Sunday, September 30, 2007

It's All How You Treat People

Yesterday I got a new camera from Best Buy. We had looked around at two different chain stores before going into Best Buy. In the first store, the sales associate was confused from the start. When we said we were probably going to look around at other stores, he said he thought it was a good idea. In the second store, we waited for 15 minutes for a salesperson, to no avail. The young man in Best Buy not only helped us locate the perfect camera, but pointed out several features it would have taken us years to learn (when we finally got around to reading the manual).

Today the camera was on sale at another store. Best Buy's policy is to refund the difference in sales price, plus 10%, if you bring in the ad. We did, and were actually refunded 30% of the original sales price. What a deal!

Needless to say, Best Buy now has me as a loyal customer. Why? Because they wanted to help me, and went the extra mile to keep me as a customer.

The moral of this story is all about how you treat people. It's all about treating strangers as friends and showing you value your friends by doing a little extra. If a big chain store can do it, then so can I.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

On The Road Again

This past summer, one of my goals was to run two miles without stopping, and I achieved it. I didn't continue to jog the two miles in my training, since I was concentrating on training to walk 20 miles for three days in a row. Once I had finished the 60 mile weekend, it was time for surgery, so my two-mile accomplishment was put aside. WAY aside.

In the past week, I have begun to get back on track. I've walked a few miles here and there, and returned to Curves, albeit gently. But at least I have started. Getting back in physical shape is essential, as I have a 10K looming in a week.

Today I decided it was time to start jogging again. Naturally, I started with small goals - run to the first stop sign, then to the half-mile point, then to the mile point, etc. Once I had made it to the mile-and-a-half point, I knew I was going all the way... and I did!

This was such a victory on so many points. I haven't lost the two mile jog, in spite of all the events that took away from that training. The lack of a gallbladder hasn't impeded my jogging ability. I once again have the assurance that I can indeed, jog (so what if the ducks were waddling faster than my jog). I have the hope that I can continue to increase my distance, and eventually jog even more miles. I feel confident that next week's race is doable.

I'm back on the roads again. It feels good to be out in the air again, breathing in the sights, sounds, and smells of God's creation. I'm in a good place to start training again.

It's good to know that fresh starts can begin at any point in life. I ran my first race in 2000, not really knowing where it would take me. Seven years later, I still don't know where it will take me, but I am even more excited about the prospects.

I guess that's one of the good things about getting older - there's always something to look forward to, if you will just take the time to look.

Friday, September 28, 2007

What Would You Do With $100,000?

Apparently some man in Florida found $100,000 in his attic. Now there's a big tiff as to whom the money belongs. But it made me wonder what I would do if I found a couple of bags of money in my attic.

I started making a list of what I would do. Most of the list consisted of giving the money to other people. Sure, there are things that I might use it on, but I realized that it would be more fun to give it away. What does this say about me?

It's easy to say I would give away the money because my car is paid for and my children are grown. It would be fun to recklessly spend the money on a bunch of stuff, but it would be more rewarding to give the money to people who would never expect it. There is always something out there that I want, but I already have everything I need, so why clog up my life with more stuff?

I guess this is why I haven't won the lottery yet (that, coupled with the fact that I rarely buy a ticket). I know what it's like to have no money, and what it's like to have a little left over. But I also know that the most valuable things I have really have nothing to do with money.

So, I guess I won't be searching my attic. I'll just concentrate on those things that make me rich - my family, my friends, and my faith. Money will come and money will go, but those three things will last forever.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Another Reason To Celebrate Menopause

A Russian mother recently gave birth to her 12th child, who was a little larger than your average newborn. I'm not sure which I would dread more - a 17 pound baby or giving birth at my age. Then of course, there's Michelle Duggar who recently popped out her 17th child (what else would you do with your 17th?). Long live motherhood, but I'll gladly take menopause at this stage of the game!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Setting My Own Pace

I've never been particularly good at pacing.

In a race, I try to maintain a certain per-mile time, but it doesn't always work out. Sometimes I finish strictly on fumes.

When I taught school, my pace was pretty much break-neck. There were always a million things to do in a limited amount of time. Sometimes I even took a day off just so I could catch up.

In general, my pace has always been goal-oriented. I would set a goal and do everything I could as quickly as possible to meet that goal. I was quite efficient, and achieved my goals, usually accompanied by a meltdown or two.

At my current stage in life, I am attempting a new pace. After a 60-mile walk and a weekend hospital stay, I quickly went to a zero pace. It is now time to rebuild.

Now, instead of setting goals and running after them, I am considering my "running" ability and then setting the goal.

Now, instead of setting a time limit and putting the goal inside the time limit, I am thinking about the goal, and deciding if a time limit should be a part of the overall goal.

Now, instead of doing everything I think I have a talent for, I am carefully considering which talents God would have me use now, and setting specific goals using those specific talents.

Now, instead of letting my tasks dictate my pace, I am setting the pace according to what my tasks deem is necessary.

It sounds like this pacing would be easy, but it's not. I still tend to think about the end result, and forget to consider the journey. I still tend to think about constant progress on a goal, rather than enjoying the process. I still tend to see my progress on goals as the only reflection of me, rather than letting me shine through what I do. I'm still working on this new way of pacing.

In two weeks, I will participate in my first race since my surgery. I'm not sure how I will do. I've just started small steps towards training. But the race is in a place that I love, Disney World, and it is only a 10K. I know I won't win, and I'm not sure if I'll even have a personal best. But I will be out on the road again, doing something I really like. I'll do the best I can for that day, and enjoy the scenery - which sounds like the best pace for me.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Small Comforts

When I was a little girl, my grandmother lived in a house next to mine on the family farm. On Saturday nights, I would spend the night with her. One of our traditions was the drink she would fix me - cranberry juice with 2 saccharine tablets. It was a special treat, because she prepared it just for me on our special night.

I've always been a fan of cranberry juice, probably from the fond memories of those Saturday nights. Sometime along the way, I discontinued the saccharine tablets, but cranberry juice has become my favorite drink.

During my recent hospital stay, I could have nothing to drink for 24 hours before my surgery. All I could think of was what I wanted to have as soon as I was allowed - a glass of cranberry juice. Looking back, I wonder if not only represented the one thing that would satisfy my physical thirst, but that emotional need to feel safe and loved.

I think about the other things that comfort me. I have a blue pillow that belonged to my mother-in-law. I have cards that I have saved over the years. I have old pictures from all phases of my life. I have old quilts and baby clothes and toys. I have medals and rings and t-shirts. Each of of these items brings me to a place that makes me feel good.

But in the end, they all are just things. It's the memories they represent that comfort me. It's my grandmother's love, the finish of a race, and a college football game with a boyfriend. These are the treasures that bring a smile to my face and warm my heart.

I think everyone should have those things that bring back those times when they were loved the most and were the happiest. God gives us those memories for the times we feel lost or alone or sad.

As for me, I'll continue to drink my cranberry juice and smile. Here's to you, Nannie - thanks for the memories, but most of all, the love you poured into every glass.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Two weeks post-surgery, my laproscopic wounds seem to be healing. Because I was a little over-indulgent with neosporin, a rash developed, but that is also fading. The longest scar is perhaps one inch, which should go nicely with the scars on my chest and side from birthmarks removed when I was a baby.

I have other scars, too. Like many others in my generation, I have a round scar on my left arm from an inoculation. I also have several scars on my hands where I had warts removed and various nicks from adventures on the farm. I have a scar on my forehead where a skin cancer was removed. Each scar tells a story of a physical wound.

Remembering the wounds associated with these physical scars had caused me to think about hidden scars that I've held on to for the past 50 years. These scars would tell stories of emotional wounds. These scars represent as much pain as the physical wounds. But the emotional wounds seem much harder to get over, maybe because we don't talk about them.

Physical scars are often shown as a badge of honor - "Look what happened to me; aren't I brave?" - whereas the emotional scars are kept quiet. It would seem that we're afraid to show others where we hurt on the inside.

So I decided today to start paying attention to all those old scars. Maybe it's time to admit that the scar that makes me cautious in friendships is because of the betrayal of a friend. It's time to admit that there's a scar of sadness that represents the loss of both parents. It's time to admit that there's a scar that makes me over-protective with my adult children because I've seen their hearts broken. My emotional scars are just as much a badge of honor as my physical ones, because they represent things that have happened to me but I managed to live through.

All my scars are the evidence of things I've been through, things that have made me stronger, and things that have shaped me into who I am today. I could dwell on the pain they represent, or be proud for having gone through it. In the end, I'm thankful for all those scars, because they show me in spite of all the hurts and pain, I have been made whole again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Getting Back On Track

Okay, so it's been a few days since I posted. I've been busy doing nothing, which takes a lot of effort! But slowly, I am getting back to normal.

Yesterday I made a grocery run, and used my new eco-friendly grocery bags. Instead of walking out with ten of those regular bags, I had two (albeit heavier) bags. Made me feel like I was saving the world.

Today I walked three miles. Slowly, but I did get three in. While out, I saw for the first time, kids in their Metro-dictated school uniforms. They all looked very tidy, almost professional (for kindergartners). I'm not sure how parents and students are reacting to this, but to me it seems a step in the right direction, giving education a little shot of seriousness.

I also saw a dog owner walking his dog. He got props for picking up his dog's poop, but he bagged it and left it by the side of the road. Curious.

So, today is all about effort - me in using alternative bags, Metro schools for implementing a uniform policy, and one man's poop retrieval. One worked, one is in process, and one is questionable. Metro and I are trying new things - maybe the dog owner is too, he just hasn't figured it all out.

The important thing to continue to try new things, to put yourself out there, to dare to change your life. Those are the experiences that make this life such a ride.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The New Sexy

It seems that NBC wants to know

Are you aging gracefully? If you're proud of your silver locks, let us know!

Apparently they want to hear from me if I think I am one hot sexy gray-haired mama. Unfortunately, my gray and real hair color is still buried underneath Low-light #45 and High-light #74 and #81. I guess I'll have to pass on this one.

My question is, what else can I age gracefully and be proud of? Anyone interested in my stretch marks? What about my flabby/saggy parts, my fine lines (otherwise known as wrinkles), my chin hairs, and my age spots (that I keep hoping will meet together and form a tan)?

I just think it's funny that gray hair is in, but not laugh lines. Let your hair go natural, but get an injection or some cream for the other stuff. Tighten and lift what you can, but let the gray grow.

So I guess I'll follow the current trend and let the gray grow out. Maybe by then, getting soft and crinkly will be in!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy Birthday 1957

There are a lot of celebrities who turn 50 this year. I have heard of many of them, but some I haven't. It's fun to see who is the same age as I am.

Apparently 1957 was the biggest year for baby boomers, with 4,308,000 babies born. There are a lot of statistics on the boomers, some of which I agree with.

But no matter who was born that year, or what facts and data can be compiled, it's the memories that mean the most. For me, these memories include getting our first color television, having one telephone (complete with party line) in the house, not being allowed to wear pants to school, and getting into the movies for fifty cents. Yeah, you just think those are old people stories, until you start telling them yourself!!

So what's the moral of this post? There isn't one. Just something to read, and to jog your brain for your own fun memories. Because whether you get on the celebrity list for your birth year or not, those experiences in your life are what truly make your life special.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Defining Moments

Six years ago, I was sitting in a faculty meeting when a teacher came in and told us that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Thinking it an accident, we finished our meeting and I returned upstairs to my classroom. I turned on the television in time to see what I thought was a replay of the accident, only to find out the horrible truth, that another airline had hit the other tower. It was one of those moments that you never forget, not only the event but also every detail of where you were when you witnessed the event.

For my generation, there are many of these events. It probably started with the day Kennedy was shot. There were the days Reagan was shot, Charles and Diana got married, Baby Jessica was rescued, and Challenger exploded. All of these days help define who we are because they altered us in some way. We may have lost part of our innocence, we may have grown up, we may have questioned our beliefs or strengthened our faith in God. But at each moment, we stopped and thought about our lives in light of that certain moment.

The good thing about any age is to realize that moments like this happen every day. It's easy to recognize the big moments, those that are splashed on television and you experience as part of a group. But it's the small private moments that can change us the most. Like the moment your child is born and you realize that you love someone more than yourself. Or the moment your role reverses and you become the caretaker for your parent. Or the moment you choose to end a career, or a friendship, or a marriage.

In the past 50 years, I've had all kinds of moments, both public and private, both good and bad, and both predictable and surprising. I know that I will continue to have the same in the future. But I hope by now I am better at recognizing those moments so that I can appreciate them for what they are - moments that continue to form me into that which I was created to be.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Taking It Easy

Learning to truly "take it easy" is not an easy task for me. In my life, taking it easy means sitting around with something to do, such as sew, plan, read for a purpose, make lists, sit down between laundry rounds, etc. To truly take it easy takes work. Today I practiced.

I felt better today. A good night's sleep does wonders. I am a side sleeper, and last night was the first night in several that I've managed to assume my desired position. Sleeping in my own bed without having my blood pressure checked or having an iv hung was a great treat. My day already had a promising start.

My main activities today were changing my clothes and sitting. I watched tv and napped. There was the temptation to do a load of laundry, or pick up some clutter, but I didn't. Doing nothing wasn't such a bad thing to do. I did get the checkbook balanced and the bills caught up, but I had to sit upright at some point!

With all this down time lately, I've had a lot of time to think. I've thought about the past 50 years, and the next 50. I've wondered about the differences in the two.

My first 50 years were driven. Driven to get an education, get married, have and rear children, succeed in a career I loved, and accomplish various goals. Being task oriented, I excelled in setting benchmarks and going after them, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. But I kept going, really not imagining any other way. If there was a job I could fill, I filled it. If there was a need I could meet, I met it. If there was something I could do, I did it. This was what my life was about, to do.

But now I see a different path. I see a life that is not so driven to do everything, but one that seeks to accomplish only those things that are so very precious to me. It's almost a paradox - now that I have the freedom to do anything and everything I want, I find myself being picky and choosy about the things I want to do. For a person who believed success meant doing everything she had the ability to do, it's a hard concept to swallow, this idea of not doing everything, but only the things that truly matter - to me.

So, where does this leave me? Am I becoming the crotchety old lady who won't keep the nursery, or be on the prayer chain, or volunteer at the school? I remember in my twenties, looking at people my age, and wondering why they didn't do more, after all, they had time and no kids! Now I get it.

Yes, we don't have little ones to worry about or carpools or pediatrician's appointments. Yes, we may not work or be members in the Bible study group. Yes, we may have all the degrees we desire. Yes, we have all the time in the world. But just as we have all the freedoms we want, we are also faced with living a new way of life.

I am no longer building a life, but living in the one I built. Now is the time I use the foundation I worked on and see where it takes me. Now is the time I determine where I'm going next. For now, it's taking it easy and recuperating. Once that's done, I'll move on. It's good to have the first 50 years behind me.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Baptist Hospital: 1 - Luanne's Gallbladder: 0

I am home from a weekend at the luxurious Nashville Baptist Hospital. I have q-tipped my ears, brushed my teeth, and showered off much of the remains of the betadine tan on my stomach. But I digress. Let me catch you up.

When I last left you, I said that I was feeling okay. Yeah, well that didn't last long. Around eleven on Thursday morning, I started feeling like crap again. About the only thing that gave me any relief was to stand in a hot shower, which really wasn't feasible for the long term. I tried to eat something to ease the burning twisting in my abdomen, but nothing worked.

I was supposed to see Rebekah at 2:00. I vaguely remember calling her and just saying over and over, "I'm sick, I'm sorry." I supposed it would have been helpful to say something more meaningful like, "I will not be able to make it today," or "I need to cancel so I can arrange my funeral," but I think she probably got the message. The pains continued to increase, so I called the office of my 24-hour-old gastroenterologist, who was not in his office but next door doing procedures. Tammy-Jo, the temp receptionist tried her best to help me, and finally said if she were in that much pain, she would go to the ER. At that point, I declared Tammy-Jo a genius, and followed her advice.

I got in my car and headed for Baptist, apparently deciding in my clouded mind to take the most circuitous route possible. Nashville rush hour seemed to start early that day. I called Sam, who was in the checkout line at Publix with volumes of frozen food, and he said he would meet me. I called Steve who was in Ohio on his way home from South Carolina.

I finally arrived at the ER. I checked in at reception, then waited for the admitting nurse. At her turn, she took my vitals and told me I came at a good time, because they're not busy. Then I go to wait in waiting room, to be joined by Sam. Pain continues to get worse, so I get up and pace. Finally ER nurse #1 comes to get me and we leisurely strolled back to pod #10. At this point, the memories become rather fuzzy. I know Sam goes in and out to chat with various family members. Nurse 2 comes and goes and Dr. ER comes in and orders an ultrasound, blood work, and pain meds. Nurse 2 brings the drugs, and life gets better. Vampire comes in and takes blood. Steve and Molly show up and I go for ultrasound. Dr. ER comes in and says ultrasound confirms gallstones but my blood work is okay, so he's going to go confer with Dr. Gastro. Then he comes back and says somebody wrote it down wrong, and my liver blood work is shaky, so I get to have my gallbladder out the next day rather than next week. I get admitted.

Steve goes home and Molly stays until I get in my room - several hours later. Molly's highlight is when the Filipino tech tells me he will be in the next morning to give me a sponge bath. Sadly, that never happens. Molly leaves to go home, and nurse gives me more pain medicine, which I throw up, then gives me nausea medicine, and I go to sleep.

Friday starts horribly. I am in pain and throwing up constantly. Dr. Knife comes in to tell me he will be doing the surgery. I tell him I am in pain, but the Dilaudid made me sick, so he says he will prescribe me something else. Steve arrives, followed later by Marilyn, who stopped in on her way to Birmingham. The morning consists of me throwing up, followed my Nurse Steve (on Baptist payroll, not to be confused with Husband Steve) saying how sick I am, then giving me a shot of morphine. Finally some dude comes in and takes me to surgery.

I get to pre-op, and a whole parade of people start trooping by. I sign anything and everything in anticipation of a life without pain. Finally Nurse Feel-Good says, "Here is the good stuff," and I close my eyes. The next thing I hear is someone saying, "Take deep breaths." Thinking I have died and they are bringing me back to life, I do as I am told. I manage to open my eyes and ask where I am - apparently I have arrived in the recovery room, less one gallstone-ridden gallbladder.

I get back to my room, and spend the rest of the day sleeping. Saturday I walked and slept, and today I finally got to return home.

Lately, when I have been sick, and particularly on Thursday and Friday when I felt so horrible, I have to admit I had a lot on my mind to talk to God about.

I didn't ask why, because it wasn't that type of question. The "why" is that we have human bodies that do human things. It is the uniqueness of our creation that allow the uniqueness of our physical abilities and disabilities. I don't believe that God goes around pointing his finger to decide who is to be in pain and who isn't - these are physical situations that end up being part of our lives.

I didn't ask if God had forsaken me, although the thought did cross my mind. God has never forsaken me, and in fact, proved his ever-present proximity during this situation. Why else did I decide to call a gastroenterologist on Tuesday, get an appointment for Wednesday, have an attack on Thursday, and get it remedied on Friday? Why else did I go to the ER at a time when it was not busy? Why else did I get a parking place practically right across from the entrance? Why else did I get the surgeon that is the best (according to any of the hospital personnel)? God took care of the details because He was right there all the time.

I guess the question that I have learned to ask is, "What do you want me to learn from this?" That question is the most useful. In this situation, I was reminded of God's walk with me always. I also faced an apprehension of having an operation. I'm learning that if I don't slow down, I may face a situation where I have to slow down.

Fifty has started out with a bang. But I think I'll just take a rest for now - too much excitement for this old codger!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Welcome to Fifty

So it's been a couple of days since I've posted. They have not exactly been my favorite. I continued my recuperation on Tuesday, but made the unwise decision for a McDonald's lunch. While I didn't see that lunch again, it did not sit altogether well. I decided to call a doctor to have him check out my ongoing stomach issues. Remarkably, I got an appointment for Wednesday.

I felt pretty good on Wednesday morning, and went with Molly and Scout for mani/pedis (Scout's first). We all had an enjoyable experience. I decided to skip lunch (1) since I had an appointment with the gastroenterologist, (2) I wasn't starving, and (3) after Tuesday's McDonald's experience, I just wanted something light. I made it to the doctor, who suspects gallstones. I will have an ultrasound and endoscopy in two weeks to determine if this is true.

On the way home, I decided I should eat, and wanted pasta. After a LENGTHY conversation with Molly, I decided to just get a frozen pasta meal from the grocery. I got it, ate it, and all was well .... for about an hour when my back started hurting, and I knew my night was over. Interpretation: my suspected gallstones decided to say hello.

Finally after various painkillers, a soak in the tub, and a heating pad, I got to bed for some sleep. I woke up several times, and kept drinking water and Gatorade, as I am still a bit dehydrated from the last two weeks.

The good news is that as of this moment, I feel okay - a little worn out, but at least human again. I think my 50-year-old body is telling me to slow down. I think this time I am going to listen to it.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Nashville:1 - Disneyland:0

After spending Sunday morning in bed, I decided that Monday's race was not going to happen. So, Steve and I decided to return to Nashville a day early. Still not feeling good, I decided to go ahead and attempt the trip home.

We changed our flights to a 5-ish flight from John Wayne Airport, with a stop in Las Vegas. I figured if I was dying, we could always spend the night there. We got to the airport, where I ate a few Cheerios. There were only 41 people on the first leg of the flight, so we managed to score a row with a seat between us. Upon arrival in Las Vegas, we found we were the only thru passengers, but the flight to Nashville would be full. I decided to try to sleep some more, and when I woke up, I found that Steve had managed to keep the seat between us empty. We were headed for home.

The flight to Nashville was as smooth as I've ever had (thank you, God), but I was still pretty miserable. I managed to take several naps, in every conceivable position, even going so far as to lay down in my seat and the empty one between us. Finally, with about an hour left in the flight, I raced to the bathroom to throw up. Remarkably, that must have finally expelled the bug in my system, because when I returned to my seat, I was cured!!

We arrived in Nashville, Molly and Scout picked us up, and within 20 minutes of being home, I was asleep in my own bed. Today I feel worn out, but good. I still have a bruise on my forehead from Saturday night when, in a position change maneuver when I was worshipping the porcelain throne, I banged the toilet seat onto my head.

Today's Labor Day, which is the last thing I am going to do. I am going to shower and begin to feel human again. I now realize that planning to do a half marathon after a 3-day walk was a ill-advised decision. Maybe when I was 49, but not at 50, at least for me. This week I am going to recover and get back on track - after all, I do have those races in October!!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Disneyland - Day Two: Stomach Virus 1, Luanne 0

Everything was going smoothly. Last night we met Marilyn, Eddie, Lucy, Adam, and Allison at Goofy's Kitchen for dinner. I got a birthday button and a cupcake. We parted ways, planning to meet this morning at 6:30 for the 5K. Unfortunately, a pesky stomach thing had other ideas.

At some point after midnight, my stomach and all its accompanying parts decided to revolt, finally deciding to call it off around 5 am. Needless to say, the 5K did not happen for me. Now the half marathon is in serious jeopardy. At this point, I have manged to eat a bit or two and get a shower, so at least I feel human.

This was not the Disneyland vacation I had planned, but maybe it will be better because I can just lay around and do nothing. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Disneyland - Day One

I am in Disneyland. I am staying at the Disneyland Hotel. I have already seen Goofy and Donald and bought my requisite photo frame. I am here because I am going to do the Disneyland Half Marathon on Monday. At least I know who Dopey is!!

In case you have forgotten, I walked 60 miles last weekend. I am not sure if my feet have recovered. Guess I'll find out tomorrow, when I do a 5K. That's right - I'm doing a little over 3 miles tomorrow, just to warm up for the 13.1 on Monday.

My question for today is, when I decided to do this, was it made in a senior moment? Or was it a menopausal moment? Or just a general cuckoo moment? Whichever it was, the race is going to happen. Hopefully Monday won't result in a medical moment!!

Meanwhile, did I mention the 13K and the 10K I'm doing in October?