Wonderful people wander into our lives. Some stay for years and some only for seconds. Each day you experience a multitude of moments that make their imprint on your life. Like a flitting dragonfly, skimming so close to the water, we traverse through our routines each day. We pay no notice to the beauty of chance instants…the instants that make us exhale, make us smile, give us joy for a brief twinkling.

Today I begin to share my moments with you. Today I promise to savor my moments.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ugly...a Tale

This story is all over the internet and you may have read it.  I am posting it because, whether it's a true story or not, I think it's a beautiful, sad, but beautiful story. 

Everyone in the apartment complex I lived in knew who Ugly was. Ugly was the resident tomcat.

Ugly loved three things in this world: fighting, eating garbage, and shall we say, love. The combination of these things combined with a life spent outside had their effect on Ugly.
To start with, he had only one eye, and where the other should have been was a gaping hole. He was also missing his ear on the same side, his left foot has appeared to have been badly broken at one time, and had healed at an unnatural angle, making him look like he was always turning the corner. His tail has long since been lost, leaving only the smallest stub, which he would constantly jerk and twitch. Ugly would have been a dark gray tabby striped-type, except for the sores covering his head, neck, even his shoulders with thick, yellowing scabs.
Every time someone saw Ugly there was the same reaction. “That’s one UGLY cat!!”
All the children were warned not to touch him, the adults threw rocks at him, hosed him down, squirted him when he tried to come in their homes, or shut his paws in the door when he would not leave.
Ugly always had the same reaction. If you turned the hose on him, he would stand there, getting soaked until you gave up and quit. If you threw things at him, he would curl his lanky body around feet in forgiveness. Whenever he spied children, he would come running meowing frantically and bump his head against their hands, begging for their love. If you ever picked him up he would immediately begin suckling on your shirt, earrings, whatever he could find.
One day Ugly shared his love with the neighbors huskies. They did not respond kindly, and Ugly was badly mauled. From my apartment I could hear his screams, and I tried to rush to his aid. By the time I got to where he was laying, it was apparent Ugly’s sad life was almost at an end.
Ugly lay in a wet circle, his back legs and lower back twisted grossly out of shape, a gaping tear in the white strip of fur that ran down his front. As I picked him up and tried to carry him home I could hear him wheezing and gasping, and could feel him struggling. I must be hurting him terribly I thought.
Then I felt a familiar tugging, sucking sensation on my ear - Ugly, in so much pain, suffering and obviously dying was trying to suckle my ear. I pulled him closer to me, and he bumped the palm of my hand with his head, then he turned his one golden eye towards me, and I could hear the distinct sound of purring. Even in the greatest pain, that ugly battled-scarred cat was asking only for a little affection, perhaps some compassion.
At that moment I thought Ugly was the most beautiful, loving creature I had ever seen. Never once did he try to bite or scratch me, or even try to get away from me, or struggle in any way. Ugly just looked up at me completely trusting in me to relieve his pain.
Ugly died in my arms before I could get inside, but I sat and held him for a long time afterwards, thinking about how one scarred, deformed little stray could so alter my opinion about what it means to have true pureness of spirit, to love so totally and truly. Ugly taught me more about giving and compassion than a thousand books, lectures, or talk show specials ever could, and for that I will always be thankful. He had been scarred on the outside, but I was scarred on the inside, and it was time for me to move on and learn to love truly and deeply. To give my total to those I cared for.

Many people want to be richer, more successful, well liked, beautiful, but for me, I will always try to be Ugly.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lost Ten Years Ago Today, Remembering 9/11/01

In all the time leading up to today's 10 year remembrance of the 9/11/01 tragedy I never thought or planned on writing, posting, discussing my memories of the day. Now that the day has arrived I find myself home alone with my 2 pups on a beautiful Sunday morning. The ceiling fan is on low and the sunshine is streaming into the den. My dogs are the epitome of tranquility - Layla is stretched out on the floor with her chew bone and her snoodle. Barky is curled up on my lap, lazily watching outside. The sun's light serms absolutely sparkling. One tree that overhangs the backyard has leaves already turning yellow in autumn anticipation. In all this peace and beauty I keep wondering is this really the type of day that America woke up to ten years ago? The difference between that day and this one is that while my personal daily routine may remain intact, my heart is saddened that my son is not inheriting the country and the world that I once knew. 

Ten years ago today the World Trade Center was attacked by Muslim terrorists. Two hijacked planes flew into the towers sending thousands to their deaths, sending millions into nightmares. The day changed America forever and every American has their story from it. 

I was working at Shelby Oaks Elementary on Summer Avenue in Memphis, TN. The day was a glorious pre-fall day just like today. I loved going to work on sunny mornings like that one and hearing the students' laughter and morning busy-ness as the day would get started. 

My son Jonathan was in 4th grade and he was home sick from hay fever that day.  He was with my mother and she initially called me and told me about the first tower's hit. I told our school guidance counselor and slowly the information began to spread amongst teachers and administrators. 

Our principal received directions to lock down the school and to set up a blocked perimeter around the school. No one was to be able to park or drive up anywhere near the school. No one was to enter the school except through the front door after being buzzed in upon giving identification. When they entered they could only come in about 8 feet to the front office. 

The precautions were taken because no one knew if there were to be scattered attacks around the country.  School bombings would mean great loss and thus schools were thought to be at high risk. We at Shelby Oaks were especially concerned because we were a school comprised of a highly integrated student population. Our students were from 18 countries and spoke 22 different languages. We had a good sized community of Muslim families and we were worried for their safety. We were worried they would be targeted by mad, non-thinking people. 

It was the only time I ever felt scared in this country, at my job, for so many children and for the loss of security my child would feel growing up from that point on in his life. America had never been attacked on its own soil by outside forces, except for Pearl Harbor. While outraged at the Japanese then, Americans still held to the belief that the mainland was impenetrable.  The attack 9/11/01 on the WTC took that security from us all. 

Air travel changed. Homeland Security was organized. There are many new restrictions, regulations and procedures, all as a result of that one day. Families were torn apart. The skyline changed. Terror and destruction became personal. Our naivety was shattered. 

Already I see an awareness and a much larger world view in my own son than I ever had at his age. At 20 years old I would hear the evening news as my grandfather listened to it or I sometimes watched it if I was at my mom's and we were eating dinner in the den. Otherwise, I was clueless. In contrast, Jonathan intentionally gobbles up news programs, world financial standings, Internet news headlines and documentaries daily.  He knows the names and locations of small, ever-changing countries in the Middle East, their leaders and their political views. All places I had never paid any attention to or even heard about except maybe during the Olympics.

At his age these countries, any country outside of America, was so distant to me that they were literally a part of an intangible other world. They were a part of the world that I occasionally saw on tv, but that didn't affect my daily life. It's not so for Jonathan and his generation. He is connected through Internet communication with people in this other world. He is not outside it. It is not intangible. He is a world citizen and not just an American that sometimes acknowledges the rest of the world. 

I don't know which is personally better - my blissful ignorance or his fully immersed awareness. The saying is that knowledge is power, but as a mother I feel some sorrow that he was not shielded from the world awhile longer than 10 years old.  

All the churches, communities and politicians are participating in remembrance ceremonies today. Our family has watched the documentaries this week of what happened and the rebuilding of Ground Zero. There is not enough that can be said or expressed about this tragedy. There are reverberating effects still occurring from 9/1/01 because families are still in pain and people are gone from our lives. How long and how deep does the attack really go? I would say it lasts forever and goes into depths we cannot imagine, yet. 

Today America is in a new dawning of vigilance and awareness. Ten years ago today we lost many good citizens and we lost our grand sense of peace and security. Our children lost their world naivety. However, on this day ten years ago America became the leader in the fight on world terrorism and we all renewed our personal citizenship and faith in this country. 

May God grant His peace to the surviving families of all lost in the tragedy of 9/11/01 and God bless this wonderful country. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just Me

I watched an old episode of "Sex and the City" today.  I know the show is dribble, but I loved it on HBO in its heyday and I still love the reruns. The first movie was closure for us fans and the second was....well, horribly bad double dribble, even for us fans.

Today's episode was about the gals being, what else? SINGLE.  No surprise there.  The plot was Miranda buying a condo on her own. In signing all the loan and closing forms she was asked about a husband and if Daddy was putting down the down payment so many times that Carrie's narration was "in a couple of hours Miranda had checked more single-woman boxes than her gynecologist." Ba-duump, buh!

I love that line....and I know how it feels. I felt it when I bought my first house. I felt it in business situations in my 20s and 30s.  I felt it until I was married and now that I am just me again, I feel it simply filling out forms at the doctor and at the bank. There is a quirky new difference, though.

Recently, I filled out a form and marked single.  When the form was read I was asked had I ever been married.  I answered yes.  Then I was asked if I was divorced or widowed. What? Why?  What difference does it make?  Seriously.  I marked single so this should be a non-issue.  Does it matter whether I ran him off and he's still living or if I drove him into an early grave?  The questioner is never going to meet him, so what's the interest?  He has no input in my medical, financial or any other standing, so whose business is it what I once was or wasn't?  I really don't get this.  Is it curiosity?  Non-belief?  The need to hone in on my single-ness?

Before marriage I would mark single and that was it.  Since becoming just me again, I have marked single and at least half the time I get the follow up questions, rather than just accepting that I am single.  I have to believe it is because I am no longer 20-something.  

Is it that if I am in my 40s that surely I am not just me, just single? Surely I have been married? It makes me feel like the questioner is giving me a second chance to declare that, okay, if I'm not currently married, at least I have been.  Is divorced or widowed somehow more desirable, more valued than single? I should understand that I need to declare to the world that I have had the capability of snagging a husband? On applications and questionnaires I get to choose my title of Miss, Ms. or Mrs.  I can choose to keep my married name or revert back to my maiden one.  So, why can't I choose my status?  

And, if you get divorced, are you divorced until you remarry?  What if you never remarry? Are you destined to live out life with the divorced label? In the future, if I choose to live with someone instead of getting married, am I going to be divorced-with-live-in-man? That's not on any forms that I've seen. Divorce happens and people move on.  Why does their status have to remain stagnant, stuck in divorce gear? 

I chose to mark single as a sign to me that I am me, just me...not me-who-didn't-make-it-work-and-got-divorced.  So, that is my decision and I am sticking to it.  If I mark single and you ask me if I have ever been married, please note, and do not be surprised when I answer, I am me, just me...and that is good enough for your form, your curiosity and, most importantly, for me.

NOTE: I love reading your comments and emails.  Thanks for all thr great info I have received and I hope I've not missed replying to anyone!

Thanks for passin' by today. 
Glad you got around this way~
Now click on COMMENTS to have your say!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Today is the first day of my gluten-free month.  My doctor (and many bloggers) recommended I try gluten-free for 30 days to see if my Lupus sypmtoms feel any relief or ease. 

As I eat my salad with spicy tuna and sunflower seeds and enjoy a Cascade Ice sparkling water, I decided to read up on some gluten-free info for inspiration.  In my search I came across the the blog pic above that I just love and it is on the sidebar with link.

I found the pic on the Denver Examiner's site and they had a great list of gluten-free blogs that I am excited to read.  I've posted the list below and I will, of course, update you on anything I find of real interest. 

Well, I've finished my salad, sans dressing, and it was de-lish-us!  I have fresh strawberries for desert.  So, far, Day 1 hasn't been difficult and it's been really easy on my calorie count.  The carb count is just a tad better.  Breakfast was Chobani greek yogurt, walnuts with 3 Sweetriot dark cacao nibs and an apple.  Haven't planned out dinner, yet, hmmmm. 

Anyways, here's to a gluten-free me and I'm gonna go read some from the lsit below! 
NOTE: I love reading your comments and emails.  Thanks for all thr great info I have received and I hope I've not missed replying to anyone!

Thanks for passin' by today. 
Glad you got around this way~
Now click on COMMENTS to have your say!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday Quickie...Quickie Post!

I received good news on my liver ultrasound & test. Again, I need to keep on working my program of healthy eating, losing weight (another 20 lbs by Christmas,) walking, walking, walking, rest - uh, no, sleep of 9 hours per night minimum and a daytime nap was ordered- stress maintenance and switching to gluten free was recommended.  New mantra: I am managing the Lupus; it is NOT managing me!

So, I am spending the day resting (sleeping) and researching more on gluten free (even soy sauce has gluten in it!) My painting project is on hold until tonight or tomorrow. No deadline.

As a quickie Saturday post I wanted to go back to my love of dragonflies...

Bolton Lancashire (UK); andy@uncutfishing.co.uk; http://www.uncutfishing.co.uk/

Did you know that female dragonflies are DAMSELflies and young dragonflies are called NYMPHS? Pretty romantic for a bug, huh?


Dragonfly, Damselfly, Dragonfly Nymph - N.E. Florida

These romantic predators eat those disease carrying mosquitoes, so respect them! They cannot bite or sting you. They just fly like they are trained machines and look amazingly beautiful while ridding the summer nights of pests!

This shot of a Male Black Meadowhawk was taken at Keely Lake, Saskatchewan in July 2005. The Dragonfly stayed on my foot for at least a minute.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Pineapple A Day....

In the last year I have become very cognizant of the foods I eat.  I still make some bad choices, but when I do they are informed choices, none the less.

I have told you that I have diabetes and lupus, but I have also been through therapy for eating disorders.  For these three reasons I tend to read  gobble up as much information as I can about food and nutrition.  I try to stick to reasonable and educated sights such as Whole Living, Mayo Clinic, Live Strong, The Lupus Foundation, etc.  

I say all this to tell you about a perfect, or near perfect food for folks in my predicament and anyone else....PINEAPPLE!

Did you know that pineapple contains a glorious nutrient called bromelain (produced in the stem which is inedible but the fruit extracts some from the stem.)  Bromelain has three great properties.
  2. has cancer fighting compounds
  3. lowers the risk of thrombosis

Because of the bromelain you can't put fresh pineapple in Jell-O because the bromelain content prevents gelatin from setting. Canned pineapple, on the other hand, can be added to Jell-O because the canning process destroys the bromelain. So, for the bromelain benefits, it has to be FRESH pineapple.

So often foods that are good for you are not the foods that people naturally gravitate towards...but, think about any party you've been to with a fruit tray....the pineapple is gone first!  Moms, think about cutting up a fresh pineapple for your family....kids and hubby are stealing pieces as you slice!  Pineapple is a treat for us at Christmastime...it always shows up on the Christmas morning breakfast buffet.  The smell of fresh pineapple is just decadent and intoxicating.

Pineapple is also no slouch. The list of benefits it offers to our diet is awesome!
  • For many people it improves their digestion (Sharron, give this a try!)
  • High in vitamin C which attacks free radicals in our bodies (anti-cancer property)  Columbus introduced pineapple to Spain and it soon became popular with sailors to prevent scurvy! One cup of pineapple has about 135 calories and 33% of the RDA of Vitamin C.
  • Is a natural diuretic
  • Is a good source of manganese - this attacks free radicals produced in cell respiration to help prevent cell damage (anti-cancer property)
  • Clears mucous from bronchial tissues
  • Natural source of fiber...we all know we need fiber!
  • Its B1 helps to metabolize carbs
  • Stimulates our kidneys to help remove toxic waste
  • And the juice from pineapple will kill intestinal worms...who knew?

The only down side is watch the acidic properties and we diabetics have to go easy on the sugar content (eat the fruit, not the juice ~ unless, of course, intestinal worms are an issue, then by all means chug-a-lug!)

With all the pineapple has to offer, no wonder it's the WELCOME symbol of many societies!  

Bonus info for selecting a fresh pineapple: A pineapple is ripe if one of its top leaves can easily be pulled out.

Bonus recipe: I love fresh pineapple grilled, which takes only a pineapple and a grill.  :)  However, I love the following recipe on grilled salmon!  Hope you try it and enjoy!

Pineapple Salsa
1 1/2 c. fresh pineapple, chopped
1/4 c. diced red bell pepper
1/4 c. diced green bell pepper
1/4 c. diced red onion
2 t. minced jalapeno
1 T. fresh lime juice
2 T. chopped parsley
1 T. chopped cilantro

salt to taste

Combine all ingrdients in a bowl, cover, refrigerate and enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

What Is Lupus and Who Wants to Know...Really Wants to know

I have had Lupus for 7 years now, diagnosed for 7 years, that is.  Compared to other people with Lupus that I now know through my support group, it's been a breeze for me and so I shouldn't complain, huh?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease whereby your immune system attacks your healthy cells with no differentiation from the unhealthy, bad ones.  Besides the serious damage that it can do to your body's organs, it leaves you suceptible to every virus and bacteria running around in the real world. 

You know, so many people have asked me about Lupus and what it is.  I give the explanation that I just gave here.  Do you know how many, after I answer, have then said, "Oh, you don't look sick..." I love that someone once commented to that, "Thanks, and you don't look insensitive, hmmm, guess looks can be deceiving."

The reality is that people with Lupus often do not "look" sick.  They only look sick when they have strokes, congestive heart failure, pleurisy, kidney failure, liver disease, horribly painful rashes, seizures, etc.  Other than that we "Lupians" look just fine...almost normal, very tired normal people, usually. 

Since I posted a couple days ago my angry post of learning my Lupus is starting to "show out" again, I have received emails, comments, questions and remarks from so many people. Over the weekend I have thought about the fact that I mention my Lupus to friends and family from time to time, but I never just BE in it.  I think I have felt that if I talk about it, the Lupus will hear and wake up and grow. 

For seven years I have ignored talking about it, except this last 8 months in my support group.  Even then, I have not discussed it with anyone else on a regular basis except my doctors.  My mom doesn't really know what to say other than oh my and I'm sorry.  My son tunes out as it's something he just doesn't want to think about or deal with because he doesn't want to think of me sick or not around in the future; I get that. My husband never accepted that anything was wrong with me that I can't just snap out of if I put my mind to it.  Again, I didn't "look sick" until I had flares.

I have looked at having Lupus as being a weakness I should hide. I have recently dealt with an eating disorder and through doing that I have seen how secretive people can be about their eating illnesses.  I have used that same behavior with my Lupus.  I've only admitted to it when I have had to due to the down time flares have caused.  I don't talk about running down to the point of sleeping 16 hours, or being so tired I can't pick up my dinner plate and carry it to the sink.  I don't mention that I'm only good for about an hour of shopping and then I get a fever and have to rest.

I have to admit that this online journal has helped. I have always been a visual person and prefer to organize my thoughts in black and white.  Once it's on paper, the thoughts are out of my head and officially dealt with; I don't have to replay them.  So, when I journaled about my Lupus recently, I released the specific anger I had that day and I was also responded to for the first time in a positive manner, an inquisitive manner, an appreciative manner.  It was a new experience.  As I've thought about that I've decided it is time that I embrace my disease of Lupus and not hide it while trying to hide from it.  I think I'm now mad enough and determined enough to face it head on and, that fact, I am ready to shout from the hilltops!

Today I go for my hepatitis screening.  Thursday is the ultrasound on my liver.  Then comes the specialist.  And I am ok.  I am not freaking out.  I am not a sobbing mess of Why Me?  I am the gal who gets up and goes to work and oh, btw, has to stop by and do this or that for her health. Yep, not for the Lupus, but for my health.

I have heard Lupus referred to as a life-dimenishing disease. I am NOT good with that!  I mentioned at the beginning that compared to other people with Lupus my experience has been a breeze and I shouldn't complain in that respect.  I have complained, let me tell you.  However, I'm through with complaining.  Seriously, I'm bumping it up a notch and getting flat out mad that something is trying to run my life and shorten my life...mad enough so that if the Lupus does hear me, IT will be too scared to show up!

Peace and Health, People!

People you've heard of, but didn't realize they have/had Lupus:
Toni Braxton
Ferdinand Marcos
Flannery O'Conner
Jasmine Guy
Trick Daddy
Terri Seymour
Snoop Dog's daughter Corey Broadus
Lady Gaga (borderline tests)
Louisa May Alcott
Tim Raines
Michael Jackson
Charles Kuralt