What A Day To Feel Alive

I have an “invisible” chronic disease called Sarcoidosis (Sark-oyd-osis) for at least 21 years.Here is link to help explain the disease: https://www.stopsarcoidosis.org/awareness/what-is-sarcoidosis/   I believe it started with my gall bladder. I had a bag full of stones, first in the family. Upon a pre-op x-ray, my lymph nodes were swollen. Then it began. Differential diagnoses freaked out my family (my Grandfather died from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma) and me. It came back Sarcoidosis, no one knew what that meant. I went to a medical library and did my research. At that time, the medical books said the lifetime prognosis after diagnosis was 20 years.
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Birches

I freaked out. I started reassessing what I wanted in life. Made major mistakes in men because I put myself out there trying to find a life. The first couple years were somewhat uneventful. I had an episode of not being able to breathe, but the rude Pulmonologist said it was no big deal. I wasn’t dead yet.
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Cuckoo

I found the man I wanted in my life forever. A former Paramedic/Fireman, now a nursing home administrator. He understood the medical issues I had and we discussed the possibilities. We moved fast and moved together to his new job. So, of course, symptoms began. In no specific order, I had sinus surgery,a kidney stone, lung issues, etc. Between then and now, there were four more kidney stones, a bone marrow biopsy (without medication the disease prohibits red blood cell production), Thyroid surgery (not related to sarcoid), skin issues, joint issues, pain, etc. We got married in 2005; the happiest day of my life. I wasn’t dead yet.
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All the time, I still had that 20-year prognosis ticking away in my head. Realistically, I knew that there had probably been new medications and treatments that might make that old prognosis invalid; but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Finally, that 20-year date came along. I still wasn’t dead yet! I celebrated by getting two tattoos. They symbolized to me not to worry, to take time to enjoy the small things in life, and to be still and listen to God.I was peaceful. I had made it to that time limit in my head and now it was my life!
Last year, I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Toward the end of the year, we started arguing, a lot. Most people think our bickering is arguing, but that is just how we banter. This was real arguing. We worked together in our clock shop. My Husband opened a clock shop about 12 years ago and I came on to learn how to restore clock movements about six or seven years ago. He started saying my skills were lacking and saying I was cutting corners. I was, of course, furious. Then, he decided I was to distracted by my bench TV and/or my phone. Again, I was furious at the accusations. If you’ve met us, you know neither one of us like to back down. It was getting bad. Then at the beginning of this year, my hands started to have occasional tremors and my back pain was really bad. I went to physical therapy and we treated it with Ibuprofen, muscle relaxers and Tylenol 3, only if i needed them. I was referred to a neurologist and waited for the appointment..
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In the meantime,  I started talking loudly in my sleep as soon as I hit the pillow. That progressed into mouth movements and slamming my teeth together while clawing the sheets and writing in air. My Husband started wearing earplugs, but it progressed into us having to sleep in separate rooms and having to wear a mouthguard after breaking a couple of teeth. Then there is the tinnitus, auditory hallucinations, dry mouth, dry eyes, the tremors, sleeping in 90 minute increments, memory loss, confusion and dizziness. I couldn’t work any longer. Once the symptoms progressed, we both realized I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do, but the memory loss and confusion was the problem. The arguments stopped and we have been closer than ever. After having MRIs of my brain and cervical spine, the results were that there was scarring on several areas of my brain and my spinal cord.
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Anna Supergirl and The Man of Steel

These new symptoms will not go away. The brain doesn’t work that way. So now, we are waiting to have a visit with a Rheumatologist, a spinal tap, a test to see how my eyes and brain communicate, and a test to see how my limbs and brain communicate. My Neurologist is also looking for a Neurosarc Specialist. I am learning to live this new existence. Our marriage is strong. I can’t imagine doing this without him or even being without him. He is my rock, my love, my other half. He is so kind.  He was so shook up when we got the results of the MRIs. He was scared. We want to be able to spend as much time enjoying each other as possible.
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For Sara – Gma, Gpa & Michael in Heaven

I try not to give into the negative energy of depression. I have done this for 21 years and I’m not dead yet, but it’s closer. I don’t want to spend what time I am blessed with being sad, bitter and sorry for myself. I want to laugh, be there for others and enjoy life with my Husband until I can’t do that anymore. One odd thing is that I hadn’t painted for about 30 years. My last painting back then was so bad, I stopped painting. I have a lot of work to do, but I can paint now better than I ever imagined! I have embedded some of them in this post. Painting, creating gives me such a sense of control in a situation where I have very little right now. Reaching out and interpreting some of the beauty I see feels like I am contributing to something.

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On the Line

My Husband wants to travel together, to be able to work on the road and enjoy the freedom, the beauty of the country, let me soak up the amazingly beautiful world and experiences before I can’t or I pass on the road one day. He has never been happier than when we took a road trip last year. He fell in love with it. My family were campers, so I knew what an amazing experience traveling, meeting people, communing with nature, and the feeling of freedom that comes with it. We had a clock conference in Las Vegas in October. We packed up our SUV, had self-inflatable mats, zero gravity chairs, coolers, computer (to work on the road), and other essentials.  We took three days to drive to Phoenix to visit with his family a few days. We visited my Cousin in Tucson, visited with family and saw Sedona twice before we left for our conference. Las Vegas was the least favorite part of the trip.

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Tucson

On our way back home, we camped all but one night. We went to the Hoover Dam and then to the Grand Canyon. We camped there a night, sat by the fire and watched meteors. The next morning, we entertained two Bucks in our campsite. We took in the majesty of the Canyon and wished we could have stayed longer. Our next night was a the Barringer Meteor Crater RV Park. There we found a gem of a park. The people were so friendly, they let us park our SUV next to the communal fire ring and plug in chargers. They had full bathrooms with showers, a communal room with laundry, tv, book exchange, free coffee and games. Everything was clean, neat and secure. We will be going back! The Crater experience was amazing! We were so overwhelmed by the size, depth and history of the Crater.
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Barringer Meteor Crater

Our next adventure was the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. Amazing! We spent that night at the Holbrook KOA. I’m not sure we want to stay in crowded campgrounds often, but we met one of our neighbors and had a great evening. We got our obligatory picture on the corner of Winslow, Arizona. We stayed in a hotel in Albuquerque for a change of pace. We visited the Rattlesnake Museum and made our wrong turn in honor of Bugs Bunny. Onto our next destination; Roswell, New Mexico!
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And he said they wouldn’t let me hold the construction stop sign!

We absolutely fell in love with New Mexico! We had been under the impression that it was just rocky desert. That is a great deal of it, but there is a gracefulness to the desert in New Mexico. The light seems different. The stretches of road through large ranches, the cattle, the solid blue skies, and the genuineness of the people make it so special. We didn’t know what to expect in Roswell. We speculated that it might be a cheesy town loaded with alien stuff. To our pleasant surprise, it is an attractive town that has a few attractive alien decorations. We stayed for two nights at Bottomless Lake State Park, 12 miles from town. It was beautiful. Maybe not in the traditional way, but the breathtaking vista, the lake and the endless night sky, crowned by the creaminess of the Milky Way. We saw meteors every night we camped. Laughing at trying to outsmart the raccoon gang, walking under the stars, and the calmness of the nights restores your soul. We visited the sites in Roswell the next day. We were so impressed with the Museum and its research library. There is an active artist community alive and well in Roswell. We will be back!
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View from our campsite at Bottomless Lake State Park. Roswell, New Mexico.

Sorry this post is so long, but it feels cathartic to put all this in words. Do I wish things were different? Not really. Life is too short to live with regrets. Too short to live with bitterness, what ifs, and any other negativity to drag down your soul. I am not perfect. I get discouraged once in a while, but I look at my Husband, remember the blessings I have in my life, take a deep breath and smile. I don’t worry so much about me, I am in the hands of God and comfortable there. I worry about those around me. My Husband is so worried about me and what could happen. He wants to have the plans we have to happen as soon as possible. He has had it demonstrated to him that this disease can have devastating effects and they can happen overnight. I worry how he will feel if I am gone before those plans happen. I worry about my family and how they will be after I am gone. I try not to worry, but life does intrude.
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The road less traveled

I guess this all came up in my mind because of a song I heard the other day. I have heard it many times before, but the lyrics hit me differently this time.

I’ve been a poor man and I’ve been a king
I’ve had my life and the world on a string
I’ve traveled many roads but I’m so far from done

I have been hopeless and I’ve had my faith
Some things I’ve lost and some things I have saved
All of these moments showed me the way that I’ve gone

Good to know, there’s so much to live for

Oh, oh-oh, oh, oh-oh
Oh-oh, what a day to feel alive
Oh, oh-oh, oh, oh-oh
Oh-oh, what a day to feel alive

It touched me. Forgive, live in the now, tell people what you think, tell people you love them, be genuine, be grateful for what you have, don’t covet, don’t regret, but most of all; Love. Love God, yourself, your partner, others, and what time you are given.
Day to feel alive by Jake Reese   https://youtu.be/PtJYe4TqxJg
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Wuve, twue wuve

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It is February! We all know what that means, Valentine’s Day. Actually, it is St. Valentine’s Day. According to the Catholic Church, St. Valentine was a priest that was aiding, abetting, and marrying Christians during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. In the year 269, he was arrested for assisting Christians and held at the Emperor’s pleasure. He apparently tried to convert the Emperor and for that was beaten with clubs, stoned, and beheaded. Pope Gelasius  marked the remembrance of St. Valentine’s martyrdom as February 14th in the year 496.

So here we are today and how do we honor someone that gave their life to help others that were being persecuted for their beliefs? Do most of us even have that kind of love to give out to others? Bruno Mars would die for you, but would you die for him? How deep is a love that is requited with candy hearts, chocolate (I’m not saying not to give me chocolate. Just making a point here folks, don’t get carried away.), a dinner at a nice enough restaurant, or some flowers. Gestures are a nice way to demonstrate affection, but the marks of real love are small and cumulative.

Don’t tell my Husband, but I am rethinking the whole card thing. I always want at least a card to mark Valentine’s Day, my birthday and our anniversary. I am starting to believe that society has trained us to want those things as proof that our significant other has not taken us for granted. That they still remember and acknowledge those moments in time that are milestones for us as humans and as a couple.

Perhaps it would mean more to tell someone how much they mean to you on those days and share the day with you, rather than picking through cards that have generic sayings in them. What would I really like instead of a card on an essentially Hallmark driven day? I would love for my Husband to come in with some of my favorite flowers, freshly cut from the neighbors lilac bush. Oh, that is without prompting. We are still working on that one!

I don’t need specified holidays to know my Husband loves me. I know it every day. I wasn’t feeling good today and went in and laid down on the bed in the afternoon. He came in to check and see if I was alright. I know it when he tries to cop a feel as I get into the shower, curl my hair, handle a sharp knife, lift a boiling pot of water, and etc. I know it when he lets me take his arm when I am tired or when it might be slick. I know it when he refills my coffee in the morning. I know it when he volunteers to turn off the Xbox and watch a documentary about the Amish with me. I am very lucky to have a man that loves me. We are lucky to have each other.

We met by happenstance, but our being together was by a group of determined forces. We were both working in human services. He was the Administrator of a larger facility, and I, was a director of a program for community and residential services in the same town. I had begun holding networking meetings for agencies in several counties once a month. He came with the Director of Nursing (DON) for his facility. We were introduced and neither of us thought anything of it. However, his DON (and boss’ wife) decided then and there that we were going to be together. The scheming began.

My roommate worked for the same company and was sent home by the DON to tell me about this amazing man. The stories of his greatness made me laugh and ask where the bodies were buried! I was also informed that at the next meeting he would be asking me to lunch and I needed to go. I scoffed, but figured that it would just be an hour out of a day. I found out later that the DON had dropped a hint that he should take me for lunch. He had no idea of the scheme.

That next meeting, he came to the meeting. I kept looking at him and thinking how stoic he was and what was I going to do with that? I looked down and saw that he had Spacejam socks on. For those of you that are too young, Spacejam was an animated movie with Michael Jordan and the Warner Brothers characters. I loved Spacejam. Yes, I am a cartoon girl. Maybe, I thought, there was at least a sense of humor. Well, he asked me to lunch for the next Wednesday. We went to lunch. It was over two hours and we were almost inseparable after that. She was right and we acknowledged her at our wedding. He also wore the Spacejam socks with his tuxedo.

What happened to change my mind? I actually let him be him, not what I thought he was going to be. He is a wonderful soul, caring, loving and intelligent. He is strong, soft, brave, and my balance. I could not be more proud to walk beside this man who walks beside me. Even when I cringed the other night when he was doing laundry and we went to the neighbors’ house with him in plaid fleece pants and a plaid work shirt, I would not trade him for anyone. I want our love story to continue and never end.

This is my St. Valentine’s Day card for my Husband. I don’t know if he will read this, he doesn’t really like to read my blog. But maybe I will just open it up for him sometime around Valentine’s Day.

Think about if you would die for someone.

 

http://youtu.be/SR6iYWJxHqs  Grenade by Bruno Mars

Rest now my friend

 “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I turned 50 a little while ago. It wasn’t that big of a deal for me, but my amazing Husband threw me a wonderful party and invited as he said “as many people as you are old!” I had to laugh as he was in that ‘last minute party panic’ and it was supposed to be a surprise. I had easily figured out about the party. You can’t miss some signs when there are just two of you that live and work together, cases of soda we don’t drink, more chips and dips than we can eat show up, and mysterious phone calls. I asked about the soda and was given the response “I have a hankering for something different”. I laughed out loud and so did he. I finally asked what day I had free that weekend, then if I should shower and put on makeup on Sunday. The answer was “you might want to do that”. The main answer was that “nothing” was happening on Sunday. I received a call from a friend on my birthday and I asked them to come by on Sunday because “nothing” was going on that day. I turned to my Husband and asked what time “nothing”  was happening and he said “about 2”.

His big surprise was he didn’t tell me who he invited. I knew my Mom and Sister were coming, but didn’t know about anyone else. It was wonderful! It was amazing to see who came to my party. Of course, most were local, but several drove almost two hours or more to celebrate with me. There were unexpected gifts, a “fifty” tiara and beads, a huge cake, and more food than we could ever eat. The women in my Husband’s family couldn’t believe he could pull off this party and have enough food, so they brought extra! We could have fed the whole town! The most precious gifts were the handmade cards by little hands, little origami figures hidden around our house, and most of all the company of the people that attended. It’s unexpected times like those where you can actually see how you have touched people. It was a blessing and filled me with joy.

My friend Charlie McFadden didn’t make it to 50. He lost his battle with cancer Monday at 49. There had been an amazing benefit for him several months ago. I was able to talk to him a bit then, but there were so many people there and not the place to catch up. I didn’t follow up much after that, hoping to hear on Facebook how he was doing well. He went back to work and seemed to be doing well, but then the cancer became stronger and he started to deteriorate. I was going to stop in a visit with him while I was at home for my Sister’s birthday at the end of August. I was so looking forward to seeing him again, but alas, time was not to permit it. He had started going downhill fast and was unable to have visitors. I felt so selfish, thinking I was taking up precious family time to come by and try to make up for time I should have taken over the years to be a real friend.

I met Charlie the first day of first grade. We were a small school in Cooks Mills, Illinois, housing six grades in three rooms. There were little more than a dozen of us in first grade and that was the core of my school world until high school graduation. At graduation, our class size was near 400, but there was always a special bond with that first grade class. At our class reunions, as many, the group is much smaller as the years go by, but our core group seems to try to attend. In fact, our last reunion was held by one our group at their home/horse arena. Facebook has brought many of us together again and we had a reunion of our middle school group, when we all went to Humboldt School. I got to see Charlie then, but didn’t visit as long then.

My last memory of really getting to visit with Charlie was at the last class reunion. We were able to sit and visit for quite a while. That was wonderful. It was like we had never been apart. I don’t know what reaction other people had with him, but for me, Charlie was like a warm blanket. When I was around him, I just relaxed immediately, I never felt judged or looked down upon, just accepted and always happy to be with you. He was one of those rare people where I could have sat with in silence and never felt an uncomfortable moment. Charlie was special to me even though we never had much to do with one another in high school and didn’t see each other after high school until maybe 20 some years afterwards. Now he is gone.

Maybe it is age that pulls your thoughts back to the people you knew early on in your life. Those people had an impact on who you are today, how you accept people, deal with life, and feel about your life now. I will always call those people my friends, even if we never speak again. I’m so glad Charlie had the opportunity at his benefit to feel the love I felt at my “Nothing”. I can almost imagine the overwhelming feelings of awe and love that he must have felt at that event. I missed my visit, but there will be plenty of time for that later. Until then…

Learning to live….

I’ve been afraid of changing, ’cause I built my world around you. Time makes you bolder, children get older, and I’m getting older too.” ~ Stevie Nicks, Landslide

I am an Aunt. I was blessed not to have children. By that I mean I was not ready to have children until the last decade. I went through the no self-esteem method of choosing men until about 36 or so, then when I met a man I would have wanted to have children with, my body had betrayed me and it was not possible. I think it was destined for me, because my Husband is more than happy not to have children and it just be us. But we are damned good at being Aunt Bleu (my favorite color and nickname) and Uncle Will.

We have one nephew and three nieces. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be a parent, if the emotions I have as an Aunt are just a touch of those of a parent. Every time I see them, my heart skips a beat. Their ages are; 5, 9, 15, and 20. It’s such a joy and at the same time so painful watching them grow up. Hearing their early words, those small feet running to give you a big hug, and watching them develop into beautiful men and young women pulls at my heart and fills it with joy. But watching them go through the pains and suffering of not only youth, but additional sufferings that I will not speak of here tears at my very soul.

I can only empathize with parents as their children grow up that I would take an eternity of eye rolls and hand-hipped foot stomps than watch the pains that we humans put ourselves and others through, touch the forever little ones that are our hearts. The famous quote about what does not kill me makes me stronger (paraphrased) doesn’t seem to apply to being an Aunt. What does not kill my nieces or nephew may make them stronger, but it sure kills a little part of me. Maybe that’s why we do survive as children and young adults. As we go through life, those who have gone before us suffer to give of themselves so that we may live. I guess that may be what Christ-like behavior really is after all.

TTYL


Hello, my name is Crystal and I am on Pinterest…

Follow Me on Pinterest

People thought that My Space was a huge waste of people’s time, then came Facebook. Now enter the female heroin of cyberspace…Pinterest.

They are evil. You hear a whisper of this new website, but you need an invitation. I fell for that with gmail, but I like my gmail, so how bad can this be? I want in. I get my invitation and open the page to a dream!

Remember when Sears, JCPenny and others used to mail out those HUGE catalogs? Mom used to have us play this game when I think she wanted us to be quiet. She would hand us each a big catalog with some paper and tell us we had a certain amount of money to spend. The first one to spend the exact amount of money won. Then, we got to look at what each other spent the money on. In hindsight, maybe it wasn’t the best financial management training game, but it was fun!

Pinterest is almost like that game, only you can add anything from anywhere!!! As a catalog lover, it’s like getting to peruse all of your friend’s catalogs and shopping lists without all of the cumbersome paper! Help me!

I am addicted now. I just keep adding and adding and adding pins! I am trying to figure out how to have my Husband add the little “P” to our clock website (www.willygoodclocks.com) so other people can share all of the beautiful products we carry! (insert maniacal laughter here) I don’t know how many pins I can have, but there seems to be new stuff daily, hourly, by the minute! In fact, I have had to check it twice while writing this post!

I could rationalize it by saying it is a good way to share recipes, thoughts, tips with other people. It’s not. It’s my way of guiding everyone to think like I do, like what I do, do what I do! Muwaahhaaahaa!

So, if you would like to participate in my world domination, click on the icon at the top of the post and join me…follow me.

TTYL

Seasons pass

He shut his eyes. June dawns, July noons, August evenings over, finished, done, and gone forever with only the sense of it all left here in his head. Now, a whole autumn, a white winter, a cool and greening spring to figure sums and totals of summer past. And if he should forget, the dandelion wine stood in the cellar, numbered huge for each and every day. He would go there often, stare straight into the sun until he could stare no more, then close his eyes and consider the burned spots, the fleeting scars left dancing on his warm eyelids; arranging, rearranging each fire and reflection until the pattern was clear….

So thinking, he slept.

And, sleeping, put an end to Summer, 1928. – Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Our landscaping skills are minimal. The lawn is mowed, but other than that, we aren’t very good with it. We live about a block off of a highway with an open lot between us and about 10 miles of open fields. Trying to fight the dandelions is a losing battle. There was only one year where we had a fighting chance. The summer my Husband’s Grandfather spent a couple of weeks with us. That man would go out in the yard and spend hours patiently digging around the base of the flowers and pulling them out by the dozens. We told him he didn’t have to do it, but it seemed to be a challenge from Nature to go out there and get rid of them.

I always liked dandelions. I have always been so intrigued by their tenacity to survive. They emerge from the green below us with a reflection of the sun above and when their life cycle is almost over, they reach out and send their seedlings out into the wind, into the world to survive and carry on their legacy. It’s a natural metaphor for our own lives.

We got the call at about 11:18 pm last night. Calls at that time of night are calls you don’t really want to answer. My Husband’s Grandpa, Mahlon Miller, went home to God last night. He was 96 years old. The past few years he had been living in Arizona. Will’s Aunt and her family lives there and the it was nice that they were able to enjoy his last years with them. Illinois winters apparently aren’t good on old bones as I’m beginning to notice myself even now.

I’m very glad we got to spend the time we did with him when he stayed with us a few times. My maternal Grandfather died before my parents were married and my paternal Grandpa died when I was a teenager, so it was nice to be able to enjoy spend time with him. He was an integral part of our wedding. He helped me pick out my wedding dress (you can see it in the about me section). He was so sweet. When I put on the dress, his peacock blue eyes lit up and that small, sweet smile crossed his lips. I knew this was the right one.

He always wanted to be doing something. When he came here, my Husband had someone to play with. We had a pool table and they both played. The topper we had for the table had an insert where one side was for ping pong and the other for “air” hockey. The evenings were spent playing any of those games, watching Wheel of Fortune and playing cards.

The days were spent in the shop where my Husband carries out the work of his Grandpa’s passion. Clocks. Wil, my Husband, used to tell me stories about Grandpa’s house. Legend has it that everywhere there was a spot on the wall, there was a clock. I can’t imagine!

When Grandpa downsized for the first time, Wil received a couple of clocks from him. One was a clock his Grandpa built. Wil said he watched him build the case. Grandpa was a plumber by trade, but it sounds like he was a jack of many trades. Grandpa didn’t really work on the movements, but liked to tinker with them. When we tried to get the clock Grandpa gave him worked on, we had a very difficult time finding someone to work on it. Wil decided if he was going to collect them, he needed to work on them.

There was born Willy’s Tick-Tock Clock Shop and later www.willygoodclocks.com. He sought out and found training and used his business background to develop a business plan. He left his position as a Nursing Home Administrator and began a clock repair business. A couple of years after he started the business, we built the other half of the workshop into a showroom to sell new clocks and he built the website. I still worked outside the home, but we did put my graphic arts skills to work developing our first signage.

Grandpa never got to see the final result before he moved to Arizona, but when he was here with us he was in the shop. Grandpa would watch Wil work, play solitaire and get our dog Friday in trouble. I know Wil loved that time with his Grandpa and will cherish those memories.

There is so much about Grandpa that could be told, but some of it, he kept to himself. He was a good husband, father, brother and friend. He was a plumber and landlord. He was also like many men of his age, a soldier. Again, like many other soldiers of World War II, he didn’t want to talk about his experiences very often or for very long. He was in the Navy on the smallest air craft carrier in the fleet. When I looked up his ship, the Talugi (I may have misspelled it), but the ship was a both Normandy and Iwo Jima. That ship saw many things and so did Grandpa, but we will never know much about that.

Arrangements have not been made as yet, but the coming together to celebrate a life long and well lived will be of mixed feelings. The good memories of Grandpa will live on as long as people that knew him are still here as well. Here at our house, one of his dandelion seeds took hold though my Husband and his clock business. Seasons pass and time goes on, but we still continue through those we love in one way or another.

God’s speed Grandpa.

So long and thanks for all the fish

I have had people tell me that I can be cold at times. I had an astrological chart done one time and it said that I my personality was conducive to being either a saint or a mafia boss. I suppose both of those life paths need control over their emotions and the ability to maintain rational thought during a crisis. I am far from either position, but I hope I am leaning toward the saint. I do a lot of people watching. I think part of it comes from a lack of socialization as a child. I love the show Dexter and can somewhat relate in a way when he watches people to see how they respond to different situations. I guess that comes from feeling like you never fit in. I have dabbled in art for most of my life and have always been fascinated with the human body and faces. Being able to read people’s faces and body language has come in handy over the years. It can be a survival mechanism.

I don’t like drama and I think most of those people that have accused me of being cold have been wrapped up in their own drama and I didn’t feed into it. I empathize with people that have been dealt problems that they had no control over, but most of the problems that we have in our lives are a result of choices that we have made over time. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t judge people on their choices, but there comes a time where we need to recognize the choices we make and acknowledge them. That doesn’t mean we won’t continue to make bad choices, but hopefully we will recognize them quicker and resolve the consequences quicker.

I have been a worst case scenario thinker for a long time. I feel more comfortable planning for crisis and being able to say “well, that went better than I thought it would”. I worked for a number of years with people that live with Developmental Disabilities. We had group homes, a children’s home and people that lived in the community on their own. If you did not plan for the disasters, it wasn’t just your butt on the line. Plus, you had to try to keep one step ahead of staff people and the problems they brought with them. Staff are nothing if not creative. There was a staff member one time that had developed a “Sugar Daddy” relationship with a local attorney. Which is a perfectly fine relationship if both parties are agreed on what they both want and they don’t bring it to the workplace. They asked the other staff person to act like one of the residents, so she could have the attorney stop by the house. The staff person that called us didn’t know if there were drugs involved or not. There was an impromptu stake-out, calls to the police and I believe a termination meeting.

I applied to a secretarial job after 12 years of putting out fires, dealing with the state and employees, sometimes violent behavioral incidents, DCFS, police, and pagers. It was in a agricultural related field. In my interview, they were a bit taken aback when they said “the customers can sometimes be unhappy and would I be able to handle someone like that?” and I horse laughed. I believed that being certified to teach Non-Violent Physical Crisis Intervention, having implored someone to hit me with the baseball bat instead of someone else, dealing with a woman whose husband put a hit out on me (in some places $40 and a carton of cigarettes will get you a lot), and having a staff member try to blackmail me with false accusations probably meant I could handle an irate farmer.

I suppose that’s why I have little patience for “drama”. When people would complain about a rough meeting, I would pull out my award winning topper: “Have you ever sat across from a man and had to have a discussion regarding masturbatory lubricant alternatives to feces?” Once the horrified look faded they usually felt better about their meeting.

The human being’s ability to use others has always amazed me. A good portion of time helping people in the community was devoted to trying to educate them on how not to be taken by someone else. Even when someone had barely enough to survive, there was always someone else that seemed to think “I could use that”. It’s very difficult to teach how to spot a con or a user without teaching the process itself. After living this long, I now see it happens at all levels of society.

Before we were married, my Husband’s family took us along on a family vacation. They love to go on cruises. They get very good deals and I really enjoyed myself. We went on a seven-day cruise from Miami to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and St. Thomas. In my mind, my favorite moments were the still, quiet ones. We stood on the bow of the ship one night and I saw the stars from horizon to horizon and for the first time understood how sailors could steer by the stars. I got up early when we were coming in to San Juan and stood silent on the deck with a few like-minded passengers and watched the sun rise over the island.  The sounds of the waves crashing into the ship as we plowed through the sapphire waters of the Atlantic. Those are my favorite memories of the trip.

We did several excursions that were a lot of fun. We went out on a smaller boat to a submarine and got to see the coral reef off of St. Thomas at a depth of about 100 feet. We took a “party boat” to a secluded beach and spent a couple of hours. The other excursion we went on was in the Bahamas. We took a separate boat out to the “Blue Lagoon” island. They have a place there where they have habitat for Dolphins. The island was beautiful. You had a couple of options, you could get in a pool with the Dolphins or rent a wetsuit and swim with them. I chose the first as 1) I don’t swim, and 2) I would look like a Sea Lion in the wet suit and I didn’t want to scare the poor creatures!

The pool was a bit chilly, but we got in a few at a time and in came the Dolphins and their trainers. These are some amazing creatures! A miracle of aerodynamics and intelligence. One trainer brought a Dolphin toward me. I got to stroke the skin and the trainer signaled and the Dolphin came forward for a hug and a kiss. I was fascinated at first and then disappointed in the whole experience. The only reason this amazing creature interacted with me was because they were getting some fish afterwards.

I know, I could look at the whole world this way. Sales people are only nice to you because they want to make a sale (maybe not so much in some places), politicians are nice to you because they want your vote, the bartender listens to you in hopes of a tip, strippers are only nice to you when you have a fistful of dollars, and Dolphins only come around when there is a promise of fish. People that come into your life wanting something you have will just take and say “So long”. I have actively tried in the past few years to try to surround myself with people where I have nothing they need. I hope by that, they are around me for me for the purpose of getting to know me, not what they can get from me. I hope I can be that kind of friend to others.

So now you know the meaning of the title of my blog, dolphins and strippers. I hope that doesn’t mean your done checking in with me.

BTW, if you were wondering…creamy peanut butter. 🙂