Best Course of Action

My mom and her sister, my Aunt Elizabeth, are breast cancer survivors. My dear friend, Shannon, lost her battle with breast cancer. I witnessed each of these women respond with bravery and courage to a disease that has touched so many.

Geneva’s Daughter Instant Friends

Because of my family history and personal health issues, I have mammograms regularly and see a specialist. And though my personal health history does not include cancer, it does include a lumpectomy, multiple biopsies, and MRIs.

I DO NOT LIKE MRIs AT ALL...

Today was my six-month checkup, including an ultrasound. Dense tissue makes detection difficult. And even though the doctor saw nothing alarming, she recommended another MRI and follow-up again in six months.

When MRI was mentioned today, I kind of zoned out for a moment. I began to feel the anxiety that accompanied my previous MRI. Yes, I survived. But it was definitely an emotional challenge.

Once again, I found myself feeling anxious. For clarification, I asked, “So, you think I should definitely have an MRI?” “Yes. You meet the risk factors. I believe it is the best course of action for you.”

On the drive home, I was tempted to let worry start creeping in. But then I had some thankful thoughts. A doctor who is thorough and gives me her honest opinion. Health insurance to help cover this cost. The knowledge that if there is ever an issue, this test will find it early.

So, I will stay on this course of action, even though it makes me nervous. And I will continue to encourage all my women friends to remain vigilant in fighting this disease.

Get your mammograms! And even an MRI, if necessary. 💗💗💗

Front Porch Swing

Legs crossed
One foot planted
Firmly on the floor
Securely guiding me
Back and forth
A gentle rocking
Not the flying
To the sky
Back and forth
Of childhood
No-this is
The swaying
Of contemplation
A vantage point
For the familiar-
Scenes now fuzzy
Thanks to frayed lines
On well-worn
Window screens-
Yet, beauty remains
Holding power to
Release a rush of
Memories even
As clarity fades-
New-found gratitude
Blurs my restlessness
With each image seen
With each motion felt
With each moment spent
On the front porch swing

Family Dinner

I love the times when our family gets together. I wrote a poem some weeks ago about that very subject, and this evening brought it to mind.

Today was the first day for teachers to report back to school. A long day for me and my daughter, Rachel. A long day for my husband in his role with school technology.

The first day back is always tiring. The alarm goes off so early. And add to that our current health concerns with Covid-19, the stress levels are high.

Enter my brother-in-law, Martin. He is in town for a few days, doing some work around my mother-in-law’s house. And he offered to make dinner for the whole family.

Dinner on this first day of reporting back to school. And not just any dinner-ribeye steaks, asparagus, salad, and grilled peaches. What a treat!

We sat around the table laughing, enjoying the company. We felt loved. Refilled so that we can pass on that love. What a special place to be. ❤

At the Table

Family and friends
On either side
Faces lighting up the room
Enjoying a favorite meal
A warm cup of coffee
Creating new memories
While recalling old ones
What about a stranger?
A favorite meal
Not yet known
No memories to share
Only ones to create
Taking a chance
Caring enough to ask
About a favorite meal
Offer a warm cup of coffee
A timeless lesson-
The people at the table
Matter more than
What is being served-
And before anything else,
Love must be given
A seat at the table

Grandpa

Grandpa worked hard
His entire life
Married young
Raised nine kids
In the country
Strong and stubborn
But loved to laugh
Mellowed over time
Without a doubt
Dealt with struggles
That I never knew
I see him in overalls
After a long day-
Promising to dance
At my wedding-
Liked to argue
Loved his family
Was always ready to
Welcome them home
Looking forward to
Family gathering later
That very day-
But early in the morning
While everyone slept
After waking early
Making the coffee
He sat in his favorite chair
At the young age of 67
Grandpa died on
The Fourth of July

One Hundred

I love seeing birthday celebrations for those who’ve made it to one-hundred. A century is a log time-so many things to witness and experience. These individuals always seem to have a funny, yet wise piece of advice. Two I recently read were-just keep going and take naps. ❤

Birthday Wish

I always say
I’d like to live
At least a
Hundred years
Since I’m over
Half-way there
The thought doesn’t
Seem so strange
My family would plan
A great big party
Biggest cake
You’ve ever seen
With one hundred
Sparkling candles
Lighting up
The entire room
Sitting at the piano
I’d play a familiar tune
As party guests loudly sang
Happy birthday to me!
I’d blow out all the candles
And make my birthday wish
A hundred-year-old hope
For lasting peace and rest

100 Years-Five for Fighting
I’m ninety nine for a moment
Dying for just another moment
And I’m just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are
Fifteen there’s still time for you
Twenty two I feel her too
Thirty three you’re on your way
Every day’s a new day
Fifteen there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey fifteen, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got hundred years to live

In Tune

Last week a piano technician came and tuned my new piano. Even though it is a beautiful new instrument, there are several reasons it needed tuning. Being moved to a new location. Sitting in a different space, with different temperatures, on a different type of floor. All factors that affect the way it sounds.

I listened as the technician worked. She listened to such tiny details. The way she would tune one note to its octave counterpart. When I played those notes together in a chord, I didn’t notice that they were out of tune. But hearing her pick them all apart, it was obvious.

The mechanics of a piano are fascinating. My explanation to students is usually simplified. Your finger presses down the key, which causes a hammer inside the piano to strike a string producing the sound.

Watching my piano being taken apart, actually viewing the insides, gave me a new perspective. Each piece has its place and must be perfectly aligned to produce a high-quality sound. Even a new piano needs time to adjust and sometimes requires a little assistance.

One thing stood out above the rest, voicing. I asked the technician about adjusting the voicing, making it a little less bright. Basically, taking the edge off of the sound. She explained that part of that process involves the felt material on the hammers.

A needle is used to soften the felt. When done correctly, it does not damage the material. It just slightly changes the way the hammers strike the strings.

Once the piano was put back together, I sat down to play. Wow! What a difference. Not only was it in tune, but it also had a much warmer tone. The sharp edge had been softened.

This experience made me think about my life. What if I’m in a new place, with new surroundings, expectations, and people? What if my reaction is one of fear or frustration? My words may sound edgy, sharp, or out of tune.

Like the felt on those hammers, something inside me needs to be softened. An adjustment might come in the form of an honest word from a trusted friend. Yes, stings for a moment. But the sting will not last if accepted with grace. The knowledge that someone loves me that much, however, is lasting.

Hopefully, as I continue playing my piano, I will be reminded to check my own tone. And will gracefully accept any needed adjustments to keep me in-tune with my husband and children, family and friends, the world around me.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17

Schumann Arabesque Opus 18. One of my favorite piano pieces. Only the beginning theme and the conclusion. ❤

A Little Warmth

Our Sunday evening Chinese take-out was more yummy than usual. Although the day started on the dreary side, the sun came out this afternoon. Only a few clouds and the early evening temperature was perfect.

So, what does that have to do with the take-out? Well, we decided to eat dinner outside on the deck. The fresh air felt so good. And while we ate, my feet were soaking up the sunshine. The combination helped ease the tensions of the day.

Once we were done eating, my family went back inside. I decided to linger awhile. Moving to another chair, I turned directly toward the sun. Head back, eyes closed, sweet warmth covered my face.

Those few moments alone in the sun were just what I needed. Soon, the sunshine was hidden by the clouds, so I went inside. My daughter asked if I’d like to go for a walk. Off we went.

As we walked through the neighborhood, we noticed birds singing. Ducks were swimming in a pond, and there was even a turtle sticking its head out of the water. There was a family playing frisbee. Neighbors waved from their front porches.

We rounded a corner, and guess what I felt on my face once again? That warm sunshine. And now it was beginning to set. Not only providing warmth but also beauty.

Back home, it was time for reflection. These are unsettling days. Keeping our distance, missing my friends, missing my co-workers and students. Wanting answers to questions. Wondering how long this will last. And on and on and on.

Sometimes, the simplest things make the biggest difference. Take-out on the deck. Sunshine on my face. A walk with my daughter. Food, sun, and family-It is amazing the power of a little warmth.

Oh, I almost forgot. And music-music helps, too. 😉

Fire and Rain

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way
James Taylor

Welcomed Guest

Computer screen
A dozen windows
Energetic teacher
Excited students
Smile and wave
Learning together
Finding their way
In this new normal
Students engaged
Sharing projects
Listening intently
A read-a-loud
Started before
Quarantine
Now continued
...during
In this new
Familiar
Yet, unfamiliar
Space
Older siblings
Quietly sneak 
In the background
Hoping to be seen
Younger siblings
Sit in laps
Soaking up
Extra attention
And me?
Grateful to witness
The energy of
A dedicated teacher
Grateful to see
Smiling faces
Hear familiar voices
To say, “I miss you.”
Grateful to be
A face in one
Of those windows-
A welcomed guest

Quarantine Dream

I had the strangest dream. The first dream I can remember from the last several weeks.

I was walking alone in our neighborhood. The sun was setting, it was beginning to get dark, but I did not turn around and head home. As I continued walking, I noticed a stranger approaching.

I remember feeling a little uneasy. What should I do? Turn around? Cross the street? But no, I kept walking. And soon, this stranger was right in front of my face.

We were soon having an in-depth conversation. I was sharing details of a personal, emotional story with this person I had never seen. It struck me as odd to be sharing this story with a complete stranger.

One other thing struck me as strange. This person seemed to have no sense of personal space. He was listening intently, but his face was only a few inches away from mine. A little uncomfortable, to say the least. Yet, I continued talking.

I had to laugh as I gave this dream some thought. The idea of reunions has been on my mind. I picture a day when I will go back to school, meet a friend for coffee, visit family. In each scenario, those involved physically knock one another over as we reconnect with hugs, laughter, and tears.

If I spend too much time on that picture, sadness creeps in. Right now, we don’t know when that will happen. But our plans remain aimed at that day somewhere in the future. And as we plan, we hope.

Until then, my quarantine dream reminds me of the importance of connections. Get ready friends, I am looking forward to some “knockdown” hugs. And though I also hope for new connections in the future, I’d prefer ones that are a little less creepy. 😉

Unknowns

Our current circumstances are filled with many unknowns.

There is a new virus spreading quickly. How long will it spread? I don’t know.

As a teacher, I will be planning for distance learning. What exactly will that look like? I don’t know.

I must stay at home. When will I be able to hug my extended family and friends again? I don’t know.

Upcoming travel plans have been canceled. When will they be rescheduled? I don’t know.

I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of that phrase. 😉

I may be oversimplifying, but somehow admitting that I don’t know helps a little. It forces me to take a step back and breathe. To realize these circumstances are new to all of us.

Earlier today, I found myself feeling frustrated over some of these unknowns. The voice inside my head kept saying, “Just breathe.” Then I remembered an exercise I often have students do when it is time to regroup and focus.

  1. Breathe in through your nose. 1, 2, 3, 4.
  2. Breathe out through your mouth. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
  3. Repeat as often as needed.

I just did the exercise twice. Yes, I know it is simple. But right now, simplicity is what we need. At least, it is what I need.

So, what else is on my simple list? Coffee, music, texts, and phone calls are near the top. Zoom and FaceTime are also on the list. But grace and love are at the very top.

As I breathe out my frustrations, I breathe in the need to show grace. And showing grace is an expression of love. And I don’t know about you-sorry, there it is again-I need all the love and grace I can get right now. Especially during this time of unknowns.

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 59:16