Thursday, December 19, 2013

Calendar Winner!

Okay, I don't know about everyone else, but I am suddenly just crazy busy.  I don't like it!  I know this is a busy time of year, but I've been fortunate enough to have it slow down the last few years right around now.  At first it felt weird, like maybe I didn't have enough of a real life to be busy at the holidays, but then I realized it was awesome.  And now that I have realized it, there is no such luck this year.

Down to business.  The calendars are here!  I was starting to be a little concerned if they would make it, but they are here.  I am going to warn you already that there is a good chance that I won't get this calendar out on time that you'll have it by January 1st.  It's a long story, but blame the weather. And an insane number of new patients with ridiculous amounts of paperwork.  And the fact that I won't stop climbing, even though I don't have time. Anyway.  I will try to get them out ASAP, but there will likely be a bit of a delay, sorry.

The calendars ARE dinky, and the colors are not quite right, but overall I'm pretty happy with them.  The colors being off will annoy me throughout the year a bit, but I'm guessing that you won't be as disturbed by it as I am.

And the winner is... Joy from Joy in the Morning!  Yay, Joy! :) Click on over to her blog if you want to see some adorable pictures of some darling kids! I'm really excited that the random numbers generator picked Joy, but I have to be honest, I really wish I could give one to everyone that commented!

...

Those of you that talked to me about wanting to get a calendar even if you didn't win, I'll be in touch and we can discuss the details.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dive Deep into Desire

There is an aspect of waiting that I have thought very little about.  I have felt it a lot, but I haven't really thought about it until I saw this article earlier this Advent (though it was written last year, I believe).

Desire.  Yep, I am familiar with the concept.  I have felt it, I have run from it, I have tried to stamp it into submission, I have ignored it, I have been beaten by it, I have been consumed by it. But I have not thought about it. I am thinking now, and there are interesting things to be found there.

One quote that I especially liked from Fr. Martin's article: "[D]esire is a key way that God speaks to us, whether in Advent or the rest of the year. Our holy desires are gifts from God." (Emphasis mine.)

Desire as a gift from God.  On the one hand, I'm not sure I've considered it in just those terms. On the other hand, I wholeheartedly agree.  Like many of God's amazing gifts, it is possible to twist this one into something that it shouldn't be, to allow it to become the god we seek rather than leading us to the God we need, but in the right context this desire can be a very beautiful thing.

I'm not sure that I can formulate all my thoughts on this subject into concrete words and ideas.  I only know that when I contemplated surrendering my singleness to God, one of the things that I feared the most about this was that God would remove this desire and ache for marriage and family from my life.  I never articulated it, but looking back I realize that accepting this desire without its fulfillment means that there is a piece missing from my life.  But if the desire itself is gone, so is a piece of myself.  This desire communicates something essential about me, both to myself and to anyone who knows me.

Our deepest longings shape us, and they help shape our understanding and appreciation for the very things that we desire. One of the implications that I have barely begun to understand is the way that these desires are a gift of God, and a way that He communicates intimately with us.  But they are also an opportunity for us to freely offer them back to Him, that He will do with them what He wills.  In acknowledging and praying for and seeking that desire, we accept that gift from Him, but in also letting it go we give that as a gift back.

Waiting and hoping are intimately connected with this desire.  I continue to wait, and continue to hope and continue to let go.  I don't know where it will lead, but I can tell you that when I went to Adoration this Sunday, I poured out all my deepest desires and longings to Him, and I lifted up yours as well.  My prayer for the rest of this Advent is that we will let those holy desires wash over us, and accept them in whatever form they come today, and that those desires will connect us even more deeply with our desire for communion and relationship with Him.

Okay.  I've written and rewritten this post enough times that I don't know what I'm saying anymore.  I will just hit "publish" and if it doesn't make sense, go read what Fr. Martin had to say.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Peace

Okay, here is post 1 of 2 in my Advent miniseries.  Kat said I could call it a miniseries, so I will and I am.

Guys, I am a chump.  No, really, I am the very definition of chumpishness.  I am "chump" personified. Don't believe me?  Here is the definition:

Chump
noun (informal)
A foolish person.
           -an easily deceived person; a sucker


Yup.  Here's the thing.  I started (and finished!) this whole post about peace.  Because, you know, I have it all figured out. Okay, I never claimed to have it all figured out, but I thought there was some good stuff to share.  I am not going to say there was nothing good in the post, but it all seemed very dry and silly after I watched a couple of videos tonight.  So instead of trying to explain it all in the context of my own little issues, I'm going to share those videos instead.  Seriously, make time for them.  Abigail Smith was a beautiful woman who died of terminal cancer last week, and these two videos share something of her heart in that last year or so of her life.  I can talk about peace, or you could just take a soak in it, from her heart to yours.

I know not everyone will be able to watch them, so let me just say this.  Peace is resting in God in this moment. I wanted peace from God about being single for the rest of my life, if that's what He was asking, but He's not asking me to live all of my single future right now.  Just this moment.  I spent a lot of time with being overwhelmed about how awful it would be to be single forever, but I don't have to be single forever, just right now.  And not only can I handle being single today, there are actually some beautiful things about it.   I am coming to realize that tomorrow there will be more graces to handle being single (and more beautiful things about being single), or it will be the day that I meet someone. Also, there will be hard things about being single, but if all I have to think about or deal with is today's hard things, it's not nearly as bad as if I project what those hard moments will look like compounded by the next 50 years or so.  Just today.  Peace is meeting God today in this moment right where you are, not studying the past or the future, so much as Him.

Furthermore, I am not and will never live these moments perfectly.  I will get mad, I will fail to love to those in my life to the best of my ability, I will get annoyed and be annoying, I will roll my eyes, I will dwell in the past and moan about my predictions of the future. These moments will happen and do happen regularly.  The important part is to realize when you are doing them, and then let it go and turn back to Him.  Waiting well, having peace, surrendering to God, have nothing to do with being perfect and everything to do with being faithful.  (Who recognizes a Mother Theresa reference?)

Finally, whatever suffering is in your life, whatever evil is in your life, whatever sin is in your life, that ugliness itself is not God's plan, but He is there in the midst of it, He has suffered so that our suffering may have meaning and lead to life, and He has a plan to bring amazing grace and beauty out of the very depths of the pain.

Okay, time to either stop or descend back to being the chump again.

Terminal Cancer Wasn't In My Plans from Andrew PC Smith // SMITH PIXELS on Vimeo.

Amazing Abby - A Legacy of Hope from Andrew PC Smith // SMITH PIXELS on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Two Advent Posts (I Hope!)

There's so much that I want to say, but every time I get started writing, I don't get too far.  I had a vision of writing a little miniseries about some things about Advent, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that's not going to happen. Unless two posts can count as a "miniseries" (seems to me that there has to be at least 3 to count as a series, right? What's the official ruling on that?) Anyway, for better or worse, I think you're getting two.  But two of the things that I have learned about most in the last year or so, so hopefully it's worth something.

Let me do a quick introduction to both of them (see, I say that like two other posts exist; in reality, I just deleted what I had started.  But two posts are lingering in the theoretical realm of my brain!)

My story is that I grew up with a big family and we may have had some squabbles, but really no drama.  My parents have been married 36 years, I have lots of aunts and uncles and cousins.  Family is awesome and always has been for me, and I couldn't wait to bring my own family into the craziness. I remember going to a wedding when I was 16 and wishing that that was still an acceptable age to get married because I couldn't wait to be married and have kids. Not that I had a groom in mind, and not that I really would have wanted to be married before college, but it was a thought that crossed my mind.

Then I went to college, figuring that I would meet someone there.  That's where my parents met, and that's how it works a lot in the middle of the country.  Meet someone in college and get married when you graduate at 22 or 23.  I always wanted a lot of kids and couldn't wait to get started.  Only problem is... I didn't so much as have a boyfriend in college, let alone a relationship that was serious enough for marriage.  Then there was grad school... Still did not meet anyone. It is now 10 years since I graduated college, and I'm still single as I can be.  I am not and never will be "the cat lady", but a big part of that is that I have allergies and don't really want the responsibility of an animal.

Over the last decade plus, there are two truths that I have come to acknowledge in my life.

1) I am called to marriage.  I am not called to singleness (perhaps some are called to this, but this is a default state in my life, not a calling for me).  Nor am I called to the religious life.  Believe me, I explored it, but I knew quickly that was not the case for me. I can tell you without the slightest bit of doubt that a large part of me will always be missing if I remain single forever.

2) I may not ever get married and have children.

When these two things are true in your life (or something similar... Like you want children, but may never have them, or you want a good relationship with your family, but it may never happen, or whatever is on your heart tonight that may or may not be a part of your life, or whatever it may be), then my friend, you are in for a lot of pain.  I know this because of experience and because of the cries of so many hearts that have shared their pain/joy/light/darkness on their blogs as well. It's especially tough when it seems the whole world gets to have what you want, except you.  And the holidays, that time focused on family and small children, when all your friends and cousins your age are bringing their husbands and multiple children, and you are still not.  It's just tough.

I begged God to let me get married, have children.  I tried to do everything in my power.  I've done the computer dating thing, the blind date thing, even the speed dating thing (that's a trip and a half, let me tell you).  I usually don't turn down dates, because I figure I'll give about anyone a chance (unless he sets off the creep-o-meter) and I am here to tell you that there are a lot of nice guys out there, just haven't found a fit for me. I have been as active as possible in a number of different things, both according to my interest and where I might meet people. I have been busy trying everything at times and at other times been busy living life and let whatever happens, happen. I have prayed my heart out, and I have cried when there were no words left.  I have felt extraordinarily close to God and I have felt so far from Him that I questioned His existence.  I have rested in His care and other times wondered why He hated me (intellect being different from emotion here).

I kept hoping that I would finally stumble on the secret formula for what God wanted from me so He would finally answer my prayer.  Until finally, finally one day about 18 months ago I was so tired of it all, I finally gave up and told Him "whatever".  I asked that He either fulfill the first truth in my life or give me peace with the second.  I was no longer going to fight.  Whichever He wanted for my life, He could have.

You know what His answer was?  None of the above. He didn't give me one or the other, or take anything away, but asked me to surrender the tension of letting both be true. Not with words, I don't hear things like that. It was just a question in my heart if I was willing to accept both and even surrender being stuck in the wait.  And in my ongoing attempt to do this, I have found peace, and I have learned something about desire.  I think that both of these things are very on topic for Advent, so that's what I want to try to write, a post about peace and a post about desire.

~~~~~

Okay, I really thought this would be a two paragraph post.  That's how it goes, you know.  Start out with no words and end up with more than you quite know what to do with. If you did make it this far, I just wanted to let you know that the calendar giveaway is still going on. It will keep going until the calendars make it to my doorstep, and then I will randomly pick someone. Some have been sweet enough to ask if they could buy a calendar if they didn't win, and the answer is yes, yes you can.  We will work something out.  But first I have to see if they are only dinky, but good quality.  I don't want you to pay good money for something that looks like I printed it off my parents' ancient printer! (That happened once with a calendar I bought from one website; hence my paranoia).

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes and Calendar Giveaway!



Head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

1) Okay. I'm still getting over my calendar problems.  I had my calendar made and was all set to order on the program that I've used for the last couple of years... And then it said I had to update my app to order through this program, but then it wouldn't let me update my app because it said my system was too old.  It is 5 years old, and I know that's ancient in computer terms, but NOT GETTING A NEW ONE RIGHT NOW!

Which means that I had to order through a different website.  And I had issues with it.  It's a smaller calendar than what I've been doing, I couldn't get the layout exactly the way that I want (though it might be a little better in some ways) and I don't know whether the quality of printing will be what I've become accustomed to.  On the other hand, it's cheaper, so I guess that's good.  As long as it doesn't look cheap, which is what I'm afraid of, and have had problems with in the past.  Really, I think I could get over the rest of it pretty easily, except the part where it's so much smaller.  I really like my big calendars!

However, I just went ahead and ordered them today anyway, because today was the last day of their 32% off sale and I could get free shipping (though with my luck, they'll start a 40% off sale tomorrow; I stink at getting deals).  I guarantee that if I kept shopping around for everything I was looking for, I would have to go without a calendar for 2014, because I wouldn't get it taken care of in time.  Anyway, such as they are, they're coming, and hence the giveaway at the end of the Takes today!

2)  I had a pretty exciting spin class yesterday.  At the beginning of class, the instructor looked around and said "Oh, good. It's all regulars." Y'all.  She counted me as a regular!  Maybe that wouldn't seem so exciting to some.  I have been going consistently for the last month or so.  But I'm excited because it means I've made it a whole month of being consistent at going to the gym!  And I have noticed some significant changes in my strength and endurance... All due to being regular enough to be called a regular.

Also exciting was that I got a "nice job" from the instructor after class.  I've been working more on staying out of the saddle when everyone else did, and most of the time, I can handle it now.  It's really nice to have someone notice and acknowledge the effort.  Side note, if you're interested in how spin class has made it to my latest list of analogies for Catholicism- purgatory in this case- I wrote a post about that here.

3) Ooh, while I'm linking things, you HAVE to check this out if you have a geeky Catholic side, or are curious about geeky Catholics. It's some explanation of how the theology behind the Immaculate Conception of Mary and her assumption into heaven are both consistent with science.  It does not prove scientifically that these things happened (as far as I know, there's no way to measure the things these doctrines deal with), but it shows that the science and the theology fit together in a crazy sweet way!

4) It is still true that I have things that I want to write about waiting.  It is also true that they are not getting done very quickly.  I'm waiting until the time is right, get it?  Haha- okay, not really.  Lame.  Anyway, I have worked on them a little here and there, but it's not coming together like I want it to- and then I realize that it better come together sooner rather than later if I want to post them during Advent because it's less than 3 weeks until Christmas! How did that happen?!

5) I wish I could say that I was all Advent-y with my little celebrations and waited until Gaudete Sunday or some such significant time to put up my decorations.  Nope.  I love having them up, and it's such a short time (even though I wait for the end of the Christmas season to take them down), so they are going up as soon as I can spare a little time.  It doesn't take long, because I don't go all out, but I still need a little bit.  Also, I have to get past my fear of my boxes in the basement.  I've had a couple of flooding issues and didn't care enough to look deeply for water damage. (A cursory glance showed little to no problems).  Plus, there're spiders down there.  And some are shiny and black.  If they stay down there, well and good, but if they hitch a ride up on the boxes, I will not be happy!

6) Wow, there're a lot of long ones here.  So how about a freebie?

7) Giveaway!

Okay, the rules are as they ever are around here.  1) You have to want a calendar. (Even if it's on the dinky side and may look cheap; no guarantees. But at least there are a lot of mountains in it, which is always a plus in my book!) 2) You have to leave a comment.

I will then run a random numbers thingy to pick someone and send them a calendar. Here are a couple of photos included:
November 
July (without the watermark, I promise)

February

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Whole Season of Waiting

So.  We're heading into Advent.  A very, very strange thing happened to me this year.  I realized Advent was coming up (not the strange part), and I got excited about it!  Weird, huh? A whole season of the Church dedicated to waiting, and I was excited?? You see, there's this thing about waiting, in that it sucks and I hate it, so why on earth is there suddenly excitement?

The answer is, I don't really know.  Maybe I'm starting to see it a little like spin class and some of my other hard work outs.  I have a sort of dread for those days.  They kind of hurt.  Not that they're causing pain, but they cause serious discomfort.  But, wow.  The results of those kinds of workouts!  Physically and mentally, they make you stronger.  You dread them and you love them all at the same time. At the end of spin class, I get off the bike and think, "I just did that."  Or I get to the top of the hill and think, "I'm still alive, and I made it, and look at that amazing view!"  And then I see the results in my activities.  More energy, more ability to keep trucking on the trail or with whatever adventures are up for that current weekend.

Waiting sucks, but waiting with a purpose leads to something greater (even while it still sucks). As in, I still don't know if this particular wait (to fulfill a marriage vocation) will ever end.  There are no guarantees that I will ever get married and even fewer guarantees that I will ever get to have children.  But I do know that this waiting has led to other things, much needed things in my life.  Things pertaining to the higher calling that we all have in our call to holiness, to be set apart for God.

Maybe that's why I'm so excited about Advent.  We are all called to holiness, whatever our stage in life is.  We are all waiting for something.  For some, the wait is all consuming and obvious in their lives.  Others are so caught up in the day to day of their current lives that they are mostly unaware of the wait. But Advent reminds us that we are all waiting for the coming of Christ, both in personal ways in our lives now, but also that we are waiting as a Church for His coming.  And He is coming.  And that's exciting!

So, I'm sure like last year, there will be another couple of posts about waiting.  Because I am one of those people for whom the waiting is obvious.  I'm not very good at it most of the time, but I will say that after a decade or more of waiting, I feel like I'm finally starting to learn a couple of things, so I'll share some things that have had some meaning for me. And they may even be slightly different from some of the things I posted last Advent (but I guarantee nothing, because I'm a slow learner, and may not have picked up much new.) I hope that it helps me get a better grasp on learning and living these things and maybe it will help someone reading, too.

Have a very blessed Advent!


Friday, November 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday



1) I was thinking that there would not be any QT's today because I did not get around to it yesterday, but.... Snow day! There's tons of snow in my little pocket of weather (the mountains are funny and only a few miles can drastically change the amount of snow you have.  However, it did allow for a little later start to my day.  And there's a decent chance that I'll have a few patient cancellations, so I'm going to gamble on that and use that time to do a few paperwork things that I was going to do before work in the morning.  Because I'm all responsible like that. (Due to Murphy's Law, I have just jinxed myself and every one of my patients will show up; even the ones that have been canceling in the best of weather.)

2) Last night I went to meet up with some friends.  I knew it was cold out, but I also knew that I would be walking a block at the most,  and so I didn't worry about the fact that I was not dressed that much for the cold.  BUT, I didn't know that it was 16, and the windchill was -4!  Seriously? The weather's acting like it's the end of November or something!  I did not die or get frostbite, but that 3/4 block that I had to walk was suddenly a LOT longer than normal and I couldn't walk fast due to ice and snow on the sidewalk.

3) I have been doing horribly with weight maintenance.  It's like I have 0 ounces of self control, but then that leads to lots of extra ounces on the scale.  It's bad!  My weight has been all over the place this week with 3 pound fluctuations from day to day; and all of those to the higher end or above my range that I am trying to keep it in.  I know I don't have much to complain about, but it's all very annoying at times! (And, yes, I am well aware that that kind of fluctuation is water weight. But when I eat the kinds and quantities of food to cause that much bloating, it turns to the Real Deal, real fast.)

4) I think part of my frustration with myself comes from the fact that my workouts have not been great this week, either.  Monday I had to skip spin class, and yesterday I had to skip my hard workout of the week due to weather.  Wednesday and this morning I did make it to spin, but I did not push myself hard enough.  And yesterday I did not work out very hard at the climbing wall, but that's actually okay because my hip was a little sore, and I didn't want to aggravate it.

5) I think that the trick is to look at this week honestly.  Yes, there are some things that I could have done better.  Those are the things that I can focus on working on next week.  However, I also need to remind myself that a few of those things are out of my control, and maybe most importantly, I have to give myself credit for things that I did do well.  For example, I may not have pushed myself hard enough this morning, but I was really tempted to stay in bed, and instead I went to class!

You need to help me out.  I know I'm not the only one flagellating myself for things that I should have done better while ignoring the things I did accomplish.  Let me know, what did you accomplish this week?

6) You know the best part about all the snow?  If the passes aren't too bad, there's a good chance I'm going skiing tomorrow!!  I can't wait! Cross country, y'all. Cross country.  There are a lot of down hillers in these parts, but I value control more than speed, and there is no workout in the world like cross country skiing.  (Especially when you don't have the best or most efficient form, and you make yourself work 2-3 times harder than you really should....)

7) And now a re-run picture in honor of the fact that winter decided to show up for the weekend!


Have a great weekend and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

For Those Who Wait


On my calendar for this month is the last photo of this post.  I love that photo so much.  Sure, it's a pretty picture, but that's not the half of it.  I remember that hike very vividly.  It was so long, so hot, so dusty.  The scenery was nice enough, but absolutely nothing prepared me for looking back on it and seeing what it looked like from that perspective.  So, I've been thinking about this post because of that. I've been thinking about it because Halloween has already been and Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming and those can be tough.  I've been thinking about waiting because we are approaching Advent.  But it took a friend talking about her wait right now that made me say that I should maybe repost this.  So I am, but with some changes.  Because it's my post and I can if I want to.  And because my perspective has changed some.  Original is here, if you're interested.  Praying for all of you who are struggling and waiting right now, whatever that may be for you.

Many of the things that we strive for in life starts with the promise of something beautiful. Perhaps it is waiting for a spouse or for children.  Perhaps it is trying to live out that vocation faithfully.  I won't even try to list everything, but they would not be the deepest desires of our hearts if they were not calling to us with such beauty and infinite worth.


This hike starts in the cool of the morning, when everyone is energized and excited and ready to go (please, even if you are not a morning person, I defy you to not be energized and excited at the beginning of a hike!)  No one expects the journey to be easy, exactly, but we do expect it to be worth it. We don't really question if we will make it. Who starts a journey with that thought in mind?

Yet if you have hiked long enough (or waited and struggled long enough) you learn to realize that the outcome is not a given. You may run low on supplies, you may have bad weather move in, someone may get a blister. If you're smart, you have to learn that you have to turn around sometimes. You also know that it is possible that it could turn really bad. There are no guarantees.  There can be injury and death.  Most of those dangers can be mitigated by the right preparation, but stepping out on to the trail means assuming the weight of those dangers.

This particular hike, my friend and I drove over an hour outside of Moab to go to Canyonlands National Park. It was a fairly remote location, so there were comparatively few people at the trailhead. Those that were there knew what faced them.  Beautiful scenery, and a wonderful hike, but also hard work that required the appropriate preparation in order to reach the destination and return safely to the car. When you are hiking upwards of 11 miles in the desert as opposed to 1/2 mile, the stakes go way up.

I only wish you could have been there with me. I can't describe what it's like to be out there with almost no one around. Most of the time, it was just my friend and I. It was hot, and we were working hard, and we got blisters and we sweated, and our feet ached. We carried a good amount of weight on our back, including lots of water, food and layers.  There was a fine dust that we kicked up with every step, and I wondered if the walk would ever end.

I thought of you, my friends who wait.  I know that you did not pick this journey.  I know that it seems hard and seems like it may never end and you may not make it to the destination. I wish I could tell you that you'll get there eventually, but the truth is, some of us won't get to the place we'd planned on going. It's always a disappointment, but I've yet to regret going on a hike and how it has helped me to grow, despite that disappointment.

I also thought of my friends that are no longer waiting, but have waited. You know how hard the journey is and you have made it to the end. I see in you that you know that the destination and return are not a given. You get it, and you appreciate everything so much more as a result.

And for those of you that are still waiting? I have more bad news. Most of us that get out and do longer hikes and get away from the crowds, we usually are somewhat battered and broken as a result. There are injuries to nurse and scars that tell of the great (and not so great) times that we've had. Most are minor enough in nature, but you don't do this kind of thing and come though without being changed for it.

Anyway, this particular hike was to Druid Arch. It involved walking through some narrow areas, scrambling over and around rocks, and trudging through fine sand that made every step take twice the energy. Most of the day, we followed a wash up through a canyon. We could look up and see some great views at times.


And often there are beautiful, simple moments along the way.



 Have you ever, in the journey of waiting, had a feeling of hope so strong you almost touch it? Then you realize, hope notwithstanding, you still have a long ways to go? My friends, here it is in picture.

I didn't recognize it at first, because it's sideways to us, but the tower to the right by the tree is Druid Arch. First I was so excited, because I realized I was almost to the end of the hike. But then my excitement was dampened, because I realized that the arch was still quite high above where we were. I had a sneaking suspicion that there was still a fair amount of work to do to get to our destination.

I was right.

First, we walked up rock that was steep enough I didn't know for sure if we'd be able to walk on it at first. We could. Then there was a ladder and a bar that you could hold onto to get you to the next platform. The arch was closer, but still high.  And that's when the trail got steep. You know how it is when you're waiting? Sometimes you trudge along, putting one step in front of the other. Sometimes it's relatively easy. Sometimes you have to stop and take a rest because you can't go anymore. Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes there are intensely beautiful moments. Sometimes it's freaking hot, and you're dusty and you're tired, and why aren't we there yet, dammit?!

And sometimes it's like that trail was in that moment. Steep and ridiculous.  This "trail" did not look like something that sane people would attempt.  When I tried to follow the trail with my eyes, I could not figure it out.  At this point in the hike, the arch was blocked from view.  I was about ready to shrug and turn around, but followed my friend instead. All you could do was a few steps at a time, then stop to re-evaluate and see where the next step was.  Everything was so twisted and hidden from view until you were on top of it. 

But, then.

There was the moment that I have not personally experienced, but that I have heard in the hearts of those who have waited.

I couldn't find the next step. I looked up and it wasn't there, and I finally looked to the side and I saw the step. I was so focused on the trail, that I was only looking at the rocks at my feet until I saw my friend grinning at me and my difficulty with finding the trail. I realized what was going on when I raised my eyes a fraction higher.


This is the "Holy crap! It's there!" moment. Seriously, I stopped right there and pulled out the camera before I took another step. I thought of all those trudging along, not realizing anything would be different about that day, but it became the day that they finally got the call for an adoption, or they finally got the pregnancy test that came up positive.

Pictures really can't convey how huge and awesome this thing is, though here's one with my friend walking towards it to try to give some idea. It was worth the loads of sweat, the sore feet, and the miles in the fine sandy spots that stole all the energy.



Here's the thing.  A year after the hike, I don't remember the first moment of seeing the arch like I remember the moment of turning around and looking back the way we had come.

I liked looking back where we came from, only this time my view was from above looking down, rather from the canyon floor looking up. Our wash, which seemed wide enough when we were walking, was only a dark crack in the view. It reminded me that sometimes the perspective that we have during the journey will not make as much sense until we get to the end. I also thought of this incredibly beautiful sight that we shared with only two other people.  A long journey is definitely the road less traveled because of the work and the sweat and the pain involved, but the rewards are worth the effort and so few get to experience it!  And I absolutely believe that here and/or in heaven, the rewards of waiting will be worth it. Further, at that time, we may actually begin to consider ourselves the lucky ones, whether we get what we initially wanted or not.

The trail was below the bottom whitish layer. Also, I think you get the idea of why the area we were in is referred to as the Needles District.
So, my friends who are still waiting, this one's for you. I'm praying that your "holy crap" moment is soon, but more than that, I am praying that when you turn around, you will be in awe of the place that this journey has taken you.  That all the dust and heat and weariness and soreness will have combined to work a transformation in you that you did not see in the drudgery of simply putting one foot in front of the other during the hardest of times, but that you will see and be in awe of when you reach a new place of perspective.

Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

1) Y'all, I so do not do well with creepy crawly things.  I have mentioned the spider issues at various times, but yesterday it was a mouse. In my office. While I was working with a patient, and had to pretend to be a professional!  NOT OKAY!

2)I have noticed in my professional life, there have been a number of times that the outside and the inside of me are not allowed to match up.  It ends up looking something like this:

Patient is lying on the table while I work on him. I look up and see a mouse run across the floor.

Inside: "Oh, sh crap*, no way, no WAY!  A mouse did NOT just run across my floor!!"
Outside: "Excuse me a moment, it looks like something just moved."

I get up to investigate. I don't see it, but I when approach an exercise ball blocking my view, 

Inside: "WAIT! DON'T MOVE THE BALL, DON'T MOVE THE BALL! IT MIGHT BE RIGHT THERE! AND THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO??"

I move the ball.

Outside: "Hmm, I don't see anything. Maybe I just imagined it."
Inside: "Please, please, please let me have imagined it!"

A couple minutes later,

Outside: "Oh, there it is, I guess I didn't imagine it."
My patient: "Yep, that's a mouse, you didn't imagine it."
Inside: "Dangitdangitdangitdangitdangitdangitdangit."
My patient: "Do you want me to get it for you?"
Outside: "That would be great."
Inside: "That would be the most wonderful thing in the world!  You will be immediately vaulted to the status of most favorite patient in the history of patients! Please get the mouse!  I'm not sure what you're going to get it with... Your bare hands?  I don't care!  Get it, please!"

We look a few minutes, but are unable to find it, so we have to give up the search and finish the treatment.  I can only hope for the rest of the treatment that it has left my room.

3) I told the person at the front desk, and she looked properly horrified at the thought of a mouse running around in the back somewhere.  But another coworker overheard it and dismissed me with a "You're bigger than it is... Wait, weren't you the one that had a problem with a bug that one time, too?"

Ha! "That one time."  Shows what YOU know, since there were a whole lotta times that I've had problems with bugs.  And why would you think the small size is supposed to make me feel any better? It's not like I'm afraid the thing is going to eat me.  I think more about the vermin infested thing waiting in a hidey hole and biting my fingers when I reach for something.  Or it might crawl on me.  And, yes, that would be a horribly bad thing!

I'm pretty low maintenance and not much of a girly girl most of the time, but if you want me to go all stereotypical on you, just send a rodent or an arachnid across the room, and we're there! Our lovely host Jen has all my sympathies with her various pest problems.

4) Also, I was initially relieved that it happened at the end of the day and I could leave, but once I got home, I realized one of my bags had food in it and it was by the floor.  So then I kept wondering if it hitched a ride.  I'm better now... Until I have to go to work in the morning.

5) Oh, wait! These are supposed to be quick takes? And they're supposed to be about different little things going on in our lives?  I'd say "my bad," but that was a horribly annoying saying when it was a saying.  Besides, I'm not taking responsibility. I blame the rodent. But I do have a snippet for you!  I'm almost finished putting together a calendar for 2014.  I think.  There are a lot of the pictures that I really like, but there are a couple that I'm not exactly excited about.  I may have to rethink a couple. Anyway, (not anyways, because that is NOT a word! Argh, pet peeve alert!  Okay, I'm better now.)  Anyway, the whole point of this is to say that it should be time for a giveaway soon!

6) So, spin class.  The instructor said at the last class something about that we were not going to actually die.  I would have argued, but ain't nobody got breath for that! It's interesting.  I feel that I've never sweat much, but I've started taking a towel; partly because that's what everyone else does, and I like to pretend that I know what I'm doing.  But mostly because I have to have something for all the sweat!

7) I feel like I need a picture of a mouse, but I don't have one, so you'll have to settle for this instead.



Have a great weekend and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

*Yeah, I really don't swear, even in my thoughts.  Not because I've made some conscious do gooder decision, but for whatever reason, I just don't.  Times like these make me wish I could swear occasionally!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Seeking a Peaceful Heart

So speaking of surrender... I still struggle with it a little at times, but overall it is so much more peaceful that I sometimes ask myself what is wrong with me that it took me YEARS to get to that point.  Why did I make things so much more painful for myself, and why did I get so depressed and so whiny and have so much difficulty believing in God's plan and His love?

But even stranger than that, why would I not give up any of those times of questioning/pain/doubt?

Once again, Father Jacques Philippe has the answer.  I finished reading "Interior Freedom" and it was so good that I got another one of his books called "Searching for and Maintaining Peace."  And in the first chapter I found this:

Apart from Me, you can do nothing, Jesus said (John 15:5) he did not say, "you can't do much," but, you can do nothing. It is essential that we be persuaded of this truth. We often have to experience failures, trials and humiliations, permitted by God, before this truth imposes itself on us, not only on an intellectual level, but as an experience of our entire being. God would spare us, if He could, all these trials, but they are necessary in order that we should be convinced or our complete powerlessness to do good by ourselves. 

Exactly.

While it took me a while to figure this out, but this is why I don't regret all those times of being a whiny butt and all those times where the baggage took me under and I couldn't get out by myself. I'm not proud of those times, and I don't wish to go back, but I needed them.  Had I started with this surrender, I would have been pretty proud of myself for being such a wonderful Christian.  I wouldn't have understood how much I needed God, and how much I am completely incapable on my own.  And further, I would not have understood when others went through the same problems.

Father Philippe goes on to talk about the fact that once we realize that we can do nothing without Him, it brings a certain peace of heart where we can allow Him to work in us.  He used the example of a lake and the more calm and peaceful it is, the more it can reflect the beauty around it.  And so we need peace to reflect God.

I admit that in the last couple of weeks that I have been struggling a little with peace.  The last couple of holidays have been worse for me in October, as I hope for something to change in the last second so that these holidays will be different and added to it, I start comparing my childless life to all my friends' cute kids in Halloween costumes.  Wouldn't you know that we talked about Peter walking on the water in Bible study this week?  I was reminded that Peter walked on the water just fine when his eyes were on Jesus, but when he looked out at the wind and the waves, he started to sink.  So I'm trying to get my eyes away from all of that and back on Him, and things are settling down and I can go back to enjoying all the cute kiddos and the good things in my life right now.

Okay, it's late and I was up early working out, so I'm starting to ramble.  How about a couple of visuals of how well my stirred up heart reflects Him compared to the way a peaceful heart does.


Still beautiful, but only reflecting a few bright spots.
A little ruffled, but as the calmness increases, so does the reflection.

There it is.  May I someday reflect God like this!




Friday, November 1, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 193)

1) Wow! Has it really been a month since I've joined Quick Takes?  It looks like the answer is yes, yes it has. I guess that's what happens when you are very inconsistent with blogging.

2) I'm writing this on Halloween, which I am not celebrating at all.  I don't have any issues with Halloween, I just don't do anything to celebrate. I'm kind of like Scrooge, only whatever the Halloween equivalent is of someone that is completely lacking in holiday spirit for this particular holiday.  I do think it's interesting, though, how many people have gotten to the point that they just LOVE Halloween.  I think it can be a fun holiday, but what is the obsession?  I mean for adults.  I get why kids love costumes and candy.

3) I really need to get on the stick and write some more stuff about the chronic pain things that I have been learning.  I had someone the other day that I treated who came back and told me treatment was "life changing".  She was not being melodramatic.  That really is the case for some people.  I'm still not getting as consistent of results as I would like, but I'm going to keep working on it, because I love the fact that there may be something that can actually be done for chronic pain!

4) Guess what is now available on Amazon Prime?  Duck Dynasty.  Now, I didn't think that this show would be my cup of tea, but I was curious to watch one since it's free and now I'm hooked!  I think that there's just enough country in my family that I appreciate some of the things they talk about a little bit.  But I am also reminded that there is no redneck in my background.     I did realize that I would not make a suitable redneck wife as I do not cook or eat squirrel or frogs.

5) I have reached new territory with my weight. Not that my weight is in new territory, but that I am.  See, there was a time about 8 years ago that I was 40 pounds heavier than I am now. And then there was another 15# that wasn't very healthy, but it hung on until about 2 years ago. Today, as I write this, I am at a weight and size that I am very happy with, but I can tell you that in the last 2 years, I've been at this weight* 4 or 5 times and then about as soon as I get here, I gain at least 5 and usually more like 8 or 10 pounds. I've gained and lost those 10 pounds over and over again.  SO, the new territory is maintenance.  I think the big problem is that I get to a good place with my weight, and mentally think "Okay, this is good. I'm done."  Then I start making less than stellar food choices. And then, hello again, 10 pounds!

I have decided that I need to recognize that weight maintenance requires some work.  It is not, thankfully, as much work as losing weight, but just like I have to make conscious decisions when I need to lose weight (again), I also need to make conscious decisions about what I'm eating to maintain my happy weight.  This is obvious for most people, but it's something that I apparently need spelled out for me. I'm trying to stay here long enough to get my body to recognize this as its "set point".  You know how your body tends to try to stay a certain weight that it gets used to, and it takes some work to either gain or lose weight from that point?  That's where I want to get.

6) Sorry about the long take about my revelation about the obvious.  Let's talk about the pizza I made tonight.  YUM!  I did have to put a little cheese on it, but I used parmesan, since that tends to not bother me as much.  For the crust, I went to the gluten free bakery in town and it was a great crust.  Then I put on roasted mushrooms, sauteed onions and garlic, green pepper, a couple of grape tomatoes and Italian sausage.  After I cooked it, I added the cheese and then sprinkled some baby spinach on top of it.  If that last addition sounds gross to you, try it before you knock it.  I got the idea from a really good pizza restaurant in town and it's surprisingly tasty. It was so good!

7)

Happy Fall!

Have a great weekend and head over to Jen's for more Quick Takes!

*But the size is new! Gluten free/dairy free eating can be a pain in the butt, but it is awfully nice that when my body is happier with what I'm feeding it, it also apparently drops a few inches.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

In Comes the Tide

Have you noticed, when there's some grief or pain or worry in your life that it tends to roll over like waves?  Sometimes it creeps in slowly like the tide, the waves gradually becoming bigger and more overwhelming. Other times, there's a big wave that comes out of nowhere.

When I've been thinking about something a lot, I don't remember how much I've actually written here and how much is stuff I just thought about writing.  In other words, I've been thinking about surrender a lot, and I know I've written some on here, but I don't know how much.

Whether there is surrender or not, it doesn't make the dreams and the desires go away.  And it doesn't make the pain of a too quiet house go away. Nor does it fill the hole left when there's no one in particular to share the daily little moments of life. But before surrendering, I would stand on the shoreline with all my hopes and dreams and plans and everything that had attached itself to those and when the tide rolled in, there were times that it knocked me down and pulled me under.  It's amazing what all that baggage can snag on when you're under the waves drowning.  It's dark down there, and there were times where I was that person that was mad at God and had all but lost hope, and there was bitterness and depression and anxiousness about when or if things would ever turn around.

He's always there, even in the midst of that.  There's a reason I didn't drown at the time and it's not because I'm so awesome.  It's only because He pulled me out.  Finally, by His grace, I was able to turn it over.  He's holding on to the hopes and dreams and desires of my heart, though He gives no guarantees.  He's slowly picking off and tossing the extra stuff that had attached itself, things like my plans and timelines, my idea of what is best for my life, even where I am overly attentive to me and me only.  It's taking a while, because let's face it, I'm not very helpful.

The tide still rolls in, but I'm no longer holding all the stuff that drags me under.  The waves still wash over me sometimes, but He's got me and they wash over me and back out to sea without pulling me into the depths.

At this point, my biggest question about surrender is, why in the heck did it take me so long to hand it over?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Glorious Day

You ever have that unexpected day that just hits the spot?  Today is one of those days for me.  It's a routine Thursday in a way, but it's such a fantastic one.

I got up WAY early to do a brutal morning workout.  That wasn't so much fun at the time, but I was working out with a friend, and we were outside, and by 6:30 in the morning I was finished.  I had plenty of time to make a big breakfast (first advantage to a big workout is that it's okay to eat more!) I don't often make sausage links and eggs for the same breakfast, but I did today and they were outstanding together.  Then I had plenty of time for a long hot shower after being outside where it was cooler before I went to Mass.

The one thing I HAD to do today was pick up a few things, so I did that before coming back and heading in for a nice long massage.  Spoiled rotten? Yes, yes I am.  Also, she did a great job working some TMJ muscles that had been bothering me and my jaw feels better than it has in weeks.  Not that it felt that bad, but isn't it great when those nagging things suddenly feel good again?

Then I vegged.  And took a nap.  I guess those are the same things, huh? And it was okay.  You know that drive we all have about all the things that need to be done right now?  Enough of those were at an okay enough place that I could set them aside and not worry about them today.  I ate way too much pumpkin dessert (again, why the workout was such an essential part of the perfect day, even if it required getting up early.)

My paperwork was caught up enough that I haven't had to touch it today. I could do a little cleaning, but things aren't the disaster they sometimes are.  Yes, there are the CEU's, but I had some unexpected free time this week and was able to do some with them earlier in the week.

And I am relaxed enough that there is a little grain of a thought in my head about new challenges to think about trying, but I'll let you know if that goes anywhere.

I didn't mean to bore you on a regular old Thursday, but I guess this blog post is just my version of purring. :)

Hope you've either had a nice relaxing day with your family recently or that you'll get one soon!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's the Little Things

Whoa! What's this? Two posts in a mere week? Craziness, I tell you.  I'm pretty excited this morning because I have an unexpectedly late start at work.  It's not great on the bottom line when that happens, but sometimes it's really nice to have a few extra hours in the morning, especially since that's my best time of day.  That's when things like blog posts spontaneously occur.

One of the things that I have been figuring out about surrender and interior freedom and all of that is that sometimes it's just the little things.  One of the things that I have struggled with a lot as a single person is this desire to give myself up for a husband and children.  To put their needs first.  (And, granted, the reality of that would probably look a lot like someone trying and then falling on their face a whole lotta times- and sometimes not even trying that hard-, but sometimes a girl's gotta dream, right?) So one of the frustrating things about being single is that there's a whole lot of life that's just about what you want to do.  Now, of course, it's this great opportunity to volunteer and so forth, and be this small part in other peoples' lives, but it just doesn't seem like much to offer sometimes.

I guess sometimes that's what God asks, though.  Sometimes it's the little things that He wants.  Why should I get mad about not being able to live for God in one way because it's not "big enough" in my eyes?  Why not just focus on the little part that I could be doing now?

There is this older woman who serves as a crossing guard at the school down my street.  I've driven by there a few times when school is mostly in session, but she's still standing there for a few stragglers.  When she is not helping anyone, every car that drives by gets a big, enthusiastic wave. It makes my day every time.

I have had a hard time feeling like I fit in at any of the churches I have been to (and am still struggling with it), but at my current church, there is this one deacon that had a big welcoming smile and made a point to say hi every time I walked into church.  That meant a lot and still means a lot.

I know.  The idea of doing little things with great love has been around a long time, and there is a reason that we all love St. Therese.  But I'm a little slow and I think that there was a part of me that really just felt like that's what I should be doing for a husband and children, so what am I supposed to do as a single person? Turns out, maybe I should be looking for moments to wave and smile at a stranger.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Just Hangin'

That, there, is my entire excuse for my sporadic posting of late.  I would like to tell you that there is something very obviously going on that I'm so busy that I can't blog (like I'm training for a marathon, while started a new post grad degree while working a first time job, but nobody's that crazy.  Oh, wait.  I mean nobody else is that crazy). I am very busy, but I haven't quite figured out what is making everything so crazy.  I mean, there's work, but that's been the case for as long as I've been blogging.  There are a couple of evening activities as well, but those are also something that has been around most of the time.  I don't know.  I just know that I don't worry about it too much.  I'll blog when I can, and read when I can and post when I can.  Stressing about it is silly since blogging is a stress reliever for me.  I refuse to add it to the "to do" list.

This last weekend, I did get to return to the Midwest to visit a couple of friends.  I can't believe it was only a week ago!  What is it about the best of friends, that time is so skewed?  When I'm with them, it's like I saw them yesterday (even though the calendar said it was a year), and somehow time is not important for those all-too-few days that I'm there.  I mean, it passes WAY too fast, but I don't know, it's also different.  And then I leave, and it already feels like forever, even though this time last week I was in the middle of staying up too late talking to them given the early morning flight I had on Monday.  If you think I have an unhealthy attachment to some of my friends, don't worry.  They already know that I love them a creepy amount.

Other than that, I gave my chronic pain presentation, and it seemed to go well.  I still really want to finish some posts about that. When I wrote this post, it was more to give an example for when I try to explain the more technical aspects of things. I really don't have much of a pain in the neck anymore.  In fact, I aggravated it a little last weekend, and instead of becoming a thing for a week or two, it was calmed down in a couple of days.  There are things that really can help with chronic pain!  I love it!

Beyond that, I think I'm going to try a spin class tomorrow morning.  I have never in my life taken a spin class, but we'll see.  I want more cardio during the week, but remember the part about being busy? I might be flat out nuts to be trying to add in more exercise right now!  I'm not completely insane. I just got a week's work of free passes to the gym to give it a try.  If it's too much to try to add in, I'll just do my week and call it good.

Ooh, and I applied for a passport!  I don't know why traveling out of the country has never happened (okay, yes I do, and it was mostly money or lack thereof), but it hasn't and I don't have one.  I'm going to try to rectify this, and hopefully use it soon.

I'm also stressing because I have to take A WHOLE BUNCH of CEU's in a VERY SHORT period of time or I'll lose my athletic training certification.  It's not necessary for my current job, but it sure is nice to have on the resume. And I haven't even figured out when I'll have two spare minutes to work on even a tiny bit of that requirement!

And that is my life currently.  What's going on in your neck of the woods?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Giveaway Winner!

I'm sorry, I'm such a bad blogger right now, but I really am going to giveaway an awesome book by Jacque Phillippe called "Interior Freedom".  It's such a great book, and I'm happy to share it.  I used a random number generator and the winner is...

Amazing Life!

Congrats, and I will be in touch o get it to you!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It Turns Out... I Believe the Bible!

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend the other day.  She has started reading the Bible for the first time ever.  She does not believe in God, but she is searching for more that she seems to know is there (prayers for her would be awesome!)  Anyway, she is starting with Genesis, and we were discussing a bit about the Creation accounts.  I told her that while I believe that there is truth in the accounts (that God created the world), I also tend to believe that certain parts of the story are telling us important truth, but not literal truth.  Like the fact that the account with six days of creation points to a certain orderliness and logic of creation, but that I don't believe that the world was created in 6, 24-hour days (I do believe that God could have done that, but given my understanding of science, I don't believe that He did.)

The conversation moved on fairly quickly (I think we got distracted), but later something occurred to me.  The Creation account starts with chaos and moves to light and water, then life in the form of plants, then gradually more complex creatures. It doesn't necessarily directly correspond to evolution, but it is the same general idea. Now, I have to say that I don't believe that life started spontaneously where there was no life (so, a Creator).  I believe that there was a Big Bang, but God seems to be the kind of God that starts things off with kick sometimes.  And I do believe that evolution occurred, but I also believe that when there was a transition from animal to human (having a soul), God was directly involved in that.  But then again, I also believe that the world is too orderly and diverse to have all happened randomly.  Plus, things left to themselves don't tend to get more complex, but rather tend toward entropy (chaos).

Then, for some reason I was thinking about how, according to evolution, humans can track our ancestry back through apes, other mammals, reptiles, etc, down to the first amoeba or whatever single-celled life first came out of the soil.  And then it hit me.  Where else have I heard about life coming out of the soil?

[T]hen the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed 
into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7

Oh, yeah.  There.

Maybe there is more literally true about the Creation account in the Bible than I thought.  It's just because I had this anthropomorphic image of God shaping clay into human form that I never saw it before. So, yes.  I believe the Bible.  And I believe that evolution happened.  I don't have all the answers for either, and though I do like that these kind of go together, I'm not suggesting that we turn to the Bible for scientific answers any more than I'm suggesting that we turn to science for all the answers to the meaning of life.  I'm just saying that they are not as incompatible as some (including me, apparently) seem to think.

This is the view of creation, formed through billions of years, that interrupted our conversation.





Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Angry about "Women's Health"

Someone I know just got to leave the hospital after at least three days due to a severe infection.  Despite the fact that they were draining a lot of pus, they were denying the infection. The cause of an infection? An IUD. This is NOT for birth control, but rather for someone that has horrible PMS symptoms and can't take regular hormonal pills due to other health factors.

She could have died if things had gotten much worse.  She is single, and I think we all know far too well what the scarring from all of this may do if she gets married and wants to have children. And she still thinks that she needs to get another IUD when she is healed enough because her monthly symptoms are too unendurable.

She could have died.  She will miss at least 3 weeks of work. She may now have infertility, though given the symptoms she was already probably subfertile.  AND SHE STILL DOESN'T KNOW THERE'S OTHER OPTIONS!!! This makes me so freaking angry!

There is a chance for actual healing.  No, it's not an easy road.  No, it may not be complete healing.  But chances are, she could get actual healing to the point of keeping things manageable and not putting her life at greater risk by getting yet another bleeping IUD!

I don't know for sure if I will be able to bring this up to her (though I will certainly try), but you can bet I said something to one of her closer friends who will almost certainly bring it up to her!  I know Napro's not perfect, but it's done a whole helluva lot more for actual HEALTH for women than the good ol' freaking double P.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

7 Quick Takes

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 193)

I'm using the name, and I'll link to Jen's post even though weekend is over and I'm definitely not QT official.

1) Somehow I have only posted once in the last 20 days, and I'm not sure if that one post technically counts as a post since it's a giveaway.  But, it's a giveaway for an awesome book and because I am SO not on the ball this month, I think we'll just say that it's going to go on for another week or so before I pick a winner.  So go sign up, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

2) I was trying to figure out why it's been so long since I've posted much, but now I remember.  Shortly after my last (real) post was when the whole area around Rocky Mountain National Park flooded.  I don't live there, but that's always been a favorite destination of mine and so all the coverage on that was extremely distracting for a while.  And shortly after that, I got some sort of stomach bug that cost me a week of work and 8 pounds.  Now, while my ever fluctuating weight has hit the high end of where I like it to be, that is NOT how I want to lose that pound or two, and I worked hard to replace all those fluids and bring it back up.  Now I have to work on some probiotics of some sort because my poor gut has been hit hard recently. (I feel like some of the canyons in Colorado and my gut got some similar treatment...)

3) Wow, TMI.  Between the lack of posting and then posting that, thank you to anyone still reading this post and who hasn't deleted this blog from their reader!

4) I haven't seen this on EVERY facebook feed yet, so I'll take a chance and share it here. It's a little long, 15 minutes, but it is a beautiful story of a father's confession to his small daughter about how he felt when she was diagnosed with Down's syndrome and even how he wanted to choose abortion, but how much he loves her now.  He shares this with the hope that if others hear it, they will be spared the mistake he almost made.

5) So, spiders and I.  It's no good.  There was a spider in the hallway at work the other day.  I should have taken care of it, but I didn't.  I should have at least asked someone else to take care of it (especially since there was a bit of a possibility that it may have been a nasty variety), but instead I texted a friend about the fact that there's a spider on the wall.  You KNOW she's a good friend when she didn't suggest any ridiculous and unworkable solutions, like killing it myself, but rather a good solution that I should hang a sign pointing to it that something like "Kill me."  I don't deal well with spiders.  And if you're one of those types that believes in setting them free outside, you are welcome to come over and free all the spiders in my vicinity.

6) At least it wasn't a scorpion.  My sister just had one of those in her house- and she lives in an area that we did not know had scorpions!!!- and that's just not okay.  I've had a bear in my yard this summer and that was SO much better. No joke.  First of all, in the yard, not in my living room.  Second of all, if a bear did somehow get in my house, it can't hide in my shoe or in my bed sheets.  There's no hiding it! Third, if there's a bear in your house, it's worthy of a call to someone else to take care of it.  If there's scorpions, you can get an exterminator, sure, but you still have to take care of the scorpion that's right in front of you.  911 is not interested in arachnids in your house until it's too late, like you get a sting and have an allergic reaction.

I may not visit my sister ever again....

Also, I've never been to Texas, and I may never go.

7) Last week, I was hiking in late summer weather and I was sweating in my T-shirt and light pants.  This week, I was hiking in the snow.  Gotta love the mountains, they are constantly changing! Don't get me wrong, I love it and I was all kinds of giddy about hiking in snow and fall colors and cool temperatures, but I was also shocked by the quick switch.

Seriously, Merry Christmas

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Giveaway!

So, I was going to do a giveaway with my Quick Takes on the 13th.  That didn't happen.  I figured, no matter, I'd do them with this week's Quick Takes.  But I'm not getting to the Quick Takes.  Or any other blogging apparently, but that's not what we're here to talk about today.  I'm too excited to wait and see if I get to QT's next week, so I'll just do the giveaway now.

A couple of months ago, Ecce Fiat started talking about this book she was reading, and she had some quotes that made me want to run out and buy the book.  So I did.  And I love it!  I'm only about halfway through, but I have to take my time with it and soak it up.  It's called Interior Freedom and it's by Jacques Philippe. I would give you a chunk of what I've highlighted, but they'd come after me for copyright violations, since I've highlighted so much of it.  Did I mention that I love this book?

He starts out by explaining that true freedom doesn't mean that we get to choose the options that suit us the best from a range of possibilities.  For the Christian, true freedom, instead, lies "in the possibility of believing, hoping, and loving in all circumstances, thanks to the the assistance of the Holy Spirit who 'helps us in our weakness.'"  He goes on to explain that we don't really choose our cross, but we can choose to consent to it.

One point that I especially loved was his discussion of how trustingly accepting the reality of whatever situation we are in can go through stages of rebellion, resignation, and consent.  I have been in all of those.  When I hit resignation, I thought it was the best I could possibly manage.  I love this quote:

Resignation may represent a certain degree of progress beyond rebellion, in the sense that it leads to a less aggressive and more realistic approach. But it is not enough.  It may be a virtue for philosophers, but it is not a Christian virtue, since it doesn't include hope. Resignation is a declaration of powerlessness that goes no further. It may be a necessary stage, but if one stops there it is also sterile.
I love that call to hope.  Whatever the circumstances, there is hope.  "Where grace is accepted, it is never in vain, but is always fruitful."

I feel like I'm doing a horrible job of explaining this book, but it's a nice, short easy read.  And you should read it.  I'm going to help you.  I will give away one copy of the book, either print or Kin.dle edition, to one commenter.  Just leave a comment and you are entered to win it. Simple enough.  I'm not sure how long this will go.  Maybe until Friday-ish?  I make no promises, though I think I can safely say that it will not end any sooner than that.

P.S. It's a perfect book to take to Adoration!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Pain in the Neck

I think I have a herniated disc in my neck.  Or two.  My guess is around C5-6 or 6-7. Or both.  I don't really know because I've never had the imaging done.  Why bother?  The symptoms have never gotten to the point where I was going to do anything besides conservative treatment for it anyway. I'm not sure where it started, but I know a couple of things that really got it rolling.

My neck was feeling a little stiff when I signed up for the second massage that I ever got in my life.  That was before I moved out here, so it was not given by one of the excellent massage therapists that I see out here.  And it was only my second one, so I wasn't as vocal as I am now.  Anyway, I told her my neck was sore, so she bent my neck forward and rotated at the same time to stretch it.  It wasn't real comfortable, and I should have said something, but I don't remember it actually being painful at the time.  What I do remember is that my shoulder (well, between my neck and shoulder) was achy the next day.  I thought it was just muscle soreness, but it lasted for several weeks.  I started to work on some different things for my shoulder, but it didn't seem to help all that much.  Then I started paying attention to my neck and realized that the pain was referring from my neck.

After a few weeks, it went away for the most part for a while.  Occasionally it might fire up a bit, but it never lasted long, and even in that few weeks, it didn't really affect how I was moving.  I just felt it.  When I moved out here, I started working with a personal trainer some.  When I was using my arms a lot, I really got it wound up a couple of times.  It was hard to turn my head all the way, and there were a couple of times that I needed one of the other therapists to do a quick treatment for me.  The trainer really knows his stuff, so he corrected what I was doing (he actually was able to tell me ahead of time, but I did the wrong thing without thinking... Not his fault.)

But where it really got bad is when I fell and hit my head on a rock. That happened almost 18 months ago, and it was a bad fall.  I probably fell at least 5 or 6 feet and had to get 4 staples in my head (and I was just hiking, how silly can you be?!)  I felt like a complete moron and I also had this crazy "what the frick am I going to do now" thing going on in my head right after the fall.  Because who would I call out here to come help me?  At first, I wasn't sure if I could drive (didn't want to take the chance if I had a concussion).  I mean, there are friends here that would totally be willing to help, but no one that I really wanted to call. By the time I got to the car, I was completely confident that I was okay to drive, and I was able to get to the doctor with no problem. By the time I got there, they asked about my pain, and I answered for the pain in my head (which was extremely minor), but I was just then starting to notice the pain in my neck.  And it was really getting bad quickly.

I couldn't turn my head very far.  It hurt to use my right arm (which is a really big problem when I'm really right hand dominant and use my hands a lot in my work). I only saw a couple patients the next day before I realized that I couldn't do it.  I had the next week off for vacation, which was a good thing, but driving with it all wasn't very fun. It would also give me headaches.

That was all at it's worst, and it didn't stay that bad for very long, but I had pain with turning my head with driving for months.  I would get pain in my upper shoulders and into my neck all the time with work and would go home with headaches. I could always feel it reaching to shut off my alarm clock or reaching overhead. I had to be really careful when I was climbing and had to go for easier climbs and fewer climbs because otherwise I would flare it all up again.  I could get the pain fairly well managed, but never gone. Massages helped a lot to keep my functioning, but I got used to dealing with a low grade of pain constantly.

I rarely thought of myself as someone with chronic pain, but the definition of chronic pain is pain that lasts greater than 3 months. So... Yeah.  That'd be chronic pain. Even though I never got many of the symptoms that I mentioned in this post, I still had a few, such as the chronic tightness.

Wow, so how bored are you right now? ;)  Anyway, I have a specific reason for the things I told you here.  I'm going to be referring back to it when I try to explain some of what I've been learning. It's easier to give you my personal story than trying to generalize things. Just so you're not in suspense, though, I have been more pain free in the couple of weeks than I've been in the last 18 months.  It's a combination of things that's helped over time, but some of what I've been studying recently has helped me get over the place where I was stuck.