Sunday, September 28, 2008

Two Lessons Learned

A man named Matthew Kelly – author and speaker – handsome Australian, once said that the difference between pleasure and happiness is that pleasure cannot be sustained beyond the act that gives us the pleasure, but happiness lingers long after the experience that produces it. If you think on that for a moment, you’ll realize the Aussie’s right!

Today after Mass, I decided to take a new way home and missed a street or two, got myself turned around, and ended up in the “keep on movin’” part of town. There are so many one way streets in this city – I know, because I’ve challenged a few over the years – that once you get going the wrong way, it’s hard to turn around. This morning I felt like a dopey mouse in a maze - turning onto street after street - eventually finding my way back to the church. Once there, I decided there was nothing wrong with taking the old way home. At least that way got me home!

After my self-induced detour, I decided that treating myself to some ice cream would make me happy, so I drove to Graeters and got myself a kiddie-sized scoop of Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip. Let me tell did the trick. Oh, the pleasure of eating ice cream is always divine! Mr. Kelly was right though: ice cream gone – pleasure over! (Gimme more...gimme more)

Fast forward a few hours and I’m outside enjoying the beautiful fall-like weather. The thought of going to the gym flashes through my brain, but my lazy ass tries to talk Mr. Brain out of it. Then the brain reminds the ass that it’s left cheek is sitting on a kiddie-size scoop of ice cream and the gym is the best place to get rid of it. Fifteen minutes later, I’m at the gym, warming up for a spinning class.

Did I mention that I learned two lessons today? One, being Pleasure versus Happiness, and the other one …….

I’ve had some interesting and specific severe pains when doing spinning sometimes that, despite my injured pride, have caused me to leave the class – devastating to my ego! It hasn’t happened for a long time, but when it does, I pray feverishly that God take the pain away. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked too well.

Recently, my father was talking about praying over things. He said that sometimes we must tell God that we lovingly accept whatever it is that ails us. I told him that was ridiculous, because that means that I’m saying it’s okay, and it’s not Ok – I do NOT accept the things I do not want. Dad insisted that sometimes we must accept what we do not want, before it can be taken away. Whatever!

Today while spinning, the pain came on again and I started praying intensely for God to release the pain. It wasn’t working. I made the decision that I would die today before I left this class, so I decided to try my Dad’s grand idea. I repeated over and over again that I “lovingly accept this pain”. I repeated this mantra for nearly ten minutes and then like magic, it completely disappeared! I don’t understand it, but I’m grateful for it.

Maybe Dad’s right. Maybe sometimes we have to accept things for the way they are before we can move beyond them. Huh! Score another one for dear ol’ Dad!

In regards to lesson one, I should tell you that I was very happy after I finished my spinning class. I was very happy on my drive home. I was still a little giddy at dinner, and even now as I write this, I’m happy!

Both pleasure and happiness are wonderful, but happiness definitely lingers…...I like that!

( don’t worry – working on the source of that pain )

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Sure-Fire Laughfest

My very favorite past time is laughing and if I want a sure-fire laughfest, I just watch little kids play soccer.

My five year old niece, Emma played tonight and she’s a natural born soccer player. I’ve been watching her older brother, Mitchell play the game well for years now, but this is Emma’s first year at the sport. I was so proud of her tonight as she scored two commanding goals. She looked so pleased with herself. She has a real love of the game and she has seriously good focus.

Even though I go to her games to support her and root her on, I admit it’s not the only reason. See, the beauty of watching five year old girls play soccer is that there’s so much entertainment wrapped up in one 45 minute game. Running down the center of the field, you have the serious players like Emma and Sophia who give you hope that a goal just might be scored before the night is through. Then there’s the goalie who’s lying on the ground until one of the coaches lifts her up like a rag doll, reminding her of the duty of her all-important position. Of course, there’s always one girl standing in the corner, eating her hair, who’s only chance of touching the ball is to accidentally get hit by one. And you can always count on at least two of the girls hugging each other at midfield, unaware that the ball has just rolled past them. And let’s not forget that one child who is completely oblivious to everything happening around her. She literally has no idea why she’s on the field – she just came for the snacks. Did I mention the girl who is so focused on the ball and her footwork that she never looks up to see that she is driving to the wrong goal – again?

It’s like watching a Broadway comedy sometimes with an intermission and everything. Most of the funny business happens in the first act alone and then just gets repeated in the second half. It’s a shame they don’t serve peanuts and popcorn. All in all, the girls play great and I am super proud of Emma. She plays with real heart and she plays with joy and that is really fun to watch.

Thanks Emma!

I love you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Namaste Cleo!

When I was a little girl, my favorite part of the Catholic Mass was The Sign Of Peace. As a child, the reflection and reverence aspect of the Mass that makes it so special was a little lost on me, but shaking hands and smiling at everybody around me during “Peace” was right up my alley.

The sign of Peace is when you turn to those around you, shake their hand, look them in the eye, smile, and say, “Peace Be With You”. As a kid, it was all about checking out who was sitting behind me and smiling at them – which I thought was fun! As an adult, this gesture carries a much deeper meaning for me. “Peace Be With You.” What a great thing to say to someone! Who couldn’t use a little more peace in their lives?

“Peace Be With You”

In India, they have a similar greeting – Namaste. Even though there’s no exact interpretation of this word, the intent is clear: “I honor the spirit in you, which is also in me”. I love that idea. To me, it means respecting the person standing before you for who they are and where they are in life and recognizing that we are all on our own path, trying to find our way to the same place – whether we know it or not – and all of us are doing the best we can to get there. Even the looney-tunes of this world, who seem completely lost, are doing the best they can with what they know.

Today, I saw a patient, that I‘ll call Cleo, who when I first met her, seriously challenged my patience. Even the girls at the front desk were voting on what flavor of crazy she was. When I meet patients such as this one, I just kill ’em with kindness, cover ’em with compassion, and do my best to tickle their funny bone. Most people can’t resist this trio and Cleo was no different. It wasn’t long before she was putty in my hands. As time went on, I watched her crawl out from underneath that crazy, grumpy shell of hers and emerge as a sweet, sensitive soul with a fiery spirit.

In countless ways, Cleo and I are as different as two people can be, but we quickly discovered some small and interesting things we had in common. Every appointment she has with me, I learn a little more about the person she really is and I see her tender heart. She makes me smile when I see her now, and despite all the madness in her world, I respect the spirit in her, which is also in me. I haven’t determined what flavor of crazy she is yet, but whatever it is, I honor the person she is and I honor the person she’s trying to become.

Namaste, Cleo, and Peace Be With You….

I Would Rather Go To Confession

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I have a serious attitude problem when it comes to blind dates. Even though I'm an optimist by nature, some might say I’m a walking illustration of pessimism when it comes to believing that this cruel and awkward method of matchmaking really works. I can easily exasperate the most patient person in the room with my excuses, complaints, and theories on why it will never work for me.

I do declare myself a stubborn woman, who is determined to meet a man in her own spontaneous way and tries her best to resist meeting someone in such an obvious manner. Nothing worse than walking into a restaurant, meeting a total stranger you know nothing about - except that he’s “nice” - then sharing an entire meal with him. It’s weird sitting two feet from a stranger, who’s as acutely aware as you are that the sole purpose of this ’meeting’ is to sniff each other out as potential spouses. (Are you feeling the attitude yet?)

Honestly, I would rather go to confession!

I can sum up my all blind date experiences over the years, by saying that I have never wanted any of my first dates to call me for a second. I won’t say that any of these experiences were terrible because they weren’t, but I won’t lie – I went to bed most nights praying their jeans made it through the spin cycle with my number tucked away in their back pocket. I admit, I met some super nice, handsome, intelligent, successful men over the years, but none of them captured my attention or left me even remotely intrigued. Sadly, very few of them ever took up residence in my memory bank past the first twenty-four hours.

I always thought the guy was feeling the same way, too. Surely, he noticed that although we had pleasant conversation, that’s about all we had. Certainly, he noticed that the evening fell a little flat after the salads were served and by dessert, all the fizz was gone. Surely, we were on the same page about that.


Within 24-48 hours the email or call almost always came in and I would most graciously decline his invitation for a second date. There have been a few exceptions where I accepted a second date, because I thought, “maaaaybe”.... But I only remember having one third date.

Well, last week the earth must have rotated off it’s axis, because I actually had my first good blind date. I will spare you all the details and skip to the part where I say that “I liked this guy". Of course, I know very little about him overall, but he made me laugh – and that scores big numbers in my book. Without analyzing the whole thing, I’ll just say that I enjoyed his company and when he asked for my number to call me for dinner, I happily handed it over - that was a new feeling! To top it all off, when I awoke the next morning, one of my first thoughts was, “I hope he calls me. I think we would have fun. I could use some fun”.

Yeah! So that was like a week and a half ago and Mr. Funny hasn’t called. Can you say, “Disappointed”? How about, “Bummed”?

It’s amazing what thoughts run through your head when the phone doesn’t ring and you realize it never will. I’ll tell you what I did notice though – the thoughts that run through my head now, in my thirties, are not the same thoughts that ran through my head in my twenties.

Ten years ago, if a guy wasn’t interested in me, my first reaction was, “maybe he was looking for somebody prettier, smarter, blonder, quieter, blah, blah, blah“. But now, when he doesn’t call, none of those thoughts make it to my brain, because I know better. There could be all sorts of reasons he deleted my number from his phone and I‘ll probably never know what they are. As curious as I am, I know deep down, in the end, it doesn’t matter.

What I know for sure, is that if he recognized the spark of something special in me, he would have called me. If he doesn’t call, it simply means he didn’t see the magic in me - the same way I didn’t see the magic in all the men I chose not to have a second date with myself. When I look past the disappointment, I can see that I am capable of having a good experience on a blind date, so maybe I’ll agree to another one someday. Until then, I’m still banking on a spontaneous, destined, fairytale meeting between me and my prince charming.

Wish me luck…...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Grass & Weeds for Dinner - Yum!

Since seeing the naturopath, I’ve been trying to incorporate more greens into my diet. I normally eat free range, antibiotic free, organic beef and chicken. I toast my Ezekial bagel in the morning with free range eggs and I eat plain yogurt without the sugar. Who‘s got my medal?

But I’ve always managed to skip over the suggestion of eating mainly fruits and vegetables. I tell myself that the apple and carrot stick I eat with my noon meal is a feat worth rewarding – such as chocolate pudding for dessert, but in my heart I know it’s a lie.

I lie to myself all the time. Sometimes I call it justification or rationalization, but it’s all BS. I know that the key to health is more vegetables, not more chicken wings. I’m as guilty as the next girl for believing that avoiding the worst foods is the only ticket to being healthy. It’s important of course, but so is actually feeding the body the high quality foods.

I don’t know why I can’t make myself crave grass and weeds on a plate drizzled in vinegar. Crazy as it sounds, pasta with creamy, buttery sauce sounds so much better. Why is it that I fight the urge to eat a warm, decadent, chocolate, gooey, brownie over a fresh plate of lightly steamed lima beans? OK. I pretend there’s some great mystery here, when in reality, the answer is….because warm, gooey, brownies ROCK and will always win out over Lima beans – steamed, blanched, or dipped in sugar.

The secret is to wake up one day and realize that feeling good, looking healthy, and fitting into my jeans from week to week means being a real adult and doing what is best for myself. When I was younger, I could hide the beans in my pockets and trash them later. But I know better now, and it’s important to make good decisions for my well being. Of course, being an adult means I don’t have to stuff the lima beans in my pocket because I can choose from hundreds of other wonderful foods to eat.

I’ve been doing the grass and weeds deal for a couple weeks now and I feel ten pounds lighter. The scale has confirmed that it’s just a feeling, not reality, but I consider it a start. Reality is that there is no secret to health and vitality. If I center my diet around vegetables and fiber, I’m going to be healthier. I think it’s time protein and grains take their rightful place as the real side dishes on the plate, not the main event.

I know taste buds can be altered with time and that's my objective. It seems insane to think one day I’ll lust over spinach like I do chocolate and ice cream, but if even half the love is there for the green guys, I’ll count it a tremendous success!

Gooooo Broccoli!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

All The New Colors And Flavors

Today is a big day for my niece, Natalie. Today is her fifth birthday! In honor of the family’s recent Road Rally adventure, my sister organized a scavenger hunt for Miss Natalie. After a few presents are hidden in fun places, the birthday girl will be given clues on where to find them. As my sis explained this grand plan, I was imagining how totally exciting that would be for Natalie!

I have to smile when I think of Natalie Rose, because she’s so spirited, dramatic, bouncy, and ornery with stellar brown eyes. I think of how I love her and the marvelous energy she brings into my life. It takes me back to when my first nephew, Andrew was born over eighteen years ago. I was so head over heels in love with that child. The love I felt for him was the purest, deepest, and happiest I had ever experienced up until then. I also, distinctly remember my sister telling me she was expecting their second child and how an immediate wave of guilt washed over me, because I new this baby was going to get totally ripped off in the love department when it came to his Aunt Sheri. My heart was already spoken for – by a spunky two year old boy.

And then Nicholas was born and – Wow – the love rushed in. Right from the start, he was the complete opposite of Andrew. He was sooooo mellow. And amazingly enough, there was more than enough love in my heart for the both of them.

And when my brother and wife had their first baby girl, Emily, she was without a doubt, the most beautiful little girl with crazy brown eyes I had ever seen. More love. Definitely feeling more love. Her personality was a breath of fresh air too. Now, I had three new little spirits in the world to love. What could be better than that?

Well, if three is happiness, then eighteen is bliss. Austin, Sarah, Mitchell, Kayla, Johnny, Danny, Abby, Hannah, Ashley, Emma, Zach, Isabella, and Xavier have all come barreling into my world and added all sorts of new colors and flavors to it. Of course, sweet baby, Joshua graced our lives for a mere seven months, but grace us, he did. It’s been fourteen years and I can still see his sweet smiling face. He’s our family‘s angel in heaven now and always.

I owe my parents big time for putting in all the time and effort to have five kids, because now I have four friends for life (actually eight if you count the in-laws, which I do ). Then thanks to my siblings and their wild ambitions to raise an army of children, I reap the benefits again.

If my life story does not have a chapter entitled, “My Children”, then at least, thanks to the rest of my family and their child bearing ways, there will be many exciting chapters filled with love, magic, and madness!

Monday, September 8, 2008

I'm Back!

I haven’t felt like myself for awhile now. I’ve been unusually tired, a little overwhelmed at work and slightly unfocused. I consulted with my friend and naturopath about it and discovered there are some valid reasons for my recent lifelessness. I am now working on correcting the problem.

One change I noticed that pushed me towards getting some help was my lack of mischieviousness. I’m not a trouble maker, but I do like to think of myself as the queen of April Fool’s Day and typically try to honor that day a little bit every day. The other week I pulled a funny on a patient and got such a high from it, that it revved me up for the rest of the afternoon. I realized then, that I missed that feeling. Most days I was feeling so tired and uninspired that the creative spark I needed to roll with a great story was missing.

Today however, I saw a glimpse of my old self when I easily convinced a patient to believe total nonsense. I had him going good for awhile and I loved every minute of it.

This patient, who I’ll call Edward, is a very intelligent and successful man with a definite ornery side to him. He tries to pull something on me nearly every time he sees me, and in my current “weakened” state I have nearly fallen prey to his antics more than once. Normally, I would be dishing out my own dose of delusions with someone of this nature, but lately, I’ve lacked the brain power to think up and carry out such deception. Until today, that is.

Today we were discussing having pain in unexpected areas. Eddie’s been suffering with elbow tendonitis for some time now, and was expressing his concern for the amount of pain he felt when I palpated the muscles in the areas above and below his elbow. I assured him that these areas wouldn’t normally be painful if there wasn’t a problem, but he found it hard to believe that someone might not feel pain there like he did when such pressure was applied.

To prove a point, I palpated the muscles in his face and asked if he felt pain there. He laughed and said, “No”. I explained that some people do have issues with the muscles in their face and they are extremely painful just as he was experiencing pain in his forearm. That caught his attention.

Then, like magic, a spark was ignited and I was off and running.

With a serious face and professional tone, I slowly explained to him that some people suffer from myofascial restrictions in the lower jaw muscles. These restrictions can create a tightness in the muscles so extreme that it could actually force the mouth into an involuntary frown. If these muscles were not attended to, the “Smile” muscles may become weak over time and make it very difficult for the patient to smile at all. A person could actually lose their ability to smile due to a dysfunction in the facial muscle tissue.

As his face showed obvious signs of concern and deep thought, my heart skipped a beat. I knew I had him and now I just had to reel him in. He was clearly mulling over what I had just said, when I continued on. “Have you ever known somebody who is grumpy every time you see them? It’s like they can never manage a smile – only a frown.” Eddie’s eyes got large as he got all excited, “I was just thinking that! There are people I’ve met like that! They always look unhappy! Could they have that condition you’re talking about?”

“Absolutely! You should tell them that you know someone who could bring their smile back to life. When you leave here, you should call every grumpy person you know and tell them you have the secret to their happiness. Tell them that you know someone who can turn their frown upside down. You must share the good news with them Eddie! You must!”

And then I smiled at him.

And he knew he had been had.

It was the very best part of my day!

Thanks Eddie!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I'm Going With King Banana!

So, I’m out shopping for Buckeye gear for the big weekend, when I decide to stroll through the ladies section. I need to find one or two more dress pants for work and I noticed a few with reasonable price tags. According to Tommy and other designers, I’m a solid size eight, so I confidently walk back to the dressing room with my size eight selections. As I go to slide into the first pair, I have problems getting them past my hips. I do that silent giggle thing, as I realize that I grabbed the wrong size – probably a four or a six - how silly of me. However, when I check the tag for confirmation, the tag clearly reads “8”.

Whoa! What’s up Tommy? What’s up Michael Kors? Am I an eight or what? According to this "Jenni Max" girl, size eight is a just a pipe dream for me! Which of you designer clowns know how big my hips really are? Style and Co. here thinks I’m a size twelve, which is funny in the “not so funny way“, in that last month I bought a pair of slacks from them that assures me that my hips are indeed, a solid size eight. So which is it?

How do I get up one day with size eight hips, run through my day, eat carrots and cauliflower, sleep seven hours, and then wake up the next day with size twelve hips? Seriously, how does that work? And how do I wrap my emotional brain around that? Do I wear eights on Monday to make the day more bearable and then slide through Friday four sizes larger knowing that sweats on Saturday is just a day away?

And who do I believe? Do I strut my stuff in the twelves, believing in my heart that I’m really a perfect eight or do I prance around in the eights, knowing deep down that they’ve suckered me into buying a pair of pants because I wanted to believe I was an eight. ( Good strategy, if so )

Or do I believe Banana Republic? I have a pair of their jeans that clearly labels everybody else as crazy, because they claim I’m a size six. I admit, I’m oozing out of them a bit, but my hips like ‘em just fine. I’ve never felt comfortable leaving the house in them, but I do put them on whenever the twelves try to make me feel bad about myself. I figure the twelves can’t be right if the sixes are. I think I read somewhere once that Banana Republic is the king of the jean industry. If King Banana says I’m an over sized six, then I choose to make that my truth.

If Jenni Max and Style & Co. want to label me a size ten or twelve, then they can just keep hanging from their hangers, because they’re not coming home with me!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My New Career!

I’m good at what I do for a living and I consider myself successful at what I do. But like many people, there comes a time when your career isn’t as exciting as it used to be. You don’t get up every morning with that same fiery excitement that you used to and you find yourself daydreaming about the second half of your life and what different things you could do to fill your time and still earn a paycheck doing it.

My daydreams of change have always centered around creativity. Maybe I would become a photographer or writer or painter or even a professional clown. Whenever I do something creative I lose all sense of time. I get so lost in an idea that when I finally check the clock, I gasp at the amount of time that has passed. How wonderful to be so engrossed in what you’re doing that time magically slips away. It’s my perfect example of being completely present in the moment.

Since I usually lean toward the creative world, I was surprised to find my true calling in a different arena this weekend and I owe it all to my brother and sister-in-law. They were the master minds behind the Road Rally my family participated in this weekend. It was just like Amazing Race, except we never left the country, never jumped out of an airplane, and no camera crews were following us around. It was awesome! I was definitely born to compete in Road Rallys.

Speeding down the road looking for clues, decoding secret messages, spotting hidden treasures, and taking silly photographs is what I was born to do. How do I make money at this, you ask? Well that’s definitely the tricky part. Actually, every great idea I’ve had in the past ten years has been marred by that particular glitch.

Did I mention that my team won the Road Rally? Another reason to make it my job – I already know that I excel at it. Of course, I did not win this race all by myself. My brother-in-law, Eric and my nephews Andrew, Austin, and Johnny were all valuable members of my team. Even though, my inner “Nancy Drew” did shine through as the leader of these “Hardy Boys”, I appreciate the large role they played in our victory. I’m certainly willing to take them along for the ride if they want. Heck, Andrew’s eighteen so we could work together and I could give him 30% of our winnings. I don’t know who’s gonna pay us to run around and play Indiana Jones all day, but if that fool is alive and well, Please God, send him my way!

I just want to thank Scott and Renee’ for taking the time and putting in the effort to make this Road Rally a success! We all had an awesome time and thanks to the two of you, I’m gonna quit my day job!

Um........... Can I come live with you?