Category Archives: Life Lessons

Stuff I’ve learned throughout all the fabulous experiences I’ve been gifted

Looking my age

Looking my age

I’ve been holding back on this, but it’s starting to really bug me. So file this away, please.

My peer group is starting to approach and crush 40 years old. Everywhere I see and hear, “But you don’t LOOK forty! SERIOUSLY, you don’t! You’re so beautiful!”

I was faced with this for the first time ever a couple of months ago when I turned 38, and people kept insisting I don’t look a day over 27.

I speak strictly for myself, but maybe this will resonate with others.

1. Age is an abstract number based on a unit of measurement. Different countries have annual calenders of different lengths and start counting years differently. And know what? No one has ever taken a picture of age. So how on Earth does anyone know what it looks like???

2. That said, I DO look my age. I live inside a body that is a certain age, and this is what it looks like.

3. Newsflash: Implying that “looking my age” is the opposite of being something you’d want to look at is not actually a compliment.

4. I have earned most of the changes in my body. I have worn sunscreen and eye creams or not, I have slept or not, I have exercised or not, I have cooked or not. My worry lines are there because I have cared. My laugh lines are there because I have found joy. I have physical scars because I had adventures. I have stretch marks and round cheeks because of the journey my body and I made from enemies to soulmates. So remember, when you try to compliment me by erasing 11 years of my life… That’s what you are actually taking away: Me.

5. My life is so very far from over. A few months ago I was getting a little worried, then I stopped and conducted a full 10 seconds of first-grade math. I discovered that I’m not even half way into my career yet. This is comforting, because it feels like I’ve been in this for a REALLY long time already.

6. And think about it… If NO ONE “looks their age,” then clearly whatever standard we are using for this is no longer the standard.

So when my age comes up…
Tell me I look healthy.
Tell me I have lived well.
Ask me about my adventures.
Ask me what’s next.
Tell me the years have been good to me.

Please, do not tell me I don’t look my age.

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Indelible Words

Today I saw this video, and it made me cry.  Of course I shared it, and started blogging a comment that went ellipsical and ended up far from this video.  So I shared the video with the lame comment of “Such a cool story!,” and decided to post the blog here.  It really is a sweet love story, and I recommend watching the video, so here it is:

If you decided to skip the video, here’s the spoiler: boy send’s Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Shoebox to a girl in the Philippines when he’s 7 years old, girl finds him on Facebook 10 years later, now they’re married.  There are so many things we could get from this story…. it’s a love story for a Hallmark movie script, a testament to shoebox ministries, a testimony that God brings two people together (bonus points if they had both just “stopped looking in order to focus on themselves”), all great things.

Here’s what made me cry: the power of showing love on paper to children in need. What need?  The need for connection.  I am forcibly reminded of the letters I received as a child in Mexico. I remember because I saved every single one. All the letters from my grandparents (so many postcards and place mats from my Grandma Dorinda!), my Uncle David in the Navy, my penpals (Jennie, Sara, Amanda, and Emily), the ones my dad sent when we lived in opposite countries (even the one he sent when I was at summer camp where he spelled my name with a y (he fixed it before he mailed it, and it took two tries for him to sign “Dad,” too, so it was just an off day that made me laugh)), the letters Angel faithfully wrote me when I was lonely in America, all of my birthday cards. They were read and reread, studied, memorized. I can tell you who sent me the same birthday card two years in a row, which cards ended up in my Bible and Box of Special Things, the round gold-rimmed Teddy bear sticker Sara sent me, the white cat birthday card from my Grandma Wiedling… these written words – so much more than my carousel horses or snow globes or shiny rocks or boxes or international coins or stamps or white teddy bears – these were (and are) my treasures. These are in my heart still, burned into my soul as the indelible reminder that I was not forgotten, that I was loved, that I was worth an international stamp.  People get tattoos of the handwriting of loved ones, and I totally get it.

Since then there are wonderful inventions… email, Facebook, text messages, ecards, evites, affordable communication in and to almost any person in any country. It is convenient, customizable, dependable, and instant. It also gets lost, right in the palm of our hands, lost in feeds, inboxes, threads, accidental (or regrettably intentional) deletes, the fleetingness of Snapchat. There is no more saving the letter for when we can relax on our couch, or hiding in the privacy of our rooms, no more pages of stories, enclosed stickers, birthday cards with activities in them, specially chosen photos to be treasured.  Boxes of treasured handwritten pages are a thing of the past, no more the ceremonies of burning love letters from that hurt us… the delete button removing most of our chance to halt such violence.  There is no more choosing of stationary, finding pens that don’t smear, numbering of pages, taking the TIME to STOP and write to someone, to invest actual time in a relationship with someone far away, no more choosing what flat and weightless memento to enclose.  Now we share snippets, emojis, endless streams of filtered and staged pictures. They come without ceremony or excitement. They are invasive, appearing instantly and stealing from us the option of choosing the location and circumstances of discovering what lies inside.  There is no more turning a sealed envelope over in our hands, studying the stamp and postmark, wondering what the letter went through to get to us, realizing that we are touching a paper that not long ago was being held by someone thinking about us.  The magic is gone.  No we read our messages at stoplights, in lines at the supermarket, on the toilet, in the middle of dinner, in the middle of conversations with other people. The words are no longer sacred.  Using a stamp has become a luxury, synonymous to actually paying for parking and going inside the airport to meet a weary traveler.

And they are typed. There is always an element of genericness about them, even if we have the option of font selection. Teenagers… would you recognize your grandparents’ handwriting if you saw it? Or your parents’, if it wasn’t just a scribbled note? Parents, would you recognize your teen’s developing script, the one they use in real life? Because our handwriting is US. It is our personality, our emotion, our development, our soul.  They are pieces of and links to history.  I have heard my aunt say, “Well, I’m not sure who’s in that picture, but that’s mom’s handwriting and she was labeling all these photos when she was in college, so it’s probably…”  Could you do that?

I know my grandparents’ handwriting… my Grandma Wiedling’s short script on unlined white paper, my Grandpa Wiedling’s typewriter-like block letters on graph paper, my Grandma Dorinda’s narrowly-spaced cursive squeezing as much as possible on the backs of diligently-mailed postcards, my Grandpa Rupe’s childlike lettering (a result of learning disabilities and decades of teaching young elementary grades), my mother’s small loopy cursive, my dad’s scrawl, my brother’s big print.  My own handwriting, like all of ours, has evolved into something that reflects me – a mix of print and cursive, depending on what is easiest in the space, with a’s shaped like “a” that came after my college calligraphy class.  I have always regretted not knowing my Grandma Jean’s handwriting.  She was the first grandma to see me, but died before I was old enough to get a letter from her.  I do have samples of her handwriting, but they are not burned into me like the words that have been written for me.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.  I’ll be honest, I don’t take the time to write.  I have a collection of fantastic Mother’s Day cards that I have collected annually for my Grandmother… some day she’ll just get a package of them.  I have even made a rule not to comment on Facebook birthdays, because I carry so much guilt over not consistently commenting on everyone’s.  I have so many things to write on my blog, but I don’t do that, either.  I am too busy and too tired to muster the energy needed for this skill at the end of a day.  But why is it a skill that requires so much attention?  It used to be second nature.  Why is it not normal for us anymore?   And if the answer really is that we are too busy and too tired to invest in relationships that are out of sight…. for goodness sake’s, WHY???  Technology was supposed to make life easier, faster, more efficient.  We should have more time and more energy.  But… we spend more time editing photos, don’t we?  More time checking email, more time thinking about 12 things we should be monitoring at once, more time synching schedules, more time sending one little text or email, more time watching just one more 22-minute episode.

And so we have forgotten the value of handwriting.  We have forgotten how special it was to get a letter.  We have forgotten what it is to sit and contemplate a friendship as we share our lives on paper.  We have forgotten that labeling and describing the memory is more important than the perfect selfie.  We have forgotten that children remember the simplest of things… like whether you remembered or forgot.

So right now, while I’m remembering… excuse me while I go write a letter to a child.

The Day My Appendix Died

I just read one of those clickbait articles on Facebook titled something like “I prosecuted serial killers all my life but never really understood until this one came for me!”  The story is about a very physically healthy prosecutor who almost died of a heart attack.  There was the bit about her feeling okay but her husband being worried when she vomited so took her to the ER, then all of a sudden she was swarmed by people ripping her clothes off, hooking her up to IVs, etc.  In the middle of all this the surgeon takes her hand and says, “I’m the boss of all these people. I’m going to look at your heart and do what I need to do to keep you safe and healthy.  I will treat you like my own family.”  That part made me cry, and I knew that – even though it’s late – I need to write this.  I wanted to share the article I read with you, but as usual… Facebook swallowed it whole and left no crumbs.  But if you see it, click the bait.  It’s not long.

So here is the story of the day my appendix died…

Exactly one week ago (11:30pm, 3/7/17) I was walking laps around the post-surgical unit at Good Samaritan Hospital at the instructions of my awesome Filipino nurse, Cef, who taught me that when there’s a kink in the hose gas will work its way UP your body until you think you have a pinched nerve that is numbing your neck and sending shooting pain down your arm. That’s right: the treatment for post-surgical neck pain was to walk and fart. He was right. Drinking lots of ginger ale quickly and belching loudly was also helpful.

I spent a lot of money on nursing school, and the better part of 9 months in 1997/1998 memorizing the tiny words and drawings in my very expensive and heavy Anatomy and Physiology book. I know what I’ve got going on inside me. For the past 6 months or so I’ve been having random expectant thoughts of appendicitis (God prepares me for important things because He gave me an awesome brain that just doesn’t handle surprises very well).

So when the indigestion I’d been having for a couple of days suddenly focused itself on a specific point deep inside my lower right belly last Monday evening, I knew exactly what it was.  I also had a plan.  I BARELY had symptoms. I was in no pain except little sharp bursts when I laughed, coughed, or pressed on that specific spot. No fever. No nausea. I was hungry. None of the things that happen when your gut is in trouble had happened yet. I called an advice nurse and my doctor’s On-Call doctor. I told my closest friend to keep her phone on in case I needed a ride to the ER. I updated my parents and told my coworkers I might be out on Tuesday. I cleaned the litter box and filled the cat’s food. Then I went to bed. I was not remotely afraid, but I knew I would be in surgery the next day.

The next morning I was at Urgent Care at 8:30, dressed for work just in case I was wrong.

I would like to take a moment to say how much I love absolutely everything about Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

Things moved faster than expected, but only because of efficiency.  In between the nurse and the doctor and the blood thief I was busy cancelling my morning sessions, communicating with my work team, prepping a list of what I would need my friend to bring to the hospital.  They made me do a urine test to prove I wasn’t pregnant.  I had a cat scan, which was kind of cool. Those machines talk to you! My IV tubing wasn’t connected quite right, and the whole thing exploded all over me and the machine when she did the trial with saline (before iodine). It was hilarious! That poor VERY pregnant tech with long curly hair was mopping me up and I just couldn’t stop laughing!

I told her the story of my very first day in nursing clinicals… my patient was an extremely obese woman (over 400#) who took up the full width of the bed. I managed to dump an entire tub of water (maybe 2 gallons) into her bed with her. It was like slow motion, watching that rose-colored rectangular tub tip over.  I will never forget. My instructor was right there. I was mortified, horrified, just… yeah. “Honey, I am one fat woman who can’t bathe myself. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last!  Trust me, this is the most interesting thing that’s happened to me in awhile!” Then she just laughed and laughed while my instructor and I (and probably a 3rd person) struggled around her giant body and big naked bottom to try to get everything clean and dry. That woman taught me one of the most important lessons I’ll ever learn: I’m going to screw up. Laughter will make it much better!

So I laughed on Tuesday with the very pregnant tech who sprayed me out of my IV tubing. And surprisingly (because by this time my belly was getting pretty sensitive), I don’t remember that laughter hurting.

We got the IV fixed and within an hour I was congratulated on my very early-stage appendicitis.  I cancelled my life for the week, and started an email to a coworker who always steps up to help coordinate these sorts of things because in my office it takes 5 people just to make the phone calls in all the right languages.  The doctor at urgent care handed me a stack of paperwork and a CD and told to drive myself down the street to Good Samaritan Hospital, and hand these things to the surgeon waiting for me.

(Note: this is a graphic paragraph about surgery and body things.  You are warned.)  It’s a very surreal thing to drive yourself alone to a hospital for an operation.  Because I understand operating rooms, too.  I have explored them, studied them, watched incredible things happen in them.  I have seen babies and organs and bones and blood come out of human beings in them.  I have watched in awe as artists who have mastered the human body practice their craft, each focused on a specific part so that the mechanism can work smoothly and efficiently.  If I had been a nurse, I think I would have been an OR nurse.  But you can’t drive yourself to surgery without imagining yourself on the table.  I know I won’t feel or remember it, but I know I will have a tube down my throat.  They might give me a catheter.  If they cut me they will cauterize me.  I remember the smell of cauterizing flesh; it is the second most disgusting smell I’ve experienced.  Adipose tissue was the worst.  I have a lot of adipose tissue.  If my appendix bursts, how big will the incision be?  Will they put my intestines on my chest like in the bowel resection I observed?  I hope they get their gauze counts right.  I was not scared.  Not at all.  But I could see myself on the table.  I remember the patient’s perspective from the surgery on my leg.  Good Sam has free valet parking, which was awesome and super convenient and a relief that I wouldn’t have to try to tell Michelle where to find my car in the parking lot later.

So I showed up at registration with my stack of papers.  “Hi! I came to get my appendix out!”  I’m not walking quite so easily now, but the older Black gentleman behind the desk smiles back at me.  I wish I could remember his name; it was a grandpa sort of name, like Walter or Reginald.  He reminds me of William on “This is Us.”  He seems like the kind of guy who would get to know his mailman.  He looks at me oddly; apparently this is not usually how appendicitis patients show up for surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital.  So I sit for 15 minutes on the lovely couches with built in USB charging ports.  He figures stuff out and sends me down the hall and to the left to the surgery waiting room.  I go down the hall and to the left to the place that says “Surgery Waiting Room.”   There is only a volunteer there, no doctors or nurses.  There is coffee and tea there, and magazines that everyone is touching.  That doesn’t seem to match my expectations, but I’m starting to feel a little tired and fuzzy so I’m not quite sure why.  I tell the volunteer I’m here for surgery.  She looks at me oddly, too.  I don’t think volunteers process surgical patients.  Apparently this is the place where non-sick people wait around for sick people who are currently being mended.  She sits me down and bustles around trying to figure out what to do with me.  I am not emailing anymore.

Ten minutes later the volunteer and a nurse come rushing up to me.  “We’ve been looking for you everywhere!!”  She takes me another 20 feet down the hallway to the left.  Just around a little bend is another place.  It has a sign that says “Surgical Waiting Room.”  Subtle difference in name, significant difference in presentation.  There is no coffee or tea or magazines here.  People in this room are not dressed for outside.  Half of the people in this room are in beds behind little curtains, some have family members speaking quietly to them.  This looks more like it.

WHOOSH!!

We’re so glad you made it!  We’re getting all your authorizations.  The OR has been booked for you.  Just relax here.  Take off all your clothes and put this gown on.  Let me close this to give you some privacy.  Put this gown on.  Just relax.  I am alone in a space in a room full of people.  It doesn’t quite dawn on me that I’m changing into my surgical gown until it surprises me that it’s made of paper and the inside is lined with plastic and there are slits all over it and the plastic against my skin is actually some sort of tube thing.  It slowly dawns on me that they have clearly developed a more efficient body heating method since the days of separate tubing, and that the slits are placed strategically for examining and exposing various parts of the body while keeping the rest covered and warm.  “Bet this thing costs a fortune, but it’s really cool.  Wait.  I kinda feel like I just dressed myself for my funeral.  No, I’m not gonna die.  But strange things are gonna happen in this thing, special events completely focused on me, my body will be there, and I’m gonna miss it all.”  Okay, then.  I guess this is happening RIGHT now.

This is where things got interesting.  And funny. And really busy and fast.  And I was hungry and dehydrated and had appendicitis and no Ritalin.  So most likely this is not a direct account.  But it is as I remember it.

First they trickled in.

The nurse checked that I was changed and comfortable, then suddenly realized that I was never registered!  They put me in the bed so fast, before all the authorizations were done, and then made me get naked!  “Is there any chance you’re pregnant, honey?” No.

The anesthesiologist came in to introduce himself, make sure I understood all the things he was going to do to me and for me, get a history. I assured him I wasn’t pregnant.  I was reciting my medications to him when the surgeon came in.

Dr. Danagra Ikossi

When I broke my leg in college I got to take an ambulance ride.  I thought I could do it without pain meds.  Half a mile into the ride I swiftly and most robustly changed my mind.  That EMT put a morphine drip in my veinless arm without a tourniquet on the first try in a moving ambulance in less than 15 seconds.  His name was something normal like Matt or Chris, but I call him Toby.  I will swear to my dying day that a bright supernatural light shone over him inside that ambulance, reflecting off of his glorious blonde locks and making his crystal blue eyes sparkle like the stars over the Amazon rainforest.

Dr. Ikossi wasn’t quite like that.  Toby was magical.  She was sunny and bright and playful and calm, simultaneously curiously excited and in complete control.  Like a laparoscopic appendectomy was her version of a day in Half Moon Bay.  Dr. Ikossi is the doppleganger of my college friend, Mindie.  This is her, but her hair wasn’t all tight like that in real life.  She is funny, relaxed, natural, and made me feel in 2 minutes like she’d known me my whole life.  Like sucking an appendix out of a belly button is as normal and uneventful for her as pumping gas or putting her kid to bed.  In retrospect she probably wasn’t wearing jeans, but I remember her like that in my mind.  And she had this great black handbag over her arm.  I admire women who skip the shoulder strap.  It’s just classy, makes me think of the Roaring Twenties for some reason.  Women who can carry their bag on their forearm aren’t carrying around loads of extra stuff.  I’m a shoulder strap girl myself.

Dr. Ikossi checked first on whether or not we were on schedule, and was surprised the anesthesiologist beat her to me, and wondered why I wasn’t in the computer yet.  Then she kicked everyone out (or maybe they left, but we were definitely alone) and, after making sure I wasn’t in pain, asked me about my life.  She asked me where I work and what I do there and how long I’ve lived in San Jose and who I live with and where my family is and who my people are here and my cats’ names.  She spent what felt like a long time learning about everything except my appendix.  Then we talked about my appendix and my medicine and all the weird stuff going on in my body.  And how I’m definitely not pregnant.

Once we agree that surgery is the better option over antibiotics or denial, she leans toward me against the foot of the bed and says, “So here’s what I’ll do: little cuts here, here, and here.  I’m gonna blow your belly up like a balloon from here.  From your belly button I’m going to go in, scootch over your colon, tie off your appendix, cut it off and pull it out.  Risks: in the rare chance that something goes haywire, I will make an incision so I have more room to work and I’m going to make everything okay.  If everything goes to plan, you’ll be home tomorrow.  If not, it will be at least 4 days.”  I knew all of this already.  She didn’t smile, but she wasn’t stressed.  Not one bit.  That look of her leaning against the foot of my bed is frozen in my mind.  That was one confident woman.   I have only met one other person in my life who had this power to instantly absorb anxiety and replace it with peace just by being in a room.

I wasn’t anxious about the surgery at all, so it took me a few days to realize why she had such a calming affect on me.  I wasn’t alone in the hospital anymore.  There was someone else in that great big clean building full of experts who knew that I was a therapist who worked with refugees and lives alone with two cats and my family’s far away but my friend is close.  She said, “I could send you home today, but I think I’ll just keep you in so you’re not alone tonight.”  Magic words.

Then mayhem ensued.

Right now, before you go any further, create different voices for Nurse #1, Nurse #2, and IV Nurse.  You will need them.

IV Nurse: We need to put your IV in.  What’s your dominant hand?  I’m right-handed, but the only veins you’ll find are my right arm or left hand.  Okay, then let’s do your left arm.  Let me warm it up first.  Warm blanket on my arm. (huh?)  She walks away.

Nurse 1: We need to take your history.  Oh, you’re still not registered!  (I still have no wrist band or Medical Record # at this point.  I’m very glad my name is so unique.)  She goes to get the registration guy.

Registration Guy: Looks at me and realizes I’m naked under the gown.  Hmmm… let me just ask you some questions.  Asks questions.  Writes down answers.  Walks away.

Dr. Ikossi: I just tried to dictate my note, but she’s not in the computer yet.  I guess that will have to wait!  Laughs and leaves.  Calls back, “We need to hurry or we’re going to lose our time slot!”

I am frantically texting in the few seconds between all these people to make sure the people who need to know I’m about to go into surgery know I’m about to go into surgery.  The warm blanket has fallen off in this flagrant use of technology.

IV nurse looks at me like I’ve let her down terribly by not keeping the blanket on my arm.  She can’t find the vein in my left arm.  It’s clearly all my fault.  I guess we can try your right hand.

“Um, is there any chance I could use the bathroom before I get hooked up?”  She just stares at me as if we just drove out of the gas station 5 minutes ago.

Nurse #1: You need to take off your jewelry and hair clips.  Who’s taking your phone, do you have money or IDs?  You don’t have anyone here? (I’ve said this 5 times.) Then we need to call security to get your stuff.

IV nurse: Puts warm blanket on my right arm.  I do not understand this warm blanket business.

Registration guy: Brings me a tablet with a touch screen.  Okay, I need you to sign here, here, here, and here.  He explains briefly what they are.  I know what these documents say: I promise not to sue the hospital if I die.  I sign.  I never did get copies.  I always tell people to keep copies of these things.

Nurse #1 is on the computer on my left taking my medical history.  Nurse #2 is on the computer on my right getting whatever she needs for whatever she’s filling out.  IV nurse is stressing about the stupid warm blanket as she eyes the veins in my right hand; this is convenient, as Nurse #1 is now blocking her access to my left side.

In all fairness, hospitals can’t blow off OR time slots.  I cost us 15 minutes of precious prep time by getting lost, and everything was out of order.  No one was disrespectful to me or unkind, not in the slightest.  These nurses were awesome, and they did their job.  In surgical prep, their one job is to get all the information the surgical people need to know to keep you safe and alive.  But it got a little crazy for a bit.

In my imaginary replays, this is how it all plays out: I sit up tall in my bed, shake off the stupid warm blanket, and commandingly say, “Okay everybody, let’s all take a deep centering breath.  I know we’re in a hurry for the spot in the OR and I know all these questions are important.  Let’s pause for 40 seconds while you guys get organized and I pull up my list of medications.  I take a lot of pills in a day and that’s the only way I’ll get it all right.  Woman, for the love of mercy, you need a tourniquet, NOT A BLANKET, and the IV needs to go in my left hand or my right arm.  My left hand would be much more convenient. But before anything else happens, I am going to pee!”

Here’s what actually happened, in rapid succession.  I drew on every second of group home experience and greatly benefited from my ADHD to actually keep both of these conversations running separately and simultaneously.  I was rather impressed with myself.  And for the record, I take 3 vitamins because of specific deficiencies and several prescriptions.  Two of these prescription medications are most commonly used for seizure disorders and diabetes – I have neither.  Answering the medication questions is not a simple thing.

Nurse #1: What medications are you taking?

Nurse #2: So you told me what medicine you take, what did you take this morning?

Nurse #1: Did you take those today?

Nurse #2: What time did you take them?

Nurse #1: How long ago did you take them?

IV Nurse: Finally decides to use a tourniquet. On my right hand.

Nurse #1: Do you take the Lamictal for seizures?  No, for depression. What?  They use that for depression? Yes.

Registration Guy: Here’s your wrist band! He puts it on crooked because he has to reach over the IV nurse.  The adhesive messed with me the whole time I wore it.

Nurse #2: How long have you had diabetes?  I don’t.  The Metformin is for PCOS.

IV Nurse: Just a little stick!

Nurse #1: Is there any chance you could be pregnant? Not in the slightest.

Nurse #2: Do you take insulin? I don’t have diabetes.

The IV needle is digging into my bone.  There is no vein in my right hand.  Seriously, I promise you, God just drew a faint blue line with a magic marker.  I know this.  It has been proven multiple times by other IV people who like a challenge.  Right now, this hurts worse than my appendix.  Much worse.  I grunt and close my eyes.

Nurse #1: Have you ever had… she starts going down the list of every possible major illness.

Nurse #2: Do you think there is any way you might be pregnant?  (These women are literally 6 feet away from each other.)

I literally cannot speak.  I manage to grunt out “ooowwww.”

The IV nurse looks at me.  My eyes are welling.  “Maybe we should try your left hand.” Ya think?

“I would really like to use the bathroom before I get hooked up to a bunch of things.”

IV Nurse: Can she do that?

Me: (Looks left) No, I do not have any of those illnesses.  (Looks right) No, I am absolutely completely 100% NOT PREGNANT.  I’ve been on birth control for 3 years, don’t have anyone to make babies with, and the clinic sent you documents of the negative urine test they did this morning.  Not pregnant. NOT. not.

Nurse #1: Do you take insulin for your diabetes?  I’m not diabetic.  The metformin is for PCOS.  Oh gosh, you haven’t eaten today.  When was the last time you checked your blood sugar?  Calls out: Did anyone check her blood sugar??? Does she need glucose?! I’m NOT diabetic. Oh.  You’re sure?  I’m sure. (Again, these women are literally 6 feet away from each other.)

Security lady comes to collect my things.  She just stands calmly at the end of my bed.  Clearly, she has seen this mayhem before.  I start pulling out hair clips with my free hand.

IV Nurse: Hunched under Nurse #1’s elbow.  Just a little stick!

OR nurse arrives: Is she ready yet?  The OR’s prepped.

IV slides perfectly right into my left hand, like a miracle from Heaven.  Without a warm blanket.  IV nurse reaches for tubing and a bag of saline.

Me, pulling off my jewelry and dropping it into a zip-lock bag: I would really like to use the restroom before you hook me up to all that.

IV nurse looks at Nurse #1, who looks at Nurse #2, then all 3 look at the OR Nurse: Can she DO that?  I know they’re thinking I’ll be knocked out in 15 minutes and the OR nurse can just cath me.

OR Nurse: Yes, she should absolutely use the restroom.  Dr. Ikossi wants all of her patients to use the restroom before surgery if they can, it simplifies things later.  He winks at me.  I like this man.

Security guard is staring at me, looking at my phone.  I’m feeling pressured now to hand over my only link to the people who know more about me besides whether or not I’m pregnant or diabetic.

This time I do make everyone stop for 90 seconds while I call my mother to tell her I’m headed in and will have Michelle call her when I’m out.

Security guard lady, curiously: Is your necklace a snitch?  Where did you get that?

Me (quite proudly, because it’s actually really cool): I won it at my monthly Harry Potter Trivia Night meetup.

She smiles and I watch as she silently unbuttons and rolls her left sleeve up to her elbow.  Her forearm is tattooed with the word “Always.” We have connected on a much deeper level, sisters of an alternate universe in which this whole situation could probably have been avoided with a few drops of essence of murtlap, carefully chosen words, and a fancy stick.  The moment shatters as I hand her my phone and am brought back to this world of firing questions and increasingly firey belly.

Then they let me pee.  People, it was wonderful.  It had a door and no questions were involved.

Dr. Ikossi arrives in green surgical scrubs and a flowery cap, with her black handbag over her arm.  Big sunny smile on her face.  I have a sudden reverie to the world of Amelia Bedelia.  But I save it to enjoy later.  I’m honestly not quite sure when she got there, because I know she helped tape down my IV.  Something about some new kind of adhesive IV strips and shirt and pants parts of them.  The point is… I went to the bathroom, the IV went where it was supposed to go, my happy surgeon showed up, and people FINALLY stopped asking if I was pregnant.

IV nurse is hooking tubing and saline to my arm.  She puts the bag of saline on my pillow.  It rolls down under my neck.  I ask if it’s okay to use it as a pillow.  Her eyes get wide.  I think she might still be upset with me about my not buying in to her warm blanket system.

Dr. Ikossi: Is she ready yet?  We need to hurry.

And then we are off: Dr. Ikossi, the OR nurse, the anesthesiologist, and me, headed down the hallway to the operating room like Dorothy and her friends on their way to meet the wizard.

I really really did love my OR rotation.  I felt again the rush of cool sterile air as we went in, the sparkly stainless steel.  The trays of gadgets, the glass cabinet doors behind which is stored sterile versions of pretty much anything you might need if anything goes haywire.  Operating rooms are prepared for both the plan and the possibility.  A lot like me, how I structure myself within the context of ADHD.  Careful planning is the only way to have any sort of control over situations that can fall apart in an instant.

Falling asleep in an OR is a strange thing.  My mom told me that they had her count down from 100.  When my leg was repaired the anesthesiologist told me it was coming and watched me.  This time I was literally having a conversation with the anesthesiologist and Dr. Ikossi.  I don’t remember what about.  Normal non-appendix things.  The clock said it was right around 2pm.  I was talking…

And then I was in the recovery room, waking up very calmly from a remarkably restful nap.  Dr. Ikossi was there, watching me wake up.  She said things went perfect and I could go home tomorrow.  The anesthesiologist was watching over me, too, but disappeared pretty fast.  I hope I thanked him.  And there was a nurse.  And another nurse who called Michelle.  And really quickly I switched into a nicer hospital bed.  Next thing I knew they wheeled me into my room.  And it was done.

Dr. Ikossi stopped by the next day.  She checked my belly and everything.  But we talked about refugees and the executive orders and her kids being aware of these things even though they are young.  She said goodbye and I said thank you.  When I next saw my nurse she told me that Dr. Ikossi had told her I was a therapist who worked with refugees.

Dr. Ikossi never needed me to have a medical record number, and that meant the world to me.  I looked her up, there are lots of reviews online about her amazing bedside manner and how she treats all of her patients like people.  I loved one quote: “She is a beautiful tornado with a ferocious drive to make her patients whole again.”  Because I strive for the same thing in my own practice I know that this is not something she does for me, but for herself; she does it because that is what excellent practitioners do, it is how we maintain our integrity and keep ourselves out of the mental mire of red tape and politics and the power of expertise.  She will see me a total of 3 times and maybe never again, but she wrestles with her own methods every day.  Authentic caring is how helpers sleep at night certain that we have made the world a better place.  We do it because it is who we ARE, not just a skill we have learned.  But I also know that even though I was alone in the hospital and even though we were on a schedule, that afternoon she never let me feel alone.

So this processing exercise turned out a lot longer than I thought it would.  The whole recovery process has caused stirrings in my mind and these things are still settling into thoughts.  I have, however, learned that tiredness is not the same as weakness, and weakness really sucks.  I am overwhelmingly grateful for the help I received from friends, but also grateful that I only received the help I truly needed.  It was important for me to spend this time alone with my body, and in solitude.  Change happens deep within our souls when we are in a weakened state, much like my external weakness was only a reflection of all the microscopic work happening deep within my belly.  I hope I will write about these things later.  For now…

I am so very grateful that I took the time to listen to my body, and that I didn’t ignore that little pain.  Every doctor I saw last Tuesday was really surprised to learn that I caught this before I had any other symptoms.  Don’t trust google.  I googled my symptoms for kicks – she said I was fine.  Don’t trust what you know: knowledge is fallible.  Please, people, TRUST YOUR BODY.  If something feels funny or different, check it out.  In my case that was the difference between pain/nausea/fever/infection/invasive surgery and a simple procedure that was technically outpatient, the little healing cuts hurt more than the actual appendicitis, and me walking laps 5 hours later.

And I am so very grateful for a surgeon who knew exactly how to bring herself into her art form.  I never doubted her skill, but her humanity was what brought me peace more than anything else.  Please, people, BE YOU.  Yourself is what sets you apart from every other cookie cutter version of people who do what you do.  Do things expertly, your way, in your style.  Be memorable because you are authentic.

I realized yesterday… I totally forgot to tell them about my Vitamin B12.

Distracted on Purpose

Distracted on Purpose

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I want to share with you about a chat I had with God tonight…

See, the last 3 weeks have been rough. I am a professional secret-keeper, and things happened that I can’t talk about. I’ve had a huge number of deadlines in the past few weeks. I had a birthday. There was an awful bombing in Iraq. Innocent people have been killed in America. I’m completely not registering that I brushed my teeth or have my lunch sitting next to me. I totally forgot a really important day in my friend’s life, that I had planned to highlight. I really need to avoid people for a day or two, but there’s all that adulting stuff like the dentist tomorrow. I’m actually fine, and not exactly stressed (at the moment). But it’s been rough. 

Let’s put that on the back burner.

Not many people know that my mouth is really sensitive to strong mint flavors. They burn my lips. This is SO not a big deal. But, after years of trial and error I finally discovered that Crest ProHealth Advantage in Smooth Mint is the one for me. Yes! This is life-changing, folks. So of course I ran out. I’ve been using the nasty Scope-flavored stuff until I get more. Tonight I went to Target, the supplier of the 17 wonderful things not better found on Amazon, and ventured forth into the toothpaste aisle. After 5 minutes I accepted the dreadful fact: despite having a wall of about 20 different varieties of Crest toothpaste in every variety of descriptive mint flavors you can buy (including a flavor simply called “Extra Whitening Power” that would no doubt burn my mouth faster than dry ice), none of these were smooth. It was really annoying!

“WHAT is the problem with this week, God?”

“This is a first-world problem.”

I thought backward a few hours. Just after eating the lunch I’d forgotten I had, I met a man 2 years younger than me who has a Ph.D. He refused to return home to Syria from the country where he studied because he refuses to participate in mandatory military service that could potentially land him in the ISIS army if his region is taken over. His family lives in a city that is constantly under attack.

A little later in the afternoon I met an Iraqi woman 5 years younger than me. Her sister worked for the US Army in the 2000s, so the family has been targeted by terrorist groups for over 10 years. She was injured in a bombing. Fortunately, her family was not at the mall last week.

These two people are amazing, resilient, we laughed together, it was an enjoyable afternoon. These are actually very typical stories, and I hear different versions of these several times in most weeks. For me, this is just a Friday.

There I was annoyed in the toothpaste aisle, remembering. Now I was more annoyed with myself than with Target.

“This is so stupid!”

“What is?”

“Well, you’re right. This is such a little first-world problem. Why do all these annoying stupid little problems happen to me all the time?”

“Because I let them.”

“Well then what’s YOUR problem?”

“I give you the little problems so that you can bear the big ones.”

That took me a minute. Then it clicked. God DISTRACTS me. With stupid stuff. On purpose.

He’s right, He always is. I am called to absorb the stories and pain of others. Those stories and that pain are not mine, but easily can become mine if I don’t release them. If you know me, you know that I don’t like to let go. So God made my brain distractible. When we’re weighted down with stuff – our own or someone else’s – it’s really hard to get distracted by flowers and sunshine. So God takes away my toothpaste and gives me deadlines sends me way too many emails of random stupid stuff, then he cancels the Monday morning training so I have time to get it all done.

God distracts me.

And now I’m sitting on my couch crying because when I go through really rough weeks it can get really hard to remember that I’m not broken when I’m stressed and forgetful and taking forever to get things done and having to make jokes to my coworkers about having forgotten my meds to help them understand why I’m talking so much or failing to filter properly or hear everything they say or having such a hard time getting the sentences in my head to turn into words. But I’m not broken.  

I am made on purpose.

My brain was perfectly designed to do what it’s supposed to do.

God made me distractible so he can throw my attention and memory around as if He’s threshing wheat, tossing away what is useless or destructive and leaving behind only what HE sees and remembers. He helps my own emotions about something blow away so I can see more clearly. He refines my memories of what I have heard and seen until it is as close as possible to what He sees and hears. THAT is really cool.

God made me distractible to protect me, to empower me, to keep me tender and strong, to help me forgive courageously and love without prejudice.

“Wow. You really knew what you were doing.”

“I ain’t no fool.” 

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Sallie’s Miracle Car

I wrote this blog for my official Go Fund Me Campaign page.

Lety’s Story

When I moved to California in 2002 for my first post-college REAL job, I excitedly bought a brand new Dodge Neon.  It was a fabulous car, and I named her Michelle after my new best friend.  And it did an amazing job of protecting me about 2 years later when a woman cut me off on a country road, I slammed on my brakes, and proceeded to flip end over end and land in a ditch.  RIP Michelle the Car.

I got lucky when I went to the Honda dealership because I was assisted by a new sales guy who didn’t think to actually check my credit before selling me a new Civic.  This was also a great car.  Even though my credit was lousy, I could afford it.  Unfortunately, I was in the midst of a very serious bout of very poorly treated depression… a time during which even simple tasks like setting up an automatic payment or opening the envelopes containing letters threatening to repossess my car were more than I could handle.  One morning in January 2006 I woke up and she was just gone.

Embarrassed and humbled, I was taken by a friend to a used car dealership where I bought my dark green 1995 Toyota Camry.  She was definitely a step down, but I made my payments faithfully and she became mine on August 8, 2007.

The Camry received no name… in some ways she has always been a reminder of my weakness, my utter failure, the lowest point of my depression, my shameful lesson in fiscal responsibility.  Despite this purpose and her namelessness, Camry has prevailed.  Despite all odds, this Gift of Redemption has persevered.  Despite all the many things I couldn’t afford to fix, she has kept me safe and her wheels keep rolling for 9½ years .  Let me tell you about her life with me:

1. A few weeks after we were brought together, we were traveling at about 5mph through a parking lot.  A massive truck was parked in a compact parking spot, blocking the view between myself and a car on the other side of it.  We couldn’t see each other so the other driver backed into me, crushing the corner of the car.

Side note: there is a reason parking spots are marked “compact!!!”  Big vehicles come with big responsibility!

2. A couple of years after I got her, Camry developed a slow power steering fluid leak.  I have attempted to have it fixed a couple of times, but it always comes back.  No big deal, but I’ve probably spent a few hundred dollars on ATF over the years.

3. There was about 2 years when the driver’s side window motor was broken… I held it up with Monster Tape until it was finally fixed.

4. The driver’s side lock does not work, so it can only be unlocked from the passenger’s side.  It was fixed for awhile, but then it quit again.

When I moved to San Jose in 2012, the plan was to replace her within 6 months.  But it turned out that my increased salary wasn’t worth nearly as much in the city as I thought it would be, so we continue to forge ahead through many small trials…

5.  Both front door handles broke off, so you have to dig your fingers under the levers to open the doors.
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6. The antenna broke, so now we only get one radio station.  Thank God for those cassette tape adaptor things you can use to run sound from other devices through car speakers!

7.  The middle light in the dashboard is out, so I’m never quite sure how fast I’m going at night.

8.  Sometimes the lights on the gear shift work, sometimes they don’t.  If she doesn’t move, she’s in neutral.

9.  One of the backseat seat belts is stuck.

10.  The side mirror was knocked off by the post in my carport (another shout out to Monster Tape!).  This means that she can’t be washed in a car wash, and since I live in an apartment building with no access to outside water which doesn’t matter since CA is in a drought and washing your car in a driveway is illegal right now anyway… we pray for rain.

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11.  The door over the gas tank got ripped off.
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12.  The trunk leaks when we get that rain we pray for.
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13.  The windshield washer fluid reservoir has a giant hole, so while the wipers work… we pray for rain some more.

14.  Not to mention the classic 1990’s Camry paint job that looks like a peeling sunburn!

15.  My left high beam doesn’t work, and no matter how much I twist the little knob the headlights refuse to raise.  I get about 20 feet of visibility on a dark night.

But despite all of these little things, this car just keeps going and going and going.  She commutes 66 miles a day with me at California freeway speeds with no trouble.  Nothing major has ever broken down.  She lives life to the fullest.  And she was finally named Lety:
Little
Engine
That
YOLO’d (In case you don’t know what YOLO means, Wikipedia does here.)

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Lety is my reminder that what God gives might not be what I want, but it is always enough.  And God’s gifts are lasting.  Like manna to the Israelites I might be bored of her, she might humble me and remind me of what I lack, but she is also constant daily proof that God is my provider.  He gives good gifts to His children, gifts that are good quality and meet the need and do not bring hardship or pain or stress.  I am so proud of this little car!!

In November I discovered that Lety had an oil leak.  When I asked the guy at Speedy Lube where the leak was, he opened the hood and waved his arms over the whole engine.  “Here,” he said.  The sealant inside the engine is breaking down, causing oil to leak through all the joints and seams in the metal.  He told me not to put any more money than absolutely necessary into this car, and to start saving for a new one.  Turns out Speedy Lube offers free top-offs between oil changes, so I am a frequent customer every week or two.  The guys there are awesome!

Believing for a Miracle Car
Lety and I entered 2015 knowing that it would be our last year together.  And I firmly believed in my heart that God would give me a car.  Yet, we are almost 6 months in, and there is no car.   She’s not getting any younger, and my faith is wavering… enough that I’m ready to pull an Abraham and fix this situation on my own.

I estimate that next Monday (maybe Tuesday) we will hit the 300,000 mile mark.  Really, this was my stubborn goal.  When we reach this, I will be ready to let her go.

In a few weeks I’ll be starting a new job that will require a lot of driving and probably transporting clients in my car.  Lety is no longer a safe or professionally presentable vessel for this task.

In the last week I realized that in mid-June I’ll be blessed with a little extra money.  Between that and the $1000 that California will give me to junk Lety, I should have about $5000.  This is a very good start, about half of what I plan to spend on a new used car.  I was going to be satisfied with that, knowing that upcoming changes in my income will cover a car payment.

My wish is for a car like this 2010 Honda Civic  that costs about $10,500.

My greater desire is to pay cash for a car, and use the new income to finally start paying off student loans.

This morning I woke up with a thought in my mind.  I don’t wake up like this very often, but when I do I know it’s God.  Usually these thoughts are for other people, but today it was for me: “Why do you keep settling?  I promised you a car.  Ask, and you shall receive.  GoFundMe.” (Literally, He said GoFundMe!)

I have a personal philosophy that if someone says “no” then I’m no worse off than I started, but I will never hear “yes” if I don’t ask.  So I always ask.  This tends to be a bit annoying to my supervisors, but eventually they realize I don’t necessarily expect to get what I want and stop cringing whenever they see me.  But somehow… Why is it so hard to ask God???  Along the same lines… Why is it so easy to ask God, then sit back, do nothing, and take no responsibility when nothing happens?

Then I went to church and heard a sermon about believing for miracles.  Again I heard, “Ask.”  In Mark 2, Jesus did the forgiving and the healing, but the dudes who wanted it did the heavy lifting and the carrying and the tearing up of the roof…

So here is me, asking.  Stepping out.  Believing that God’s word is true, that He will keep His promises of blessing.  That I will receive a Miracle Car.

I ask you to believe with me.  Donate, share… most of all, pray.  The beautiful thing about blessings is that they are boomerangs… they never return empty-handed.

The GoFundMe Campaign site is here: http://www.gofundme.com/salliesmiraclecar

NOTE: While GoFundMe was the best fundraising site that my research uncovered for this type of purpose, there are two disadvantages: 1) Donors are not charged any fees, but there is a small processing deduction for all donations, and 2) Paypal is not an option.  If you would prefer to contribute through PayPal, there is no fee for either of us if you select “Send Money to FRIENDS OR FAMILY” and deduct money through your checking account.  (There is a small fee if you use a debit or credit card and/or select “Pay for Goods or Services.”)  Paypal donations can be sent to sallie.rupe@gmail.com 

#stopthewedding

Fierce OneAn amazing cause… so sorry I didn’t know about it sooner to help spread the word!

This video is clearly an automated voice, probably because the original is in Norwegian and whomever wanted to get it up on youtube didn’t speak English.

These pages can be easily translated to English in Google Chrome by right-clicking and selecting “Translate to English.”

Thea’s blog is here.

You can show support on Thunderclap here.

Read about Plan Norway here.

 

 

 

 

While we’re at it… October 11th is the UN International Day of the Girl Child…

One Girl With Courage Is A Revolution!!

 

Thirty-Five Things it’s Taken Me Thirty-Five Years to Learn

IMG_1062Today’s my 35th birthday.  I think it’s supposed to be some kind of a milestone.  It’s quite annoying to look for an image for this blog and find the internet full of things like “Trying to keep calm – I’m 35” or “I’m too sexy to be 35.”  But I’m happy.  I think there can now be no more doubt that I am actually an adult and that surviving this long is quite an accomplishment.  Although it’s an odd day.  I’m sitting on the couch in my pj’s at 4pm, my leg still a bit jacked up, thinking about how birthdays are less and less of a deal every year.   Maybe this is why people have kids… so that days like this will be more exciting.  Regardless, I have thoughts.  I thought it would be hard to come up with this many, but hey… have I met myself?  Here are 35 lessons I have learned, epiphanies I’ve had, or life philosophies I have come to embrace in the last three and a half decades…  There are so many I left off… I’ll save them for my 40th birthday… when I will probably give you 80…

  1. Embrace your weirdness.
  2. Don’t apologize for enjoying food.  If you don’t want it, just don’t eat it.  Don’t try to make me feel guilty about enjoying mine.  Gosh, that’s annoying!
  3. My story is different than your story.  That doesn’t make it easier or harder or better or worse.  It just makes me different from you.  But we’ve all felt the same feelings.
  4. I know of nothing more powerful than a good hug.
  5. Feelings come and feelings go, and they never ask permission.  This applies to the good and the bad.
  6. There are relatives and there is family.  Hopefully the former is embraced in the latter, but the two are not interchangeable.
  7. The older you get, the younger you realize you actually are.
  8. The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.
  9. Don’t be afraid of time.
  10. Work with your flaws.  Use them to find creative solutions.  I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten on my bathroom shelves that are intentionally designed so that “put away” means “leave out.”
  11. Define success in terms of people.  The happiest people I’ve ever met all have one thing in common: they all live their lives to invest in others.  Most of them are dirt-poor, but somehow that doesn’t matter.
  12. Parents don’t know everything, but they sure do know a lot.
  13. Legacy is a ripple-effect, and you might never know what yours is.  Don’t worry about it – just live how you want to be remembered.
  14. Teenagers are very often difficult grumpy mouthy know-it-all little humans who want to grow up.  Parents of teenagers are very often difficult over-reacting lecturing NO-it-all big humans who (75% of the time) worry too much.  It’s okay.  Everyone’s doing their job.  (And there’s always that 25% outside chance your difficult grumpy mouthy know-it-all little human is actually quite stupid.)
  15. God has better ideas than you.  If your life is turning out like you expected, then you need to figure out what the heck went wrong.
  16. Keep nursery rhymes alive.  Do you know about the man on his way to St. Ives?  Can you sing all the words to “London Bridge is Falling Down?” Does your kid know anything about Little Miss Muffet?  I rest my case.
  17. If you want to be an explorer, stay off the sidewalk.
  18. Learn about love languages, and learn to speak them all.  Fluently.  Love others with wild abandon.  The way Jesus did.  Just remember that true sacrificial love always hurts in the end… that’s why it’s called a sacrifice.  But yours will never hurt as much as Jesus’ did.
  19. British English is bloody brilliant.  Especially in Harry Potter and Doctor Who.
  20. There are times in your life when you just have to say, “I’m always alright.”
  21. Exercise, eat healthy, sleep well, keep your house clean, obey your budget, and don’t work too much.  And if you can figure out how to pull off more than 2 of these things simultaneously for more than a week you are a hero.
  22. Keep an eye on the people nobody notices, the ones who keep their head down and just do their thing.  These are the people who change the world.
  23. Seriously, girls, date the nerds.
  24. Don’t expect people to be as honest as you are unless you want to get burnt to a crisp, and forgive them ahead of time.  Unless you are not honest; then expect most people to be just like you.
  25. Life really does get better after 30.  So much better.
  26. Don’t spend your life waiting for “that thing” to happen.  If it does, great.  If it doesn’t, you just wasted your whole life waiting.  Go kill that bug yourself.
  27. Let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Be that person who is shockingly transparent and honest.  Be that person others can count on to actually keep their promises and not pass the buck and do what they say they will do.  Be that person that makes everyone mad when you actually do what you said you were going to do because they ignored you because they didn’t think you would and then they weren’t ready.  But if you’re going to live with this kind of integrity, stay out of any work environment where there are more than 3 supervisors above you… unless the guy on top takes the time to know and respect you as an actual person with feelings and ideas and stuff.
  28. Resting your mind is not the same as resting your body.
  29. Don’t confuse honesty or integrity for good intentions, professional conduct, or a smile.
  30. Mistakes are only failures if you don’t get back up and keep going.
  31. The only thing in all of His perfect creation that God said was not good was that Adam was alone.  So God made Eve so more humans could be made.  Because God made us with a need that He could not fulfill Himself.  Love people – you need them.
  32. Everybody matters, but everyone seems to think that rule applies to everyone except themselves. Or that it ONLY applies to themselves.
  33. Life is tough.  So what?  Embrace it.  Cry and feel sorry for yourself sometimes.  Ask for help if you need it.  If you give yourself permission to simply be, being will have a lot less control over you.  And it’s okay.  Feelings really do come and go, and they mean you are a living beautiful textured vibrant multi-chromatic feature of humanity.
  34. If you are the kind of person that has to obsess about things, embrace it and allow yourself to choose your obsession.  Pick something silly and unnecessary that makes you smile.  It’s much better than worrying about everything all the time.
  35. God is.  This encompasses all.  My favorite stanza of my favorite hymn, written by a madman:  Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade… to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky.  Amen.

 

Plus 4 screws and 2 pins...

Plus 4 screws and 2 pins…

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