that God had a special blessing for me that would come to fruition at this time. Holding on to that hope has helped me through these past 2 troublesome years. --And I do plan to blog about both hope and faith in the near future.