Saturday, August 30, 2008
Juliana Fish Selling, Peru
Luz María Urbalejo Martínez Jewelry, Mexico
Helen Bakare Clothing Sales, Nigeria
I heard about Kiva (www.kiva.org) on Oprah of all things. It was while I was watching tv sideways as I lay in bed all puny from chemo. I invested $25 in one woman who was trying to improve her life. Then a different day I invested another $25, and finally I wanted to honor my surgeon by investing another $25 in another woman.
Some loans have already been paid back, so I just had enough to invest in another woman. My goal is to help women in poverty to improve their earning potential. I kind of see it as a way to spread a little (very little) American wealth around the world, and maybe earn us a little positive thoughts from places in the world that think poorly of us. It's fun to select someone and get the updates and then know at the end when they've paid back the money, that presumably their life is a bit better because they've improved their ability to make money and support themselves.
It's a small investment in global goodness. I like it because you can re-invest the money over and over and keep the goodness going. My life is very blessed. It's a small way I feel like I can help others who struggle. It was very hard making it when I was a single mom raising a child and working two and three jobs. I feel a kinship with these women that also struggle and work endless hours.
My fund-raising focus is still the 3-Day right now, but I like the diversion above. It doesn't take but $25 to start something that just makes the world better; literally.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Very, very, very tired tonight. Going to bed now. Rah, rah .... tomorrow I work the Friday night football game. I'm stuck there until half-time, BUT by doing it and getting it over and done with, I don't have to worry about it the rest of 2008. I have to do a game in the Spring semester, but I'll deal with that later. The three day weekend is going to be welcomed by me for some rest and hopefully some recreation too. I hope you and those you love are well and have a safe holiday.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Eyes have two different kinds of muscles. The eye muscles that make your eyes move from side-to-side are the same kind of muscles in your legs and arms. Now there is a different kind of muscle that controls the opening and closing of the pupils. Those are smooth muscles. The other place in your body where there are smooth muscles is in your gut. So the muscles that make the pupil expand and contract in your eye, is the same kind of muscle in your intestines.
Turns out that the chemistry of chemotherapy effects the smooth muscles in your eye. My eyes aren't focusing right, not because my Rx has changed, but because the residue of the chemo in my body is causing the smooth muscles in my eye to not focus simultaneously or with much acuity. It's been eight months since my last chemo, but it's the gift that keeps on giving.
I hope you and those you love are well this day. It's all good here.
Monday, August 25, 2008
This is the main building. Well some of it. There are about 1100 students here and about 100 or so teachers plus other staff members. The most amazing time of the day is when the buses pull up and all the students pile out of the building to get on said buses and they all go toward home all at the same time. It's especially gratifying on a Friday afternoon, I must say.
This is a picture of Bubba, Doc and Baby. Now keep in mind this is a 55 gallon tank and that the biggest fish in the forefront is about 7 inches long. The fish behind him is more like 8 - 9 inches long. These two fellows and a gal (I think Baby is a girl.) were absorbing a lot of worry this past week, but I think some water measuring and consultation with various experts has narrowed down the problem to one of pH in the tank. They've been improving and I'm working on being a better fish "mom." These are the common comet's that I bought at about 1-1-1/2 inch two years ago and are now these flowing, beautiful water ballet artists that I'm trying not to kill.
Tomorrow night is breast cancer support group meeting, so I'm planning to crash and burn late tomorrow. Wednesday I'm getting my eyes examined -- oh joy! Actually, I'm actually hopeful that they can improve the visual field with new glasses, though I'm a little anxious about moving toward graduated lenses instead of my preferred executive lenses. I'm willing to try the graduated trifocals only because (a) I can get the lenses in the Transitions lenses so they can change with the light levels, and (b) they can actually make the lenses is less time than insisting on the executive lenses that take 3 weeks to grind and glue together. So, I'm going to give it a whirl. So, forgive me if I'm a bit tardy this week; I'm going to be chasing my tail a lot this week.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
My legs hurt, and I'm thinking it's from the weather front, AKA Fay. Even though its not here, it is big enough to influence things. I've taken some Tylenol for pain, and I had a nap when I came home from work. I'm hoping to be able to zonk out soon. It smells like EUCALYPTUS in here because I've bathed my legs in Biofreeze.
I am so glad tomorrow is Friday, because one more day in the week and I don't know how I'd handle it. I'm really feeling puny, and whiney.
I saw the most adorable cherub on the bus today. She was only five. She held her fingers up for me and her fat cheaks and blond hair were just adorable. Her friend who held up seven fingers was trying to find out if I knew her cousin Nicky and couldn't figure out how a teacher could NOT know her cousin. The concept of 1000 kids in one place at one time was beyond her ability. What a couple of charmers. I can't remember how it was to take the bus when I was five. I know I did, but I don't remember that far back. I must have once been one of those little charmers. If I knew what to do with them, I might well enjoy working with the little ones, but there is such a terrible race to teach, teach, teach so many ideas so fast now while they are little! Where did childhood go?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Me: I'm hoping that I don't anymore, but yes, I was treated for it this last year.
Student: What kind of cancer do you have?
Me: Breast cancer.
Student: What part of your body is that?
(I swear -- and that's a regular education student too.)
Monday, August 18, 2008
Jewel is a synapse away from figuring out how to crawl. Good lord preserve us when she does. She loves to grab things. This past Thursday she got one of her upper, middle teeth.
I have a cold or sinus crap. One or the other. In any case, I'm not feeling really great, so I'm going to hit the hay early. I couldn't get to sleep last night until around 3AM. So I'm pretty tired now.
I hope you and those you love are well this evening.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Made it to Friday again. Two weeks down, about 34 to go. :)
Oh dear. Now the AP has picked up the story.
And lastly.........the person that thought THIS was a good idea, hasn't worked in a classroom recently. The part that is disturbing most to me is that they actually considered letting students have weapons too. Ugly idea. Very ugly.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
For the first time in about 40 years, I'm going to have to get a sweater to wear indoors. Interesting that I've become much more cold-natured without boobs. Who knew they were the heaters that they apparently were?! I used to wear a sweater instead of a coat. Now I want one to wear in the classroom. My shawl isn't enough. Brrrrr.
Must sleep. Night all.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
(1) proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ,
(2) seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself,
(3) strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human
These are BIG promises that I made. As a Daughter of the King, I have further promised to live by these promises. These are hard promises too.
Each of us finds our own ways of working these promises into our lives. It's different for each person. In some ways for me I feel that I'm a terrible failure. In others I feel I make small in-roads. It's always a struggle on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes I forget this for long periods of time. Sometimes the world THROWS opportunities in my face like a rude pie-in-the-face.
Sometimes it's as simple as giving my snack to some unfortunate soul by the expressway. Sometimes it's trying hard to honor the dignity of a teen who doesn't honor mine. Sometimes I wonder if I shall end up accomplishing #1, by showing others how to die. I hope not. But it lingers on my mind sometimes. I really hope I get to show how to live until I die, but one really doesn't know.
I have goals yet that I want to pursue with regard to the Baptismal Covenant. I hope I get to complete my plans. Yet, you know the little contacts, the little moments, and the little interactions we share with those who we see daily -- those are the moments when our true colors are most easily seen. I don't much worry how others see me in accomplishing these goals, but in the grand scheme of things, I'd like to think that I put more good into the world than I take back out.
When I least want to be generous in spirit is when it's hardest to try and exemplify these goals. I think that God helps us find that generosity, when we least have it available though. That is the magic of the Baptismal Covenant. We are flawed creatures that under the best of circumstances botch these mystical promises up. Yet, if we try, I think we are spiritually given the generosity of Spirit to do better than we might otherwise.
I wish you and those you love, the generosity of spirit to handle more than you might otherwise. And, no matter how well you can, or can not accomplish it, I wish blessings on you and your house.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Here is the story.
Good hearts will help this child, but "normal" will never be anything but a dryer setting in her life. She had the will to live, but she will forever be limited because her first years of life were starved for love and appropriate interaction.
Neglect is as evil as inappropriate attention. Every child is a miracle. Every child deserves to be loved and cherished. Love is an amazing inoculation against the speedbumps one will experience on the road of life.
(I first saw this story at Washes of Color.) If you're a parent, hug your kids, just because.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Seligman spent a portion of his life focusing on remedies for Learned Helplessness and treatments. Then one day he turned things around and asked, "What are the qualities that resilient people have that make them able to get up one more time than they are knocked down?" He decided he could focus on Learned Optimism. And he's done a bunch of studies and found out a lot of interesting things.
So, how does one come out on the other side of child abuse or cancer or both and still have a positive attitude? Well, that presumes you have a positive attitude first. For those of you that don't know my mother was nuts and ritually abused me on a regular basis. If you're unbelieving for some reason, check my x-rays of my hands. There are over 40 broken bones in my hands. That has led to some interesting life experiences in the sense that I probably try to "control" things too much. Often I think I speak up too much, and other times, I'm too silent. I am uncertain who the real ME is, because I'm basically using "normal" people as a barometer for what I'm supposed to be like, and making an attempt to make myself like them. Of course that doesn't really work well as a life path. I have my demons and I have my flaws, but the likelihood of me being able to exorcise them at this point in my life is pretty dim, so I'm best off shaking hands and making friends with them. I try not to let my nuts-ness out to walk around too often, but it's there.
Now that I've been through the whole treatment for cancer experience, I have other daunting issues that push in on me and make life more interesting; more complex. I have known women during my treatment, that refused to get chemotherapy because they couldn't stand the idea of losing their self-image -- they chose to die prematurely because they couldn't lose their hair. I know women who won't be seen in public with their flat, double-mastectomy chests. I refuse to stop living, so me and my suddenly-so-visible BELLY go and do things like exercise without my prosthetics. (Summer heat and exercise are not compatible with prosthetics in my book.) There have been other medical issues that could have kept me down, but I kept going anyway. My injured left foot had me down for a long time, but after finding a fellow that can do custom orthotics for me, my feet, knees and hips have recovered a lot. I go hiking and walk beaches and do most anything I want to, and can depend on my left foot and leg to hold me up. For a while, that wasn't anything I could envision, but I kept looking for solutions, even when things seemed hopeless. I mean after YEARS of pain and difficulty and surgeries. I hope to crew on the 3-Day Walk and back before orthotics, that wouldn't have been an option.
So what does this have to do with resillience and Learned Optimism? I guess for me it means that while I may be pessimistic about what might come into my life, I have a strong sense that whatever it is, I can find a way through it. I found a way through a difficult, and what was a damaging childhood experience. I found a way through a debilitating injury to my left foot and even though it took years to get to a better place, I kept looking for answers until I found the right ones for me. I don't know yet if this is all that the cancer demon has in store for me. I can tell you that I've taken every possible step I can to ensure that I've done the maximum I can so that it is. However, you and I both know that cancer is sneeky. It may come back. I hope not, but until and unless it does, I'm LIVING. Until I stop breathing, I'm living
This stuff that people say I have called "courage" is nothing more than the need to preserve my Self. You just keep enduring until there isn't anything more to endure. Life is a marathon; a race that goes to the steady runner, not the swiftest. When you get to the other side of the hard part of the journey, you hope like all get-out that there's something good there. For me, the good was being a mom, being a grammy, getting to travel, being an instrument of change at different points in time, helping others know that there is "good" worth getting to the other side for. (Bad grammar, but you know what I mean.)
Plato observed many centuries ago, that it was important to "Be kind to everyone you meet, for they are all in a great struggle." My struggle is no bigger or different than your life struggle, but it's important to hold on and endure because the sweet moments are ever so much sweeter for the struggle. Look forward to the sweet moments, sometimes you are ambushed by what becomes that moment. I didn't expect having a child to be the warm, wonderful experience that it was. I sure didn't expect to fall in love so deeply with grandchildren. Each trip I've taken has had hidden treasures I couldn't have anticipated. And the list of unexpected dividends and sweet reward goes on. I'm sure I have more speedbumps in the road of life ahead of me, but the goal is the sweet joy of the unexpected.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Got our classrolls today, and if they really hold at these numbers we'll have no more than 27 in a class, which would be a nice change from years previous where we had 32 in the class. Our room is too small for 32 plus two teachers.
Tomorrow is another late night at school. I don't have to go in until noon though. There will be a LOT more families and kids dropping by tomorrow night though.
I was a little stronger today, although I came very, very close to nodding off during that speaker for a moment this morning. People are interesting. Most are taking time to tell me they are glad to see me back. Some are wondering why they haven't seen me in a while (duh?), and then there are the ones that feel COMPELLED to tell me about anyone they have EVER known that had cancer of any description. Sigh. Please hand the latter folks a CLUE.
Must sleep now. Romeo, did you hear that? We both need to sleep. No spunky interruptions to the Sandman tonight at 2AM!
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
The cleaning goddess came today so I have clean sheets, and a clean house.
Tomorrow our day starts out with a 4 hour faculty meeting. Can I just tell you how EXCITED I am about that? YIKES! ARE THEY NUTS? I'm not excited about that at all!
Anyone have about 120 dead tennis balls? The make nice little "socks" for the desks, and help preserve the floor. It keeps the room quieter too. I need the dead tennis balls from a couple of tennis teams!
Must sleep. Very, very, very tired tonight.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Going to bed early tonight! Peace.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
I've also been tackling a mountain of laundry that I allowed to build up. I needed some clothes to wear tomorrow. I'm also trying to tidy up a bit since I don't want my cleaning goddess to know what an incredible slob that I really am.
Tomorrow I have to once again be a responsible adult. I have the alarm set, and clothing laid out, and I'm psyching myself up to be excited about the new school year starting. I get to sling on the boobs in the morning, put on make-up and act like a grown up. I've had a chance to preview what retirement is like, and I rather like it! With luck, in six more years I get to actually retire!
Point taken from Amber. I will not let the whippersnappers intimidate me. Much. I feel kind of bad for little Jewel tomorrow when instead of hanging out with Grammy, she gets to be introduced to daycare. I got to see how she interacted with them there on Friday though, and she'll do fine. She's such a joy to be around. When I get out of school tomorrow, if there is any umph left in me at all, I can go get her and Liam if I think I can manage them. We'll have to see how much umph is left in me at 3:30.
We'll see how things go tomorrow and if I have the energy to blog tomorrow! Peace.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
FLASH UPDATE: Jenn found my eyeglasses and saved me about $400!! Thank goodness!
Derrick, whatever you think I've done, I'm not smart enough to do what you appear to be suggesting. Someone else messed with your computer; not me. Call me so we can straighten things out. Love you.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Jewel goes to a different place on Monday to be cared for, and so do I. It's a bit of a commencement of sorts for me, in that I'm starting my life again, after it de-railed last year. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of my diagnosis. 366 days ago I was well. In the next 24 hours my life would change forever. In the last year my body has been fundamentally changed. My peace of mind this last year has been forever stolen. My confidence has been altered along with my body. "Do I look ok? Is anything showing? Is my clothing adjusted properly? Are my prosthetics where they're supposed to be? Are they still where they're supposed to be? Does my pain or discomfort show? Can I do what I've got to do today? Am I ok?" And those thoughts go through my mind like every other minute. Close friends and family get to see a bit more of the anxiety, less of the "window dressing" and more of me without makeup or prosthetics. But ultimately I'm not comfortable with myself yet. I'm not sure I ever will be, but I hope I will. It's going to take a while to get used to the "revised" me. I'm still startled by my short, short, short hair. I haven't had hair this short since I was an infant! It is not ME that I see in the mirror yet. My curved, caved-in chest that no longer has that full, feminine set of "headlights" -- who does that belong to? My fat ass is shrinking as I work on eating more healthy. Twenty-five pounds of my ass is no longer there, so I really am continuing to change my body. Nothing is like it used to be. Who you see today, is not the ME that I have been. I don't have confidence in who this person is; I want to slid back into myself again, but I don't think that can ever happen. That ME is gone. This ME is ...someone I don't know or feel comfortable with yet. Boo, hoo. Get with the program and just get on with life. Well, I think I am, but that doesn't mean I feel right about it. The skin I'm in has literally had some significant changes this last year.
I see lots of positive and good things. I'm happy to be alive. I do not regret any of my decisions. I'm just getting used to a different self than the one I had grown into over time. So, be gentle with me a bit longer. I need a little longer to get used to this particular incarnation of myself. I admit to being a bit unnerved to go before the 9th grade students and their particular brand of cruelty. My backbone isn't as evident as it used to be. I have stage fright. Gotta sleep now. Definitely have to sleep now.