January 03, 2019

Setting Myself Up for a Fall - Literally

When we make poor choices, we complicate life more than necessary, and I received a painful reminder this week.

My unfortunate sequence of events started with my failure to properly set my new alarm on the eve of my jury summons. Waking later than I planned, I grabbed only a piece of toast and some coffee for breakfast. I attributed the headache and shakiness to the emotions aroused during the witness testimonies. However, the dizziness should have been a big warning I was in trouble, but being a stubborn old sole and a little intimidated by my formal surroundings, I decided I’d be fine until we were dismissed for lunch. I was wrong.

It is an eerie feeling to collapse, hearing everything being said around you but unable to react.

The bailiff knelt beside me, gently shook my shoulder, and called my name. When I did not respond, he ordered someone to call 911. He continued his efforts to rouse me. Had he not done that, I would have lost consciousness. Through his persistence, I managed to sit up. One of the court staff brought me an orange and a snack pack with cheese, cashews, and craisins. By the time the ambulance arrived I was alert and did not require transportation to the hospital.

This was the first low blood sugar event since my retirement and I now realize it is definitely stress related.

My word of advice, pay close attention to your health issues no matter how minor they seem. Talk to your doctor and for heaven’s sake take a few extra minutes if you need to, regardless of how rushed you feel. Don’t set yourself up for a fall like I did. You can bet I will not be so foolish in the future.

Happy New Year! May it be filled with blessings and good health.

December 17, 2018

I Get It - Finally! Christmas All Year!



From the first of December we experience joy, happiness, expectation - magic - then it disappears the day after Christmas. Why?

For one thing, our attitudes change. During Christmas we give ourselves permission to be happy. Instead of cold, snow, and ice, we see Christmas lights. We sing along with Christmas Carols rather than listen to negativity. We give gifts and do kind deeds.

After Christmas, our focus changes back to all that's wrong with our lives and the world. We see suffering, violence, and hate. How dare we be joyful?

What if we channeled those internal concerns into action rather than wringing our hands and filling our hearts with anxiety and guilt?

Father Joseph T. Sullivan wrote in, Good Morning, Lord, “creative people: sculptors, authors, song writers, painters, musicians, and architects, show us how to look up at the stars not down at the mud and the puddles.”

God has called me to write and paint, to temporarily suspend someone’s suffering through my stories and my art. Is that not a noble act? He also calls me to greet others with a smile and kind words, to listen with interest and compassion when others speak, to volunteer my time and to give to charities through my church, or other means.

In doing these things, I am “lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness.”

When we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves, reaching out with charity wherever and however we can, we have permission to be happy, not just at Christmas — but all year. 

Merry Christmas - every day! 



December 03, 2018

Seeking Good Things

‘Tis the season of peace and joy. We sing about it in our carols, wish it to everyone we meet, and send cards expressing the sentiment. We talk about having the season’s generosity all year, but we are like the parable of the seed that fell among the brambles. Hectic schedules lead us more toward irritability rather than charity and patience.

I mentioned in a prior post I planned to recite the Prayer of St. Francis every morning. Evidently, God has the same plan. The ushers handed out flyers with the prayer after church on Sunday.

The prayer, which I now have memorized, helps put things into perspective. When I want to rage at the world for all its injustices, lash out against insults with the perfect rebuttal, or put down those with a different opinion, I recite the prayer and my focus changes.

My devotions this morning suggested an additional practice. “For the sake of my brethren and of my neighbors, I spoke peace of thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I have sought good things for thee.” Psalm 122:8-9

If I seek good things for others it’s difficult to stay angry or nurse hurts. Through St. Francis’ words and the desire for good things for everyone, carrying Christmas joy and peace all year gets a whole lot easier. And, who benefits the most? Myself.

Wishing you good things, including peace and joy, this season and all year.

November 27, 2018

Mind Chatter



Dr. Emmett Miller coined the phrase to describe the constant twittering that often plagues us in the night. That endless chatter dredging up things from the distant past or reciting a litany of things we need to accomplish the next day.

Some say it is a sign of creativity or intelligence. A sweet thought, but guilt and regret seem to play a big role, at least for me.

Is the self-incrimination a means to keep me humble and not puffed up? It works, but is it healthy? According to Dr. Emmett Miller, M.D. there should be a balance between admitting mistakes and misjudgments, asking for forgiveness, and feeling good about right choices and accomplishments.

There are many ways of finding that balance: prayer, meditation, spiritual retreats, and guided imagery to mention a few. I’ve used them all at one time or another. They are effective if used regularly, something I am not good about doing when I’m busy. 

I have been good about my prayers and devotions in the mornings since discovering how effective they are to setting a peaceful tone to my day and keeping my blood pressure down, but after I go to bed I have more difficulty. Time to dig out Dr. Miller’s recording, Easing into Sleep, and find the off button to all that late night chatter. 

How about you? Does your mind whirl from ancient memories to your to-do-list? What methods have you used to turn those thoughts off?

November 21, 2018

Light in the Darkness



I’ve been reflecting on the recent tragedies, seeking a way to cope with the sense of hopelessness and despair these horrific events seem to nurture.

A meme a dear soul posted on Facebook had one answer. Mr. Rodgers said, “Look for the helpers.” There are always men and women who risk everything to help others whether it is horrific fires like those in California, shootings or floods.

I want to be a helper rather than sitting back, crying and wringing my hands, or worse criticizing. I may never race through flames, face a crazed gunman, or slog through flood waters to save a life, but I can refuse to give into frustrations and irritations. I can be polite, smile, and carry a pleasant attitude whether I am at the grocery store, driving or doing my civic duty.

These thoughts reminded me of the Prayer of St. Francis. I memorized it years ago but I forget to pray it, so I created a prayer card which I printed out and placed with my devotions, a reminder of how I can be a helper, every day, wherever I am.


May we be thankful for the helpers God sends to those in need.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. May your day be filled with family, joy and many blessings.


(You are welcome to save, print, and share.)


November 14, 2018

Okay, I Admit It. God Knows More than Me.


The other morning, I woke with my usual exuberance and a laundry list of things I wanted to do. I made coffee and grabbed my computer rather than my devotions.

God had other ideas.

My laptop took longer than usual to boot. I did control, alt, delete and restarted it. The second start was even slower.

With no other choice, I picked up my devotions. Good Morning, Lord by Joseph T. Sullivan admonished me to “seek first the Kingdom of God.”

Ouch.

Coincidently, my computer finish booting at the same time I finished my readings and it has not been that slow since. (Eye roll.)

The next morning I spent the first fifteen minutes in quiet prayer and contemplation — and something amazing happened.

My blood pressure has been rising since my cancer diagnosis and surgeries, then add in my irritation over jury duty, and I have considered calling my doctor and requesting a change in my medication.

However, after my meditations, I took my blood pressure. Rather than a high reading, it dropped back to last year's numbers, 118/74. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was.

Perhaps now, with the added physical proof, I’ll make more of an effort to follow St. Paul’s example, putting God before all things, and being contented with my circumstances, regardless of what they are, a series illness, surgeries, or petty aggravations. 

I'll let you know how it goes. 

How about you? How do you cope with stress? 

November 10, 2018

If Only I Were More Like St. Paul...


In my last post I mentioned my upcoming jury summons and my vow to keep a positive outlook. I failed.

I couldn’t sleep the night before. The room was cold. My legs ached. My mind wouldn’t quiet down and let me relax. No surprise I woke exhausted. Need I mention my frame of mind?

With a twenty-four-mile commute to the courthouse, I was on the road before sun up, grumbling the entire way. 

After a thirty-minute wait in a small conference room, the jury commissioner announced there were no courtrooms available for jury selection or trial, and we were all excused - with instructions to come back next Friday. 
Back at my car,  tired and sick from lack of sleep, I threw all God’s encouragement and promises out the window and had a meltdown.

Later, with a little reflection, I realized why I was so upset over jury duty. I'm tired, and not just from lack of sleep. The last two years have been rough with the move, the marathon of yard work at the new home, and my surgeries. I wanted more down time between my doctor’s release and my jury summons. The special court order dashed any hope of that. In response, I conducted a rather emotional pity party. As usual, God weighed in on the subject.

My readings the next morning included St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Chapter 4 verses 9-10.

I speak not as it were for want. For I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content therewith. I know both how to abound: (everywhere, and in all things, I am instructed) to both to be full, and to be hungry; both to abound, and to suffer need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

And that wasn’t all of God’s instructions.  I accidently turned to Matthew 16:9-10 instead of Luke 16:9-15.

Do you not yet understand, neither do you remember the five loaves among five thousand men, and how many baskets took you up? Nor the seven loaves among four thousand men, and how many baskets took you up?

The lesson: God provides not just enough, but enough with plenty left over.

I remembered none of it yesterday.

If only I could be more like St. Paul and accept my circumstances, whatever they are., and not be so selfish with my time...    

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