Monday, June 29, 2009

WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT THE STATE OF THE ECONOMY?

The subject of the hour certainly seems to be the economy, more specifically, the negative ramifications on everyone. So many are out of work, wondering how to cope and just pay their bills. With job loss comes the loss of medical insurance and with it a fear that if you get sick or a member of your family does, it might require a costly hospital visit. Then there's the worry over making the mortgage payment and the cost of filling up the car to get to work or to get to an interview in hopes of finding work. And that's is just the short list. I have never experienced anything like this and can't imagine what those old enough to remember the Great Depression are feeling at the time. It's a scary, unpredictable time, I'm sure everyone will agree. But worry doesn't really change the situation and if it becomes all consuming, it can become immobilizing.

Now I could say what someone once said to me when I was worried, "just tell yourself not to be," but that bit of advice isn't much good. It's hard not to worry, but when it becomes overwhelming, it can truly only make things worse. I remember about 10 years ago when I was going through a very difficult time, fraught with questions, wondering if there was anything I could do in the face of nothing but sadness and worry, someone placed in my hands a book called Be Anxious for Nothing. Needless to say, the title promised at least some answers and I was in dire need of those. Simply summed up, this book took me on a journey, not a new journey for me, but one of which I needed to be reminded. Isn't it just like God to place me in the company of someone who had a book like this to help me see my way clear of my present difficulty? And isn't it just like God to answer my anxiety with a book that I needed to read?

I don't know about you but periodically I need to be reminded of God's presence in my life, reminded that I don't have all the answers, but He does. Does that happen to you once and an while? We're so surprised when things like this happen in our lives but we should remember that He is ALWAYS with us, watching, loving, caring, answering, and things like this don't just happen. "Out of adversity oft times good things come." Someone said that once; I don't know who but it's so true and maybe, if we can get passed our worry about the economy and it's negative effect on us, we might actually see something positive come out of that, too.

Just ponder for a moment, pre-recession, when the majority of American families were made up of working parents, at least two cars, (maybe a boat and a snowmobile, too) and over committed kids with an excessive wardrobe they'd grow out of before they could all be worn. Dinners together were rare, and crazy schedules made it unrealistic to plan any time for family activities, especially at home. Leisure time was almost non-existent so we'd plan a once-a-year vacation that was way over-the-top expensive to make up for the time we didn't have on a weekly basis. If there was extra time, we used it for shopping trips, dinners out, classes at the gym and seeing the latest movie releases.

But then, money got tight and we had to limit a lot of that. Maybe mom or dad lost their job and the other parent had to stay home with the kids saving money for daycare. Meals at home cost substantially less so families actually sat around the dinner table together. Movie night became a rented good family flick with everyone sharing a big bowl of popcorn. See where I'm going with this?

Maybe, just maybe, what will come out of this stressed out economy will be closer family relationships, a better understanding of what is involved with "keeping a home," and first-hand experience with being frugal. It's not as simple as that, to be sure, and it's hard not to worry but I think God has this whole thing figured out. Maybe we'd do better to be "anxious for nothing" while we're thanking God for His blessings, His love and His care. What better way to face life's worries than to give them to Him.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

HOW WE SEE OURSELVES

Whenever I hear this phrase I immediately remember my mother-in-law saying goodbye after a visit. She didn't visit more than once-a-year so when her summer visit was over she'd say,"Goodbye until we see ourselves!" A unique way to put it, don't you think? Well, the deeper issue is one that effects us all, how we see ourselves and how others see us. There are some who say they don't care what others think about them but, frankly, when I hear that said, I don't believe it for a second. Self image has a lot to do with self-confidence in my belief and that was something I took very seriously with raising my children. The world contributes its share of
superficial self image, it's interpretation of beauty and how we can achieve it. The "perfect" body proportions (whether you're male or female), the right clothes, the right hair style, the use of makeup for women, and the list of exterior perfections goes on and on and what do we have to show for it. In my opinion: anorexia, bulimia, over spending to follow the current fashion trends,
criticism of others, cliques, and a general unkindness toward those that "don't measure up."

The person who coined the expression that "beauty is only skin deep" really said a mouthful. Equally wise was the one that goes, "it's what's on the inside that counts!" But so often these things fall by the wayside. It's easy to miss this in today's society when we're surrounded by medias constant visuals on TV, in movies and in magazines. Pretty soon we start thinking that this is the true measure of beauty.

That brings back another memory from the past. It was an episode of Twilight Zone. All the charters were hideous in their appearance and the camera, that is, the viewer's perspective, gave the impression that we were the "patient" that all these ugly doctors and nurses were hovering over. Their comments were concerned about "us" as they looked down at us and each one was more appalled by "our" appearance. As the audience, the feeling was that they were looking at a plastic surgery gone wrong and as the audience we couldn't help think, "if these homely on-lookers think that "we"are grotesque, then "we" must look even worse than they do. It really was a fascinating and creative story and we sat there waiting until the very end when the "patient" (we) were revealed. I don't know if everybody else was shocked, but I sure was. When the camera changed position and we finally got a look there was an absolutely gorgeous women. I know at my house there was a collective "huh?" But what a dramatic way to prove that beauty does lie in the eye of the beholder and "perfection", well, you get the picture.

I've always hated the word perfection because as a Christian this was only applicable when one was referring to God. We can't begin to achieve perfection. We can, however, do our best to be the best reflection of His perfection by working on the "inside" of who we are. Don't get me wrong. I believe in looking my best, I advocate cleanliness, and I have been known to have my hair done and my nails polished. But, mostly I advocate being the best human being I can be by taking good care of my "self" and caring for my fellowman and woman. And I always believe that part of that is doing my very best at whatever it is I'm doing. I believe that we know in our heart when we have done a good job and furthermore, we can't depend on someone else's evaluation of what we've done to determine our feeling of success. And that's where confidence comes from.

How we see ourselves is key to how we move forward in our lives and accomplishments. When you look at yourself in the mirror is the person looking back someone you admire or "just another pretty face?"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I CAN'T HELP YOU

Those of you who know me, know that the past few years have been difficult due to some pretty significant health issues. Really, prior to ten years ago, the only surgeries I'd ever had were my two C-sections. But I sure have made up for it. Tallying this list is always such fun. Let's see, there's the feet with corrective surgery and bunion removal, gall bladder, 3 rotator cuff repairs, 2 complete knee replacements and, oh yes, the grand daddy of them all, the back surgery of '04. Now that was really significant! It was only after realizing that my double laminectomy and fusion was not particularly successful that I continued to do research about the long term prognosis and...well, it ain't pretty. When you're in agony and somebody says they can help you with surgery, you respond with a barely audible, "ok." And that becomes the beginning of the end. Unfortunately, it's not the end that you'd hoped.

After you're screwed (literally) and caged and fused, then they tell you that the problem that precipitated the destruction of the discs and, by the way, you have a little scoliosis to boot, will only move up the spine and...once a fusion has been performed you can never have another fusion and your discs will continue to disintegrate as you get older. Oh, yeah. That's the kind of news you love to hear. But you exercise and stretch for your back 7 days a week for 5 years, walk daily and work on posture and moving around rather than to stay seated for long periods of time and live on pain pills in order to enjoy a moderately normal life. Granted you do have to sleep in a recliner each night, longing to lay in a bed, and the heating pad is never too far away but it's not a bad life.

So, you see this infomercial about a new technique called Spinal Decompression Therapy and it does look promising. You are literally stretched on a regular basis, there's no surgery, and this technique boasts great results. So you call the local number on the screen and find out that this clinic has a Chiropractic Neurologist who runs the place and monitors patients. You are told to have any exray films or MRIs sent to the doctor before your appointment and you make all those calls to assure that the doctor has a visual reference and you wait in the waiting room for a brief 5 minutes or so. Then they call your name and you anxiously follow the doctor to his office.

You're optimistic and can't wait to get started. He's a huge man, easily 6 ft 6 inches but has a calm demeanor and a gentle voice. You sit to the side of his desk as he carefully takes out the MRI you had taken within 6 months from the day of your surgery 5 years ago and...you watch his face as he looks intently at your picture. Then comes the moment of truth. The doctor says,
"Wow, they really butchered you! Ouch!! I'm sorry. I'm afraid I can't help you." And you sit there for a moment in shocked silence. You extend your hand to his massive one and thank him for...nothing. It's not his fault that he can't take the chance that decompressing your spine might
dislodge a screw or a post or a spacer. But you can't help but wonder as you walk out the waiting room door, "Is that really true? Do I have to figure that this problem can't be remedied and in all likelihood the problem with my back will only get worse?"

I'm still reeling from this, albeit, brief conversation and the thought that there are no options. But I have to move on. Rather I have to look at things in a positive light, that is, I can still exercise daily and walk and my two new knees are fabulous and...the rest is in God's hands. That daily exercise and walking is underscored with prayer and I can't help but think He's got it all figured out. Unlike the doctor, God CAN help me as he does with everything in my life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

HOTTER THAN BLAZES!

I know, I know. What an obvious subject for tonight's blog. But, really, are you frickin' kidding me??? Now, I look forward to summer as much as the other guy and, yes, it did seem like we were having April weather at the beginning of June. Every other person you talked to was complaining that it didn't seem like summer would ever come. Well, it came alright, in spades! The last couple of days (and plenty more coming in the next few weeks) we're having the dead of August heat and the dreaded humidity. Yikes!!!

It's always amazing to me when the weather man says we haven't had a day like this since and follows with a reference to...1931. I'm always sceptical about those stats. Are they actual statistics or do they make those things up to somehow show us that days like these happened before, so we don't ponder the real cause...what we have done to our atmosphere. Don't you think that maybe, just maybe, the gas emissions from our cars, chemicals with which we have contaminated our waterways, general disregard for our planet over the last century or two (and the list goes on) don't you think that's been part of our strange climate changes? I didn't see Al Gore's documentary on global warning and I'm no scientific expert, but it does give one pause.
Don't you think?

All I know is today, the second day of the beginning of summer, I could barely make it around the block with my dog at 7:30 a.m. when I thought it would be the coolest time in the day to get my morning constitutional. I was dead wrong. It might have been comparatively cooler than the ninety degrees we ended with, but I could hardly put one foot in front of the other as my dog and I rounded the last corner. It was so oppressive that my husband said that when he came home he could see that there was a garbage man who had gotten out of his truck and was sitting in the ditch! " Those trucks do not have AC," my husband said when I had a bewildered look on my face. "I guess the poor guy was somewhat delirious. There was quite a group around him making sure he was alright."

Oh, yeah. It was hot, alright. I understand why they make it a point to tell people to make sure their animals aren't out for too long and that they have plenty of water. And then, of course, we have to be aware of the elderly and the fact that they are going to have more difficulty just breathing in this heat. I know about that one because, as I've said in one of my earlier Blogs, "I is one!" So take refuge in the air conditioned house or workplace or church or whatever. What ever has to be done outside, it can wait till the weather is more conducive to outdoor activities.
After all, it's hotter than blazes, haites, or H-E double hockey sticks out there!

Monday, June 22, 2009

CELL PHONE MADNESS!!!!

How typical. Someone comes up with new technology making it possible to have a way to reach home or the police or the towing company right from the comfort of your car and we become an obsessed people. Obsessed? Yes, obsessed. We have so misused this safety tool to reach someone, anyone, any time of the night or day. For what?
To talk...and talk...and talk...to such a degree that now we need legislation to forbid the use of cellphones while driving in our cars 'cause, it can cause us to be distracted and therefore inattentive drivers who are responsible for a large percentage of car accidents. Duh!!!

And if that's not enough, the talk, talk, talking I mean, now we have to TEXT. My gosh! Stop the madness!!! We are drowning in debt, many have lost their jobs and we're shopping for more minutes and features that our phones are now daily planners, computers to receive email, maps, television programs, and we can't forget, phones that are cameras. We complain that our privacy is being invaded and yet all these gizmos are only making it easier to have our identities stolen and worse,to ruin someone's reputation by taking suggestive photos and posting it to...the UNIVERSE.

Is it me or does some of this foolishness and being caught up in it, seem as though, if we only used common sense, so much of this would be eradicated by just sensible use of this technology? I know,I know. I sound like the "old folks" I regarded as such when I was younger. But I can't say, "these youngsters today..." I can't because we're all a part of the problem. When I got a cellphone about 12 or 13 years ago, I was single and I thought, "what if I was in my car on the highway and my car broke down, what would I do?" A cellphone was a way to holler for help and that was it. Now, I have a cellphone with no text, no camera, no daily planner, etc. I have it for my long distance because it's cheaper than having long distance put on my land line. And, I must confess, I do occasionally make a call from my car, while driving. I, too, use it for more than emergencies and shouldn't be making calls from my car. So now I've vented. But I hope I've made some of you think about the monster that interrupts "live" conversations,has the potential to cause a car accident, has made texting "zombies" out of our teens and is so much a constant in our lives they have to post signs at the pharmacy that say,"Out of respect for our customers, please complete your cellphone conversations before coming up to the counter." Duh!!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

PAY IT FORWARD

Believe it or not, the ol' gal is back. No real poetic inspiration just the inspiration of life. Hopefully, there will be another poem soon as there is Father's Day and a Graduation or two coming up and that might be motive enough, who knows?

This last Saturday my husband and I were doing our usual Saturday errands, first stop, Fleet Farm. Boy, do we know how to have a good time, or what? Anyway, we were turning into the parking lot off of Wisconsin Avenue when we both noticed a woman lying on the curb, her bike down, and favoring her knee. I had my husband stop our van and I got out and asked her if she was hurt. She said that she was and that a car coming out of the parking lot had pulled ahead never noticing her, so close she lost her balance and fell. She was shaken and angry not only at the incident having happened but particularly at the woman in the car who never stopped to check on her or help her. It is amazing that something like this could happen and nobody, not even the one responsible, had stopped to help her.

Well, I helped her up, got her into our van while my husband put her bike in the back. She was quite a ways from where she lived and in no shape to be riding her bike back to her downtown apartment. The only complication was that last Saturday was the Flag Day Parade and downtown was closed off and it was difficult for us to find a place to park and walk her and her bike back home. But we managed. Once she got home we suggested she put a cold pack on her knee and she assured us she would. When the adventure was over we knew all was right with the world, or at least our little corner of it. She was very appreciative and we were glad we were there to help.

The following day, Sunday, I went on a long overdue shopping trip to one of our smaller malls. I had put it off long enough and besides, I had a 30 percent off coupon!!! I just took my time and spent about an hour and a half just putzing and looking and finally buying. The weather was beautiful when I went in to the store so I wasn't prepared for the deluge that was taking place outside. Of course, my umbrella was in the car, so I thought I'd wait in a covered area until it let up a bit. As I stood there I noticed this big white luxury car pull up and man got out with one of those big golf umbrellas. He opened it and walked around to the passenger side, opened the door and extended his arm to help his wife who used a cane. He was so patient and caring not to let a single drop touch her head. As she walked toward me I smiled and she said, "I sure wasn't expecting this. This rain seemed to come from nowhere." I agreed. Then I said, "Yeah, and my umbrella's in my car". Hearing this she turned around and called back to her husband to give me the umbrella to use to get to my car. I objected and told her it was alright, but she insisted. So, I used the kind couple's umbrella and he followed behind in his car (after he made sure I was in my car and protected) and retrieved the borrowed umbrella. All the while I watched that sweet man with his wife, I thought how fortunate she was and how I,too, had a husband like that. And, as they say, with kindness we must pay it forward. God made sure of that!