Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Water is My Friend

Yes, I have a long way to go.
Yes, I have a long time to get there.
(Why do those two lines remind me of a song?)
But, I'm making progress.

This morning, I was able to swim one full lap, face down, doing the crawl stroke. Now I'm sure it wasn't pretty, but I'm pretty sure I didn't look like the guy next to me (which is a good thing). As I've been swimming, and learning TI Swimming technique, I've begun noticing other swimmers. The guy in the lane next to me this morning is a better swimmer than me (for now). But I think my technique is improving. He looked awkward. On each right hand stroke, he would lift his head up, then turn to the side, then put his head back down.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not making fun of him, or his technique. Unlike me, he is able to swim across the pool, using a crawl stroke, multiple times. By noticing these other swimmers, I'm trying to use their technique to improve my own. Obviously I can't see myself, but I think I'm improving. I'm getting better at turning my head (without lifting it), and this morning I was even able to start breathing on both sides, every third stroke (awkward as it currently is).

This was an encouraging morning, enough so that I think by February I might be able to swim at least part of the half-mile swim (in the triathlon) using the crawl stroke. I've also been practicing my patented move: the roll over from front crawl to back stroke (no official name for it yet). When I get water in my nose, or feel like I'm not getting enough breath, I just roll over and keep swimming, using the back stroke. When I feel comfortable, I take a deep breath and roll back into the crawl stroke.

I'm also practicing holding my breath, while I'm swimming. I swam nearly half the length of the pool while holding my breath. And, I felt pretty relaxed while doing it.

On another fitness front, I'm getting used to my new diet. Soon it will just be a way of life, instead of diet.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Eating Healthy

This last week I had four medical appointments in three days. Tuesday, I met with Dr. Wear, a chiropractor who utilizes non-traditional healing techniques. He used some interesting techniques, testing my strength, identifying food sensitivities, and used lasers to realign my energy. After he was done, I felt taller. I have no idea why, but there was definitely a change.

Wednesday I met with Dr. Roberts, my primary physician, to talk about alternative blood thinners, and diet. Then Thursday I went in for an infusion of Rituxan, a treatment for my rheumatoid arthritis. This infusion was supposed to be last week, but after the nurse, Anne, got the IV started, before she started any of the meds, I nearly blacked out. She was asking some questions and I could feel the blood drain from my face.
"I don't feel so good."
"You don't look good. Your color matches the [white] wall behind you. Maybe you should lay back."
My blood pressure dropped to 55/60. It took a while, and never did come up to normal, but eventually it came up enough that my color came back, I was able to stand up, and they let me drive home. No infusion that day. Anne called my doctor who said that wasn't happening. Apparently they have a small window of acceptable blood pressure. Obviously, I wasn't in that accepted range.

I've never had a problem with needles. I go in often for regular blood work. I give myself injections. Needles don't bother me at all. So what happened? I don't know and neither do the doctors.

I went back in this week, hoping it wouldn't happen again. I'll tell you now, I didn't black out, my blood pressure stayed fine, but not everything went well.

First, my hands and forearms were too cold, which meant my veins were really small. Anne couldn't find anything to even try. She gave me a heating pad and I kept it wrapped around my left arm for 10 minutes or so. Once my veins were warmed up, and a bit bigger, Anne tried to start the IV again, but the first vein didn't work, so she had to try again. The second attempt worked just fine, and as she was taping it down, she jerked her left hand. It looked to me like she waved at something with her right hand, like something flew in her face, but I didn't see what happened. When she did, her left hand yanked out the IV. Vein #2 blown.

Now we had to restart the process, going back to the hot pad, using it on my right arm. Attempt #3 was successful and we were able to start the 5 hour infusion process, about an hour later than originally planned.

I'm guessing the "side effects" I've experienced are related to the infusion. Keep in mind, my body is used to napping nearly every day. Thursday I was up around 6am, went to the infusion center around 8, and was up all day. In fact, I was wide awake until 4am Friday morning, finally falling asleep about the time I should be headed to the gym (which I didn't do). I slept for maybe 4 hours, then was up for all Friday, not falling asleep until 1:30am Saturday morning. Crazy!

I drove directly from the infusion center, back to the chiropractor's office to meet with his wife, Pam. She has a doctorate in something (I didn't read her diploma), and she's a nutritionist. She spent almost an hour with me talking about food, diet, and eating habits. The result is, we're completely changing what I eat.

  1. I have to eat way more protein. I haven't been eating very much protein, probably only 30-40 grams on a good day, more often 15 grams. According to Pam, I need to be eating 90 grams of protein per day to feed my lean body mass. (Despite my appearance and the excess of fat on my body, I do have  LEAN body mass.)
  2. I need to be eating more fat, good fat. So I'll be cooking with real butter instead of margarine, olive oil instead of canola oil.
  3. I need a lot more veggies, but the right kind of veggies. I need to stay away from the sweet veggies - peas, carrots, corn - at least for a short time.
  4. I need to drastically reduce my carb intake. I would guess 85% of my diet has been carbs, which just feeds my fat.
  5. I'm supposed to start eating 5 or 6 times a day, to keep my blood sugar levels more stable. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, mid-morning snack, mid-afternoon snack, and something before I go to bed.
Yesterday I went grocery shopping. Buying healthy food is expensive, and all the packages seem to be a lot smaller than the big bags of cheetos.

Hopefully these changes will spur some weight loss. Hopefully the alternative treatments will work. If they do, maybe I'll be able to stop using some of the many prescriptions I'm on. I'd love to be drug free, controlling my RA with diet and exercise. Maybe someday.



Monday, November 28, 2011

Total Immersion Swimming Progress

It seems so simple:

  • put my face in the water
  • exhale
  • turn to the right, mouth above the waterline
  • inhale
  • repeat
I find it frustrating that I can't just do it. Why oh why didn't I learn how to swim properly when I was 6?
Even so, I'm making progress, be it every so slowly.

I'm becoming much more comfortable in the water. While doing the backstroke, which is the stroke I use to swim laps (at least until I can become a real swimmer), I'm more comfortable with how my body moves in the water. I'm getting used to rotating my body as I pull with my arms, and letting my legs and feet streamline is becoming very natural, almost happening without thinking about it. Part of Total Immersion Swimming is resting the legs more than using them, the two-beat kick as it's called. I'm getting better at allowing my feet to remain still, using them mostly for balance, and not for propulsion.

When my body is rotated with the right side down (toward the bottom of the pool), I pull with my right arm and kick once with my right foot. I rotate left, and do the same with the left side. My body awareness is increasing too. I can tell when my feet get too high in the water and when my kick is above the water line, creating bubbles instead of balance.

I've been practicing my TI crawl stroke, while using the snorkel. I concentrate on streamlining my body:
  • reach with the right hand
  • relax the hand
  • head in line with my spine, and relaxed
  • legs relaxed and streamlined
Using Terry Laughlin's advice, I'm trying to be "lazy" about getting my forward hand into position. I'm sure the people on the second floor who might be watching, think I'm moving in slow motion. But the key things is, I'm developing techniques that will help me later on.

I've seen several videos demonstrating technique practice, so I've been trying to practice those too.
  1. the superman float: both hands out front, head relaxed and in position, leisurely, consistent kick.
  2. both hands by my sides, rotating my body left side down, then right side down, learning to maintain my balance in the water.
  3. one side streamlining: kicking for propulsion, leaving one hand out front, body rotated properly, moving my head in and out of the water.
I'm also trying to develop a proper breathing rhythm, which is the bane of my swimming experience. I'm getting better, but I want to be able to do it now. I've discovered that when I'm snorkeling, very little, if any, water gets in my nose. But when the snorkel is out, I can't keep the water out of my nose. So today I started practicing a short exhale out my nose, then finishing through my mouth, before rotating my head up for a breath. I can do it great in the spa, pretty good in the kiddie pool (which is only 3 feet deep) and a total fail in the lap pool. One step at a time, right?

I don't know if I'll be able to swim the crawl for the February triathlon, but at least I have a chance. I keep hoping that one day something will just click, my body will understand what's supposed to be happening, and I'll start swimming, like a real swimmer.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Poco a Poco

Today I swam for 75 minutes, without a break. In order to complete an Ironman, I'll have to be able to swim for more than 2 hours without a stop (2:20 is the time cutoff for the swim leg). I was thinking that I am really far off being able to do that, even being 5 years away. But my first 1/2 mile was 40 minutes. I just need to get that distance down to 30 minutes, which feels doable (at least it did in the pool this morning).

Today I also made my first meal from my new gluten-free cookbook: Potato-Egg Bake. It as a quiche like thing, and it was delicious. This weekend I did some GF grocery shopping, and found my new favorite crackers. Blue Diamond (the almond people), makes a product called "Almond Nut-Thins." They're gluten free and they're very tasty. The package didn't last very long. I'm going to have to work on that - limiting portions.

I also found a GF brownie mix. I doubt it's going to be as good as Ghirardelli brownies, but I could be wrong.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Networking

I read an article touting the benefits of networking. Everyone does it, it seems. My dad is a master networker.

Problem is, I don't know who I should be networking with, or why.
Do I network with school counselors? I'm not going to be able to go back to school counseling.
Do I network with private practice counselors? I'm not yet healthy enough to start or join a private practice.
Do I network with photographers? I love photography, but I'm not interested in turning it into a business.

So if I were to network ... with whom would I? I don't have an answer to that question. At least not yet.

If any of you readers (I think there are at least 7 of you) have any ideas/answers, feel free to contribute.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Adult Onset Swimmer



As I was laying/floating, staring up at the ceiling of the Nampa Rec Center, I had a lot of time to think, about a lot of things. In my quest to become an Ironman, I have several concerns. First, I'm not sure how my wrists are going to handle riding a real bike. On the stationary bike, I spend a lot of the time riding "no-hands." I don't have to steer, I don't have to balance the bike, I just focus on pedaling. The arthritis in my wrists has caused some severe limitations. My wrists are weak, have limited range of motion, and tire quickly. How am I going to be able to ride 112 miles, during which I have to maintain a grip on the handlebars?

True, I do have 5 years to figure out a solution. I thought maybe I could use one of those recumbent bicycles.
recumbent bicycle 1 aUcSM 17621

But I tried one at the rec center (a stationary one, obviously), and I found it less than comfortable. I'm sure I could get used to it over the next few years, I guess. It's also possible that my wrists will improve or strengthen, allowing me to hold on to the handlebars. If my core strength, specifically my abs, was stronger, there would be less pressure on my wrists.

My other concern is being able to swim, and by swim I mean the front crawl stroke. However, I'm making progress. Over the last two days, I might even call it significant progress. Spending more time in the pool has allowed me time to gain some awareness of my swimming issues (I know that sounds like counselor-speak, but ...).

I don't like the bubbles rising in my face. I have no idea why that would cause me panic - albeit small panic - but it does, or rather, has. I've been practicing exhaling underwater, becoming more comfortable. After swimming laps, I spend time at the edge of the pool (standing), practicing my breathing. Exhale underwater, turn to the right, inhale, repeat.

This practice has revealed another issue: my breathing. I'm finding it difficult to establish a good breathing pattern. I've learned that when I exhale underwater, I tend not to exhale enough. Which means that when I turn to inhale, my lungs are mostly full. The inhale is only "topping off the tank;" it's very uncomfortable. So I'm learning to finish the exhale when I turn to the right, then inhale. It means there's a pause in my swimming stroke, but that's okay. I'm learning to match my breathing to my stroke. As part of the practice, I've added the swimming motion with my right arm. The Total Immersion Swimming system works on reaching with the forward hand while rotating the body. I'm adding that in my practice.

The next step will be to practice with both arms (probably while still standing). The next step after that, maybe swimming a few strokes to see if I can put it all together.

While practicing the Superman Float (so labeled by TISwimming), I've discovered another area of concern, and of potential growth. When floating face down, I start to panic when my head goes completely underwater. I can feel the water close over my head. Even though I have a snorkel in my mouth, and I know there's plenty of air, something in me still screams, "You can't breathe when you're underwater!!"

I'm overcoming that, learning to calm down. I've become acutely aware of my body position in the water. Inhale, I float up; exhale, I sink down. It's actually becoming a comforting movement. I'm learning that no matter how much I exhale, I'm not going to sink to the bottom of the pool.

I still have a long way to go, but I also have a long time to get there. Even as recently as last week, I didn't think I'd be able to front crawl by the triathlon in February. But now ... I think it might be possible. And if I can do that, my swim split will be amazing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life Change, Major Life Change

Several years ago I had some tests done to reveal my food allergies. Those tests revealed that, although none of the allergies are serious (they're really just sensitivities) I'm allergic to everything I like. The only thing on the list that I've given up: milk. I love milk. I could drink a gallon a day, and often did. Now that I've been off it for quite a while, I don't miss it very often.

Those tests also revealed that I'm sensitive to gluten. Consider this Reason #1 for the life change.

Since I've set this goal of competing in an Ironman Triathlon (I've changed that goal from 6 years to 5 years, hoping I can find an event on my 50th birthday. Wouldn't that be a great birthday present to myself?), I need to accomplish a number of things in order to meet that goal.





  1. I need to become a better swimmer. I'm working on this two ways. 
    1. I swim nearly every day. Today I was able to swim 30 minutes without any break. I didn't keep track of how far I went, just the time. At the end of the 30 minutes I was doing well. My heart rate was at a good pace, my breathing was relaxed, my muscles also relaxed. I could have gone longer, but didn't think it wise to try to push too hard until I know what I can actually do.
    2. I'm learning the Total Immersion Swimming technique, slowly, with baby steps. For now, I'm trying to swim as relaxed as possible. Swimming doesn't require use of all muscles and using unnecessary muscles just wastes energy.
  2. I need to increase my cardio fitness, which is being accomplished through stationary biking and utilizing my heart rate monitor.
  3. I need to lose weight, 50-60 pounds.
In my research about triathlons and rheumatoid arthritis, I've come across multiple articles touting the benefits of a gluten-free diet for people with RA. I've avoided a gluten-free diet because ... well, just because. I don't want to give up bread and doughnuts and pasta and the other 14,487,963 things in which gluten is an ingredient. But it's time. Medication is not adequately treating my arthritis. I need to try some natural remedies, like diet change. Consider this Reason #2 for the life change.

When I started working out August 1, 2011, I weighed 245. I quickly dropped to 237, which was encouraging. I weighed this morning and I've gained weight: 249. What?!? And no, it's not an extra 12 pounds of muscle because I've been working out. I need to lose weight, for my health, for my arthritis, and for my state of mine. Consider this Reason #3 for the life change.

For these 3 reasons, I am starting a gluten-free diet. Today I bought a gluten-free recipe book. Looking through it I had the thought, "I've made these foods." There are recipes like "Meatloaf" which are gluten-free. It's not like I'm going to lose all the foods I like. I'm just going to have to be more aware of what I eat. I know the pounds aren't just going to drop off, or melt like butter. But if I keep working out regularly, and eat healthy foods, the weight loss will come. The increased fitness will come. And the goal of becoming an Ironman will happen.


Friday, October 28, 2011

My Favorite Place in the Whole World

Wendell, Idaho
More specifically, the elementary school, the middle school, and the high school.

Yesterday I visited Wendell. It's been almost exactly one year since I resigned as the elementary and middle school counselor there. I've missed the people of Wendell every day since then.

I started out at the middle school, standing in my circle. Yes, I can call it "my circle" because it says "Mr. M's Circle of Character" right on the floor; it's permanent-ish. Seeing the reaction of people walking, watching their faces when they first spotted me - it was a huge ego builder. So many of them said they were happy to see me, but truth is, I was much happier to see them. I got more hugs yesterday than I've gotten in the previous year. Don't get me wrong: I love hugging my family. But no matter how much I love them, I'm not going to give/get 500 hugs a day from my family.

One of the reasons I left Wendell was that my repressed immune system couldn't handle the constant onslaught of germs. Of course I could have avoided much of the problem by never hugging any of the students, or holding their hands, or comforting crying kids. But that simply was not an option for me. I love those kids.

In two months I was in school last year (September and October 2010), I used all my sick days. In the year since I've been gone, I haven't been sick once. Of course there's the no voice thing and the arthritis, but I haven't had a single cold or the flu. That seems like a pretty good indication that leaving has been good for my health.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just Keep Swimming

I made it back to the Rec Center this morning, with a plan to add some time to my workout. Since there wasn't a group cycling class this morning, I rode one of the stationary bikes overlooking the pool area. My plan was to ride 2 hours, but apparently the bike only lets riders go for 99:59. After it stopped, I lost the momentum and decided that was long enough. During that time I covered about 24 miles of virtual road - not too bad.

Tuesdays and Thursdays I work on my lower body in the weight room. It's not a huge workout: leg press, leg extension, leg curl. After the weights, I hit the pool. Most days I keep track of how many laps I swim. Today I decided to just swim. I was in the pool for an hour. During that time I also worked on snorkeling. I'm getting more comfortable having my face in the water. With 6 years to train for an Ironman Triathlon, I think I have enough time to become a competent swimmer

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ironman, Leg 2

When I'm floating in the pool, doing my version of a backstroke (which hardly creates a ripple), I have a lot of time to think. Only twice have I gotten so distracted that I ran into the wall because I wasn't watching where I was. I only hoped nobody noticed.

Today, during my ceiling-staring time, I made a decision, and a goal: I'm going to finish an Ironman Triathlon. Obviously I'm a long way from being able to complete a course that long, but it seems that long-term goals have become more prevalent in my life.

My heath goals all seem to be really long term.

  • Weight loss - long term. My goal is to lose 50 pounds. I'd love to lose it all in the next week, but it seems like a year is more reasonable. Losing one pound per week is probably a healthy way to lose weight. And by losing it that slowly, I'll know that I'm creating long-term habits of healthier eating and more exercise.
  • Getting my arthritis under control - long term. The rheumatologist has some ideas, but nobody really knows what will be the most effective treatment.
  • Getting my voice back - long term. I'm on antibiotics - another round - which always brings my voice back. But as soon as I go off them, the voice leaves again. Remember I said I have a lot of thinking time in the pool? Well I came to another decision this morning. When I call my ENT in SLC, regardless of the outcome of this latest round of antibiotics, regardless of what my voice is doing at that time, I'm done trying to solve it. I've lived without a voice for nearly 2 years. I'm tired of trying this and trying that, having this test and that test, and 127 other tests. Either my voice will come back, or it won't. Either way, I'm just going to live with what I have. Now it's entirely possible I'll change my mind, but if I'm deciding today: no more experimenting.
  • Employment - long term. I wish I knew now what I'm supposed to be doing, where I'm supposed to be going, but I don't. God hasn't given me a flash of inspiration, so for the time being I'm just living day-to-day, which is the opposite of long-term living. My direction may be long-term, but my life is being lived short-term.
Back to the Ironman Triathlon ...

It's a lot longer than the mini triathlon I finished this month. Plus, I'll have to improve a lot just to be able to compete and make the time cut-offs.
  • 2.4 mile swim ... 2 hour 20 minute limit
  • 112 mile bike ... 8 hour 10 minute limit (10:30 after the official start)
  • 26.2 mile run ... 6 hour 30 minute limit (17 hours after the official start, midnight)
I think I could do all those distances today, but slowly.
  • The 2.4 mile swim would take me about 5 hours. I've been swimming 1/2 mile in the mornings, which takes me about an hour. It's not non-stop; I do take breaks.
  • The 112 mile bike ride would take me 9 to 10 hours.
  • The marathon would take about 9 hours. I can walk 3 mph, and I can do that a long time.
Total time for me would be: 24 hours, 7 hours over the time limit. Plus, there's no nap time scheduled in that day.

So I have a lot of work to do. The thing is though, I think I can do it. I'm sure I'll be one of the last finishers, but I'm hopeful. I feel like a goal this big helps tie my long term goals together with my short term living. I can't complete this in a year, so my time frame is to finish an Ironman in 2017. To accomplish that, I need to keep going to the gym one day at a time. All I can do is workout today, eat healthy today, get plenty of rest today, focus on my health today. Add up enough days and I'll be ready. Between now and then I'll need to find some other, shorter triathlons to participate in. The first one will be in February 2012. It'll be interesting to see the improvement (I'm taking for granted there will be improvement) between now and then.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Next Step

I can't say I'm hooked, but after competing in my first triathlon, I definitely want to do another. Although I'm not sure I'd call what I did "competing." Participating is probably more accurate, especially since I finished 3rd to last. Not that I'm discounting my performance. For the shape I'm in, and this being my first event, I was just happy to finish.

The Rec Center is hosting a longer event in February: 1/2 mile swim, 10 mile bike, 4 mile run. So now I'm training for that event. Today I walked to the Rec Center (a little over a mile), biked 10 miles, lifted weights, swam 1/2 mile (first time I've done that), then walked home. I did the swim in about 40 minutes, the bike in about 40 minutes, and I'm guessing I can do the 4 mile walk in about 90 minutes.

On the water front, I'm trying to become a better swimmer. I don't know why, but it freaks me out to put my face in the water. I wouldn't call it panic, but it's definitely an issue. So I'm taking baby steps (or baby splashes). I bought a snorkel, and today was able to keep my face in the water for about a minute, long enough for my breathing to go from near-hyperventilating to merely panting. My goal? I'm not sure. I just want to get over this irrational fear and be able to swim like a real person.

I'm not sure how much faster I'll be able to do any of these events. My RA limits how quickly I can move. But, by February I should be 30 pounds lighter, and my cardiovascular fitness should be significantly better by then.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

♫ The Long and Winding Road ♪

Monday I had an appointment with my ENT doctor in Salt Lake City. Not much new - he gave me a stronger prescription for acid reflux, and another round of antibiotics. I'll call him in six weeks with any progress, and we'll discuss what to do from then.

Normally I take I-84 - it's about a 6 hour trip. On the way down I stopped for lunch with the Nebeker family and had such a good time. This trip, instead of coming back the same way, I decided to go through Nevada. After my appointment I headed west on I-80 with a plan to spend the night in Elko and finish the trip home on Tuesday. I came this way so I could stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats, a place I've never visited before. Before I got there, I passed by The Tree of Utah.


My next stop was the Bonneville Salt Flats.


Had I come through 2 days later, it would have been much more exciting. The World Finals are being held there this week. I talked with one of the owner/drivers about his car. He's made some modifications from last year (bigger engine) and he's hoping to hit 220mph this week ... so so fast.

After some good picture taking time, it was time to hit the road again. If you haven't been on I-80 west of SLC, let me tell you the scenery is beautiful, the radio station choices are minimal. I hate listening to static or country music, so I turned off the radio, leaving me alone with my thoughts. Being alone with my thoughts is a good thing and a bad thing. On the one hand I get a lot done when I have time to think. On the other hand, I tend to get lost in my thoughts, and sometimes don't pay attention to things which I should be paying attention.

Don't misunderstand, I pay attention to the important things: I stay in my lane, I follow the speed limit, and I'm still a safe driver. After leaving Wendover, I was thinking about changing my original plan of staying in Elko then driving home. I was considering staying in Wells, then heading north so I could go back through Wendell and visit the schools.

For whatever reason, when I got to Wells I decided to keep driving. I'm not sure when I decided for sure to come all the way home, but it was somewhere in Nevada. One night away was enough for me. Remember that I tend to get lost in my thoughts when the radio is off. I should have turned north in Elko on Highway 225. Lost in my thoughts, I drove straight through, staying on I-80. I didn't realize my mistake until I was in Winnemucca. Had I headed north from Elko, it would have taken me about 4 hours to get home. From Winnemucca, it's about 4 hours to Nampa. The two hours between Elko and Winnemucca was just wasted time.

So I filled up in Winnemucca: fuel, pop (which I haven't had in a very long time), and candy (which I've been staying away from so I can lose weight). I figured with all that sugar and caffeine I'd be able to stay awake. I finally pulled into my driveway about 12:30, so tired.

Maybe someday I'll make that trip from Winnemucca to Nampa in the daylight so I can see where I was driving.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ironman!!

By any standards, I'm out of shape, partly because of the RA, mostly because I've been a lazy couch potato. But I'm making changes. I've been working out at the Nampa Rec Center on a regular basis, including:

  • Spinning Classes (although they're not actually Spinning, which is a trademark name, but just group cycling), 
  • lifting weights (upper body Monday, Wednesday and Friday; lower body Tuesday, Thursday, and sometimes Saturday), and
  • Swimming
Today, I competed in my first Triathlon. It was not Ironman length - they called it a Beginner's Triathlon. I swam the 1/8 mile in 7:38, which was impressive to me. In my training, the 1/8 mile swim has always taken about 10 minutes. I have no idea how I was able to take off that much time. Next was a 4 mile stationary bike ride, which I completed in 16:21, about what I expected. Last came the 1.5 mile run, which I walked. I did jog part of it, but my jog is slower than the fast walk of many/most people.

My goal was to complete the event in under an hour. My final time: 54:04. It felt really good ... tired, but good.

During my training I met Janie, who is using the same Rec Center trainer I am. This was also her first triathlon. We had so much fun talking about our training, the progress we were making, how nervous we were, and our goals. The day of the event I got to meet her husband, son and niece, who had come to support her. Great family.

Janie is a faster swimmer than me, by about 1:00. She did the bike portion two minutes faster, so she had a lead on me when I started the run. I expected her to catch up to me. I must have been walking fast, because on the last lap, I could see her in front of me. My mind said, "Go! You can catch up if you just run." My body said, "Whatever. Just keep walking." I didn't catch up, but I finished less than a minute behind her.

I heard that the Rec Center hosts another, longer triathlon in February. I'm going to compete in that one. The only way I'll be able to improve the bike and run legs is to improve my fitness. By February I should be 30 pounds lighter, which will definitely help. And if I keep working out, I'll be stronger and have better cardio capacity. I think I can make real improvement in the swim. 

I talked with a guy today (the Rec Center photographer, and a triathlon veteran) who mentioned a swim system called Total Immersion. They have a website and a youtube channel. I'm what they refer to as an "adult onset swimmer." I took swimming lessons when I was little, but I hated every minute and didn't pass, especially the swim with my face in the water skill. I still struggle with that. After watching some of the videos, I have hope that I can learn to swim, the right way.

So keep watching - I will make progress.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Four Random Stories

#1 About a month ago I was at Roaring Springs with my friends the Gallagher family. While floating around the lazy river (Officially named the Endless River), I scraped my knee on the side. It was a small wound, but since I'm on blood thinners, it took a long time to heal. This week, it was finally looking mostly healed: nice pink skin, no scab left.

Getting out of the truck, I bumped my knee on something, breaking the skin. Guess where. Yes, in the exact same spot.

*****
The last two days I've walked to the Rec Center for my morning workout. On the way back, both days, I was nearly close to almost maybe being run over by large trucks.

#2 Yesterday, as I reached the exit driveway of McDonalds, I noticed a truck getting ready to exit. So I stopped before walking in to the driveway. The driver of the truck looked left - in my direction - looked right, looked left again, then started to pull into traffic. Taking one last look to the left, he saw me, finally. He slammed on the brakes with a startled look on his face. I'm guessing he thought I appeared out of nowhere. He apologized, I let him go, then walked behind him.

#3 This morning, as I reached the exit driveway of McDonalds, there was another truck, but it was farther back. So I started walking across the driveway while keeping an eye on the truck. The driver, who was talking on his cell phone and digging into his breakfast, looked left - in my direction - looked right, looked left again, never slowing down. Keep in mind I was standing right in front of him. When he finally noticed me, the truck was about two feet from my leg. After stopping, he looked at me like I was in the wrong. How dare I walk on the sidewalk right in front of him! He didn't apologize. I guess his phone conversation was too important to interrupt for the sake of politeness.

#4 This evening as I was walking out of a sporting goods store, a young man (probably 13 or 14) was riding his brand new bike out of the store, with his mother following him. He was so excited and mom looked so proud. Twenty feet into the parking lot, I looked away, heading toward my truck. Hearing a crash-like sound, I turned around to see that junior had wrecked in the parking lot. The brand-newness of his bike lasted a whole 30 seconds! I have no idea how he did it, but it took all my willpower to not laugh out loud. Instead of testing my resolve further, I got into my truck and drove away. I didn't stick around to see the aftermath of bicycle-teenager-pavement interaction.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Health Update #47

(Yes, I realize the last update was #43, so I skipped 44, 45 and 46. I like prime numbers.)

The results of all the testing two weeks ago were back today, and Dr. Zuckerman delivered the news.

  • Bone Marrow Biopsy: Normal, even at the genetic level. Apparently there's a genetic marker for cancer, called the "FTP1L1/PDGFRa gene rearrangement." In my bone marrow there was no evidence of this, which is a good thing.
  • Echocardiogram: Normal
  • Pulmonary Function: This test showed the only abnormality. Apparently I've had asthma and never known it. When I was a teenager I had a couple of asthmatic episodes, but since then I've never been bothered. I know that if my heart rate gets above 155, I can't take a full breath. So I wear a heart rate monitor when I exercise and keep the rate below 150.
  • CT Scans: Normal. Actually, the test results show "Unremarkable" which might be a blow to my ego, but is good news health-wise. One of the test even reports that I'm "grossly normal." I don't know what that really means, but I'm going to take it as a compliment.
The eosinophylia (high count of a white blood cell subset) is apparently a result of the arthritis. Everything else has been ruled out. So now it's up to my rheumatologist to find something that will work.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Not a Couch Potato Anymore

Although I've been blaming it on the arthritis, I've been sedentary for 3 years by choice. It's really been laziness. Certainly there are days when exercising is not going to happen. There are days when it takes all I have to do everyday activities. But those days are few. There are many more days when I feel good enough to get something done, something productive and active.


Before the arthritis, I was training for a marathon. I would run 6 miles with my dogs before work, 5 days per week. On the weekends I'd run 9 miles. I wasn't fast, but it was pretty easy. However, every time I worked up to 15 miles (on weekends), I would hurt so bad that I couldn't run for a week or two. I had no idea it was the arthritis rearing it's ugly head.

So for 3 years I gave up.


August 1 I joined the Nampa Rec Center. If you've never been, it's a great facility. I've been going to Spinning class 3 days/week, lifting weights, and I've started swimming. The swimming came about because I'm training for a mini-triathlon, a beginner's event: 1/8 mile swim (in the pool), 4.5 mile bike ride (stationary bike), and 1.5 mile run (on the track, which I'll have to walk since running isn't an option anymore).

Even without the Fitness Test I took this morning (results in a few paragraphs), I knew I was really out of shape. One way I could tell: comparing myself with other members. There's a tiny little lady who wears a shirt that says, "Filer Class of 1960." That would make her about 70. On several of the weight lifting exercises I do, she and I lift the same amount. I'm sure she hasn't noticed, but I have. It's embarrassing. I'm as strong as a 70 year old woman. yay ...

Three days per week I get up for the Spinning class that starts at 5 am. We spin for about 50 minutes. My goal for the time is aerobic exercise, trying to improve my cardio. I get my heart up to about 150 beats per minute, and keep it there the whole class. The last few classes I'm noticing that I'm having to work harder to get my heart rate up. That means I'm improving.

After Spinning, I lift weights for about 30 minutes. One of the Rec Center trainers, Joy, helped me develop a workout that fits with my physical limitations. She's knowledgeable about arthritis. In the short time I've been lifting, I've increased the weights. Today I added 3 lower body exercises that I'll do two days/week.

After the weights, I swim 1/4 mile. It takes a long time because I'm a really slow swimmer. I've also discovered something else: I'm not a good swimmer. When I was young, decades ago, I could swim underwater the length of a pool. I was good at holding my breath, and a pretty fast swimmer. Now, it freaks me out to put my face in the water. I feel like I'm not going to be able to breathe, even though my face is only 2 inches underwater and I can lift it up anytime. I'm working on it. In the meantime, I do my swim back stroke. It won't work if I ever do a triathlon in a lake, but as long as I'm swimming in a pool, I can stay straight.

Now for the Fit Test results (none of which are surprising): I'm obese, inflexible, and weak.

Oh well, I guess it's a starting point. In six months I'll be much healthier.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Health Update #43

(I don't know if this is really the 43rd update - I just like the number)

Four months ago I had some blood work that showed an elevated count of eosinophyls. Eosinophyls are a subset of white blood cells. An elevated rate can be a sign of:
1. Inflammation - which would make sense because of my rheumatoid arthritis
2. Infection - which might explain my seemingly constant sinus infection
3. Allergy - which I've always had, although historically, my allergies have always/only been in the spring
4. Blood Cancer, including leukemia

 Two months ago, the blood work showed the count had gone down. I met Dr. Zuckerman at Mountain States Tumor Institute (MSTI, pronounced misty for those who aren't familiar). He wasn't overly concerned at the time, since the eosinophyl rate had gone down and said we'd meet again to see if the rate went down even further.

 This morning I had the follow-up blood work. The count had gone back up from 17% to 32%. Incidentally, I don't know what the normal range is; I think both of those counts are elevated.

Because the count is so high, Dr. Z suggested we do a bone marrow biopsy, which we did this morning. I've been through some painful things in my life.
1. I live with RA
2. I've had 3 kidney stones
3. 2 shoulder surgeries
4. Surgery on my hand

 A bone marrow biopsy is painful. First, they numbed the skin, just a small poke with a needle, a short-lived burning sensation. Then, with another needle, they numbed under the skin and the bone. That burned a little too. Once everything was numb, Dr. Z started trying to push a needle through the bone, to get to the bone marrow. It wasn't painful, but I could feel the pressure and it felt like he was putting all his weight on it. He was really digging hard.

 Three years ago my rheumatologist in Twin Falls gave me a bone density test, which showed some bone loss. I've been on calcium since then. Apparently the calcium has worked. Dr. Z said, "You have the strongest bones of anyone I've ever done this procedure on." That's good as far as the bone loss, but when the doctor is trying to push a needle through the bone - not so much.

 Twice, once he was through the bone (I think), he did something that caused shooting pain. I'm not sure I've even felt anything like that. Luckily it only lasted a few seconds. I knew I was going to make it when Dr. Z said, "We're past the worst."

 Tomorrow morning I go in for some more tests. Fortunately all these tests will be non-invasive. I'll get CT scans of my chest, abdomen and pelvis, a pulmonary function test (to see how my lungs are working), and an echocardiogram to see how my heart is doing. There are some conditions, including some cancers, that can show up in my heart and lungs before I feel any symptoms. On a positive note, Dr. Z told me that people who have some of the blood cancers are usually more sick than I am. Overall, I'm a healthy person (of course that's relative).

 I'll get the results at the end of the month.

Monday, August 8, 2011

So Embarrassing

The key to making something less embarrassing is sharing it - at least that's my opinion.

Story #1: As you may know, I have eliminated many of my belongings; I don't own very many things. Among my possessions is 2 hot pads. They're old and ratty, and mismatched, but I like them. So the other day, I lost them. For several hours I searched everywhere: I looked in all the drawers, the cupboards, the washer, the dryer, the laundry basket, the dresser (thinking maybe they got mixed with the socks and unders). They were nowhere to be found. How could I possibly lose 2 hot pads?

A while later, my nephew comes over to talk. While we're talking, I'm cleaning the kitchen. All the dishes are washed and put away, with only one thing left - the cutting board. I pick up the board and move it to the sink. Guess what was under the cutting board? Two hot pads.

Story #2: For nearly 6 years in Twin Falls, I would reach up the visor of my truck to press the automatic garage door opener button as I was backing in the driveway. For years before that, I followed the same pattern at my house in Nampa. So the habit is highly ingrained.

I've now lived in Nampa (again) since December of last year, about 8 months. I park in a car port, with no garage door and no garage door opener. Today, as I backed into the car port, I reached up to the visor to press the button; it wasn't there. Even though no one saw, I was still embarrassed.

Story #3: My friends, the Sauer's invited me over for dinner August 6th (Saturday, and Lilly's 4th birthday, by the way). Having never been to their house, I got on google maps and found the directions and copied them onto a piece of paper. To make sure I remembered to bring them, I put the directions on the counter next to the door. I knew I needed to leave about 5:15 to get there on time.

Rushing around in the afternoon, cleaning the kitchen, straightening my desk, etc., I noticed the directions. I looked at my watch and thought, "I've got to leave now if I'm going to make it on time." The printed directions helped me get right to their house, right on time. I went to the door, rang the bell, and no body answered. I waited for a bit, rang the bell again - still no answer. Looking in the front window (not in a creepy way though), it looked almost like nobody was home. So I texted Misty, "I'm here at your house. Is anybody home?" No answer to my text.

As I walked back to my car to wait for a bit, I had the thought, "I don't think today is August 6." It wasn't. I had arrived at the Sauer's 24 hours early. Have you ever sent a text and wished you could take it back? I sat in my truck thinking, "There has got to be a way to unsend that text to Misty!" Sadly, no.

I sent a second text reading: Never mind Misty. I'm a day early. The Sauer's were very kind and didn't make fun of my faux pas.

Now that I've shared my embarrassing stories, you can share the humor with me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What to do, what to do?

Thinking about what my future holds - career-wise - it seems there are always options.

I could become a Walmart Greeter. Maybe my skills as a counselor could somehow work into the greeting process. "Good morning and welcome to Walmart. By the look on your face, you seem to be having a tough morning. Is there anything I can do to help? I have a private office right over here."

For the longest time, I've had a talent for organizing things. Coupled with my recent experience of simplifying my life and eliminating clutter, I think I could provide a valuable service to other people looking to de-clutter and organize. I'm not ready to start a business, advertise and stuff like that. But maybe through word of mouth my availability to help will spread.

Private practice counseling is a possibility. I've had people in Twin Falls suggest that I would be a valuable counseling asset in the Magic Valley. I don't know how many counselors there are who are Christian, and male, but I'm guessing the number is small. I think the church I attended could offer some referrals, and maybe even a site. There seem to be some possibilities here in the Treasure Valley too. The trick is in finding the right counseling center to work in, and the right people to work with.

Provided I get a doctoral degree, I could become a counselor educator. Of course with $40,000 in student loans, pursuing another degree doesn't seem to be the prudent thing. Plus, I'm not sure I'm healthy enough to put sufficient energy into a degree.

Maybe I could mow lawns, or work at a golf course. Sitting on a mower, with the noise that drowns out the whole world - sometimes that seems like a good job. When I was a golf pro I would sometimes help the maintenance crew, mowing the rough. I could spend 8 hours just sitting on the mower, going round and round. I enjoyed it.

I could always accept a position as Presidential consultant. The past 3 presidents have asked me to work with them, advising them on the most important issues. I'm in very high demand.

The next step is going to be interesting, that's for sure.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mark agrees about Regrets

‎"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

~Mark Twain

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Blessings of Selflessness

Selfishness, I think, is putting my own interests ahead of the interests of others. What's more, selfishness is allowing my interests to hurt those around me, or damage relationships in my life - current and potential.

Before rheumatoid arthritis became such a large part of my life, I was independent. I thought that if I couldn't do something myself, it wasn't worth doing. I didn't want to impose on anyone else. By asking for help, not only was I taking advantage of those around me, I was also admitting that I was incapable, weak.

There came a point when the RA made it necessary for me to ask for help. I no longer had a choice; I was incapable and weak. Admitting that to others and myself was not noble or courageous. It was accepting the facts of my new life. So I started asking for help. I asked a Wendell family to help with yardwork. They came and mowed my lawn, pulled weeds, raked leaves. They helped me fill a drop-box full of trash to clean out my back yard. For several years, they came over any time I needed help.

I felt selfish. I was imposing on their family, their time, their energy, their kindness. At least that's how I felt, what I thought.

Turns out, I was completely wrong. Each time my friends came to help me, they thanked me for the opportunity to help. They thanked me for allowing them to help. They thanked me for blessing their lives by receiving their kindness. By giving them an outlet for their kindness and love, I was blessing them. At the same time, they were blessing me.

Selfishness results in hurt all around. Selflessness brings joy and blessing to everyone involved.

There is a new person in my life, someone who refuses to accept help. Actually, it's not always a refusal, more often its a reluctance. I want to show kindness, but I'm not allowed an opportunity for that kindness. This friend believes they're being selfish my accepting my kindness. I want to show them that refusing my kindness is more selfish than asking for it.

A selfish person demands, "You have two apples. Give me one, now." That demand ignores my feelings, takes away my options.
A selfless person asks, "You have two apples. May I have one?" That request respects my feelings, gives me options. That request honors my desire to help.

A selfish person refuses to ask for help when it's needed.
A selfless person asks for help, giving other people the opportunity to help.
A selfless person creates blessings in the life of the giver and receiver.

If you are my friend, I may ask you for help. Maybe you can help, maybe you can't. Either way, I want to strengthen my relationship with you by asking.
If you are my friend, you can ask me for help. I might be able to help, I might not be able to help. Either way, you bless my life through your request.
If you are my friend, I may give you a gift: time, attention, energy, even something material. Whatever I give, I give freely, to my friend. Honor my gift by receiving it. Allow us both to be blessed through the giving.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Regrets?

I've always been bothered by the question, "Do you have any regrets?" It's a difficult question to ask, more difficult to answer. Every choice I've ever made has influenced who I am today. If I had it to do over, if I could re-choose some things, I might decide not to eat that whole pizza (I got sick), or I might have chosen to be nicer to my sister that one time. But overall, I like who I am and I like my life. I'm here today because of the decisions I've made.

But looking back, I do have a few regrets.

I regret not learning Spanish when I was young. in junior high I took Spanish from Ms. Questad. Who knows why I enrolled - I didn't last very long. I remember learning the word "motocicleta." Other than that, I don't remember learning much. It's not Ms. Questad's fault though. I was a horrible student, mean to her, disruptive, disrespectful and unwilling to try. Looking back now, I wish I could go back to that junior high kid and let him know how important Spanish will be in his future. I would tell him that he'll end up working in a small town in Idaho, meeting some great Latino families. I'd tell him that knowing Spanish will give him a way to connect with some amazing kids. I'm trying to learn Spanish now, but esta muy dificil para mi.

I regret not being part of a young married couple. I recently went to my cousin's wedding, my young cousin's wedding. He and his new bride are still kids. They're going to grow up together, become adults together. They're going to struggle, wonder how they're going to make it, decide when to have kids, go on fun vacations together. I'll never get to experience that and I wish I could have.

I regret not having kids, my own kids. I love my Wendell kids - love them like they're my own. I love my niece and nephew, who lived with me for several years. I love the new kids in my life, two sisters and a brother whom I think God brought into my life so I'd have someone to pay attention to. Even so, I wish I had my own biological kids. I wish I had someone to call me dad.

Lastly, I regret not keeping a journal. I have a horrible memory, apparently. I used to think I had a good memory, but there is so much from my life that I just don't remember. My parents tell stories about when I was a kid and I listen thinking, "Where was I when that happened?" Someday I'd love to write a memoir, but there'd be nothing to put in it. I'd have to make up the stories, guess at how I was feeling, what I was saying.

I do like my life. I think I'm a good person and I don't want to spend my time wishing I had a different life. God has me where I am for a reason, and I'm content in my circumstances, content with my decisions.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What is this journey?

The Moors of North Africa have a saying: Choose your companions before you choose your road.

When I was in Wendell, I definitely had an incredible group of companions. The staff, administration, parents, church friends - and even students - were companions beyond compare.
With these people, the road was not so important.
With these companions, every road would be enjoyable, successful, and satisfying.
When I was in Wendell, I chose the best possible companions.

Switch thoughts for a moment.

A friend asked me how my book was coming. I told her that although I'd still like to write one, and I've written small parts here and there, I just can't find the focus; I can't seem to find a way to pull it all together. I want to write a book about contentment and simplicity.

She wondered if my difficulty is related to being in Nampa physically, yet still feeling so connected to Wendell. Mentally, emotionally, I might still be there. This division of focus and attention creates complexity rather than simplicity.

This division creates so many questions in me.

How do I focus on my current journey or my future journey when I don't have any idea what that is?
Am I supposed to forget Wendell?
How do I remain connected to the important relationships I've built in Wendell?
Where am I supposed to place my focus and attention?

I have to trust that God knows what the plan is.
I have to trust that God is direction my path, even when I can't see any indication that a path exists.

Some days that trust is much easier said than done.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What does it mean to love God?

On my way to Boise, I heard a song on the radio that made me think. When Jesus was on the cross, how much did he love me? He loved me completely, perfectly, without reservation or condition. I've heard it said that even if I were the only person, Jesus would still have gone through the crucifixion. He did what he did, just for me. That implies that as he was being whipped, tortured, beaten, and finally nailed to the cross - it was me doing that to him. I did all those things to him
In essence, I whipped him.
I tortured him.
I beat him.
I hammered in the nails.
I mocked him.
I pierced his side.

And through that whole process, he continued to love me. Never once did he stop loving me. He had reason to be mad at me, to hate me even. And yet, he loved me while I did all those things to him.

Now I don't believe that God gave me arthritis to teach me some sort of lesson. I don't think he took my voice. I think we live in a world full of disease, and I caught something.

But, even if God caused me to be sick, how can I possibly be angry with him for having done that? I killed him and he never stopped loving me. How can I do anything less?

Given all the good things God has brought into my life, how can I stop loving him just because my voice isn't audible?

The answer for me: I can't stop loving him. I can't stop trusting him. I can't stop relying on him.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Auditory Memory

As I lay awake in bed early this morning, the quiet sounds were interrupted by a loud, "Caw, caw, caw," right outside my bedroom window. You might think I'd be bothered, especially at 5:50 am. Quite the opposite is true.

That one bird, with those three vocalizations, took me back to Labor Day family camp at Fort Stevens campground, over on the Oregon coast. Every morning I'd be wakened by the same sound. At the time I thought, "Seriously? You stupid crows! Go back to your nest!!!"

But now, it just reminds me of all the fun I had. My family are not campers. Mom's idea of camping is a 50' RV, and if I could choose, I'd take that over a tent any day. Even so, camping with the church was something I looked forward to every year. Being the pastor's son, I often got special treatment, and wasn't above taking advantage of people who felt sorry for me. I rarely had to bring my own food. Each morning, after I couldn't pretend to sleep through the crows constant noise, I'd make the rounds of different camp sites, getting breakfast at each site.

My favorite was always Grampa Jess's breakfast: potatoes, eggs, bacon, cheese (possibly other ingredients), all mixed together in a breakfast casserole, straight from the cooking pot. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

Mr. Crow, thanks for the reminder.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Trust

Before my last trip to my doctor in Salt Lake (the ENT who's working with my vocal chords), I had a speech planned. I was going to be firm, strong, direct, telling him why I wasn't happy with the results so far, and exactly what I wanted done. I even practiced my speech and questions during the 6 hour drive down to SLC.

Sitting in the hotel room the night before the appointment, God and I had a conversation. No, it was not an audible voice from Heaven, but it was God talking directly to me. I'm taking some literary liberties here, but this is essentially the conversation.

God, please let me be strong tomorrow. Help me remember all the things I want to say and ask. Let me not get distracted by his fancy medical talk.

Chris, do you trust me?

Of course I do God. You know that.

What do you trust me with?

Well I trust you with everything. After all, I've given you my life. I guess that kind of includes everything.

Do you trust that I brought you to this doctor? Not just any doctor, not just any ENT, but this specific doctor. Do you trust that I brought you to him for a reason?

Yes.

Then maybe you can just relax a little. He's a good doctor. I've given him the wisdom necessary to help you. Even now, I'm guiding him to provide the right treatment and the right medications.


So, I didn't give him my speech; it had become unnecessary, and it seemed to me, disrespectful.

If I trust God, which I do, I need to trust him with everything. Since I know that he's in control, I have accepted that my being sick is somehow part of his plan.
NOTE: This is not an invitation for a theological discussion on whether or not God causes bad things to happen.

I don't understand everything God understands, obviously. I can't understand what little I do know about life. So to understand how my sickness could be part of a good plan is beyond me. Even so, I'm trusting that God is in control. Many of my friends are praying for my healing, and I appreciate every prayer. I don't pray for healing myself. I am content with my situation. It's beyond my understanding, but I can be content, even in the midst of life.

If God wanted to heal me, he could/would do it instantly. Obviously he hasn't, and who am I to question why? I am trusting that all this is leading to something greater.

I am content.

Where do I Belong Now?

Visiting Wendell, going to back into the schools, is so bittersweet for me. It’s emotional overload. When I was in Wendell I was important, every day. I was needed, necessary. Every day I had hundreds of kids show me love. Kids would come running across the playground just to give me a hug. Teachers sought me out for my opinion and counsel. Administrators trusted my judgment on sensitive issues. Parents came to me seeking help for their children.

In the midst of working in an environment of daily affirmation, in a job that gave me purpose, I was uprooted.

God pulled me out of that.

Now, I’m not needed for anything. I’m not necessary.
There aren’t any kids running to give me hugs.
There aren’t any adults seeking my counsel, trusting my judgment.

I’ve become useless and I don’t understand why.

Of course my family loves me, needs me, finds me necessary. But those things are true regardless of where I live. I know that my family will always support me, no matter the circumstances. It’s the other parts of my life that have me baffled.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another Security Change

For a short time, I changed this to a private blog. I was reacting to some mean people, and I think I overreacted. I'm not going to let them ruin a good thing. I know this blog doesn't have thousands of readers (might not even have dozens of readers), but I know some of the people who read it, and I think I've helped some people. I think I've even inspired some people. So, I'm public again.

I have some new insights, which I'll be posting soon, and some health updates. I'll get to those also.

For now, it's good to be back.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Where's the Line?

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Philippians 1:14,15

When I talk about not being able to sleep at night, is that complaining?
When I mention the arthritis pain I dealt with today, is that complaining?

Or is it sharing my experience, my life? I thought I knew where the line was, but now I'm not sure I do.

Friday, April 29, 2011

New Topic - discuss amongst yourselves.

Contemplating what I will talk about when/if I get my voice back has taken up much of thought life recently. As it is, I've noticed several changes since my voice loss.
1. I obviously talk a lot less. At first that was simply because I had no voice.
2. Then I spoke little because it was too difficult to make myself heard. It just wasn't worth the effort.
3. Then my silence became one of choice. Before I say anything, I examine it's purpose, it's usefulness. What, if anything, will my words add to this conversation? What would be my purpose for offering my words?

4. I have also become hyper-aware of conversational dynamics. I hear people conversing and ask the same questions I would ask myself: Why are they speaking? What are they adding to the conversation.

5. Often I determine, I don't have anything worthwhile to add. Maybe I could rephrase or reiterate what someone else has already said, but that's not adding anything new. Maybe I could be confirming someone else's opinion, but there is almost always someone else to add to that conversation. My personal opinion would be redundant.

6. One possibility is that I just don't have as much to share. I enjoy hearing other people talk. There are so many people who need to be heard who obviously don't feel heard. Maybe that's part of my job.

7. Another possibility is that this is my chance to learn to be a better listener. While I was supposed to learn that in graduation school, and develop that skill in my job as a school counselor, I haven't yet learned that lesson. I can tell I'm becoming a better listener. Hopefully that translates into being a better counselor.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

World's Funnest Game?

When I was young, my family played this game. I say family, but it was mostly my mom and me. Dad doesn't play anymore; he thinks it's a pointless game, but he has no idea how important this game really is. I don't know if Susan plays it with her family, but she never talks about it so I'm guessing it's died in her house.

Picture this: a new jar of peanut butter (this game works with either smooth and creamy peanut butter, crunchy peanut butter, or even extra crunchy peanut butter). You unscrew the top, peel off the foil cover underneath, and then you see it - that perfectly smooth peanut butter surface, unblemished by knife or finger.

The winner of the game is the one who gets "first dip" in that smooth surface. It might seem simple: whomever opens the jar, wins. It's not that simple.

I remember when I was a young teenager, mom came home from her weekly grocery shopping trip. I helped her unload the groceries, something I did every time because I was the perfect son. While unloading, I noticed a new jar of peanut butter, but I didn't let on that I had seen it. In my mind I was already hatching my covert peanut butter plan.

Once the bags were emptied, and the new jar of peanut butter had been placed in the pantry, I waited for mom to vacate the kitchen area. I found the new jar, quietly unscrewed the top and peeled back the foil cover, but not all the way, being careful to not bend it. In the newly exposed surface, I wrote my name, "Chris." Then, I had to wait, patiently.

Our current jar of peanut butter still had plenty left. It would be a long time before we would need to open the new jar. So I started eating peanut butter with every meal. Peanut butter on toast for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly for lunch and for an after school snack. Peanut butter on celery for dinner, or dessert.

After weeks of patiently waiting, it was finally time for the new jar of peanut butter. It couldn't be me who opened it, but I needed to be there when someone else opened the jar.

Today, I don't remember who opened the jar. I don't remember the reaction. I do know that whomever opened was denied the satisfaction of that first scoop, and they knew I had won the game because my name was right there. Mr. PeanutButterVictory!

Yesterday I went grocery shopping - bought peanut butter. And there was some satisfaction when I opened it this morning as I took the first scoop. There wasn't anyone to taunt, "New jaaaar. Who's going to get it?" There wasn't any race to the jar. It was just me.

But I won the game anyway.

Oh Sleep, Why have you Forsaken Me?

to close my eyes
drift into dreamland
for longer than a few minutes
doesn't seem much to ask
but night after night
i wake, startled by
the sudden cough
shaken by the irresistible
inevitable convulsive bouts
ten minutes after i lay down

so i get up
use the neti pot
clear the passages
and the coughing stops
but only until i am
once again horizontal

eventually exhaustion will
have to take over
i'll have no choice
but to doze
hopefully

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday

I haven't been to an Easter Sunday Sunrise Service in years. This year I wanted to attend one. Luckily, the Treasure Valley has a sunrise tradition: the Lizard Butte Sunrise Service. This year was the 74th annual service. I would guess there was at least 500 people there. I'm sure they all enjoyed how good the weather was. I heard that this year was better weather than they've had in a very long time. It was chilly, but the sky was clear, the sunrise was beautiful.

Family Weekend Part 2

Saturday, my nephew Braeden was the Panda Express dancing panda (at least for a short time). We went to cheer him on, and to support his charter school. Panda Express has this great fund raising opportunity; 20% of purchases Saturday went to the school.

Up until this year, Braeden has been a pretty shy kid. His older sister Janae has been the outgoing extroverted one, while Braeden was the quiet one, clinging to mom's leg (of course he hasn't held on to her leg since he was like six). I don't know if it's been an intentional effort, but he's developing a more outgoing personality. He enrolled in a drama class at school.

I think he did a great job as the panda. He certainly got plenty of honks from the cars passing by.


Susan is the "mama" bear.

When I got home, I had a visitor waiting by the front door. She was dressed to impress in elegant black with red accents. I don't like pretentious visitors; I escorted her off the property.



A quick sports update: Steve, my brother-in-law, and I spent some time on the putting green. I haven't been on the golf course in two years. After some practice, we had three 18 hole putting matches on the practice putting green. Not to brag, but I can still putt. I beat Steve in all three matches.

Thanks for the fun Steve!

Family Weekend

Easter weekend was family time for me. Friday night, Haline was in town (from Spokane), so every body was there. She even made dinner. Although she was making dinner for us all, I think the real purpose was to prove to Jeb, her fiance, that she can cook. Of course I could be wrong. Maybe he'll be doing the cooking when they get married.

I always like being with my family. So it's awfully convenient that I live next door to my sister and her family, and behind my parents. I'm very lucky, not only to have them in my life, but also to have them so close.


(left to right) Braeden, my nephew; Janae, my niece; Deborah, my Brazilian niece; Ernie, my dad; Jan, my mom; Jeb, my future nephew-in-law; Haline, my other Brazilian niece.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday Devotional

Philippians 1:20
I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ.

Even when I feel useless, worthless, inadequate ...
Even when I think I'm not doing anything to honor Christ ...
Even if I'm convinced otherwise ...

My worth is not in my hands. My purpose is not determined by me, so I can't mess it up. More than once over these last few months, I've wondered, "Did I do the right thing by leaving Wendell?" At the time, it seemed like I had no other choice. It wasn't an impulse decision; I'm not an impulse person. I rarely have buyer's remorse (can't even remember the last time) because I think about something a long time before I buy it. And I think even longer before I do something important, like quit a job I love.

Even so, did I mess up my life? Did I throw a wrench in God's plan by doing something I wasn't supposed to do? According to this scripture, that's not the way it works. God will make sure his plans are fulfilled, and that my life brings honor to him.

Philippians 1:6
I am certain that God, who began the good work within me, will continue his work until it is finally finished.

I've said before that I feel uprooted. I'm standing still, seemingly without direction. Where is God taking me from here? Where should I be going? I don't know. I do the day to day things I know to do: I fill prescriptions, I go to doctor's appointments, I pick up the mail, pay bills, grocery shop, etc. But what am I supposed to be doing?

A wise friend of mine told me, "Chris, maybe this is the time for your cup to be filled, and you don't need to be doing anything." So I wait, patiently, knowing that God will finish this work.

Philippians 2:14-15
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you.

I hope I'm not complaining - I don't intend that. I think what I'm doing is expressing my frustration with my own limitations. I'm frustrated that I can't just "walk this off." I coached middle school football for a while. When a player would get hurt, I would ask, "Are you hurt or injured?" At first they didn't know the difference. Injured is when you've broken your arm, or sprained an ankle. If you're injured, we need to get you some help. Hurt is when you get tackled by a bigger guy and slammed into the hard ground. If you're hurt, you need to walk it off.

This time will end. There will come a time when I can work again, have my voice back, feel good again, participate in society as a contributing member again. I think I can even see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Biopsy Results Are In

Although I'm surprised, I'm happy that I already have results from the biopsy done Tuesday. The biopsy on my vocal chords shows a (3+ Betahomolytic Strep Group A). They're giving me a prescription to treat the infection. I have an appointment next month to see if the meds and the shot of prednisone in my vocal chords are creating any benefits.

Just another step in the process.

On a completely different note, I went on a photowalk yesterday, with my mom. Since I wasn't allowed to talk (doctors orders) or whisper, she had to carry the conversation. We walked the alleys around our neighborhood.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Is "Biopsy" a Four Letter Word?

When people hear the word biopsy, many of them automatically think cancer. When I first started this whole voice ordeal, the ENT in Twin Falls mentioned a biopsy, but also said he didn't see anything that looked like cancer. So when the ENT in SLC mentioned a biopsy on my vocal chord, cancer was not my first thought. He talked about several autoimmune diseases that can affect the vocal chords, so my focus was on that.

Tomorrow I head to SLC for the procedure. It should be quick and easy. Although surgery is always risky, I've never had any problems with anesthesia; I seem to recover quickly. What I want is to have some answers. They (the doctors) keep saying they need more tests, there's nothing conclusive, they have some ideas. How about some resolution? How about some definitive diagnosis? When does that happen?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Be Specific

The radio station I listen to plays short snippets of sermons, kind of like commercials. Last week one of the speakers said that God doesn't answer general prayers. He wants to hear specific prayers. Now I'm not sure exactly what that means - Where's the line between general and specific? But it made me wonder about my prayers. So I've been paying attention to what I pray for. I'm finding that I do pray a lot of general prayers. When friends post prayers on Facebook, often I'll just pray, "God be with soandso this week. Bless their life." Although I don't know where the line is between general and specific, I can tell this isn't specific.

So I'm trying to be more specific in my requests, which includes some specific requests for myself. I'm not going to tell here all that I pray for myself; they're much too personal, and writing about them feels like it would lessen them somehow. But I am changing my prayer of "God help me feel better." That seems awfully general.

I'm making another change too: I'm trying to get back my photographic creativity. I think it left me. The photos I've taken recently seem boring, uninspiring. I want to take photos that create emotion in the viewer, even if I'm the only person who sees them. I don't think I've taken a photo like that in years now.

But I'm going to start taking photo walks around my neighborhood, photographing whatever catches my eye. Even if I don't get any great photos, I think the practice of taking more photos will help my creativity. If I stumble upon a picture that I like, I might even post it here.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Medication Side Effect?

I can only assume it's because of the meds I'm on: my taste buds have changed, remarkably. Meat no longer tastes good - beef, chicken, turkey. Pepperoni pizza seems to still be good, which could be because the meat is in smaller amounts. But hamburgers, chicken breast, turkey sandwich, they all just taste horrible.

For a while I thought it was just meat. Other foods seem to be fine. This last week, on the way home from my visit to Wendell, I bought a bag of rye chips, the kind that are in Gardetto's, which is one of my favorite junk food snacks. I love the rye chips. Between the flavor and crunch, I figured they'd keep me awake on the drive home. Turns out my taste buds don't like those either. It's not that they tasted bad - there was just no taste. It was like eating crunchy cardboard. They smelled great, but had no taste.

I'm sure there's nothing I can do, other than quit taking all the meds I'm on, which is obviously not an option. My other choice is to find foods that taste okay. Maybe I'm becoming a vegetarian by default.

It also seems to have affected my tolerance for spice. Even mild salsa now makes me sweat like it's made from super hot peppers. I had a piece of Costco pepperoni pizza the other day - sweating like I had run a marathon.

Actually, if hot has that affect, maybe I should eat more hot stuff. I could do that instead of exercising.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mr. Focus Group

I think I belong on a focus group, a group that watches commercials before they air to see if they're effective, or tv show pilots, that kind of stuff.

Some commercials just play and are easily ignored. Some shows are just good for background noise, best "watched" while washing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, etc. Other commercials and shows instantly access my emotions. Since becoming a counselor, I've become much more in touch with my emotions, and much easier to cry, or laugh. I think since being diagnosed with RA, my emotional regulator has become much less efficient. It's way too easy for my emotions to bubble to the surface, and too often burst out of control.

When I watch a good commercial, I get emotional; tears start forming at the corners of my eyes. I hate doing that, but it's pointless to try to stop it, so I just go with it. Sometimes, when I realize the emotions are coming - even the sad ones - sometimes it makes me laugh. I'm sitting here by myself, so no one else is here to watch me laugh and cry at the same time. I'm the only one to see the humor in the situation, especially one brought on by a stupid commercial for some product I can't even recall.

So I would be a great focus group member. If your commercial is good, you'll know by my reaction. If it sucks, I'll just tell you.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Visiting My Kids

I went to visit Wendell today. Octavio, the new school counselor, wanted to meet to discuss what needs to be done. I gave him some ideas and I think he'll be good for the schools. I also went because I miss my kids and wanted to spend some time with them.

After having breakfast with my friend Dan, I headed to the middle school, getting there about 7:20. There were already a few students there, and some teachers. I got hugs as soon as I walked in. Maryanne, Gramma, and Sue were all in the office (they're all teachers). It was so good to see them.

By 7:30 I was in my circle, waiting to greet the kids. The smile on my face had been there ever since I drove off the freeway at the Wendell exit. When the first kids started coming in, my smile got even bigger. Some of the kids ran to me. I got hugs from most of them, even from some kids who don't normally hug. I even got hugged by some of the 8th grade boys.

If I thought being with the middle school kids was great, being at the elementary school was even more of an emotional ego boost. As I was walking toward the lunch room, the first graders hadn't been let out for recess yet. The person who normally does duty on the first grade playground wasn't there. So I offered to take the kids out to recess. All I had to do was walk across the cafeteria to where all the kids were sitting and take them out. It didn't work that way.

I didn't even make it into the actual cafeteria. Before I could get there I was literally surrounded by 30 kids. Once the first kid noticed me, and yelled, "Mr. M!" all the other kids started leaving their tables and running to me. It took me 10 minutes to get across the cafeteria and I loved every single second of it. In those few minutes, I probably received 200 hugs.

When I did finally make it to recess, I had still more fun. Kids would come running from across the playground, "Mr. M, Mr. M, Mr. M." Some kids stayed close to me the whole time. I told every kid I could how much I missed them.

After recess I went to Mrs. Brown's class for a visit. It was so much fun. She had me sit down for an interview; the kids got to ask questions. The first kid I called on gave me the best "question" ever: "Mr. M, I love you every day."

It was a bittersweet visit. I loved being back in my schools. I hated knowing that I will never be back, for real.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Getting Old - What Happened to My MadSkillz?

Now I realize that as I get older, my skill set may increase, but the proficiency with which I do things will decrease. If I were able to play golf (which I still can't because of the RA), I would not be as good now as I was 10 years ago when I was working as a golf professional. If I were still able to play racquetball, I would not be as good because I'm slower. I realize these things and I live with them.

But there's one skill that completely baffles me.

I used to be an excellent sleeper - an Olympic caliber sleeper, a professional sleeper, a world class sleeper. I could sleep any time, any where, for any length of time. If I was waiting for a flight, had 14 minutes before boarding, I could take a 13 minute nap. When I got tired, or sick, I could sleep for 14, 16, 18 hours in a row, non-stop.

Somehow, I've completely lost this ability. Now, my typical sleep time is about 20 minutes, often exactly 20 minutes. Yesterday, after my dad's birthday party, I had reached the end of my energy. So I came home to take a nap. I lay down at 4:37, falling asleep almost instantly. I started coughing - and subsequently woke up - at 4:57. Today, I lay down for another nap, at 2:34. Guess what time I woke up, coughing again? That's right, 2:54, exactly 20 minutes later. This 20 minute thing has happened a lot.

I really want to be able to sleep, to deeply sleep for more than 20 minutes; 20 hours of sleep would be nice. I can't remember the last time I slept through a night and I'd like to change that. I've tried a lot of different sleep aids. Nothing really works.

I'm hoping that if the docs can figure out whats causing all the problems, and get rid of my cough, I'll be able to sleep - someday.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Missing Wendell

Yes, leaving Wendell was the right thing to do. I made it through the winter without getting sick (from being around the kids). Of course my voice hasn't returned - another reason I couldn't stay. Yes, I like being close to family.

Even so, I miss Wendell so much: the kids, the staff, the schools.

I spent this evening taking some senior portraits for one of my Wendell kids. She brought along her mom (one of the middle school teachers), her sister (who's in 8th grade this year), and her grandmother. Being with them reminded me how much I love my Wendell kids.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

On second thought ...

When I left yesterday, I didn't know what the meeting with SSA was going to be about. Turns out, Angie (my new favorite person) brought me in to tell me that my disability application had been approved. I'll start receiving checks in May. It's a good thing there was a counter between us ... I wanted to hug her when she told me.

Obviously this doesn't solve all my problems, but it does give me some breathing room. I can take the time I need to get healthy, to figure out what my next move will be, career-wise, to be able to support myself (although I'm sure mom and dad will still be helping).

Isn't that interesting timing?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Great Salt Lake

During my trip to SLC Sunday/Monday, I had a lot of time to think. And I did a lot of thinking, about a lot of topics and situations. One thought came to me several times: Maybe going on disability is not the way to go. I realize it can be a long process, and when I started the process I knew it was the right thing. I am disabled, in several ways. I had to quit my job because of my physical problems.

I know I could get a job; my options of possible jobs are so limited. Because of my voice, I need a job that doesn't require any talking. Because of my RA, I can't lift heavy objects, can't be on my feet for a long time, and I require (physically require) rest during the day. When I run out of energy, I have to nap. Because of my poor immune system, I need to NOT be around a lot of people (read: germ carriers). How many jobs meet those requirements?

So I'm confused about where to go, what to do.

I have an appointment with the local Social Security office today. I don't know what they're going to be doing today. I guess I'll find out when I get there.

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Tests, then maybe some more

I had my appointment with Dr. Smith today, in Salt Lake. Although my larynx looks better than it did six weeks ago, there's still no voice. Is that improvement? Kind of.

He has ordered some tests - blood work mostly - and scheduled a biopsy of my vocal chords. Some people hear "biopsy" and think cancer. Dr. Smith didn't mention cancer, and that wasn't my first thought. He said, "We need a sample of the tissue to figure out if there's another disease affecting your larynx." Apparently there are several auto-immune diseases, related to RA, but different, that could be causing these voice problems.

So tomorrow I go for some tests, have the results sent to SLC, and go from there. Mom asked me, "So how do you feel about what the doctor said?" I didn't know how to answer that, still don't. I'll say again what I told her, "It is what it is."

On a completely different note, on my way down to SLC, I had some time to listen to my favorite radio station, one that was always on in my truck: The Effect. Here in Nampa, I can't get the station in my truck, but I can listen online. I had forgotten how much I like that music. It was great to have several hours each way that I could listen.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why Do I Need to Know This?

I swear, I'm not turning this blog into a dream journal, but I just have to share one more.

In the dream, I was working in a residential hospital, and assigned the task of diagnosing a new patient while another "doctor" interviewed him. After just a few minutes, I diagnosed him with OCD, based on some repeated motions. He would bend at the waist, perform a series of hand motions a specific number of times, then stand up and reengage with the interview.

Based on the angle at which he bent over, the angle of his arms, and the number of times he did the hand motions, I was also able to diagnose him with sine, cosine and tangent.

Shout out to my high school algebra teacher. I knew that stuff would be useful someday!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Irrational Hope

I frequently fly during my dreams, nearly every night. Sometimes I fly like Superman, fast, laying flat, fists breaking through the atmosphere, but without a cape. I've never flown with a cape. Sometimes it's less like flying, more like floating. I know that if I step off that building, I won't fall; I can just float down to the street. Or if there's something I need that's up, way high, I float up to it.

So last night in my dream, I was getting ready to fly home (I don't remember where I was), and started strapping on my back packs (for some reason I had two), and my golf bag. This is the surprising part of the dream. I haven't played golf in 2 or 3 years. The arthritis in my hands and wrists just won't tolerate that kind of physical motion. Other than moving to Nampa, I don't remember the last time I picked up my golf bag. So to dream about golf, just carrying the bag --- that's interesting to me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Busy Weekend

Friday I go in for second infusion of Rituxan (another $15k), but then I don't have to go in for another 6 months. Then Monday I return to the Voice Disorders Center for my follow up appointment. Hopefully they'll find that there's been some progress and my larynx is more hydrated, and they'll tell me I'm closer to being able to speak again.

Speaking of speaking, I had the best dream last night.
What might the best dream in the world be about?
Maybe it was about unlimited money, fame, power, super powers - not so much.

I had a dream that I was talking, out loud, and people could hear me.
I don't remember who I was talking to, or what I was talking about, I woke up so excited that I could talk. I also don't know if it was my real voice. I don't even remember what my real voice sounds like.

Monday, March 14, 2011

So, Now What?

Even though I'm not big on labels, I do like that I've been able to label my current feeling: uprooted. Without realizing (although I may have had inklings here and there) I based my identity on my life as a school counselor. My identity was rooted in an occupation, something I have counseled people against.

That's a first step, I suppose, but now what?

How do I reestablish my roots in Jesus?
It can't be just by going to church; I do that.
It can't be just by reading my bible; I do that (although I certainly could spend more time studying the life of Jesus - that's probably another blog post).
It can't be as simple as saying, "My life is rooted in Jesus."

What will my life be like with my roots in Jesus?
How will that be different than now?

So many questions, so few (concrete) answers.

However, I'm living in the midst of Jesus, content that he is in control. So it's okay to live without answers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A New Journey

I recently received a message from a good friend who will be teaching a Sunday School lesson on the parables of Matthew 13. If you don't remember them, go read it here.

Reading Matthew 13, I was struck by something:
"But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died."
"But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long."

I think maybe I have the right word for how I've been feeling: uprooted. I was established in Wendell, firmly planted in a job and career I love. My roots were becoming ever more solidly established, in my church, in the Wendell community, in the schools. Then God uprooted me. I may be planted back in familiar surroundings (living behind mom and dad, next door to Susan, around friends and family), but my roots aren't here. I have no roots and I'm wilting.

But that leads me to realize, my roots shouldn't be in my job or a place, or relationships. My roots should be in God, need to be in God. He has taken so much from me: health, income, voice, possessions. All the while I keep wondering why. I wonder what more is there to take?

I think this move from Wendell to Nampa, from school counselor to unemployed, from influential to voiceless, has taken my support to show me that I've been depending on the wrong things.

So now, maybe, I have a direction for my next journey. My task seems clear: structure my life, my thoughts, my prayers, my career my relationships, so that they are centered around my roots: my relationship with Jesus.

I need to make sure my root system is in Jesus, and only Jesus. Certainly there are strong branches in my life, and healthy plants all around me. But my roots are not in those temporary things. My roots are in the eternal.

A new journey begins.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Interruptions

The truth is, what we call interruptions are precisely our real life, the life God is sending us day by day. - CSLewis

In the middle (beginning) of a wonderful career as a school counselor, in a place I love (Wendell, ID), with the best people in the world, I got interrupted. Instead of serving my 7th year as school counselor, I resigned. My health problems dictated an interruption in my life - a seemingly long-term interruption.

The last few days, I've been feeling increasingly unmotivated, lack-luster, melancholy - actually, I've been searching for the right word and just can't find it. Those are all guesses, but none of them very accurate.

So why is God sending me this interruption?
How long will this last?
What am I supposed to be doing during this time?

I just don't know.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I can do all things

Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

Because of my arthritis, there are so many things I cannot now do, things I used to do, things that I enjoyed doing.
I can't golf.
I can't play racquetball.
I can't run.
I can't carry 3 bundles of shingles up a ladder to the roof.
I can't roof houses.
I can't go on long hikes in the mountains.
I can't ...

So what does this verse mean, specifically to me?
I don't know how to answer that question.