The Beauty of Giving Back

Dear Reader:

These days when I look back on old photos…extending past a decade at least… I wonder why I always always felt inadequate in the confidence department growing up and throughout my early adult years.

When I gaze (from my perspective now) at the unknowing healthy forty-something or early fifty-something gal (before I went from taking no medicine to a dozen or more) I see the glow of good health. None of the other features, such as overall appearance, dress, style, hair-do, color…etc. matters… It is the beauty of a healthy body. Something we take for granted until we no longer have it.

Fun Shots of Hair Do’s over the Ages….from my Retirement Party

Extended chemo certainly zaps the healthy shine on a face (no matter how much make-up) or watery eyes (no eye lashes, thus no protective oil to lubricate the eyes) and perhaps the least visible but most important the bubbly energy slowly seeps out.

Certainly part of it is the aging process and I recognize that…but the long-term effects of hard core medications and their side effects do take a toll on the body over the years. Believe me…I don’t want to sound like a whiner… I know how lucky I am to just be alive and so terribly grateful…however some days I long to be able to jump out of bed like I once did and walk down the street with a careless gait… even a couple of years past.

I love meeting the new day vibrant and head on…not hopping down the hall or holding onto furniture to get to the bathroom. Hopefully my “Lindy Hop” dance will dissolve with the skin transplants in my foot…sooner than later.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2008 I had lots of people dropping by with all kinds of ideas on what to eat, drink or even how to exercise the disease away…at least placate it. I soon wearied of most of these suggestions….but I do remember the first one I read about while going through a chemo infusion… a spice -Turmeric.

I hadn’t thought about that term in a long time…until Doodle texted me the name of a beautiful plant (I asked the name of) that she gave me for my birthday…it and one other replica still adorn the white bench.

It is called “Curcuma.” Isn’t it beautiful? Since she brought it to me a few days before my September birthday it has bloomed and bloomed and bloomed.

It is in the ginger family. But more importantly…it has gained recognition in recent years for its potential influence as an anti-cancer agent.

Turmeric’s active ingredient is an extracted compound called curcumin. Studies have shown that curcumin helps prevent several forms of cancer including breast, lung, stomach, liver, and colon because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It stops the development of cancer by interfering with the cellular signaling aspects of the chronic disease.

Once I learned this information from Doodle’s text…I walked back out on the front porch and regarded the beautiful plant differently. Not only was it a gorgeous purple but it also contained the capability of perhaps prolonging or altering a human being’s life expectancy from disease. It only increased my appreciation for it…making it even more exquisite.

I think God designed Creation, to not only be beautiful, but to be a source of giving back to others…we all have the gift of care giving, an unique talent to share….

My friend, Carol Poole, once taught a class for teachers called “History in Your Own Backyard.” I get a sneaking suspicion that if I knew a fraction of the potential medicinal cures probably coming from different plants in my own backyard/garden I would be shocked. Which leads me to my new “Ah-ha” moment.

If we just take the time to stop and look around… God has provided each of us so many “cures” for our many, diverse daily problems that go unrecognized and un-used in search of society’s standard solutions…when the answer is often within arm’s reach in our own homes.

*And to be perfectly honest with myself…half the time now if I am having a problem, it is in the mirror where I “see” the solution…I am the problem…or at least a pretty good contributor. 🙂

So until tomorrow….We need to stop searching for solutions this way or that way or in lands called “Elsewhere” and go back to that mirror and see our own  solution staring back at us.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 A HUGE Shout-out to my Horace Mann Insurance agent. Stephanie Rankin is just about the most amazing young woman I know! She has literally held my hand through this whole robbery/recovery car theft…. Since I haven’t had a car to go to her office…she has been coming over to my house and helping me with all the required paperwork that goes along with this type of situation, carefully explaining each detail of the rather long complicated process from police reports, to claims agencies, to title deliveries, etc.

Yesterday she made a copy of the final market valuation report in her office and ran it over…taking a picture of my car title (for safe measure) and then went scurrying out the door with the original to send (UPS) to the Auto Auction in the upper part of the state…tracking it to make sure it arrives Monday so the insurance company can put my check in the mail! Whew! Stephanie is a dynamo and a care giver through and through….even on a late Friday afternoon.

Not only has God been winking through this whole car theft situation with my guardian angel Stephanie… He has continued to wink farther out….I was talking to the “Totaled” department agent in Springfield, Illinois about all the last minute requirements to check off Thursday evening when she mentioned she had lived in the lowcountry in 2012 and taught at a middle school in Summerville, SC….called Alston Middle School. I just about dropped my iPhone. Six degrees of separation. O degrees with God.

More photos…from the Dingles at the Golden Gate Bridge! Just gorgeous!

After Stephanie left…here comes the one and only Jo Dufford bearing the queen dish of the south…a homemade mac and cheese casserole. Doodle…I had just enough roast beef dinner (thank you!) left over to go with the mac and cheese….a marvelous finale for me and my tummy! Jo is also the queen of comedy and brings the most delightful gift of all…laughter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Faith Doesn’t Come in a One-Size Fits All Package

Dear Reader:

While reading an article on one person’s perception of different kinds of spiritual temperaments….traditionalists, naturalists, activists, intellectuals, caregivers…solitude and simplistic faith followers…One fact arises…we don’t all have to worship the same way. God wants us to worship according to the way He made us. (Gary Thomas: Sacred Pathways)

…” By understanding our spiritual temperaments, we can develop the tools we need to grow spiritually. The goal here is not self-actualization or spiritual self-absorption, but to feed our souls so we can know God in a new way, love him with every cell of our being, and then express that love by reaching out to others.”

 Gary L. Thomas

I remember going to several educational conferences (during my teaching days) when the theme  was “One size doesn’t fit all”...in other words, all children learn differently and the key to successful teaching/and student learning is figuring out the individual learning styles of each student.

Teaching the same thing, the same way, to all children in a class, brings about the same results….a scattering of successful students, a scattering of mediocrity, and finally a scattering of unsuccessful students. This pie graph never changes unless the teaching techniques fit each individual student’s needs.

I think this is true of our own individual relationships with our Creator. We each have to forge our own pathway of faith with God’s nudging and directions….but not everyone is going to take the same path to meet God.

Just during my lifetime my own spiritual temperance has subtly changed from more traditional and group organized to solitude and simplicity…moments talking to my flowers and trees in the garden, delighting in new buds and blooms…smelling the rich dirt held in my hand….watching a sunrise or sunset…awestruck by a full moon. It is in these moment that I feel God’s presence ….It is a private and personal conversation these days.

“Nature never repeats herself, and the possibilities of one human soul will never be found in another.”

I believe this to be true…there will never be another me and there will never be another you. That is why one size doesn’t fit all.

We each must find our own path of faith and in doing so we will find the love we so longingly seek…we will find God because, quite simply, God is love.

So until tomorrow…

I love this Kelly Rae Robert’s angel titled ‘Loved’ because all of you have made me feel this way during these past few trying days. Thank you for your texts, emails, calls, and cards…making me smile, wipe a tear, and just plain laugh out loud uproariously!

 


Pam Stewart, a friend from church, sent this card which read…Life maybe raining on your parade right now…but I’m asking God to make the sun peek out from behind the clouds. and to bring you a rainbow soon!

Pam went on to say that God already had it covered… putting me on Rainbow Road. She’s right!

 

Happy “Official” birthday to my wonderful niece, Bekah! May your day be filled with love, peace, and excitement over new tomorrow’s!

Belated Happy Birthday to Susan Swicegood…Susan…you are just going to have to chalk up this delayed birthday wish to a delayed neuron (actually several) flowing through my head and out my ears. I remember last year…making myself repeat…”Mollie and Susan on the 18th…Bekah on the 19th.” It obviously didn’t work or stay in my memory bank.

Perhaps two car robberies, foot surgery and “too” many pain killers sucked my memory right out… I hope you had a wonderful birthday yesterday!

 

BUT…if I could  bake a cake…this is what I would have made for you! 🙂

 

*Walsh and Mollie made it to San Francisco safe and sound and were already digging into oysters when they sent this picture. I am sure though Walsh and Mollie are going to miss their “daily sugar supply” from Eloise.

 

 

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Being Vulnerable Makes Us Stronger

Dear Reader:

What a fun day yesterday was….filled with friends, conversation, and laughter…just what the doctor ordered!

Susan Cadwell stopped by first to tell me that her house in Conway sold the day after she put up her For Sale sign. All it took was a one hour tour to sell the house. She had been nervous about the effects of the flooding and Hurricane Florence’s influence on the sale; instead the storm turned out to be the pivotal selling point for someone who needed another house following its destruction. “God works in mysterious ways”…always a good sign that the path you are following is the the true “north” for you.

Susan left some soup and salad….thank you so much…brought in this cute Halloween bag.

While Susan was leaving Anne arrived, fresh off the plane from Italy, bearing Greek potatoes and a gyro…a winning combination! She had also done a watercolor of the pewter breast cancer angel with the scripture: Psalm 91:11

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”  A beautiful pink camellia accompanied the watercolor.

While reading the line of scripture again I found it so sustaining to my vulnerable state. I was in need of reassurance that I was still being looked down upon and protected and this verse gave it to me with the memory of my sun visor angel. Anne did laugh and tell me that she stopped with line 11 in this Psalm since the 12th line continues with….”So that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” 

She wasn’t sure I wanted to be reminded of my on-going foot problem but I thought line 12 was pretty helpful too reminding me not to hop along  alone outside where I could slip and twist the foot…another good one God! 🙂

It is easy when so many things hit us at one time to fall into a vulnerable state…it is just important that we realize that a period of vulnerability that we are going through is a good thing…a reminder that we can’t do it alone. We need other people and we need God.

When we let down our barriers and let people into our lives, sometimes during the most vulnerable times of our lives, closer connections are made during this period than any other. When we are able to tell our true stories with our whole heart-when we embrace the risk of being hurt or disappointed- we practice courage.

So until tomorrow…Vulnerability is the ultimate lesson in learning how to be who we really are and letting go of who we think we ought to be.

Before Anne left Donna Clark arrived with a Clemson All-In Flag to wave during this Saturday’s game which seems destined to be another nail-biter against NC State…the result which will most likely affect the ACC Championship.

She also had some Tiger Celebrate Pasta mix for the game….we are both crazy about our Tigers.

Donna also made me feel better when she said her daughter, Dana, once had her car stolen twice in the same week. She broke my 10 day interval. We must talk Dana…misery loves company! 🙂

 

 

We even added Anne’s beautiful pink camellia to the Clemson tray in readiness for the game.

So we all ended up laughing and having such a spontaneous afternoon of fun! I didn’t realize how much I had missed having lots of friends around.

But the best thing of all that happened was when Anne was leaving and yelled back in… “Little Red” has a bud!” 

“Oh Happy Day”….when the first red bud blooms from the “cloned” Big Red…and life continues again…always…like a rolling river through time. Life continues, no matter what, now that is a comforting thought!

And what a birthday for Mollie this year. She and Walsh are going with friends to California Wine Country for a long weekend. Enjoy it all and savor the memories!

 

 

 

 

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…”Hang-ups Can Happen to You”

Dear Reader:

Do you think it is just human nature that provides some sort of delusional protective veil around our presence… that reassures us that the bad things we see on television or the internet or hear on the radio won’t ever happen to us…but always to ‘someone else?’ This universal sense of security is quite comfortable…until one day when it isn’t.

Usually a victim of a crime, illness, natural disaster (the list could go on and on) starts out in an interview with the familiar comment… “I never thought it would happen to me.”  It is probably the most candor/ truthful comment the victim says…he or she didn’t see it coming.

We didn’t but God did and thus when we start asking the eternal question “Why?” we often feel that the response doesn’t come soon enough or clear enough to satisfy our human puzzlement at the ways of the universe.

I always fall back on the great debate between “free will” and “God’s will” which can lead us down the path of discombobulation. Very early on in my breast cancer chemo journey surrounded by people of every age, race, and religion, I very quickly understood it wasn’t a “Why me Lord”….but “Why not me Lord.” I was no better than any of my cancer colleagues who were all fighting their own battles with the disease. In fact…I felt lucky that I was retired, had no children dependent on me financially… I was one of the lucky ones.

I had lived a wonderful life and if this was it…then I had been given so much already. I wasn’t willing to give up or in…there were still many adventures I wanted to experience…but I knew everyone would be okay if it was my time.

Obviously God had other plans for me and here I am a decade later still around with happily my share of life’s problems. If I didn’t have a problem…then I would know I was dead.

God didn’t promise us a smooth ride in life…He only promised He would be there with us through the smooth and the bumpy…and to this day He has kept His promise.

Lately the challenges have increased but so far my sore foot might hurt but it is slowly accepting the skin grafts…hallelujah…and the “Vue” has been deemed “totaled” but provided me many years of faithful service. As so many of you have reassured me…it is just a possession….nothing more or less…it can be replaced.

But still we are human and just when I thought everything was finally settling down…one little tiny incident brought about my melt-down. Walsh and Eloise brought me home from Mt. Pleasant and we stopped by the car repair shop to get my license off the car and something I wanted to make sure I got for sentimental reasons….my breast cancer angel (pewter clamp)that Terry (herself a breast cancer survivor) gave me a week after my diagnosis.

*You might remember I thought this angel had helped the car find its way back home after it was found abandoned following the first robbery.

After I left the car following the second robbery for the repair assessment last week, I remembered the angel and wanted it back. So Walsh took me there yesterday…I got a few papers from the sun visor and then it dawned on me the pewter clamp sun visor angel was gone…I looked everywhere.

The car repairman who took me to my car yesterday and handed me my license said he didn’t remember seeing an angel clamped to the sun visor. It apparently was taken in the second car theft.

When I walked back to the car….Walsh asked if I got everything I needed from the car and I went to tell him I did…and suddenly my lips were quivering and I could barely explain that the one thing I wanted more than any other was gone. One angel of precious memories toppled me over emotionally.

(I got the “Vue” several months before I was diagnosed so my guardian angel had ridden in my car for over a decade looking over me. Later that day when I talked with Brooke (Terry was her good friend from Walterboro) I tried to tell her about the angel and lost it again. The phone got quiet and then Brooke said, “What if this young teenager who took your car (twice)…took that angel for a reason…maybe, just maybe, he needed the angel now more than you did.”

Later in the day, while talking with Doodle…I told her the story and she said the exact same thought came to her as I told her about my conversation with Brooke…it was time for the angel to help another.

Therein lies our problem, our human frailty with dealing with crisis…we are limited in our vision as to how all the pieces of the puzzle are going to fit perfectly in the right sequence but God can see the whole playing board.

So until tomorrow…Trust in God. Whereas we can only see a piece…God understands the whole game and which piece of the puzzle needs more attention at any moment than another.

I was so happy Eloise accompanied me and Walsh home…got some time to see my youngest grandchild.

Eva Cate and Jake rode their bikes proudly by me Monday evening….entertainment to keep my mind off my aching foot after my successful second skin graft. It worked.

 

* I was just about to finish up the blog when the doorbell rang…it was the postman with a package….for me…from Honey. Today’s title card was attached to two gifts….homemade Pumpkin fairy dwelling and a cute Boo plaque. Thank you Honey for always brightening my day as only Honey can do. That card is perfect! Love Dr. Seuss!

Last evening Gin-g stopped by with two donuts….which is now down to one donut. So Good! And it was so fun catching up with Gin-g on the challenges of “mature youth.” That’s us!

 

 

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The Two Thieves Who Steal Our Joy…

Dear Reader:

Sunday morning I had the television on rather low and was dozing on and off but I heard the speaker say something about the two worst thieves for human beings are called past and future. They rob us of present happiness and joy by filling us with regrets and worry instead.

Since I have just had an experience with thieves (well actually one thief, two robberies) I opened my ears to listen to the voice more intently. If you grew up in the South most of us heard the expression “Don’t go borrowing trouble“….in other words don’t worry about the future ….the future will take care of itself.

And it is true…between anguishing over something in our past that we keep pouring ‘salt in the wound’ into and worrying about something that may or may not come to pass…it doesn’t leave the moment, the present, to be filled with happiness and joy. God did not want us to live this way.

And sometimes when we get overloaded with too many problems hitting at one time it is easy to succumb to these greedy thieves. But we are better than that….God knows exactly how much we can take and we, too, soon come to discover we can take a lot more than we thought.

I don’t have the time to write out the whole story but if you have never read the true story of Phan Thi Kim PHuc (famously known by the Vietnam photograph as the “Napalm Girl”…take some time to pull her name and read her biography. )

She fought the “two thieves” throughout her past (childhood and adolescence) present adulthood and future. She could not find the peace she so desired until she found Jesus at a rally one night. It changed her life around. She went from being that “Napalm Girl” to (today) a motivational speaker in Canada. She beat the “two thieves.”

Her story is so powerful.

So until tomorrow….Remember…being strong helps us to keep calm and protect our happiness and joy for life.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

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Start the Day with “Soulshine”

Dear Reader:

I woke up early yesterday morning and decided to check the blog post because I remembered an excerpt I forgot to place in it. It was a little after six and just as I was finishing the addition to the post I glanced out my side window and saw the most beautiful peach-colored clouds gathering in the sky. The miracle of morning.

It reminded me of a workshop Kelly Rae Roberts and a friend, Lacey, were launching under the theme of a Self-Care Sanctuary. They were tuning into two important times during our day that are important to recognize as critical catalysts to starting and ending each day with gratitude and blessings.

These two times are called: “Creating and writing down a morning flow called “Rise + Soulshine” that will support nourishing mornings vs rush rush rush. Ditto for the evenings but I’m calling it “Evening Flow + Let Go”

As I stared out my window yesterday at the beauty of an early fall sunrise the term “Soulshine” felt nicer and nicer. Early morning is the time for repose…as much as the evening. It is a time to reflect on our lives, our goals and directions, letting our soul and heart be our guide and just not our minds.

Apparently Kelly Rae Roberts has pretty much had the same challenges in her life as I have recently experienced. Hers centered around vertigo, a knee injury, some weird scalp affliction that made her hair start falling out, two workshops out of state, selling their house, living with her parents until their house is completed in Three Sisters, Oregon…her son starting second grade and her husband starting a new job….plus a terrible airplane flight debacle.

After reading Kelly’s last few weeks scenario…mine pales in comparison….but it is the reason why soothing mornings are so important… leaving time to chat with God about His guidance throughout the day and our lives. Leaving Him off the ‘to-do’ list is never a good idea. When we try to do this thing called “life” alone…we are never successful. We end up butting heads instead of holding hands.

I love this poem by John O’Donohue titled: “On Waking”

“The waves of possibility breaking on the shore of dawn”.…isn’t that the opportunity each fresh new dawn gives us…hope? Hope for a better tomorrow and the perseverance to see each day through to the fullest….squeezing all the richness out of life we can every day?

So until tomorrow….May each morning be blessed by our Creator …Who watches in silent expectation to see which path in life we choose.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

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The “Spirit” Never Leaves Us – Hidden Treasures

Dear Reader:

I felt as if my home missed me when I returned Friday…so much so that it was going all out to let me know how glad it was I had returned.

While sitting in my recliner (with my foot propped up) two beautiful birds perched on the top of the ‘chapel of hope’ bird feeder. I couldn’t leave the recliner and get over to the window in time before each flew off so I just took the picture from the recliner and tried to enlarge it….in both cases it worked. Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal sat there for several minutes each as if posing for me.

I was still so excited about getting these photos as I went into my “office” to check yesterday’s post. Casually I glanced outside at the bird feeder (which needed filling) and the trellis (where once the moon flowers bloomed.) But with the hot, dry drought in September I had not seen a bloom in weeks.

Still something kept making me ‘curiosier and curiosier.’ It looked like a little ghost was flying in the breeze behind the array of large moon flower leaves. Perhaps it is some trash…a little white piece of paper I thought….finally I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to satisfy my curiosity.

It was the largest moon flower bloom of the year that was blooming backwards…not towards the front of the trellis and my vision from my window… but behind it….and was it ever a beauty! Hidden beauty.

Jake was so excited about going to school Friday because that is ‘Treasure Trove’ day. If they have been good all week they get to pick a ‘treasure’ from the box.

Jake thought he had a pretty good shot at the trove and Mandy told me Friday evening he had picked a red car hot wheel and was beyond thrilled.

What is it about a hidden treasure that is so much more exciting than a visible one? Aren’t we reminded through scripture that God is our greatest Treasure. All the treasures of wisdom, knowledge, and truth are hidden in our Creator… if we put Him first?

For some reason as I stared at that beautiful moon flower bloom a phrase I heard recently came back to me “Abide in the calm.” It was exactly what was happening. For that one perfect moment of beauty…all the craziness of the past two weeks melted away and I lost myself, and my cares of the world into the beauty of one of God’s marvelous creations.

Abide is a tricky little word. It is a contradiction within itself….we can abide or reside, dwell in a certain place or we can respect (abide) certain rules or we simply can’t “abide” (tolerate) change or diversity.

How we abide in life is one of the most important decisions we make early on. Will we choose to ‘abide in calm’ grateful for every moon flower bloom or creation God gave us or choose to live a narrow, negative life of not being able to “abide” other people or places or situations we perceive as opposite to our way of thinking? The choice is up to us.

So until tomorrow….May you all ‘abide in calm and peace’ and have a beautiful day.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

The two “bestest” nurses in the world came over to help change the bandages on my “boo boo owie” yesterday and it feels so much better with all that tight-garbed pressure gauze off. I have, also, been craving fruit and Carrie brought some back, along with bandages from Target, where she and Doodle went. Thank you my guardian angels!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

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