"ONCE UPON A TIME"....there came along this little lump...insignificant really when you compare it to the entire world of lumps. That is, right up to the point that it wasn't...insignificant I mean............... andso began my journey.
A NEWER SHADE OF PINK...now I more then SURVIVE...I am learning to THRIVE...
OF COURSE... we all know things are bound to get a little crazy with a surprise around most every corner...not to mention an assortment of bumps and bruises along the way...but I am ever thankful for them all...they have all made me who I am. So buckle up, hold on tight and enjoy the ride thru what I lovingly refer to as LIFE
Let us prepare
for the miracle that was that first Christmas. Let us put aside our frantic preparations
of all the “stuff” and reflect on that sacred night. Tune into LDS.org and watch any one of the
many fantastic messages and videos they have about this special night. Then take a minute to write down what this represents
to you personally, looking forward to what changes you are willing to make to
have room in your Inn.
We are surrounded by
the sights, smells and sounds that really bring together all that is love and
magic of the season. Even the most
hardened hearts will find themselves humming the tune of a carol or feeling the
faint stirrings of a memory of a time past that gives us a little spark of
warmth to the soul. As we come to the
end of this little experiment let us take a little bit of time and curl up and
get lost in the “magic” of Christmas and see if you just might have a new
perspective on that Jolly old guy in his red suit…and just maybe see him in a
new light…for what he truly is… a secular worlds way of celebrating the Savior
There are a ton of classic films at this time of the year....White Christmas (with Bing & Danny), Holiday Inn (with Bing & Fred), It's a Wonderful Life (with Jimmy...but who can ever hear a bell and not think of Clarence getting his wings), but the best one for this journey we are taking has got to be...
The Miracle on 34th Street...
and of course I DOmean the 1947 version!!! Enjoy this classic…and rediscover of all the
magic…do you believe?
There were angels in
the heavens. They are the great
announcers of the Lord always at the ready whenever they are needed. Every great miracle involves angels...protecting,
guiding, assisting, instructing and singing praises. On this sacred night they
were doing all that and more. The
heavens were ablaze with the majestic sound around the world of the birth of
the Savior. The sound of “the multitude
of heavenly hosts” was awe inspiring and I am sure shocking to a great many as
well. I can only imagine being there to
What is the first
thing you do when you hear a bell...look to see where it is coming from. The shepherds of old would use a bell to call
for their sheep especially if any were missing.
You could say the same is true today in most religions…the bell calls
their members reminding them it is time to come together. Although we don’t have bells to remind and
call us, Christ our master shepherd has supplied us we our own personal “bells”
the Holy Ghost. He is our constant
companion and guide...can you hear your bell?
Bells and Santa just
go hand in hand...he has them everywhere and they are always ringing calling us
and reminding us that he is there because it is so important to him that we
never feel like we are alone…even if we can’t see him...sound familiar?
Our sweet toothcelebrates the much beloved candy
cane. What a handy little candy with its
hook on the end…grabbing hold of the edge of your cup or on the bows of your
tree…it is the symbol of the shepherds
hook so quick and efficient in gathering the lost lambs, keeping the flock
together. As the shepherds of old, we
are our brother’s keepers showing love
and support…really seeing others as we look for ways to serve and help those in
need, both spiritually and temporally, gathering together those in need of
comfort and support.
Santa gives them out
freely…hoping to elicit that spark of a smile and joy in the eyes of the child
in all of us…reminding us we are all the same on at least one common spot of
ground...we all want to be loved and feel like someone really cares and to be
seen for who we really are.
As we sit yearly and
watch or read the story of Christ’s birth we are inwardly shocked, annoyed,
surprised, astounded…even judgemental of all those many Inn keepers of
Bethlehem and their blatant disregard for Joseph and especially his VERY
pregnant Mary. How could someone just
turn them away…don’t they realize who it is at the door? “I would NEVER have done that!!!” I would have surly kicked someone out and
found even a small room for them. But
would we have? Do we today? Aren’t we as guilty as those Inn keeper of
being caught up in our hectic overstimulated lives and find not a spare minute
for anything spiritual…those simple basic moments of a prayer or a verse of
scripture. Do we not get so focused on our lives that we don’t really look at
those around us? Think of 3 places you have been today and try to remember
something about the person that was next to you. Maybe…just maybe…it’s not so
surprising that those busy Inn keepers didn’t REALLY see who was at their door
either. What does the sign on your personal
Here is the one place
that Santa has the lead…sadly. I can’t
think of a single person who forgets about Santa…ever.
Whatgifts will go under our tree…. How do
we choose the perfect gift for a loved one? Is there a more perfect gift then
the one Heavenly Father gave the world…His only begotten son. There is no gift
that will ever compare to the love and sacrifice that was given with that gift…no
conditions…no worthiness required…just the ultimate gift to all. There was much thought and planning to ensure
our way home. Do we put much thought
into the long “must have” lists we make as we scurry around trying to find the
best deal on exactly the best version of whatever we have deemed vital for that
person? Could we maybe give more thought
and more of ourselves into it? Remember the Wise Men…
Santa always asks “What
do you want for Christmas this year” and “Have you been a good boy/girl?” Then
we wait with boatloads of anticipation wondering if we are getting whatever it
was we asked for. More often than not we
are bound to be a smidge disappointed because the “perfect” gift in reality can’t
ever be found. We also know that there
is a condition strapped to any request we make…we’re good enough…am I
worthy?? But in the end….Santa usually
does “good” by us and we are happy he remembered us….even if he never saw our
We see the holly leaf
but have we ever given it much thought other than it is really festive with its
red berries? In fact it follows right
behind the wreath because in ancient times it was a reminder of the crown of
thorns worn by the Savior. The sharp
spikey leaves crowned his head with the red berries…his blood that was shed for
all of us. This helps us remember that
all aspects of His life and death are vital for us to remember.
As we compare the
secular Santa with Christ you may have noticed that some countries Santa is
depicted with a crown of holly. It
shouldn’t really surprise us that in man’s search for meaning the icons he
chooses sometimes gets intertwined with the religious symbols of the past
We look to the
wreath…we see it as the symbol of everlasting love…the REAL love that never
ceases, eternal in its design…always surrounds us with no end and no
beginning. The constant affection that
the Savior has for us his children that we more often than not turn away from
because of our own weakness, distractions, stubbornness, or foolishness. He is always at the door waiting for us to
open it to Him and His ever loyal and merciful love.
Santa uses them in
much the same way. They adorn his north
pole home as it does most of our homes today and he is even depicted carrying
one often for the wreath to him symbolizes that brotherly love and friendship
that flows so freely to even the total stranger at this time of year.
We surround our homes
and our tree with bright lights giving them a welcoming glow to light the way
for those who are lost and seeking. We
are quick to light the fireplace on those cold winter evenings and even enjoy
the warmth and glow of a candle or two.
Just as Christ is the light of the world whom we all seek…we can be the
light for another. He is the light that
dispels all darkness and despair if we would just trust in Him and hold tight
to His words. It is time to arise and
shine forth…bringing that light and His words to all around us…for Christ IS for all mankind and He will light
all those dark places.
How often do you see
Santa depicted resting in front of his fireplace…pondering the bigger picture
and perhaps his role in it?!?!!?
Our eyes are drawn to
the Star. The heavenly sign of promise
long ago that the Savior of the world was born and that tiny little baby would
change the world. The fulfillment of
that promise did indeed change the world but in our busy day-to-day lives do we
still let that change have an eternal effect on us?
Santa it is the glorious light that shines a warm glow all around it inviting
all to gather in to take in the beauty and peace of the Spirit of Christmas.
We are reminded of the Tree that adorns most of
our homes this season. It is no happen
chance that it is an evergreen tree. It
was first chosen because the tall stately tree remains green all year reminding
us of the FIRST gift of the Savior…everlasting life. That like the needles of the tree if we keep
our eyes up and look to the Lord in all things our focus will remain on the
important things of time on earth.
Have you ever
wondered why Santa waits ‘til we are all asleep to come into our homes…? Even he doesn’t want to distract us from this
symbol of Heavenly things.
When we think of Christmas, people are
always of two minds which are more often than not…POLAR (no pun intended) opposites.
You are either trying to keep Christ in Christmas or floundering in the world’s
idea of Santa Clause. My question is…are
they really that far apart?? If you take
the time to look at them both and dig to the root of both thoughts you just
might be surprised at how similar they started out being. So in the next 12 days,we are going to rediscover just
what they have in common and how we can celebrate both without eliminating
either or being pulled to pick sides.
In the end we hope you discover the
full joy of Christmas…the one that both sides intended from the
beginning…before all the greedy commercial stuff got in the way…
In the words of Arsenio Hall.... "Things that make you go....hmmmm..."
I will admit...I LOVE to people watch!!! I will wander the airport when we travel just to get a take on the "masses". I find people, with all their little quirks, moods, outlooks and stress triggers very fascinating to observe. For some reason, it just struck me the other day, while I was sitting in my car as VoR was filling it with gas...just how bazaar human nature can be. The line of cars with people patiently waiting their turn at (it was either Timmy's or Starbucks) was down the street. Let me start by saying...I am not and never have been a coffee drinker....but I still have to say....PEOPLE...REALLY?!?!!? I have been in Costco the last couple of weeks and they are doing a demo of the Nespresso Coffee Maker....it looks like a real "fancy schmancy" contraption...and seriously...who wouldn't want to be in the "cool club" like George & Danny (you have seen the commercials...right?!?!?) well it was evident by the continually huge crowd jammed around to get their sample swig, that they not only wanted "be in" but that it was brewing pure gold. I am just astonished that the lure of one little beverage has such a controlling power over the masses....I digress...
Now to bring this to just how insane I find this all...lets jump back a couple of days ago when I as standing in line in a store, and kind of had to giggle to myself as someone got sooooo twisted in knots (and colorful metaphors) because there was a line up for the cashier...and "how dare they only have 3 of the 4 cashiers open" Have you ever noticed in this "season of brotherly love, peace, good will toward men" that people are the most impatient and rude. It just makes me kinda laugh to people watch this time of year...the most rational, level-headed person becomes this HUGE ogre...growling and roaring at everyone around them...with the steaming cup of coffee in their hand that you know they happily sat in line for....LOL
Just a little reminder to us all....from one old retail veteran...the poor cashier is probably just as excited at the prospect of that HUGE line as you are. So....Be kind to one another...we all have lists that are too long and time that is too short...and so is life...trust me!!!
We ended this trip with me still sick (week 6) with this weird coughing undiagnoseable bug I picked up a couple of days after my last flight home from our Family Reunion the end of Aug. BTW...I am soooooo over being sick...just sayin!! Chest x-rays, blood work and we still got nothing...it's just one of those sicky bugs that makes you sleep sitting up, zaps all your energy but doesn't make you REALLY sick enough to stay in bed....argg...I hate this kind. Again I digress..."SQUIRREL"! Soooo...we headed home with one last stop in Palmyra, NY...another HUGE church history location....the beginning to be honest. The Sacred Grove, the Smith home & the Hill Cummorah and now a Temple...all because of the search for God & religion by a 14 yr old simple farm boy. Some people have called him a fake, a fraud, a con man but let me tell you what an officer of the justice system once said. "All Con men have a pattern and they just don't work like that...and I have known my share. A conman will always drop the con and move on if it looks like its gonna be blown or get too dangerous...Joseph Smith didn't do either" You would think that at some point before he was martyred (maybe the tar & feathering...the death of his children....the mob attacks)...he would have cut his losses and walked away....again...HE DIDN'T As we headed for home I took the quiet time in the car to reflect on those sacred places we visited and how the Holy Ghost touched my spirit and fed me in so many ways I hadn't realized needed it. I am sooo grateful for following VoR's prompting and making this trip the priority
We spent the next and final day in Ohio at the Historic Kirtland site. It is just down the hill (road) and to the right from the Temple....again the church had the Highway moved to protect the historic villiage site. Here they have a few more homes restored, including the Newell K Whitney store & home, an old Inn and the saw mill, as well as new homes matching the historic style, built for the current missionaries who work there. The mill itself was really impressive...it is a rebuilt, fully functional mill but back when it was origianlly built it not only milled the lumber but it produced pot ash which was sold for additonal building funds. The Whitney store & home were places of great revelation too. It was here that the Word of Wisdom was revealed because of the the smoke & tobacco spit mess of the men who sat in meetings in small rooms...can you even imagine....YUCK!! Joseph walked into the room and told the men of the revelation which included no tobacco...these faithful men walked over to the fireplace and broke their pipes and threw them in....never to smoke again. That kind of faith and immediate obedience moves me to sit back and ask myself as to what "pipes" do I need to let go and throw into the fireplace??? I love the fact that we (as humans) have the desire and ability to self-reflect and make the course corrections needed to live an authentic Christ inspired life...another tender mercy We drove over to the Morely & then the Johnson farms (40 mins away) which were both homes of Joseph & Emma for their time here in Kirtland. The important Johnson home & farm was bougth & restored a few years ago. What was cool is that it was still a working farm with the original home still lived-in and 85% original so restoration was a smaller undertaking. The real significance of this home to me was being able to stand in the room and feel the fear of that cold night long ago when Joseph was dragged out of bed into the yard to be tarred & feathered which also resulted in one of his infant twins dying of exposure....another in a long list of lost children for them. I can't imagine living in that hatred and persecution, always fearful of the mob charging in and forcing me from my home, city, state. To think that it still goes on in the world today....even in our own countries is mind boggling and makes me so grateful for all my freedoms & especially my personal safety. They were pushed further and further west trying to out-run the persecution, hate filled mobs, finally trecking 1000's of miles...mostly on foot pushing hand carts...to the great unknown of the American west. I have driven thru those Utah mountains and now these parts of New England to Ohio and looked out...imagining how daunting each step (especially in the winter) must have been for them. A journey that would test them and ask them to sacrifice EVERYTHING in their quest to be the faithful & obedient people of the Lord. The total unselfishness of these humble people...my ancestors...makes it really personal for me. I will forever be in their debt and sit in awe of their conviction & strength...so that I can be who & where I am today. This trip was so BEYOND anything I could have expected and SOOO WORTH IT....AMAZING.
So...picking up our trip at our hotel in Beechwood, Ohio (about 20 minutes from downtown Cleveland & yes....the R&R Hall of Fame) which was the most centrally located (thanks again Etta May Travel) for the next 3 places on the agenda. Now you have to understand that when we travel I always try to have access to a suite with a kitchen due to my over-the-top-hyper-sensitive allergies..which makes travelling and eating out anywhere a real nightmare. On this trip I wasn't able to pull it off so we did the best we could relying on daily trips to the Whole Foods market to get fresh and safe food for me. One evening I was just plain tired of "making do" so we ventured out to a restaurant that served just regular everyday food and hoped they had a chef not just a cook. Well...the food fairies were looking out for us that night cause we not only got a chef....but one with a real sense of adventure. When he heard what my allergies were he made a point of coming out to talk to us...and continued to check on us a few times during our meal. So... I challenged him to just have fun and make up something for me and did he ever go to town....it turned out to be FOR SURE some of the BEST food I have eaten in years...!he even sent me home with the extra of his "for me custom sauce". He just made my night....a very talented and fun chef...YOU ROCKED & a BIGTHANK YOU!!!
We....got up and headed out for the #2 of 4 stops here....of course...with the pilgrimage to the nearest Outlet Mall in Aurora, Ohio. Outlet malls are always near the top of "what to dos" after Krispy Kreme....i have my priorities in order....never fear. It couldn't have been a lovelier Fall day....perfect temperature & VoR's favorite stores...and I found my way to the Yankee Candle store. Not sure why the smells in there don't bother me like other similar stores except that they have a pretty large "clean & fresh" section of naturally mellow natural scents and I don't really stray from there...except for a seasonal candle for good measure (pumpkins for fall....mmmm). Now it may be the perfect place for my nose....the credit card...that's an entirely different matter....sigh!! I only go every couple of years and so I stock up. I am really not much of a shopper but this little stop always puts me in my happy place. So when you combine our favorite stores all in one location... BAM....you have a "Poppins"(practially perfect in every way") kinda of day.
By mid afternoon we were heading down the road to #3 (based strictly on logistics)...Kirtland Ohio, and the National Historic Landmark...The Kirtland Temple. I don't think I was really prepared to come around the curve in the road and there it was rising above the trees...I was in total AWE!!! I have grown up my entire life seeing pictures of this place and know all the facts about the sacrifices and injustices of those first faithful saints. Then to have it physically right in front of me.., was like it had been lifted right of the books,...was VERY emotional for me. I have (for as long as I can remember) always felt a deep, in my bones, kind of connection to that pioneer heritage. Their stories and experiences have always been so real to me...it doesn't take much effort to immerse myself in those raw emotions & faith. This was the first LDS temple built & it was thru the complete sacrifice of every single member living there...they gave time, talents, money even treasured possessions. I am not too sure how happy...after painstakingly crossing the ocean with the family china..,I would have been to crush it up to use in the plaster on the outside of the temple. I soooo deeply admire them...just not sure I would have made very good pioneer stock though....not sure how I would have dealt living thru one or more of their experiences...the spirit is willing...the body is just a mess....OYE! The temple is a majestic building in its simplicity of design....built by mostly unskilled workers...is a true monument to those early saints and their faith & obedience.
We were able to tour the building and sit only a couple of rows away from whrere Christ appeared to Joseph & Oliver after the dedication of the building. It just spoke to my soul. To end the tour by our group singing "The Spirit of God" (a song written for the dedication in 1837 and still sung in our congregations today)a capella (in 4 part harmony) like that day almost 2 centuries ago, brought tears to my eyes and that undeniable warmth to my soul. The Community of Christ does a very nice tour and are working hard to maintain the building as it has belonged to them since about 1845...to which we (the LDS church) work very closely along side them. The significance of all the miracles, revelations, translations, & sacrifices that took place in this area of Kirtland & in this Temple are so evident. They are such a testimony to me of the Lord's direction in our lives. That He still speaks to us today personally, to our spirits (soul) thru the Holy Ghost & thru our living Prophets is very humbling to me. To know where I fit in this big eternal plan is such a comfort and source of strength thru all those crazy journeys of my life (especially this cancer one). Knowing we are here because we are supposed to be....gives us a solid place to start. Now it's just up to us to figure out exactly why... and to discover all the gifts and blessings the Lord sent with us ....one step at a time.
I know what you are all thinking.....what could these 2 things possibly have in common....the simple answer....ME!!! Just in case you were unaware...how I am not sure...cause there is no way I have NOT shared my obsession with Krispy Kreme Donuts with you long before now!!! Let's just get it out there....I was hooked my very first bite decades ago & I am truly sorry Dunkin & Timmy Ho (Tim Horton's for you south of the border) but you just don't cut it...there just is NO comparison. So suffice it to say every time I cross the border into the USA I am on the hunt for a location close by... to buy my token 1 (or maybe 3) donut...let's just leave at saying..."mission accomplished" & now I am free,..with a very happy heart (YUM YUM) to move along, focused on the real purpose of this (or any siad) trip. After all.. R&R for me &VoR will take any opportunity to reconnect away from all the distractions of job and life....duh!!
This trip's focus was to explore some of the significant sites in our LDS church history in PA & OH... from way back in the beginning in the early 1830's. Some of you may know a smiege of our church history & the plight of our pioneers (some of which are direct line ancestors to both VoR & me) & that it is a huge deal to our members. The church has worked tirelessly to acquire, restore or rebuild these special places & in some cases had highways moved to protect these historic sites. There are many major & minor spots that are now available to visit so that you can get a sense of what they went thru, feel the spirit and strengthen your own testimony but they are just as important to the NON-LDS person as these are an integral part of American History, the migration that opened up the west and the struggle to gain the religious freedom that we all enjoy today. We have had the opportunity to visit a few of these places together in VT, NY, PA with more adventures in the further from farther home.....some major planning still required...TBA
This Thanksgiving...in the Great White North...(that would be October for you more southern folks)..we took some extra days and hit the road again heading for destinations both new and familiar. Our 1st stop was Oakland Township, PA on the Susquehanna River at the Priesthood Restoration Site. It was a beautifully restored site with the homes of both Emma & Joseph Smith and Emma's parents The Hales. These were remarkably important locations since it was in these homes that the majority of the Book of Mormon was translated. It is also where the Priesthood was restored along with where Joseph & Oliver were baptized. A very special spirit was there, standing in the room where those vital books of scripture were meticulously translated by a humble, obedient man & the power of God. We spent the night at a really cool resort that was built as a private residence in the 1900 but was later turned into a golf resort. It had a certain old world vibe about it since they have tried to retain the old charm. You could just imagine seeing such notable guests as Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bing Crosby, to name a couple of their former guests, meandering around the grounds waiting for their turn to swing a club at one of those little white balls
The next 4 stops were kinda all together as we based the next few days out of one hotel centrally located on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio.(yes..."Etta May Travel"is up and running...working hard to plan a convenient, well organized trip specifically tailored for your relaxation and stress-free travel....DUH!!!). The first actual stop was a definite departure from the rest...but a highlight all of its own. Situated on the waterfront (Lake Erie) in downtown Cleveland, Ohio....is none other then The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! Now to be totally honest...cause I am....I only went along cause I knew this was HUGE on VoR's bucket list. I had done my research and thought it was kinda pricey but it was sooooo important to him and I knew if the roles were reversed....he would be all over it for me. I STAND CORRECTED...IT WAS WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!! It was sooooo cool with soooo many amazing items & stories. There was "behind the scenes" memorabilia, quotes & photos of almost all the influential bands and individuals in music history. I say "almost"... cause I did NOTfind one thing about Glenn Miller (Moonlight Serenade...sigh!!!), The Osmonds, Luther Vandross, Barry Manilow, or England Dan & John Ford Coley just to name a few. Let's be honest... you have to admit they were all very successful recording artists and made important contributes to the history of the music industry....but to me... they were a just a few of those especially GINORMOUSLY HUGE influences on my musical history...this is an obvious oversight on the part of those fine folks at the Hall of Fame....SHEESH!!! We spent almost 3 hours & covered about 70% of what was there but we really only scratched the surface....if you read, watched & listened to everything available there you could spend WAY more hours. They covered the history of music back to its roots, thru all its trends (yes,,,,even Disco which VoR still argues isn't really music), popular genres to political impacts & then some.
If you love music...any style (okay...maybe not classical, which I argue isn't real music...wink, wink)...this is for sure a "YOU GOTTA GO HERE"!!! destination for your books
Since relocating to a more east-central part of the Great White North, VoR & I have taken to the road to discover what is around us...since we are both westerners by birth this is as one Capt James T. Kirk would say "The Undiscovered Country"....yup...I am a "Trekkie" thru and thru..."live long and prosper"....rabbit holed that right off track again...."squirrel!!"
ANYWAY...we have only in the last year or so realized just how close things like Boston, (Massachusetts)... Kennebunkport, (Maine)... Ben & Jerry's & Cabot Cheese factories (Vermont)and the White Mountains of New Hampshire really are. Some are a little longer drive then others but all within a good solid day trip....who knew?!?!?!?
We have spent a week here and there but it all started off in 2014 with a week in beautiful mountains of New Hampshire and a ride on the historic Cog Railroad up the side of the mountain....spectacular for sure!!! We did some short day trips to Maine coast to wandered the shops of the board walk, breathe in the Atlantic Ocean & taking a peek at the summer home of US President George Bush (41st one) in Kennebunkport. The Autumn leaves were so bright and colorful as we meandered thru those New England states. The next day trip was to Boston, Mass to attend the LDS Temple there. It was another beautiful building and such a refuge from the business of the world. We are so blessed to have sacred places of peace to go and feed our spirits and prepare to face whatever the world has coming our way.
Our next trip was to Smuggler's Notch, Vermont last spring. There we found some REAL treasures....Benn & Jerry's Ice Cream factory....need I say more???? We also came across the Cabot cheese factory....it's my favorite tasting cheese so of course we had to tour and shop at both...YUM!!! I have to admit to being a map reader....even in this time of GPS and much to the mocking of my children...but there are just some treasures of info that is on the printed paper...for example...I was just looking at the Vermont one while VoR was filling the car and discovered (not far down the road) was a granite quarry. Now never having seen one...I thought it would be fun for a little side trip...why not...that''s what a VaCa is all about...so we got there only to discover on the tour that this particular quarry supplied the granite for the outside of the Bountiful , Utah LDS temple as well as the 38.5 ft monument at the birth place of Joseph Smith Jr. in Sharon, Vermont....our next stop....WAY COOL & a neat "happened to find".
The visit to Sharon was really wonderful. We got there late afternoon and so it was peaceful and the sunlight was just perfect coming just above the trees. The tour guide for our private tour took us around to the west side of the monument and had us back up just a bit so that the light hitting the top of the monument shone so bright it was blinding. The spirit and sacredness of that place along with the significance (the monument being 38.5 ft, one for ever year of his life) to the life of that one humble boy with the ginormous faith that began there was not lost on either of us
We have had a bunch of fun adventures...some grander then others but we have every intention of continuing to plan & discover the cool things there are to see on both sides of our neighboring countries...along with any outlet malls that happen to wonder along our path
So if I am being totally honest...(which is the mission statement of this blog...if you haven't noticed that all ready...but I digress)the only REAL positive in a Breast Cancer diagnosis (that includes a full mastectomy) that happens at the end of treatment are those new "perky" boobs (either implants or your own tissue) & tummy tuck ....come on girls....you I know I am only speaking the truth..cause those are the 2 top wishes for nearly all of us... who have birthed and breast fed our babies
Soooo...let me first remind you that I am fully immersed & a life-time member of the "2%" club. We are the chosen ones that are commonly dealing with the "unlikely but just in case" list of weird/less common,"it happens to one in a million happens to"....worst case scenario side effect...I AM SOOOO OVER IT!!! It is so bad that my family Doctor actually looks at the bottom of the side-effects list for red flags before she prescribes ANY medication to me....sigh!
I met with my plastic surgeon this last week to have a "no holds barred" appt. to see exactly where we are at. After much talk and examination it was deemed too risky for me to undergo the HUGELY long & meticulous procedure of reconstruction. Needless to say those perky boobs and tummy tuck are just not in the cards for me. I knew I was fighting an up hill battle when you consider my weight...1.75 above the benchmark of 30% BMI which hasn't changed in 3 yrs no matter what I do. It just hasn't changed much...at all even with the daily hour long lap swim and mindful diabetic eating. You add my diabetes (perfectly controlled and below the diabetic benchmark...BTW) & the physical changes my body experiences when exposed to my allergens and you've got 2 of the 3 sides of sides of the perfect trifecta of events then throw in (thanks radiation treatment)the mastectomy scars being deep and very tight and we have created breast cancer's "Perfect Storm"....(batten down the hatches boys it's getting a smidge bumpy). She tells me that the risks are just too high for me she and that she couldn't/wouldn't consider doing it.....so again my options are limited to reduction and uplift of the left boob or complete removal of it...both of which are very easy short day surgeries. If I left it there and fixed it....which isn't really a solution since it would still be there messing with my ability to wear most clothes...and yes...a bathing suit (which is still really funny to me that I worry about things like that now)....or the complete removal (commonly called "prophylactic mastectomy") are the only 2 options I have. What really got to me was the fact that once again, it no longer was MY decision...landing me again in a situation completely out of my control.
I'm honestly and truly okay with me evolving from "The Uniboober" to "The Unboober"...
Now you can imagine this perfect storm + the feeling of having the rug pulled out from under me again and WHAM!!!!....I am drowning my anger at this ever giving Troll in some pumpkin spice cookie dough and proceed to have the biggest "mad at the world" pity party in history. When I began this cancer journey everything moved at light speed & I truly only retain control of a VERY FEW things (sometimes my control was really just an illusion but I held on tight to it) so when this final(I hope) rug was pulled out from under me that final time that primed storm came down with avengence...mine lasted 8 hrs....luckily no one around to watch it.
Now I will admit that the ever present still small voice that guides me clued me into this possibility several weeks ago...then randomly VoR tells me that he's OK with the removal option...he just glad and thankful that I am still here. We all know he has nothing to do with it....that it's totally MY body...and that he's just not that kind of controlling weaselly guys fixated on the outside appearance (we all know more then our share of those kind)..he soooo gets the eternal big picture Interesting how I had been pondering it anyway but to have him show that kind of support is AMAZING!! He is ALWAYS my anchor and example.
Anyway...when the dust settled....I am at total peace sitting where I am with the new view of my future....& once again at the beginning of yet another "waiting list"...I sure hope this one goes faster then the 3 yrs I have been on this last one....sigh
SWIMMING...to most people it's a normal part of childhood...ndb..right?!?!? For me not even close...I can't even begin to explain the terror that goes along with this activity...let's just leave it as aHUGE NO!!! for now...OYE!!! What started as a simple little push off the end of a dock as a very young child...turned into a huge life changing & traumatic moment by nearly drowning. Since that day water and I have been mortal enemies...no joke!! It's soooo bad that I have never put my face in the shower or or dunked my head in water...thank heavens for wash cloths...they are the best. VoR has tried on a few occasions to get me to relax and try to float which only earned me the auspicious title of "Lead Butt" cause my rate of descent to the bottom of the pool is legendary. Jump a head a few decades & I find myself facing the perfect storm of gentle bullying, peer pressure and support (love & understanding) that forced me to face my terror head on... As a result of this lovely cancer troll & the surgery that came along with it... I am left with a reduced number of lymph nodes in my armpit which if not watched closely can turn into permanent lymphedema. I have been starting to have some swelling and pain in my arm so after consulting with both my massage therapist & family doctor the best thing for me would be Aqua fit classes. So, with way more internal dialogue then I care to admit to...and a flash back to Julia Roberts in "Sleeping With the Enemy"...(don't ever underestimate the power of movies)....I finally resigned myself to the fact that Aqua fit really would be my best treatment option because the water pressure acts on your lymph system and makes it drain. So I put on my big girl panties and stepped into that perfect storm approached my 2 dear friends with skills enough to not let me drown, and asked them to attend a couple aqua fit classes with me and being the women they are...jumped on it. They suggested that maybe we should start with a few trips to the pool just to get comfortable...(start peer pressure here)...so jump ahead a few morning (way too early for my night owl schedule)and they had me not only dunking my head but actually floating...WHAT!!!!...see there are miracles happening all around us...lol. We decided to keep it as a secret from VoR and surprise him once I could actually swim a bit. I will never forget the look of shock and complete pride I saw on his face that first day. This was the most GINORMOUS hurdle I have ever faced & sometimes I still look more like that fish in the bottom of the boat thrashing around then a swimmer...but I keep plugging away at it. I have since learned that I really love the backstroke and use it to do my lap swimming which, since VoR joined my gym, is 6am 6 days a week...again..way too early for this night owl) well we go a little later on Sat. I can NEVER thank those 2 women enough for opening up this new world for me. THANK YOU!!! Not only have I overcome this terror but the health benefits are HUGE...my range of motion and lymphatic system are jumping for joy...and I can't begin to tell you how great that is...it's a win-win in my books.
I am gonna start this off with a couple items of "business"...info for you to be aware of... First...there is a little spot on the right side where you can add your email and become a follower of this blog so you don't miss any future posts. Second...I have added a spot on the bottom of these new posts that gives you an option to leave a comment...so...don't be shy...go for it. I can't wait to hear from you!!! Now let's move on...I just thought I would take a minute and explain why the "New Shade of Pink". Understand first that my life will forever have a "hint of pink" in it. No matter how many years I get beyond the actual boob battle...once you have walked down this path you are forever changed and always glow a smidge pink I have really been at a loss...struggling, stewing & brewing over this blog for the last year wondering if I had anything really to share. All I know is that I didn't want this to turn into an everyday over share facebook post...(ain't nobody got time for that silliness...just sayin) but I was beginning to feel a real disconnect because it just wasn't relevant to where my life is today. I started this blog as a newly diagnosed breast cancer patient but 4 yrs later my life is no longer revolving around treatment, side effect and complications. YES...I still have ongoing issues that will always be part of my "new normal" but I accept my new limitations...slow my pace and just keep moving forward figuring it out as I go. DON'T get me wrong...I LOVE this blog and all the blessing it has brought into my life...more than I could ever begin to list. It has taught me so very much about myself & brought people into my life that inspire, support, motivate and have loved me thru some really dark days....but I am not the same person...I have evolved into something more. I am now OFFICIALLY A SURVIVOR but I not only SURVIVED but I THRIVE!!! I am rediscovering my limited (it ain't always pretty...OYE!) creative self and embarking on some creative adventures. I still love to ponder, reflect & try to understand my purpose/role in this life...what I am supposed to learn...cause after all...that is what this life is all about. Facing new challenges (even the ones we don't want) that are meant to smooth off my rough edges making me a better version of myself then I was the minute before...always moving forward.
EXPERIENCE+ LEARNING= GROWTH
So let me end by saying again...Welcome to my new shade of PINK!! Can't wait to share more laughs, tears & "aha" moments with you.
With a TON of help from my Blog Guru....who is most definitely my "Fairy Blog Mother" (you are the best!!!) I figured the best way to start the new chapter of my journey was with a little pampering...after all...the girl does deserve it. It has been a long and grueling few years to say the least....lessons learned, faith sustained, love received and exhaustion hit...more then a few times.... I am taking a much needed and long overdueBIG STEP.. Iv'e tried to make "The "Boob Battle" posts easier to find by running the label list down the side so you can find exactly the one you want to re-read
So...with the face lift complete we are ready to tackle all the new adventures and explore some of the side roads and probably stumble over more than a few roadblocks along the way. It is bound to be a crazy ride and I can't wait to share it with you...but most importantly learn from it as I meander along this journey...