Miracle Baby

I caught a glimpse of the story yesterday as I was taking my daily walk around the perimeter of my office building. We have flat screen TV's posted in strategic places that play non-stop news and provide company information. Yesterday, I was drawn to a picture of a young woman cuddling what looked like a new born infant and I had to stop and see what the story was about.

From what I could glean in the few moments I stood there, the baby had been born premature, pronounced dead by the doctors, and then held lovingly by the mother for two hours, presumably as she grieved and attempted to say goodbye to her child.

Then the child began to move. Some are calling it a miracle.

I was thinking how interesting it would be to catch up with this miracle-child in a few years to find out how his life turns out. Surely, this child is born to accomplish something wonderful!

Then I thought about my own life; all of our lives really. The story of my birth, the story of your birth, they all have snippets of the miraculous. Our lives are meant for greatness too.

Sometimes, I have faltered and greatness of any kind is the last thing I ever thought I would accomplish in my life. Othertimes, I have caught a glimpse of a miracle in the birth of my children and my granddaughter.

Truly, I believe we are all miracles destined to do great things and those great things are as unique as wel are. We may be destined to make music, to write, to speak, to travel. Maybe our destiny has smaller parameters tha involve making a home for our family.

Or perhaps like Baby Jamie's mom, our destiny is to cuddle a premature baby back to life.

I am still fascinated to see how the life of this precious baby turns out in the years to come; just as I am looking forward to seeing what twists and turns yours and mine make in the future.

Because we are alll miracle babies at some level.

It's Not You; It's Me

Today I am sharing a post I wrote last year at this time with you. I hope you like it!

Before I start, let me just say that there's nothing wrong with you. You are beautiful in your own unique way and it's not your fault I don't appreciate you more.

When we first met a few months ago, I confess that I had a touch of spring fever. Who wouldn't after a long, dark and wet winter? I remember those first sunny weeks when it seemed like there was rebirth wherever I looked. I wanted to take in as much sunshine and fresh air as possible. It was glorious! And then one day, there you were.

I knew there was something different about you from the beginning. You stood out from the crowd, your appearance as distinct a your name. It was useless for me to try and resist your charms, I wanted to have you from the beginning. I was ready for a change.

I watched as you tried to fit in, but soon realized that something wasn't working. By the time I admitted to myself that I had made the wrong choice it was too late to do anything about it. When I look at pictures taken last year, when another was in the place you now occupy, I regret my impulsive decision.

Tidal Wave Silver Petunia, you just didn't turn out the way that I had expected. You've seemed a bit spindly from the beginning. Perhaps it's your color, or lack thereof, that makes you look like you've passed your prime. In another garden, in another flower pot, perhaps with different plants to accent your unique hue, I'm sure you would be beautiful. Just not in my garden.

I just should have stuck with my tried and true Tidal Wave Pink Petunia. Don't feel bad if I walk past you next spring as if I don't know you. Just remember: It's not you, it's me.

P.S. I did walk past the Tidal Wave Silver Petunia this year. Lesson learned!

Welcome to the Blogosphere

Won't you join me in welcoming Mary Jo to the blogosphere. Pop over to her brand new blog called Musings From a Patchwork Quilt Life and read her first post. I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Welcome, Mary Jo! I look forward to reading more from your Patchwork Quilt Life.

This 'n That

The last week of August is typically one of the busiest of the year for me at work and this week is no exception. During this week last year I ended up in the hospital with chest pain; I am doing much better at managing my stress this year!
In addition to dealing with all that is happening at the office, I have been preparing for the first meeting of the Story Circle group I am starting. I'm looking forward to meeting a group of women on Saturday who are as interested in lifewriting as I am. (It's that whole "tribe" thing that I've been thinking about lately, and that I am sure will become a blog post one of these days.)

Gerry and I got our new Droid X phones this week. I've felt like a child waiting for Christmas morning these past few weeks! We have the phones now and I've put my geek hat on and spent some time checking out all of the cool features. I am expecting that the Droid will help me simplify my life and stay better organized. In fact, just this afternoon I was able to respond to some email and check in on my Facebook friends while waiting for my doctor's appointment. (Speaking of my doctor's appointment: Soy + Yoga = Lower Cholesterol.)

So, no, I haven't dropped off the face of the blogosphere. I am still here: somewhat frazzled, a little bit tired, a tad cranky, but looking forward to what's ahead.

By the way, if you are not a regular visitor to my Arms of Adoption blog, I invite you to drop by and read about my brother, Frank who lost his battle with cancer this week. He was a man of integrity.

I Guess I'm Home

I have had a library card for as long as I can remember. I can still picture the library in the city I grew up in; it was a big old brick building in park in the middle of the city.

I found it comforting to be in the library in the winter when the frigid wind blew snow into drifts outside.The blanket of quietness inside the library warmed me from my earliest memory.

On summer days when it was too hot to play outside, the peace of the library was a cool haven away from the summer heat, filled with books that could take me places I could only imagine.

Sometimes, the library came to me in the form of a bookmobile that parked just down the street from where we lived. I always visited the bookmobile and stocked up on a fresh stack of books that I could lose myself in for a few hours.

I started taking my children to the library when they were infants; they grew up going to the library. Whenever I wanted to learn about something new, I went to the library. I learned to quilt by reading library books; I learned about my Mennonite heritage by reading library books; I learned how to take care of cats by reading library books; I learned what it meant to have faith by reading library books.

When we moved to the Pacific Northwest three years ago I stopped going to the library. Every time we drove past I would say "Oh, I have to sign up for a library card" but I never fot around to it.

Until today.

Something prompted me to turn into the parking lot of the library this afternoon, to walk through the tree lined courtyard, to open the glass doors, and to go inside. I walked up to the counter, told the lady I wanted to sign up for a library card, filled out a sheet of paper, showed her my ID, and just like that I held in my hand a brand new library card.

Card in hand, I walked through the library getting a feel for where everything was. The familiar Dewey Decimal numbers posted on the ends of the shelves directed me to the sections I once spent so much time in. My body remembered the library-posture of tilting my head to the right to read the titles on the spines of the books. My mind recalled the hours I spent in a library browsing, reading, forgetting everything else except the books.

I checked out three books from section 305 (They have self-checkout now!) and as I left the library with my books in my arms, my walk seemed a little bouncier, and I seemed to breathe a little easier.

Having obtained a library card I guess I am officially planted here for now.

I guess I'm home.

Feels Soy Good

It's interesting that when I was diagnosed with high cholesterol I made a less-than-half-hearted (and unsuccessful) attempt to control it with diet and exercise but when Gerry was diagnosed with high cholesterol a few months ago I got down to the serious business of paying close attention to what we eat. (Why I didn't pay attention when it was only me affected is likely the subject for another blog post one day.)

One of the changes we made is to switch from cows milk to soy milk. I don't drink milk per se, but I do like my lattes and prefer them with half coffee and half milk (heavy on the milk), and I use milk on my Bran Buds (another concession to aging) in the morning. I've also been turning more toward a vegetarian diet and enjoy a healthy sprinkling of diced tofu on my daily salads.

Physically I have been feeling good since making these small changes but one day a few weeks ago something odd happened. I was walking down the hall at work one afternoon and it was as if the curtains of my mind were thrown open and my thinking was crystal clear. Now, I know this may sound strange for those who have never experienced mid-life brain fog like I have for a few years, but the sudden change in perception was so strong that I had to call Gerry and tell him about it.

I've been enjoying this clarity and attribute it to the switch to soy. It's been such a pronounced change that it's been easy for me to stick to my small lunch salads, miniscule dinner portions, and just one (very large) soy latter per day. I feel like "me" again.

So why is it that when stress comes, as it always does at this busiest time of year at work, I revert back to craving pasta and parmesan cheese for dinner? Two nights this week of a bowl of pasta comfort and I can feel the difference.

So now I find myself in a quandry. Do I choose healthy eating and feel like I can conquer anything, or put my jammies on and dive into a bowl of pasta at the end of a tough day?



Yesterday I was in the garden harvesting the lavender. It smelled like sweltering carefree summer afternoons; it smelled like childhood; it smelled like love.

As I knelt beside the flower bed and plucked the scented blossoms, I took a journey in my mind.

The first person I met who was biologically related to me was my aunt Esther. She was a quiet and caring woman who told me many times that "you are a part of this family".

In the years that I knew Esther before she passed away she gave me little things that an aunt might give her niece like freshly baked bread, a ceramic figure she had made, a crocheted afgan, and a little container of lavender.

I am sorry to say that I don't know whatever happened to that container of lavender. Sometime, in one of my moves since then, it has been left behind.

Yesterday afternoon as the hot sun beat down on me as I plucked lavender from my own garden I resolved in my mind that I would do something special with this lavender to honor my aunt and the way she included me in her family without question.

As an adoptee, it means a lot to me to have honor my past as well as my present. Dawn Espelage is blogging on my Arms of Adoption blog today about a special way to honor the past and present of an adopted child. I like the idea so much that I may create a Life Book for myself.

Saying "Yes"

The other night I was watching TLC's Say Yes to the Dress; it's a guilty pleasure that I indulge in every once in a while. For the sake of those who may not have seen it, it portrays a bride-to-be's experience of selecting her wedding dress. There are always a few "helpers" that come along to help the bride select the perfect dress, and on the episode I just watched, it was mothers of the bride-to-be who were there. One mother was so critical that it made me want to cry for her daughter.

I couldn't help but remember when Laurinda and I went shopping for her wedding dress. That shopping trip ranks up with one of the best days of my life! When she chose the dress that was going to be hers, I managed to snap a picture before we found out that taking pictures in the bridal store were strictly taboo!

On her wedding day she was a beautiful bride wearing that dress and jewelery that had belonged to my mom. If only mom had lived long enough to see her granddaughter marry. I imagine we both would have been blubbering fools as we watched the bride walk toward her future husband!

My daughter and her husband celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary this week and she has written wise words about how the magic of the wedding transforms into to a deeper commitment as the years go by on her blog.

Getting married is much more than saying yes to a dress, it's saying yes to hard work, commitment, dedication, love, and tons of fun and laughter. 

Pretend I'm Dead

It’s a pleasant morning, almost noon, and the Wife is outside, enjoying the sunshine, and deadheading her flowers. Her Husband moseys over to where she is kneeling next to the flower bed.

Husband: I’m hungry, what is for lunch?

Wife (sighing): Can’t you see I’m busy right now. Why don’t you pretend I’m dead and you have to make lunch today?

The Husband moseys on toward the house, presumably, to make some lunch.

A short while later, the Husband, munching on a sandwich and carrying a newspaper, comes out of the house and sits down in a lawn chair.

Wife (calling to him): Hey, where’s my sandwich?

Husband (sly smirk on his face): I thought you were dead.


This little vignette appeared in a comic in the Sunday paper a few years ago. Gerry and I were sitting in bed, enjoying our coffee and the paper, when he saw it and shared it with me. We shared a laugh together over this little joke that the husband played on his wife and since then we have made it our own, in the way that husbands and wife create for themselves a unique way of communicating with each other.

I’ll send him an email at work some afternoons that says "P.I.D. until 6:30". (P.I.D. being an abbreviation for "pretend I’m dead".) The concise email communication means “I want to work on my book after work so I’ll be upstairs in my office until 6:30”.

Or he’ll send me an email at work on Friday afternoon that says "P.I.D. tomorrow morning". I take that to mean that he has booked a tee time and he’ll be out golfing with the guys on Saturday morning. (Which means I’ll have more time to work on my book!)

I love the intimacy that comes with being married for any length of time like the way I can look him from across a room and know what he is thinking, or the way that he understands what I am trying to say when the words just won’t come to mind. (Remember that guy we met at the thing we went to that time?)

And I like the special language that develops over the years that includes things like P.I.D. that no one understand except us.


It started out as an ordinary morning. My car had to go in for routine maintenance so Gerry followed me to the dealership where I planned to leave my car and ride with him to my office. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it appeared to be shaping up to be a beautiful summer day. We had decided to take the dogs with us, so Maya rode with Gerry and Chelsea rode with me.

When we arrived at the dealership, Gerry went into the office to drop off the key, and I gathered my purse, tote bag, and little Chelsea and began walking toward Gerry's car. Suddenly, the morning calm was pierced by a squeal of tires and I saw a white pick-up truck careening over a meridian on two wheels. New cars on the dealership lot prevented me from seeing exactly what had happened.

A split-second later I heard a woman's voice screaming from the direction where I had seen the truck go over the meridian, and at the same moment the truck, travelling on rims only and throwing off sparks along the way, bounced up onto the sidewalk in front of me.

He's stopping to go back and help the accident victim, I thought.

But I was wrong. Somehow, the battered vehicle kept going leaving a sparky trail behind it. I watched as it picked up speed and drove out of my line of sight.

I turned my attention to the screaming that continued down the street, opened the door of Gerry's car tossed my things inside, and started running toward the sound of the screaming. When I got off of the parking lot, I was able to see a woman standing on the sidewalk beside her vehicle trying to dial her cell phone as she screamed and cried. I had no idea what I might find when I reached her. Was there someone in front of her vehicle who had been hit by the white pick-up truck?

I reached the woman quickly and was relieved to find that there was no one else involved in the accident. I put my arm around her, tried to calm her down and encouraged her to sit down on the curb. She continued to cry, but managed to reach her husband on her cell phone and I listened to her describe what had happened when the white truck had come barreling down the one-way street headed straight toward her.

There was a restaurant directly across the street from the accident scene and the customers had spilled outside where they stood and watched as I tried to comfort the hysterical woman. Gerry arrived shortly after I did, turned off the woman's vehicle, and took the phone from her to speak to her husband to reassure him that his wife was okay. Two other people who had been following the white truck showed up and told us that he had been weaving and crashing into things on sidewalks for a few blocks before hitting the woman's vehicle. Someone had called 9-1-1 and four police cars went speeding by in the direction that the damaged truck had gone.

The whte truck had sideswiped the woman's vehicle and the damage was not as bad as it could have been. Damage to the woman's presence of mind that morning was immeasurable, though. I was shaken for hours after I got to work by the accident, but also by the reaction of the people across the street who stood watching and did nothing to see if the screaming woman was okay.

A quote by Edmund Burke came to mind: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing".

Chronic Pain

Searing, aching, dull, sharp, intense, acute, chronic, sore, white-hot. Here, there, everywhere.

You know all of the words; you have claimed them all for yourself at one time or another. Over the years you learned how to manage it. The best way out is through. And so you put one foot in front of the other day after day and did what you needed to do.

The treatment was often worse than the problem and so you shunned traditional medical treatment, unwilling to walk through your days in a medicated fog, willing to endure rather than dull your mind. It took the medical world almost ten years to diagnose you with what you already knew you had. The diagnosis gave a name to it but couldn't fix it.

Then came periods of relief; sometimes years went by and you stopped identifying the condition as your own. Then, out of the blue, a surprise of another kind, just as relentless and wearing showed up. You accepted treatment eventually and it was okay.

Now you are angry at this new manifestation. At first you were unsure as to the source, the pain receptors in your body did not always point to the source of the problem. In the wee hours of the morning when the house was quiet you lay awake and considered the source. It could be this, does it seem like this? What about that? Then it came to you.

Now you know what it is and your first reaction is anger. Your husband is frustrated at your unwillingness to immediately seek out medical attention, he wants to be able to help. You are frustrated because you don't want to open another Pandora's box. You have learned to trust your instinct and you know what this is.

For now that is enough.

Losing It

In my memoir, I am writing about a time in my life when I came close to losing it. What in the world does that mean, anyway? Losing it.

For those of us who have lived some or all of our lives as one of the hyper-diligent, the concept of losing control of anything is incomprehensible. As impossible as I knew it would be to do, the thought of letting go of feeling responsible for everything was oh-so-alluring for a season.

Sometimes, these many years past, on a hot, sultry summer night, I remember those nights when my family slept but I wandered the halls, scrubbed the floor, or sat on the patio, and considered what it might feel like to lose my mind.

I wondered how it was done. Did one just decide to let go of all manner of decorum? What would others think?

I was tired of keeping my finger in the dyke; I was so tempted to pull it out and let the flood come.

It was another lifetime. I was another person.