Ready for a Question to Ponder?

Here is one of the greatest questions you will ever ask and answer: “What one skill, if I developed and did it in an excellent fashion, would have the greatest positive impact on my career?”
~Brian Tracy

I’ve been thinking about this one for myself. More than anything, I would love to learn how to make a positive impact on my world through writing, since I believe in Martin Luther’s thought, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen.” So, I think for me, the one skill I would like to hone is that of writing in a way that is creative, beautiful, and uplifting.

What about you?

U.P. Weekend

Well, we took Stephen, Joel, and Steve Cooper up to the Yoop for the weekend for a little nostalgia tour. Traveled ’til the wee hours to get to Marquette…couldn’t find an available campsite  in two parks and finally ended up spending the last part of the night at a scenic turnout, hoping that since we’d arrived early in the morning they wouldn’t ticket us for “overnight” camping. Woke up to the sun trying to break through the clouds and Alan walking the beach. Highlights included breakfast at the Coachlight (“like another world”—not a flash from the past but a long, quiet interlude with the Beach Boys and the Beatles on the radio while someone somewhere took about an hour to make a pot of decaf coffee…), hiking up Sugar Loaf in the rain and mist (while I snoozed…can’t skip up even small mountains yet), meandering along Lake Superior at Wetmore Landing (where Steve C. and Joel had the audacity to go swimming in the rain and toe-numbing water), lunching on Jean Kay steak and rutabaga pasties at Presque Isle, walking the pier, finding just the perfect picture collage for Alan’s new (ish) office at the Art of the Rocks festival, perusing Washington St. and looking longingly down the lane where we used to live on Brickyard Road (Terror of terrors: the sand pit where the kids spent endless hours trying to break their legs as youth has become a grassy field and a brand new Lowe’s! The sorrow of it all…). We stopped at Jilbert’s for ice cream sundaes (another grief of heart: the fabulous dairy has been bought out by Dean’s ice cream and now slaps the Jilbert’s sticker on a perceptibly inferior brand of ice cream 😦  ). It took until 10 pm to arrive in the Sault from Marquette via a driving tour of Dafter (all one street of it) and past my childhood home on Dillion Ave. (all one street of it too). The car hop at Clyde’s was competition for the waitress at the Coachlight, but we eventually did get our burger baskets and old-fashioned chocolate malts. (Funny, we used to eat at Clyde’s late at night, but I never got sick from it before! The guys did fine. Must be a touchy stomach still from my surgery.) We stayed overnight at Aune Osborn’s RV park, listening to the cry of gulls and the mournful tooting of the Sugar Island Ferry.

I would have loved to attend our old church, but it was not to be. Alan was by then a little restless to get home, and since he always does the lion’s share of the work, he also gets the lion’s share of the votes. We did try to visit Alan’s Cousin Don, who is dying of cancer, but he wasn’t at the hospital, which made us both very sad. We also had a lovely meander through the Soo Locks’ park, breakfast at the Lockview, where the service was appropriate for the current century and the tea was hot, and then dodged in and out of thunderstorms and blue skies on our way home, stopping only for a rest break and game of miniature golf about Petosky and then for some subs before arriving back to good old GR. In all, a wonderfully fun and refreshing weekend.

How about you?

A New Approach to Good Health

How’s this philosophy for a change?

Q: Doctor, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that’s it…  don’t waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually.  Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that’s like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster.  Want to live longer?  Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies.  What does a cow eat? Hay and corn.  And what are these? Vegetables.  So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system.  Need grain? Eat chicken.  Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable).   And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?  
A:  No, not at all.  Wine is made from fruit.  Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way.  Beer is also made out of grain.  Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one.  If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program? 
A: Can’t think of a single one, sorry.  My philosophy is: No Pain…Good!

Q:  Aren’t fried foods bad for you?  
A:  YOU’RE NOT LISTENING!!! …..Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil.  In fact, they’re permeated in it.  How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q:  Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle? 
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q:  Is   chocolate bad for me?  
A:  Are you crazy? HELLO!!  Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It’s the best feel-good food around!

Q:  Is swimming well for your figure?  
A:  If  swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q:  Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?  
A:  Hey!  ‘Round’ is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And  remember:
Life should  NOT  be a journey to the grave with the intention of  arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved  body, but rather  to skid in sideways – Chardonnay in one  hand – chocolate in  the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO  HOO, What a  Ride!!”


For those of you who watch what you eat, here’s the final word on nutrition and health. It’s a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Hope this made you smile. We all need a good laugh now and then!

Look, Mom! No Hands

Just a quickie to let you know I’m still alive, recovering, and happy. The latest improvement is being totally off any kind of pain reliever and TA DA…I can now walk without a cane!! No hands, just two feet! Yahoo. The physical therapist noticed that my right foot was turning in to try to compensate for pain somehow, but that was putting extra pressure on my knee and causing trouble. SO, I’m trying to watch and make sure that I walk very slowly and very straight. So far, so good!

Over the weekend, Alan took Dan, Brianna, and me out to dinner to Logan’s Restaurant. It’s one of Dan’s favorite restaurants, and he especially enjoys the fact that they serve peanuts to everybody and traditionally people just throw the shells on the floor.  This took a lot of getting used to for “no litter” me, but I’ve since gotten into the spirit. The only trick was, on the way out, my trusty cane landed on a whole peanut that somebody had tossed, rolling the cane a bit and throwing me off balance. Luckily my dear husband had me by the arm, so beyond a little uncomfortable jar, all was well. But, who would have thunk that something as little as a peanut could cause a big time problem? If Alan hadn’t caught me and I fell…well, I might have been fine, or I might have dislocated my hip!

Oh Lord, we are frail! Please make straight paths for our feet, and don’t let us get tripped up on peanuts!


Well, my dear niece, I meant to get back to the cingulate gyrus right away, but so much has happened that it may take a few days, although I promise to TRY not to forget. Meanwhile, I have a tale to tell. Today’s post will sound like a column that you might expect more from a homeless woman…

Although I had trouble sleeping for the first time since my accident on Sunday night, I was so sleep-fat that Monday was just fine. Monday night I couldn’t sleep either and my hip was really bothering me. I couldn’t get comfortable no matter how much I flipped and flopped and tried rearranging pillows, so by Tuesday I was running down a bit but still had a happy day, although I had no appetite and couldn’t concentrate enough to really work on my writing project. By Tuesday night I was miserable. I woke up sweaty, restless, listless, and very uncomfortable. I tossed and turned all night. By morning I was feverish and had diarrhea, no appetite, and was totally unable to concentrate. It rained a little in the morning, so I gladly gave up any aspirations for trying to go for a walk, dozed, and finally called the doctor’s office, fearing I was developing a bone infection or some other dreaded complication. Alan thought about the possibility of colitis, a spore that is sometimes picked up from the hospital and causes a lot of intestinal problems.

However,  I have now turned the corner and am feeling  better. The nurse from the doctor’s office called to see how I was doing, and after talking everything through, we think we know what happened! I went through drug withdrawal from the pain medication. I had quickly dropped all pain meds from the daytime on my own, and Alan had weaned me down to half the prescribed amount at night, and I’d been doing so well that I just decided I’d try to go cold turkey off the pain meds. I never even thought of fever and diarrhea as possible symptoms from the pain medication, but indeed there can be many options for dreary side effects. An addictionologist/psychiatrist who had a hip replacement just 5 weeks before me and has been coaching me through the process said he stopped his pain meds the day he left the hospital. Do you know what the greatest cause of death is among our young people? Drug abuse. #1 is alcohol and #2 is prescription pain medications. So, beware and take care if you ever need strong pain medication, and get yourself off just as soon as you reasonably can!

Baby Steps

Did any of you see the video, “What About Bob?” I can’t remember it well enough to know if I’d really recommend it, but as one who works with the psychiatric population, Alan could hardly stop laughing (almost to tears) and cringing the entire time. At any rate, the starring hero writes a book called Baby Steps, making the point that growth and healing come most often not through giant leaps, but by taking one little step at a time.

I have been practicing Baby Steps of late! Today’s first was managing to hobble down the long flight of stairs to our basement to fix a breaker for the guy who came to pump out our septic tank. Theoretically, I’m still supposed to avoid stairs, but there was no one but me to do it at the time, and necessity—as they say—is indeed the mother of work, or mothers work hard at being inventive, or however…

Imagine a clean septic tank. We have to have it drained every three years. Slurp. Gunck out. Made me appreciative of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Mind full of trash? Heart full of troubles? Do any of you suffer from an overly active cingulate gyrus the way Alan and I sometimes do? Never heard of it? Well, maybe that will be a different post one of these days. But, I am glad that there’s a way off the gerbil wheel in my brain. “A door of hope” is another way of saying it. When my mind spins or runs endless mazes and I can’t find the way out, I just bring it all to the Lord, dump it at his feet, and say, “Lord, I can’t figure this out, but I’m going to trust you with it. Please take care of it, will you, and I’ll stop even thinking about it for a while.” If you find that “pray without ceasing” becomes “worry without ceasing” in your mind…try giving it all to the Lord. I even picture myself climbing up on God’s lap like a small child and presenting my troubles to him, the way a very young child might ask a parent for help. I am thankful for the ministry of the Holy Spirit to whoosh out the worries and leave me empty!

Two Weeks Home and First Walk on the Lane

Ever notice how much more intensely you appreciate something you’ve not been able to enjoy for a while? Last night Abishai had a run in with a skunk and was banished from the house. I felt so sorry for him this morning that it inspired me to take my first walk down the lane, not only for the much needed exercise, but to give the dear fellow a little company. No one has the time to walk as slowly as I have to walk on a routine basis…nor would I want them to have to, since the mosquitoes are very bad just now. What makes for an idyllic woodland setting for looking out the window makes for a pretty dismal walk for the lame traveler who can only kill mosquitoes on her leg by slapping them with her cane! (I did kill two that way, however, without even falling over!) At any rate, bugs aside, it was a gorgeous morning, and the black raspberries and mulberries are beginning to ripen, so there was much to tempt me along on my little jaunt. Our lane is 0.3 miles to the gate, so once up and down was a very minimal start, but a good one! It felt just great to be outside again: to see the turtles in the swamp and the bunnies and deer. Funny how everything seems just a little more colorful and wonderful when you’ve been away for a while. I guess that’s what “home sweet home” is all about!

Annie’s Book

Well, my sister’s book was definitely a page-turner! I even gave up on email in order to finish it. Fortunately, she pretty much left me out of it, and even the protagonist is only a characticture of the true heroine as I know her, but I have to say, she did a great job of portraying one side of life at the free world’s most restrictive university. In all honesty, my experience was quite different from hers, and I still defend our old alma mater, but then again, I didn’t have to monitor the actions of others, and I always took 20 hours and scooted out as quickly as possible. But the descriptions of the campus, the dilemmas, the heart-breaking condition of the little children in our Good News Club…all so real that it broke my heart all over again. I was never nearly as perfectionistic or as philosophical as my beloved elder sister, and I sort of liked frilly pink dresses and the life style on the campus, so I didn’t really mind most of the rules and regulations. In fact, I wanted my first kiss to be at the altar, and so a totally “hands off” policy made life a lot easier for me. BUT, it is truly a dilemma to know how to run a school in an atmosphere of grace that produces healthy young adults who can think for themselves and make godly decisions. No different from trying to raise a brood of beloved children, only a thousand times harder. Visions of 1984 come to mind. I can see how people could (and did) suffocate. Would I rather have the problem of not being allowed to speak to young men after 6 pm or the problem my older sister endured at MSU in those days: a roommate who insisted on sleeping with her boyfriend every night in the same room with my sister. Given the options, I was glad for 3 lovely roomies every year who’s chief problem was to keep from giggling after “lights out” and  to make sure their toes hit the floor at 7 am. Interesting. It’s a great read, but you can’t read it yet! I’ll let you know when it gets published!

X-rays, Anyone?

Well, I passed my (almost) two week inspection this morning. The X-rays showed that Dr. Golladay did an incredibly good  job of placing everything, so the scans look like demo pictures, and the bones look good and strong. I’ve been sleeping a frightful amount, but beyond waking up enough for a meal or two each day and devotions, I have been practicing my puny exercise routine like a fiend, and that’s definitely paying off too! The doctor graduated me from a walker to a cane (as soon as I can find one) and says that within two more weeks I should be able to walk about like a normal human being. Wouldn’t that be lovely? I trust that means without a cane or a limp, and then it’s up to me to practice walking every day to build up my stamina. Too bad I live at the end of a bumpy gravel road rather than a nicely paved sidewalk, but maybe if I survive that will put me in better stead for hiking in the hills and vales of Europe some day!

Hurray for modern medicine, skilled surgeons, and a great God who can bring us through trials if we’ll only let him. One of my favorite lessons from this past year’s Beth Moore Bible study on the book of Daniel  includes the idea that God will always deliver us. Sometimes it’s from the fire (avoiding a trial that we anticipated), which strengthens our faith; sometimes it’s through the fire (enduring a difficulty), which deepens our faith, and sometimes it’s by the fire (taking us home to heaven) which perfects our faith. May we keep trusting him no matter what the preposition!

King of the Jungle?!

African Lion

If not a particularly convincing likeness of my person, this is a perfect mirror of my mood!

Kathy called as chipper as could be this morning to check on me. When I lamented that I’m still sleeping about 15 hours a day, she reminded me with inimitable good humor: “Well, African lions sleep about 18 hours a day, so you’ve got them beat.”

Now, there is a cheery thought indeed. If the King of the Beasts can lounge around for three-quarters of their lives and then do something (questionably) worth doing in just one-quarter  of their time, perhaps I can do SOMETHING worthwhile even in my limited hours of wakefulness. My first project was getting out some pictures (which ended up being heavily subsidized by Stephen and Joel since I can’t go down stairs to work on the scanner yet). Project Two is to catch up on email and Face book…another simply lovely, rather lazy task, and Project Three is to read my sister’s first fiction manuscript. After thirty+ years of developing Bible study materials to teach in her various church communities, she’s trying her hand at fiction. I’ve only indulged in one good fiction in about the past 20 years (beyond enjoying my kids’ writing), so I’m really looking forward to this treat. Needless to say, these three tasks are nothing to compare to bringing down a 600-pound zebra and dragging it home to my cubs, but maybe I’ll attempt something stellar next week when more of my bet cells have started firing sequentially again.

Toodle do, my darlings! Enjoy your health and vitality, and I will (Lord willing) enjoy my unusual opportunity for convalescence!