Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I'm Feel Numb And It's Not Just My Forehead

The last two days have been doozies. On Monday, I went to my dermatologist's office to try out Botox treatment for the first time. I had purchased a treatment at a reduced cost at an open house and decided I might add a little botulism to my life. Why not? I have some forehead wrinkles that I have been noticing more as of late but I didn't really know how I felt about starting Botox. I began wondering would I tell people, would I tell the girls? How does this fit in with the healthy life approach that I have been embracing. And that was the thought train I was on when I arrived at the office. And then...

I got to the clinic and remembered I had a mole biopsy two weeks prior and hadn't heard back about it. Weeks ago, at another clinic that I had been to for laser hair removal a nurse pointed out this mole and said to show it to my doctor. Back at the dermatologist's office, I brought up that mole biopsy and it became the classic scene that I know I have seen in a movie. First, the nurse couldn't find the paperwork, then she found it and said, "Oh, the doctor will be in to discuss this." That didn't sound good. My heart sank a little.

Several minutes later, the doctor walks in and I am hearing although it's bad news, it's good because it is "in situ." Malignant melanoma in situ was the diagnosis and "in situ" is good because in Latin it means "in place." It all sounds Greek to me and my heart sinks further.

What? I'm just stunned. It felt like slow motion just like the time I got in a car accident in Buffalo and I did a 180 on the snow covered highway. Even though I ended up on the shoulder, I watched in slow motion as the other car hit me. My car spinning around freaked him out and he hit me head on anyway.

I immediately had thoughts of being thankful for my vanity (!) that a) I got laser hair removal with a nurse who brought attention to this mole and b) I came into the office for Botox. In hindsight, I was really glad that I was in person to hear the news and could talk to the doctor directly.

She brought up that George could do the surgery or she could. It needed to be done in the next week or two. (I was ready then and there) She drew on my leg what the incision would look like. Sun damage was probably the cause. We would have to be more vigilant and check moles every 3 months for a period of time. And then we went ahead with the botox. We didn't discuss it, and it was already paid for, so why not.

I came home called a few friends and laughed as I said, "I feel numb and it's not just my forehead." The blog title jumped out at me. I laughed more about having discovered this while going for botox. Quite the irony. Laughter really is the best medicine. I don't really care who knows I have had Botox now.

I was not expecting this in the least. I had not concerned myself one iota with the shave biopsy, it was an afterthought that I brought it up. There has been so much going on and now Christmas is at hand. GaGa has worsened slightly. My dad has been doing well with his dialysis at home thus far. George has his Board exam on December 8th. Crazy busy.

So every year for the last few years, I have said I'm going to keep Christmas simple.


THIS... IS... THE... YEAR!

On Tuesday, I had the football shaped excision to remove the proper amount of skin around the mole deemed by the American Dermatological Association. I have a 2 inch incision that I am now tending to. And waiting for the biopsy results. I'm trying to push it out of my mind but the pain of the incision is quite the reminder.

I do feel like we caught it early. This is what the first biopsy results imply but the important results are five to seven days away. I can't exercise or do yoga for about a month. I'm having to rest. I'm enjoying mindless television right now and that is SO okay.

This story is to be continued...

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Again today, I am still feeling blah. I kicked George out of the spare room as he is studying for his Board exam on December 8th which comes around every ten years. I decided to watch tv and fold the massive amounts of laundry that were waiting. I didn't get very far because I had something pull me out of my blahness and into motion.

The spare room is where I have 17 of Oprah's Life Classes on the DVR which are excellent. But what was on live on the OWN channel was Super Soul Sunday which I also tape and it is 3 hours long every Sunday. I have yet to make it through one of these shows as I have to take them in bits because I have to be open to chew on them.

Yet today when I find Oprah talking to the Reverend Ed Bacon, Pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church, I knew I wanted to hear what they were saying. I had heard him on her Soul Series and I was immediately drawn to his message. His church is a liberal activist Church where Jesus is taught as the Savior and Son of God, and what is emphasized more than the dogmatic and doctrinal issues of Religion, is the connection with God, the Spirit, the Cosmos (!), other people and connection with your deepest self.


This woke me up from my funk. It is music to my ears. No dogma or doctrine, it boils down to love. Jesus' message was love, not fear. And when you get connected to your deepest self, you want to turn around and love others. This is God in us.

Oprah talks to Reverend Bacon about a time in 1998 when she was taping a show with Caroline Myss about consciousness. This is what Ms. Myss said about Consciousness that it is "Becoming aware of why we say what we do, why we think what we think. And it is a very challenging part of our lives.”

I am enthralled to hear a neat packeaged definition of what I have been doing these last few years. I have been becoming conscious. Evolving is another description. I evolve yet still watch the Bravo Housewives. Keeping it real.

So Oprah asks how Rev. Bacon defines Spirituality and he says, "the Experience of feeling unconditionally LOVED. So much, so powerfully that you know that there is some power greater than you are, loving you. This love that you are experiencing is coming from a great power and it is filling you so much you want to love other people. "

I get that, I really get that. But it takes time to overcome our pasts, and look at the hard stuff but it is so worth the journey. I had a "normal" childhood but it was not without it's shortcomings. I didn't know that I didn't have a voice. I speak up now as opposed to shrinking away but there has to be a decision about what is important and "picking my battles." Now I connect with my husband, children, and friends in a deeper and more profound way. I drag George along on this journey. I have felt so comfortable in my skin for the last months even though there have been very stressful life events going on. That is an incredible phenomenon and I want to keep moving forward... consciously.

Less fear, more love. That should be a commercial on tv.

Hello there...

On this close to the end of November morning I was feeling a little blah. The weather has been rainy and today it is cold, but I actually like that. We slept in and I finished reading a book. I haven't been into reading that much lately, it felt really good to snuggle with my IPad and escape into another world.
Since it is Sunday, I decided that I would really like to engage with God through nature instead of a church service but that would be difficult due to it being pretty wet outside. I would love to take the girls on a hike or something like that. And then I thought, oh well, the family can do it another day.

In a few short moments I noticed this bloom on my front porch.

Hello God...I see you there.


Monday, November 21, 2011


Twelve weeks ago, I had a facebook "friend" who urged his friends not to watch Dancing with the Stars because of Chaz Bono's participation. So many feelings came up reading his post. I completely and utterly disagree with his reasoning for boycotting the show. Is this a post that I want to engage and disagree with? In finally realizing I have a voice, is this the issue that I want to be heard on?

Expressing my voice and choosing when to do so and when not to do so is still shaky and I will practice this skill for the rest of my life. This particular issue is tangling with the ever judgemental right. And why do I abhor the right so much? They are pretty good at passing judgement and using the Bible to do so. I have much practice with judgment because I have done it to myself for years and now that I am learning to show myself kindness and love in a healthy way, I find myself stopping my critical thoughts of OTHERS when they first pop in my mind. I use to judge others a lot but I did think that issues were grey.

I caught a 2000 Oprah rerun on XM radio with Gary Zukav, the author of "The Seat of the Soul." I think I might have listened to this before and it sounded a little hoo ha. But I now know that hearing it eleven years ago was laying the foundation for me to understand the concepts and further my soul's journey. One idea mentioned among other brilliant ones was when anyone was judging another, the root cause is pain and fear in the judger (and something that needs to be worked out.)

Here is one of Gary's quote that applies:
“When you have an emotional reaction to what you see, you are judging. That is your signal that you have an issue inside of yourself - with yourself - not with the other person. If you react to evil, look inside yourself for the very thing that so agitates you, and you will find it. If it were not there, you will simply discern, act appropriately, and move on.”

Darn it, now understanding this dynamic I get that I am now judging the anti-DWTS (anti-transgender) person. Now, I've got more work myself which I know anyway. This is going to be a lifelong process and I am thrilled to be on this ride. I recognize that although I am fully supportive of gay, lesbian, transgender, bi-sexual persons, and their rights this is a rather new stand for me. It has come around in the last years and reconciling it with what I believe God thinks on the subject. So this is newish. I still have a little fear in my position, but I would rather have a little doubt, than think I know everything!!

And by the way, I think this year's Dancing with the Stars was fantastic at pushing boundaries. Not only was there the first transgendered contestant, but the first wounded war veteran (soap star) and along with the skimpy costumes which I don't like, we did see someone was accepted for who they are and not how they look.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My trip with Ambien

I love "Modern Family." We need stress relief over here and that show provides it in spades. The last couple of episodes have been right on target. A few weeks ago, Cam went on about his pot pie and ended up describing how he just wanted to go home and watch his pot pie go round and round in the microwave. I nearly busted a gut because I had made a microwave pot pie for myself that night and had watched it go well, back and forth. I really love a pot pie. I ate my way through them while pregnant with Mallory. How did those writers know I needed that particular laugh?

So onto last night, Modern Family rings my bell, again. The back story is I went for a three week stretch with poor sleep, waking early. I REALLY don't do well without my 7-8 hours of sleep so I ended up trying Ambien, and liked it so much, I took it for 21 days straight. That is NOT advised but I was scared not to get my sleep which is another story. I began to have side effects which scared me worse than the not sleeping. It wasn't the one below but, this is what they showed last night.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Paterno and Kim Kardashian

I roll my eyes at the power of football. Though I have been to Tiger Stadium and felt it and appreciated it. I know that college football supports a university and all of it's other educational programs as well as the local economy. But the behaviors that are accepted in the name of football really make me sad.

FB is a breeding ground for me to see other's opinions that I do not agree with. And what amazes me is that some people just throw it out there with apparently no thought worrying what others will think. And that is a fairly new skill set for me and I'm still working on it. What do I believe strongly enough in so that if I put it out there in cyberspace, will I absolutley sleep at night, because I have had trouble with that lately. Assertive, schmertive, I need my sleept these days.

Someone commented about how they felt sorry for and also appreciated Joe Paterno and his forty years of coaching for those like her who enjoy watching football. Ewww! I didn't respond but have taken to the blog. What about the children and families who were allegedly abused and who were turned away? Abuse on top of abuse for them and the fact that the alleged abuser could then continue? Paterno admits he felt he should have done more and regrets that. He should have listened to his gut and that is what I'm talking about, not who is to blame in this sad, sad situation.

I wanted LSU to beat Alabama really badly on Saturday night. I will admit that. But we make and I will say we, make heroes out of people who are not. Sports figures and coaches are people with a certain skill set that our society is enthralled with. One of my weaknesses would be actors and actresses, entertainers. But in the last years I have learned to take everyone off of their pedestal and I mean EVERYONE.

I love watching indepth celebrity interviews because those are the ones when I learn they are just people and have issues just like everyone else. And sometimes, I can actually learn something from them. You can read Kim Kardashian the riot act right now but in the end, she is just a girl who thinks she wanted to be married and have kids and she just doesn't know the way to go about doing it, her mother and her are more concerned with branding. I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt because there was no criminal misconduct. She is learning a big life lesson and so is Joe Paterno, hopefully.

And in God's eyes we are all equal, we are all his children. It doesn't matter that he coached football excellently for forty years or that she made a sex tape. I think God cares equally that neither of them listened to their gut. He hopes for the best for all of us.

And I think God hopes that we listen to our intuition, it is God talking to us anyway.

I was going to end it there but then I saw the media coverage this morning, and it was revolting.
When Paterno said to the news reporter at his house after being fired, "...I'm out of it maybe..." That little word, maybe, tacked on to his sentence showed his ego roaring. He is FIRED and still doesn't think he's gone. He has been in power way too long. Wow. The ego is a very powerful part of our minds. Joe's has been built up for years as the "god" of Penn State. We should put no one on pedestals. I continue to learn that lesson. It's a good one.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I happened to turn on Piers Morgan Friday night and Susan Boyle was on and I decided to listen to what she was going to sing. I've never bought any album of hers or downloaded any songs but the little voice said watch it and I'm learning to roll with those little small nudges. I find that there are no coincidences lately.

Susan began belting out "Both Sides Now" and the hairs began to rise on my body. But what the heck does this song mean? I'm fairly exhausted due to too many activities over the last 2 weeks and my brain feels foggy. I google the lyrics and then have to look up someone else's interpretation because just as in Freshman English Literature class, I have no idea what the writer was talking about and this case it is Joni Mitchell.

The interpretations gave me chills again. (No coincidences! Listen to my gut!) Looking at life from both sides now, as a child and as an adult, life doesn't make sense. Life IS a mystery. The more I journey I acknowledge God's presence much more often than I use to and I choose to think of it as the Holy Spirit around me.

(An aside, the description of looking at both sides reminds me of Richard Rohr and his two halves of life which I would reference but I am too tired to look it up)

Also, I feel some friendships fade away and others take their place and it's better to roll with it rather than fighting it like I use to. I appreciate the old friendships for what they were and how long they lasted and celebrate the new. And, I have learned to say I love you right OUT LOUD. Expressing one's feelings is risky but connecting to those we love and who are able to reciprocate is a precious, precious gift.

Awkward transition... Back to Susan Boyle and her story which is quite remarkable. Her 2009 appearance on "Britain's Got Talent" and watching Simon Cowell's jaw drop and eyebrows raise was spectacular. (I tried to post but it was not available.) She was forty seven years old. Dreams can still come true to those who need more time to percolate. And she had chutzpah to stand on that stage in the beginning of the song as they were rolling their eyes at her. She was so brave and then she nailed it, with everything she had.

I am old enough to remember hearing Judy Collins' version of "Both Sides Now" and connecting to it long ago but I had no idea what it was speaking of, the melody was just beguiling. But Susan Boyle's slow version stands out to me now. Her Scottish accent is so thick to me I can barely understand what she is saying but when she sings, it is crystal clear. It seems magical to me when that happens for her and others. I wish that magic happened to my voice!

Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell, 1969

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds * that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev'ry fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Each and Every Time

I run into fairly friendly acquaintances and they ask "What have you been up to?" And I try to explain what I have been doing with my time. This is how it goes:
Me: "My mother in law has cancer and it has been very stressful."
Other Person:"Oh, does she live with you?"
Me: "No."
Other Person: "Oh, so you go and see her every day."
Me: "No."

How do you explain a year's worth of being the guardian of a parent, and then becoming their parent?
(And I know that most people just want me to say that I'm fine and they don't want a description and I get that) But sometimes I have to justify (to myself) why I feel so exhausted and worn out.
It is the ups and downs, mostly down, never knowing what is going to happen from month to month, sometimes week to week, and sometimes day to day. And of the challenges and wondering when is "it" going to happen? Watching someone descend into a miserable, painful state of being and yet they are still alive and can remain in the miserable way for an extended period of time.

I thought of how to explain it today.

We have invited GaGa over for lunch tomorrow. She has not been to our house in a while. And a certain level of dread starts to set in. How are things going to go between she and the girls? How much pain is she going to be in? How much thinner is she going to look? How much sense is she going to make as her words don't come to her anymore? Will I have to cut her food like I did last time and then ignore that she is not eating because she has no appetite? Is she going to smile, just once? There is a level of tension so high that it takes a chainsaw to cut through.

It hit me that the description of the "What are you up to?" stress is that when I look at GaGa's frail, shrinking, pained self is that I'm looking at death. I'm not trying to be melodramatic because this is the way it is...

Each and every time I see her.
Every time I talk to her.
Every time I think about her.
Death is always in the back of my mind.

This is not the normal stress of everyday living.

Months ago, when my therapist said she is halfway between life and death, I continue to understand it on deeper and deeper levels. I wonder how much more I have to learn because it keeps coming whether I like it or not. Yet the more I embrace it and examine it, I see God making me stronger. I see little signs, people put in my path that make me smile for a just a moment. And those moments feels oh so sweet.