Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Same Man for Me

In 1977, through coercion and half truths, I started writing a male type person from my church.  He was in the Navy and I was told he was lonely, homesick and missing news from home.  His sister said he had asked if I would write and update him on life in rural Mid-Mo.  So honored to do my duty for the US Navy, I did.  I wrote this young man and over the next 10 months or so, I came to know and trust him in a depth I had not yet experienced with any other male person.  We shared our secrets, dreams and our longings.

That summer of 1978, he was home on leave from the Navy and we spent nearly every day together.  He fascinated me, not only the world traveler who had seen whales burst from watery depths, he was trustworthy.  One morning that summer I shared with him my most closely held secret, the one I was certain would send him scurrying for the hills.  But with tears in his eyes, he apologized.  On behalf of men who would never use, mistreat, or abuse a female, he wanted to apologize.
I wanted to jump his bones.

lol  For the first time in my life of being chased by horny teenagers, pursued by men twice my age, and frightened by pervy old men with bad intentions, the restraint of this young man moved me.  I asked if he was at all attracted to me, or was our relationship platonic only.  With snapping eyes that have the uncanny ability to turn beady and hard in seconds, he assured me that he was VERY attracted to me.

Feb. 1978, @ St. Thomas Island, and yes, those are prints of his
feet .  He doodled this in the sand 6  months before
he would declare the same to me.

But in his prayers for me, he was certain he was being led to move very slowly in his desire to pursue me.  That he was to allow ME to set the pace to our courtship.  I told him that I thought I would like to try kissing him.  After a sloppy false start ;) we got the hang of it.

This man for me, was not just pursuing me for selfish desire, he wanted to wed me.  A year later, we stood before friends and family and made our vow to each other to love, honor and trust.  We quickly found out that we were as compatible between the sheets as we were out in public. Being in the Navy made for a feast and famine type of sexual hijinks for this young couple.  The Navy thought they were sending him out to sea to complete his job, but we knew the truth.  He went to sea so we could recover and build up the strength necessary for the next home port visit.

Yes.  I'm aware that this information falls squarely in the category of TMI.  

The man made my eyeballs sweat.

This was the same man who 6 years later, held me in his arms and sang to me while I miscarried our first conceived child.

The same man who 8 years later would chat about Cardinal baseball with the anesthesiologist, holding my hand and who got the first glimpse of our son.  He had to reassure me repeatedly that we really had a son, and he really was perfect.

James' birth 1988

The same man who 10 years later, did way more than his share without complaint, while I finished nursing school.

The same man 13 years later, who did not object when I decided being a working wife and mother was not who I was supposed to be.

The same man who 18 years later, allowed me and our son to spend a week each month with my father while he went through his chemo treatments.  The husband who did without us so that my parents got the emotional and physical support they needed.
My momma, Patricia Fern Sexton Shepherd
My daddy, Ivan Russell Shepherd

The same man, 20 years later sprang to my defense when someone from the past denied his wrongs against me.  He held my broken heart and helped me find my way to healing.

The same man who still brings me roses.

The same man who 31 years later, held me tightly when the diagnosis came back devastating.  A man who assured me that while breasts were fine window dressing they were not the sum of what he loved in me. 

Steroid face...ha ha ha

Yes, the same man kissed my bald head, kept me supplied in banana pops, provided me with basic hygiene when mutilating surgeries left me unable to move my arms forward or backward.  The same man wept at my pain when radiation dissolved away my skin and left open, weeping agonizing wounds.  He is the man who encourages me to keep striving for more, even when the results are not what I had hoped.

He is the man who held my hand when our son spoke his own words of love and vow to the only girl he had ever loved.

There is a part of the marriage ceremony which declares, "That which God hath joined together, let no man tear asunder."  In our society today there is a lot of discord about defines marriage, whether it is important, whether it has anything to do to with God at all.

This Friday, July 27th, I will celebrate 33 years with the same man.  When so many claim to grow apart in marriage, we have grown together so tightly that many consider us INgrown.  But this I know.  Only God could choose the same man for me that would make my eyeballs sweat when I was 18, sing to me when we were losing a child, defend me against my enemies, uphold me in the deaths of my parents, and love me through the pain and mutilating losses of breast cancer over the course of three decades.

Only God who could have seen into the future to know what I need now would be the same man I needed 33 years ago.

Only God.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Mean Thing

Recently a good friend posed the question to me, "Why is it so hard to be mean?"  You need to understand she was not really talking about being mean spirited.  She was actually talking about someone who did not respect them or her.  She feared it was going to require a confrontation to make this other person understand, there was not going to be a relationship between them.

We all have run into that kind of person, the ones who make us a little crazy.  They want to be our best friends yet they criticize our decisions, our hair style, our homes, our children and the list could go on.  Nothing is off bounds to these people, and we ofttimes have the added challenge of being related to such people.  They feed off of us and shaking them loose is like trying to lose a tick.  It requires a force applied at the right time.

So the history with my friend was that she was dealing with a blood sucking leach.  Someone who drained the life and the joy out of her life between her criticism, snarky comments, gossip and taking other's for granted.  My friend had managed to put distance between herself and this person but alas, she was found out.  Coming out of a storefront she saw the person and managed to camouflage herself in the crowd.  But she knows that living and shopping in the same area, they are bound to meet up again.  Now she is working on how to reject the relationship so that the woman who apparently doesn't understand the word "no" very well will understand that my friend is not open to renewing the friendship.

I suggested that when she was asked for her cell number that she politely tell this woman "I'm unable to do that."  I suggested that she owes no explanation beyond that.  It's boundaries issues.  My friend told me I had no concept of what kind of woman she was dealing with...the kind that will stalk and search until she finds just where MY friend lives.  Then she will demand to the why's...why did you move, why did you sell your house, why did you not tell me...and so on.  We all know that our personal business should remain OUR personal business.   Again I told my friend she's going to have to be firm.  To which she moaned..."Why is so hard to be mean?"

Our other friends piped up to assure it's because she is nice and because it feels wrong to not be friends with someone.

I gave this some thought today and had such an illuminating moment that I had to stop and write about it.  Particularly those who are raised within the body of believers, we are raised with the concept that other's come first before our own needs.  You remember the Jesus first Others second and Yourself last?  We have gone off on such a direction that we really do not understand how to take care of ourselves.  We consider OUR need last, even if it comes to our health....even our mental health.  We are led to believe that being the "good" Christian means sacrificing self for the good of others.  Sometimes God requires that, but I believe if he is calling us to that He makes it "perfectly clear to the profoundly stupid" that this is what He is requiring of us.

The illuminating thought today was that this is part of the reason we feel it's hard to be mean....because it is not "Christian" of us.  It goes against everything we have been taught.  But I questioned, why is it mean?  My friend is not denying friendship to just anyone, but to someone who has already demonstrated bad habits and behaviors.  These are habits and behaviors that God certainly doesn't want her to be included in or even subjected to.  So in fact, my friend is NOT being mean but following the leading of the Holy Spirit who is throwing out the red flag...hold up, slow down....danger, danger....whatever slows down the drive to please people.

We have incorrect perceptions of what is mean.  Gossip, criticism, sarcasm - they are all mean.  It is intended to tear down one person in order to feel better about ourselves.  THAT is mean.  We often get called "mean moms" when we won't let our darlings have ice cream before supper, or go out to play in the streets, or run with scissors regardless of how fun it looks.  It is not the mom's intent to be mean.  She is being protective.  Being protective is NOT the same as being mean.

If you have ever been in a codependent relationship you know how difficult it is to get out of.  That person makes you responsible to make them feel good about themselves, to cope with their life and to be their savior so they don't have to look for the real one.  I've been in that kind of relationship myself, and it sucks the very life out of you.  You can't do too much for that kind of person and what you can do is not enough for them.

So to clarify for my friend Paula who feels like she has to channel some kind of meanness, I offer instead that you are not being mean.  You are being protective and following the Holy Spirit's leading that this person is not a good addition to your life.  She is the equivalent to running with scissors in your hand.  Speak in a kind, sympathetic tone if it helps you feel better.  But it comes down to it, God doesn't want this person in your life any more than you do.  So when she wants your cell number or asks to meet you for lunch, you can in all truthfulness tell her, "I'm sorry but I am not at liberty to do that right now.  God has given me clear direction that I have to cut back and scale down.  I am not to take on new responsibilities, challenges or even friendships that might distract me.  I am to concentrate on serving Him, husband and family."

Most people, even codependent ones are going to hesitate to argue with God's call on your life.  It sounds so spiritual doesn't it?  But even if she should argue, you can simply walk away knowing that you were not being mean.  You were seeking to keep God in control.  God knows that allowing a blood sucking leach move in on your time, mind and spirit will cause him more grief than politely blaming HIM for not renewing a destructive relationship.  It's not mean.    It's accepting that not all things are beneficial.  It's protective.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Confessions of a Menopausal Woman

When this all happened around the 12th of June, I said immediately I had to blog this for my dawlings.  I have been asked when I was going to release it, and I suppose it's time.  This is so typical of me, which means it's not short.  So grab and drink and enjoy my struggles as a menopausal woman.  Your day is coming.  It was embarrassing as well as hoot to experience.  To honor my WOW gal pals....

Warning*  Screen protection possibly needed     

I think it started happening around my 35th birthday.  My doctor starting using crude words like "peri-menopause", hot flashes, night sweats and other such words that offend.  I was young.  I was not in danger of becoming one of those slightly demented menopausal women.

Well welcome to dementia!  In full transparency I will admit that from time to time I would experience a burst of heat and question, "Was that a hot flash?"  You young ones out there take note. A hot flash is much like falling in love or labor...when it's real you don't have to question "was that?"  You just know this is real.  But it is an insidious little threat.  It creeps up on you in the second half of your fourth decade.  Sometimes even in the third decade.  Don’t think just because you are a youthful 32 that you are out of the reach of this new exciting dimension of your life.  No my sisters, beware the treacherous nature of this beast.  It's ever so slight, and ever so sly that you shake your head in bewilderment wondering what that was that just happened.  You may have a slightly older best buddy whom you share your inner most thoughts with, and with bewilderment you tell her of these unusual occurrences.  You are shocked when she chortles a laugh so huge that she lunges for the bathroom. Yet another joyful occurrence of this stage of life, leaks happen.  

My own blessed sister, as a child she was referred to as "the brat".  But she turned out okay and she's one of my biggest cheerleaders.  :)  She shared with me the harrowing story of how her teenage son had a banquet to attend.  It required him to shower, wear dress clothes and a tie; complete with all the proper hygiene issues…deodorant, hair styling and clean underwear.  She told him they had to leave in 30 minutes.  In true teen fashion, he waited 25 minutes to START to transformation from sweaty, smelly, cross country odor teenage boy to ready for the banquet as an elegantly coiffed young man.  She was rushing him out the door and into the typical mom van when half way down the the gravel road, she sneezed.  Uh oh.  She whipped the van around to return to the house because now she required a dry change of underwear and pants.  She chastised him that now they were going to be late because had he finished his dressing earlier; she could have still peed her pants, gone home, changed and still arrived in time, no one the wiser.  That would be the perfect world.  They were late and true to his nature, my nephew excused his lateness with the explanation, “Mom sneezed and peed her pants.  So we had to go back for her to change."   Ack!  Could ya just die?  My poor sister.
My handsome nephew Michael.  He's trying out his
Presidential look.  What he's really thinking, surrounded by these
lovelies, is "I'm the man.  Yes, I am the man."

Because I love my sister dear to my heart, I will not post her photo here.  I will however introduce you to my nephew Michael - the heinous teenage boy who blabbed my sister’s bladder issues to a gymnasium of awaiting banquet attendees.  

Yes. My friends welcome to menopause.

I recall around age 41, I was asking my son to check and see if the....the....that thing...was still on.  He (rightfully so) objected to the ambiguity of my question.  He asked for further explanation.

"What thing?" he asked me.

"That thing that is in the middle of the wall by the back door."  I used gestures to draw out the back door.  Still he had that wrinkle in the center of his forehead.

"There's a lot of THINGS on that wall mom."

Exasperated because he could not understand my clear English, I had to enunciate my words.  "That TH-ING on. the. wall.  It has that bronze hoody thing over it that sucks out air or smoke.  It's square." (I drew a square with my hands for clarity.) "It gets hot, you put pots of food inside and it cooks it."

"The OVEN?" he laughed, yes he laughed at his mother.  Which I am sure is prohibited somewhere in the Bible, probably in the book of Jericho.  Yes, the book of Jericho where the wise sayings are kept that were not included in the proper books of the Bible.  Wise things like don’t cross your eyes or they will stick that way.  Don't swim for 30 minutes after you eat.  Cleanliness is next to Godliness.  Don't sass yo momma nor laugh at her NEITHER henceforth!

So I asked him to check and see if the hot box where I cook food aka OVEN was left on.  And that's when it started.  The thing about these menopausal symptoms is they don't come and stay and get it over with.  No, one may hit you for a couple weeks and then disappear.  No sooner did I get over that "forgetting plain words mid-sentence" symptom, than it's cousin "Night Sweats" showed up for a visit.

Night sweats was quite rude.  He did not intrude on your day time chores, but mercy about 2 am he was guaranteed to strike up a party.  You slept peacefully for 3 - 4 hours to be jerked away by the presence of Night Sweats in your bed.  Yes, he was that rude.  He would crawl under the blankets and take up all the room.  You would awake gasping; throwing blankets aside so fast those tornado sirens two counties over begin to wail.  Stumbling your way to bathroom, you flipped up the switch and would peer at the wet, wilted face in the mirror.  Unexplained slimy moisture coated every square inch of your body and soaked through your night clothes.  No explanation why in a room where your water bottle has ice chips floating, should you awaken with damp clothing and a coating of rich slime covering your body.  Confused you would strip out of your garments, and stare stupidly at them, trying to determine how you came to be so WET in the middle of the night.

Night Sweats stuck around for a couple months and I quickly learned to just leave a pair of PJ's on a hook in the bathroom....along with a towel, deodorant, underwear, powder and other weapons against unwelcome wetness.  It is not beyond the realm of possibilities to even decide that a shower was the only thing that would allow you to dry up enough to go back to sleep.

So after mental confusion and night sweats tore through my life and left, then entered an especially fun visitor called "Aunt Flo".  Everyone over the age of 20 or so is well acquainted with the special characteristics of "Aunt Flo".  She is not of the variety that would strike a pouty pose and demand that you "kiss her grits!"  No, Auntie Flo is someone who comes for a visit every 28 days or so if you are VERY lucky.  Otherwise she may come to visit every 14 days, 26.5 days, 45 days, or even 60 days.  Her appearance depends upon what kind of mood she is in and how nice her accommodations are. She may be VERY cranky and arrive with suitcases of cramps, swelling or other horrendous adventures. As young women we welcome the visit of Aunt Flo because her presence assures us that we won't be expecting any OTHER little visitors.  So we put up with her visits, her irritability and unpredictability.   Of course, I should mention the flip side for those who hunger after the arrival of the other little expectations only to have their hope and dreams shot to…well you get the point.  So her arrival is met with all the regular baggage and goodies with other special gifts like disappointment, depression and disgust.

But there comes a point where the ole biddy knows her days are numbered.  We no longer welcome her presence because we are done with her business.  You know those relatives who seem to sense when dinner is about to be put on the table and they show up at the door?  Flo figures out that you are at the point you are entertaining the idea of kicking her to the curb and not dealing with her again.  So one month she arrives and determines that she is not leaving.   Just to trip you up, she may arrive early or late, but either way you are at a function getting ready to venture out onto center stage and suddenly you feel her presence.  And it's such an INTENSE presence that you are running to a restroom, flinging aside little old ladies and small children in your race to the privacy of a ladies room stall, praying you reach it before everyone else becomes aware that AF has arrived.  Welcome to a new pinnacle of your life...the flood stage.  In her despair of losing her welcome in your life, she decides to visit on a whim with excess baggage to spare.   
These might work.
I once had dinner with a woman who was a victim to high flood stages.  She rode home ensconced upon a dozen of my son's diapers, while praying that was enough to get her home. Your mate will become concerned for your heath and ask worriedly, "Honey is this MUCH Aunt Flo good for you?"  You weakly wave your hand at him.  You fear if Aunt Flo catches his concern, she will be encouraged to stay even longer.  So you suffer through this presence and eventually she gets tired of her own games.  Her visits stretch out further and further.

And you would think that was good, but then the Mutha of all menopausal issues.  The books, manuals and doctors refer to this blandly as the "hot flash".  For me, I had this complication called Breast cancer, Estrogen FED breast cancer at that.  Since Aunt Flo was still an irritating factor in my life, the doctor decided he would medically kick her to the curb until I could surgically finish her off.  So at 10 am, I reported to the clinic dutifully to receive the injection in the posterior side of my person, that would kiss Aunt Flo good bye forever, 

By 10 pm I was quite certain my face was melting off.  I had been sitting quietly minding my own business, reading through a book when it felt as if someone tossed a heated towel upon my head.  I suspiciously looked at the dear Mr. sitting across the room staring at his computer.  I watched him for a moment and could not ascertain that he had anything to do with the sudden influx of warmth I was feeling.  I went back to the book and tried to ignore the growing heat of my scalp.  Finally the heat grew so intense that I stood up and walked to the sink, thrust my head under the faucet and hosed down my head.  Mr. Man looked aghast and exclaimed, "What in the WORLD is wrong with you!"  Apparently this behavior unnerved him.

I rose up from the sink, gave him a good dose of stink eye and informed him, "Nothing is wrong, dear.  Go back to your facebook."  He continued to view me with disbelief and confusion as I paced, doused and paced some more.  I felt liquid fire raining down my head and melting my face, leaving great drops of molten flesh in giant clumps on the floor.  They turned to ash the following day, making it easier to vacuum away.

And that was the easy part. After I had a full hysterectomy, the injections became unnecessary.  It did not however lessen the power of these so called hot flashes.  I occasionally would hop in the shower mid-day just to try to cool off the furnaces being fired within.  All I succeeded in doing was creating lots and lots of steam, and then more steam.  Who needs a steam room?  I would turn the faucets on and wait for the cooling effects of those inviting jets of water.  But alas, I just got hotter.  As the stream of water drew closer to my skin, the radiating heat of my body simply changed the water over to steam.  Eventually... after 5 minutes or so, the skin temp would lower slightly from the evaporation of the steam and the water would finally hit my flesh.  ahhhh.  I'd dry off and about 5 minutes later I would be ablaze yet again.

Credits: cartoonstock.com
Last winter, I generated so much body heat that I was able to reduce the thermostat down to a mere 63 degrees and run through the house in short sleeves and jeans.  At night I lowered it still to 58 degrees and set the digital thermometer to activate about 10 minutes before the husband's alarm.  He didn't need the alarm, as the sudden influx of heated air woke me so completely that I was up scrambling for the fan remote.   I totally did not understand the hysteria my husband would awaken with every morning and start yelling before he uncovered his nose, and thrust his big toe from beneath the behemoth of blankets he insisted upon.  I lay comfortably under my sheet and laughed at the nonsense of his piled pillars of fleece and flannel.  

The room was barely tolerable and I kept a bottle nearly frozen water at the bedside to help quench the fires of Hades that burned within my skin.  I had enough excess heat; we easily could have powered the homes on our block and the ones beyond.  Oh to harness the power of the menopausal power surge.  

These menopausal meltdowns come on so silently and sneakily you are always unprepared.  You learn to make excuses for the perpetual red face....steroids...it's always a good answer.  "Mrs. Blankenship are you okay?  Your face is simply an intense shade of fire engine red, are you having an allergic reaction?"  That was the most recent question posed to me.  I answered her, "No darling, it's steroids."  "Ahhh," this nurse answered, "That will do it."  And yes it does, but the answer serves a second nefarious purpose.  Those acquainted with red steroid face are also acquainted with 'roid rage.  A friend's husband once told her menopause really meant MEANOpause.  Close enough.  Both mean....step away and no one gets hurt.  It's hard to think clearly or kindly when in the midst of a full onslaught of nuclear, menopausal meltdown.  The nurse took her leave and she did not bother me again until it was time for the doctor to arrive.

I have looked lovingly at tile floors in the middle of malls, and wondered just how long I would have to lie upon the floor to cool down to a reasonable 400 degrees.  One such occasion was about 3 weeks ago at the doctor's office.  Actually I had been through the waiting room experience and was now in the TINY little waiting room, wishing once again they would not shut the door.  Seriously, I am there waiting for my plastic surgeon who is well aware that I am now a blazing furnace of furious fire, awaiting fresh kindling to ignite.  All these lovely rooms about 6 x 6 in size have a huge sheet of fabric hanging in front of the door.  You could be butt naked on the other side and those people in the hall would never know.  So why, WHY do they feel the need to close the door of a tiny room?

As you might suspect, I was politely sitting there in a backless gown waiting for the first parade of doctors to come through.  It wasn't long before I smelled "singed hair" and an ungodly heat envelope my face.  Uh oh, I thought.  I'm about to set blaze.  I dared not touch the fabric curtain for fear of setting off the fire alarm.  So I fidgeted and fanned myself to no great avail.  I longingly eyed the floor, knowing that the thin nature of the gowns they provide would be able to access the blessed coolness of the tiles if I dared climb down from the exam table.  I had already run that scenario through my mind.  I got stopped at the question, "how will I get myself up from the tile if I hear someone outside the door?"  

Everyone is ever so polite, they knock before barging in.  They expect you to allow them in, considering that you are there to see THEM.  They see no need to wait for permission to enter.  My inner Diva - Rosey kept egging me on, reminding me how blessedly cool the tiles would be in an air conditioned room.  But my practical side reminded myself, how many people come in and out and how well do I believe the Janitor really cleaned these floors?  I opted out of the idea of rolling on the floor.

By this time, the mascara had melted, the nose was runny, the eyes tearing from the volume of sweat rolling into them.  When a woman experiences a power surge, you simply CANNOT wait it out.  IT REQUIRES action.  After ruling out the rolling upon the floor, I headed for the little sink on the counter.  I grabbed a fistful of towels, and plugged the sink drain.   Filling the sink, I leaned over and thrust my arms into the chilled water and relaxed in the cooling effect.  And in walks someone.

You would think they would have seen other menopausal women having a literal melt down before.  The young man simply raised his dark eyebrows and I blurted out, "Sorry.  I was having a menopausal meltdown.  It was either this or rolling naked on your floor."  He barked out a laugh and thanked me for choosing the sink.  He tore off a length of those waxed sheeting they use on their beds and offered it to me to "dry up?"  Who raises these kids?  The only thing that paper is good for is cooling off cookies.  I wiped up as much as possible and finished up with another fistful of towels.  I looked at the young man with suspicion as he choked through a few questions about how my pucketts were doing.
They hurt.  The Short answer.    And then I asked him, "You're not going to tell everyone how you found me plunged in your little office sink are you?"  He grinned unabashedly as he assured me he would not...until I had left the clinic.  THEN he would tell the rest of the office.

The young resident wrote a post it note to put on my chart..."Patient states that while she is forced to endure tiny exam rooms, please pull the curtain and leave her door ajar."  I told him, they were warned.  I could not be held responsible if they closed me up in a room and found me topless and flopping around on the floor.   He left the room chuckling and despite my admonitions, he SHUT the door again.

Again, I opened the door and scooted behind the curtain, only to have a nurse stop and ask if I needed assistance.  I replied that I did not, I was just hot.  Then SHE shut the door again.  ACK.  What was it going to take to get them to respect a woman's need for air flow?  I went to the cabinets and started riffling through.  There was a stack of gowns.  Maybe I could wet one and use it as a cold compress against my sizzling skin.  But then I still had to explain a wet gown, those possibilities were too embarrassing.  I tossed aside that idea and opened another drawer.  Ohhhhh, this drawer had sample silicone implants.  I picked them up and they were cool to the touch.  Oh the blessed coolness of a foobie.  And like a fool I placed each one against the burning fiery flesh of my face.

Oh well, they have already figured out that I'm a tad off the center beam.  Some weeks back Dr. Puckett walked in, looking absolutely whipped.  I told him he looked he exhausted and he told me he was.  It had been a really busy clinic day.  I told him that I would hug him but for the fact I was sitting there topless, it probably wasn't appropriate.  He couldn't quite contain the yelp of laughter before putting on his stern doctor face.  But his eyes were now twinkling when he agreed; it probably wouldn't be considered very appropriate.  Dr. Puckett's eyes remind me of my father.

The residents have heard of my reputation.  I share with ONE female resident how I offered to bring lunch to my radiation oncologist.... barbecued breasts...chicken breasts that was.  She reacted the same as my dear Dr. Beidermann...she busted out laughing.  She did not however slide off her stool like Dr. B did.  She asked what I planned to bring the plastic surgeon's staff.  I told her I have always wanted to make a boobie cake….  They knew that I was the one who named my Tissue Expanders after the doctor who installed them...Dr. Puckett meet the pucketts.

So I really shouldn't have been surprised at what happened next.  That courtesy knock followed by the door thrust open with the doctor with a number of students and residents in tow.  Yes, there I stood holding silicone foobies against the flesh of my burning cheeks...which had just hitched up in temperatures that were certain to boil the silicone.  I must have looked like a deer in headlights, but the hysteria that emitted from the mouths of those residents was certainly out of proportion to the situation.  I think the first resident had not waited before sharing his story of finding me nearly shoulder deep in the wash sink.  Never before had there been more than one resident to meet me.  I counted 3 standing shocked still beside him trying to stifle their mirth, and I'm not counting the one that was still in the hallway bent over at the waist, grabbing his stomach and hooting for all he was worth.

He bit his lips, and reached over to take the foobies from my hand.  Then he looked at me with his twinkling eyes and grinned, "if that is how high you want these implanted we have quite a bit of talking yet to do."

Yeah.  Not funny.  

On the other hand, my plastic surgeon… SURGEON cracked a joke. (You have heard the story? no?  How does God differ from a surgeon?  Answer:  God knows he’s not a surgeon.)  However, I also give praise that I believe every doctor I have seen through my trip through breast cancer was handpicked and anointed for ME personally.  Each of my doctors has been exactly the one I needed for who I am and what I needed.  Every single one of them has listened to my concerns.  They had provided superb compassionate and skilled care and still laughed at my antics.  They were perfectly picked by God to fill ALL my needs.

That fill went well and nothing else happened out of the ordinary.  I explained to the residents that I was battling some powerful heat surges that some fool called hot flashes.  They were young.  They were not yet aware how these things were NUCLEAR hot... they all smiled politely, nodded and appeared to be choking back their own giggles.

I got dressed and gently moved down the hallway.  I passed the nurse's station just in time to hear the proclamation...."well when she's here, we can't claim it's been a boring day!"

One final word.  In the Wizard of Oz, that Wicked Witch of the West got a bum wrap.  All she needed was a cold bucket of water to cool her off because she was "melting."  The poor dear wasn't evil, she was just having a nuclear meltdown power infused hot flash!  

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fresh Brewed Life by Nicole Johnson

Thomas Nelson sent me this book for free for the purpose of reviewing.  I receive no compensation for the review.

I have to be honest and confess that I got this book over a year ago.  I asked for it thinking this would be a nice nonfiction piece, perhaps a kind of preview for Bible study material.  I liked the title, the image was inviting. I made a cup of coffee and sat down for a nice sweet cozy read.

I was skimming through and starting to enjoy the book.  Then suddenly I skidded to a halt, asking myself "whoa, what was that she just said?"  And I went back to the top of the page and read again, more slowly.  I reacted with an "awww, nuts.  God didn't want me to review this book, he wants me to READ it."

A lot of life happened right around that same time.  I've fought breast cancer, had 3 surgeries, survived radiation, buried my mother and all around have had a lousy time.  So a week ago, I picked the book back up and said it's time for a fresh brewed life.

Nicole Johnson takes you along on her journey where most of us start.  We are women, wounded, bleeding and trying to make the best of our situation, when God wants so much more for our lives.  Reading through her book, I was able to pinpoint times in life that closely followed with her message. My book is highlighted in yellow on so many pages...the very first on page 8 where I tripped over the sentence, "This is our deepest identity, We are loved passionately by God."  I read that at a time where I desperately needed to hear that I was just as loved by God as the "charmed" women who never faced an ugly past.  This book personally spoke to the hope within me and brought extra healing to me in her words.  She even got all up in my business, when she told me that chocolate would not fill any of my longings.

I highly recommend this book for women who feel things have gone out of control and are looking for assistance getting it back.  For the wounded woman looking for wholeness, this is a great place to start.  I think it would make a wonderful, fulfilling Bible study for a group and Nicole thoughtfully includes a discussion guide in the back.

I highly recommend this book to women everywhere.

The Pit of Food Addiction

Four or Five years ago, my son - little Man took a job working as a "forensic specialist" in a local mental hospital. His job was essentially one of protection.  He was protecting both the staff and the patient, and truthfully it was really more responsibility than the 19 year old "little man" was ready for.  It did not take long for the idealistic young man who wanted "to improve someone else's life" to decide this stunk.  The mentally ill did not care that they were being protected.  They were being stopped and they disliked that.  A lot.  So Little Man had to learn to deal with bursts of anger, being slapped, and spit upon.  It tested his resolve.  It tested his momma's too!   Little Man told me about the phenomena of being "institutionalized"...the place where a patient has adapted to living within the walls of an institution so completely, that living outside terrifies them.  He rented the "Shawshank Redemption" to show me an example of what he meant.  Some of the inmates of his hospital had been there for 50 years, a place for the "criminally insane."  The hospital he worked in was considered the first step....patients had committed crimes,  perhaps not all but most of them had extenuating circumstances.  The now elderly woman who attacked the man who had been abusing her throughout her childhood and he died from the attack.  The man who caught his wife in bed with his brother...and he beat them both nearly to death.  Those kinds of things put you in a hospital for the criminally insane.

Some years ago, Beth Moore held a Satellite conference, titled "Get Out of that Pit".  I remember two things about the conference....1. She said some of us have been in our pit so long we have taken to repapering the walls.  That is such a thing as I would do.  lol  And 2. was "oh mercy she is talking about my over eating".  ack.  So I apologize if what I say overlaps something in her book which I have not yet read.

I was reading a motivational thought this morning about getting out of our pits and changing our lives.  I was struck with the memory of Bartimaeus in the 10th chapter of Mark in the Bible.  Specifically it reads. 

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth,(AX) he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David,(AY) have mercy on me!”   Bart had been sitting in a pit.  Not one of his own making, but he had been living in that pit and surviving.  As a blind man, he had no occupation.  He begged for his foods and clothing.  His needs were provided for by the kindness of strangers and the goodness of those in his city who cared for the handicapped.  It appears however that Bart was not institutionalized into his pit, for he was willing to consider a different option.

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi,(AZ) I want to see.”  Bart took the step on his own.  He did not know yet that this Rabbi would completely change his life.  He asked, but he had not personally seen the results of this Rabbi's work.  So it was in a complete act of faith that Bartemaeus told Jesus he wanted to see.  Ole Bart had opened the door of his pit and dared to look out.

52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.”(BA) Immediately he received his sight and followed(BB) Jesus along the road.  Just like that Bart changed his life.  Note that I did not comment on Jesus changing Bart's life although he most certainly did.  But Bart made a conscious decision to set off on a new path and asked Jesus for the healing.  Which meant coming out of his pit and stepping foot on a new path.  It meant that Bart was now responsible for his own life and survival.  No more handouts at the city's gates.

It is so easy to stay in our individual pits and become institutionalized within them.  They give us the ready excuse for not improving or seeking to change in our lives.  Bart could have lived his life on the side of the road, begging for handouts and blaming it on his blindness.  I have talked to real life women who make excuses for their pit...well...."it's not my fault.  Its the way God made me so everyone else needs to deal with it."  There are those who know they are really messed up in the head..."I'm this way because I was abused all through my childhood, there's nothing I can do about it."  I was told by a family member once, "She lived a really hard life growing up, she just never had any options like we do."

And I'm willing to shout "Bull hockey pucks".  My mother had a hard life growing up with an alcoholic abusive father.  But she changed her life through Christ Jesus.  She was willing to open the door of her pit.  I have counseled with women who aren't willing to get the professional help they need to heal from the soul depth damages of the past, simply because they will not longer have the excuse for their bad behaviors.  It's no different than women who blame PMS for their outrageous behaviors every month.  PMS is real and I know that.  It can make us feel angry and tense.  Yes.  But our screaming hissy fits where we attack and verbally decimate our loved ones is NOT PMS.  It is our own lack of self control.  These women are institutionalized to the conditions of their pit.

For years I was institutionalized within my pit of food addiction.  I don't like using the word addiction with the word food.  It feels harsh.  I LIKE food.  I'm not addicted to food.  It's not polite to call food addictive.  I don't know if it's worse being a Christian woman or not, but you know every church function is centered around food.  I can make the excuses, I have excessive taste buds so everything tastes wonderful to me.   Several of my childhood years included times when there wasn't enough food to go around.  You ate what you had, because you weren't getting anything else or any more.  What you left, someone else was willing to eat.  Sometimes I find myself wanting to overeat, because either I paid good money for this...or the unspoken fear that tomorrow there will be no food.  Then I had a whooper of a realization as well.  I know full well WHEN it was I started overeating.  I had a health issue that I was unaware of that contributed to weight gain.  But I started eating from the emotional price of ignoring deep painful wounds.  I was self medicating.  The weight I gained 
further protected me  from more wounds.  My husband loved and considered me beautiful.  The extra fluff I carried, insulated me from unwanted attention from other men. God has been bringing me to this point, clawing and kicking and much protesting for years.   YEARS.  

Several years ago, the death of an acquaintance who died for no other reason than being about 300 lbs overweight, kind of shocked my husband and I.  We made some changes.  We had this list...no red meat more than once a week.  No processed foods, but eating the real chicken and fish as it came from the ocean or lakes...not covered in bread crumbs.  Choosing to eat the veggie and the fruit instead of the boxed convenient foods.  We did allow ourselves one treat each week.  That treat could be the corn chips and cream cheese that I love, or the giant ice cream cone from Daisy Delight.  It did not matter.  But we limited the event to once a week.  We allowed ourselves the celebratory dinners for birthdays and anniversaries.  Our goal was to normalize our life...not swing the pendulum the other direction.  It is just as easy to become enslaved to the "law" of diet as it is the "draw" of food.  We started losing weight without exercise at that point.  My husband was hitting the 60 lb weight loss, where I was only closing in on the 25 - 30 lbs.  But he had more weight to lose then myself and men just lose it faster.  Then right as we were getting used to this new program and gaining momentum....I found out I had breast cancer.  

The plan fell apart like the paper targets that Little Man uses at the shooting range.  It shattered into pieces.   During chemo, I just ate what would go down and stay down without issue.  Many may recall my obsession for banana pops.  During the metal mouth phase of chemo, banana was the only flavor that got past the metallic side effect of chemo.  Luckily, I loved banana and still do.  We relied on a lot of convenience food after the most horrendous surgery ever, and then the ordeal of radiation. From the ugly honesty of my depths, some things I ate because I liked the taste was only for comfort.  I wasn't hungry, I was in pain.  I was "treating" myself to something tasty rather than using my narcotics.  It could be argued which was better.  But some choices were made in rebellion.  I am eating the bag of cookies because I CAN.  And girl - you know you are in trouble when you buy a can of frosting, with full knowledge that you plan to go home with a spoon to dip peanut butter and pig out.  I wasn't quite IN the pit so much as I had built a scaffolding to sit in the pit.  Not quite in it but not quite out either.

But life is starting to ease back to a new normal, and I have felt the urging to take back the control of what I put in my mouth.  I did so quietly without proclamation.  I told Mr. Rosey it was time to direct our attentions back to the whole foods concept.  He sighed and agreed.  I had the exercise bike brought up to the main floor.  I quietly started implementing the changes.  Then a few weeks ago a young but dear friend made an astonishing pronouncement on her blog.  She was fighting an addiction.  On reading the title, I was concerned.  But as I read, I saw instead that she shared some of my same stinky pit issues.  She bravely pronounced that she had a food addiction.  She was opening the door to her pit (my words) and changing her life.  I knew I had to support her in her effort.


To read about my friend Marcey and her addiction you can click on the linked caption.  She is a beautiful young mom that you will enjoy.

I offered support to Marcey and told her I battled this pit as well.  But it occurred to me this morning that perhaps I had not made the public proclamation because I didn't want to be held accountable.  I'm not talking about needing people questioning whether I should have that giant piece of carrot cake the other night. (My diabetic educator does that very well thank you very much!)  I'm talking about people who will be supportive, encouraging and perhaps share some wonderful recipes that trick your mind into believing this is WONDERFUL... even if it's not chocolate.  lol  

I don't need people trying to convince me their diet plan works the best.  I don't need devices or special tools.  I only need the Holy Spirit checking on whether I am eating from need or trying to fill some emotional hole.  I need to be moderate in what I eat and moderate in my exercise.  I need to CHANGE my life....not just this month.  For me no prepackaged diet food, special mixes or shakes is going to change my life.  I have to change the relationship I have with food and allow God to fill the emotional holes that I have been stuffing food into.

My goal now is a 60 lb loss and I am now -8 on that goal.  Rest assured I'm not going to post photos of my flesh in the flesh to show the weight loss journey.  That face you see up at the top side of my blog is 90 lbs less than where first I started.  And I'm sure the struggles will appear in the blog as well.

Now for my tip for junk food replacement.  I recently had fresh cut zucchini with veggie dip at a friend's house earlier in the spring.  My husband and I both liked the texture and the crunch, so I have been keeping thin sliced zucchini and squash in the fridge.  My diabetic educator is so thrilled she's doing hand springs and totally giving me the dip options.  Dip has no real carb content so it doesn't do much to blood sugar levels.  But for the calorie conscious friend, the light dips and no fats would work.  Just keep in mind that when they start removing fat, they replace it with chemicals.  So the lower the fat, the higher the chemical content...no longer a whole food.  I fully endorse Daisy sour cream as it's purest form *unless you make it yourself*  But that is my whole food replacement to chips and cream cheese.

Stay tuned for more of Rosey's adventures to conquering the cookie monster.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Popping Rockets

Just for fun, I'm sharing a story from some years back.  It was around 1985 in fact.  I had become friends with Nancy and her son, Mark.  One afternoon, I had been invited to their apartment for PBJ sandwiches.  Not to be one to turn down a PBJ, I agreed and I was walking along the sidewalk under their balcony.

As I crossed under the balcony I was startled by something landing in my hair.  I reached up to grab the object and upon first recognition, I shook it off onto the ground.  A closer look showed me that they were unused, about the time I heard a young voice bellow "BOOM!" and seconds later another offensive object landed at my feet.

I could hardly stand it.  I went up the stairs, knocked on the door, snorting, choking and laughing in her face. She answered the door and seeing my great mirth asked me what was funny.  I asked her, "Do you know where little Mark is?"  Puzzled, she looked at the balcony and answered the obvious, "He's playing on the balcony."

Still giggling uncontrollably I asked if she knew what game he was playing, she frowned at me and told me he was playing "Navy" on the balcony with his boats and toy figures.  I laughed more as I asked "Have you checked out the boy's ammunition?  bwa ha ha

I followed her to the balcony just in time to see little Mark send another item flying over the balcony as he sounded off another "Boom".

"Mark!"  She exclaimed, "What are you playing with?"  She knew very well what he was playing with by this point, but couldn't bring herself to say it.
With joy, Mark held up the 2 tube system and exclaimed "Rockets mommy, Rockets." 

Okay, so I am busting a gut at her expense and the genius of Mark to create rockets out of tampons.  It was quite impressive how the right amount of force could make those puppies soar.  She swooped down to gather up the tubes, stuffing them into pockets, trying to gather up his spent "ammunition" and carry it off.  Little Mark was not very happy with her, and objected loudly to losing his toy rockets.  Have I mentioned he was ALMOST 3?  lol  She looked into the box and shook it at me and told me, "This was a full box!  Where are the tampons?"

I looked out over the balcony railing and peered down.  She followed my gaze down to the walkway below.  Seeing her personal items scattered among the rocks and sidewalk was particularly sufficient to create more guffaws as she yelled "oh no no no no no...." and ran to the door and down the exteriors, yelling to "Mark, you stay with Aunt T.T.!"

I continued to snicker as I watched her scanning the ground and gathering up the blown missiles.  I pointed out the ones I could see, and she gathered them up in the tail of her shirt.  She was about to come back up the stairs, when Mark's movements caught my eye.

I called down to her that she might want hang out for a few seconds.  She simply asked "Do you see more?" I laughed as I called to her, "No, but the captain of the ship has figured his coordinates, armed his weapons and is ready to fire."  Almost on cure, his adorable toddler voice echoed through the courtyard...."BOOOOOM!"

"Tina, stop laughing and take the rest from him!"  So I squatted next to him and told him we had to go in for PBJ sandwiches, so the Navy had to stop firing and meet in the mess hall.  He popped up and ran to the kitchen while I packed the remaining ammunition, and the spent tubes.  Putting them back in the box, I carried it into the kitchen, handing it to Nancy as she went to dump all the contents into trash can.  Mark was climbing into his high chair, as he watched his mother throw away the box.

"Thanks mom!  Thems the BESTEST rockets!"

This time, Nancy and I both laughed.  As true to Naval tradition, you form friendships fast as you never know when a deployment or duty station change just as quickly changed the status of your friendship,  For the duration of our deployment there in Mayport, FL, I would refer to the monthly visits of "ole Flo" as "Popping Rockets."