Sunday, September 9, 2012

"There are no good-byes, where ever you'll be, you'll be in my heart." – Ghandi

I'm contemplating goodbyes today.

There are several ways to say goodbye.  So long.  Farewell. Godspeed. Adios. Cheerio. See ya later, alligator. Until we meet again. Aloha. Shalom. Bye-bye. Ciao. Adieu.

It all means the same thing.  We are parting.  The duration of our separation may be hours, days, years, or a lifetime and we may be either glad or sorrowful for it, but it means we will have to do with out someone or something.

I am thinking about goodbyes today because I have one looming in front of me. My dear cousin, Lisa, is about to say goodbye.  Lisa has been battling cancer for three years.  She was diagnosed while she was still breastfeeding her second child.  The lump she thought was a clogged milk duct proved to be something much more.  Once given the diagnosis, she was proactive.  She had surgery to cut away the malignancy, chemo to kill the cells, she ate healthy and exercised...but this didn't stop the enemy from moving  and regrouping in her body.
The cancer took up residency in her brain.  More surgery, more chemo, more sickness and stress.  Still she fought.  She fought for her children, her husband, and all the other people out there going through the same daily battle.  Some days were good and some days were not.  

She got good news, the tumors were shrinking, and no signs of regrowth. It seemed as if she would beat the odds and kick the butt of this disease.  We were all hopeful that she would be in that 83% survival rate.  Then came a second report.  The cancer caused tumors weren't growing in the brain because they had found another part of the body to lay siege to.  Her spine.  The survival rate dropped to 23%.  But she held on to that percentage.
Still more chemo, nausea, weakness, deterioration of the body...but not the soul.  Through all the trials and tribulations, she kept her faith.  She prayed that she would be be deemed worthy enough to be granted a reprieve from the disease, but if she couldn't beat it she knew she would find consolation in the arms of God.  I envy that strength of conviction.  

Through it all, there have been tears and laughtercurses and praise, let downs and joyous moments.  I will weep when she goes.  Not for her, she has her path planned and it is a comfort for her and her family.  I will weep for me; that although tied by blood and shared memories, I hardly knew her. I will weep for her children who will have a empty space in their future life that she would fit in so perfectly.   I will weep for her husband, who was blessed with her love for all too short a time.  I will weep for the hundreds and thousands of people who will never get the chance to hear her laugh, see her smile, or feel her caring hands.

I hope we will meet again.  Until then, she will have a spot to call home in my heart.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.” ― Christopher Hitchens

I've owned (or been owned by) both cats and dogs.  The bond between a pet and it's owner is a special one that can give one's life meaning and purpose; for many, it may even rival the bond they feel for another human being.

Currently I share my home with a Rat Terrier named Libby.  She came into our lives nearly three years ago via an organization called CAP ( Citizens for Animal Protection ) here in Houston.  To be honest, she was not my first choice.  I passed by her with out a second glance.  It was my son and husband who decided to take her for a walk, to take her for a test drive so to speak. I stood by the cage door while they went to get an attendant to take her out.

My heart melted.  Shaking uncontrollably in her little bin, longing to get out and away from the overwhelming multitude of canine voices was a skinny, young dog with ears back and eyes bulging.  We decided to make the commitment and adopt her, to make her a part of our family.

We brought her into our home, gave her "food and water and shelter and affection" and her love and gratitude was overwhelming.  It is quite an ego boost to have someone look at you with such adoration.  When I'm sad or upset, she is there to comfort me and lick away any tears that might fall.  She greats me at the door when I come home with back flips and her frantically wagging stump of a tail.  I truly fill like I am a god in her eyes... but that comes with a heavy price.

A pet is truly a commitment for life.   They are dependent upon you for those essentials: food, water, shelter and affection. That is the very minimum that you are responsible for, but beyond that there is health care, recreation and exercise needs, and consideration for their care should you decide to vacation.  In many ways they are the eternal two year old, dependent on their care givers for so much.  One shouldn't get a pet on a whim.  Bunnies are cute, but the grow into large rabbits that can live for 8-12 years.  Cats can lounge about for 12 to 18 years.  Not as cuddly, snakes can hang around 10-15 years.  That bird in a cage (gilded or not) can live anywhere from 10 to 80 plus years dependent on the species. And don't get me started on turtles & tortoises, they can conceivably outlive you.

Sharing you life with a pet is infinitely rewarding, but your ego shouldn't be the first consideration in making this decision.  You are accepting the care for another living being, one with physical and emotional needs to match your own.  Are you up for the challenge?

 Be the person your dog thinks you are.

Please consider adoption.....

Sunday, September 2, 2012

If you get thrown from a horse, you have to get up and get back on, unless you landed on a cactus; then you have to roll around and scream in pain.~ unknown

Wow. Has it really been over a year since I posted anything here?  I'd love to tell you that I was too busy writing the great American Novel, had been traveling the world and experiencing the great wonders, or perhaps returned to my former and still unrequited love of the stage.  I'd love to tell you these things, but the truth is I have been doing ....nothing.

Sure, I've been working more and have taken on added responsibilities at my job. I have a new car, a new computer, and new credit cards......and the monthly payments that come with these new things keeps me running on that hamster wheel.  When I come home, I just want to numb my mind. So I play games, stumble on the Internet, and watch bad television.  It worked perfectly.  I've been completely numbed for over a year.

I fell off the horse and just laid there.

Part of what threw me was a dissatisfaction with the outcome of my larger writing projects.  I started one story, then began another, then got side tracked on a third, then went back to an even older project, then lost 50% of all my work in a computer crash.

I was fed up.  Tired of treading water and not getting anywhere.  But lately, in one of those late night conversations with my husband, I came to realize something.  It is time to finally get up, dust myself off and get back up on that horse.

My problem was in thinking too big.  I needed to focus on short term goals. One story at a time.  One foot in front of the other in a steady path. This is the way to move forward, a slow methodical push and not a spastic dash from one side to the next.

So here we go.  Back on the horse and plodding forward at a steady pace. No whooping and hollering, no spurs digging in, and no rearing back and waving my hat in the air one handed.  I intend on staying one this horse until I cross that finish line.  "Giddy-Up."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

“The function of muscle is to pull and not to push, except in the case of the genitals and the tongue.” Leonardo da Vinci

So there we were, sitting on the bed late at night.  My husband looked me deep in the eyes and said "You do me first and then I'll take care of you."

I bit my lower lip.  "Okay.  Let me get the stuff and I'll rub it in for you."  Reaching for the tube of magical ointment that has been a staple in our bedroom for several years now, I carefully popped the cap and squeezed a generous dose out on my hand.  Soon there were moans and groans and things were being rubbed until they felt good- really good!  This is a nightly routine in my house.

I am of course talking about rubbing down aching muscles with BenGay.  What did you think I was talking about?

At times like this I'm reminded of my Great-Great Uncle Albert.  My Grandmother's Uncle and Aunt lived in a trailer next door to my grandparent's house.  I would visit occasionally in the hopes of getting a piece of candy or a pudding cup.  There was a very distinct smell when you entered their home.  It was a mix of menthol and vitamins.  My Great-Great Uncle was a firm believer in the powers of natural medicine, and apparently menthol rub was the most powerful thing there was.  It must have worked well for him, because he hung around for quite a long time.

I didn't understand why they practically marinated in the stuff... until I hit forty.  Now I see a vibrating adjustable bed as a necessity, rather than a luxury.  I make decisions on what to have for dinner by whether it will give me heartburn (or even worse, gas).  I actually find myself struggling to stay up to see the end of late night television and waking up earlier every morning....whether I need to or not. Such are the burdens of old age.

I know, I yammer on and on about getting old.  Well, to quote a wise old sage, "I've never been this old before."

Getting older is something we all do, if were lucky.  Some of us are just better at doing it than others. The reality of not being twenty-something is a little hard to come to grips with at times.  One of those times is when I remind myself of my Great-Great Uncle.  Where ever you are Uncle Albert, I hope they have plenty of  BenGay!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

It is easy to get a thousand prescriptions but hard to get one single remedy. ~Chinese Proverb

When I was a child, they banned the advertising of cigarettes on television.  Hard liquor had long been under a self ban from the boob tube, although beer and wine commercials could be seen during evening programing.  In the beginning of this century, television reviewed their alcohol policy and decided the money to be gained far outweighed any moral implications.  Cigarette ads still aren't shown on television, but there is something even worse spreading like a virus on the advertising airwaves.

I am talking about direct to consumer advertising of name brand prescription drugs.  I challenge you to watch one hour of commercial television and not be bombarded by any number of ads for boner-pills, downers, and uppers.  But they aren't called that.  They have the much more clinical names like erectile dysfunction, sleep aids, and anti-depression medication. All of them urge the listeners to ask their doctor specifically for this or that drug by name.

I know... there are legitimate diseases out there and an educated consumer should be involved with their physical health and well being.  But these commercials are not out there to educate you.  They are there to scare you  and make you paranoid.  "Do you open and close your eyes constantly.  You could be suffering from DES, or Dry Eye Syndrome.  Studies show that nearly everyone will suffer from this and not even be aware of it.  But with this new pill taken twice daily, you will never have to worry about that ever again.  Ask your doctor..."

Listening to the possible side effects can be even scarier.  I think I'd rather have the disease than the cure.  But that's just it.  These aren't cures, they are coping mechanisms and symptom covers.  One can take so many DTCA (direct to consumer advertised) medications, that they forget what their initial problem was.  You may start out with just a general feeling of blah, but the pill you take for that makes you nauseous so you take another pill...which gives you the jitters, so you take another pill but it makes you angry so there is yet another pill to take to mellow you out....which was your complaint in the first place!

Maybe what I'm really mad about is the fact that so many people believe they can make life better if they swallow a pill.  Addiction to prescription drugs seems to be on the rise.  Add to that the fact that most pharmaceutical companies aren't as interested in helping their fellow man as increasing their profit margins.  We are once again besieged by snake oil salesman....but these guys have a wider audience thanks to television.

Gone are the days of Jonas Salk, the doctor credited with bringing the Polio epidemic to an end.  He chose not to profit off of his discovery.  It was more important to help others than to take advantage of their pain and suffering.  I doubt his portrait hangs in GlaxoSmithKline or CIALIS®'s front office.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort. ~Herm Albright

I have a friend who makes a habit of finding the "beauty-full" things in her life.  She isn't a tranquil soul sitting isolated on a rock while contemplating the sound of one hand clapping.  She is a single mother, much put upon middle manager, and the type who plays Russian Roulette with her finances.  Her car breaks down, car keys get lost, and someone always puts the empty milk jug back in the fridge.  She has the same frustrations we all do....difference is she doesn't let them pile up on her.

She takes the problems as they come but doesn't allow them to take up residence.  When the car sputters and stops working, she doesn't tear out her hair and burst into tears.  Instead she welcomes the kind stranger who stops along the side of the road to offer assistance.  She welcomes the trip to the miracle working mechanic who puts things right in the machine and allows her to pay out the cost.  She reveals in the love and concern given by her offspring who come to her aide.

Man, is that annoying.

Oh, don't get me wrong.  She is no saint.  She can be self-indulgent, self-critical, and selfish when it comes to chocolate ice cream.  She can cuss like a sailor and likes to tell dirty jokes just to see you blush.  Occasionally important things get put on a back burner until she has to no other choice but to deal with them.  She can throw up so many romantic roadblocks that only the truly valiant can surmount them...and even then there is a fire breathing dragon to contend with because she has been hurt before.

But even with those foibles, she is an optimist.  She looks for something good even as she prepares herself for the bad.  In a sea of overwhelming demands and problems, she finds an island of hope.  I admire that.  She knows that no matter what path she has to walk down, no matter how dark or rocky it may be, there is a destination.  And she finds joy as she walks it, despite the stones in her shoes or the blisters on her feet.

I think I shall try to annoy some people today too.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

There are three stages of a man's life: He believes in Santa Claus, he doesn't believe in Santa Claus, he is Santa Claus. ~Author Unknown

Here I am about to get sappy again.

It is Father's Day and I want to do a little bragging about mine. He is an artist, musician, mechanic, woodworker, and once upon a time Santa.  To me he has always been a source of inspiration.

He started out wanting to be an artist and went to college to learn more about it.  That's where he fell in love with more than just art. He met and married my mom and, as such things happen, soon had a daughter added to his list of things to worry about.

Despite working several jobs to help support his family, he never lost sight of his dreams.  He continued to paint and even found some time to join a band.  Music and art continued to fight for my father's attention....though I never had to.

He even joined my mother in a few Community Theater productions.  Acting didn't take as strong a hold on him as it did me, but if you look in the background of The Tree of Life, you just might see him milling around.  The greatest acting role he ever undertook, though, was that of Santa.  He was Santa for many children in our little town....and he loved it! 

Now he spends most of his energy on making and playing flutes.  He still dabbles in art, but it ebbs and flows according to his mood.  Through it all, he has been there for me....inspiring me and giving me wings to fly with. 

Thank You Dad!