Thirty-six hours

Thirty-six hours.

That’s all that stood between us and our family vacation to Mexico. Luggage is packed. House sitter scheduled. Last minute cleaning in progress. We were leaving for the airport about 2am Saturday for a 6am flight….on the beach in a short 48 hours.

And then this happens.

Entrepreneur decides he needs to go to the ER. A nagging headache that had been previously dismissed as due to stress, sinus or seasonal changes took a massive turn for the worse. Coupled with nausea and the belief his head would explode, we head to the ER. Oh, and he’s got the flu.

And then this happens.

With a four hour wait ahead of us in the ER, docs send him for a CT scan to try and narrow down the cause of his headache pain. I head to teach my class at the university, thinking I’ll come back to take him home with some meds for his headache. We’ll resume the Tamiflu regimen and be good to go later on Friday.

And then this happens.

He texts me and says it’s not good and is being admitted to the hospital. “We see what looks like blood and a mass in the right temple area of the brain.” I hear phrases like aneurism and brain tumor. I hear the words I never wanted to hear again…..renal cell cancer met. I hear these words, yet they don’t really fully register.

I’m numb and my brain is in a fog. Somewhere in the cloud the word surgery is spoken.

Surgery. Brain surgery. This coming Tuesday. Valentine’s Day.

So not how I’d planned to spend that day. In four hours, we’ve gone from eagerly anticipating a relaxing tropical family vacay….to surgery for a hematoma or possible brain cancer.

All foreseeable plans cancelled. He’s admitted and taken to his room. MRIs and more scans are scheduled for the morning. But those are only to help determine how to proceed with the surgery. He’s in severe pain as we settle him in for the night. The next day will be filled with neurologists, neurosurgeons, oncologists and other medical personnel. He settles into the bed, a nurse finds him some food. Pain meds follow.

I retreat home and begin sending updates to family and friends. No sleep ensues.

So, now, it appears we’re going down this path again. A path I knew might be a possibility but never thought it would ever be this soon,,,,or in this form. Odd how two words can shake me to my core….brain surgery.

Thirty-six hours.

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Photo Blogging Challenge: Express Yourself!

photo blog challenge

The first month of 2017 is almost on the books, and here we are again with PJ’s monthly photo challenge. This month’s theme is Express Yourself. And, I must say it was more than a head-scratcher for me.

In the end, I opted to combine two of my loves to express a little of who I am and some of the mindsets that have made me who I am today. Those two components are photography and quotations. No extra commentary will probably be necessary for this month’s five. All the photos except the first one are from a trip Entrepreneur and I took earlier this month to Meridia Beach, Florida. The amaryllis was a December gift and was suppose to bloom for Christmas. Obviously, it knew my muse would need it for January!

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express-yourself-2-blogBTW, that “star” by the crescent moon is Venus.

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Be sure to visit PJ’s A ‘lil Hoohaa on January 31st and see what others expressed this month.

 

One Word for 2017

This ended up being a long post, so grab a cuppa and get comfy. I hope to see you all at the end.

Back in 2015 I started choosing One Word for the new year instead of those pesky resolutions that are always broken before the snow thaws in the spring. In 2015 Entrepreneur was facing a cancer diagnosis and my One Word was Fearless (fear less). I believe it helped me focus during that time and continues to be a reminder today.

In 2016, my One Word was Present. I wanted to focus on trying to be more engaged in life, physically, instead of living vicariously through today’s social-media-technology-addicted world. Did I succeed? Overall, I’d say I had mixed results. I did really make an effort to not be obsessed with my phone at the expense of enjoying the moment. Some days were very successful…some were colossal FAILS. But it did make me realize just how easy it is to get sucked into living a virtual life instead of a real one. Last year helped me try and find a balance and use social media more sparingly. Plus, taking care of grandchildren doesn’t lend itself to distractions! In fact, I found myself so present in their well being, work and teaching that a lot of other things took a back seat….like blogging. Which also explains why this post is more than two weeks late.

This year, my One Word is Joy.

I’ve become painfully aware that, while I enjoy a lot of activities and have had many happy moments, a deep feeling of Joy is something that has been elusive the past few years.

Most people would define Joy as feeling extremely happy or something that gives great pleasure. But I think I disagree. Happiness and pleasure are temporary…and most of the time they’re dependent on external influences. Once the source of the happiness is gone, then what? I tend to go in search of the next happy or pleasurable moment. So my life becomes a string of happy/pleasurable experiences…or not.

No, I think Joy is something completely different. To quote CS Lewis,

Joy, must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again…I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world.  But Joy is never in our power and pleasure often is.

And, oh baby, is it ever hard to find Joy in the world today. That is, if Joy is defined as something tangible and measurable. And, who doesn’t equate Joy with the feeling of satisfaction and happiness when our world is all good? But, what happens when our world falls apart? What happens when we suffer bitter disappointment, unbearable loss or extreme suffering? But, let’s not be so fatalistic. What about the days when those technology devices we are addicted to don’t work seamlessly? What about when the basement floods or the (pick an appliance) breaks? What about when, after picking up after a toddler, we turn around to feel like a tornado went through the house right behind us? What about the never-ending stress of worrying about your children’s welfare? We certainly are not happy campers during those times. How is it possible to still feel Joy when it seems as though Life’s purpose is to exhaust us into submission?

I suppose it depends on your worldview. Happy and pleasurable moments come and go. If I base my mental well-being on only the things that go right in my world I’m probably not going to be very enjoyable to be around much of the time.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
~James 1:2-3

So easy to say, so hard to live. Many times I wish God would not test my faith so much.

If I base Joy on having a worry-free, prosperity-filled life….well, let’s just say I’m setting myself up for an epic FAIL. No, I believe Joy is something felt deep in the soul. Something apart from the temporary warm fuzzies of pleasure and happiness. It’s something intangible that grounds the mind, despite the circumstance. Joy settles deep in the heart and soul, creating peace and a strength that makes a person feel they can endure the worst life will throw.

My goal this year is to be more aware of when Joy speaks to me; to pay more attention to my inner voice so I’m not distracted by the temporary elation of pleasure and happy moments when everything is going my way; to be able to feel calm amidst the irritations, inconveniences and injustices of this life.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~Romans 15:13

And just to begin this journey with a positive attitude, here’s a photo of a recent instance where Joy made an appearance.

meridia-sunset
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
~Psalm 16:11

The value of a moment

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Sometimes you don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.
~Dr. Seuss

Wow. Talk about a huge FAIL. Carol challenged me to a 3 Quote Challenge back in November. I got one in on Nov. 22 and then………oops. So, here is my second quote post. In my defense, I did mention I probably wouldn’t post consecutive days. 🙂

These two shots capture why I drive everyone insane taking photos. Entrepreneur rolls his eyes and others drag their feet when I mention “family photo time.” But let them gripe and complain. I think it’s important to capture as much as possible as often as possible. Most of those complaining are under the age of 35, so they haven’t hit that time in their life when looking back is just as important as looking ahead.

Precious memories. That’s what looking back provides. And that’s all they are now….memories. So often, we’re so caught up in life’s stresses and interruptions that we fail to really take in those fleeting moments. Photos capture those times when we, perhaps, were too busy to notice or care.

It’s only when your children are grown and gone that photos from their childhood take on a newfound importance.

It’s only when your spouse is no longer with you that those photos become cherished memories of a life together.

It’s only when you’ve had to say goodbye to those that now wait at the Rainbow Bridge that you realize how special those muddy paws were on your clean floor.

No, we rarely realize the value of a moment until it’s past and all that remains is a memory.

So, as we all enter the holiday season…get those cameras ready!

One prayer

thanksgiving72If the only prayer you said
in your whole life was,
“thank you,”
that would suffice.
~Meister Eckhart

Carol at Wanderings of an Elusive Mind tagged me to participate in a 3 Quote Challenge. I’m to write and post about a quote that impresses me each day for three days. Then, I’m suppose to tag 3 people to do the same. I am terrible about tagging, but I will do my best to try to pick some people. I see you cowering over there……

Since Kelley and I play Quotography, I used her prompt of Thanksgiving for this first one.

I don’t know about you but my prayers always seem to revolve around a mountain I want God to move so life becomes a bit easier. And, more often than not, that mountain remains, and I’m left with having to navigate around or over it. Do I say thank you for that answer? Rarely.

But, maybe I should.

It’s so easy to be thankful for the things in life that go our way; things we view as benefits…loving family, that promotion at work, the Turkey Day spread of food most of us will have on Thursday, the near miss on the highway. Yes, being thankful for those things come easy for us.

It’s really not in our nature to say thank you for the crap in our lives…the behavior issues with children, the conflict with family members, the job loss and resulting financial hardship. No, we don’t view those as blessings worthy of thanks. They’re just mountains we want moved. And the sooner, the better, thank you very much.

But what if we looked at them with a thankful eye and ask what we’re suppose to learn about ourselves when we’re desperate? Because a person learns an awful lot about themselves in the middle of conflict, strife, chaos and crisis.

What if, instead of asking for that mountain to be moved, we ask for a guide to show us how to get to the top where we can see our surroundings better? Many times when I’ve faced adversity, it’s served to point out a major character flaw…..in myself. While those revelations are often humbling and painful, they are always necessary adjustments needed in order to make me a better person.

And that is always worthy of thankfulness.

So this is Day 1 of the 3 Quote Challenge. I probably will not post for a consecutive three days…just saying’. As for tagging, I’ll throw it out there for Peabea at Peabea’s Patch Photography, Roger at Ramblin’ with Roger, and my Quotography buddy, Kelley at the road goes ever on. I will not be tagging each day, so if you are so moved, please feel free to play along.

November reflections

november-leaf-quotographyNovember’s sky is chill and drear,
November’s leaf is red and sear.
~Sir Walter Scott

November is only half over, but a lot has happened, hasn’t it? The election fallout is still falling out and I’m both surprised and saddened by the behavior of some people from both sides. This quote may sum up November in more ways than one.

It’s strange to me how those whose presidential candidate lost have completely abandoned all semblance of common sense and decency. In 2008 and 2012, I don’t recall riots and hysteria when Obama won the election….and I knew plenty of people who detested the outcome. This election has shown the worst side of some people….or sadly, maybe it’s shown them for who they really are.

Bad men cannot make good citizens. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience are incompatible with freedom. ~Patrick Henry

In my opinion, there is absolutely no excuse for anyone demonstrating violence against another person because their candidate lost…or won. It makes me sad to hear of assaults by Trump supporters that spew hatred and “white supremacy.” There is no place for that in America, and those people should be prosecuted.

People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m equally appalled at some Democrat supporters who are rioting in the streets and causing mayhem because Trump won. In Portland, a mob attacked a pregnant woman. She was trying to get to the hospital for a medical emergency. Someone hit her windshield with a bat and then attacked her outside her car. And, what’s with the person taking the video…and posted it on social media? Are these people so heartless and self-absorbed that they have no common decency?

The vitriol on Facebook, Twitter and other forms of communication from Democrat supporters towards anyone who voted for their opponent is so caustic that I believe they’ve turned into the very personification of character traits they rallied against during the election.

The viciousness of words in the populace on both sides are driving wedges between friends, neighbors and families. It’s ridiculous. No amount of justification will excuse being mean-spirited and hateful because you disagree with or want to gloat about the outcome.

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. ~1 Peter 3:8-9

In light of all these protests, let’s have a little history lesson.

  • Abraham Lincoln received only 40% of the popular vote in 1860 and narrowly received enough electoral votes to win. No riots resulted from the opposition’s supporters, and he went on to become one of the most beloved presidents in history.
  • In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won the election over Samuel Tilden by one electoral vote, but lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 votes. No violent assaults erupted.
  • Benjamin Harrison received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland’s 168 in 1888. But, Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes. Again, no hysterical protests or calls for abandoning the Electoral College.
  • America is a Republic with a Federalist government. That means power is divided between the states and three branches of government so to avoid disproportionate mob rule.

If a simple majority was to rule the land, candidates would never bother with most of the states except those along each coast. Their focus would only be on states with the largest populations.

And, here’s a few event in history that would not have happened if the majority had had their way:

  • The Declaration of Independence would not have been adopted because most colonists were afraid of the consequences.
  • Slavery would not have been abolished.
  • Women would not have the right to vote.
  • Civil rights legislation would not have been passed.

Wow, those Founding Fathers were pretty darn smart setting up our country to NOT have majority rule.

Up until quite recently, America was one of a few nations where a peaceful transition of power could happen. Apparently, not anymore. The protests that have resulted are anything but peaceful and should come nowhere near being considered a First Amendment Right. How have we become a nation where we have forgotten the tenants of why America was formed; to escape tyranny.

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. ~John Adams

Sharing with Quotography and Life Through the Lens.

Dear Younger Me

If I knew then what I know now…….how often have we said that? Or, I’d go back if I could take the brain I have now with me.

Do you ever wonder how different life would be if your younger, more stupid self had been sent a letter by your older, much wiser self?

We’d be able to see what younger self was about to do and warn them, Hey dumb-@$$, don’t do what you’re thinking about doing or you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. How awesome would that be? We could avoid a lot of pain, suffering and hardship.

And yet, all those stupid mistakes my younger self made…and the lessons learned….has molded me into who I am today. Okay, maybe I could do without some of those aspects but, on the whole, I know all those experiences happened for a reason. They all were part of a bigger plan and served to skool me in much more than academics.

lisa1976And yet…..if I could warn my younger self about life, here’s what I would say:

Dear Younger Me,

Love yourself. Regardless of what that tag on your clothing says, love the person inside those jeans. If, in your opinion, the packaging needs work, then take measures to become a  healthier me. And remember, you are more than a number on a pair of pants.

Stop being afraid to take a risk. But what if it’s a mistake? Then, it’s a mistake. The awesome thing about life is there’s always the opportunity for a do-over when the sun rises. Don’t look back when you’re 60, 70 or 100 and say, I wish I would have done…….

Life….your career, your marriage, your children….will be a roller coaster ride most of the time. Sometimes it will all feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle, and other times it will feel like an out-of-control, downhill race to the finish line. And there will be those loopy-loops in the middle that make your stomach lurch. But the good and the bad serve a purpose, even if that purpose is above your pay grade at this time. So, don’t be afraid to live, laugh and love….a lot.

Don’t obsess over the small stuff….or small people. Everything from traffic lights to idiot drivers to that five cent error in the checkbook. Life is much too short to be angry or worried over these things. And, likewise about small-minded people whose mission in life is to make you feel inferior and inadequate. These are part of those character-building experiences your parents told you about.

Don’t wish away the pain. Emotional, physical, psychological. You’re going to feel all of it more than you’d like. It sounds trite, but the pain is there to teach and, if you let it, mold you into the best version of yourself. Rarely are lessons learned from the easy, good times in life. Life lessons are mainly learned through pain, heartache, struggles, challenges, devastation and loss. You may not like it, but that’s the way it is. So, embrace the pain and discover what you are supposed to learn from the experience and then move forward…not backwards.

Your faith will wax and wane like the moon. Life experiences will bring you to mountain-top epiphanies, but will also lay you flat with doubts. Through all of this, do whatever it takes to understand these are challenges designed to refine your faith and strengthen it. But even if you walk away and do unspeakable things, remember it’s never too late to turn around and come back. You are never too far gone for forgiveness and grace if you truly desire to have it. God may have just let you wander around feeling lost for a reason.

Some day it will all make sense. But, perhaps not in this life. And that’s okay. You don’t need to figure it all out. Trust that things happen for a reason and God has a specific mountain valley abyss path you need to take. Pray for guidance, and use your head and heart to make the best decisions possible. It will all get sorted out in the end.

With love,
Your Older, Much Wiser Me

And then I’d leave Younger Me with this music video.

Sharing with Life Through the Lens