Class Day

First of all, my dad’s surgery seems to have gone well. I am hoping to get a chance to talk to him tomorrow, but didn’t want to bother him this evening. I remember only too well what it feels like to be a few hours out from surgery.

Jasper and I were very busy doing homework and preparing for class this morning. It’s been another gloomy day, with rain on and off.

After class, Jasper and I went to Walmart so I could buy medicine for Lucy and he could buy a pair of jeans. Lucy seems to have caught my cold and has been sick all week, and she is very anxious to be well enough to play a rugby tournament this weekend.

We finished off the day by watching more Olympics. It has been fun to have this option for the first time in many years!



Friends in Need Are Friends Indeed

I don’t believe I mentioned that my personal primary motivation for going to Tyler on Monday was to pick up a couple of iron lantern stands for Mercy’s wedding. I had been keeping an eye on the website and waiting for them to go on sale, and they finally did, so after dropping Spencer off on Monday we drove down to World Market to buy the stands.

The buying part went off without a hitch, but the putting-them-in-the-trunk-of-the-car part went quite badly. They simply were too long and no matter what way I tried to fit them in, they didn’t! And since we had four people in the car, there was no point in even trying to force them into the back seat either. I had to take them back into the store and have the cashier put them on hold for me until I could return with a larger vehicle.

The only problem was, our larger vehicles are not running very well right now. Spencer did not think the Suburban could even make it to Tyler. The van is Walter’s work vehicle and he is carefully babying it along, but I didn’t feel confident driving it 45 miles on my own. Then I remembered my friend Robin has a minivan. I begged her to take me to pick up my purchases, and she said yes, and the time that worked best for her was this morning.

I got Jasper going on his schoolwork and then Robin arrived and we set off in the pouring rain. So. Much. Rain. We finally made it to the store and I dashed in through the deluge, grabbed the stands, and dashed back to the minivan, where they fit very nicely.

Having done what we came to do, we drove to the other side of the parking lot and treated ourselves to Thai food for lunch. Then the siren call of Half Price Books became impossible to resist, and we didn’t really try very hard to resist it. Even though I was only there on Monday, I still found a couple of things I couldn’t live without. Half Price Books is one of Robin’s favorite places, so while she continued browsing, I went next door to JoAnn’s to check out a few things. I don’t dare stay too long in Half Price Books, because the longer I stay, the more I find.

Somewhat to my relief, I got out of JoAnn’s with only a knitting magazine that has some patterns I might actually make.

We finally were ready to head back to our own town, but Robin wanted a cup of coffee, so we stopped at a Dairy Queen and she ordered a small cup of coffee at the drive-through, and you know what it cost? Five cents. Yes, I said . I didn’t know there was still such a thing as a five-cent cup of coffee. Almost makes me wish I drank coffee!

We drove home through the pouring rain and saw that many fields and streams had already flooded. It is supposed to continue raining for another couple of days, with more rain due next week! I am so thankful to have a friend who came to my rescue and drove all those miles in the rain for me.

The rest of the day has been full of school and getting ready for tomorrow’s class, while listening to the rain continuing to fall.

My dad is having shoulder replacement surgery tomorrow, and I would appreciate your prayers for him.

Ready or Not . . .

Here it comes! Spring, I mean. It has been very warm and muggy lately. There is a cold front on its way and I am anxious for it to get here. I am not ready for spring. Our camellia is now blooming at last:

2-20-18 camellia

And the little hyacinth I bought in a vase at Aldi last year has started blooming also:

 2-20-18 hyacinth

I had an enjoyable visit from a friend this afternoon and spent quite a bit of time on schoolwork.

My Diabetes Miracle #9: The Gift of Diabetes

Recently, I watched a video by a doctor who works with diabetics all the time (for a jaw-dropping fee) and helps them “reverse” their diabetes and get off their medications. He said that people who are successful at the very challenging task of dealing with their diabetes and losing weight share three key traits.

Obviously, I wondered if I have these all-important traits, which is why I was watching in the first place. The first trait is that you have to be desperate. You have to have reached the point where you think, “Enough is enough. I can’t live like this anymore.” I reached that point a year ago, on February 6, 2017, when my doctor said, “Your pancreas is wearing out.” I was so done with following the mainstream advice and seeing myself get worse and worse. Many of my diabetic friends and acquaintances have not reached this level of desperation yet, and I have made no effort to “convert” them to my plan of action. You have to be desperate to be willing to attempt it!

The second crucial trait, according to this doctor, is that you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get better. I would actually add to that. A year ago I made a solid commitment not only to do whatever it takes, but to keep doing it for the rest of my life. One of the ground rules I set for myself was that I would not take any sort of “temporary” measures to deal with my health issues. Anything I did, I had to be willing to do for the rest of my life. Had I known what I was really getting into, I might have been daunted, but the decision had already been made.

The third essential trait was simply a willingness to fight for your own health, and to keep fighting no matter what happens. I have been fighting hard for a year now, and I don’t see things getting easier anytime soon.

Today was a case in point. Since it was a holiday, the kids wanted to do something, and we all ended up driving to a nearby town, where I dropped Spencer off to play tennis with his buddy Britton. I took Lucy and Jasper out to eat, and had to sit there with my cup of water and watch them eat food that I would have dearly loved to have, but today was a fast day so I had to be strong. Later, I got them some frozen yogurt for dessert and again had to watch them eat while my own stomach rumbled.

Hardest of all was when we picked up Spencer, and he was ravenous, so we went through a drive-through and then he sat beside me eating ice cream and very fragrant French fries while I tried to focus on driving! Do you have any idea how much I miss French fries? But I can’t have a single French fry any more than a recovering alcoholic can have a sip of wine for communion. (And lest you think that I shouldn’t have let my kids eat in front of me—well, why should they be punished because of my life choices?)

But my point is, I committed to doing whatever it takes, even if it means having to watch other people eat food I can’t ever have again, and even if I’m really hungry, because part of what it takes for me is regular fasting. On days like today, I have to give myself some little pep talks. First of all, no matter how tempted I may be to eat French fries or frozen yogurt, no food in the world is worth going back on insulin for. That makes it a little easier to resist temptation. I don’t ever want to buy another vial of insulin or have to inject myself again.

Then comes the realization of how fortunate I am. I am not helpless in the face of my disease. I know what to do, and I’m doing it. So many people like me are stuck watching their health decline, and they’ve been told it’s inevitable, and they don’t even know they could do something about it. I am so thankful I figured this out before I got any worse!

Which brings me to an interesting point. After a year of strenuous effort, I have reached the point where I can honestly say I am thankful for my diabetes. I’m thankful to have it, and I’m thankful I found out about it instead of just dying of a heart attack. Here are some of the reasons why:

—I have been SO motivated to beat this that I’ve figured out what it really takes for me personally to get healthier.

—I have had the resolve to eschew all refined carbohydrates, which aren’t good for anyone, but especially not for me.

—Thanks to what I’ve learned and put into practice, I should be able to stave off heart disease, dementia, and cancer for many years to come.

—I have lost 75 pounds and I think I finally know how to keep from “finding” them again, which is what has happened every other time, no matter how faithfully I stuck to a diet.

—I have learned that I need very little food to sustain myself, and that frequent fasting is a very powerful secret weapon, because it helps me lower my (natural) insulin levels.

—I have learned that food is really not all that important. Holidays and other celebrations are about being with people I love, not about stuffing myself with carbs until I can barely waddle from the table to my armchair afterward. I never have that “painfully full” feeling anymore, and I sure don’t miss it.

Tomorrow, I go to the doctor for my six-month checkup. I don’t know if my test results will meet my hopes and expectations, but whatever happens, I know I am so much healthier than I was a year ago, and if anything, more determined than ever to keep working toward even better health.


Rainy Day

We are having an exceptionally rainy time here in East Texas. It rained quite a bit while I was gone, and it has continued to rain since my return. There is a significant chance of rain every day for the next ten days, which means my hopes of lake school are out the window. The good thing is that when we finally get to go, I bet there won’t be a burn ban!

This morning I sent Jasper out to buy donuts for everyone and Janet came over to have breakfast with us. (No, of course I didn’t eat donuts, but I sat and visited with everyone.) Afterward I took Janet out for some coffee so she’d be caffeinated for the meeting she had to go to.

Later, I zoomed up to the craft store in hopes of finding wedding stuff, but was only able to get a couple of small items. However, I found some peacock feather beads for 70% off and have now made them into a necklace to match my peacock design top.

I also had some critiquing to do and some other odds and ends. I am still struggling to get all the way over my cold. It’s mostly just the fatigue now.

I also finished reading Dr. Jason Fung’s book The Obesity Code today. It was so affirming to see that science actually supports my own experience over the past several decades, of doing everything “right” while dieting and still seeing my weight loss stop and then reverse itself. The book also backs up everything I’ve learned in the past year with actual facts. He ends with six actions to take if you are serious about losing weight, and guess what? I am already doing all of them. I wish that my results were quicker and more dramatic, but the good news is I think I’m finally on the right track and success may ultimately be possible, even if it takes longer than I would like. I keep reminding myself how far I’ve come in the last year, and that makes me believe it will be possible to keep going until I reach my goal.

Are You Safe?

In the past couple of years, I’ve given a lot of thought to my acknowledged status as an introvert. I’ve blogged about how for most of my life, I have been told that my introversion is a sin or a defect in my personality. I disagree very strongly with both of those points of view. My introversion is just a part of who I am, like my love of the moon or my dislike of oatmeal.

To a certain extent, I am a bit of an unconventional introvert. I don’t have a tiny circle of friends. I have a vast, far-flung network of friends, many of whom I feel “close” to and all of whom I actively love and adore. I invest considerable effort into maintaining those friendships despite the distance of miles and/or years. I am actively interested in my friends’ lives and I love to hear from them or better yet, see them in person. I don’t see friends as temporary but as permanent, and I mourn over every friendship lost.

Over the last year, I have become more and more aware of safety as a component of relationships. I’m not talking about safety from harassment or physical attack. I’m talking about the safety of being able to talk to someone and know that no matter what I say, they will still accept and respect me. I think this is a huge part of being an introvert. Introverts like me are not going to allow a conversation to become serious unless they feel certain the other person is “safe,” and the only way to figure that out is through lengthy experience and observation.

This is why, if you’ve only been around me in a group setting, you may assume I am all but mute. Unless I know everyone in the group well, it is not a “safe” environment for me and I am not going to venture to express my opinion. If pressed, I will be noncommittal.

There is one sure way to alienate an introvert, and that is to ridicule something that he or she holds dear. It’s bad enough if you do it unknowingly, but it’s virtually unforgiveable if you do it intentionally. From that moment, you will never be seen as “safe,” no matter how much time goes by. You are unlikely to succeed in getting to know that introvert on any but the most superficial level.

Extroverts react quite differently, in my experience. An extrovert will simply laugh it off: “Haha, you just made fun of my most favorite thing in the world. That is so silly. You’re such a joker, bro.”

An introvert doesn’t find it funny at all. To an introvert, disparaging or making fun of something important to him/her means that you are likely to make fun of his/her very identity, so therefore you can’t be trusted with it.

Because I am so much more aware of this phenomenon now, I have been interested to note the occasions when I have and haven’t felt “safe.” My class reunion last year surprised me by feeling very safe, despite the fact that I hadn’t seen most of those people for forty years—whereas people at church whom I see every week might not feel safe at all. I haven’t gathered enough data on them to know whether I dare speak my mind in their presence.

My recent trip also was a foray into safe and trusted relationships, which was one of the things that made it so enjoyable.

Which brings me to my point. I recently was mulling over my relationship with someone in my life, and I began to suspect that perhaps I had transgressed against a fellow introvert. I hadn’t verbally attacked or ridiculed something this person values, but I had perhaps managed to communicate my disapproval nonverbally by my use of body language or lack of outright affirmation. I had failed in my personal goal to always do the kindest thing.

It upsets me to think that to this person, I may no longer be viewed as “safe.” Knowing myself the way I do, I fear it may be impossible to move myself back onto this person’s “safe” list, and that grieves me. Since safety in relationships is so vital to me, I try to make a point of being a safe person for others.

What about you? Have you even thought about whether or not you provide a safe atmosphere for your friends to express their deepest desires, goals, and opinions? I find that I am less and less willing to openly ridicule even things that are patently ridiculous, because I’d rather not run the risk of permanently turning off someone who may be listening and who may need me to be a “safe” listener at some point in the future.

Lost in a Book

Well, I would have posted last night if it had been possible. Halfway through the evening, my computer decided to update itself without warning. It was still at it two hours later when I gave up and went to bed. This morning when I got up, it was STILL at it! I was desperate to finish preparing for my class, so I resorted to a hard restart and then had to work like crazy to get everything ready for class on time.

We are well into 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea now. I told the kids about the first time I read this book. I was twelve years old, and had been invited to spend Easter vacation with family friends who had a daughter my age (we were on furlough in Michigan). I rode with our friends to their vacation home in Canada, on the banks of Lake Huron. I had with me a copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in case I had some “down time.”

Well, it turned out I had plenty of down time, because my friend Annie liked to sleep in till very late in the morning. I would be awake before dawn and would lie patiently in bed until light began to come in through the window over my bed. As soon as it was light enough for me to distinguish words on a page, I would pull my book out from under my pillow and within moments I’d be on the Nautilus with Captain Nemo.

That was a wonderful vacation. Two hours every morning on the Nautilus, and the rest of the day outdoors exploring and building a playhouse on the frigid beach. I hated for the book—and the week—to end. I hope my students enjoy it too, even though they are reading it for class instead of for pleasure!

Rain & a Virus

It seems I brought home a secret souvenir from my conference on the weekend. Last night I felt I was coming down with something, and this morning I woke up with a cold. I hope I can recover quickly. It didn’t help that I got rained on several times today!

This evening I went to the monthly knit night at the library, and my friend Robin came also. This time there were twice as many as last time—eight of us! It was an enjoyable evening, and I still got to come home and watch a little figure skating.

Now if you don’t mind, I think I’m going to take some medicine and get some sleep.

Recap of my Peregrinations

Now that I’ve had a couple of nights at home, I’ve had time to think about my trip. The purpose of my trip was a sort of friendship tour. I love my friends and put quite a bit of effort into maintaining my relationships, and my recent trip was an example of that.

  • The first night (in Justin, Texas), I spent with my friends of 50 years, Don and Gwen. I guess now you know I’m older than 50!
  • The second night (in Albuquerque, New Mexico) I spent with friends of 25 years, whom I hadn’t seen for 20 years. Oh, it was good to see Marlan and Rachel again!
  • The third through sixth nights I was in Phoenix staying with TL, my friend and roommate from 41 years ago, whom I had only seen once since that time. What a treat it was to spend time with her.
  • A week ago today I met at long last my friend Nettie, with whom I’ve been friends for I think about 12 years.
  • The seventh night found me in El Paso staying with my friend Connie, whom I first met almost 20 years ago.
  • The eighth and ninth nights I spent with my friend Shirley in Fort Worth. Like Connie, Shirley is a former leader of my old homeschool group and has been a friend for close to two decades.

As I think back on my trip, here are some of the memories that bubble to the surface:

  • Hitting a tumbleweed when it blew across the road in front of me outside Amarillo.
  • Driving into Albuquerque through the stunning mountains that surround it.
  • That amazing drive down through the Salt River canyon.
  • Riding a bicycle for the first time in 40 years.
  • Getting to see one of TL’s larger-than-life murals (she’s an artist)
  • Meeting an “old” friend for the first time.
  • Getting a big hug from Nettie’s little girl Ellie when I said goodbye.
  • Touring that amazing monastery out in the desert.
  • The exciting experience of going through two border patrol checkpoints (one outside of Tombstone and one outside of El Paso). My car was drug-sniffed by a very eager German Shepherd.
  • Seeing a very long train gliding slowly along the desert floor in Arizona. It looked like something from a postcard.
  • My side trip to the historic town of Tombstone, Arizona and driving past the Boot Hill graveyard.
  • All the saguaro cacti I saw in and around Phoenix.
  • The gas station where all the pumps were occupied, and a young guy finished pumping his own gas and then beckoned me over and held my spot for me until I could get turned around and into position.
  • Finding out that my friend Connie’s dog was twice the size I expected.
  • Getting to see Connie’s adorable one-month-old grandson, whose mother is my daughter Lucy’s friend.
  • Spending a couple of evenings with my friend Shirley, and watching the Olympics opening ceremonies with her.
  • A row of vagrants lined up against a brick wall on Saturday morning, huddled in their piles of blankets and trying to stay warm. Once the library was open, many of them migrated inside.
  • Seeing a Shakespeare First Folio in the Dallas Public Library
  • Driving home through freezing mist and being so grateful for my warm car and my many wonderful friends.

Parting Shot:

2-6-18 me with saguaro

Me at the monastery with a saguaro cactus.

Day by Day

Day By Day

by Karolina W Sandell-Berg

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.