Friday, April 30, 2010

Flashback Friday: Revealing Gold

I love going back into old posts to find ones I forgot I had written. Especially when they remind me of lessons I need to keep relearning. It seems that every time I have a setback… every time the pain gets worse or my body gets slower… I’d rather pretend it isn’t happening. I go through a time when I think it will be temporary, so there’s no use talking about it or dwelling in it.

Even though everything in me is screaming that I should talk about it and dwell in it for a bit. You have to acknowledge something as truth in order to accept it. I prefer to try to accept without acknowledging. I add layers on top of the pain and insulate myself, thinking everything will fade back to normal if I wait long enough.

Funny how that never works, but I keep trying anyway. :) But today I went back into old posts and found this one… the one that reminded me I don’t have to insulate myself from reality. It reminded me that it’s ok if I dwell in it or write about it and admit that sometimes life hands us changes that are hard.

And that’s ok.


Revealing Gold
[originally posted September 3, 2008]

I subscribe to an email that provides daily inspirational quotes. In all honesty, most of them aren't that inspirational, or they are so abstract it takes half a day to figure out what in the world they mean. It reminds me of when I took a course in college about Chaucer where my professor didn't teach us about Chaucer's works as much as he stood up in front of the room and read to us aloud in Old English.

I got a lot of napping done in that class. And it was one of those times when having the ability to write abstractly about nothing and make it sound convincing came in handy.

Today, though, my email quote was one that made me stop before I hit the delete button. I liked it. It's this quote by Tolstoy:

"Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold."

I've spent a lot of time in my life looking at ways to grow, be that in my relationships with other people, in my faith, in my career or in my every day life. There are so many books out there that talk about pursuing dreams, enriching your marriage and growing in your spirituality. There are ways to educate your mind and increase your value both financially and personally. And none of those are bad things.

But sometimes I think the more I read about how to work toward things, the further away I get from the truth of who I already am. It's like the walls in my Grandpa Joe and Grandma Florence's old farm house. When we went back to see it before it was going to be torn down, Mom and I stood in the dining room and she talked about all of the different wallpapers she remembered being in that house. We took a corner and peeled back a bit of the paper to reveal another underneath.

And another.

And another.

I can't imagine how many layers must have been there because instead of taking down the old paper when it got worn, Grandma just added a layer. And I think a lot of us do that with who we are.

Sometimes it's life that adds the layers on us. We have grief that we don't know what to do with so we put it on and wear it until it becomes comfortable. We have jobs that have to be done with work that we can't seem to leave at the office, so we add a layer. We have to make sure our families are fed and happy and cared for, that our kids have every opportunity and make it to every activity. We worry and rush and worry some more. And we add a layer for each.

Sometimes, like those strips of wallpaper on the drafty walls of an old farm house, the layers add a little insulation. There have been many times in my life when I've been scared or overwhelmed or unsure of myself, and the layers came in handy. A new wallpaper over my worn self-esteem kept everyone thinking that I had it all together. I remember starting college and thinking that people would only want to be around me if I was confident and self-assured.

But when I insulated myself from appearing scared or unsure I also could have insulated myself from people who, as it turns out, love me at my weakest as well as my strongest. I'm just lucky that at some point my layers peeled away enough for me to make that discovery.

And that's why I like this quote. Truth is like gold. It is unchanging. The truth is that we are born into this world and we are loved by God before we've done a single thing to earn it. In a lot of our growing and searching, what we are often searching for is a way to be good enough for people to love and accept us. Sometimes I think we'd accomplish that easier if we'd stop searching for ways to be better and peel away the layers first. If we would just stop and wipe away all that isn't gold, we'd see the truth that who we are is already loved. And always has been loved since before we were born. We just have to stop long enough to make the discovery.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gettin' All Scrappy

I love the conversations that happen in the comment section. That’s the main reason I installed Disqus, because when I reply to you, it emails you to let you know. And that turns a comment into a conversation.

I fell away from replying as regularly for awhile there because I was saving my sore fingers. I have so many emails to return and posts to write that by the time I would work on those tasks, I wouldn’t have the power in my hands to put the words on the screen that I was thinking in my head. And that didn’t sit well with me.

Because I love your comments. And I love the conversation.

So I am more apt now to return a comment than an email when my hands are tired, and this week proves that is a good decision. I love finding out what you all are thinking, how you handle the situations you find yourselves in, how you are inclined to act when life sneaks up on you.

I was re-reading the comments you all left on my Monday Morning Confession, and what I noticed is that we all have different ways of getting to the exact same place. And I love that about us. How we are so unique and handle life so differently… all to get to the same outcome.

To get to the joy.

To get to the peace that we find at His feet.

Since I’ve been in bed more, I find myself watching some of my standby movies, one of which is Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.


I love the southern charm, the spunk, the heartbreak and the laughter. I love the insane and complex relationship between Sida and her mother. They are so different, and approach life from totally different angles, only to wind up in the same place. With each other.


There’s a scene when Sida is sitting around with her mom’s friends, called the Ya-Yas. They are there to convince her to come back and make peace with her mother… and when she tells them no, one of them tells her not to get all scrappy. To which she replies, “That’s just it… I don’t want to get all scrappy!”

[Watch the movie… it’s fantastic the way she delivers that line…]

I’m like Sida. I don’t want to get all scrappy. I don’t want the drama. I don’t want to be sad or frustrated or discouraged. I see life for what it is, and I figure the faster I accept it and roll with the punches the faster I can get back to being happy.


Now her mother, on the other hand… she leans into the drama. There is a scene at the end of the movie when she tells Sida that she likes to take a problem and chew on it until all the flavor is gone, then she takes it out and sticks it in her hair.

Such a great line.

And some of you who commented go more in that direction… you lean into the hurt. You chew on it and turn it around and examine it. Then, when you’ve made your way through it, you stick it in your hair as a life lesson.

My point is, our ways of dealing with the pain or the frustration or the sadness… they look different. We have different ways of getting to the joy. We travel different roads that don’t have the same kind of scenery. We reach our destinations at different times and at different paces.

But we all go through it. I don’t like to get all scrappy, but the exhaustion and sadness and frustration find me anyway. Just like it finds you. There is no way around hard times… they hit us all. And no matter what your plan is to keep your joy, no matter how many routes there are to get to the destination, we all wind up at the same place with the same travel companion.

We travel the journey with God at our side, whether we always see Him there or not. We are never alone, whether it feels like we are or not. So get scrappy or don’t. Chew on the problem until the flavor’s gone or throw it away when you feel like you’ve had enough. Do whatever it takes, for however long it takes.

Just keep walking in faith.

It’s the only thing we all have to do the same.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gitz Bits 2010: Week 16

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Friday, April 16, 2010


My friend Mandy is ridiculous. In a good way. A few times a month she, myself and a couple other girls do what we call Skwyne. Which just means that we all Skype so we can chat with each other while drinking wine. It’s a great combination.

So, at some point we were discussing our love of peanut butter chocolate chip granola bars when she realized I can no longer eat them because of this ridiculous whey allergy. She kept saying “No whey!” and I’d answer “Whey!” and that went on for longer than I might like to admit.

That may have been the wine part of Skwyne taking over.

So what does the girl do? She figures out how to create a vegan version of the granola bar, makes them and mails them to me. After tasting them, I promised to fall at her feet and worship her when she comes to visit next month. I’m hoping she knows I meant that metaphorically since falling at her feet might require a team of professionals to get me back up.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010


I’ve gotten this look from Riley a lot in the last few weeks. Loosely translated, he is saying “Where is Alece? What did you do with her and when is she coming back? I suddenly find you boring in comparison.”

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Sunday, April 18, 2010


Remember a few weeks ago when I showed you my order? Well, I forgot to mention that they include a free gift in every delivery. How crazy is that?

In that order I got a full-size tin of Ceylon tea… which I was kind of excited about because I don’t have a lot of beverages that I enjoy since I gave up pop. Or soda, depending on where you hail from. While I love the smell of coffee, I have an intense dislike for the flavor, and the only tea I’ve ever enjoyed was chai.

So I gave this a try. I sweetened it [generously] and the first couple of sips I determined that I didn’t hate the tea. Another couple sips and I determined I put too much sugar in it. I’m hoping there’s a happy medium, but the verdict is still out as to whether or not I’ll become a tea drinker.

For now, water remains my steady companion. :)

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Monday, April 19, 2010


Ok, I just had to show you all what the big “basket in the hallway” fuss was all about. Yes, that is the big, bad, scary basket that garnered a ridiculous amount of harassment from someone in my building. I’m happy to report the basket can stay. And the drama has hopefully ended. And yes, I am rolling my eyes as I type this day’s Gitz Bits.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Can you say CUTE?!?!?!? And CREATIVE?!?!?!

Ms. Marla sent me these adorable Scrabble pieces with magnets attached to the back so I could spell Gitz Bits out on my fridge.

Seriously. C.U.T.E.

I’m going to get a creative shot of them and re-do my Gitz Bits logo because I love them that much. People are so stinkin’ thoughtful. I would have never in a million years thought of something as sweet as this.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Remember last week’s revelation about my lack of salsa?

Well, I have another confession. I have since discovered that the salsa I ate [just a regular old Tostitos jar concoction] was not real salsa. Many told me this, but I just figured salsa was salsa, right?


My friends Kelly and Kathy came over on Wednesday night for supper and picked up Carlos O’Kelly’s salsa and chips. And I am here to tell you there is a major difference.

I do maintain it’s weird, though, that a Mexican restaurant has a name that sounds more like an Irish establishment.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010


I got an early birthday present, people, which means I am officially here to announce: I AM A GLEEK!!! I love this show. Love. Love. Love.

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Thanks for once again sharing my week with me! Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Morning Confession

Positive Thing About Blogging: I write down what I believe so I can look back and remind myself how I want to handle things.

Negative Thing About Blogging: I write down what I believe so I can look back and remind myself how I want to handle things.

You gotta love a good double-edge sword for those moments when you’d rather pretend you didn’t know better. :) Because there are times when I am hanging on by my fingernails over here. Seriously. You guys have emailed and asked me if I ever just throw up my hands and say…

[Well, you all know I have a mouth on me, so we’ll skip what it is that I might say.]

Regardless of my questionable mouth, the answer is: ohmysoul! Are you kidding me?!?!?!

Yes, of course I get so tired of living like this. Sometimes it will hit me that, for the rest of my life, I’m never going to get a break. There is no vacation from the pain and the tired and the constant effort. There won’t be a random “what the heck, I’ll just open a window” kind of day.

I do my best to live in the moment because the moments seem to change in a breath. Living in the now is the best option. But every once in awhile, when all my moments have the commonality of intense pain, and all the changing breaths have the commonality of new issues, I find myself wanting to live in the land of I-Don’t-Wanna.

You know, that mystical land that allows us to throw a fit somewhere deep down inside when we are too old to throw one on the outside. The weather keeps changing and the storm fronts keep moving in and the dizziness and nausea and pain won’t subside. And I get weary.

But I still know better.

I still trust Him.

I still have all these posts reminding me who I want to be. :)

I can be weary. I don’t have to like it. But I do have to keep believing.

For me, it helps to have a plan. Most of this past week I spent more time in bed than I did on the couch. [Yes, sitting on the couch is my goal right now.] But I keep my sanity with certain cozy blankets that make me think of the people who gave them to me, certain movies ready to go in the dvd player, my computer propped on the bed, books and notebooks on my side table.

I make lists of the things I want to try to get accomplished eventually so that my brain isn’t always stuck in the unpleasant present. But I never put anything on the list that I know could be unattainable, because that will just frustrate me later. I keep my meds across the room so I have to get up and move whether I feel like it or not, because it’s good for me. I keep things around me that remind me of the joy. Of the good things in my life. Of the blessings that the pain can’t touch if I don’t let it.

It isn't hard to be good from time to time. What's tough is being good every day. - Willie Mays

It’s not always the big things like pain and immobility that can rob us of our joy. Sometimes it’s just the tedious repetition of the day. But we still know better, we still trust Him, we still keep believing… if we have a plan to keep ourselves in the middle of the joy.

So, what’s your plan? What’s the thing you’re going to keep around you for when life gets too busy or painful or redundant or stressful? What is going to help you make sure you don’t let the circumstances in your life steal your joy?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flashback Friday: Sweet Baby Smiles

When Susie had her first born, Jonathan [aka Jonboy], I remember stewing around my apartment all day… trying to take my mind off the fact that she was there, in pain, having a baby. I tried thinking of anything and everything other than the fact that I didn’t know what was happening, if it was a girl or a boy, if he was close to delivery or if it would be hours.

Which means I basically thought of nothing else the entire day.

I’m not very good at diverting my attention.

So when the phone rang and she said, “I’m a mom…” I may or may not have let her get the words out that it was a boy before I grabbed my keys and headed for the door. I could not wait to meet that kid.

It wasn’t hard to imagine, then, that when her second baby was going to be induced, she told me to just go ahead and hang out in the waiting room with her mom. Chances were that I’d be there in record time anyway, and I’m guessing her husband Mark [a state trooper] didn’t want me using his kid as an excuse for whatever ticket I would get speeding to the hospital.

I already had 10 nieces and nephews and four godchildren, but I had never been told I could be at the hospital before. I can’t even tell you what that did for my excitement level. She and Mark had gotten there early to begin the induction, and I got the call to pick up about a million and ten things at the convenience store on my way there, since Mark had forgotten to get snacks. I came with supplies in hand, ready to wait for however long it took before this bundle arrived.

We sat around in the room, chatting and dreaming and wondering about this baby about to come into the world… mainly because Suz had an epidural and seemed to act like this was the easiest thing known to man. She was all baby, and he was a big one, so when I sat next to her on the bed and saw her stomach moving I was shocked to realize that I could see the little stinker hiccupping. I had my hand on her belly and felt the rhythm of his little breaths catching, when suddenly the nurse said it was time to get the pushing started.

Her mom, Linda, and I gave them hugs and went into an empty patient room… if someone could have captured the nervous energy between the two of us I’m pretty sure there would have been enough power generated to keep the lights on in the hospital for the rest of the day. Linda had recently gotten a new cell phone that had voice activated calling, so we had already decided we would pass the time by inputting phone numbers and setting up the program. We settled in and started adding names… about 10 minutes had passed when in strutted Mark like only a proud papa could.

“It’s a boy! Tyler’s here!”

TEN MINUTES. We were so excited and hugs were exchanged over and over as he walked us back down the hall… into the room… to meet this sweet little face:

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Six years ago this week, my sweet Tyler James came into the world with his eyes wide open. Ready to soak in anything and everything that came his way.

Susie handed him to Linda, and then Linda passed him to me. And I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh or cry when I held that little body and it shook with a hiccup.

Now, I’m a smart girl. I know that he was the same little man inside her as he was when he took his first breath. But to feel her stomach shake when he’d catch his breath and then hold him as the hiccup continued was the closest I had ever been, or will ever be, to understanding that moment when a miracle enters the world. And what a miracle he has been.

I held him, smelled him and then got out my camera to capture the moments. And don’t even try to tell me that it’s impossible for babies to smile on the day they are born, because you will never convince me that he didn’t smile for me that day:

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And he’s had us smiling ever since.

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Our Jonboy took to being a big brother and has been so protective of Tyler. Ty calls him Buddy and it’s so fitting of their relationship… I love knowing the bond between the two of them will get them through so many happy and tough times in their lives.


And I’ll always be there, too. Even though I can’t always be in person, there is no doubt he has my heart. I’m pretty convinced that Susie asked me to be his godmother that day mostly because she was afraid I would never give him back to her without some sort of claim on him. :) I’m so grateful I got to be one of the first to welcome him into the world, and I’m so grateful to get to watch him walk through this world and become the person he is.

We love you, Ty. Always and always.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We Are Responsible To Each Other

"Despite everything, I believe people are really good at heart."
                                                                                 ~ Anne Frank

I was lucky enough to be cast in plays and musicals when I was in high school… I loved performing, escaping, letting someone else’s reality become my own for a few hours. I got to stand on stage and act in ways I never would in real life.

Becoming Anne Frank was my favorite.

I got to be snotty to my sister. I stuck out my tongue at adults who annoyed me, yelled at my mother and declared an independence I would have never had the nerve to assert in real life.

Considering I’m on the phone with my parents multiple times a week just to check in and stay connected, it’s an independence I may have forgotten to declare altogether. :)

At the end of the play, when Anne’s father was sitting alone at a table reading her diary, my character was off stage and I spoke these words into the microphone: “Despite everything, I believe people are really good at heart.”

I believe that, too.

Since starting this blog and getting to know all of you who come here and maintain this amazing relationship with me, I believe it even more. I recently had a conversation with someone who was trying to figure out a direction to go with their blog, and I think it’s amazing that a blog can be so many different things to different people… it can be a creative outlet, a source of income, a jumping off point for a business or a book. For me, it’s simply a lifeline to all of you. To people who show up, people who are good at heart… people I am emotionally invested in after the very first comment.

And the more blessed I am by good hearted people, the more my heart hurts when I see people who have lost that “thing” that connects them to the good. I dealt with a situation recently with a woman in my building who has been harassing me about a small modification I had to make in the hallway outside my door. Since I can’t walk down the hall to get my mail, a neighbor drops my mail off in a basket on a small stand outside my door. It’s also where any pharmacy or other deliveries are left.

And this woman wanted the basket gone. She knew about my limitations, and I honestly think that made her more adamant that I shouldn’t get special treatment or something, as typically things can’t be left in the hall. She confronted me. She confronted my delivery person. I then found out she had confronted my neighbors who drop off my mail and went so far as to say that if I needed this modification I would be better off living in a nursing home.

That last part pissed me off. Not gonna lie.

So, I took care of it. I wrote her a letter asking her to stop the harassment and informed her of my rights to have the modification. I contacted the condo association and they were wonderful… supporting me and issuing their own demand that she remain silent on the issue. So, before you all get your ire up for me on my behalf, it’s been handled. :) My point of this is that this woman is disconnected from the big picture. She focused on the basket instead of the person. She felt powerful trying to bully and harass, rather than finding the power of spirit that comes from extending kindness instead of anger.

I got on Twitter tonight and discovered that a friend of mine’s son was bullied at school today. He has a speech impediment, and someone felt powerful because they could harass someone who was deemed different or weaker. It’s been gnawing at me that this little boy was confronted by another child who hadn’t yet learned the lesson that being cruel doesn’t give you power… it just makes you a weak soul. And it occurred to me that this grown woman who was harassing me hadn’t learned that lesson yet, either.

Which makes me wonder, who forgot to teach them?

Because I do believe we all come to this earth being good at heart. Life happens and circumstances can change us… but we have teachers along the way who take us aside and show us compassion and help direct us on better paths. And I’m wondering how many people I’ve had contact with in my life who were looking to me to teach them, and I didn’t take the opportunity to help guide them.

A few years ago, I heard about a girl who had been bullied and ridiculed at her high school, to the point of wanting to change schools. It was incessant, and she ended up trying to take her own life. The school called an assembly and told all the students that they were not to blame… that this was one girl’s decision about how to handle a problem… and they were not responsible for her actions.

I understand why they said it. But I can’t help but wonder why a bigger lesson wasn’t taught. I can’t help but wonder when we are supposed to stand up and teach our children, teach our peers, teach our elders, teach ourselves that we are responsible to each other. We aren’t responsible for someone’s actions, but we are responsible to them as a person… we have a responsibility to speak in kindness and act with compassion. We can control how we treat people. How we care about people. How we love people.

He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' [Mt 25: 45]

I know we can’t change the world and stop all the bullying or harassment. I know we can’t change every heart to know empathy. I know I can’t make the right and perfect decisions myself everyday. I guess it just got me thinking that sometimes it’s good to be reminded that we can do something.

We can live by example… the example you all have shown me daily with your love and kind words. We can speak up when we see an injustice, and not only defend the weak who are harassed, but speak to the weak in spirit who are doing the harassing. We can teach our children that looking out for number one isn’t the way to walk through this life… we can teach them that we are responsible to each other. That our actions make a difference. That our words have consequences to others.

We can teach them that power comes from kindness, strength of spirit comes from compassion, and strength of character is an invaluable gift.

I just don’t want anyone to pass through my life, only to have someone later ask, “Who forgot to teach them?”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gitz Bits 2010: Week 15

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Friday, April 9, 2010


As I was getting my grocery list ready to send to Linda for a Friday delivery, I opened the door and decided one thing:

I needed a lot more food.

I’m so limited in what I eat, and for simplicity’s sake I pretty much eat the exact same thing every single day… but I wanted to make sure Alece was going to feel at home, so…

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Saturday, April 10, 2010


I stocked the fridge! I think I may have actually seen it shudder from the sheer weight of having to do what it was made for.

And I found it impossible to get a photo without Riley poking his nose in the shot… I may have seen him shudder from the sheer excitement of all the good smells. :)

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Sunday, April 11, 2010


This shot pretty much summed up the previous week of rain, rain and more rain. But I’m pretty sure nothing could damper my excitement about the week to come. Up until Sunday I really was still holding my breath about Alece coming. But when she emailed that night that she was packed and ready for the next day’s flight, she was healthy and nothing was preventing her trip…

…people, I could hardly stand it. I rested up all day so I’d be ready for when she got here, but if I could have walked well I would have been pacing the room. :)

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Monday, April 12, 2010


She’s here! To say Riley fell in love with her would be a bit of an understatement. As much as he is by my side 24/7, I found myself seeing less and less of him as he made sure to spread the love. He’d lay with me for awhile, then leap over to Alece’s chair to make sure she wasn’t lonely.

He’s nothing if not an equal opportunity schmooze.

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At one point, we were discussing our mutual love of all things Sydney Bristow when Alece mentioned that she was unable to get the final season of Alias in South Africa.

The woman had no idea how all the mysteries of Rimbaldi ended. Or the significance of the Mueller device. And if you don’t know what these things mean, you need to rent all five seasons of Alias and watch them immediately. We spent every evening with snacks and drinks and DVDs… managing to finish the entire season before she had to leave.

And it was fun for me to watch her face when people she thought were dead were really alive. I love a good twist. :)

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010


This was one of my favorite things about having Alece here… just the fact that she was here. That I could hear someone else’s keyboard clacking across the room. That she could show me brochures for Thrive Africa and we could brainstorm together. That we’d be on Twitter and crack up laughing at the same things. That we could both be working on our computers, have a thought, and talk about something important to us at any time…

…because she was right there in the room. I forgot how nice it was to have someone around to just BE.

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Riley, however, didn’t enjoy the computer very much. It distracted her from all the toys he was throwing at her feet in an attempt to woo her into playing.

He’s all attention-seeking like that.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Here’s the truth: we lived in pajamas. And Riley spent most of his time gazing at her adoringly.

He has a crush. A very serious crush.

Another blogger, Mary, ended up driving up from Kansas City this day to meet Alece while she was here and spent a few hours with us as well. I guess with all the talking I didn’t think to get out the camera for random shots… it was so surreal to sit around with people who are normally little avatar photos next to their Twitter names and then see them in real life.

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Hence, the reason Alece had real clothes on in this shot that I captured later that day from around the corner.

Look at that dog. It’s love, people.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010


One of the things Alece had on her list of things she’d like for groceries was chips and salsa. It was at this point that I shared with her that I had never tried salsa before.

Go ahead. Gasp. Faint. Fan yourself like a southern belle.

Because, apparently, that is like one of the seven deadly sins or something.

I had no idea people would freak out by this piece of information, but they did. I am happy to report that I LIKED THE SALSA. And I’ve since learned there are fruit salsas that are now on my list of things to try and fall and love with. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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For the record, I introduced Alece to a few excellent things as well. Like, she turned up her nose at the idea of green apple Smirnoff, and then fell in love with green apple Smirnoff.

And, the woman had a severe dislike for Oreos. But I made her try double stuffed Oreos straight out of the freezer… and once again made a convert out of her. To the point where she’d grin and walk to the freezer and admit she craved them.

Ah, I had so much to teach her. :)

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And she had so much to surprise me with… like ALLY McBEAL!!! Ohmysoul, people, I loved that show. And we may have squealed at the first disc when all of the funny started flooding back. If you’ve never watched it, you really should. It’s the quirkiest kind of brilliant.

It’s so hard to show you a couple of pictures of a whole lot of nothing and explain how fantastically wonderful the week was. I love that a friend from South Africa, who I came to love as family over a computer, turned out to be the exact same person when she sat in my home.

We ate, we drank, we talked, we laughed, we did absolutely nothing that added up into a lifetime of something.

I had a really good week. And I stored up a lifetime worth of happy.

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Thanks for once again sharing my week with me! Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Brought to You by the Letter Z



I used to love to get massages, but the massage itself was only part of the bliss. I’d actually never had a massage before my joint troubles started, so it was often therapeutic, which translates into painful. But to walk into a room with dimmed lights, soothing colors and calming music… it felt like an escape. The warmed table and trickle of water from the fountain in the room, the fluffy robe and warmed oils…

… it’s the vision in my head when I think of the word Zen.

Just closing my eyes and imagining the scene, hearing the trickling fountain, actually relaxes me a little bit… but the same Zen feeling washes over me anytime water is involved. I think it’s the emotional connection that brings the Zen-like state. Some of my happiest memories have been by the water. Growing up and spending Sundays in the summertime waterskiing with my family, or spending a week over the Fourth of July vacationing with friends at Clear Lake… we were always happy. There was always food and laughter and the permission to be lazy.

I don’t remember how old I was when we got our first boat, but I do remember really wanting to try and ski. Like usual, they were telling me I was too little to do it… the skis would be too big, they’d be too heavy, it wouldn’t work. But when everyone else said it was a waste of time, my Dad said I could try. He hopped in the water with me and helped me put on my skis [wood instead of fiberglass so they weren't so heavy]. He stayed in the water because he figured I'd wipe out and need help, and then told me that when they gunned the engine I should just stand up.

So I did.

I held onto that rope and grinned like a fool… I ambled clumsily in and out of the wake... just trying to do all of the things I’d watched my older siblings do. But my favorite part of the memory is that I can still see mom FREAKING OUT when we went by the dock... she and her friend Sally were waving and screaming, and I skied one-handed while I waved back at her.

They finally yelled at me to let go of the rope because I would have kept skiing forever.

And while I’m sure my dad was proud, I have to imagine he was secretly hoping for a wipeout since the poor guy was still in the water the whole time I was skiing... just bobbing in the lake waiting for me to drop the rope so they could pick him up.

I learned how to put on my own skis pretty quickly after that.

Yes, the thought of water brings me to a place of Zen. It’s the warmth that eases the pressure in my joints as I take a long soak. It’s the image I get when I close my eyes and imagine that massage room with it’s soothing sound of a trickling fountain. It’s the contentment and joy that lightens my soul when I remember easy days with a happy family.

I miss spa rooms that provide instant serenity. I miss looking out at moonlight shimmering over the water, or the crisp mornings when the lake is like glass and the loons call out their welcome. But I love that I had it, and can recapture it… that Zen… simply by closing my eyes and breathing in the memories.

I hold my blessings close to me… and the feeling of Zen is the beautiful reward.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Flashback Friday: Control Center

When Mom and Dad dropped Alece off on Monday, we all sat around chatting and telling stories for awhile… there’s nothing better than getting the scoop from my parents about all the crazy things my nieces and nephews say.

Trust me, people. They are entertaining.

Every time the stories start flowing, for me, it always comes back to this one. In case you all missed it the first time around, have a seat and enjoy learning all about your control center…

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Control Your Control Center
[originally posted: August 20, 2008]

Ok, I think it's time for a funny story. But because the number one rule of my blog is that I would never want to hurt anyone's feelings, I'm going to change names in order to protect the innocent. Let me clarify: I'm fine with making fun of people and embarrassing them (just being honest)... I'm just afraid that until this person turns 25, he may find this to be more humiliating than funny.

I, on the other hand, find it freaking hilarious.

So we're going to call this little boy Ralphie (because I can't think of a more inconspicuous name than Ralph. Makes me think of that kid with the glasses in that Christmas movie).

Little Ralphie was just old enough to join a soccer team. He had the uniform, he had practiced and he was all ready for game day. So were his parents. They were on the sidelines across the field from Ralphie when they noticed that he, like so many little boys his age, couldn't keep his hands off his privates.

Ralphie was watching the game, absentmindedly rooting on his team with his hands where they shouldn't be. His mom was horrified. She turned to her husband and said, "You have got to do something about this. Tell him to knock it off."

Short of yelling across the field to your son to keep his hands to himself, or not to himself as the case may be, there wasn't much the dad could do at this point. But that evening, as dad was giving Ralphie his bath, they had a much needed discussion.

Ralphie came downstairs to the kitchen, all clean and in his cozy pajamas, ready to tell his mom goodnight. She stood at the sink finishing up dishes and asked if Ralphie's father had talked with him about anything that night.

Ralphie replied (in an animated and expressive manner - complete with hand gestures):

"He did, Mom. But I just told him how the body works. The brain is the control center of your body and tells everything in your body what to do. So my control center sent a message to my arm and down to my hand. Then my hand went beep, beep, beep (this is where the hand gestures came in) and so that's why my hand had to go there."

"And what did your dad say when you explained all this to him?" asked the mom.

Ralphie, with a big sigh: "He told me I'd better get control of my control center."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reason Number 879

We may not be able to give much, but we can always give the joy that springs in a heart that is in love with God.
                                                               - Mother Teresa

If you’ve been around this blog longer than a minute, you know I’m all about choosing the joy.

But sometimes, the joy chooses us.

It just jumps right up, hugs us around the neck and reminds us that it’s not something we always have to look hard to find.

Sometimes, it shows up at your door… sits in your chair…

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and becomes your dog’s new best friend.

Alece and I have been friends for a couple of years now. We email and twitter and talk and Skype. We’ve talked about funny things and serious things, television shows and our real life dramas. And now that she’s in my home…

I’ve found it to be just the same. Except I get to hug her, and we still look at each other and laugh periodically about the fact that she’s in my house! :)

I never thought this would happen simply because she lives her life in Africa where she runs her mission, Thrive Africa. Her heart is there, her home is there, her passion is there. But right now, for this moment, she is here.

And I love knowing that the relationships I’ve made with people online, the community I’ve built in this age of technology, work just the same as when I see someone face to face. Friendships are about the heart and sharing life and laughing way too hard at ridiculous things. It’s about staying in pajamas all day and watching Alias and randomly getting into discussions that are just as easy as the ones we’ve had through the computer for years.

Number 879 of Why I Love to Blog: Alece is in my house.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me while Riley and I plot ways to keep her from leaving. :)