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I’ve been everywhere since then March 30, 2013

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So much to share, so many miles, so many revelations to share sooner rather than later, but not today.  

Holy Saturday reminds me of old-fashioned South Texas funeralizing, preparing the house and the table to receive mourners, making sure that there will be enough chairs for seating, quietly relating stories of the beloved or the deceased, who may of may not be one and the same.  These preparations are readily apparent to the Clergy and the Altar Guild and the close ones who gather somberly to wait.  It is an important part of the waiting we are called to live into together.  

But waiting, no matter how holy or blessed, is time between, not fully lived unless I wait upon the Lord.

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The three r’s: reading, writing, and spellchecking February 12, 2013

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The three r’s: reading, writing, and spellchecking.

The three r’s: reading, writing, and spellchecking February 12, 2013

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Mardi Gras morning in this dreary rain, I had an urgent call from my best friend in Corpus Christi. We usually talk every week, and I surprised to hear from her so soon after a long talk on Friday. The news that could not wait? A typo from St. John’s Methodist Church email:

The men of the church were hosting their Shove Tuesday Pancake Supper.

Her wag of a husband fired back an email that Shove Tuesday would be followed by Fall on your Ash Wednesday.

Future imperfect, past perfected December 30, 2012

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As this year filled with many losses ends, I have been pondering end of life issues. I have a discussed some options regarding ending my life peacefully should Parkinson’s rob me of many of the qualities I hold dear.  I hope that I will have the discernment and courage to know when to die.  I have no fear of death; I faced that when I was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2007.  Out of that experience came deep acceptance, recovery, and reconciliation, but nothing could prepare me for Parkinson’s Disease.

My father died quietly in hospice care, with my mother holding his hand, with my sister and her husband next to her and their Episcopal priest at her other shoulder, all surrounded by the light of love and peace. His was a good death.

His own mother, on the other hand, had not been allowed to die naturally, because her handwritten final wishes had not been properly notarized. Despite many best efforts, she languished in a nursing home for a year after a massive stroke, her body deteriorating and subject to indignities to which she would not have submitted herself. Her death was a protracted misery for those of us who loved her and stood powerless against the indifference of managed care.

Ideally, I would choose the soundtrack of my dying, the menu, the venue, all the trappings that I try to control in life, but I know that my plans are beyond my control.

When my son was born, I had an elaborate written birth plan.  I was in excellent physical shape, had read more than enough to prepare for the birth (“Where do you get this stuff?”, my bewildered and bemused OB/GYN kept saying), asked for the use of the one birthing suite in the downtown teaching hospital, and had gone through two different childbirth preparation programs.  I had all my ducks in a row, ready for

  • Ralph Vaughan-Williams or The Brandenburg Concertos playing softly
  • No drugs
  • Upright posture–no stirrups for me!
  • The lovely birthing suite, with the lights low
  • No cutting

In the fullness of time, there was no room at the Birthing Suite Inn; a woman 28 weeks in with triplets was there instead.  My ideal labor room became an overly bright operating room, where I  had to use stirrups to make for an easier catch for the doctor.  A precipitous labor brought a crowd of interns in their short white coats, summoned by the resident, who had never witnessed natural childbirth.

So, surrounded by strangers, in a strange room without a bed, my babe was born at 5:15 on a cold February morning.  When we met face to face, all my disappointed plans went out of my mind, and I was caught up in everlasting love.

How marthasway came to be here, now and then December 9, 2012

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How marthasway came to be here, now and then.

On musical gifts, in memory of Dave Brubeck, 1920-2012 December 6, 2012

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A few years ago, I was helping with the choristers in the Royal School of Church Music affiliated choir at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Corpus Christi, Texas. My “walking partner” was a third-grader named George, a sweet but scatter-brained little fellow with gigantic brown eyes peeking out from unruly bangs.

George was the Pig-Pen of the choir, and since I had known his mother from the time she was a child, I knew that was just his nature. One afternoon, I came into the choir room and was greeted by the notes of the iconic Dave Brubeck composition”Take Five” being practiced on the baby grand.

Over and over, phrase by phrase, George was perfecting his own “Take Five” with great discipline, that 5/4 syncopation rolling out of those thick little fingers. The notes from the piano took on a new voice as the boy took them for his own.

Progress, not perfection December 6, 2012

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Item: Check up with Dr Jancich, Oncologist. She had not seen me with the full effects of Azilect, so she was amazed at the overall improvement of my PD symptoms. The labs came back fine, so RTC in three months with next MRI in June.

Item:  Full clearance, no restrictions to my exercise program, per Dr Lea, Neurologist and Movement Disorder Specialist, therefore follows:

Item:  Livestrong Program, best workout ever.  Kept up with group.   Found new strength and courage to deepen my commitment to continue.  Renewed emphasis on breath.  My new fitness goal  includes learning the use the elliptical walker.

I am encouraged.

Happy New Year December 2, 2012

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Today is the First Sunday in Advent, beginning of the Christian year.  This is a time to watch, wait, prepare, and put on the armor of light, which sounds like a directive to string lights and wear sparkly earrings.  The Advent hymnody is rich and varied, with plenty to keep the voice and spirit singing until the Christ child comes on Christmas Eve.  There is no need for “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” or even my favorite conversion song, “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” until after the shopping season.

My multi-talented, too-ADD-to-use-Facebook BFF called one morning with a tale of defrosting the freezer in their garage. She was looking in her files under “A” for the instructions. Suddenly, the professional mezzo-soprano burst into song: ‘O, come. O come. Amana Manual…”. Advent will never be the same. BTW, the freezer was a Tappan.

“Anything worth… December 1, 2012

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“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly”–G. K. Chesterton

I have thought of that quote throughout the day as I spent more than a few frustrating hours RTFM-ing.  The WordPress.com tutorials are excellent, I am sure, for those who are patient and compliant enough to read and follow directions, but for me, with a bit of a problem in the concentration department, I have made more mis-steps than progress. 

So when I checked for a citation on the Chesterton quote, I should not have been surprised to find a magazine article by Cami Ostman, M.S, in Psychology Today about exchanging perfectionism for joy.  One of my own personal favorites of fruits of the Spirit, joy keeps life juicy, keeps everything lubricated when lugubrious is running close behind.  Parkinson’s keeps me from running anywhere, not that I ever would, but I have given myself permission to get this going marthasway, one step at a time.

My dearest high school teacher, Sidney Whitefield, who provided me with sanctuary for three awkward, redemptive years, often said that I was one of the most creative people she knew.  I had the gift of making every mistake there was, but also the wisdom to learn from each solution. I have lost big chunks of text, explication, and maybe even an amusing anecdote or two these past two days, but I hope that I have learned enough that marthasway will be a good thing.

Take a deep breath November 28, 2012

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Breathing.  I recommend it.  Regularly or raggedly or shallowly, just remember to breathe.  I found my shoulders and jaw clenched tight while fighting for my name, my eyes squinted and forehead furrowed, all because I wasn’t getting my way with a computer.  Round and round, there was no way I could win without surrender.  A spiritual giant I once knew often said, “Life is a series of deeper and deeper surrenders.”.

So now I remember to breathe as I step into this new adventure.  My steps today are shaky ones, but there is no pain unless I insist on climbing or reaching.  I think I will take a nap; it’s always best to lead with our strengths.