Monday, April 29, 2013

Thirty Hours Ain't No Big Thang

I am not sure whether this was too long of a weekend or too short. I am thinking another day of not living in the real world would be nice, but then again.....that might make me lazy. Okay.....lazier! If you happened to read David's blog this weekend, then you know we made a very quick trip to St. Louis to take David for a check up at Shriners Hospital. I say quick as it was made in about 30 hours round trip, but the fact is.....unless you go by plane, you are talking about a good 6.5 to 7 hours one way in the car. It is a trip that I like less and less each time. Maybe this is because I have worked the numbers and the routes to the point that I have the trip down to the shortest route and the least amount of travel time....and I know the trip will never get any better than it currently is...unless I speed and that never works out well for me!

This time...instead of begrudging the trip though....I decided to try to find the positives or at the very least, make the trip more interesting.....if only in my own head. As I took off heading north on the turnpike....I was doing a mental comparison of Kansas vs. Missouri. Of course there is no comparison because it is like comparing apples and oranges. While they are both states....that is about where the comparison ends. Kansas is endless plains (except for the hilly areas in the Flint Hills) and if not for hedgerows and seems that in certain places you might possibly be able to see forever. In the spring Kansas scenery is made up of fields of blooming purple clover, wild violets and trees no longer sparse and naked but slowly sprouting their tiny green leaf buds. There are miles that you can travel without seeing towns and rarely a house. If not for the might very well look similar to how it looked a century ago. Missouri on the other hand....the first thing you notice is that it has better roads and taking I-70 your first view of the state is bustling city as you trade Kansas City, KS for Kansas City, MO. Once out of the city though, the terrain is much rockier and much more hilly. Instead of a smooth horizon much of the road has high rocky ledges and in the distance...vastly rolling hills. In some ways I noticed that Missouri was much greener than Kansas. I am not sure if that is just the difference in the two states or maybe the current temperature and weather differences. They've had a weird spring too. Once I crossed the state line though.....I couldn't help but drift back to my first Missouri experience.

I loved Missouri long before I ever stepped foot in the state. As a young child maybe 8 or 9, I had read the most amazing book by author Harold Bell Wright. It was about a minister who leaves the big city for mental as well as physical health reasons and finds himself in the hills of Missouri. He becomes friends with the locals and he learns about the simple ways of their lives, a few hidden secrets and most of all.....he finds himself closer to God than he ever dreamed possible. I seldom read books more than once, but this book....The Shepherd of the Hills, I have read dozens of times over the years. As a kid I lost myself in the story of Aunt Molly, Old Matt, Sammy Lane, Young Matt and Pete. I longed to walk barefoot through the Missouri hills with Sammy or smell one of Aunt Molly's suppers coming from their little cabin. It all seemed so magical and I so wanted to see this amazing place that Wright chose as the backdrop for this beautiful story.

When I was about 12 my wish came true and my mom and aunt took my brother and I on the first vacation I had ever been on. We went to Branson, MO. Back then.....Branson was little more than a tiny town set back in the hills not far from Springfield. It's big draw at the time was Silver Dollar City, a small town opened from spring to fall and run by locals. It was full of stores selling local crafts as well as some of the areas finest glass and stone. It also was an amusement park of sorts. As much fun as it all was....just outside Branson was what I was longing to see, for not far down the winding road was Shepherd of the Hills. The book was based to some degree on a real story and the Matts, Molly and Sammy were real people who had lived, worked and died in these hills. Old Matt and Aunt Molly's cabin still stands and there is a now a museum and a theater where they have nightly re-enactments of the Shepherd of the Hills story. A tram ride takes you through the property and lets you see what life might have been like for these people at the turn of the century when a tired old man came to find himself and his faith. Although we didn't get to stay for the play.....everything else was amazing and I was at once in love with this place. It was everything that I had imagined it to be.....and more. 

Over the years I have returned to Branson twice more and each time the small town has grown to the point of now being a huge tourist attraction year round. Silver Dollar City too has grown, become more commercial and it seems like much bigger. Shepherd of the Hills though, hasn't changed much. They did put a huge tower there that you can go up into and see far into Arkansas, but other than that.....Old Matt could come back today and I think he might still recognize the place.

My next foray into Missouri was the first time I came to meet my husbands family. This trip took me farther East to about 75 or 80 miles South of St. Louis. Since my husband Tim grew up in Missouri.....the roads didn't phase him and we drove almost a straight line East from Wichita to his home town of Bismarck. Many of the roads were two lane and far off the beaten path and the closer you got to Bismarck, the more curvy and for me, unsettling the roads got. The scenery along the way was beautiful but about thirty miles from his hometown.....the car sickness outweighed even the prettiest scenery. Luckily it didn't last long. I loved his home town, not because it was particularly beautiful. In fact it was very small, maybe no more than a thousand or so people and the downtown area was all but vacant. There is something about this though that I found intriguing. Buildings with a history.....empty and discarded and yet still a part of the town. The house Tim grew up in though, was always beautiful. It sits on 3 acres and from the lawn to the is always picture perfect. It is the epitome of comfort and home. 

After Tim took me a while to make that trip back to Bismarck, partly because of the memories and partly because of the drive. The trip on those lonely two lane highways and through those curvy roads was not very appealing for me with three kids. Eventually it dawned on me that I didn't have to take those roads. There were other routes in which that trip could be made. Thank God for Google Maps. It was at this time I realized that I could take 35 North to I-70. This also scared me a bit because I had never driven in Kansas City, but after a stay at Children's Mercy in Kansas City....I knew I could do it. After all....when you get lost in a city, have to ask a complete stranger for directions and then miraculously find your way back to your pretty much own that city. At least that is what I tell myself every time I drive through it. Another plus for going the 35 to 70 route is that once on 70 going run right into to Columbia which is where we can stay with my aunt and uncle over night and cut the driving time in a little over half. I also had the route marked out to where I could sort of outskirt St. Louis and head South to Bismarck without hitting major traffic....unless of course you make a wrong turn and get lost in the city. Yeah.....I pretty much own St. Louis too!

Since we started going to Shriners though....I have again fine tuned the trip so that we don't have to put everyone out every time we go to Shriners. Lets face it.....we are not a quiet or easy bunch when we invade a space, so we make the Shriners appointment early and drive straight to Shriners from Columbia. It is about a 2 hour trip with little or no traffic. After the appointment we just take off and drive straight through to home. It works well for everyone.

Making this trip has been an accomplishment of sorts in my life. I proved to myself that I could do it. Now though....because the trips have been so frequent over the last year, it really doesn't hold much for me except the knowledge that it is an important benefit to Davids life. I seldom pay attention to the scenery as I am focused on time, mileage and exit signs. The thought of being in the same state as the one Wright wrote about rarely enters my mind. The trip has just become mundane and necessary.

So as I we were leaving this time it dawned on me that this trip would be a part of our lives for possibly years to come. Ever so often there would be at least 30 hours where our life consisted of travel, Kansas vs. Missouri scenery and a lot of car time riding together. Rather than dread this time or lose 30 hours to nothing more than sign reading and wishing that we were all doing something else....I decided to make the time count. Remembering how I used to feel about Missouri helped and knowing that I was competent and getting fairly comfortable with the drive was also a plus. I also watched the scenery and noticed the houses which seemed to be precariously close to I-70 and wondered why someone would choose a place like that to live. I saw the fields of cattle and watched as billboards became more frequent with pro-life messages....but not to be out done by the billboards telling us that there were XXX stores at the next exit. It was a strange mix. Then there are those huge steel bridges which cross the Missouri river and cause my heart to head for my throat each time I must drive over them. High places and vehicles mixed.....give me huge anxiety.

Just outside of Columbia there is a sign with Betty Boop advertising a Nostalgia Store just down the road. There are also flashing road signs telling us every few miles that 163 people have died on MO roads this year and that 53% of those drivers were not wearing seat belts. MODOT cares! While I find this a bit unnerving....I do double check at least twice to make sure Z and David both have their seat belts securely around them. Mom cares too!

Through all of this Z had his cell phone plugged into the car speakers via a wired cassette that goes into the cassette player. We spent hours listening to music through Spotify. When it was my turn to choose a usual I chose musicals. Z typed in Memphis (the musical) to give Spotify a place to search. It was musical pay dirt as I found new songs and new musicals which I had never heard before but now think I must see. Z kept me apprised of the new alternative music as well as humoring me with some country and 80's rock. We listened, we sang and we discussed the music, the road signs and we even delved into a little bit about what was going on in our lives. David meanwhile stayed in the back seat watching the cars pass by and letting out a "yee haw" whenever a song came on that he liked. Periodically I could see him bopping his head or boogying to a techno beat or a great country song. The drummer in him came out as he beat the back of my seat in time to Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. The time just seemed to get lost in the scenery, the music and the conversation.

As I pulled off the turnpike....about ten miles from home, Z turned down the radio and said, "You know, I dreaded this trip but..... it really wasn't too bad. In was kind of fun." I couldn't help but smile. Yeah....I too had dreaded this trip. I wanted nothing more than for it to be behind me. Now that it was though, I actually felt a little sad. In those 30 hours.....I didn't just travel to a destination and back. In those 30 hours, I laughed...a lot. I saw things along the way that I had never paid attention to before. I sang....which I know was fun for me, but not so much for those captive in the car with me. I talked to my son and learned a little more about the young man who will be graduating in a year and who is developing a life and a future of his own. My boys and I jammed together going down the road and most important of all.....we enjoyed our time together as a family. It was the best 30 hours I had spent in a long time.

Now we are home armed with new knowledge about David and a plan for the short term. And what started out as a dreaded trip, turned into an unexpected good time....and that makes the thought of the next trip....a little more palatable. All in all I would have to say that as a family....we got much more out of this trip than medical advice. We got memories for a life time....and let's not forget.....I found a new musical. I guess what we all learned is that when you are having fun with family.... 30 hours really ain't no big thang! ;)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Prayers for Adele

I realized yesterday that I have been really really out of the facebook and even the blogging loop. I was shocked beyond words when a post came across my fb news feed talking about the baby daughter of a friend of mine. It said that she (Adele) had a brain tumor and was going to need surgery. My heart sank into my chest. Then it hit me.....

I had talked to her mom Melissa a while back. I can't even remember why. It must have been on fb and she had asked me to say some prayers for Adele as Adele was having some health issues. I remember saying prayers for her nightly for awhile and I heard nothing else (because I obviously wasn't paying attention). Since Melissa had not elaborated at the never occurred to me that Adele might be seriously ill. After seeing today's post....I wanted to cry.

Melissa writes a blog Work in Progress which is actually one I read quite often....when I read the blogs. I love her blogs because they are always about her family, her faith or sometimes about ways to save money or organize. Yeah....I am all about the organization right now so I should have been reading! At any rate....I immediately went to her blog and sure enough....she had been detailing Adele's health since the onset of her symptoms and giving daily reports on what the doctors are thinking. Let me say here....there are lots of doctors, several medical opinions and the family is still keeping their options opened for the most skilled neurosurgeon and the best hospital to perform the surgery that it is looking like little Adele is going to need.

Let me back up and say.....I first met Melissa several years ago. I met her through a friend I worked with and I went to a Mary Kay/Thirty-one Gift/Jewelry/several other vendors party at her house. She invited me to bring cheesecake so I could get some orders just on the word of our mutual friend. What a kind thing to do. I liked Melissa right off because she was laid back and friendly. She was also the first person that I knew that hard core bargain shopped and I believe she might even be a bit of a couponer. At any rate....she had a small stockpile of stuff she had purchased at deep discounts and I was totally impressed. I think that was the first stockpile I ever saw. We became fb friends after the party and have kept in touch ever since.

As time went on....I discovered that Melissa and I actually had quite a bit in common. First of all she is Catholic and second.....she is a dedicated pro-life advocate very much involved in Kansans for Life. She is also a wife, mother of three (and when Adele came along...mother of four), very involved in her church, politics, working out and blogging. She is the me I would like to be if I was 20 years younger. She is smart, well versed in politics and she seems to be able to keep up on current events and keep her house clean and organized, all at the same time. Is there any wonder I stand in awe of her?

Melissa's faith is very deep and very strong and whenever I would post on fb about David going into the ER or David having a health issue....she was always one of the first to offer prayers....and trust me....those prayers were all that got me through at times. She like myself knows that there are times when prayers are the most important gift one friend can give to another. I know her prayers have helped to pray David well on numerous occasions, so today....when I saw the news of Adele.....I knew it was my turn to return the favor.

Adele started out with what they thought was Bells Palsy. When it did not go away....she was given an MRI where the tumor was discovered. A more detailed account is in Melissa's blog . At any rate the tumor was felt to be benign but very unusual in someone as young as she is. A local neurosurgeon definitely suggested this be checked out by a neurosurgeon who was highly specialized in just this sort of thing in young children. After talking to a neurosurgeon at  Johns Hopkins and sending him the MRI's ....he felt that the tumor was both benign and  stable and for now could be watched. Surgery didn't seem immediately necessary. An appointment however to get into JH was weeks away. Worried that the wait might not be the right thing.....Melissa and her husband got an earlier appointment and took Adele to St. Louis Children's where the neurosurgeon there checked her out. He wanted another MRI done and this time after the MRI was complete and had been checked out by the STLCH tumor board....they felt there had been change in the size (getting larger) and also that it might be spreading. This indicated that it was likely not benign and would require immediate removal. In fact....they want to remove it Monday. Meanwhile....JH still feels the tumor is benign and stable.

As you can imagine....Melissa and her husband are beside themselves. Their healthy baby has gone from Bells Palsy to a benign tumor to now a dangerous and possibly malignant tumor all in a matter of weeks. Doctors are not agreeing on the severity or even the need for immediate surgery and they are living a nightmare trying to figure out which doctor is right and if they are risking Adeles life if they wait to be seen at JH. It is every parents nightmare as they try to figure it all out, make the best decision for their daughter and at the same time.....they feel completely helpless as parents.

There are also possible side affects to the surgery whether the tumor is benign or not. She could have loss of hearing and nerve damage for the rest of her life. Of course in the big scheme of things.....those things you can live around quite nicely. There are just no easy answers and no definite direction yet. Melissa stated that she had been given a few more names and contacts for JH and she was going to follow up on those today in hopes of getting Adele in much sooner than scheduled.

So here's the deal. As I said....I have many prayers to pay back and as a mother, my heart is breaking for what Adele and her family are facing right now. What I am asking is first and foremost......PLEASE pray for this little girl and her family. Prayers are powerful tools and Adele needs all she can get right now. Pray for a complete healing, pray for her parents to be pointed in the right direction where doctors and hospitals are concerned and pray that Adele comes through this and has a very long, very healthy and very happy life ahead of her. Second....if you read this and you have any information that might help Melissa (ideas how to get an earlier appt., the names of top neurosurgeons in the country or anything that you think might be helpful) please comment on this blog. Your thoughts or ideas might be ones they haven't yet come up with and it might just be what helps Adele. Also...please share this blog. The more people that see it the more prayers we have going. Also....check back with Melissa's blog for further updates as she is updating almost daily.

This is a situation no parent wants to find themselves in. I know that Melissa and her husband are strong and they have an awesome family, friend and church support system....but the worry and the fear when it is your child are sometimes over powering. Sometimes you just need to know that there are prayers.....lots and lots of prayers going up for your child and that is something that we all can do for them and for their precious little girl.

*******Adele's picture is not mine and I have no rights it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I am a Blog Voyeur

A little fun fact about me. I am a full on people watcher. I am a student of human nature and there is not much about people that doesn't pique my interest. Now I am not a voyeur per se but I love to be out in public and watch people act, react and be the best and worst of who they are. I also love to talk to people and read about people. I guess I find the inner workings of others intriguing. I find people who are polar opposites of myself particularly interesting. I can't help but wonder what in their lives brought them to be who they are, after all.....we are all products of past and circumstance.

Because of this love of humans and human nature.....that is likely why my personal library is full of mostly biography's and autobiography's. I read about stars, saints, pioneers and every day people. Each has their own story and each is as different as a snowflake. I guess that is why I also like blogs so much. Blogs are essentially personal journals of thoughts on day to day life put out in the world so we all can see. Come to think of it....maybe I am a bit voyeuristic. Perhaps a Blog Voyeur! Whatever you choose to call it...reading blogs are a great way to get insight in to real living people all over the world who come from all walks of life.

On my blog roll I have quite a few blogs that I dearly love to read, but rarely do I have the time. However....when I do get a minute or two....I sneak over and check out some of my favorites. One that I love beyond all measure is a blog that I just accidentally came upon one day. The writer is a young woman, late twenties I believe and when I first started reading....she and her fairly new husband had just bought a new house. One that was probably too big and too expensive for them to afford....yet it was her dream home. This young woman is irreverent, somewhat self-absorbed and so funny that she often leaves me laughing to the point of snorting or crying. I learned long ago never to read her blog when others were around or when I was drinking anything. I knew this girl was special as she had a way with words and comedic timing that was pure talent. Whether she was talking about her job as a teacher, her biking, her shoe fetish or her lack of control when it came to shopping.....she pulled no punches, she was always funny and often she portrayed herself as not coming out looking so good in the end. Then one day it happened.....the right person finally saw her skill and soon she was a bona fide writer. I am so proud of her and proud of myself for knowing talent when I saw it. Yeah....I take credit anywhere I can! I think she could possibly be the new and edgier Erma Bombeck. Possibly Bombeck with a 'tude!

Other blogs I follow are one where a young woman lost her young husband to cancer. Her blog was/is her therapy and eventually her healing process. I have shed a few tears reading that one. Another blog is of a woman who is documenting the journey of her father who has Alzheimers. The way she writes is both uplifting and sad at the same time. Knowing that the outcome is inevitable....she and her entire family try to find the blessings and the joy in her father's final earthly journey. Her last blog was five weeks ago and things weren't looking good. I fear his journey may have ended.

I follow other blogs too....blogs about kids, blogs about cooking and blogs just about things. I also follow some of my family's blogs and a friend or two. One thing I always try to do though is to reciprocate a following if someone starts to follow me. I figure if someone finds something interesting or enticing in what I have to say....then maybe I will find things just as interesting in theirs. And this leads me to my latest follower who became a follower and an ex-follower in the course of a week. I on the other hand will continue to follow him because for some strange reason.....he intrigues me. I know it is the whole past and circumstance thing that has me so fascinated and honestly....I am not sure why.

About a week ago....I had posted a blog. I can't even tell you which one but in the comments I had someone comment who actually didn't comment as anonymous and they even had their own blog. This gentleman said he found my blog interesting or entertaining or something and that he had chosen to follow me and he hoped I would come check his blog out and reciprocate. A day or so later I did. He blogged about his view of the world...political mostly and sometimes you could read a real irritation in his words although he seemed to try to make the least in some of his blogs as more nonchalant than irritated. He was a man in his seventies I believe, and from reading his blog he was not in the best of health and had lost a son in the not so distant past. The few entry's I read sounded as if he possibly had mid road political views with a liberal lean. He was interesting because he was a vet and he stated he supported the Constitution and he felt that anyone who thought the Constitution was in danger was just pretty much an extremist and an alarmist. I commented on one of his posts....very respectfully and actually to draw him out a bit as he answers all of his comments. He was nice in return but I could tell that my worry about 1st and 2nd Amendment rights got under his skin a bit.

So last night I had a few minutes....and I went over to his blog to see any recent postings. He seems to be a daily or almost daily blogger and with all that had gone on in the last week....I was interested to see his opinions. Now as I said....he is not in the greatest of health, although I don't know what is wrong with him. He states that he walks with a walker and is in pain a great deal so I can only imagine what kind of a mood that would put you in. But I was really surprised to read his blogs. They were no longer hinting at irritation....they were now full on rants...some political and some personal. He stated that he had gone through and unfollowed all the blogs that he was following who were crazy tea party extremist who didn't support the president and didn't have anything nice to say about him. Mind you though.....he was ripping up congress and specifying certain members he felt were worthless (mostly conservative members). It made me wonder if he was still following me or if he found me to be an extremist too and no longer worth reading. Apparently he did as I looked and he was no longer a follower. See what happens when I get political???? Damn my controversial side!!!!

I think the unfollowing me made me just that much more intrigued by him so I read on. He was a vet and as a vet he said that Obama had done much for vets. Now I haven't read up on what has happened with vets or what has or hasn't been done for them....but I know current military are getting some pretty raw deals. I honestly wanted to comment and ask him what Obama had done for the vets (a legit question) but in his current blogging mood....I was afraid it might put him over the edge thinking that I was trying to be a smart alec or condescending so I refrained. He went on to talk about his short temper and going off at a waitress who had patted him on the back and caused him pain and about someone else getting smart with his wife. Intermixed with all of this was his complete dislike for conservative views on anything from the budget to abortion, (I am sure yesterdays blog didn't do much for making him a fan) and his self proclaimed liberal views which held no room for conservative views, thoughts or opinions of any kind.

Along with all of this, there was something sad though about his writing. Something that made you feel that he saw life and people as one big let down. It made me wonder if he had it to do over again....if he would have chosen to fight for this country and the population that seems so overwhelmingly disappointing to him. Now mind you....I don't pity this man. After all...who doesn't have loss and physical or mental pain in their life? Who hasn't been let down by others....and who doesn't get frustrated to the point of high blood pressure at opposing political views? Sadness I feel....but pity seems to be something he has enough of. Most of it self given. I don't think he needs me to help make it a full on party. In fact if I feel pity for anyone....I feel it for his wife whom he talks about a lot and I would bet gets to deal with the brunt of his discontent when he has no conservatives or waitresses to go off on. Still...he fascinates me. Maybe it is his age and also his military status along with the many things he says that seem calm almost humorous to the full on rants he seems to pull out full of irritation, four letter words and border line hate. He is an oxymoron to say the least.....and those to me are the most interesting people in the world.

I am sure I will continue to read this mans blog as he goes beyond the basics of what I did for lunch today. By the way....mine was turkey and cucumbers. He is obviously passionate, a bit uneven and to me....fascinating. I will also continue to read about handling twins, becoming an up and coming writer and life after loss. I will read the words and look for their meanings between the lines and at times find comfort in the fact that everyone has problems and that there are those out there who can and do make me laugh even on my worst days. There are also those who teach me, others who make me think and most of all.....there are those who are a reminder that this world is big enough for all of us. Yes folks...I am a Blog Voyeur!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wichita's Shame and the Case of Kermit Gosnell I go again...jumping head first into a rather heated topic. Now this is hardly my first time speaking out about abortion. I have written blogs, posted in chat rooms and even prayed at clinics...not to mention the long conversations that I have had with women both thinking about abortion and who are post abortion. As you might guess, I am no novice to the controversy. For those who know me there has never been a question of which side of the fence I am on. I have shared and respectfully argued my pro-life views many times over the years but since Dr. George Tillers death, I have said little. His death was not a win for the side of pro-life. It was a tragedy. However, the fact remains that with Tiller gone the life expectancy for the unborn in both Wichita and the midwest jumped considerably. Rather than to beat a dead horse though, I chose to remain silently thankful that Wichita was no longer abortion central. Besides...what good does it do to keep ranting about a law that is likely not to change? Also, people seem to have become indifferent to the subject. In fact....there came a time when I wondered if there was really anything left to say on the subject and even if there was....was there anybody listening? I have felt this way for a while and then two occurrences made me feel as if perhaps it was time to speak out again. The first occurrence was the fact that the abortion clinic in Wichita, empty since the murder of  Tiller, has been reopened as a working abortion clinic again and the second is the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell...and I use the term doctor very loosely in his case. Both to me are alarming and need some commentary.

Before I continue...let me give you a little background as to where my pro-life attitudes and convictions come from. As a child I was always taught that human life, all human life was special. Each of us was created with a purpose and none of us would die until we had fulfilled that purpose. We all mattered and each of us deserved the right to life and the respect of that life from conception to natural death.  I was also taught from the time I was old enough to understand certain concepts....that human life begins at conception. While I may have simply taken my mothers word for this early on...I mean after all, she was a nurse....when I became pregnant with my first child the understanding that I was carrying human life was immediately driven home. With each movement, each kick and each hiccup I knew that I wasn't an incubator for a fetus but that I was carrying a human life. A baby, and that life was as precious to me as my own. I was also taught that when there is injustice in the is not only my right but also my duty to speak out about it and try my best to change it.

Apparently the pro-life blood line in my family is strong as before there were blogs, facebook or twitter for people to speak their minds on, there were newspaper editorials. My mother was no stranger to the Wichita Eagles editorial section as several times a year she would write in speaking her mind, often on abortion. They usually printed it and I am sure that Mom often wondered herself if anyone was reading? Was anyone listening? My aunt too is pro-life to the core and during the Summer of Mercy in 1991, she was on the front lines with Operation Rescue mounting a peaceful and prayerful demonstration in front of Tillers clinic. A woman in her late fifties at the time, doing nothing more than praying in protest to the atrocities going on behind the closed doors of the clinic. It was an act of civil disobedience that under other circumstances she would likely have been applauded for but instead she was hauled away in a police wagon with others who chose to also peacefully challenge a law. They were shown the accommodations of the Sedgwick Country jail for 48 hours. If they thought this little stint in jail would frighten my aunt or deter her from her cause in any way...then the joke was on the police and those who had her arrested. As the story was relayed to me, my aunt talked with guards and inmates whom she said treated her and the other protestors very kindly. Perhaps it was her steadfast faith, her reciprocated kindness or quite possibly the fact that she looked like somebody's mother which caused those inside to show her the gentler side of a normally ugly place. Whatever the case, she was no worse for the wear and certainly not ready to quit fighting the good fight.

As I have gotten older, I realize that when anything is offered on a silver is likely to be taken. Abortion is no different. Abortion is marketed as a fix to a problem. A way out of a tough situation. For years Planned Parenthood would give free pregnancy tests to young girls in our area. If they weren't pregnant then PP would strongly suggest the girl get on birth control and the girl would leave PP with a bag full of contraceptives, the relief that she had dodged a bullet this time and the go ahead to get back out there and have sex again. If however, the girl did turn out to be pregnant....she was immediately handed pamphlets on abortion. Many of these girls were young, hardly legal and scared as hell. They were afraid to tell their parents, afraid for people to find out and PP perpetuated the notion that abortion was fast, safe, easy and their golden ticket out of a bad situation. Just lay down your money and you are in and out. So many young girls bought into this. They were never told that they were actually carrying human life. They were never given the risks and most one ever explained to them that abortion was an act that once completed, can never be undone. No one ever told them that abortion would haunt them for years to come.

I find it difficult to find a lot of fault with young girls in their teens who have abortions. Teens are notorious for making bad decisions. I do however find fault with parents who force or coerce their daughters into having abortions. I also find fault with grown women who know better choosing abortion as birth control....sometimes multiple times. I also find fault with clinic workers who tell half truths to would-be patients and treat the women as if they were on an assembly line giving them little thought or care. Why should they? This is a one time deal. They aren't paid enough to get invested in these girls. I think though the ones I find the greatest fault with are the hard core pro-choice women. No...I am not talking about the ones who claim pro-choice status but rarely think about or speak of the subject. I am talking about pro-choice women who are on the front lines fighting for abortion at all cost. In my humble opinion there is no more dishonest group nor a more dishonest title than pro-choice. And pro-choice women while claiming to fight for women in reality are turning their back on their own.

Pro-choice sounds good coming out of the gate and with women being deemed second class citizens for so long, it sounds like something women can get behind. However, if you really think about it and dissect what pro-choice really stands for, you soon realize that it is a ruse and a mantra filled with dishonesty and misinformation. PC women will tell you that they support women's rights? To that I say....."Really?" Yes...they support some women's rights but certainly not all women's rights. There have been millions of girls...not yet women, who have died over the years not by guns, cancer, heart disease or any other disease. They have died at the hands of a doctor under the direction of their mothers. Why aren't pro-choice women and men for that matter.....fighting for these soon to be women whose lives are cut short before they even have a chance? What is worse is these girls who are condemned to such awful deaths by someone elses "choice" are complete innocents as are the boys whose mothers decide that their lives are also too inconvenient to continue. So pro-choice which is a very broad statement and sounds all inclusive, suddenly becomes much smaller, much less impressive and very restrictive on just who they feel should have a choice. It comes down to the fact that yes they support choice.....for the woman who wishes to abort her child. They do not however support choice for the father who helped create the child and who wants the child to live, nor do they support choice for the life who is about to be destroyed and literally has no voice. The bottom line is......they support choice for the few. They support choice for women and not even all women. Only the select few who see someone elses life as insignificant when it stands in the way of their own desires. And again I ask the questions that I have asked again and again. Who would ever choose to die as those unborn babies do? Just what kind of choice is that?

In a piece I wrote several years ago Ask Them What They Mean By Choice, I had many people comment on some of the points I made about abortion. Of course I hit some pretty sore spots with those who disagree with me on the subject but one paragraph in particular seemed to cause the most upheaval and in a couple of cases....even outright anger. I will share it with you now.

"So here's the deal. I will never agree with abortion and I will always pray for those who find abortion as a solution to a problem in their life. However....if you are going to have an abortion, support abortion, or participate in an abortion....then at least be honest about what you are doing. If you choose abortion.....this is the reality of what you mean by choice: A child was created who was not wanted for whatever reason. This child is a living human being who is in early stages of growth, but very much human and very much alive. Because you don't want this child/can't keep this child/feel like having this child may cause you mental or physical issues, rather than allow this child to have a life even if it is not with are going to have an abortion. An abortion is YOUR choice....NOT and I repeat....NOT the unborn child you carry's choice. By having this know this child will not be anesthetized during the last horrendous moments of his or her life. You do know that the child will be dissected and torn apart inside you....while still alive. And have full knowledge that this child....a child you created will end up in a garbage bag and taken out with the rest of the trash and disposed of....not with any form of dignity.....but as nothing more than waste! This is what is meant by choice in the case of abortion. Also remember....that if these same acts were imposed on you....they would be considered illegal, unconscionable, unethical, and completely inhuman which would likely carry either a sentencing of life in prison or more likely a death sentence for those involved with the act. it to an innocent unborn is merely a choice. A choice with no consequences which leaves many to repeat the act over and over again. If this is your idea of choice....I think I will pass."

Maybe the anger following this was the product of the fact that I left no room for denial. Maybe it made them think or maybe it was simply more information than some who have had abortions ever thought about or were ever given. Most women I have talked to post abortion were given very little information above and beyond the standard "easy and safe procedure" info. Whatever the email and my fb private messages were full of comments especially directed at that one paragraph. I was even stopped on the street a time or two so that people could tell me in person what they thought of that blog. Don't get me wrong....there were many that agreed whole heartedly with what I said, but there were also those that found it very disturbing. Yes...facts can sometimes be disturbing.

I am very sad that once again Wichita will have the shame of being an abortion hub. They say that the new doctor will only do abortions until 14 if this deserves some sort of kudos. That is like saying I can only kill a child up until they are 4 years old....after that whether I like it or not...the law says they have to live. It is heart breaking.

And now a little about Kermit Gosnell. People are horrified that this man could have done such horrific things inside his abortion clinic walls....right? Actually I have heard more people upset over the conditions of his clinic and the treatment of his patients than I have over the fact that he killed babies after they were born. Leave it to pro-choicers to pick and choose what should be viewed as horrific and what should be down played. I find the whole thing sickening...but not surprising.

When a law is made that disrespects the voiceless and most innocent of human life and in fact takes it have to figure that it is a slippery slope to the point where other human life will in turn be disrespected, harmed and even killed. With the path we are currently is not a stretch to imagine that in the future no human life will be respected and human rights as a whole will be all but gone. Humans in all their imperfection seem to always find a way to shoot themselves in the foot. Roe v. Wade just might have been the loaded gun that will do this. Man has always been his own worst enemy.

The reason that many pushed for Roe v. Wade in the beginning....was so women no longer had to risk their lives going to back alley abortionists. It is the cry that has been heard round the world by abortion supporters for years. If anyone ever dared say that Roe v. Wade might someday be overturned the first thing you will hear from abortion supporters is....."We will have to go back to unsafe back alley abortions." Funny that with abortion being legal and all, that so many abortion clinics are hardly the sterile and safe places that abortion advocates like to claim they are. With doctors like Gosnell running around....I would say a back alley abortion just might be safer. Truthfully Gosnell is not an isolated incident. He just simply got caught. There have been rumors of unclean clinics, less than sterile surgical implements and yes....even live birth abortions in clinics for years. Not to mention the women who have gone in for abortions believing it was a safe procedure only to have had extreme blood loss forcing further surgery and even hysterectomies, damage to the reproductive organs so that future pregnancies are impossible and even death. More of this happens than we think and some of it has happened right here in Wichita over the years. These are the dirty little secrets of the abortion world that pro-choicers don't want the world to know. Heck...some pro-choicers may not even know all the details themselves. I was once told that it takes a certain kind of cold hearted individual to be an abortionist, for even if they say otherwise, they know that they are destroying a living human life and going against the oath they took as doctors to "Do no harm." If they can be so cold and calculated as to perform such a lethal act many times a day, day in and day out....then what makes you think that they are going to take the Hippocratic Oath to heart on their already born patients? Bottom line...for them it is not about the woman. It is about the money! Yeah....this is quite a choice to support.

As time goes on....people seem to have become more immune to the thought of abortion and its consequences. What once was unthinkable, has now become an after thought to many and one that makes some roll their eyes during elections if it is an issue used to decide a persons vote. My thought has always been that if you don't care about all human life....then what makes me think you really care about any human life? That usually decides my vote. The current question that keeps me up at night is when we become a people who are numb to the death of innocents and blind to the facts surrounding their deaths then what does that say about our humanity?  I think the case of Kermit Gosnell sadly answers that question!

Monday, April 22, 2013

We Need Another Hockey Win

It is Monday.....and all that implies. I am trying to be open minded about the week ahead, but being that it is Monday....that isn't as easy as it sounds. I am trying to have high hopes but after last week, well..........need I say more? And speaking of last week, our local news was talking about the stretch between April 14th and April 20th and the significance of that week in history. In case you weren't aware.....let me enlighten you.

April 14th: 1865.....Lincoln was assassinated, 1912......the Titanic hits an iceberg and in 1935.....20 of the worst dust storms (called black blizzards) rolled through the plains causing almost blackout conditions. Coincidentally....the 14th fell on a Sunday that year causing it to be referred to as Black Sunday.

April 15th: ....In modern day this day starts out crappy for many every year. It is our last day to turn in our income tax information without getting an extension. As of last will also be remembered as the day of the  Boston Marathon Bombing where 3 were killed and 170+ were injured.

April 16th: 1922......Prohibition became the law. 2007........the Virginia Tech shootings in which 32 plus the shooter died.

April 17th: 1961.....the Bay of Pigs invasion into Cuba. 1969.....Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.

April 18th: 1906.....the San Francisco earth quake, killing approximately 3,000 and causing the city to burn almost to the ground. 1934.....the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped and a ransom of $5,000 was demanded, and in 1983....a car bomb exploded at the US Embassy in Lebanon killing 12.

April 19th: 1993.....Waco. Seventy members at the compound were killed. 1995....The Oklahoma City bombing. 168 people died that day.

April 20th: 1999.....the Columbine High School shootings where 13 were killed and 24 were injured.

So there you have it. Last week didn't stand a chance.  I am thinking it is a good thing that Prohibition was finally repealed. Especially this time of year. Yeah...last week was one of those weeks that you just wished you could jump ahead and avoid the week entirely, or at the very least....just go back to bed, cover your head and have someone wake you when it was over.

On a different note....the National Geographic channel recently ran an interesting series. It was about the decade of the 1980's. It was really educational not to mention a bit of a walk down memory lane. I was a young adult through most of the 1980's and though living through it all I remembered most of it....however, there were certain nuances that I have either forgotten or never realized existed as well as my memory for the timeline of events was a little blurred.

I found it very interesting that as we went into 1980 our country wasn't in a whole lot different shape than we are right now. I also found it interesting that historians seem to be looking back on the 80's and pinpointing the 1980 Olympics and the USA Hockey team win for the gold, as the turning point for America. Overnight...patriotism, pride and a huge desire to get the country on good footing again became every ones greatest goal. Watching the footage of those famous games leading up to the US win, I was taken back to sitting on the couch with my mom, heart in my throat.....praying for that US win....especially against Russia. Mom was no hockey fan, nor was I....but that day.....everyone in America was glued to the greatest hockey game any of us is ever likely to see. When we beat the Russians and then again when we beat Finland to take home the gold.....there were unabashed tears shed in my living room and likely in the living rooms of many across the country. This was more than a gold medal....this was the US walking into a bright light after coming out of some really dark times. It was also symbolic of the fact that although Russia and their nuclear capabilities were one of our greatest threats both figuratively and in reality......we BEAT them! At that moment they really didn't seem all that scarey. Little did I know though.....while the US hockey team was made up of working class college age kids, the Russian team was made up of full grown KGB men. Not only was found that the Russians were also packing heat on the ice. My how things have changed. In short....the cards were stacked against the US going in and miracle of miracles.....we won!

The point of the series was to show that everything we have now from technology to our entitlement issues came out of the 1980's. Everything from how we entertain ourselves (video games and tv), to how we now listen to music, communicate and do business was basically born during those ten years. The ideas, the technology and the dream came from a single decade and thanks to free enterprise and unafraid entrepreneurs.....we are now a technology rich nation. Possibly the negative side to the 1980's though, was the loss of our core values from knowing the value of a dollar to feeling like things should be worked for instead of simply given. We were coming out of a stark era of wars, political unrest, riots, recession, high gas prices, high everything prices and we were really seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. To my parents....who came from very humble means, money was to be saved for a rainy day and when you shopped whether it be for food or clothes or shopped for need....not desire. You had what you needed and that was enough. The 1980's though....changed not only the economic climate, but overnight it seemed to also change our way of thinking and yes....even our values!

The series talked in great length about the pro's and cons of one of the most iconic presidents in modern times....Ronald Reagan. I liked Reagan then, because my mom liked Reagan. In subsequent years though, I have learned that he was a one of a kind president whose wisdom, tough and unwavering stands and love of his country made him a one of a kind man....and to this day, I miss him. How actor becoming a president. I learned from watching though that many feared Reagan because he had a no nonsense approach to his job and there was apprehension that his tough talk might turn into even tougher action...possibly causing WWIII or even an all out nuclear war. This fear was causing his approval rating to go down after his election until, the assassination attempt on his life. It seems that was a turning point in both his presidency and also how the majority of Americans viewed him.

While watching the assassination attempt I learned all these years later that Reagan was very close to death after the shooting. First because of blood loss and then because once in surgery....they could not readily find the bullet which had both penetrated and then lost itself in his lung. I don't remember thinking that he was that gravely hurt back then, but then again....I was a kid and it might simply have gone over my head. I do though remember watching his shooting being broadcast on the news and the anchorman only getting info from phone sources as we had no technology to move information at the speed of light back then. Because of was originally broadcast that Reagan was not injured. What a horrible day for this country, the news media and most of all Reagan.

What seemed to turn the country around and give them a new appreciation for this man though....was how he handled this attempt on his life. Throughout the ordeal and even after, Reagan used his ever ready humor to show American's that number one....he wasn't dead yet and number two....that he would not allow this situation to stand in the way of who he was and how he did his job. In an amazingly short time, Reagan was healing and back on the job. While no president is perfect (after all they are human) Reagan seemed to have a pretty good handle on what America needed, what goals it needed to not only set but also achieve and what we needed to do to keep our reputation as a world power so that others knew we meant business and were not to be messed with. At a time when the push of a button could have had us in all out war in a matter of minutes....Reagan stood firm against the world and showed our enemies that Americans were not afraid nor do they back down. Apparently no one really wanted to test the metal of this actor turned president...especially when he started putting money....a lot of money into US defense. Say what you will about him, this man loved his country, the people and mistakes or not.....he ALWAYS had the countries best interest at heart.

In addition to our countries tough persona we were also showing the world that we were not only a free nation but also a free spending nation. Quickly leaving our thought patterns was the notion of saving and it was being replaced with the idea of "I want!" and words like disposable income. No longer was it just about buying to cover our it was about buying to cover our wants. Malls were now dotting the landscape of just about every town and city in the country and not only non-essential but also fun products filled every shelf. It was the age of Mall Rats....a phrased coined to describe teens who spent every waking hour at the mall charging up their parents charge cards. It was also the birth of Valley Girls, although I never could quite figure out how Val's made it to Kansas. Gag me with a spoon!

The economy turned around and rather than feeling that a job was what one needed to survive, many started believing that a job was something we should enjoy. My dad to this day has never grasped that concept. In the 80's, if you didn't like what you were could just go out and start your own business. Capitalism and entrepreneurship were alive and well. Even hippies and flower children of the 60's who viewed big business and capitalism as dirty words were jumping on the bandwagon. With the countries new found disposable income....there was much money to be made.

Add to all of this the oil drilling of the 80's where people in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and the like were striking it rich almost daily. Wealth was becoming not only attainable but greatly sought after. Shows like Dallas and Dynasty continued to perpetuate the idea that wealth and even greed were good. We all got the attitude that "He who died with the most toys was the winner," and we all wanted to be the winner. This era of achieved and supposed wealth also spurred the economy as we all wanted to dress like Sue Ellen and Alexis and we wanted to drive cars, eat, drink and play like both the Ewings and the Carringtons.

Yes....we got both our technology and much of our attitude from the 1980's. Billions were gained and lost in the stock market. Fortunes were made, lost and made again, and we got a taste for money and things and we didn't want to let go....even if the money wasn't there. Credit card debt began to rise as did bankruptcies toward the end of the decade. Having so much made us want more even if that more turned into vices such as drugs and pornography. We were constantly looking for that next big thing....that next high. We were becoming not only insatiable....but also....entitled.

From the 1980's was born the idea of home computers, software, cell phones, mp3 players, video games, CD's and DVD's. Also the 1980's gave us the notion that wanting was good, greed was a asset and money was a god whose altar we should worship at. We learned that work should be fun and that both fun and whatever we wanted was a right to be taken.....not earned. Both high spending and high debt were okay and in the end....some did seem to lose their souls as well as their money.

On the upside....the 1980's also reminded us how great this country is, that underdogs do sometimes come out on top and that even a bullet to the lung can't keep a good man down. We watched as other countries backed down and respected us and we saw a wall brought down dividing a country. We were proud to say the Pledge of Allegiance, fly our flag and bow our heads in thanksgiving to God for this great country.

The 80's were a roller coaster of highs and lows. I have heard many who lived through it say..."I hated the 80's!" I however never felt that way. To me the 80's were an integral part of my late teen and young adult years. I was a child of the malls...not the money. I loved the fashion....yes, even the bad stuff and I, like most of the country was fixated weekly on what JR would do next. I liked the big hair, the music, the movies and the optimism. It was a heady time where being an American felt great, capitalism was a good thing and new ideas and entrepreneurship were encouraged.

As I watched this series in its entirety....about 5 or 6 hours, I couldn't help but wax nostalgic and I was amazed at how much I had either missed during that decade or simply never knew. All in all struck me to see the similarities of then and now...history repeating itself I guess. And after it was over I couldn't help but think....this country really needs another hockey win!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Inner Workings and Thought Processes of This Catholic

What does it say about a person when they wake up at 2 a.m. blogging in their head? I am afraid to actually think too deeply about this. It might say something unflattering about me. Maybe it simply means that I have not blogged in several days and my thoughts are in overload. It could also mean that I am blog obsessed....but I prefer the whole thought overload thing. At any is going on 3 a.m. and here I am!

Actually this blog started in my head last night as I sat in Mass. Often many of my Sunday blogs start that way.  Maybe it started before that though. I think it may have even started when I was talking to a friend yesterday morning. We were talking about a lady she knew and church came up. This lady used to belong to some church close by....but she had been witness to some rather unChristian behavior from some of the congregation and she decided that church was no longer for her. It got me to thinking about spirituality vs. religion, church, people, Christianity and much much more. It is definitely enough to overload the brain.

I have long been on the fence about people who claim spirituality or a belief in God....but no love of or belief in religion. If we go by behavior.....yes, I have known people with no religious affiliation who were far more Christian-like than some regular Sunday church goers. So no....I guess you don't need to go to church to be a "good" person, have a good relationship with God...that is a different story. And is difficult sometimes to go to church when you know (or think you know) that there are those who sit by you on Sunday and then talk about you or others Monday thru Saturday. I myself have used this as a reason to take a vacation or two from Mass over the years. I always told myself that I never lost my faith but I did lose my desire to spend a Saturday evening or Sunday morning with someone I found to by a hypocrite. And isn't that the number one reason that many claim they choose not to attend church.....because of hypocrites? 

When on my last little sabbatical from church....I continued to pray and to soul search. I was raised a Catholic, I loved being a Catholic but my heart simply wasn't in the church. I finally laid it at God's feet and said..."Is it me or is it them? Am I right or am I wrong? Can I be Catholic and be merely spiritual or must I also be religious?" I had no idea whether the upheaval I was feeling was guilt over not attending Mass, because I felt I should or whether I truly was having a crisis of faith. Once those questions came out though.....the answers began to come too. Suddenly I began to come to some very real conclusions about church, people and my own faith. The ultimate answers were....It was me! I am wrong...and Catholics and religion walk hand in hand!

The first thing I realized was that there are hypocrites in all walks of life. We have them in our work places, our families and even our friends. Nine times out of ten....the fact that they exist in our world does not make us quit our jobs, quit attending family functions or even get rid of our hypocritical friends. Why? Because usually there is more to the situation than just the hypocrisy. For instance at work....our goal is not to socialize or even make friends. Our goal is to make money in order to survive. Our need outweighs our discomfort in working around hypocrites. The same goes with family and friends. There is a greater need there that allows us to overlook hypocrisy. Lets face it.....the world is full of hypocrites and if we shutdown every time we felt hypocrisy.....we would never get out of bed. So realizing this something occurred to me. Going to Mass was not....or at least should not be about others. The reality is that I am not going to Mass to socialize....I am going to have a relationship with God and each consecutive Sunday, to strengthen that relationship. By not attending because of my perceived belief in hypocrisy or the fact that someone offended me is saying that I am letting people trump God. I am more worried about my judgement of others and how I perceive their relationship with God than I am my own.

So can you have a relationship with God outside church? I am not sure. Isn't that after all saying I will have a relationship with Him on my terms...NOT His. God did say He wants us to keep Holy the Sabbath. Does that not mean worship Him in His house? And would Jesus have gone to all the trouble of establishing the Catholic religion if He didn't want and expect Catholics to attend?

Going to Mass (if we are doing it right) is a weekly celebration of Our Lord. Yes....we celebrate as a group but when I kneel, pray, sing, receive communion and listen to the readings and the isn't about anyone but God and myself. It doesn't matter if someone else in that church isn't viewing the experience or getting from the experience what I am and it is not for me to judge them because I really don't know what their relationship with God is. And truthfully....judgement of another person even if I feel justified or that it might be deserved is not very Christian on my doesn't that make me a little hypocritical myself? Of course it does.

In no other setting in life do I allow perceived hypocrisy to decide how I do things, where I go and how I live my life, so why do I allow myself to use that as an excuse to dictate whether I attend Mass or not? When viewed in that light...other thoughts come to mind about my vacations. Maybe I did not attend Mass because there was something lacking in me at the time and I used another persons unkind remarks as an excuse to cover my own conscience. Maybe my faith and my actions were not compatible at the time and therefore I myself felt hypocritical for going to Mass. And maybe.....there were just times when my laziness and desire for extra sleep was more important to me than God. Darn....that sounds so bad....and yet sometimes....the truth isn't pretty! They say that knowing and admitting are half the battle.

Since having my little chat with God and getting a new and obviously much needed perspective on Mass, things seem to have changed a bit inside of me. The realization that I may have spent years attending Mass and not getting what God was truly offering.....a real relationship with Him, is sad to me. The fact that I know I attend Mass now to keep that relationship strong and growing is a game changer. Like any relationship worth takes work and quite honestly....I think God has done more than His fair share of the work. Giving Him a little of my time and visiting Him in His house really is the least I can do on my end. As for those who I viewed as hypocritical or unkind....I have quit judging them and have forgiven all that I felt wounded by. They are no longer my excuse for my own bad behaviors.

Perspective is an amazing thing. When you really break down a tried and true argument and see the reality, it is often surprising what we allow ourselves to believe in order to excuse certain desires or behaviors. Luckily...we Christians are blessed with a patient God who when asked, forgives our sins, our unChristian behavior and even our selfish actions such as putting other things whether they be people, thoughts, desires or even laziness before Him while having the audacity to justify it by blaming others. Yes...I would say that is a relationship that deserves my very best effort.

So there you have it. The inner workings and thought processes of this Catholic....and when the truth finally won out over excuses, spiritually and religiously....there was no doubt....I had really been lacking. As I sat in Mass last night....I felt the peace that I have grown accustomed to, if only for that hour. I was able to pray not only for my family and their needs but also for the needs of all those around me.....without judging them or holding a grudge. This truly makes it much easier to focus on what is really important. No longer do I view going to Mass with an inner conflict where I am allowing excuses to override my relationship with God...and finally I realize just how important that relationship is. After all....when I take my last will be just Him and I......and excuses will no longer be acceptable.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Our New Reality

There are days when I can't wait to get to my blog and then there are days when I wonder why I even bother. Do words....anybody's words really mean anything? Is anybody actually listening or are we all so entrenched in our own world of thoughts and beliefs that we have shut out reality?

I was born in a time of tv! In my life the ends of the world have only been a twist of a dial or a push of a button away. I have seen wars fought and pictures that have left lasting impressions on my mind. Where my mothers generation had to use their imagination as FDR pronounced...."This is a day that will live in infamy," my generation saw up close just what infamy was. More than once I watched my mother cry as she too no longer had to imagine but saw with her own eyes the realities of the world. When both President Reagan and Pope John Paul II were shot....there were tears. How could someone do such a thing? Then when the Challenger disintegrated right before our eyes....what had started as an amazing and wonderfully historic day.....turned historically tragic within seconds. I cried that day too. Maybe it was the hormones (I was 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time), but each time the footage was tears began again. It was unthinkable and tragic....and I watched it hoping each time the outcome might be different. It never was.

With the age of technology....we have come closer to each other, to far off places, to many wonderful things.....but also, we have come much closer to realizing that evil exists and we can watch it play out right before our eyes. In my adult life I can think of numerous times where I have watched tragedy play out. I have sat glued to my tv, nauseous and feeling completely helpless as I watched life and death unfold. Waco, Oklahoma City, Jonesboro, Columbine, 9/11 and Sandy Hook to name a few and we also cannot forget the front line footage of war that often played on our nightly newscasts. Into our everyday language words like terrorists, IED, Al-Qaeda and weapons of mass destruction have slowly filtered in....ever to be apart of our new reality of the world.

I remember especially when the Oklahoma City bombing occurred 18 years ago this week. I was terrified. How could someone do such a horrific thing? It hit especially close to home because a good percent of my family are Oklahoma natives and many live in the OKC area. I sat sick and stunned as I watched the Murrah Federal building fall to pieces and each new picture showed more blood, more death......more tragedy. Newscasters on the scene found it difficult to hold their composure as they tried to report and makes sense of such a senseless event. When the pictures of all the kids started flashing before was almost more than many of us could watch. It was certainly more than this mother could watch. I waited to hear that all of my family was okay and then I cried for all of those whose families were not so lucky. How could this happen in the United States?

When word came out that this was done by our own....Americans.....we were shook even further. Domestic terrorism. It has been a part of our life, our thoughts and our vocabulary ever since. Tragic really. We were an outraged country. As Americans this was not acceptable and we did what Americans do best. We pulled together. We went to OKC's aid in any way we could. We prayed with them and we cried with them and we demanded justice from our president and our courts because these were Americans that had been wounded and killed and their lives would not be lost in vain.

With each successive televised event.....I think I lost a little piece of my security. The illusion that as an American I was safe and protected was fast fading and when 9/11 was shattered forever.

There is something terrifying about knowing that there are those in the world that wish you nothing but horrid, torturous death. The only thing possibly worse is when those in charge try to deny that this threat exists. When 9/11 took place....again we united. Once more we worked as a single unit outraged that someone could have done something so unbelievably horrific. It was a full scale attack of the US and one that had been meticulously thought out and planned for some time. We were hit where we were vulnerable and if not for the sake of some very brave Americans willing to give their own lives.....the attack could have been much worse. Living in the aftermath of such an event and watching Americans go from fighting mad to twelve years later living in a place of almost complete denial is something that keeps many of us awake at night.

We have not exactly made friends with many in the last few years and even now more than then......there are those who want the US crippled and Americans dead. We have slowly but surely let our guard down and left ourselves open to more terrorism and more tragedy. Yesterday was a perfect example of this.

The Boston event that pulls tens of thousands in internationally. To is their Super Bowl. Unlike the Super Bowl though.....many unlikely athletes are present in the Boston Marathon. It is a race that many families as well as those with special needs can participate in. For some it is a race to win and for is an achievement to be able to say that they crossed the finish line. It is internationally televised and an event where many come to watch or cheer on their friends and family who are participating. In the big scheme of is not surprising that an attack would be made at such an event. Super Bowls, World Series and huge NASCAR events have long been suspected to be prime candidates for acts of terrorism. Such large crowds largely hosted in big cities are fertile ground for terroristic tragedy. It makes a statement. It says....."We can, we will and as of today....we have the ability to get you!"

The bombs....two that they know went off (and possibly others they aren't sure yet) were strategically placed and strategically detonated. It was at the busiest point in the race where many were crossing the finish line. This had been well planned out and executed. Windows shattered, runners were knocked from their feet by the blasts....and those in the path of the bombs were pelted with shrapnel. The current death count is 3 (an 8 year old child included) and the injury count is around 150. Injuries included everything from arms and legs being severed by the blast to brain and hearing injuries and many many injuries from flying shrapnel. Again I had a front row seat in my living room to watch over and over as an eagerly awaited sporting event full of athletes and spectators in the blink of an eye became a terroristic disaster.

There was much talk at the media and the different congressman who were interviewed about the care of language that was being used when describing this event. Apparently the word "terrorism" was not something that those in either place wanted casually bandied about. Soon though.....both sides of the fence including the president (or so it was reported) were saying that this in fact was an act of terrorism. I really wanted to strangle the politically correct yahoo's who apparently were trying to portray this as something much less offensive. How????? There was never a doubt as to what this act was. The only question was whether it was domestic (OKC) or foreign (9/11). Then there was the question of if it was domestic.....were they Americans with foreign leanings or foreign ties? OR if they were foreign....were they guests in our country, possibly even trained in our country only to turn and bite the hand that fed them? I have watched no news as of yet I have no idea if these questions have any answers yet.

Yesterday it was stated several times that "Today we are not republicans or democrats but....Americans." This is true and in true American form we will once again unite, help and care for those attacked and pray for the victims, their families and our country. I hope we also think long and hard about what this attack means. It means that we have enemies both foreign and domestic. It means that we have let our guard down and left ourselves unprotected. It means that we need to raise our security levels and pull together as a country. If this is a foreign attack.....does this mean we need to close borders? Be more careful about who comes and goes in our country and possibly deport those who are questionable? Is it possible that we could be faced with an us or them situation? It certainly means we need to get back to being the force we once were and show the world just what Americans are made of. We need to be a strong country again with a strong people. We can't give up, we can't turn our backs....and most of all....we can't deny reality.

As I sit here writing this, I wonder how many people will actually read this? Of those that do, I wonder who will really think about this or who will laugh it off and call me crazy for my fears about the safety of our country and its people? The fact is....this is our new reality. TV brings the images home to us and their is no denying that people died and were injured yesterday because someone foreign or domestic was sending a message loud and clear....We got you!

My thoughts and prayers go out to the city of Boston, to the victims of yesterday's tragedy and to the families of those who were killed. I also wish to acknowledge the first responders who without their quick actions many more might have been lost and to the runners and spectators who jumped in to help the injured. This is what American's are all about.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Organizing the Hoard

So this year....2013....has been the year of organization in Lisaland. Okay...more fairly....this year has been the year of Pinterest in Lisaland. Through Pinterest I have learned that I can organize on a really low budget and part with things much easier than I ever dreamed.

Truth be told....I am a planner. The most fun in a job I ever had was when I was told to plan an event. I had no experience, no social clout (trust is necessary) and no idea what I was doing....and yet I was an integral part of putting together the highest raising fundraiser the non-profit had ever held. It was so much fun and it put me in touch with a social side that I really never knew (outside my immediate friends) that I had. In a way it taught me a lot about how to plan and organize. However where the event left off....Pinterest picked up and ran with it.

Part of my previous problem in organizing not only my own hoard, the hoard of my children and the hoard of my late mother......was the not knowing where to start. In fact...if you watch any of the hoarding shows.....that is usually the problem with the hoarding victim. They have no idea where to begin. Well, that and they continue to add to the hoard. Now before you conjure visuals of me living in piles of trash with only smalls pathways to navigate it was never that bad. However....for years, I had every closet and every drawer full to capacity and never until lately have I lived in a house that at least one room wasn't a dedicated junk room. It was the catch all room for anything I didn't know what to do with. This included new garage sale finds and the junk from other rooms that I really had no purpose for....but found difficult to get rid of.

I am almost positive that the downfall of many a hoarder is the "I am going to fix that up," notion. You know the notion I am talking about. The one where you find that beat up chair with the stuffing falling out, the springs sagging but in your vision.....with a little work and TLC it can actually be a beautiful addition to your home. Problem stays a sagging, stuffingless mess in your junk room because either something else shiny and brimming with possibility has caught your eye or you simply never find the time to put your fixer upper skills into action. Also in that room are those pieces that you have absolutely no place to put them, but in know they will be a lovely focal point in your soon as you clear out the rest of your clutter. It can be a vicious cycle and if not careful....can spill over into the rest of your house. This sort of happened to me as I had drawers and closets full of stuff just thrown in them with no organization and no idea as how to begin sifting through it all.

Even after being organized right down to the last penny and the last balloon with my fundraiser....I still had difficulty carrying it over to my home. My desk at work was immaculate. Everything fundraiser related was carefully and meticulously put in organized binders. At the snap of my fingers I could find anything within seconds but back at home....I couldn't even find matching shoes. It made no sense. I had one co-worker say to me, "I bet your home is beyond clean." All I could think to say was...."You will never visit my home!" She just smiled not knowing if I was joking or insulting her. I was just protecting my image.

Since I have begun the huge cleanup and clean out, I have realized that you can really never be organized enough. I have made probably six sweeps of my house in the last few months purging, cleaning and organizing and I can still open a closet, drawer or even simply walk into a room and see things that can and should go.....along with getting new ideas about how to better organize. It probably is my obsessive compulsive defense to keep me from looking at the big picture such as walls that need painted, windows that need redone and floors that need stripped.....all which cost money I don't have. By only focusing on the purging and organizing.....the floor stains barely phase me.

One thing I learned about organizing is that all you need to do is take that first step. Go through that first pile, drawer or closet. Don't give yourself a lot of time to think or reminisce. Simply ask yourself "Do I use it? Do I need it? Do I have a place for it right now?" and most of all...."Does it bring anything to my life but clutter?" If you can't answer Yes to the first three questions....the answer to the fourth is then a definite No....which means it is time to purge.

Don't overwhelm yourself by setting your goals too high and planning to go through too much at once. That is of course....unless you are about to be condemned. Then by all means....just let the trash crew take it all. Otherwise....just plan on a couple of drawers or one big closet at a time. Make sure you sort into piles for Goodwill, keep and trash. There should only be three piles when you are through and the Goodwill and trash piles should be larger than the keep one. Also....don't give Goodwill trash. If it is not clean and in good shape....then discard it. No one wants your actual trash. Once you have taken care of the Goodwill and trash piles (get the Goodwill pile in your car and delivered ASAP), then begin to organize your "keep" pile. If it is a drawer, get some Dollar Tree drawer organizers and go to town putting each thing in its place. If it is a closet....get some Dollar Tree shoe box containers and organize away. Shoes, gloves, scarves and socks can all have a new and organized home....not to mention an easily accessible one.

If it is an entire junk I had, get real about things. Nothing should be kept because you "think" you might someday fix it or find a place for it. Only things that you can use this very minute and that are in usable shape should be kept. Everything else (usable) either needs to go on Ebay, Craigslist or to Goodwill.  You will be surprised how quickly that room is decluttered and actually becomes a livable part of your home again.

You will find that once your home is decluttered, the other occupants will also enjoy the new found accessibility and usability of things and with just a couple of extra seconds of returning things to their proper place.....your home stays much cleaner. I have found that it is much easier to clean an organized home because 1) you can actually find your cleaning products and 2) you are not cleaning around clutter. You don't have to move clutter from room to room and everything has a place and with a little already in its place. You don't have to spend the time picking up and you can then get to the business of real cleaning. truth be is Monday and it is much easier to blog about cleaning and organizing than it is to actually put it into practice. Sharing the wisdom is much more fun than living least today. If it makes you feel better though....I will probably get to that kitchen drawer that is driving me crazy and my fridge might even get a good once over. Happy now? is spring somewhere and there is no better time to start that cleaning and organizing than now. Pick a pile and get busy and soon you too will be able to say...."I organized my hoard!"

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Now THAT Was Embarrassing

So the other day I was watching some reality tv show. I can't even tell you which one as after awhile they all kind of seem the same. In this particular one though....a mother was trying to have a meaningful conversation about sex with her daughter. The daughter was about 15 or 16. Trying to draw the girl out...the mom was asking her...her thoughts on certain things about sex, but with every word the girl would huff and say "Mom...this is so embarrassing!" The mother persisted and the young girl continued her insistence that this was just too embarrassing to discuss with.....ewwwww.....her mother. However, dollars to donuts she had more than once had similar conversations about sex with her friends with far more graphic detail and I would bet her embarrassment had not been an issue. You gotta love that teenage mentality.

As the conversation of my boys walked through the living room and went "Ewwwww that is just embarrassing!" WHAT? A parent can't discuss sex with their child? Okay...granted....having that conversation in front of millions might be a bit embarrassing but my guess is....the conversation likely would have gone no better had it just been mom and daughter. Trust me....I have been there. The whole thing me to thinking about the emotion of embarrassment. 

If you are a frequent reader of my blogs...then you are likely aware that many of my blogs are about my children. I have been asked more than once if my writing about them embarrasses them. The answer.....most likely! The truth is that my children realized early on that having me and their father as parents was going to be nothing but one long road of embarrassment. Some intentional and some incidental. Tim and I were always of the mind that what doesn't kill you will likely be funny as heck and will teach you never to take yourself too seriously. After Tim died....I guess I felt the need to carry on.

My kids know that having me as a mother has its perks and its downfalls. The perks are free room and board and the downfall is that their behaviors good, bad, funny, sad, rude, amazing or anything in between could end up fodder for one of my blogs. I used to be able to tell when one of my blogs was not taken I would get the silent treatment for awhile. Now though....they either don't read, don't care or God forbid "like" seeing their name in print. Whatever the case...I really think the embarrassment ship has sailed. At least where my blogs are concerned anyway.

Embarrassment though is a pretty powerful emotion if you think about it. Those most easily embarrassed are usually teenagers who have little life experience and feel as if they are the very first ever to go through anything they go through. Granted....sometimes their embarrassment is justifiable. Lifes little inadvertent accidents like laughing too hard and snorting, your stomach growling insatiably in a quiet classroom or finding that you just read your term paper to the class....not knowing that your fly was open and the bull was peeking out.......I believe all of those are Gods way of keeping us humble. Boy or a will at some point in time...feel the uncomfortable heat as your body turns red from your toes to your hair after some beyond your control moment of embarrassment. What is worse simply cannot prepare for it. Of course their is also the embarrassment that to 75% of the population (those not teenagers) would not particularly see as embarrassing....but to the 25% (those that are)...will find mortifying. In most cases...this kind of embarrassment is parent related. This includes but is not limited to: Mom trying to kiss you good bye as you get out of the car. Mom trying to talk to you at the mall if anyone under 25 is in the vicinity. Mom walking through the living room and saying anything if you have friends over, and finally....Dad trying to have a conversation with your friends using words and terms such as "LOL", "foshizzle" and "I'm down wit that!" These are all cases of pure humiliation that seem almost too horrifying to mention and will likely keep your kids in therapy well into their 80's. Or so they think!

As we get older....we learn that embarrassment is relative and subjective. Not everyone embarrasses easily and what was embarrassing at 16 doesn't even phase us after 30. However....even after 30 we are not immune to the occasional moment where hot and red faced.....we can still feel the nasty and unsettling grip of embarrassment. Perhaps we actually do wind up in an important meeting with mismatched shoes....and this time it is not a dream. Or maybe we boldly and foolishly ask the young woman when her baby is due.....only to find out she is not pregnant. Now that is a two for one embarrassing moment. Then there is always our ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong moment only to find the wrong person standing behind you. Or maybe that is just me, but at any rate that can have all kinds of implications....embarrassing and otherwise. One of the worst walking in to find your parents in an ummm.....errrr.....compromising situation. It doesn't matter who you are or how old you are. THAT right there is the top five of the top five embarrassing things that can happen to you. Number one.....I think it is safe to say that we all prefer to believe that we were virgin births, that our parents show affection through a handshake or only the occasional quick hug and that OUR generation (doesn't matter which generation) invented how in the world can they possibly be doing THAT? Truth be told....that kind of embarrassment actually will end you up in therapy into your 80's!

In this day and age though....I think there is less embarrassment and I am not really sure that is a good thing. Embarrassment means that you have a boundary that when crossed.....causes you discomfort. Zippers unzipped, talking out of turn and horror of horrors....walking in on your parents are all lines that most of us should be embarrassed about crossing.....even accidentally. Also as I said before....embarrassment is the emotion most likely able to keep us humble and teach us that neither life nor ourselves should be taken so seriously. Truthfully...we should always be able to find humor in situations and even laugh at our own faux pas! Some of the greatest life lessons I have learned have been born from embarrassing moments.

So...does it bother me to embarrass my kids? Rarely! In fact there are even times I rather enjoy it. Embarrassment has its place in our lives....uncomfortable or not. It is educational, at times unavoidable and often a building block in our emotional development. It reminds us of our boundaries and it teaches us that no one is immune to the hot flash, followed by a red face and great emotional discomfort in the site of our own words or actions and usually in front of one or more people who are witnesses. For those of you like me....embarrassment teaches the art of a graceful exit and the ability to laugh....even if it means....laughing at myself!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Dance

Funny. Since I wrote my blog about dreams a few days back....I have had basically dreamless nights, or at the very least....if I have dreamed, I was not aware. At least not until last night.

Last night before I went to bed, I enjoyed my resurrected pleasure of reading. Reading before bedtime though is almost as bad for me as tv before bed because with neither do I have the willpower to create boundaries. With both I seem bound to partake until the clock says well past midnight and my eyes refuse to stay open one more second. My current read is an autobiography about Marlo Thomas. Interesting read and although I am not a big fan of Thomas's.....I was of her dad Danny Thomas, and the book deals more with her dad and growing up in a house where at her dinner table, the likes of Sid Ceasar, Bob Hope, Jack Benny and George Burns could be found. It really is a good book from the perspective of a child who would rush through dates or outings with her friends just to run home and listen to her father and his friends shoot the bull and hone their comedic skills on each other. At any eyes were losing focus and the lines had turned into a blur when I finally put the bookmark in and called it a night.

It seemed that before my head hit the pillow I was already dreaming. Was I sitting around the Thomas table listening to long dead comediennes try to out wit each other? Was I trying to converse with Marlo and find out how a girl from a conservative Catholic family became a liberal feminist whose husband is now Phil Donahue and one of her closest friends is Gloria Steinem? Did I have the catchy song from Thomas's 1970's work Free to Be You and Me stuck in my head? No to all above. My dream in fact had nothing to do with my latest read. My dream in short though was....amazing.

I was in a spot light in an otherwise dark room. I knew that many eyes were on me, but I could see no one. I was aware that someone else stood by me.....but he was a nameless, faceless person to me. At least as I write this he was, but in my dream.....our connection was almost spiritual. Together we were doing something that awake....I could only dream of  doing. We were dancing! At moments we were one as our bodies touched and then released. I knew I was beautiful or at least I felt that way. I could not tell you exactly what I was wearing, but I knew it was flowing and with each step....the material would glide through the air and then settle and then glide again. My hair too was down, soft and as the air from my own movement caught it....would toss it gently backward and then forward. I instinctively knew that the silhouette I was creating was as mesmerizing to those watching as it felt to me.

With each step I knew my feet, my arms and my body were creating the perfect shapes and there was no fear of forgetting a step or doing something wrong.....for I was completely confident with every move. My partner would hold my hand, touch my waist and I could feel strength. There was total trust for me as if I had known him all my life. Everything was familiar and comfortable and I was in my element. There was no fear or doubt at what I was doing or even at the fact that hundreds of eyes were on me. There was just a feeling of freedom and pure joy....a feeling I had not felt in a very long time. Perhaps even years. 

The music though unrecognizable as I write this, was as much a part of the whole as was the dance. It seemed to change from time to time and each time I felt a new and recharged jolt of happiness as with each change.....the music felt like a favorite.  The music would grab my body and take over. It was a feeling of confident control and complete surrender all at the same time. As my feet moved in intricate patterns which I could only feel but not see....I had a surge of amazement go through me as I knew I was accomplishing a long desired dream. This was all a part of me, something I had held inside and had no idea I could actually do. It felt as if I had practiced each movement to perfection and that this moment was the reward.

With each new music swell....I could not so much hear, but feel a collective breath from those watching as the music and I were taking them on a journey full of fascinating twists and turns and unexpected highs and lows. They were breathing in time with my steps as each set of eyes pierced the spotlight waiting for the next turn....the next emotion.

I was smiling and feeling things I had not felt in years. No longer was I a person carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders and for this time...this moment.....the world made sense. It was as if everything I had ever done both good and bad in my life....had been a preparation for this moment. My past was fueling this time and this time was the prize for it all.

I sensed that there was judgement involved from all those peering eyes. Maybe looking for that inadvertent toe turn, not quite enough arm extension or a momentary loss of beat...but step by step I was winning them over. Second by second they went from judges to fans and I felt the power and the strength of my performance. I knew I would not fail and before all was said and done.....those watching would be as happy as I felt.

It was really strange as I knew there were others there. Many others in fact. There were those watching me as well as my partner....but I really couldn't see them. I just knew they were there. In fact...other than the spotlight.....warm, comfortable and exciting.....I really saw nothing. It was all feeling and emotion. Nothing was visually defined and yet I knew it was all there and all was as it should be.......and so.......I continued the dance. 

I can honestly say that I don't think I have ever felt such joy, peace and confidence in a dream. I also don't think that I have ever had such a detailed dream of emotion with such nondescript detail of physicality. It was almost as if it were one huge oxymoron. It seemed to be based on emotion far more than anything visual or even physical and yet the dream was nothing but constant physical motion.

When I finally awoke this wasn't with my usual jolt and it was far earlier than necessary. It was as if I emerged gently from the dream into reality with all the emotion of the night still in tact. My eyes slowly opened to an early morning sunrise and I seemed to feel the warmth and comfort.....just as I had with my spotlight. The joy I felt in my dream has yet to leave me and the detail of non-detail still fills me. I am feeling a renewal in myself and even a feeling of strength that I haven't felt for awhile. I don't want to lose this because even now as I write this....I know how special what I am feeling is.

If you have stayed with me thus may be scratching your head at this point and wondering just what all of this means. I know I have been wondering since I was consciously aware of the nights events. I am sure my dream whisperer friend will have a lot to say on this one and even I with no real belief in the meaning of dreams can see some pretty powerful metaphors on my life in this dream. Maybe it does mean something. Maybe last night in the few short hours of my dream life.....something powerful did happen. Maybe as I go through the day and analyze and reanalyze this dream (and we all know I will) I will find some important hidden or not so hidden meanings in this dream. OR and I think this is the most likely case scenario......I am just watching entirely too much Dancing with the Stars!

Whatever the case...right here....right this moment, I am happy. The sun is out, it is spring and I feel like I can conquer just about anything. Who knows....maybe today.....I will dance!