Friday, December 31, 2010

It is New Year's Eve, so I am looking back like most of us do. I thought I'd share some thoughts with you (mostly because my neighbor asked me when I was going to write again, and I felt guilty, like only a Southern girl can). I don't make resolutions, since goals tend to make me feel anxious. Instead, I make plans "to improve me". (You can use that one if you like.)

I PLAN to keep on reducing the junk in my life. Roughly translated, reducing time spent with people who are negative ALL the time or simply takers. Some times, I take, and some times, I am negative, but if this is your constant modus will suck energy I don't have. I will pray for you, and hope for you, but we all need to be encouragement to one another. That goes for you too.

Along the same lines, I PLAN to reduce the junk coming into my house. Less is more. The local mission has been blessed with my knicks knacks as I reduce the clutter at casa Kelly. If it doesn't have a purpose or sentiment attached, I don't want it. I started today with the Clean Sweep 2011 of my house. I am getting more organized, more streamlined. This will be good when we move.

I PLAN to reduce the junk my family is eating. I started this when I read a great cook book "Clean Food", which I highly recommend. I don't actually cook from it;) many of you know, I don't like to cook, but I have learned a lot about our food sources and trying to feed my family purer foods. When we are trying to strictly budget it is even tougher to eat healthier, but this is my PLAN. I have fallen anew in love with my husband as he decided to punish me by doing our grocery shopping. In his frustration with so much money going to groceries, he decided he would do the grocery shopping. I think he thought this would upset me. I don't think anyone knew how much I loathe Walmart and grocery shopping. I PLAN in 2011 to keep this a secret.

I also PLAN to exercise more. But, all of us do, right? I PLAN not to be disappointed when I eat the ice cream sitting on the couch instead of going to the Y.

I PLAN to continue to walk the 50 miles in the Challenge Walk each year until we have a cure. I had a moment, or two, when I thought this could be a waste of my time and resources. I said to myself, there won't be a cure for ms in my lifetime, maybe I should focus on hands-on community service, like person to person, feeding the hungry. Then, it occurred to me that I considered "skipping a year", not because the economy is bad, but because I was not hoping any more. We have to hope in a cure, because if we don't, who will? And this year alone, my friend received financial support that was much needed from the NMSS, and we now have an oral medication available to patients. The people I have gotten to know through the three years I have walked alongside them, have changed my life.

I PLAN to continue to meet challenges head on...with little fear of the outcome. Most of us fear the unknown and unfamiliar. The challenges will come. But, growth takes place when we're stretched and thrust off the cliff, flailing, flapping our arms. That's when we realize we could fly all along.

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
Psalm 27:1-5

I wish you a wondrous 2011 full of challenges that only you are designed to meet, and that through them, you become the best YOU possible. Rock on!

Friday, October 15, 2010

What makes you feel relevant? Am I the only one who ponders, weekly, what difference am I making?

See, I struggled with self-esteem much of my childhood. I always looked for approval and validation. We moved A LOT, so my compass constantly settled on a new North. When I (and my Sweetie:) had children, voila! my validation. When an infant is depending on you for substinance daily, hourly even, you don't need to ponder your relevance, especially if your own breasts are supplying the food!! are irreplaceable. Now, my kids are older, mostly teens, percentage-wise anyway, they don't need me as much. In fact, my veneer might be a little crumbly tonight, as I am, sort of, treated with disdain. I am "The One Who Said No", "the Mom Who Doesn't Let my Kids Do as ALL the Others." I am uncool, unfashionable, many other UNs I can't recall as I have blocked them from my subconscious.

It can difficult to feel valid nowdays. Most moms are juggling way more than they need to. They are often overwhelmed with finances, keeping husbands satisfied, running kids around town to activities (so they are healthy and have healthy self-esteem), running a household, AND providing nutrition to aforementioned husband and kids. And, at the same time, spending some energy developing interests that are important for self-development. Wow! I am tired just listing all the stuff expected of me! No wonder we feel we are always trying to reach an unattainable standard.

Just when I think I have it figured out...another dent in the armor. I think I have a "healthy" outlook...a positive attitude, a sunny approach to 'cloudy' days, and zing! one of my precious throws a comment my way and I wonder, again, How am I doing? When will I grow up?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I'd Forget my Head if it wasn't attached...

You know it's been a long time since you blogged when you can't remember the name of the blog YOU created! I was reminded TO blog by my sweet friend (literally, I mean, she's a baker;) who created her own blog yesterday. Any time I have been spending on the web has been developing my new small business...check me at I won't bore you with the details, but I have been wearing my poor mid-aged brain out learning new stuff to be a success!

It is exciting to turn a new page in my life. Some times we feel like Moses wandering the desert, hoping for encounters with the Big Guy via a burning bush, where the answers are clear. Most often, for me, answers come in the form of dreams delayed or detoured. I thought for a brief time about nursing school last spring and summer. Everywhere I turned, I met obstacles. So, I quiz myself, "Am I banging my head against the wall because I am being challenged? Or am I banging my head against the wall because it is the wrong thing for me??" Eventually, logic won out. My hubby said, "Really, Sweetie, I just don't see it." And, financially, it would be difficult for my family since it was looking like three years until I had an income.

I've never seen a supernaturally flaming bush. When I decided to join Thirty-One, I knew it was love at first sight! It felt right in my gut, and my kids would not be compromised by my work schedule. I often know a decision is wrong because I just feel unsettled. When a decision is right for me, I feel peace, not anxiety.

I firmly believe in working your passion. As I always say, "Life's Too Short!" Some times, we have to get a job to put food on the table. I am thankful there is never a shortage of food at the Kelly house...check the waistlines...But, if you can spend your days earning a living doing something you enjoy, go for it! Then, to write me and share it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Hey Ya'll,

I seem to be getting fewer and farther between with my posts. Know this, I still love my followers and my lurkers. There is no greater honor than that of people hanging on my every word. Even as a child, I yearned to be heard. Still do.

Today was gorgeous, Carolina style. I am a Tarheel, born, bred, and bachelored. My dad always said I could attend any university I chose, as long as it was THE University Of North Carolina AT Chapel Hill. I did attend there...although not graduating at the top of my class, I did graduate, which, come to find out, is all that matters. Today's sky was Carolina blue, the temps were deliriously pleasant, and I set out to straighten my garden mess.

Hot hot weather is not my friend. We did decide this year to make our under-used sand box into a real garden last April. It produced famously in the pickled cuke and squash categories, but sucked big time in the tomato department. I love tomatoes. I grew up eating tomatoes sprinkled with salt and pepper and naked otherwise. I eat them until my mouth burns. NO tomatoes grew. Like I said, we planted our first REAL garden this year. In previous years, since B and I became adults, I have nurtured the simplistic potted tomatoes on the patio. I enjoyed them. This year, I decide to have a real garden. An unpesticided garden. Organic, if you will. No tomatoes. To be truthful, we did harvest a dozen or two dozen from the soil. But, I planted six tomato plants. The infamous Brawley Hybrid, Better Boys, Pink Ladies, etc...Very disappointing.

I probably would have done better if I'd read the Farmer's Almanacs. But, I like to live with my brand of unpredictability. I've always hated necessary research. Farmer's granddad swore by this epistle. He underlined, folded, marked, followed the almanacs to such a degree that when he left his earthly home, we divied up his editions amongt the grandkids as cherished possessions. He had so many notes, some about gardening, but more about life itself, and death, that they became a sort of journal for him. My granddad, Papaw we called him, was many things, a great guy but also quite a character, and also, a farmer. As he got older, his daughters and their husbands help him to plant and harvest his crops. He grew strawberries, corn, okra, green beans, and of course, tomatoes that never failed. He also raised chickens, that we later ate. I guess that's where I learned responsibility for our consumption;)

Now that I think about my little successes and my multiple failures this summer in my garden, my greatest delight in my first REAL vegetable gardening attempts, is the closeness I felt to my Papaw while doing so. The joy I feel in the smell of dirt on a beautiful Carolina day comes directly from him. I've enjoyed many a day digging alongside my mother in the dirt. I guess she gets that from Roy too. He was the kind not easily replaced. Boy, I miss him.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Schools In!

What is it about new beginnings that is so unsettling? The long-awaited day is here. Me and the kiddos have looked forward to the start of school, all three reached their destinations on time, and I have a ball of anxiety in my stomache. I should be overjoyed, exuberant, doing the Tweezy dance like my friend down the road. Instead, I'm fighting the urge to email my youngest's teacher and make sure he is in the seat with his name on it. I wonder if I text Em, will her phone go off in class and humiliate her? Can I just send a short "U ok?" How pathetic would it be to drop in on my 6th grader's lunchtime, the first day?

What is going on with me? I have been counting down the days until the little rascals could go back to the heavenly place parents call "the school building". I have been clinching my teeth for at least a couple of weeks now. If I gave myself one more time out, I'm sure the kids would report me. The deep breaths ceased working many days ago. Why am I longing for a little peck on the cheek? A sniff of sweaty hair? The thumpthump of too loud music from upstairs?

I do love time with my kids. They are the most wonderful creatures on the face of this earth. They are creative, beautiful, talented, brilliant. Why then does it have to be this feast or famine? Oh, how I love my sweet children! When will the bus be here?!?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Who do you wanna be when you grow up?

Many moons ago, twenty-ish years ago worth of moons, I was a young, idealistic, college student ready to change the world. I lived in a dorm with mostly Business majors and they became my closest friends, accepting me despite my lack of direction. See, there's not a major called "Setting out to change the World." So, I settled on Psychology.

When I graduated, I sent resumes far and wide, but I think my lack of knowing my place in the world probably glared off the page. I was offered two memorable jobs, one as a live-in counselor in a youth home, the other as a Red Cross assistant director on call 24/7. Neither job meshed with my newly acquired title of "Wife." My degree, temporarily rendered useless, went on a shelf, and I worked diligently at various administrative jobs until the birth of my first beautiful daughter. Thus began the hardest job in the world...Mom.

In this complex postition, I know I have used that Psych degree. From attachment to developmental issues, reward vs. punishment, all the way to today's sibling rivalry, I already knew a lot of that stuff all the parenting books try to explain. (Of course, it's a bit different with your own live kid;) There is though, the danger of intern's disease...I have diagnosed my family with a variety of personality disorders that I'm pretty sure they don't have.

With my youngest in school now, the inevitable pursuit of "career" ensues. And still, I desire to change the world. As much as that sounds childlike, I know a little more, twenty years later, about what that might look like. I want to leave my world a better place. I want to ease someone's suffering. I want to feed the hungry children, and let them know love. I want to be a friend to the friendless. I've considered returning to school, to pursue a higher degree. But, I have come to realize I already have the schooling I need for this next job--LIFE and an open heart.

Watch out I come!

"Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in."
Mark 10:14 MSG

"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us."
2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The nut don't fall far from the tree...

I know, you missed me. I have been sucked into my new (Although, in the case of my family, that 'A' could be an 'I'!) A friend introduced me to the wonders of researching my family tree, and I have spent countless hours tracing all the Clines, etc. back to our mother country. I should have known it would be a time sucker when my friend, who I'll call the big DM, traveled out of state to follow his roots!

I did NOT even want to sleep last night, I was on roll! In the afternoon, I found the place in time where one of my dad's relatives ran off with one of my mom's. For real! That really got me thinking about how we are ALL related. I don't mean in the biblical story 'related'. I mean, most of us whose families immigrated here to the New World and settled on the east coast. My maternal and fraternal ancestors all stayed in North Carolina and seemed to have a small pool of suitors to pick from. Like I said, fascinating stuff.

I highly recommend tracing your roots. I believe all the folks that came before helped shape us into who we are. I've said before, when I was young (and foolish), I thought we were all blank slates, written after our birth. I now ascribe to a different theory. I believe our personalities are partly formed by our genetics, by all the people that came before and made it possible for our unique selves to be here. Doesn't it make sense to know a bit about them?

I remember, years ago, thinking of Christianity as separate from Jewish beliefs. And, we could say, way separate from the beliefs of Islam. As I had the opportunity to learn about the Old Testament and the greats whose stories fill its pages, I gained an appreciation for my Judeo-Christian tradition and Jesus' own Jewish heritage. As I've grown to know Muslim friends, I appreciate our common father, Abraham. We all have more in common than different.

I've been serious enough for one day, so I won't go into my "we are all immigrants" speech right now. Plus, I really got to get back to

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I am thankful for my handful of friend readers who missed me while on vaca. As far as the deets (just for J&E), the best part was laughing so hard with my mom in our private pool that we peed ourselves. Notice, I said 'private', before you say ewwwww. Also notice that bodily functions were the best part of the week. I have decided that it is a psychological response that causes my mom and I to giggle to the point of dual urination. How embarrassing! Feel free to comment here if you are under a hundred years of age and this happens to you.

I don't mean to sound spoiled. It was a good week. We tried an off-the-beach location for the first year in like twenty. I love the beach. I love watching the swell of the waves and all the other mysteries of the ocean while I sip my necessary morning java. If you know me, you know I live for coffee, Jesus, and my family. I consider the ocean and coffee two of God's most glorious creations. I also love sipping my evening glass of vino while watching the waves. We could NOT see the ocean from our home away from home. We could NOT feel/hear its calming presence that has worked its magic for eons.

It was an exhausting week for me. We packed up for our short walk to the beach after everyone got moving in the a.m. We stayed until we had heat stroke, or something akin. We spent the afternoon in the pool. It was a beautiful pool. It was so tiring because the kids believe every day should have a marathon agenda, and the temps averaged in the high 90s. My MS decided to work overtime and my fingers lost sensation for the most part. Heat is not the MS'ers friend.

So, I write from my home close to very very tired, and perhaps, on a bit of togetherness overload. I love my children, but is it back to school time yet?

I just had the most vivid daydream after struggling downstairs from a particularly rough tuck-in. E has been pecking her bro verbally all night. Little bro just freaked cause I accidentally scratched his cheek with my newly grown-out pool nail. G is freakin' cause she thinks she spied a worm in the hamster's cage. My hubby has work stress out the wazoo. Have you ever been treading water in the deep end of the pool when a less adept swimmer began hanging on you, looking to you to keep them afloat? Tonight, I feel like that is my life. Some times, being everyone's center of the universe doesn't feel flattering, it just feels like you're drowning.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I wish I had run in here last night to post this because I was so excited and thrilled! I live in a very old house and the lock on the bathroom door has not worked for me in some time. I say "for me" since my hubby says it WILL work if you slightly pull up on the door handle, while twisting about 45 degrees and pushing on the door with your forehead. Last night, I was able to go in my bathroom and lock the door behind me! This was due to my new lock that I installed. Hooray!! If you are not a parent, or quite possibly, if you are not a Mom, you wonder what the big deal is. If you are a Mom, you know that this was the highlight of my week, or likely, my month.

I had begged B to put a new lock on my door for months. Didn't happen. I put it on the shopping list, and B said we had one...somewhere...and he'd do it. Finally, yesterday, I searched our basement and found a little hook and eye thingee and started on it myself. B came home whilst I was still installing and said, "If you want something done..." Then, "I'll do that for you later tonight, honey." Yeah. When I went to shower later it was still not done. I did it MYSELF!

So, after locking myself in the bathroom for the first time...YIPPEE!...I heard footsteps running toward me. I chuckled. I wanted a child to try to get in my newly established isolation escape...slightly cloroxy-smelling, slightly mildewy as it is. I felt such freedom! I felt human being. Able to pull down my pants without an audience. I felt slightly giddy with the knowledge that I could shower with no danger of ninja cold water attack. I could even examine my back side in dual mirrors contemplating which fruit shape I resembled with no snickering from little peepers.

It is summer. It is the long stretch. The time of year that all decent, child-loving stay-at-home parents dread. I told my neighbor yesterday, the drearies have set in. The dreams of exotic get-aways. The hope of impromptu free get-togethers with unsuspecting friends.(..cause they don't realize how poorly behaved the "summer" kids have become.) The fantasy of yet unheard of camps that are just perfect for my high energy six year old boy. The sibling warfare is in full swing. The pleas for mom to play with one in the hundred degree outdoors. The continuing daymare for the introverted mom who must re-energize by time alone.

Thank the good Lord I have my bathroom.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Family Vacation

Friday begins our extended family's yearly vacation to the beach. Though not quite as messed up or as funny as the Chevy Chase version, I have begun pre-praying up for peace and fun to reign. I'm looking forward to walks together on the beach, games, reminiscing, maybe some silly dancing. It will definitely be fun, but it is always different combining three households just for the week.

When I was a kid, I didn't think about family much. Everyone's parents remained married. If my friends' families had steps, I didn't realize. I thought I lived in the perfect family, a supremely 'functional' family. I thought my parents were Ozzie and Harriet, and I really thought all families that were 'normal' operated just like ours. I now realize that all families are slightly dysfunctional, and anyone who grows up in a family loved is extremely blessed. I've heard Michelle Obama, our first lady, attributed with saying that the most important thing to do as a parent is to assure our children they are loved. I know, without a doubt, that myself and my only sister were, and are, extremely loved.

When I was in college, as a Psychology major at a liberal, brilliant college, aka UNC, I was exposed to some fascinating internships. An early one, at John Umstead Psychiatric Hospital, later became the fodder for a dead-on film, Shutter Island. (joking!)((about the film, not the internship)) I don't know who the genius psycho-therapist was who thought it was a good idea for college students to have social time in the dark dancing with people involuntarily committed. However, I did learn a smashing Electric Slide. But, I digress. Another internship was spent as a Guardian Ad Litem. This is a super advocacy program that pairs volunteers with children who have found themselves in the foster care system. A GAL has the express purpose of speaking only on behalf of the child, in court and in all settings. I am amazed, to this day, at the ignorant and unspeakable things parents will do to their children. It is indeed essential that a parent, first and foremost, love a child.

Back to my family. I'm not going to dish a bunch of juicy dirt. That'd be disloyal. I will say that I always thought that there was only one way of doing anything. It was the way we did it. The way the rest of ya'll did it was just weird! I have found, like many adult children do, I strived to do some things differently, and still have become my parents in unexpected ways. I have found it freeing to form our own 'family' rules with my husband. I have found it sad to realize my influence and decisions have limits with my own kids, probably not unlike my parents found. I have come to realize that my college thinking on nature vs. nurture was naive, uneducated. We don't enter the world a blank slate, ready to be written. We are formed in the womb, at least partly shaped by our heredity, our anatomy.

My kids amaze me daily with their inherent personality differences. They are exposed to the same pressure cooker, Kelly family life, with the same rules and priorities, but their reactions are as varied as they are similar. I love them ALL with a passion that is sometimes frightening, but they constantly weigh the love I dish out....each of them claiming they come up short. Wouldn't it be easy if they were each grown in a petri dish, and I (and my lovie) just had to measure the good stuff we doled out? Wouldn't it be nice if there was a formula for perfect families? raising perfect children...who grew up to be perfect people?

As I have aged, (like a fine wine;) BTW, those who read "Wine to Water"...the fast is over!) I have come to appreciate imperfection. I have come to appreciate it in myself, like battle scars, life memories, lessons learned. I think I have come to appreciate my less than perfect childhood family too. I hope I have, I hope I have learned to value what I have. I am loved. And, I undoubtedly, passionately, unconditionally, love them all back. I am blessed.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Love that Dr. Oz!

So yesterday I had the distinct honor of seeing two of my heroes in one place...Dr. Oz AND Richard Petty! Hot dog!! (I wanted to say something else here but my kid reads this:) Dr. Oz was in my town as a benefit for our free clinic. He is deeply concerned with Americans, their health, and our rising obesity rates. My dear friend, Ms. Kapoozie, gave me her ticket to hear Dr. Oz, as she was unable to attend. As his TV show, it was very informational, and entertaining. He is a brilliant man. The King? Mr. Petty was escorting his sweet mama to hear the commonsense doc. Both were so close I coulda kissed them!

I will attempt to share the main points of the doc's talk...but no promises on extreme accuracy. He asked us all to share with a friend or two so they might enjoy improved health.

  • 80-90% of the time, losing weight will improve blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart disease, and diabetes.

  • Diet soda is terrible for us. It is basically water full of chemicals and we would all be better off drinking tea with moderate REAL sugar, and have the bonus of anti-oxidants.

  • Your ideal waist size = Height divided by 2.

  • Smokers tend to have low self-esteem. So, don't try to brow beat a smoker into quitting, encourage them with talks of their improved health.

  • A man with a neck size larger than 17 is most likely to have sleep apnea and sleep apnea means you stop breathing!

  • The supplements the doc himself takes daily: vitamins A,B,C,D,and E, calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, omega 3, and aspirin. He says everyone needs vitamin D and omega 3 daily.

A lady asked in parting what three things he thinks most important to our health. His response?

  1. 30 minutes of exercise that makes you sweat EVERY day!

  2. Whole foods without labels, looking like the food they represent....apples, salad, veggies, etc.

  3. Finding a purpose. (Love that!)

I think people are recognizing more and more that our physical health is tied to our mental and emotional health. It is important that we have wellness in all three areas. I would add spiritual health to that too. What a lot of pressure when you don't believe in a higher power! I would crumble to think I had to do it..."it" meaning life....all myself.

Since my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis 3 years ago, we have slowly tried to transform much of our life. This would include, healthier eating, healthier purchases at the grocery, reducing stress in our lives, focusing on the important things (family, friends, faith), and living life on purpose. If we hate the thought of spending time doing something, we don't do it (with the exception of necessary things like cleaning the cat litter!) We are failing epically right now on in the category of physical fitness, but it is July. The only exercise any of us get is floating in a pool.

In the pursuit of healthier eating, we planted our first full on garden this year! I am very proud. We have harvested more squash than any of us really wanted to eat, many cute little pickling cucumbers, mom's dill, and finally, tomatoes, and our first cantaloupe! All of this grown pesticide-free. Yet to come, hopefully peppers bigger than my thumb. Unsuccessful? The collards and eggplant. We have a lot to learn, but its exciting putting our health first and trying to produce our own food. (I had to add a photo of the fruits of Kelly labor above.)

My best wishes to you as you pursue your own better health!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Have a Dream...

I love to run. For most of my life, I did not have one intentional exercise I enjoyed. I have to say intentional because, for many of us non-exercisers, we often calculate by-product exercise. You know, "today I burned 200 calories and walked 3 miles shopping Concord Mills Mall!" Or, "I got my exercise babysitting and chasing a 2 year old around my yard." All of this changed about three weeks into my attempt at running. The first weeks were painful, lung-burning, impossible, but, ahhhh, around week 3 something wonderful happened. I no longer woke feeling 101 years old. I hit my runner's high and felt like I could run forever.

Then, I started setting goals. First, the 5K. Done! Why not do a marathon? First, the half. I sat down at the computer with my friend, the trainer, and we looked around the Southeast settling for a half marathon in the fall (13.1 miles)...soon to be followed by the Valentines coup d'etat marathon (26.2 miles). In the best physical fitness of my life, something funky started happening. Running three miles was a walk in the park, but pushing past 5 0r 6 miles set me tingling and spread a bizarre numbness up my right arm. I would pinch myself, and jab the unfeeling area, as if to wake it from slumber. Nothing helped, nothing except cooling off and was May.

Mid-May, my family spent several days at Wrightsville Beach. One day, we walked the mile to the pier and bought ice cream cones, taking them out on the pier to see what was getting caught. I needed to sit down on a bench and waved everyone else on to the end of the pier because of the swaying, not the pier. Boy, I was so dizzy, especially looking down at the water below. I had always had a problem with heights, so I chalked it up to fear. On the hot walk back to the condo, Lucas was tired and I carried him the whole way. He weighed considerably less than he does 3 years he was about 50 pounds. My arms were tired when we got back, my right arm was numb, but I am right-handed and most of his weight was on that arm. My mom fussed, saying I shouldn't have carried him so far and that was that. When I cooled off, my arm mostly recovered feeling, but some residual numbness remained, and even after returning home from the beach, it spread up to my shoulder and across the right side of my back. Perhaps, it was time to visit the doctor?

I visited my doctor on Monday and he discussed some possibilities. Lyme, lupus, ms...but said, "You look too healthy!" Amen to that. MRI was scheduled for Thursday. ("BTW, are you claustrophobic?" "Naw." Blog just about that later!) My doc called me Friday to deliver the news...MS. It's the end of the world as we know it.

I cannot explain the feeling of devastation when you hear the news you least expect. I have a fabulous imagination, so the scenarios started running through my head...the worst-case scenarios. The fear grows and grows until you almost cannot function or speak. I have told several people that I believe this kind of diagnosis requires processing like a death...denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. I would add my own to the end, kicking butt.

I continued to have a full-blown episode through the rest of that summer of 2007. The numbness spread over exactly the entire right side of my body, I began having severe nerve pain in both my feet and vertigo. I would heat up like a menopausal woman...a result of the difficulty regulating core body temperature with ms. I began a disease-modifying injection I gave myself every other day. (Good news! I am now no longer afraid of needles;) I began a couple of rounds of oral steroids to reduce the inflammation in my brain that ultimately I needed to avoid to prevent damage to more areas. My husband and kids tried to adjust to our new normal.

I was diagnosed three years ago now, and during that first year, I told my running coach friend that it was time for a new goal. I had spent a great deal of time on the web site for the NMSS, an excellent source for the latest info, and saw this event called a Challenge Walk. I asked my friend to help me train. And we did. We completed our first 50 mile Challenge Walk in April 2008 with a team of 4. This is the part I was talking about called "kicking butt." After I got thru the stage called Depression, or "I can't do all the things I'd dreamed of doing," I finished up in this Kicking Butt stage. I've only been home a few weeks now from my third Challenge Walk, this year with six other teammates, one of them also with ms. We have raised $28,800 towards a cure that WILL come one day.

And running. Oh, how I love running! As I jumped into my Kicking Butt stage, I saw a great movie, "The Bucket List." I made my own mental list. Not because, as in the movie, I'm kicking the bucket. I made my list because I'm not. Diagnosis of possibly debilitating, chronic disease had a great effect on me. I gained some fearlessness. I will not sit on the sidelines, afraid and regretting. What's left to fear?

Long-range goal? Marathon.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:13

"I probably should consider this my last marathon, but you never know what'll happen. My friends reminded me that I said that last year and the year before and the year before." Robert Borglund, Winner of Boston Marathon's 80-and-older age group two years in a row

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Eclipse...Love to Die for

I'm writing this one with a severe lack of sleep, so it may come out all gibberish. What's new, right? My girl friends and I spent seven hours in the movie theatre to see the new Twilight series movie, "Eclipse". It was great, very entertaining, with nice scenery:) Hey, I said I would write honestly, and this movie, honestly, has some very healthy-looking men that spent a lot of time in the gym. Nothing wrong with healthy. B teased a bit about us middle-aged women and our Twilight frenzy, but we just love a good love story.

Today, I'm letting my oldest see "Eclipse", but not her younger sis. This is raising a bit of controversy in my house, aka screaming and crying. "But, all my friends have seen it!" "But Emma's only 2 years older!" "You ALWAYS say NO!" "But I already understand all that 'stuff'" (She means the sex talk that we have had.) My problem with Grace seeing it is not that she might learn something. My problem with Grace seeing it is that she would see a fantasy rendition of romance...and to the max. These characters are willing to die for their forbidden love, and Gracie loves forbidden. Not only does Edward wax poetic about his love for his girl, but Jacob does too. I have never heard of this happening once a guy reaches 16. She would also see a false portrayal of the man/woman relationship. I don't mean to be a spoiler, but in the movie (cover your eyes and say lalalala if you don't want to know this,) Bella is pushing Edward to have sex, and Edward refuses. I don't think this is the norm. All said, very adult themes. Gracie doesn't understand why she shouldn't be treated like an adult since she is 11 going on 21. She'll probably forgive me in a few months...

So, this got me thinking...why do women love a good love story, but men could not care less? Is it only my husband who stopped writing poetry once we walked down the aisle? Oh, to be honest, he never wrote poetry, but he did write a mean love note. Most every single day. And, he still will write me a lovely note...on my birthday, Mothers' Day, and Valentines', because he knows I prefer this to store-bought. I'm not complaining, just pondering our differences. And I believe the differences are gender-related. Reminds me of Mel Gibson in "What Women Want". In case you missed it, Mel is a womanizer who suddenly can hear women's thoughts, hears what they really think about him, what they really want from him, and changes his ways to appeal to their softer nature. My husband knows what I want, sometimes ad nauseum, but behaves like, well, a man. We share our feelings on every subject, more directly than a lot of folks I think. For instance, he knows I will watch ANY movie with Marky Mark. (For those of you under 35, that is THE Marky Mark of the Funky Bunch fame, brother of Donnie of the New Kids on the Block, given name-Mark Wahlberg)...cue song:

Okay, I'm back now. I had to watch that 3 times. Oh, weren't the 90s fun?! Mark Wahlberg is not the best actor in the universe, but I much prefer watching him to his contemporaries, Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise. And I know my sweet, dedicated honey will watch anything with Lucy Liu. He knows that I enjoy him talking like a lovesick puppy, and I know he wants me just to be quiet and smile pretty some times, instead of jabbering on and on during Monday night football. So, its not for lack of sharing feelings that we behave differently.

And, I think the male/female differences override the love language. Great book by Gary Chapman called "The Five Love Languages" explains how we love people the way we want to be loved. This is one reason why our relationships often have conflict. We need to love people the way they want to be loved. But, I know I behave towards B the way I like to be loved. And, I can see him and my kids loving me the way they feel love. All in all, not a bad result, because I still end up knowing I am loved. Which brings me back to Eclipse and Gracie. When my girls begin dating relationships, I want them to be treated like the treasures they are, and understand that fantasies fade, but loving relationships built on trust and truth are what its all about.

And just for the record, my guy would still jump in front of a werewolf for me....decades after the poetry faded.

"Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious
rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his
life. She will not hinder him but help him all her life." Proverbs
31:10-12 NIV...from my favorite poet

Monday, June 28, 2010

Wine into Water

I read one time that habits form figurative grooves in our brains...much like the grooves on the 45 records of my youth. To break a habit, those grooves have to be un-made, or repaved until we don't continue to return to the place we tend to go. I have a habit, that I will call my Giada time.

Oh! My Giada time is a lovely part of the day. Around 5:30 pm, I begin getting out the ingredients for the night's dinner. I tune the radio to the station fitting my mood...most likely KLove 94.1, sometimes, when I need a little smarty smart, some NPR, or if I'm feeling funky, KISS 95.1. I let my doggy in the house to lay under the prep table and keep me company. Then, I get my wine glass from its little spot, and fill it up from the box. Yes, the box. I have sampled wines from around the world, 2 buck Chuck to Dom Perignon, but I love the Franzia white table wine. It is not too sweet, but with none of that tartness that makes you more thirsty than when you started. Then, I begin to cook and have dinner about ready by the time B walks in. I am relaxed, calm, in my happy place. It may not taste like Everyday Italian's Giada De Laurentiis cooked the meal, but its all about how it feels, you know, the ambiance.

Well, I came to realize that this was EVERY night. I began to analyze, because I was a psych major, this is what we do. I accused, I excused, then I just said to myself, "Self, I don't want to depend on my glass of wine to chill me." I only want to depend on God. And, as an ms'er, I have frequent liver testing due to my injectible meds. I am always looking at my diet and lifestyle and striving to be healthy in body, but mind and spirit too. I got to give it to Montel Williams, the television personality, he doesn't drink at all and is on a super healthy regimen, due to having ms. BTW, I recommend his books...he's a smart and decent guy. Anywho, I decided I needed a wine fast. (That's probably NOT one you'll find in the Bible!) My chi, and my Giada, is a little off kilter right now. Today is day 8. Not liking it one bit. It is h-a-r-d to break a habit.

When I return to the place of habit, around dinner time, I say a prayer and grab a big glass of water. I remind myself of my commitment. And today, I thought about my friend that wants to quit smoking...a tough habit to break.

See you on the flip side. I think maybe I'll go and brew a relaxing cup of green tea...

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I have two followers! They are my mom and my daughter, but hey! I'm being followed. Now the pressure and resulting procastination set in. Truly, I woke today wondering what to write about. I already feel like it needs to matter...this is good. After that thought, I got a delivery...breakfast in bed. My sweet husband of eighteen years today brought me coffee and a bagel in bed. How sweet is that?! He offered to cook me eggs, bacon, grits-aka "the works" Southern-style, but he knows I don't like breakfast until after cup two of morning joe. I love that man!

We traveled to Gran and Pop's later, as is our Sunday tradition, and ate a yummy lunch. Just as I was leaving, my mom reminded me that I still have stuff in her basement. (Please don't even ask why I still have stuff in my mommy and daddy's basement.) I made a half-hearted removal effort, grabbing two more boxes of stuff I'm figuring we don't need since its been sitting there gathering dust for years. One box included old bank statements that I began shredding when we got home, and I came across this brochure from my bank to the left. Do you remember the panic when the year 2000 was several years away? I had friends in the banking industry and they worked their behinds off preparing for the catastrophe that was to come. Everyone worried that all machinery would stop working, no one would be able to access their money, the "grid" (whatever the heck that is) would freeze up, we'd all have to resort to squirreling away food in our basements and loading handguns. Anything computerized would be baffled since it was the new millenium. In other words, for you youngsters;) it would be the end of the world as we know it (thanks be to REM). I might have been in a baby-induced coma-like sleep, but I don't remember any of this happening. Catastrophe aborted.

When I came across this brochure today, I asked B to put it aside for one of my "life lesson talks with the kids that they really don't care to hear". Because, they are always screaming the sky is falling, like many adults, when we should realize that our Father's got big enough hands to hold that sky up, defeating gravity, and hang on to all those stars He mentioned to father Abraham. I tend to be extremely mellow (and I'm probably under-exagerating here), but I was quite a bit more anxiety-prone before I became a Jesus freak. I have found, in the subsequent years, that my God delivers.
"You're my cave to hide in,
my cliff to climb.
Be my safe leader,
be my true mountain guide.
Free me from hidden traps;
I want to hide in you.
I've put my life in your hands.
You won't drop me,
you'll never let me down."
Psalm 31;3-5 Msg
My favorite name for God in the Bible is Jehovah Jireh, God provides. I have a very personal story that I will share with just you. When our oldest was born, I stopped working (for money;) to stay home with her. At the time, B and I made equal incomes, so you can do the math. Not much income divided by two equals half of not much income. Twenty months later, baby girl two came along, and well, money was still pretty tight. (Coulda helped if I'd stayed away from the store with the bulls-eye...) One day, after trying to pay bills and not having enough there for much needed groceries, I just sat down and cried and prayed for God's help. I had the strangest feeling I should check my closet, hopped up, and reached in for an unused handbag. Guys, you won't get this, but the girls will. Women always have a stack of handbags in their closet that are the wrong season, color, or size for their current need. So, back to the purse. When I reached inside, my hand felt something in the bottom of this first bag I grabbed, one I had not carried in probably a year. I pulled out a twenty dollar bill! I jumped up and down I was so shocked and happy.
You might say "so what?" Or, my story may sound unreal to you. The money was there all along. But, I was wondering how to buy food, and yes, the money was probably always there, but I don't leave cash in purses. I am the woman who NEVER has cash. And, as I said, things were tight. I had emptied that purse and left twenty dollars inside, all by itself? Its my story and I'm sticking to it. It is just one way that God has provided for me. Note that He did NOT provide $200 nor $2000. He did NOT provide for me to win the lottery. He did NOT rain manna from heaven every day for the rest of that year...although HE could do all of this if it was His will. He provided for my immediate need and gave me the hope I needed so we could plug away, doing the work, to improve our condition.
"What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met." Matthew 6:31-33
Just wondering what you need today. I use the words "trust" and "faith" interchangeably. So I am going to substitute on one of my fave verses. Trust is believing without seeing. Check it out for yourself...Hebrews 11.
Hope you have yourself an unreal day!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Baby Steps

I love to sleep. If you know anything about me, you know not to call me early in the morning when I don't have to be up. Brian and I have inner counters that remember whose turn it is to get up and deal with the kids' needs on the weekends. (I know, you're thinking, but he gets up early all week...Denise, YOU should get up! Again, I LOVE sleep.) I am proud to say that I love sleep so much my kids have been trained from toddlerhood to not have many needs early in the morning that they can't handle themselves.

I love seeing the trails of inherited traits in our children and Lucas definitely got Dad's cooking bug. Lucas has been attempting to cook since he was less than two years old...with varying degrees of success. I couldn't help but laugh when I followed the sound of clinking metal to find him cooking corn on the heated stove in the dog's dish...he was two. So inventive, dangerous, but brilliant! Gracie loves to cook also. The bug skipped Em. At 13 she still expects three square a day fixed for her. I say all this to explain that my kids usually get their own food before I step out of bed. I know, you hate me.

Today, was a little different. Lucas woke me asking if Dad was preparing to mow. I looked at Dad, because he was still asleep beside me. I responded that no, Dad was not preparing to mow. Lucas then said that he needed to know so he could clean up the backyard. OHHHHHH, now I understand. My little man, a rising first-grader, had gotten up, gone to the kitchen, in all honesty probably following big sis, Gracie's lead, read his chore chart (he READ his chore chart!) and saw he was supposed to clean up the back yard with his sisters so Dad could mow. Score one for responsibility! He did his other Saturday chore, empty all the trashcans in the house too. I am a proud Mama:)

Our family's mission statement regarding raising kids goes a little like this...
We hope to raise our kids in such a way that they become God-loving, responsible, self-sufficient, respectful adults.

Now, if I could just figure out how to get Lucas to quit saying b*tch.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Growing Up

I had the biggest cry last night. I think I hold it in until a flood of epic proportions happens. Emma is 13 and on her first mission trip this week. Actually, on her first trip period -- away from us. I was extremely proud that she wanted to go on the mission and proud of the sweet, generous woman she is becoming. THAT is the problem. Do you remember that first day you left your baby at daycare, or preschool, or kindergarten? I had that sad recognition that we have passed a milestone. I think I am just sad period that she is growing up and away. Happy, but yet sad.

That said, some random thoughts came to mind during my thinking time tonight. Meaning, during the only quiet part of my day in the only quiet part of my house...10ish o'clock in the, in front of the mirror.

THINGS I WISH I'D KNOWN WHEN I WAS YOUNG (or for that matter, yesterday):

Everyone has a God-sized hole that they fill with something. (Max Lucado said this?)
For much of my life, it was everything but. For a lot of folks, still is. Shopping, drugs, parties, sports, love relationships, career, even causes...good stuff can fill that void too, the problem is eventually we all have a moment when we are completely alone in the world, without a friend, or maybe a dollar, with no where to turn, no where but up. He will never leave you or forsake you. I promise because I have been there.

It is not the end of the world.
When the boyfriend dumps you, the friends say they hate you, your parents yell at you, you fail the test, you screw up..again, you embarass yourself in front of the entire school, you lose the job, or everyone knows what a failure you are. Its not the end when you hear that you have ms, or any other life sentence. It is only the end when it is the end.

A kiss is a really big deal.
Think Britney and Madonna, or when the one you love is leaving town, for a day, or for a year. I think about the last time I kissed my grandmother, most times we don't know when the last is, I thank God that I did. A kiss is a big deal too when our little ones get too big for their britches and refuse to kiss you goodnight. Oh how that shoots an arrow in a momma's heart! I wish my girls would know how big a kiss is when they start dating.

Friendships are one of the few things worth wasting time on.
Wow!--friendships have just gotten more complex as I've gotten older. Everyone comes into relationships with their own set of experiences that shape their every interaction. I have many many people I care about, but less people that I know really care about me. The friends who stop to ask how you're feeling, or who will give you a badly needed ride at just the right time. The friends who notice when you're sad, and make time to figure out why. The friends who will stand outside a hospital and pray with you. The friends who pray for your children. The friends who make you dinner when you are sick. Over time, life exposes your friends in layers, like an onion (thanks be to Shrek). I am a truster, and I am thankful that I have so many beautiful friends that have proven trust worthy.

Marriage is no fairy tale, and its not fair to expect a Prince Charming.
A ton of trials and tribulation could have been avoided at my house in the early years if I had known this! You CANNOT train a man like a dog. I was simply not prepared for the hard work and compromise that is required to make a marriage work. And he was NOT prepared for a wife who couldn't cook and thought money grew on trees....but that is his story. I was blessed with a patient husband who loved me enough to hang in there, and I loved him right back.

And, before I hit the bed, I'll return to my teenager...the middle schooler. I wish I'd known that Middle School is the most painful time of your life (,high school must come in second).
I am still growing. Hopefully, we continue on our journey of growth until the end of our life, and become more complete all the while. None of us are who we will become when we are in 8th grade. I wish I'd known that cause those awful times stick with you, and I was the gawkiest geek. I wish I could wipe away any painful times from my three kids' lives. My eraser's not that big. For now, I guess I'll just keep trying to catch their kisses! And reminding them of their worth...and all of our worth.

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him। Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Ephesians 1:3-4 MSG
I am pumped! My first post! No one will probably read it, but it was the result of a revelation. Brian always says I should write a book...but, I have a short attention span. So, voila!, a blog. I can write a little every day, about things other people may care about or get a giggle from, and eventually, a book.
I commit to being completely honest, but trying not to embarass the innocent (or not so innocent), folks in my life. So, I will talk about myself alot more than I usually like to.
I will definitely find humor in things that may offend others. I laugh at life because I believe God gave us a funny bone for a reason, and because I really don't like to cry. Crying makes me feel all weak and vulnerable, not to mention ugly, and yes, I do know it has a healthy place in all of our lives. I love to laugh and have no problem laughing with you at myself.
I have thought about writing a book on parenting before, but found myself lacking in authority. I've pondered writing on multiple sclerosis, as I am, unfortunately, something of an expert after my diagnosis three years ago this month. It can get kinda boring writing about sickness ALL the time. I love to think and talk about Christ, but I don't want those of you uninterested to tune out. So, this will be my random blog. Hope its as fun for you as it already is for me, but if its not, it is still fun for me;)