Sunday, February 23, 2014

halfway there

I always thank my God when I mention you in my prayers, 
because I hear of your love and faith toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints. 
I pray that your participation in the faith may become effective through knowing 
every good thing that is in us for the glory of Christ. 
For I have great joy and encouragement from your love, 
because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.
Philemon 1:4-7

Last Tuesday, I had my 15th radiation treatment, marking the halfway point.  The day was celebrated with a massage, which was a gift from my wonderful husband for Valentine's Day, followed by visits from two friends, both of whom stopped by with hugs and gifts to celebrate my halfway mark.  I am blessed to have such an amazing support network!  I am greatly encouraged by all the encouragement I have received from wonderful friends and family in my life.
I am relieved to have more treatments behind me than before me now.
I have learned (or re-learned) a few things thus far in my journey.  Even more things will come to light these next few weeks, I am sure, but for now...
Similarities begin and end with a diagnosis or the circumstance.  No two journeys are exactly alike.  Nor will anyone's response to their diagnosis and treatment, trauma, or circumstance exactly match another's.  When sharing your experience with someone going through something similar to yours, speak carefully and assume nothing about how you think things should be handled or how "normal" it is to feel a certain way about things.  Allowances for individuality should be granted in hard times just as they are in normal, everyday life.      
Stress expresses itself in strange ways.  I have always known that I carry stress in my neck and shoulders.  It is no different this time around.  However, I have discovered for myself in these past few months/weeks, I internalize everything under stress.  I clam up, but my brain goes into overdrive. Things said are processed more deeply.  Love is shared more freely.  Hurts are felt more intensely.  It is an exhausting process to try and find balance between logic and feeling.
Support makes itself available.  Seek it out.  Accept it.  Allow people the blessing of offering it however they are willing and able.  Appreciate it.  Give it in return as you find opportunity to do so.
Seasons come and go...so do people.  There is a poem that starts out..."People come into our life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime." by the infamous "Author Unknown", according to most sources on the internet.  Like it or not, it is true...and we have no control over it.  Nor should we think we can or ought to have any control over their coming and going.  If we trust that God has a purpose for our lives, we can trust that He has a purpose in whom He allows in it and out of it.  Negative energy is wasted energy.  Chasing after those who want to exit the scene for whatever reason is not an option.
Strength is...in letting go.  asking for help.  facing fear head on.  submission.  the name of Jesus.
Simplicity exists in the small things.  Scripture.  Bed time stories.  Coffee.  Hugs.  Messages.  Ice cream.  Weights.  MacGyver reruns.  Photos.  Memories.  Quietness.  Laughter.  Sleep.
Sweating and Tom's all natural deodorant are not a match made in heaven.  One has to switch to a all natural type of deodorant during radiation treatments.  One without aluminum is Tom's.  Let's face it, though, honestly, Tom's does not endure 60 minutes of cardio, nor 30...not even close.  Good grief, it does nothing for you even when you do nothing.  Come on, March 12th!  My first day of freedom and antiperspirant use again can not come soon enough.  My gym membership depends upon it.
Setting a daily goal to reach helps you focus.  No matter how big or small the goal is for the day, do everything possible to make it happen.  Something has happened and focusing on any given task has become terribly difficult.  I force myself to get something accomplished each day.  Whether for myself or someone else does not matter.  I feel better and I sharpen my focusing skills when goals are met.
Sticking to something routine-ish encourages normalcy.  When nothing feels normal, neither do I.  If nothing else is the norm for me, I rely on my 100 pushups to give me my normalcy.  Been doing them since August, so it was something normal before cancer, surgery, recovery, and radiation.  Has nothing to do with them at all, actually.  I like that.
and, finally...
Smile.  Because you can.

Friday, February 21, 2014

seeing beyond the stereotype [2]

A friend once told me that you have to get out of a prime city in order to get a real feel for the area in which you are visiting.  When we drove through Vegas on our roadtrip a couple of years ago, I saw the beauty of the desert unlike ever before.  If you have never seen Vegas from a plane at night, you're missing out on a beautiful city of lights.  And, if you never leave your hotel while there, you'll miss out on some wonderful sights within and without the city itself.  This trip was short, but full of adventure and beauty.  (I will not even begin to speak about the food...let's just say I am thankful for stairs, long corridors, and the fitness center in our hotel!)
on the shore
solo duck
Nevada Stonehenge
dessert blooms
lake mead
architectural beauty
Hoover Dam
enjoying the view

Then, there's always the beauty of humor... :)
rebellion

Thursday, February 20, 2014

seeing red

"USA Today has come out with a new survey - apparently, three out of every four
people make up 75% of the population."
~David Letterman

Never before has a report about a "survey" brought out so much emotion in me that I feel the need to mention it, let alone blog about it.  However, earlier this month, I read an article published by The Week, "The science behind anti-redhead prejudice", written by Greg Stevens, The Kernel, February 4, 2014.  Like with any magazine or publication, there are times when I agree or disagree with their topics, their information, or their views.  I have read this publication often and found most times to not be moved one way or the other by their reports.  
Not so this time.
When this article first appeared on my facebook homepage, it intrigued me because I am a natural "ginger".  (Did this term come about because of "Ginger" on Gilligan's Island?  Just wondering.)  Anyway, I read it.  
I lost 5 minutes of life I will never get back.
Really.
The first thing that I thought, and perhaps even said out loud was, "You've got to be kidding me."  Did they really take the time to put wigs on people and then ask them to go into a nightclub for this "survey"?  (I use the term very lightly in this case.)  Wigs?  In a nightclub?  They call this research?
Really.
Oh, then it gets better.  
The article goes on to talk about freckles being "cancer factories" and that they "can serve as quite a biological 'warning sign'".  This apparently crosses others' minds more than it does mine because the first thing that I think about when I see another redhead is NOT when he/she is going to receive a cancer diagnosis.  In fact, if you are a true redhead, you know for a fact that we are smothered in sunscreen from the day we're born and reminded even well into adulthood to apply and reapply often when in the sun.  Much to our dismay at times.  We know our limitations and our risks and do something about it.
Just when my blood was beginning to boil, the article continues its nonsense by quoting Charles Darwin.  
Yes, Darwin.  Commence rolling of eyes in disgust and shaking of head in disbelief.
It seems that redheads are a result of less genetic mixing, therefore we are less strong, genetically speaking.  According to the article, we are biased against this.  Apparently people do a lot more thinking about this sort of thing than I do. 
The writer of the article tries to end on a happy note...I think.  Fails at doing so, in my book, but an effort was made to do so at least.  It is too bad that I was so not into the research methods and reasoning from the beginning for by the ending I honestly could not have cared less.  The "research data", if you can call it that, was so lame from the get go that nothing more could be trusted after the opening paragraph.  Especially when a personal lifetime of research of my own goes against everything assumed by the information gathered for this project.
gingerIf you judge my attractiveness based on the things mentioned in this article, then please, by all means, bypass me when our paths cross.  You will be hard pressed to find me in a nightclub, however, so do not waste your time scouting out the joint when you enter.  Attractiveness is more than a hair color.  It is found in the whole package...the overall person...looks, personality, character, demeanor, etc.  There has to be more to this bias, if one truly exists, than what this article has to offer.  If you walked with me in public, you'd know how many women want my hair color...I find it hardly a negative for gingers when women walk away disappointed I cannot offer a specific brand or my colorist's number.
If a redhead is not attractive to you, then fine.  Fill in the blank with any other hair color as well.  We all have our preferences.  However, my guess is that someone's longstanding attractiveness has to do with something more than just the color of their hair, even if hair color may have drawn your attention to them first off.  
My name is Janet and I am a ginger.  I answer to "Red" with a smile.

seeing beyond the stereotype

“While I was busy hating Vegas, and hiding from Vegas, a funny thing happened. I grew to love Vegas.”
- J. R. Moehringer

Okay, so maybe "love" is not exactly how I feel about Vegas, but there is more to Vegas than what you have heard or perhaps even experienced.  This city has a draw to it.  People flock from all over to come here to the entertainment capital of the world.  It is a city full of all sorts of attractions...you will find here that which you seek.  Do not stay away just because of the stories you may hear.  Experience Vegas for yourself and then form an opinion.
Welcome to Vegas
Bellagio
year of the horse
fremont street experience
DSC_0383
DSC_0393
mirrored image roses are red
viva las vegas
sunset in the city
Bellagio Fountains
Okay, so this one is more about fun than beauty...love me some Pawn Stars!
tourist trap

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

bird's eye view

A business trip took us out to Las Vegas in mid January.  My sister and brother-in-law came flew out and joined us during down time from the convention.  We had an wonderful time doing amazing things together.  Some first time awesomeness took place, too, like flying over and into the Grand Canyon in a helicopter!  It was so exciting to finally get to mark off this bucket list item.  It was an amazing trip from beginning to end.
A shuttle bus picked us up at our hotel and took us to an airport in Boulder City.  There we boarded a 10 passenger plane for our flight over to the Grand Canyon.  The flight was simply beautiful as the sun rose over the mountains while we were in the sky.  The sights of the trip included, but were not limited to, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Colorado River, and the Grand Canyon's edge.
The next mode of transportation was the best of the day: the helicopter!  It was so awesome to finally get to be in a helicopter...and, I had the privilege to sit in the front seat beside the pilot...I was just a little excited.  Once we landed on the Grand Canyon's floor, we were taken on a boat tour of the Colorado River.  It was around 8:30 AM by this time and barely 40° F.  Kind of a chilly boat ride, but so totally worth it.
Once off the boat, the helicopter ride back to the airport was just as fun as the first.  It gives one a better perspective of just how large and how grand the canyon really is.  A bus ride, not that unlike the one through Denali National Park, was the next item on the agenda.  We made three stops at locations along the West edge of the Grand Canyon: Hualapai Ranch, Eagle Point/Skywalk, and Guano Point.  We had lunch provided for us at Guano Point after hiking up Ant Hill.
On the flight back to the Boulder City airport, I sat in amazement at what our morning had held.  Sometimes things just simply are too wonderful to believe...but, I have photos to prove to myself that it actually happened. :)
moon over Vegas
Hoover Dam from the sky
edge of the Grand Canyon
our ride
over the edge
Grand Canyon landing
inside the Grand Canyon
sisters on the Colorado River
Eagle Point, Grand Canyon
view from Ant Hill
Ant Hill, Grand Canyon

Monday, February 17, 2014

Go Fish!

"Look at where Jesus went to pick people. He didn't go to the colleges; he got guys off the fishing docks."
~Jeff Foxworthy

My final post from our trip to Key West...I have enjoyed remembering our vacation moments these past few days.  If you have been around this blog for very long at all, it is apparent that we enjoy fishing as a family. We aren't that competitive until there are fishing poles involved.  Then, it's game on.  
When we arrive at a coastline destination, as long as the weather cooperates, we have our sights on fishing at least once.  Key West has been good fishing for us before as I shared about it here...and it was good fishing for us again this year. :)
cooperation
weather totally cooperated with our plans
photo bomber
Alex getting in on the action.
floppy fish
Tim's not a fan of flopping fish.
winner, winner, fish dinner
We all had a good laugh at this catch of the day. :)
coolsharky3: catch of the day (bonnethead shark)
My bonnethead shark...it was awesome!
yellowtail snapper
Yellow tails are my favorite...so pretty.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

trying something new

For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. 
We are pressured in every way but not crushed;
we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned;
we are struck down but not destroyed.
 2 Corinthians 4:6-9
little clay beauties
When in Key West in January, I had the opportunity to try something new.  I had two individual lessons on throwing clay with Grace from Pottery by Grace. Her studio where the lessons took place is Rubies & Clay on Whitehead Street in Key West.  Talented at what she does, it was so fun to learn from her.  In two hours my first day I had three pieces turn out okay.  I had a chance to throw more than that, but two went South due to beginner's error. :)  She was a great instructor...personable, easy to learn from and talk to as the hours and clay flew by.
In my second session, I attempted to put into practice all the things I had learned in session one.  I threw 5 more chunks of clay and then learned about trimming the creations from session one.  Grace finished them for me and sent them to me in the mail  I now have mementos of my lessons and trying something brand new for me in Key West.  I love how they turned out!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Icemaggedon

“Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.”
~Victor Hugo
Winter returned this week. *sigh*
So, somewhat reluctantly, I interrupt the Key West programming, to bring you an update on the week's crazy winter weather.  Icemaggedon began on Tuesday as a day of rain, followed by another morning of rain/freezing rain.  Eventually, sleet and snow fell atop the 1/2-3/4 inch of ice.  It was mentally fatiguing as Sunday was sunny and 73°.  Even more so than in Indiana, if you do not like Georgia weather, just wait five minutes and we'll be in an entire different season.
Moments of beauty in the storm...
frozen raindrops suspended ice cicles afternoon ice cicles iced over snow and sky sparkle Alex togetherness

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sunset Celebration

Mallory Square marketplace Having been to Key West once before,  but not spending the night there, we knew little about where the best spot to view the sunset would be until we Googled it.  Mallory Square is the place to be for sunset on Key West, we found out.  We set out our first night to find this infamous spot, after sunset due to dinner going past 5 pm, in order to be prepared for the next clear night.  It was a busy, populated area next to the water's edge.  Shops, a restaurant, and street performers are vying for this same space people are trying to claim at sunset each evening.
Mallory Square, Key West, Floriday On the next clear night, we set out in plenty of time to reach Mallory Square in time for some sunset captures.  What I was not prepared for was the elbow to elbow crowd which had gathered there already. We squeezed in to a spot (barely).  Hundreds...I am not kidding...hundreds had made their way to the southwestern edge of Key West to take in the view.
Mallory Square crowd
I have never shared a sunset in such a manner before with so many strangers...chatty, loud strangers.  There was no hush falling over this crowd anytime soon.  In fact, as the sun dipped below the horizon a cheer arose from the masses.  A cheer??!!  It was the craziest thing ever for people to be hollering and applauding the sun as it fell from view.  Really.  It happened.
Sunset over Key West 2014
Guess what they did next.
As fast as they could, the masses left.  As if the ballgame had just ended and it was time to move on.  Gone. Not a look back.
And they missed the best part of the night.
As a more quiet attitude overtook the scene, the sunset became even more beautiful as it often does once the sun drops below sea level.
after the sun goes down

If they only knew...but for a moment I was thankful they didn't. :)