Dr. X

On Monday last week, after consuming massive quantities of a viscous fluid the consistency of watered down maple syrup, the flavor of a combination of citrus fruits, none of which are clearly recognizable, but required to evacuate my bowels, I was escorted to the Physician’s Endoscopy Center by my son, Joshua.  I hadn’t eaten since before bed on Saturday night.  Just in case you’re wondering, chicken bouillon, espresso, and water do not constitute anything even remotely close to sustenance.  By Monday morning, I was ravenous and attempting to remain cordial in casual conversation.

Joshua arrived to pick me up a little after noon.  Procedure performance expected at 1:30 PM, arrival requested by 12:30 PM.  I arrived a little bit after.  No worries.  Check-in was eventless since I’d already filled out everything online.  But I needed the ladies room.  That viscous fluid was still wreaking havoc on my innards.

Smiling, eyebrows raised, I inquired of the receptionist, through almost-grit teeth, “So, where is the ladies room, please?”   That last bit delivered with a pleading grimace.

She scurried to show me, then halted my progress with a question.

“When was the first day of your last cycle?”

I’m here for a gastrointestinal procedure and she’s asking about my period.

“June first.”

“Well, we’re going to need a urine sample, so you might as well take this with you.” 

She scrounged around the supplies cupboard, found a Styrofoam cup, scribbled my name with a black Bic stick, and handed it to me.

“Just put it in the cabinet in the ladies room and close the door.  The nurse will know where to find it.”

I hustled to the ladies room and with a relieved sigh, sat down.  Who invents stuff like MoviPrep?  How do you figure out what chemicals mix together to effectively clean the human equivalent of a garbage can and at the same time, remove your ability to keep the lid on it??

And while this is occurring, I’m supposed to think about filling a cup, oh, about an inch?  Really?  REALLY??

Do you think I could even manage a drop?  No.  I’d been told no more drinking at least three hours prior to arrival for procedure.  Meeting this requirement made my morning espresso a test of speed.

Turn on the De’Longhi, clear out old grounds, check to see there is still filtered water in the tank, rinse out shot glass.  Collect espresso cup from cupboard.  Wait for green-means-hot-light to turn on.  GO, GO, GO!  Watch the drip of espresso fill the cube-shaped, “Chattanooga, Tennessee” shot glass.  Dump the first shot into my espresso cup and replace to catch second shot.  Dump, sip,  burn lips, wait.  Blow on espresso.  Wait.  Sip.  Burn tongue.  Wait.

To hell with it.  If I have to reschedule, so be it.  By the time my espresso was inside my body, preventing any possibility of a caffeine headache manifesting mid-procedure, I’d passed the point-of-no-return.  Then I prayed to God I wouldn’t have to reschedule because it means another almost two full days of starvation.

You see, Morning and I?  Yeah, we aren’t friends.  We’re not on speaking terms.  We’ve never been close.  We don’t pretend to like each other for the sake of the children.  We have begrudgingly met each other at some point almost every day for the past 46 years.   Our favorite way to meet is when I outlast Night.  Even then, I avoid Morning like the plague.  My soft, thick, goose-feather down doona pulled up over my head does the trick quite nicely.  Sometimes I circumvent Morning by waking up past noon.  If I could have, I would have done so on the day in question but, alas, it was not to be.  I made darn sure Morning had to fight for my attention though!  And so, my espresso was consumed in haste and even though I drank it past the scheduled time, it did not help my attempt to collect.

I put the empty cup into the designated cupboard.  I went back out to the lobby and sat down.  I waited for my name to be called.  Within a few minutes, I was escorted into, what I learned at the end of my procedure, was both intake and recovery.

My intake nurse came over.  She was all business, confirming my name, birth date, medication allergy, etc.  She attached a white wrist band to my left arm, followed by the bright red one I’ve grown used to over the years, designating an allergy to medication.

“What happens if you take this medicine?”

“I’ll die.”

She gave me a disbelieving look.

“You can ask my pediatrician.”

She pulled a label containing this vital information off a sheet with at least 15 more labels still attached, and affixed it to one of the many documents in the folder in front of her.

“Who’s your doctor, Mrs. Smith?”

Why does everyone assume I’m married?  I’m not wearing a ring on my finger.  I’m honest on those invasive questionnaires:  Female, Divorced, White.  I feel like it’s obvious.

Smile.

“You can call me Donna. ”

Smile.

“My Doctor is Dr. X.” (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

She affixed another label to another piece of paper.

“And what procedure are you here for today, Donna?”

I raised my eyebrows.

“Um, don’t you know?”

“Oh yes, but this is just another way of determining you’re the right person.”

“Oh.  Colonoscopy.”

Is that even a real word?  Spell check always underlines it in scribbled red ink.

“And why are you having this procedure performed?”

“Still determining?”

“Oh no.  I have to fill in this blank.”

She showed me the form.  Sure enough.  There’s a blank.

“Baseline procedure.  I have a family history of colon cancer.  I’d like to live long enough to spoil any grandchildren my children may bestow upon me.  Not yet though.  They’re still way too young.”

“Great reason.”

No duh.  I didn’t roll my eyes and shake my head, but I wanted to.  I thought to myself, “Why am I angry?”  Self evaluation.  Breathe in, breathe out.  No need to externalize all this anxiety.   She’s just doing her job.

“So, Donna, were you able to collect a sample?”

“Oh no.  I tried.”

“Perhaps you should try again.”

“Nope.  There’s nothing for me to donate.”

She smiled and offered words of wisdom.

“Maybe if you turn on the faucet in the bathroom.  The sound of running water will help.”

“I appreciate your recommendation.  I’ve had four children.  Potty training is something I’m adept at.  I know all the tricks.  I have nothing to give to you.”

“Could you please try again?”

“No.”

“Oh.”

She looked around, went to the nurse’s station which is only about six strides from where I’m now laying on a hospital bed, buck naked except for the very thick, open-in-the-back, tie-at-the-neck-only hospital gown, and asked for a form.  Apparently they didn’t have what she was looking for.  I heard the word, “Disclaimer”.

She came back over to where I lay.  Another nurse – taller, older, more make-up, platinum blonde hair attempting to cover up dark brown and grey hair,  slim though – followed her.

“Mrs. Smith.  Are you pregnant?”

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

I doubled over.  Tears are spilling down out of the corners of my eyes.  I leaned back, my head against the mattress raised high behind me, trying to pull in a lungful of air.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Those poor nurses.

Blinking hard, I finally tried speaking.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

“You have..”

Full body mirth.  My shoulders are bouncing, legs jerking around, all of which are making my bed shake.

“You have to have…”

Roaring again, trying so hard to catch my breath, I pound the mattress a couple of times with my open hands.

“Oh my God!  Is that… why… you wanted…. is that why you needed… a urine sample?”

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Wiping the tears off my cheeks, still trying to breathe.

“Yes.”

Still breathing in gasps.

“You have… to have…. sex…. to get pregnant.  I haven’t had that in…”

I looked at the ceiling.  I looked at the curtain hanging between me and the patient next to me.  I looked at the tall, blonde nurse.

“Three years.”

Stunned silence.  Then a tiny lift to the corners of their mouths.  Then full on grins.

“The only way I’m pregnant is if it is an immaculate conception.  I’m not even close to pure enough for God to consider me for THAT.”

I thought to myself, and if He had?  I’m pretty sure anesthetic crossing a placenta is a no-brainer for Him.

They discussed the verbiage and added a waiver on my intake form along with an X __________. 

I signed it.

They left me to my own devices.  I pulled on the thick, blue, terry cloth slipper socks with that sticky, white stuff melted onto the bottom of the sock to prevent slipping.  I tugged on the sheet and the blanket, smoothing it out after my fit of laughter messed it all up.

The anesthesiologist came over.  She was already smiling.  Her teeth were bright white against the caramel-pudding color of her skin.  Her hair was wrapped in a paisley turban, brown and red, the brown matching exactly the color of her scrubs.  The crinkly lines at the corner of her eyes lent me to believe she had spent a lot of time smiling in her life.  I found this reassuring and could feel some of the tension leave my body as she reached for my right hand, then slid the thick rubber band around my upper arm and secured it.

“Mrs. Smith, I’ll be your anesthesiologist today.”

“You can call me Donna.”

She looked into my eyes now and smiled.

“So Donna, what are you here for today?”

I took a very deep breath and smiled.

“Colonoscopy.”

“Ah!”

She proceeded to explain her role, how the anesthesia would affect me, and what I could expect of myself for the next 24 hours.  I felt the sharp prick as she inserted the I.V. into the top of my right hand and the rubber strap being released from my arm.

Then I waited.  It wasn’t long.  I didn’t really have time to think before they were rolling me into a very crowded room.  I counted four humans, including my doctor, not including me.  The room was probably large.  But it was chock full of all kinds of equipment, rolling trays, a monitor or two, and this shiny, long, black hose.  Hose?  Tube?

I know my eyes got big as I thought about the amount of KY it would take for that sucker to move smoothly inside my body.  I closed my eyes and hoped they didn’t notice.

My anesthesiologist was putting a mask over my face and she told me she was turning on the oxygen.  Did she ask me to count backwards?

“Roll over onto your left side.  Very good.  I’m tucking a towel right here.  Lift.  Down.  Put your right arm here.”

I tucked my left arm up under the flat pillow, wiggled my shoulder, got comfortable.

Then I heard voices.  I couldn’t understand what they were saying, all I know is, I shouldn’t be hearing voices!  Dude!  I’m not supposed to KNOW what’s going on.

“Hello?  I hear you guys talking.  Hello?”

I felt a pat on my hand.

“You’re all done, Mrs. Smith.”

The voice of my anesthesiologist.  Thank God.

“Whoa!  Can you bottle that stuff so I can take it home?  I could seriously use sleep like this every night.”

I know my words must have sounded garbled but they made sense to me.

“Unusual…. Unexpected results for a woman your age.   Usually seen in someone much older.  It’s a good thing you came in today.”

Say what?

I tried to clear my head but I couldn’t, not yet.  I felt my arm being inflated while my blood pressure was taken.  I heard noises, knew they were recovery room noises after having had four c-sections, but I wanted to be coherent and I just wasn’t.  I let myself be out of it.  I felt the I.V. being removed.  I asked for another blanket which I felt being draped over my body.

Recovery is always a cold and lonely place to be.  I wished someone was there to hold my hand, to squeeze my shoulder, to kiss me on the cheek.  I’d had the boys tag team me though.  Joshua dropped me off then left for Houma for the rig.  Matthew was still at work, waiting for the nurse to let him know I was in recovery.  It was me and God.  He’d have to do.

It wasn’t long before I was sitting up and one of the nurses, I don’t remember which, was showing me photos of the inside of my very pink, clean colon.  Interesting structure this.  She pointed at a thing.  I heard the words.

“Polyp.”  “Removed.”

“Biopsy.” 

Then, “Dr. X will be over shortly.”

Shortly feels like eternity when you hear that word.  I don’t care how effervescent you are.  I don’t care how happy you are.  I don’t care if your outlook on life is rarely ever negative and you always look for the best in everybody, in every circumstance.  I don’t care if you truly believe God has a plan for your life.  Someone says, “Biopsy.”  Your world falls off its axis.

Dr. X came over.  Funny guy, Dr. X.

“So, how’s the giuealkdfsgh working for you?”

“Huh?”

Apparently the anesthesia had not quite worn off yet.  I had no idea what he was talking about.

He moved his hand around to his bum and made a scratching motion.

“Ohhh!”

“Calmoseptine?”

“Ohhhh!  Itchy butt medicine?”

“Yes, that.”

“It’s great!  No more itching.”

“It’s a good thing you came in for Itchy Ass Syndrome, Donna.”

Finally.

“Why’s that?”

“Because you had a large polyp.  But it’s gone now and we’ve sent it off to biopsy.  We’ll have your results in about a week.  Good news though!  You don’t have Ulcerative Proctitis.”

“Should I worry?”

He just looked at me.  I saw something in his eyes.  It occurred to me he may want to say yes.  Or no.

I like Dr. X.  He laughs at my  jokes.  When I first went to his office to discuss the tentative diagnosis my primary care physician had offered up, we carried on a conversation about what my boys would have to say about rectal examinations, while he gave me one.  Yeah, I know.  I can joke through anything.  I wasn’t nervous.  I just don’t see the point in making something that’s uncomfortable at best, into something unnatural, scary, unspoken.  Everyone is going to have these many times throughout their entire life.  My bum is not his first bum and it won’t be his last.

I do wonder though, how a doctor of this sort comes to the decision to examine rectums and colons.  Do they wake up one day while attending med school and determine…  “Hmmmm.  I think I want to investigate rectums every day for the rest of my life.  By golly, that’s my calling!”   I did hear the money is good.  I’m still not convinced.

Dr. X couldn’t add anything.

“My assistant will call you in about a week.  Take care, Donna.”

Off he went.

I got dressed.  I waited for Matthew.  We went to Los Cucos and ate the best, almost spicy, green salsa and chips so fresh they’re still warm.  I ordered El Panchito.  My eggplant was firm and tasty inside the breading.  It overflowed with spongy scallops and giant shrimp smothered in pico de gallo and queso.  I had refried beans on the side, not from a can.   Matthew ordered a chimichanga.  It looked delicious.  I’ve never tasted it.  I know it’s made with fajita beef  but that’s all I can tell you about that.  And he likes the Spanish Rice.  Gross.  Gag.

But that phone call I was waiting for came three days later, not seven.  The wait was short but interminable.

Benign.

Thank you, Jesus.

Dr. X’s assistant didn’t miss his parting shot though.

“Same time next year, Mrs. Smith.”

Well crap.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!

There’s been a recent spate of advertisements on the radio about how to talk to your teenagers about sex.  It starts out with teenaged girls telling you their experiences as a single mother, boys telling you about peer pressure and the imagined status associated with having sex already, girls talking about dreams they don’t want to side-step because of an unplanned pregnancy.  Then there’s a the voice of a parent, sounding unsure, confused, attempting to have a conversation with their child who reduces the process of creation to basic biology.  And the parent sounds even more out of it.  Then an announcer comes on telling you of a website (which I can’t for the life of me remember) designed to give parents pointers on how to talk to their teenagers.

I get so frustrated when I hear it.  I shout to the air, “REALLY????”  Do parents REALLY wait until their children are teenagers to talk about sex?  I’m not going to say it’s ever too late but honestly, you’ve missed the boat.

By the time our girls are in fourth grade, the hot topic of conversation on the playground doesn’t have anything to do with Barbie.  It’s about lesbianism.  Even though I’d already discussed this particular subject with my girls when they were young, the school counselor at Hannah’s elementary school (four years ago) felt it was necessary to address it during conference time.  “We just want to make you aware, Ms. Smith, of discussions on the playground surrounding lesbianism.  Don’t worry about it; it’s very normal at this age, a common theme among 4th grade girls.”  I didn’t stress about it – but I WAS surprised.  I didn’t realize conversations of this nature occurred quite so young.  I was relieved I had already talked about homosexuality with my daughter.  The last thing I want is for someone else to tell my daughter what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s normal, what’s not.  The suicide rate among homosexual teenagers is just too high.  If my children are gay, I’ll be darned if I’m going to let someone else belittle them, drain them of their burgeoning self-worth, turn them into an outcast.

The next hot button hits in junior high, when boys and girls alike are trying to decide if giving/receiving blow jobs is really sex.  Hmmmmm.  “I did NOT have sex with that woman!”  Riiiiiight.

Developing a relationship with your children where every and all question is given the respect of a truthful answer is imperative in today’s world.  Yes, we weigh carefully how we’ll respond.  When Joshua was 5 years old, having just started kindergarten and riding the bus with the big kids, he came home and asked me what a pussy was.  I looked at him and without missing a beat said, “A pussy is a kitty cat.”  He accepted my answer until 6 years later.  I remember clearly this day.  Joshua pushed the front door of our apartment open, and with legs akimbo, hands on his hips yelled, “MOM!!!  A PUSSY IS NOT A CAT!!!”  And again, I looked at him and without missing a beat said, “You’re right, Joshua.  “Pussy” is a slang term for vagina.  But when you were five years old, a pussy was a cat.”

I taught my kids the real names for their body parts.  From the movie, Kindergarten Cop: Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina.  There were no “Twinkies” at my house.  The only code word we developed was “privacy”.  When Rebekah was still a toddler, we were at the grocery store.  In her sing-song little girl voice, she delivered, “Mom.  My vagina itches.”  You should have seen the looks this statement garnered!  You’d have thought there wasn’t another little girl on the planet who had a vagina.  Just mine.  So, for public purposes, we called our parts “privacy”.  It worked for my boys and my girls.

When Hannah was five years old, while curled up in bed with me one Saturday morning, she asked me what a penis looked like.  With a pen and a napkin found beside my bed, I proceeded to draw an outline of a penis.  This conversation proceeded into purpose.  Then I had to draw a uterus and ovaries and a scrotum.  We discussed urination.  Hannah had all the details of creation at age five.  She asked, I answered.  Being Momma, I got to add in, “When a man and a woman love each other very much and want to spend the rest of their lives with each other, sometimes they decide to make a baby.”  I explained she wasn’t allowed to share this information with her friends, but she could talk to me about it whenever she wanted to.

I remember the first time I found photos of naked women from the neck down on my computer.  Boys will be boys!  I could have gone off the deep end, but I didn’t.  Hey, at least they were photos of girls, I thought.  They could have been pictures of dogs!!  Instead of losing it, we had a conversation about respect.  It’s perfectly natural to appreciate the female body but don’t disrespect a woman to do it.  And, next time, figure out how to hide it a little better so I can’t find it, hm?

When my kids were older and asked more detailed questions, I gave very forthright answers.  When abstinence was a topic of conversation in youth group or in school, I was brutally honest.  Why shouldn’t you have sex at your age?  Because once you do, you’ll never want to stop.  Why?  Because it really feels good.  While other parents were quoting the Bible and shaking their head no, trying to instill the fear of God into their children, I explained to mine the immense pleasure they’d experience.  I explained it wasn’t meant to be shared with just anyone.  The level of intimacy,  it’s not just sharing your body but trusting the person you choose to share with who you are, truly, deep inside.  It’s one of the most emotionally liberating experiences they’d ever have.  Words cannot do justice.  It’s not ‘just’ sex.

Teen Vogue has some very interesting little sidebars which discuss sexual topics.  What if Bekah didn’t trust me enough to ask questions about what she’d read?  Who would I trust to give her good, solid answers?  The questions raised weren’t about the kama sutra!

To be honest, I struggle with the waiting until you’re married bit.  Having been sexually abused for so long, what if he had been the man to introduce me to sex?  I would have thought how he treated me was normal, was okay, was allowed.  Would I ever have had the courage to leave?  I have this conversation with my children also.  In a perfect world, I would wish you have only one partner your entire life.  The depth of the emotion you’ll experience when you share your body with someone else is …. words cannot explain.

Having conversations like these aren’t the result of a radio commercial and an internet search.  They’re the result of listening to my children, earning their respect, not demanding it, gaining and keeping their trust, from valuing their opinions, even if they’re different from mine, from believing in them when nobody else seems to, from putting myself in their shoes and recognizing they’re different from me, from realizing I don’t know everything and I can learn from them, just as they can learn from me.

It’s been said it’s a mistake if you’re friends with your children as they grow up.  I say it’s a huge mistake, especially in today’s society, if you’re NOT your child’s friend.  Which of your child’s friends do you trust to educate your child about sex?

A little off center and I’m out of tune

The last few days I’ve been feeling rather blah.  I can’t put my finger on the reason, but I’ve risen each day – quiet, contemplative.  Friends have commented.  There’s nothing new and unusual going on, nothing tragic or horrible.  We’re not in a full moon phase, I’m not PMS.  I just feel off.

I took a day off yesterday from the gym, although not intentionally.  I brought my gym bag with me to work but didn’t go.

Sitting here, thinking about it…  I do know why.

I had an appointment on Tuesday with a plastic surgeon about reconstructive surgery for my abdomen wall.  Let me go back a few years though and relate another story.  During and after my divorce, I started losing some serious weight.  Got down to 201 pounds.  I was watching what I ate, walking 3 or 4 miles every night after I put the kids into bed or spending my lunch break at the gym around the corner from Blue Haven.  I was feeling VERY good about myself.  I went in for my annual gynecological exam and my doctor, who I normally adore, while I was flat on my back, feet in the stirrups,  made the comment:  “You know, you’re never going to get rid of this.”  As he placed one hand on my abdomen and pushed, palpating my ovaries.  “You’ll need to see a plastic surgeon.  Your abdominal wall is a mess and you have a huge build up of scar tissue.”   Further, he asked why my obstetricians didn’t clean up this mess after each of my cesarean sections.  I didn’t know they could!  I’m assuming it’s because the birth of each of my children wasn’t planned/scheduled.  Breach, cervix dilation issues, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.  Maybe if they’d been planned…

Sucker punched.  I worked SO hard to lose SO much weight, feeling really good about life for the first time in years and then WHAM!  Back then, I could barely afford food.  Surgery was never going to happen.  I sucked it up and went about my business but I didn’t go walking another night.  What was the point?  I can lose every pound but I will always have the kangaroo pouch.

There’s an advertisement I hear pretty regularly on my way into work.  It’s for a plastic surgery group.  The commercials talk about repairing damage from multiple births.  I didn’t call that particular group since someone I think very highly of recommended her surgeon.  I called, made an appointment (free consultation!) and went on Tuesday.

I arrived 15 minutes early to the appointment.  Highly unusual for me.  I’m a last-minute kinda girl.  Filled out the paperwork, offered my insurance card and sat down to wait.  Within a few minutes, I was escorted to a room where I was directed to remove my outer layer of clothes, leaving my underthings on.  Paper drape, opening to the front.  Done.  Sat down to wait.  The doctor entered my room, nurse following close behind and asked me what I was there for after shaking my hand.  I explained my situation.  He had me stand up and the humiliation began.

Yes, I have four beautiful children and my body paid the price.  I nursed them, too.  I’m stretched and scarred and misshapen.

Inside of a mere three minute, maybe five, examination, I was emotionally broken.  I was pulled, grabbed and squeezed.  “Cough.”  Grabbed.  “Cough.”  Grabbed.  “Cough.  Lay down on the table.  Pulled, grabbed, “Cough” and squeezed.  “Was this always hard?”  Tug, tug, tug.  “Get dressed.”  He didn’t leave the room while I reached for my dress, divesting myself of the paper gown.

Without looking at me in the eyes, the doctor explained he would be able to perform an abdominoplasty.  Ten days off work.  $7,000.00 will cover the anesthesia and 23 hour hospital stay.  Yes, I can keep my own belly button.

Insurance?  “Lots of women have c-sections.  No insurance.”

He left the room.

The nurse explained most people come in for a consultation and within a week have their surgery.  Still in shock from the treatment I just received, I declined.  I don’t have $7,000.00 sitting around.  That’s a car note!  She escorted me to the door of the waiting room after stopping to fumble in a storage closet, rifling through a box so she could hand me a couple of leatherette 2012 pocket calendars.

I went back to my car, climbed in, pulling my door shut behind me and sat there, stunned.  I texted Becki, told her I’d meet her at the gym and then drove.

I hurt for two days from all the grabbing and pulling on my body.  I don’t even have any nerve endings in my abdomen!  How did he manage to manhandle me to the point of pain??

Was it really such an inconvenience to him, my consultation?

I came home and googled reconstructive surgery following multiple births.  Guess what?  It IS covered by insurance.  I bet it’s a fair bit of work to prove I’m not looking for a quick fix.  I’m already losing weight.  I didn’t ask to lift this, tuck that and liposuction everything else.  Please, just fix my abdomen wall.  But I bet he’d have had to do a little bit of work in order to obtain insurance on my behalf.  I know many women who have had only two c-sections and their insurance companies paid for good portions of their surgeries.

If I hear of someone looking for cosmetic surgery of any kind?  I’ll tell them to run far, far away from this practice.  My friend was astonished by his behavior, told me she was going to call him and tell him flat-out she’ll never refer him again.

I will find a different doctor who will treat me as a mother who earned some serious scars as a result of one of the most loving sacrifices a woman gives – her body – for the sake of her children.

And this is the last time I’m giving that doctor any space in my head.

Overeating

Sometimes food just tastes toooo darn good.

I went out to lunch today with a few of the really great group of people I work with.  Nicolo, Michael and Becki.  Mexican food was nixed right off.  Okay.  I can deal.  We listed off restaurant after restaurant and Michael decided on Saltgrass Steakhouse.  Now, I will never turn away a really great steak.  I’ve been anemic since I was about 16 years old.  The never-ending cycle of iron pills and Colace is no fun at all.  After years of eating red meat as prescribed my gynecologist – rare – even though I’ve acquired a taste for the vegetarian side of life (Thank you, Krista!), I still enjoy the mouthwatering tenderness and flavor of a slightly marinated, rare steak.

I had the following:

Saltgrass K-Bobs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.99
Choice of beef Tenderloin, chicken Tenderloin or grilled shrimp with grilled red pepper, poblano pepper, red onion & mushrooms.

Served with a Dinner salad, Caesar salad or cup of soup plus your choice of a Lunch Side.

All Lunch entrées are served with Shiner Bock Beer Bread plus your choice of a Lunch Side, unless otherwise noted.

LUNCH SIDES
French Fries • Steak Fries • Garlic Mashed Potatoes • Romano Potatoes
French Fried Onions • Scampi Rice • Seasonal Veggies • Macaroni & Cheese

I ordered the beef Tenderloin Saltgrass K-Bobs with a dinner salad, dressed with bleu cheese dressing along with the lunch side of Seasonal Veggies.  I also enjoyed a couple of slices of their yummy Shiner Bock Beer Bread with butter and a tall unsweetened iced tea with lemon.

The bread was yummy and served first.  I didn’t want to eat just bread so I had a couple of slices while sipping my tea.  Luckily, we arrived before the lunch rush, so we didn’t have to wait too long for our food to be delivered.  First was the salad.  It wasn’t a bottomless portion – enough to whet the palate but not enough to stuff before the main course arrived, with about 5 or 6 small croutons and a tablespoon or two of bleu cheese.  YUM!

Then out came the main course!  I was pleased with the portion of the K-Bob.  I think there were four slices of beef tenderloin, cool in the center with several grilled veges right off the skewer; plus the lunch side of seasonal veggies, grilled – summer squash, tender carrots, broccoli, pepper – Mmmmmmm.

As I was eating – slowly, of course – I was constantly considering my tummy.  The food was excellent and my lunch companions interesting.  I find it very easy to just eat and talk so actually have to put my fork down and consider my plate carefully.  The beef, the vegetables, the bread.  SO yummy.  I ate slowly and about five bites before the veges were gone, I felt full.  I continued eating, finishing my vegetables.  Then I had five bites of Becki’s decadent key lime pie.  It melted in my mouth.  I loved it.

How often do I eat out at a restaurant as nice as Saltgrass?  RARELY.  How often do I face a plate of food so delicious I feel it’s a crime to walk away from it?  RARELY.   Premeditated over-eating.  I didn’t overeat to the point I thought I was going to burst from the inside out.  My dress didn’t bulge in the front.  I could still sit comfortably but I was definitely over-full.  Thank goodness the portions weren’t extreme and it wasn’t an all-you-can-eat dealio.

*sigh*

I thought about getting a to-go box but the meat wouldn’t have ever been cooked so rare and the veges would lose their crispness once nuked to reheat the meal.  I made a choice to finish everything.

Becki and I went to the gym after work.  I spent 28 minutes on a different elliptical rider, not certain if there’s another name for it, but I like it better.  I did the ‘fat burn’ workout, running 2.2 miles in 28 minutes.  It really helps having Britney Spears singing “Three” on loud enough to drown out the machines around me.  I replayed it a few times and made pretty good time.  I’m pleased with the increase in distance.

Then, we went our separate ways with our personal trainers.  Today I met Michael.  Michael’s goal for me is a well-rounded workout.  We did core work.  He showed me how to use a few different machines but made me work hard while I learned the simple moves which worked out my legs, my abs and arms.  I sweat, grunted and kept my heart rate up while we moved from machine to machine.  I like Michael.

We were going to swim, however, the pool water was chilly after so much sweating.  Bypassing the pool, we headed for the spa which was bubbly and warm.  Letting the jets pulsate over my back shoulder muscles and down my calves was relaxing.

Sauna time!  After hitting cardio levels on the elliptical rider (160 beats per minute) – sweating, a core workout maintaining a higher heart rate – sweating, and a hot spa, after only about four minutes in the sauna and I was ready to hit the showers.

I had grilled pork chop with Montreal Steak Seasoning and about 10 brussel sprouts with butter.  Chugged my H2Orange.

I’m tired but not exhausted.  I might just sleep well tonight.

Oh, I got on the scale this morning.  *grins*

2 2 0 . 5

I am celebrating my half pound loss!!  I had a sundress in my closet, snug around the waist.  After vowing not to wait too long to try my smaller outfits on, I pulled it out this morning.  I have a couple of inches of extra fabric around my abdomen.  I can handle the excruciatingly slow downward spiral on my scale, I know I can.

It’s rewarding to see my body changing shape.  I look down towards my stomach and my chest successfully hides my tummy from view.  It’s been a LONG time since I could say that!

Inches v Pounds

I got on my scale Friday morning and it said 221.  I was rather upset, disheartened.

Then Saturday night I put on my new little black dress.  It looks good!  Yes, I have some smoothing out I could do, a little curvier here and there but overall, except for the birthmark on my bum (where the angel kissed me when I was born) which is a small circular rise on my left hip area, I think I looked smokin’ hot, baby!  I received several compliments, a few in the form of male attention (!!!) but also a couple from women who I’ve been playing poker with for the past couple of years.  I was more than delighted!  My face hurt from smiling so much.

This morning, when I put on my dress for work, I had to cinch the belt to the hole furthest away from the end.  In order to continue using this belt as I lose, I’m going to have to punch a new hole in it.  (I vote I buy a new belt!)  I’m getting smaller, even if the weight isn’t just falling off.  Troy explained this would happen.  But.  I didn’t expect to bump into this yet.  I thought I’d drop several more pounds much sooner as I follow the yellow brick road to fitness; I like to see the change in my scale, not just my dress size.

I’m working hard.  Going to the gym four times per week, twice for weight training.  Today I did 1.65 miles in my 25 minutes at a rate of about 3.4 miles per hour.  My heart rate was steady around the ‘fat burn’ goal of 117’ish.  I know I should do more cardio.  At the moment though, I’m happy to be in the gym four times per week and I’m not going to kill myself trying to change my body in a few months.  I’ve contracted for a year.   I don’t want to burn out before I’ve barely begun.

Without too much convincing, Becki has embarked upon this great body-changing mission of mine.  She’s going to side-by-side weight train with me.  We can pick each other up, cajole each other on and go shopping for smaller sizes as we slim down.  Although I was ready and willing to do this on my own, I feel Becki’s support, mutually given, can make a world of difference on those days I feel less motivated.  She already knows I won’t shut up if she’s feeling the least bit lazy and I expect no less from her on my behalf!

At some point in my future, there is an abdominoplasty.  With four cesarean sections, my abdomen wall is more like a war zone than muscle.  I can’t imagine what it looks like from the inside but the outside makes me want to cry.  Not to mention the fact I have zero feeling from about two inches beneath my belly button to my pelvis bone.  I feel pressure only, no sensitivity whatsoever.  I doubt I’ll regrow nerve endings but hopefully I won’t have bruises show up without knowing how I got them!

I noticed I’m getting a little hungrier earlier in the day.  I used to go until about 11:30 AM before I felt the need to eat lunch, but now, sometime around 10 AM, I’m feeling peckish.  I’m going to buy some FiberOne Cereal and some roasted peanuts on payday this week and keep them in my filing cabinet at work.  I’ve been bringing fresh strawberries, eating about five of them for a morning hunger saver.  They go bad too quickly; I can’t eat them fast enough!  The kids will inhale and I’ll feel better about the $1.75 I spend on a quart of strawberries which get fully eaten vs. the ten strawberries I might eat at work.

Another thing.  My girls are shrinking.  I’m not sure how I feel about this particular change.  My DD’s are down to a D.  As a young girl, I was the President of the Itty, Bitty, You-Know-What Committee.  I remember, with fond recollection, the time my Mom told my Dad she was taking me to shop for bras.  My Dad actually reached into a cabinet, extracted a box of band-aids and offered them to me!  (Laughter is always the best medicine!)  I was a late bloomer!  I remember despairing any kind of real growth would occur!  And now, I’m watching them…. shrink.  Nooooooooooooo! When will the madness end???

A New Day

I’m feeling kind of… melancholy.

The entire family took Rebekah to college on Friday!  Road trip!  It was different being the lead car.  My Mom and Dad were always my lead car and now here I am, the Mom, in the lead car, while Joshua drove his car behind me.   It was an odd feeling.

Rebekah is attending university on a small campus.  I guess there are only about 400 students total, which sounds pretty cozy to me.  Having come from a graduating high school class of 650-odd students, this will be a nice change for Rebekah, more of a small town atmosphere vs. Katy/Houston.  I’m very excited for her!

Hannah is with her sperm donor this weekend.  Joshua is still at TJ’s and Ashley’s house, having been gone since Friday after we dropped Bekah off.  Matthew is at work and Ally is still asleep in their bedroom.

The house is quiet.

This is what it will be like when all of my children have grown up and moved away.  I’ve thought about this day often.  Since I’m still single and very much a people person – the first-born of five of a third born of nine (Mom) and a second born of four (Dad) and mother of  four myself, I have always had lots of commotion around me every day.  Very rarely am I alone with just my thoughts to keep me company.  This will be interesting.

I scrambled a few eggs and made a double espresso for myself.

As I think about what I will do with all my extra time, I think of how tidy my house will be with only me to mess it up!  I think of all the crocheting I can get done while I sit, watching movies, etc.  Lots of blankets and little baby things will be spun off my hook.  I am looking forward to this!  I’ve thought about volunteering at a local hospital, perhaps in the children’s wards or a local elderly home.  I remember visiting my grandfather at the Episcopal Church Home up in New York before he passed away many years ago.  I could definitely be a ray of sunshine!  I’ve also thought very, very seriously about fostering older children.  If there’s one thing I’ve done well, not perfectly mind you, but well, is be a Mom.  I always wanted a larger family and I have so much love in my heart for children of all ages.  I have great experience with children who have brain disorders, who learn and attend differently.  I would be a good foster Mom.  I could even adopt, too.

I need to finish getting my degree in English.  I think I’m going for a psych minor.  I’ve toyed with a history minor as well.  Once obtained, I could volunteer to teach children in different countries who aren’t as blessed as the United States (not that the US is the be all, end all, but we are definitely a nation blessed).  Sometimes I contemplate a psych major.  I would be an excellent social worker or guidance counselor.  But would I be able to leave my work at the front door when I come home every evening or would I continue to fret over situations of neglect and/or child abuse long after?  A serious consideration.

But I don’t know what’s in the plan for Donna.  In the dark of the night when I wake up alone, it’s just me and God.  He and I have had many interesting conversations; I think they’re conversations anyway.  I usually do most of the talking but fall back into a secure sleep once I’ve had them, so I know He’s heard me.  I’ll probably have a lot more time for daytime conversations with Him once all my kids have moved out.

For now though, it’s me and Hannah.  She still has a few years left of learning to do before she, too, can fly the coop.  I very much look forward to watching her blossom as I have watched each of my previous three.  My Mom tells me Hannah is most like me which means we’re at odds A LOT.  I am hoping this changes as Joshua, Matthew and Rebekah move on with their lives.  It will be different for Hannah just having her Mom around.

Motherhood has been my most rewarding and fulfilling task to date.  I wonder what comes next?

Poker Night!

I don’t eat nearly as much as I used to now that I only eat when I’m hungry.  As a result, I need to supplement my food intake with vitamins.  At first, I thought this can’t be good for me.  It must be much better to obtain my vitamins and minerals in food instead of via pill.  But, as time passed, I saw it works quite well.  I’m not suffering from any side effects, and in fact, my doctor is happier with my blood work than ever before.  So, now it’s completely normal for me to pop a handful of vitamins and eat less and I feel a lot better, too.

Calcium – 600 mg per day
Fish Oil – 1,200 mg per day
Woman’s Multi-Vitamin – One pill per day
L-Glutamine – 1,000 mg per day
Juice Plus – Twice A Day

I take the calcium because I don’t drink milk anymore.  I cook with it and maybe once a month, I have a tall glass with a handful of Oreo cookies.  You can’t eat Oreos without milk, right?  But I need my calcium.

Fish Oil – All kinds of wonderful heart healthiness including increasing your “good” cholesterol.  I have my “before and after” blood results from an independent lab while participating in the Naturally Slim program and saw the results myself.

Woman’s Multi-Vitamin.  Who doesn’t take a vitamin every day?

L-Glutamine – Curbs sugar cravings.  I used to be a hard-core chocaholic but, no more!  Now it’s only every once in a while, usually right before that time of the month, when I’ll indulge in my Cherry Ripe.  Not in a million years have I ever been able to stay away from chocolate before L-Glutamine.  And it’s not even one of the well-known reasons people take it.  YAY for anecdotal evidence!

Juice Plus – Fruit & Vegetable goodness!

I am just never ever again going to attempt to eat ALL the food from every food group we are told we should because it’s a “well-rounded” diet.  I don’t care if there are no calories, low calories, blah blah blah.  Eating when I’m not hungry or until I am past full is counter-productive to effective, long-term weight loss for me and I adamantly refuse to do it.  (Troy and I have words about this every time I see him!)

I’m sharing my experience as I trek towards toothsome because for the last 30 years, I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight, not even considering my level of fitness.  My goal is to live to see great-grandchildren and with my current weight and lifestyle, it will be miraculous if I manage to do it.  Losing weight is so freakin’ hard.  Everybody has an opinion about what SHOULD work.  I love it when the person telling me is still just as obese as I am.  Riiiiight.  Because, obviously, this has worked for you?  *sarcasm dripping*

I’m on my way down.  I haven’t been told I can’t have chocolate or beer or donuts.  YEAH!  I like food.  I LIKE FOOD!   Dipping Oreos in a cold cup of milk just long enough the outside layer of chocolate is a little soggy but the cookie still crunches between my teeth when I bite.  Ohh!   So yummy!  Boneless chicken strips dipped in Marie’s Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing – Indescribable!  I’ve tried so many diets which had me weighing, counting and measuring.  If I ate three bites of chicken with dressing, I’d have to refrain from eating the rest of the day!!  But, but, but I’m still hungry!!!  Not only that, but the time commitment required to do all those things feel like such a waste of time to me.  I can’t do them when I’m at Jean’s eating her yummy fajitas or Becki’s when we grill by the pool or at Ruby Tequila’s.

Having started at 257 back in August of last year, I now weigh 221 pounds.  That’s a 36 pound loss, having maintained during the holidays, never fluctuating more than a few pounds upwards.  It’s not an earth-shattering difference but it matters.  My first goal, discussed with Troy, Obstructor of Obesity, is to get down to a size 14.  It’s not a weight goal.  I have a lot of weight to lose and I don’t want to sabotage my efforts by overwhelming myself.  So, I made a size goal instead.

As I’ve lost weight, going down size by size, I’ve emptied my closet of the larger sized clothes.  I don’t ever want to be hovering around a size 22 again.  E V E R.  I didn’t like my reflection in the mirror, wouldn’t let the kids post my photos on Facebook if they managed to take one.  I can’t afford to go out and by new, bigger clothes so if I get on the scale and it grunts, I think about my intake.  Did I overeat at all during the last week?  Were the fries at Wendy’s really THAT good?  No, no they weren’t.  I could have eaten fewer and been just as satisfied with the flavor.  In fact?  Next time, I’m just going to order the spicy chicken sandwich because the fries leave me disappointed.  If I’m going to eat a french fry, it won’t be from Wendy’s.

Today, Michael the Mellow was my trainer.  We worked on my arms, chest and abs.  He was a lot easier on me than Troy is.  In his defense, it was the first time we worked together and I forgot my workout journal.  Not his fault.

Tonight is poker night!  Texas Hold’Em starts at 7 PM at the Triple Crown Sports Bar!  It’s been a while since I indulged.  The last time I was there…  I got a little silly.  We’ll leave it at that, eh?  Becki’s home from Israel, Joshua’s off the rig and it’s time to play!  I’m going to drink my Blue Moon with orange and I’m going to make the final table at poker and I’m going to get tipsy, tipsy, tipsy and then I’m going to sing bad karaoke and love every single minute of it.  At some point, I will consume a couple of pieces of pizza.  I’m going to go in hungry though because it doesn’t matter what I put into my stomach, hunger is a requirement before eating in my brave new world.

Consider the Source

I have this great purse.  I received it as a gift from Leslie, one of the young women I worked with at Blue Haven Pools a few years ago.  It is the Most Amazing Purse Ever.  It’s my “traveling purse”.  Whenever I get on an airplane, regardless of the reason, this is the purse I will travel with.

As I walk through the airport carrying it, the facial expressions of the people around me are telling:  horrified looks from the very obviously fashion-aware, haughty sideways glances from eyes afraid to meet mine when I turn and look and my favorite, heads shaking from side to side.  There’s also the shy smile from toddlers, girls and boys alike, who want to touch, petting my purse as they absorb the soft, pleasing texture of the feathers and “oh-hell-yeah” nods from discerning lovers-of-all-things-pink, the camaraderie instantaneous.

My purse is black satin, with lips cut out in different shades of red, pink and orange, also satin, proclaiming “Kiss” and “Me” in white embroidered cursive letters.  It has one black strap with a pink drawstring, black inner lining and a hot pink feather boa sewn around the upper edge.  When I received the purse, I instantly fell in love with it.  Leslie was dead-on when she gifted me with it.  It screams, “Donna!!”

Not a chance anyone’s going to steal it, eh?  You’d see them running a mile away, pink feather boa providing instantaneous identification!

I love this purse!

Wouldn’t it be sad to leave it on the shelf in my bedroom closet, afraid of what other people might think as a I meander through the airport?

I’m not sure why some people feel it’s necessary to pass judgment.  Glares, sneers and snickers, cruel comments, pointing and even worse, causing physical injury.  I remember it starting as early as elementary school.  Children can be so cruel.  Junior High is the worst – young girls are very catty and boys start serious bullying.  As adults, we judge differently, thinking no one notices or sees.  We develop sarcasm and indifference.

I remember many an occasion during my school years when I’d be hurt by some comment made to me by a classmate.  My Mom and I would talk about the person who made the remark.  What kind of person is he/she?  How do they behave in school?  Are they considerate of others?  Do they pick on more than just me?  Do they have good grades?  What kind of reputation do they have?  Are they mean-spirited all the time?  My Mom always went one step further though.  She’d remind me that regardless of what I see in school, they go home.  And we’d speculate what it might be like for that person once they walk in their own front door.  Are their parents interested in their friends?  In what they did all day at school?  Do they talk about any problems they might be experiencing?  Or do they come home to disinterest and abuse or neglect?  I learned how to forgive others for judging me.

Consider the source.  When I hear comments about my purse or my parenting skills or my weight or my exuberant personality, I consider the source.  Do I really care what this person thinks of me?  Probably 98% of the time, I don’t.

I think about all the fun I’m having and wish they could experience the great freedom not conforming brings.

Balancing Act

Sometimes I feel as if I’m being pulled in too many different directions.  Rebekah’s financial aid hadn’t completely processed, her dorm fees overdue and unless everything was sorted, she had no meal plan upon arrival on Friday.  Joshua came home, off the rig after his first hitch extended to almost a month (he didn’t mind one bit!) but I’m a Mom first, last and always, wondering how he REALLY liked it and if he was sugar-coating his experiences so I don’t worry.  Boys do that, you know.  Then, I came home to toilets backed up into bathtubs, slow sewers and in the end?  A main line block.  In the midst of all this, I had to call Hannah’s father, asking him to watch her for a week while I travel on business next month.

I sat down to write my blog last night and felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I was stressed, snapping at the kids, waiting to find out what the water guy thought out about the backed up toilets, worrying somehow something we did inside the house has caused this mess which means I have to pay for it.  I finally fell into bed after 11:30 PM.  The tubs were still backed up, the toilets not flush-able and I had to get up for work in 6.5 hours.  Dear God, please let the tubs empty enough so I can take a quick shower in the morning and then call the landlord to get this sorted.  Please, please, please.  I was distracted, not happy with what I posted yesterday.

I woke up at 2 AM and checked on the tub in the master bath.  Empty.  With a sigh of relief, I grabbed a small bucket and cleared away the debris which had bubbled up and sprayed a mixture of water and bleach all over the tub.  I’ll get my shower in the morning!  At 6 AM, I didn’t even procrastinate, getting right out of bed and into the shower.  Cleaned up quick and off to work.  Traffic was light.  The Roula and Ryan Show was playing on KRBE, great music blasting at intervals.  Breathe in, breathe out.

A small pot of fresh Starbucks Kenya coffee perked behind me as I sifted through email sent overnight by my fellow employees all over the world.  Watching the clock tick tick tick until I felt comfortable calling my landlord.

Depending on someone else to do the right thing is difficult for me.  If I had the proper tools?  I’d have googled everything and plumbed the depths of my mainlines all on my own.  The kids and I would have found the clean out in the backyard, snaked the heck right out of it and HA!  Done.  But – ACK – I can’t own every tool I need to complete every task which might come along!!!  DARN IT!

I called the landlord and had to listen to her comment about how the owner has to make two house notes every month.  How his wife is a stay-at-home mother and they have four or five or a hundred children, and how tight money is for them.  Can you get estimates, Donna, so I can call the owner and let him know his options?  REALLY????  Is this my job????  But I want the situation taken care of before plumbers start charging overtime and the owner decides he can’t to take care of the problem today.   In a perfect world, with a smile, a nod and perhaps a come-hither flutter of my eyelashes (maybe a chicken or a goat), the plumber would come over instantly, fix the problem and I’d be set.  Unfortunately, they all want money.  *eyes wide*  What is that about?

I’m now feeling as if I my decision to contract for a physical trainer was not well-thought out.  Perhaps I should have waited.   Bekah’s dorm fees and meal plan are a priority.  I drank my coffee and called plumbers.  Roto-Rooter to the rescue!  I’m certain another plumber could have done the job for less, but Roto-Rooter didn’t require payment for an estimate, so the landlord chose them.  With a 10 AM to 2 PM window, I waited on the verdict.  In the meantime, the landlord decides she wants to meet with Roto-Rooter at the house so she can explain everything in great detail to the owner.

Maybe I’m weird?  Perhaps a little OCD?  I don’t like strangers in my house.  If you knock on my door, just like anywhere else, I’m going to be chipper, kind, considerate, attentive.  But, don’t ask to cross my threshold.  Now you’re in my space.  You only get to come into my space if you’re invited.  She was definitely NOT invited.  And she was on her way.  I dashed out of the office and went home.

Long story short (now, don’t be hating, I tried to keep this short!), the lines are clean, the landlord paid for it!

Even five years ago, I’d have broken down by now.  I’d have popped an Atavan just thinking about having to call Hannah’s Dad.  Talking to your ex-abuser, even ten years after the fact, is still not an easy task.  I’m completely in control but always aware of the abyss of selfishness he lives in – which, unfortunately, can still hurt my girls.  I’d have closed the door to my office and had a good cry, just to relieve the stress.  Today, I took  a deep breath, made the call, ignored him while he rambled on about reasons why he might not be able to care for his own daughter for one week, waiting patiently for him to just say yes or no.  He got to ‘yes, unless…’ and conversation over.

While waiting for the landlord to call back and confirm which plumber to use, I received a package from Scentsy – I finally bought the Doodlebug pot and the Home Sweet Home wax.  It smells like the cherry tobacco my Dad used to smoke when I was very young!

Bekah popped up on MSN Messenger proclaiming all of her funds had hit her account at the university today.  Originally not anticipated until Monday!

Jean popped up on Skype, sharing how much she enjoyed last night’s blog and especially the second half of the Serenity Prayer.  She’s glad it’s not just about losing weight, but personal as well.

While waiting for the plumber to call with his exact arrival, I went to lunch with Cristina and Billy  (his treat!) enjoying yet another half of a fajita burger at Ruby Tequila’s.  Mmmmmm.

After the plumber and the landlord left, I called the gym to find out if I had to reschedule my appointment.  There wasn’t any way I was going to make a 4:30 PM appointment when it was already 4:20 PM and I had to negotiate drive-time traffic.   Troy said not to worry!  He’d be there for me when I arrived.

Almost on my way out the door, an envelope arrived with a gift from a wonderful friend who decided to help me buy a new iPod since mine went missing at the gym.  I’ve never been one to place expectations on a gift so when I opened the envelope, grateful for the kindness of a small contribution, imagine my surprise and delight when it was for $200!!!

After a painful workout of my legs and 30 minutes of cardio, I showered and came back home.  I could hear the washing machine at work in the garage – Rebekah was doing laundry.  Ally (Matthew’s girlfriend) was stationed at the kitchen sink, filling the dishwasher!

Today was stressful.  Seriously, for me.  But amidst all of that stress, I was blessed by so many people who I love and who love me in return.

I’ve learned how to embrace all the little blessing which come my way, one by one, each and every day.  Everything else is diminished as a result.

 

Stay on the happy side

I have always had this endless effervescence.  My Mother can tell you about the time my high school called.  I get a kick out of this story.  When you think of all the drama happening in schools across America today, can you imagine getting a phone call telling you your daughter is just too darn happy?

“Mrs. Smith?  We’re concerned about Donna.”

“Oh really?  What’s wrong?”

“Well, Donna is very happy.”

“Very happy?”

“Yes, Donna is just too happy.  We believe she may be using drugs.”

What a leap, eh?

My demeanor hasn’t really changed much since then.  I have been answering phones since I rejoined the workplace ten years ago.  Receptionist, Office Manager, Executive Assistant.  I consider it very high praise when I answer the phone, the caller having called several times before, and hear “You’re always so happy, Donna.  It’s such a pleasure to speak with you.  You really make my day!”  I hear it a lot and seriously, I’m flattered.  It’s not something I work hard at; it’s naturally part of my personality.

How many times have you gone through the check out line and had a miserable cashier?  Imagine for a moment what his/her job entails.   You can assist a couple of hundred customers each shift:  Moms with over-tired children trying to complete the weeks shopping, husbands stopping on the way home because the wife needed something (My Dad always picked up milk on his way home!), underage attempts at purchasing alcohol, customers with inadequate funds who have to pick through already bagged groceries to choose what they must put back, WIC checks, language barriers, people trying to use three coupons for the same item, grumpy old/young men/women.  It’s an endless list.  I cashiered for 1.5 years for H-E-B.  I know what it’s like!!  My kids will ask me not to talk to the cashier when we approach the registers.  They know me well!

“Mom, you’re not going to talk to the cashier, right?”

Riiight!  I can’t not be friendly.  I don’t know how!

“Yes, I’m going to talk to the cashier and maybe I’ll ask where the condoms/tampons are!”  (A mother’s revenge!)

It’s very rare when I leave behind a cashier who hasn’t smiled or laughed.  I always walk away hoping I’ve made their day just a little bit brighter, maybe given enough spirit so when the next miserable customer shows up, they offer a smile and pass it on.

There’s mischief, mayhem, murder and marauding going on every day around us.  Is it necessary to internalize all that angst? Is it not enough to acknowledge its existence but not sink into the morass?

We’ve all heard it a hundred times, The Serenity Prayer, but have you ever heard it entirely?  The first portion provides us with a goal; the second bit, however, gives us directions.

The Serenity Prayer  by Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

There’s a song I remember, must have been from Girl Scouts, but I’m not sure.  The lyrics and tune stuck with me and when googled, it popped up as “Stay on the sunny side”.  I’ve always known it as “Stay on the happy side”.

Stay on the happy side,
Always on the happy side,
Stay on the happy side of life!
You will feel no pain as I drive you insane,
Stay on the happy side of life!

Jokes follow, we all fall into gales of laughter and start singing all over again.

Life is like that in my family.  We have our ups, we have our downs, we bicker, disagree, discuss, every once in a while, get angry – but always, we fall into gales of laughter and start all over again.

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