Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Thank God - I passed the test...

Kanswer sucks.
So do car accidents.
So does illness of every kind.
So do financial challenges.
And being without a job.
And divorce.
And pain and suffering.
And train accidents, plane crashes, war, and injustice.
The list of things that break our hearts and our spirits is long.

But we are strong people, all of us.
We work hard at jobs we don't always love.
We look for ways to save money and be responsible.
We do our best to love our family members and friends.
We ask for forgiveness when we mess up.
We pray for those we love and those we don't even know.
We sit in silence and place one another in our circles of meditation and peace.
We take the medication and do the exercise.
We use our oxygen, our crutches, our braces, and our glassses.
We follow the proper protocols.
We cry when we need to and then we get back out into the fray and fight hard to thrive. Survival isn't enough; we want to live with gusto.
We ask for help when we can muster up the courage.
We accept it when it is offered.
We try hard, as hard as we can, most of the time.

And then when the opportunity comes to assess our progress, to check our blood levels, to see what is working and what isn't working, we take a deep breath, and take the test.

Allow me to make this a bit more personal.

I repeat: Kanswer sucks!

As soon as I was diagnosed last November, I started doing lots of reading and research on what I could do to fight this dreadful disease and come out victorious on the other side. There is way too much information on the internet, most of which is frightening, overwhelming, and ultimately depressing. I had to take breaks from reading it. And I needed to find someone outside of the traditional medical establishment to walk alongside me on this arduous and horrifying journey.

I know I have mentioned him before, but I must mention him again: my chiropractor/internist is amazing. (If you live in the Charlotte area and need a chiropractor who knows about internal medicine, homeopathy, and general good health, check out Dr. Philip Arnone at The Balanced Body Center in Matthews, North Carolina. He rocks!) He got me started on supplements, pills, drops, and a new way of eating that got me through chemotherapy and surgery with far fewer side effects than anyone I know who has gone through this process. The presence of kanswer meant that my body had lost its ability to fight off and kill invasive disease cells, so the goal was and continues to be to increase the ph of my body, reduce the acidity, support my immune function, and strengthen all my organ systems in order to return my body to balance and health.

The other day, a friend commented to my son that I look really good considering the fact that I've only recently emerged from this kanswer ordeal. Daniel said, "She should look good. All she does is drink healthy drinks and eat garden food." Indeed, my son, that is certainly my goal these days.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, Dr. Arnone said that I should do a blood test to check my body's immune function, its ability to absorb nutrients from my food, and assess which nutrients are deficient. Two vials of blood and $430 later, I got the results two days ago. My immune system rating is higher than normal for a healthy woman my age - someone who has not had kanswer! My body craves vitamin D3 and selenium. Only two nutrients out of dozens tested. I am thrilled. Grateful. Awed. Shocked. Did I mention that I am enormously grateful? I passed the test!

An hour later, I went to the local hospital to have a third echo done of my heart. One of the treatments for my breast kanswer sometimes affects the heart, so the oncologist orders ECGs (or is it EKGs?) every three months or so. I lay there on the table while the woman moved her handy-dandy little device around on my chest. At one point, she asked me, "Do you exercise a lot?" I said yes. She said, "Your heart likes it." Deep sigh of gratitude. Once again, I passed the test. Yay!!!!!

But being the fearmonger that I can be sometimes, that excitement was soon tempered by the "what ifs?" What if this test is flawed? What if they missed something? What if it was just a fluke that day? What if the echo machine didn't assess my heart properly? What if the machine itself harms my heart? What if kanswer comes back anyway? What if...?

I had to stop myself from following that line of questions as soon as possible. I have had to stop the flow of those doubts, fears, and concerns several times since Monday.

I return repeatedly to the place of gratitude: thank you, Lord, that I am on the mend.
Thank you that the garden food, the healthy drinks, the vitamins, the regular exercise, the good sleep are all working together for good and for good health.
Thank you for the abundance of organic fruit and vegetables available.
Thank you for supermarkets and farmer's markets.
Thank you for the vehicles that transport it all.
Thank you for fuel, for electricity, and for the infrastructure that makes it all accessible.
Thank you for the person who invented and patented juicers.
Thank you for Steve's job that continues to support us and this life we live.
Thank you for health insurance, hospitals, and medical knowledge.
Thank you for the doctors - Arnone, Lassiter, Turk, Belle - who have overseen my care.
Thank you for the nurses too - Erica, Morgan, Susan, Kacie, and the many others whose names I never learned, especially the nurses in the hospital.

Thank you all for the prayers and love and support you send on a daily basis.
Thank you for the cards, emails, text messages, and care packages.

I am doing well, feeling well, and I passed the test!
Thanks be to God!

When the opportunity comes to see how you are doing, to look back and see how far you've come, to look around you and give thanks to your support team, go ahead and do it. Here's the truth of the matter: no matter what the test says or doesn't say, no matter how many vitamin or nutrient deficiencies show up, no matter if you have to stay on the medications for the rest of your life, you are here. You are a survivor. You are fighting the good fight. You are winning the race. Simply by showing up and doing the best you can as often as you can, you are victorious. You have passed the test!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Just cut off the fringes...

A few years ago, I spotted a colorful, cozy chenille scarf at a Coldwater Creek store and decided to buy it. As I wandered around the store before making the purchase, I came across an even more beautiful chenille throw. Gorgeous. And it cost less than the scarf. What? I tracked down a saleslady and asked if the pricing was correct (not sure why I would give her the option to change the price, but I did) - and she assured me that it was. So I bought the throw and have worn it as a large scarf ever since.

Soon thereafter, I began to amass a respectable collection of scarves. They are of various fabrics, weights, colors, and styles. But one thing many of them have in common is fringe. As much as I like the scarves, I do not like fringe.

This past Saturday night, I stood in my closet staring at my scarves. They are arranged on hangers, so I could plainly see all the annoying fringe. What I noticed most that night was the way in which the fringe on my favorite chenille scarves, especially the large throw/scarf, had formed huge knots. Some of the knots were so big that I could no longer lay the scarf out flat. Several times, I have attempted to untangle the knots but have been unsuccessful. Whenever I use those knotty scarves, I fold them in half length-wise and wear them that way.

As I stood there staring at them, I found myself getting upset. Am I really going to be limited in how I can wear these scarves because of those silly knots? Really? Am I really not going to wear the other scarves I like because I don't like the fringe? I like everything about them except the fringe.

Suddenly it hit me: just cut off the fringes, Gail!
Suddenly I remembered: these are my scarves. I can do with them whatever I please.
I stayed up until nearly midnight cutting fringe off my scarves. Breaking up the knots with pointy scissors and discarding that awful gnarly mess. It feels like I have an entirely new inventory of scarves - and all I did was cut off the parts I always disliked and never needed.

See those massive knots? Yikes!  
(I guess I like chenille - the comforter on the bed is also chenille.)

Stuff like that gets me thinking, wondering, asking myself questions.
Where else in my life am I allowing myself to be limited by things that I can simply cut off?
Are there bad habits, silly habits, harmful habits that need to be broken up and cut off?
Are there old rules, regulations, expectations, and standards that no longer apply and need to be cut off?
Whose old stories, lame excuses, weird idiosyncracies are knotted around my throat and need to be cut off?

Looking back, I recall a few habits, rules, and excuses I have abandoned.

* Overpacking for travel is one. I remember going to Spain for ten days with two large duffel bags of clothing and returning home without having worn half of the things I'd taken with me. Now I never check a bag, unless an airline worker is in a bad mood and forces me to check my backpack. I've learned to cut of the fringes of excess clothing - and I've never regretted packing light. Ever.

* Wearing shoes that were too small is another. I wear a size 11 shoe. Period. For years, I crammed my feet into size 10 shoes and suffered with sore toes at the end of every day. My dear husband would sometimes agree to cram his feet into my shoes in order to stretch them out for me. That is some serious self-sacrificing love! Now I wear the right size. Whenever a salesperson tries to talk me into trying on a size 10, I politely decline. I refuse to cut off the circulation to my toes, so I have cut off the very bad habit of wearing painful shoes.

* I used to eat food that I didn't like simply because someone else cooked it. My mother is a fantastic cook. She makes THE best fried chicken I've ever eaten. Her yellow turnips, rice, and apple turnover are also delicious. But she also makes oxtails, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese - none of which I like. Other people in my family love that stuff, but I don't. I used to eat a lot more of what she cooked just so I wouldn't hurt her feelings. Nowadays, I simply say, "No, thank you," and eat another piece of chicken!

* I used to eat foods that were pretty bad for me simply because I liked them. I began to slowly wean some of those things out of my regular diet. Then kanswer hit - and I jettisoned those things out of my reportoire. I still wander down the candy aisle at Target and stare at some of my old favorites, but it was time to cut off the fringe and now I give my body the best food I can find... for the most part.

* The ultimate fringe cutting happened on the day I cut off my hair before beginning chemotherapy. Those dreadlocs were some fringes that I loved and had enjoyed for more than twenty years. Nowadays I am loving loving loving my short hair. I have no plans to grow the locs back. None whatsoever.

Yup, I taught a class on adultery yesterday.
A serious subject, yes, but we did a lot of laughing as well.

* I have made similar decisions in my faith walk - eliminating habits and rules that no longer apply. For most of my life, I attended churches where women were not allowing to teach classes where there were males in the room over the age of 16 or so. No more. I am enormously grateful for the many opportunities that the church I now attend has given me to teach and to share what I am learning on my spiritual journey with boys and girls, and men and women of every age.

* I used to stifle my questions and disagreements on issues of faith, the Bible, and how our faith affects the world for fear of offending others, especially those who were older than me. No more. I may not find the answers any time soon, but I plan to keep on asking.

I look forward to finding more fringe to cut off, whether that be from a few more scarves or from other areas of my life. I'd better keep my scissors sharp and close at hand.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thankful Thursday

These weeks of summer seem to be flying past. I wake up on Sunday morning, and then next time I wake up, it's Wednesday. Not that I'm getting so drunk on Sundays that I sleep through three days of life, but it just feels like time is moving in super fast forward mode. One day I always look forward to is Thursday! Cuz it's the day I get to list a few things that I'm grateful for.

So here's my partial list for today:

* fresh watermelon
* green salad with olive oil and sea salt
* recycling
* wandering around town with my daughter like we're two tourists in Charlotte

* we took our sandwiches and bought a drink at Port City Java - and we read, of course, we read
* free art exhibits where we are welcome to take photos

* the small gray structure in the foreground of this photo is a piece of carved glass. 
Notice the shadow underneath it and the small bubble in the middle of it.
The American flag is on a wall on the other side of the room. 
How cool is that???

* making lunch, dinner, movie, and coffee plans with friends this week
* making lists of my hopes, dreams, wishes, and affirmations
* taking the time to prepare for the Sunday School class I'll be teaching this Sunday
* my bed and my pillows
* my son making faces in front of my trunk camera (yes, the car language is set to Spanish)
* the homeschooling conference I went to last weekend. I feel newly motivated and excited about what Daniel and I will do next year. As you can imagine, this past year didn't go as I had hoped - in a lot of ways - but thanks be to God for new beginnings.
* not having to wear bras anymore, especially when I exercise
* new journaling techniques to try
* the fact that there haven't been any riots after the Zimmerman acquittal

* These two quotes from Writing in the Sand, by Thomas Moore -
The essence of the kingdom (of God) is living together in joy. (page 98)
When you finally "get" the teaching of Jesus and begin to live by a new set of rules - love, forgiveness, conviviality, community, healing, and freedom from demonic occupations - your clothes don't suddenly become ultra-white and your face blindingly luminous, but you will be, and appear as, transformed. Your presence will have an electric charge. You will be different, and the effect might well be something akin to bright light. (page 102)

 * with all the rain we've had, mushrooms are sprouting everywhere. I thought these red ones were beautiful. I restrained myself - and didn't eat them.

* my awesome physical therapist, Kim: I'm gonna miss her when our sessions are done (Sometimes I wonder what people must think when they walk past our treatment room and hear us belly laughing over some story we've shared.)
* laughter, jokes, the humor of Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, my husband, and my son
* the fact that as I type this, my daughter is making a spinach quiche and watermelon & cucumber salad for dinner
* care packages from loving friends
* Camillia, the Aetna breast kanswer nurse advocate who calls me every three weeks or so (I hope to meet her in person someday)

* watching a group of children wander around the library looking for books to take home
* walking to the library, arriving five minutes before they opened for the day, and encountering a group of 10 or 15 people waiting to enter as soon as the door opened. Who knew there were so many other library geeks in my neighborhood?

* the airport overlook, my new favorite place to hang out in Charlotte. If the airport were closer to my house, I'd go there nearly everyday. I LOVE to sit there and watch airplanes take off and land.
* scrolling through Pinterest, looking at images of "airport outfits" and "capsule wardrobes," trying to imagine what I will wear and pack the next time I go on a trip
* peace, love, hope, and a future

* poetry by Edna St Vincent Millay
"Grown up"
Was it for this I uttered prayers,
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,
That now, domestic as a plate,
I should retire at half-past eight?


Monday, July 15, 2013

A Response to the Trayvon Martin Tragedy

These are not my words. They are the words of a courageous and honest white man. Thank you, Mr. Wallis, for saying this so eloquently, for challenging white people to stand up against the racism that is still so prevalent in our justice system and across our nation, including our churches. 

My prayers are being raised for Trayvon's family and for George's family as well. There is much pain and suffering in both families - and in so many others as well. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

It’s time for white people — especially white parents — to listen, to learn, and to speak out on the terribly painful loss of Trayvon Martin.

If my white 14-year-old son Luke had walked out that same night, in that same neighborhood, just to get a snack he would have come back to his dad unharmed — and would still be with me and Joy today. Everyone, being honest with ourselves, knows that is true. But when black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin went out that night, just to get a snack, he ended up dead — and is no longer with his dad and mom. Try to imagine how that feels, as his parents.

It was a political, legal, and moral mistake to not put race at the center of this trial because it was at the center from the beginning of this terrible case. Many are now saying, “There was a trial; the results must be accepted.” How well the case against George Zimmerman was prosecuted, how fair the tactics of the defense were, the size and selection of the jury, how narrowly their instructions were given — all will be the subject of legal discussions for a very long time.

But while the legal verdicts of this trial must be accepted, the larger social meaning of court cases and verdicts must be dealt with, especially as they impact the moral quality of our society.

This is not just about verdicts but also about values. 

And the impact of race in and on this case, this trial, and the response to it around the country must now all be centrally addressed.

There is no doubt that this whole tragedy began with the racial profiling of Trayvon Martin. In George Zimmerman’s comments, rationales, and actions, the identity of Trayvon as a young black man was absolutely central. Both sides in the courtroom admitted that.

And when the defense put up as a witness a white woman who had been robbed by a black man as central to why Zimmerman picked out Trayvon Martin to follow and stalk — it really said it all. Was she robbed by Trayvon Martin? No. So why should he be suspect because of another black robber? That is racial profiling. Period.

As the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his most famous “I Have a Dream” speech, whose 50th anniversary is coming up this August 24th:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

King’s dream failed on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Fla., when George Zimmerman decided to follow Trayvon Martin because of the color of his skin. This led to a confrontation in which a child was killed by an adult who got away with it, because of the way Florida laws were written and interpreted.
What exactly happened between Zimmerman and Martin will never be known, because the boy is dead and the adult did not have to testify and be cross examined. How a black boy responded to a strange man who was following him, and what the stranger did with that, is a story we can never really know. But regardless of the verdict that rests on narrow definitions of self-defense and reasonable doubt, it is absolutely clear that racial profiling was present in this whole incident.

And racial profiling is a sin in the eyes of God. It should also be a crime in the eyes of our society, and the laws we enact to protect each other and our common good.

White parents should ask black parents what they were talking about with their children this weekend. It is a long-standing conversation between black dads and moms, especially with their boys, about how to carefully behave in the presence of police officers with guns. Now they must add any stranger who might have a gun and could claim they were fearful of a black man and had to shoot. The spread of legalized carried-and-concealed weapons and the generous self-defense laws that accompany the guns will lead to the death of more black men in particular.

Death is horrible enough. But systematic injustice — one that allows white boys to assume success, yet leads black boys to cower from the very institutions created to protect our own wellbeing — is a travesty. Listen to the stories from Saturday and Sunday nights, of 12-year-old black boys who asked to sleep in bed with their parents because they were afraid. If black youth in America can’t rely on the police, the law, or their own neighborhood for protection — where can they go?

This is one of those painful moments which reveal an utterly segregated society, in reality and perception alike. White people have almost no idea of what black people are thinking and feeling — even the parents of their children’s friends from school or sports teams who are black. Trust me: most white people over this past weekend, whether conservatives or liberals, had almost no idea of what was happening in virtually every black family in America.

Finally, there is a religious message here for all Christians. If there ever was a time that demonstrated why racially and culturally diverse congregations are needed — that time is now. The body of Christ is meant, instructed, and commanded by Christ to be racially inclusive. If white Christians stay in our mostly-white churches and talk mostly to each other we will never understand how our black brothers and sisters are feeling after a terrible weekend like this one. It was the conversation of every black church in America on this Sunday, but very few white Christians heard that discussion or felt that pain.

White Christians cannot and must not leave the sole responsibility of telling the truth about America, how it has failed Trayvon Martin and so many black Americans, solely to their African American brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s time for white Christians to listen to their black brothers and sisters, to learn their stories, and to speak out for racial justice and reconciliation. The country needs multi-racial communities of faith to show us how to live together.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Today, I grateful for the power of words.
Words that make us moan, swoon, laugh, and think.
Words are powerful tools, but can also be vicious weapons.
I hope to use mine with tenderness, kindness and gentleness.
Tonight, I will share a few words, a few lines, that have touched me deeply today.

Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.
Mark Twain

Travel as much as you can. Select your media influences carefully. Associate with positive people. Take lots of risks. The best security is confidence in yourself, mental and physical health, and good friends... take lots of time to be with those friends.
Salli Rasberry

Courage does not always boast. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

Be joyous, though you've considered all the facts.
Wendell Berry

Acceptance of one's life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes and injustices.
Paul Tournier

You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you're going to live. Now.
Joan Baez

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affront thee;
All things are passing;
God never changeth.
Santa Teresa de Avila

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at the clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, sir,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.
Pablo Neruda

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
Albert Camus

How simple and frugal a thing is happiness, a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea... All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart.
Nikos Kazantzakis

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart: I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

Monday, July 08, 2013

It's a Wonder-Filled World...

Sometimes I feel goofy coming to the blog only to write another happy, grateful, "isn't life a gift?" post. But after going through kanswer treatment,
after undergoing surgery,
after losing my hair,
after all of that, in spite of all of that,
I am happy, grateful, and dazzled by the gift that life is.

I told two dear friends on Sunday that there were days during chemotherapy when I thought I was not going to survive the treatments. There were days when I was lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling, thinking, "This is going to kill me. I'm really going to die from this."

But, thanks be to God,
thanks be to you for your love and support,
thanks to my doctors, nurses, chiropractor, spiritual director,
thanks to my family, friends, neighbors,
here I am, still alive, and I'm pretty darn happy about it.

My eyes, my mind, my heart, my five senses are wide open.
Being bombarded by beauty everywhere I look.
For example -

* As I finished this morning's 2 mile walk, I looked across the street at my neighbor's lawn and saw a bird, a squirrel and a baby rabbit. Still. Quiet. Each doing their own thing. None of them paid any attention to me, so I stood in the street for a minute or two, staring. Amazing. The squirrel eventually went on its way. The bird flew off. The rabbit snuggled down in the grass for a morning nap.
* The other day I wondered - how to squirrels and birds know which tree is theirs? I wonder if they wonder how we know which house is ours.
* The sounds that birds make, the songs they sing - I don't listen to my ipod most days when I walk simply because I don't want to miss out on their music.
* The turtles swimming in the ponds in our neighborhood are a constant delight. They float in the water with their pointy heads above the surface and their stubby legs paddling gently below. Geese in family groups float nearby. My corner of suburban Charlotte feels like wild kingdom sometimes.

* While walking Maya earlier today, I noticed a small dragonfly with clear yellow wings. As it hovered and landed on a leaf on the driveway I noticed that the shadow it cast on our white driveway was also yellow. Beautiful.

* We've had rain every day for two weeks. Not constant rain, thank God, but periods of rain. Every day. Not that I'm complaining; I love rain. And I know that there are many southwestern states that would love a good rainy forecast - I'm praying that they will get lots of rain and SOON! Anyway, with all the rain here, there are many species of mushrooms growing in the neighborhood. The trees, bushes, flowers, and weeds are in full bloom.
* Sometimes I wonder about what God thinks of us spreading poison on the abundant grasses and plants he created simply because we have decided that some of them are "weeds."

* And don't get me started on the wonder of the clouds. Shades of gray and white. Wind-blown. Heavy. Dark. And so much water, so much water. I don't think we are in a drought anymore.
* We've had the dehumidifier going lately. That machine sucks a gallon or two of water out of the air every day. Out of the air! Am I the only one who thinks that's pretty cool and also a bit odd?

* My tastebuds are back, fully back. Sweet watermelon. Spicy taco salads. Tart cranberry juice. Fresh tomatoes from the plants on our deck. Green tea. Kombucha. Gala apples. Freshly pressed green juice. Bread from the local bakery. Guacamole hummus. Spinach tortellini. Seared salmon. Fresh local eggs. Almond butter. It is all a delight to eat and enjoy. No one loves to go to the supermarket more than I do.
* This earth we inhabit provides us with bounty beyond my imagination and comprehension. But certainly not beyond my profound gratitude.
* Last night, I watched two episodes of Anthony Bourdain's new show on CNN, Parts Unknown. In one of them, he was in Peru with Eric Ripert. Aside from the fact that the two of them are easy on the eyes, I was spellbound by their adventure. Across land and sea, up mountains in search of rare white cacao beans, they trekked, they ate, they laughed, and they too marveled at the bountiful earth.

* When I was a child, I would lay (or is it lie?) in my bed at night and think about being a mother. I wanted to have children more than anything else in the world. I remember asking my mother if she thought "the rapture" would happen before I was old enough to get married and have children. (For those of you who don't know what "the rapture" is - some Christians believe that Jesus is going to return and take his children from the earth in a massive "disappearing act." Poof and we're gone.)

I was probably dreaming about future motherhood...

* The greatest miracle in my life every day is the gift of our two children. OMG! How is it possible that this body of mine produced two people? I know I write about them a lot. I know I'm not supposed to brag about them, so I won't. But can I marvel at the fact that they exist??? I used to say, "Considering what went in there, what came out is pretty spectacular." People making other people is pretty wild, isn't it? The fact that I was involved in the making of other people, people who will (hopefully!) outlive me, who will make little people of their own, love them, and raise them to make more people - I am awed by the privilege I have had to participate in the perpetuation of this great circle of life. The rapture hasn't happened yet, so I continue to hope and pray that I get to enjoy these two kids for a few more years.

* The plane crash in San Francisco on Saturday, another plane crash in Alaska yesterday, the volcano eruption in Mexico, the train derailment and explosion in Canada, fires out west, flooding here in the east, unrest in Egypt, war in Afghanistan and elsewhere, recent tornadoes, malaria, kanswer, mental illness, oxygen tanks, arthritis, brain tumors, blindness, poverty, the financial crisis in Spain, joblessness, divorce, - there are reminders of pain, death, sorrow, and loss all around us and also within us.  Kyrie eleison - Lord, please have mercy upon us.

* In the face of all of that, I cling to faith, to grace, to love, to hope and a future.
In the face of all of that, I still believe that ours is a wonder-filled world.

For the beauty of the earth, 
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies -
Lord of All, to Thee I raise,
this my hymn of grateful praise.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Can I be thankful on Friday too?

Today I'm thankful that yesterday was too full to write my usual Thankful Thursday post.

What am I grateful for???
* two days in a row, Wednesday and Thursday, of exercising for 60 minutes at a time
* returning to Cardio Funk on Wednesday evening, the workout class that I have enjoyed for almost four years, except for the past seven months
* the way that the teacher of that class welcomed me back with open arms, many questions about my kanswer journey, and then shared a word of encouragement and support for me in front of the entire class
* going on a walk to Trader Joe's and CVS with Steve and Kristiana yesterday, more than a mile each way

* the independence we celebrated as a nation yesterday
* the independence, peace, and joy I can and do celebrate every day
* the peace, joy, and love I experience in my family and with my friends on a daily basis
* knowing that even when I'm not feeling loving, loveable, or even desirous of being loving, I am still loved

* Kim, my physical therapist is fantastic. We both realize that we are coming to end of our sessions together, and we are both genuinely sad about that.
* when I went to my appointment with her on Wednesday, I had prepared a speech at the end of which I would ask her to give me a new exercise band as the red one she had given me a couple of weeks ago was no longer challenging to me. Before I had a chance to ask her, she asked me was how things were going with the band. I said it wasn't as tough as it had been. She said, "Then let me go get you a new one." (Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Kim.)
* I am enormously grateful for how good my arms, chest, shoulders, and torso feel these days. Ten weeks ago today, one week after I had my surgery, I had grave concerns about whether I'd ever be able to pull clothes on and off over my head with ease again. Now I can barely remember how uncomfortable I was back them.
* I am grateful for the beauty of Arlene's memorial service last Saturday and how appropriate it was that on the same day and hour that I bid my friend farewell, I celebrated 22 years of marriage. Life, death, and love - all right there, mingled together and watered with my tears.

* I'm grateful for the rain we've received lately... and the brief bursts of sunshine as well.
* I'm grateful for the basil, mint, parsley, and tomatoes that are growing in small pots on our deck.
* I'm grateful for Wimbledon tennis, even though my two favorites, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, were both unceremoniously ousted far too early in this year's Championships.
* I'm grateful for the excitement of the Federations Cup soccer tournament held in Brazil recently - even though Spain lost badly to Brazil in the final game.

* I'm grateful for the barber who cuts my son's hair and for how often he and his colleagues ask how I'm doing and feeling.
* I'm grateful for his co-worker who cut Kristiana's hair last Saturday.
* I'm grateful to have so much hair now that I'm thinking about getting it cut! (The family thinks I shouldn't cut it yet, but I'm seriously considering it. I like it super-short now.)

* I'm grateful for the modesty, the beauty, and the simplicity of maxi dresses and skirts.
* I'm grateful for tank tops, necklaces, earrings, and flip flops too.

* I'm grateful for the photos that Gibbs is sending me from her time at the beach.
* I'm grateful that Katie and I are scheming as to how we can get back to the beach sometime soon.
* I'm grateful for Krystal, who will join me at a jazz concert tonight.
* I'm grateful for Jen who introduced me to her boyfriend who is the lead musician in the band we are going to see. 

* Flipping back through books I like, sometimes I take photos of quotes and images to store on my cell phone, cherished snippets of beauty and truth to keep with me when I am separated from my books. Here are a couple...

I know, I know. This last one is sideways.
I've never had trouble rotating photos in the past, 
but this one has resisted at least 10 attempts at rotation.
So I'm posting it anyway...
I think it's funny and ironic that this photo is insisting on a sidelying orientation.

* Last but certainly not least, the "page view" counter for my blog indicates that I have had more than 100,000 views. I am enormously, profoundly, joyfully, deeply honored and grateful that so many of you come here and read my rants and ravings. Your presence here, walking with me on my life's journey boosts my spirits, gives me strength, and serves as an encouragement to me to keep writing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.