Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It just goes to never know

In the last week I had many conversations with folks that in hindsight all orbited around the same theme. And in hindsight all contributed to my "readiness" for a conversation that took place Monday. I postponed the posting of this information for many reasons, and I can't really do it justice even now (for different reasons).

There are many ways to break the news that you've lost your job... Here's what I got Monday.

"You have been selected to lead a team which we've identified for a special project. This team will be piloting a new business model. This new model is critical for our ongoing success. In this model, you are no longer an employee of our company. Starting Friday, should you accept this assignment, you will be an employee of our supplier."

This situation was communicated to me first (on Monday), ahead of the other ~30 affected employees, solely because I was leaving on vacation Tuesday. I met with my old boss, then my new boss and then a rep from Human Resources. They referred to me as their "dry run." Part of the exercise involved my telling them each they were doing a good job delivering the message.

Then I told my husband, my son, my parents, my sisters.... Then I left on vacation.

The announcement came out today. There were "emergency meetings" and messages rolled. My phone has been ringing, buzzing with text messages. When I logged into work, instant messages popped up. It's nice to know so many people are worried about me. I'm fine, really. I'm joining a growing organization, leaving one that's shrinking.

In accepting this new role, I see that it is critical for my new team to embrace this opportunity. Really it is an opportunity because so many people have been let go - "Step off the platform, into space" vs. "Step off the platform onto the waiting train." The new team is made up of top performers. The company is banking on our success. Both companies are.

From my perspective, my faith has been rewarded. I don't know what my future holds, but I trust that I have a future.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I am not a quitter

Just as Marty McFly could predictably be incited by accusations that he was a chicken, the voice in my head that whispers "quitter" brings out my stubborn streak. I quit smoking in 2004 and I'm proud of that. I quit drinking Diet Coke in 2006 and I'm proud of that. I tried to quit delivering my youngest mid-way through the process, but the OB/GYN insisted I finish. My 23-year marriage is as much a product of stubbornness as a testament of steadfast love (probably more so). I am not a quitter.

In 1983 I dropped out of UT. Then went back in '84. Later in '84 I dropped out again and ended up traveling with Ringling Brothers (& Barnum & Bailey). Quitting that gig was harder than dropping out of school. In '89 I went back to UT and finished my degree in Mechanical Engineering. I've had 2 employers in the last 20 years. I quit my last job only because "down-sizing" was inevitable and I was a Mechanical/Electrical Engineer in a chemical company (limited opportunities). My survival instincts overrode my "I am not a quitter" instincts.

Why am I boring you with my life history today? Cryptonomicon. My Dad loaned me this 1130 page paperback with an endearing note of recommendation. I took the book with me to China in March. I never got past page 3. I picked it up again a few weeks ago and have been grinding through it. I've tracked progress as "percent complete". I decided to wait until I was at least 10% complete before passing judgment. By then I seemed to be on a roll so I kept reading. I am now on page 148 (13%) and I am at my limit. I am not a book critic, but I'll capture a bit of the brick wall....

The scene is WWII London. A cryptographer is describing the nature of the British. "There is no in between with these people.... None of them have cars but when they do they are three-ton hand-built beasts. The concept of stamping out a whole lot of cars is unthinkable - there are certain procedures that have to be followed, Mr. Ford, such as the hand-brazing of radiators, the traditional whittling of the tyres from solid blocks of cahoutchouc."

I have a stack of other books to read. My MIL loaned me the entire Left Behind series (about 4 years ago) and I really want to start plowing through those. I've been left behind by Harry Potter (I think I have 2 left to read). And I've promised our youngest I'll read Twilight before the movie comes out in December. So, why do I feel guilty about putting down a book that hurts my teeth leaves me so motivated to try my hand a novel-writing?

One lesson I take from Crypto is that this book was a New York Times bestseller. Out of fairness to the author, Crypto is not in my preferred genre. When I read my favorite authors I tend to feel intimidated. "I can never write this well." This book has inspired challenged me. "I can do better." Can I? Will I? What will be the impetus?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Not fasting

We stopped for french fries at 4:30 (or 5) and so ended the fast. Then home to sleep off the "twilight". Endoscopy revealed nothing significant. No clear explanation for the chronic sore throat. Mild hiatal hernia, mild acid reflux. We knew this going into yesterday's procedure.

"More tests!" say they. "Nay!" say I. "Continue taking the twice daily PPI," (which I was taking once a day and they told me I could quit taking a few weeks ago) say they. "Hmmm...." say I.

The good news is - there is nothing grossly out of whack. No polyps, no holes in the walls, nothing funky growing in there.

So what if? What if this mysterious pain in my throat really is God's way of saying "Shut up and write"? Do I need a picture of the billboard that is posted in my heart? When I look within, that's the message I'm getting. "Stop talking and write."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


What is it about fasting? My first thoughts this morning - "I have to fast. Clear liquids only. Is coffee a clear liquid? It is if I drink enough water." Because my endoscopy is scheduled for the afternoon, I was free to drink clear liquids up until 8am. I drank 1 cup of coffee and 4 bottles of water. And a couple of swigs of pickle juice. Don't ask about the pickle juice. Now I'm just .... fasting. It's hard to do anything when all I can think is "I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. Are we there yet?" I have yogurt ready and waiting for when I get home. Okay, now I'm trying not to think about yogurt.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Once upon a fish tank

Once upon a time there was a fish tank that lived in the corner of a lovely "front room" in a home in Texas. That fish tank was home to many happy fishies. Over time, there were fewer and fewer happy fishies. Not because the fishies were unhappy, mind you, but because the fishies were "opting out" of life in the tank.

After the chief cook and bottle washer (Correction: I don't cook or wash bottles, but I do earn the bacon and feed the fish) spent 2.5 weeks in Malaysia/Singapore, there was only one fish remaining - a tough and savage Bali shark. He may look innocent enough, but he was a true killer, known for eating everything that was added to the tank whether it was a free minnow from the pond or a $2.99 tetra. Although the tank slowly decended into a state of neglect (as noted by the hardwater drips in evidence behind the shark), things came to a head last week when the hood finally lit its last. The dim, flickering light gave up its ghost and would light no more.

Finally, finally, finally it was time for a change. We took the shark to the fish store and traded him in for a bunch of little, lively tetras.

(Ignore any signs of tank neglect. I think I mentioned the sordid history leading up to this point.)

When we went to the fish store, I only had one criteria - "passive". I want fish that don't pick each other to death! I was told that Tetras "school" but you can tell by the picture that it's remedial school. I'm hoping that with time they get their act together. And, we (of course) replaced the dead hood (integrated lighting) so we can see what the little guys are up to.

Oh! I have so enjoyed the "new" tank. It is filled with lights and action! It is fun to feed them. The minnows that were destined to end their lives as shark food now think they are tetras. It is a joyful celebration to witness. But! No community tank is complete without guppies! So ... we went to the local pet store and bought some guppies.
And oh my! I forgot what horny little buggers the guppies are. Poor little females are being pestered to death. Not picking, pricking! It is truly something to behold. Makes me feel kinda frisky. Nevermind the algae growing in the tank. I have better things to think about!

Oh, honey!!! Where are you?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I. Am. Not. A. Frog.

Today, I wandered into the far back corner of our yard to dispose of some coffee grounds and egg shells (I'm a conscientious consumer - I compost). When I got to the compost bins, I found...a frog. A big frog. What I didn't realize at the time was that this frog had the power of the Jedi. You see, he was hiding behind a blad of grass. A blade of dead grass, that is. But because of his Jedi powers, he was invisible to predators, such as the killer lapdog, Alabaster (our cat).

It should be noted that Alabaster routinely captures birds, snakes, frogs, lizards, mice, butterflies, dragonflies and small airplanes. Nothing escapes him. But today he was thwarted. He was completely oblivious to the frog. He was in full lapdog mode, following me around, never far from my ankles.

He stood with me during all of the photo shoot and when I tried to back up to capture a picture of him not seeing the frog, he stuck with me. I had to stretch out my right arm and aim back to get this picture.

Now, just in case you think I'm unfair, or harsh in my judgment (admittedly, it's hard to spot the huge frog behind the blade of dead grass)...when I finally pulled the lid off of the compost bin the frog flinched, lost focus and took a hop. Alabaster was onto him immediately. "Aha! What's this?!? A frog!!!"

(I have tried repeatedly to load the picture of Alabaster "nose on frog", but it keeps loading sideways!)

The frog, however, immediately invoked his Jedi powers and Al was left to wonder "Where did he go????"

Apparently the frog can't maintain The Force while hopping because Al noticed him again for his disappearing act. In this last image, Al has just looked up from sniffing where the frog was to see the frog disappearing behind the can. We'll call this...the one that got away.

Monday, October 13, 2008

On blogging, a writer's angst

In Stephen King's On Writing, he tells aspiring writers (such as myself) that you cannot be a writer if you are not a reader - particularly of the genre in which you aspire to write.

Meanwhile, I am about to be published in an inspirational magazine (Guideposts) which I read regularly. "Being published" is a HUGE affirmation. It's almost as cool as getting Comments. During the "being published" process, the very supportive editor who is working with me suggested that I blog on parenting (this is a passion for me - parenting, not blogging). So, I started blogging in earnest. (My sister had already encouraged the blogging, and I'd started blogging again here and posting photos on this site. "In earnest" mostly means this site.).

In order to be an effective blogger, I also became a blog reader. Unfortunately, I have an addictive nature and I can't seem to control myself. In part, it's the nature of the blogs to suck you in, through links & comments connecting you to other bloggers.

With some addictions, such as smoking or drinking, participation is binary: you are either engaged in your bad habit or you are not. I used to joke that I quit smoking 20-30 times a day, every time I snuffed a cigarette. I'd mastered breaking the habit when I quit lighting up. I quit lighting cigarettes (and smoking them) on June 10, 2004. Similarly, recovering alcoholics can tell you how long they have been sober. Other addictions are much harder to control.

Blog-control is like dieting. You can't be binary. You have to eat, right? I'm no good at counting calories, and I sometimes find myself in the kitchen mindlessly grazing. My computer has become my kitchen. I sit down to write something, but find myself grazing on the posts of others. My mind is so full of ideas and streams of consciousness that I'm drowning in the noise of it all. I keep stuffing myself on what I'm reading, then I don't have the time or energy to exercise my own thoughts.

I'm now trying portion control. I've bookmarked about 30 blog sites the way I might flag a new recipe or dish I want to try. Just because one bite of that cheesecake was delicious heavenly drool-inducing the stuff dreams are made of, doesn't mean I have to eat the whole thing. From the list of the 30, I hope to build a ~short blog-roll of favorites that I shall dine on regularly because they inspire me.

And, just as I have committed to work-out with Richard 5 times a week, I must find some tangible commitment to the mental work-out of writing. Does blogging count?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I am sockless

My socks are completely knocked off. I took a few hundred photos today (now "yesterday" since I'm re-posting), while swimming through the zinnias in my backyard. Butterflies, bees, spiders.... all loving the garden.

I'd been keeping an eye out for the Monarch's. I knew they were passing through, but I hadn't seen any for a few days. I wasn't sure if I'd missed 'em.

Here's the view from the office where I do my morning workout. From here - I took a closer look and I saw them! I grabbed my camera and ran outside.

I had to move in to get a really good perspective.

Finally, I was able to get some awesome close-ups. For an overview, check out my other blog: amothersangst.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


The lighting isn't very good, but I'm hoping you can see the egg timer. I mentioned to my loving husband that the time spent blogging was tending to get away from me. So....introducing the egg timer. I'm grateful. No offense to the blogging world, but I need to be working on some other endeavors. Ironically, I'm "over" my self-imposed time limit for tonight, but I had to share!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A trip to the doctor

I'm sad that I'm back in the cycle of trying to figure out what's wrong with me. Just sticking to the physical....not even touching on the rest of it. :P

Today I went to the Gastroenterologist. The build up to here is (quick run-down):

4/30 - went to my General Practitioner because my throat had been hurting for a few months. Hurts to swallow. Can't sing. Can't talk (that's a killer!) or at least limited capacity. Indication was "Acid Reflux". He sent me to an ENT.
5/1 - went to ENT. He ran optical scope down my throat for a look-see. He diagnosed "Acid Reflux" and unrelated "severely deviated septum" (because apparently only one nostril was open for the scope). Since he's an ENT, he volunteered to correct my septum. I started taking Zegerid for the acid reflux, and scheduled the surgery to correct my septum.
5/16 - Septoplasty. I don't regret the Septoplasty because I quit being a mouth-breather after the surgery. I had been waking up in the middle of the night with a screaming sore throat. Now, I breathe through my nose again.
9/18 - my last follow-up with ENT. OK, great...but my throat still hurts.
9/24 - barium swallow at Radiology.
9/26 - diagnosis "Hiatal Hernia".
10/7 - meet with GI guy (aka Gastroenterologist). Afterwards, I ask to see my folder. I discover ENT reported that I was complaining of heartburn???? and that the radiology report was ~inconclusive. I have had zero heartburn (and have said so repeatedly). 6 months after going to the doctor, I'm no closer to understanding why my throat hurts. all. of. the. time.

Today's visit to the GI office was a reminder of all painful aspects of dealing with the medical community. Because I'd been to a different arm of the practice 6 YEARS AGO!!! they had old info on file. Of course I'd given them all of my latest info when I made the new appointment... new address, new insurance, etc. But today, they told my insurance had been terminated (yes, a few years ago my employer quit offering the other company and so I had to change) and the office had NOT gotten the report from the ENT (had I realized the report was only going to be the "I didn't listen to my patient" report from my last visit I wouldn't have bothered).

My loving husband and I spent almost 2 hours at the GI office, with a total of ~5 minutes with the GI physician. We have an endoscopy scheduled for 10/21 ... wait let me tell you that story.

We were sent to schedule the endoscopy and we were asked which facility, A or B? A, we said, it's more convenient. OK, next available appointment is 11/26 (Wednesday before Thanksgiving). I commented on the proximity to the holiday and they told me not to worry - I'd have to fast on Wednesday, but should be OK for Thursday. I've heard from other sources my throat might be sore for a day or so after the procedure). I asked about appointments at facility B.... As I mentioned, we have an appointment for 10/21. 2 weeks from today vs. 6 weeks. Silly to think I might want a diagnosis sooner, or even to think my throat might stop hurting a whole month earlier! Why on earth should they even consider this???!!!! Oy-vay! But goodness, they were quick to offer excuses explanations for why they were out of control regarding appointments. "None of the charts are right!" "We have two doctors today!"

It was enough to make a girl think life is better with a chronic sore throat.

Perspective: We have friends with cancer, bone disease, Down's....I have a stupid chronic sore throat. I am sorry to complain and to abuse this forum for a ranting vent. Consider it sympathy in that in the last 8 years I have had 2 biopsies, 3 major surgeries and I'm familiar to the point of contempt for the medical practice. I've had good experiences (my new OB/GYN, my GP) to balance situations like today. I hold out hope that the diagnosis will be something that is easy to correct.

Lesson: We are each responsible for managing our (and our children's) medical course. Keep track of the history, medications, etc. I hate to say it, but - don't trust the doctors to know what's best for you (or your child). Most of the doctors are not listening to what you're saying - they're hearing what is coming through their filter of pre-conceived expectations. Keep it in prayer.

My GP is awesome because he really listens. I was appalled to see the ENT documented "she reported heartburn" when I've repeatedly said "no heartburn". It just shows me he thinks I should be having heartburn.

My prayers go out to everyone who is engaged in the process of medical diagnosis.


Monday, October 06, 2008

This is what I'm talking about!

I don't think my pictures do it justice, but I gotta tell you...I love my yard! The zinnias are blooming in full force and it's hard for me to walk by without stopping and admiring. I wanted to take a photo of a butterfly, thinking of "Flutter" who has touched my heart. No butterflies, though. Maybe it is too late in the day.

This is so much different than what I do for a living. It is so different from the clanging and banging of thoughts in my head. It is nothing but peace and beauty. Nothing for me to do but stop and admire. And thank the good Lord for blessing me. No matter what, I know that I have received blessings in abundance.

I read somewhere that zinnias grow to ~3 feet tall. Thankfully no one told my zinnias! The tallest are at least 7 feet tall. Doesn't it figure they'd be overachievers?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

It just goes to show.... never know. I thought for sure my Trumpet article would be on the subject of healing, but instead I shared some musings on the subject of commitments. I was inspired by the Capital City marching band competition. I wrote the article from my seat in the bleacher, after my son's school performed. Was I a slacker for waiting until the last minute to put something together for the Trumpet? Or was it divine guidance? I don't think the subject of healing is fully baked yet. I missed the deadline but our editor-in-chief is an awesome individual, and the article made it into this month's newsletter.

Trumpet archives can be found at:

"Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask."

Friday, October 03, 2008

On the subject of healing

In 2002 I started having mysterious abdominal pain. Bloating, cramps, gas....

Here's a picture of me at the time (I'm the one in uniform). I was performing in a community theater production of "Rumors" and I remember having to go outside before going onstage. I would step outside and belch as much as possible to alleviate the gas in my stomach. My belly was bloated, and boy did those pants show it off!

I went through a barrage of medical tests to identify the problem. Since the trouble seemed to be gastrointestinal, I started with a GI guy. He didn't find anything so my next stop was an OB/GYN. She scheduled an exploratory laparoscopy. I went in for a 30 minute outpatient procedure on a Friday afternoon that turned into a 3 hour procedure and 4 days in the hospital. I had severe endometriosis. The doc sliced me open (full pelvic incision, about 8 inches long side-to-side). She carefully cleaned everything up as best she could, and took only one ovary. When she stopped by to see me Monday, she was very pleased with herself. I was PO'd. I had started my period not too long after waking up from the surgery.

When I saw the doctor Monday, I'd already had a couple of days to wonder why she hadn't performed a hysterectomy. There I was in my hospital bed, vomiting from the anesthesia (yes, for days), constipated (a separate agony), and menstruating. My reproductive system was clearly malfunctioning. I have four children, I was almost 40, my husband was in the waiting room and the paperwork had been signed allowing him to make medical decisions. I never did understand her response when I asked her, "Why?" - "But you're so young!"

Last year, 5 years after the first surgery, I had a hysterectomy to correct the severe endometriosis that had inevitably returned. The 2nd go-round was a completely different experience with a competent, compassionate doctor. The tragedy is that I'm having to do hormone replacement which would *probably* have been avoided if the 1st doctor had left the one good ovary but removed the rest of the reproductive organs.

As I reflect on the nightmare of the 1st round of this experience, I'm reminded that healing is a multi-faceted challenge. I tend to think of healing as physical, but we need to be healthy in our "whole self," so mental and spiritual healing is also required.

1 Corinthians 6:19 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?"

We must take care of ourselves - body, mind and spirit - in order to be a worthy vessel for the Holy Spirit. If our bodies are broken, our minds distracted, our spirits conflicted, we are in need of healing. It wasn't enough for me to be mended and no long suffering from cramps. I also needed to forgive Doctor #1, and "let it go". For me to be fully healed, I had to free my mind and my heart from the lingering hurt and sense of injustice.

My goal is to be so full of the Holy Spirit it spills out of my eyes, my mouth and my blogging fingertips. I do not want to be perforated with emotional wounds that allow the Spirit to drain away. I do not want to be tainted with poisons that kill the Spirit. I nourish the Spirit with the Word (John 1). I replenish by drinking from the well (John 4). When I'm spiritually wounded, afflicted, tormented by demons, I pray for healing...just as I do when I'm physically ill. It is our obligation to take care of ourselves.

Be well,

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I needed a moment of flowers and sunshine.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Note to self

"Do not let blogging become your new addiction."

I'm blogging as part of my new discipline in living a balanced life. I have successfully shaken an addiction to World of Warcraft (an online game, also fondly referred to as "World of Warcrack"). In the game, one thing tends to lead to another and you can spend hours (and hours) playing, completely losing track of time. It seems in the blogging network, something similar happens. Some level of discipline is required to avoid getting sucked into the vortex.

As part of my new discipline, I have made some commitments to myself. I must continue my regular work-outs (at least 5 times a week I spend 15-20 minutes with Richard Simmons). I must continue to work (professionally) because I enjoy the regular paychecks. I am still writing monthly pieces for my church newsletter, and the October deadline is fast-approaching.

I have not done any bible-study homework this week (since Sunday, when I realized we weren't meeting for 2 weeks)! This is not fitting with the new discipline. I should maintain some level of study, so I will use the extra time to study scripture on "obedience" and "submission". What exactly is the difference?