Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rough Sailing

I haven't written in awhile. Partly because I've been busy with work and partly because I'm stressed out. But today I'm writing because I'm sad and just wanted to write.

It's been a rough week. I found out Wednesday that a friend's husband had passed away. My friend is in her mid-30s. It doesn't hardly seem fair the hand that life has dealt her. I can only imagine what this week has been like for her. You see, she and her husband were excited to finally be catching a break. Her husband had suffered from kidney disease for several years and after a long, long road of dialysis, a kidney transplant offered the hope of a new life, a new beginning, a chance to finally LIVE. The transplant went well. Things were looking good. People were congratulating them on the hope of their new future. Then, as life would have it, in just a blink of an eye, things took a turn for the worse. He became septic and was on life support and just days passed before he was no longer walking this earth with us. The hope of a new beginning was devastated by the passing of a "gentle giant" of a man. My heart aches for the future that could have been but will never be and tears fall for the pain my friend must be feeling.

Normally, I'm a very sympathetic person. It's typically not difficult for me to put myself into another person's shoes and somewhat experience the pain they are going through but today I had to work and I had a very hard time doing this. I had an 81 year old woman come in to pick up her medication. She made a comment that her husband had been in the hospital and recently passed away at which point I immediately said I was sorry to hear that. But when I told her to have a good day and she grumbled something about there won't be anymore of those I felt like yelling "at least you had a lifetime with her husband. My friend had five years. How is that fair!" Thankfully, I bit my tongue because a lifetime or not, it's painful to lose your best friend but that didn't mean I wasn't on the verge of tears right there in the middle of my pharmacy. Perhaps I should have taken them up on the offer of having the entire weekend off. . .

Monday, September 22, 2008

Results Not Typical

It’s hard for me to believe that what I’ve done over the past eleven months is “not typical.” I get up at 4:45 AM, Monday through Friday to exercise. I found an amazing program through the internet called Bay State Adventure Boot Camp that literally wears me out for an hour every morning while the rest of the world is still laying around in bed. By 6:30, I’m smelly and sweaty and completely psyched that I’ve done something so good for myself.

What I like most about boot camp is I don’t have to think about it. I set my alarm, get up, go to boot camp and Alexis and Erica have the entire workout planned. I just have to do what they tell me to. It’s never boring. It’s never redundant. It’s different every day, not just for the exercise but depending on the people that are there that day. Alexis and Erica motivate me every step of the way but so do the other ladies from camp. It still amazes me how many people come up to me and tell me how good I look. (Thanks!) And while I know I’ve lost a lot of weight, I also know there’s a long way to go still.

As with most people, the journey of my weight loss started several years ago. I was sort of successful with other programs. I lost 20 pounds going to weekly meetings but it wasn’t fun and one day a week wasn’t enough motivation for me. When I moved away from that area I stopped follow the program. Two years into graduate school and I’d gained 50 pounds from eating too much greasy fast food. I decided that it was time to do something about this especially since I was in the health care business. There’s nothing like having a doctor tell you to stop smoking and then seeing him standing on the corner puffing on his own cigarette. That’s kind of how I felt. How could I possibly tell someone they needed to exercise more and take better care of themselves if I wasn’t doing that myself? So I Googled personal fitness trainers one day and found Bay State Adventure Boot Camp.

I will never forget my first day of boot camp! My body was not happy to be up that early and certainly was not impressed with what I was making it do. Now, fifty-five pounds lighter, I don’t really care what my body thinks of me! The little aches and pains, and even the major set backs requiring time off (bursitis and a car accident with whiplash), and I’m still going to boot camp five days a week. You couldn’t possibly get me to stop going! I love this program and I love the people I’ve met through it.

Besides looking and feeling so much healthier, I’ve been amazed at the other areas in my life that boot camp has affected. Boot camp has given me back so much more than I ever put in to it. It’s given me back my music. I can sing and play my flutes without gasping for air anymore! It’s given me back mountains and nature! I LOVE being outside and now I’m not panting and stopping every five minutes when I’m climbing mountains. In fact, I ran up part of the last mountain I climbed! It’s also given me back the children in my life. I can outlast my niece and nephew when we’re out playing! I can keep up with my cousin’s two year old with a smile on my face! That’s all in the past year! Next year. . . a triathlon!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not Always What We Appear To Be

This will probably be a pretty random blog if I write everything that's been on my mind lately! I apologize for the sporadic changes of topic beforehand :)

I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex this morning after boot camp and kind of had to laugh about the little red sports cars "status symbols" parked in the back lot. One has a license plate that says "VOGUE" and it's had a flat tire for months. MONTHS. What's the point of spending all your money for a fancy car you can't fix? The other little red sports car has it's muffler held on with some wire that looks surprisingly like a coat hanger. Again, what's the point? Spend all your money so you can look like you have money but when in fact you take a closer look, you're as broke as the rest of the world. Hmmm, I guess that does kind of sound like an American thing to do. . .

The other day I went out for coffee with a friend of mine. We spent the majority of the time talking about whether we were ever going to have kids. I said no, not really. We went through the whole "selfish" thing. Neither of us think it's selfish. I like my lifestyle. I like being able to throw things in a bag in five minutes or less and head over to a friend's house for the night. I like being able to take off for the weekend and only have to worry that my cats have food and water and a litter box. I think it's more selfish to think that you're so highly important that you need to continue your gene pool and raise a snotty little brat that you can't discipline in this country. Okay, maybe selfish wasn't the right word but with the government and other people sticking their nose into everyone else's bedrooms, child rearing habits and all our other personal business, I think it's seriously detrimental to the well being of children these days. Whoever heard of a school shooting when teachers could still spank kids? These days teachers are too afraid of their kids to discipline them. Heck, I've talked to parents this week who don't hug their children, even in the privacy of their own home, because they're afraid of what might happen to them. How is that good for the kids?

My friend and I also talked a little about jobs and careers. I've been a pharmacist for a whole whoping month now and I have to say. . . I LOVE it! I'm so happy to be done with school and working again. I never thought I'd say that. But I am really enjoying what I do now. Now, I firmly believe that people should do what they love but I know from my own experience that many of us can't live off the salaries of what it is that we love. I have too many friends that are artists of one sort or another (writers, painters, musicians, etc.) who are living between friends, living with parents, between jobs, just doing whatever it is that they can do to live the life they want to live. I've seen people take this to the extreme where they'd be living from a backpack, biking to the grocery store miles away, because they believe and love the environment so much that they don't want their footprint to be the one that destroys the atmosphere, etc. They spend days teaching the children how to love the world they live in and the rest of the time showing the world how to do that. And they LOVE it. They wouldn't change a thing. It's called courage to be able to do what you love and turn away from the critisism of the rest of the world that thinks money is everything. It takes a leap of faith to walk a path that the world sees as different and it's these people that I love meeting. I know by looking at my life from the surface, I have a well paying job, I live in a nice apartment, etc. that I don't really look like I walk any path other than what the world sees as normal but get to know me and you'll see things are not what they always appear to be.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Too Good?

Do you ever think life can be too good? Sometimes I think that when I'm as happy as I've been lately that somewhere along the way karma's going to come along and knock the chair I'm sitting on right out from underneath of me.

But things have been great lately. Here's the newsflash: I am NOT moving to Maine. I should have realized that things that sound too good to be true probably are. I gave up a lot of money to stay where I want to be and you know what, I'm very happy with the decision I've made! I told my boss and the recruiter from Maine today that I was not going to be moving to Maine. The recruiter basically said thanks anyway and my boss said "There IS a God!" Hmmm, I think I made the right choice. I've been working a lot lately and the last two days have been great! I worked in two different stores and both of them want me there full time. It's so great to feel appreciated! Who wants to leave a situation like that! Yeah, the money would be nice but I have a regular income now that actually pays the bills and there's still some left over at the end of the day! Eventually the school loans will get paid off. Until then I'll muddle through just like always.

I've had a nice break from boot camp this week. I think my body needed some down time. That being said, I hiked six miles one day, walked/ran two miles another day and walked two miles today. Oh and biked almost five miles another day. I just had the opportunity to sleep in on those days!

Life is amazingly good right now! Who could ask for anything more?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I Survived

When a dream you have finally happens and the person who started you on that path is no longer in your life it makes for some crazy mixed emotions. Kelly, my ex-girlfriend is the one who pointed me down the path towards pharmacy school. I haven't heard from her in several years now and as I sat at the pharmacy today, my first day as a pharmacist, this was what I thought about.

Dear Kelly,

As I sit here behind the counter of the pharmacy, my first day as a licensed pharmacist, you are on my mind. What a strange thought to occur after not having heard from you in several years. But then I realize that maybe it's not so strange because had it not been for you, I may very well not be where I am today. Life is strange sometimes, the twists and turns and blows we have to survive to get to where we dream of being. I think I thought about you today because this was a dream we started together, me being a pharmacist. And now, this is a dream I've realized without you. It was a lonely first day at the pharmacy. I thought about how I was going to come home to my empty apartment and it made me miss having someone to share my dreams with. I am the only one of my friends from pharmacy school that comes home to an empty house. It's not usually something I think about. I have plenty of friends and family that have pulled me through pharmacy school. Who have dealt with the blood, sweat and tears that came with it. And part of me is glad you didn't see that side of me. But part of me wishes you could see just how strong all this has made me. I don't mind being alone. I know that if it's supposed to be any other way, it will happen when it happens. Until then I'm happy with my life.

I've done some pretty amazing things since I last saw you. Not the least of which is finishing pharmacy school and getting licensed. I've also traveled around the country. Trips that at one time I probably would have liked to take with you, but I've gone with friends or even total strangers who became friends and I've loved every moment of it. I've spent almost two months on Indian Reservations in the past year. I've been from Arizona and New Mexico to Maine, from Florida to South Dakota, from Missouri to Wisconsin and back home to Massachusetts. I've seen the beauty of this country and grown to love it in a way that I never had before. It's amazing the layout of this country and the dreams it inspires.

In the past nine months my friends from school and here in Massachusetts have watched as I've transformed my somewhat goal-less life into a path of change which the momentum has yet to slow. I joined a fitness program after my life changing experiences in New Mexico. I've lost nearly 50 pounds and found a new life and a passion for life that I never had before. Chances are, a year from now I may just be completing my first triathlon. The long term goal is to be a head turner! For now I'll settle for the small goals that add up to that one big goal. It's been one baby step at a time and I finally managed to run a mile without stopping the other day. In ten minutes and seventeen seconds. Not bad considering in April it was taking me eleven minutes and fifty-four seconds!

I'm also getting ready to move to Maine. I'll be living up near my grandma and working at the pharmacy where she gets her prescriptions filled. It'll be nice to be out of the city despite the many people I will miss when I leave. I'm sure it'll be like when I moved down here, I'll be back as much as I can. I'm excited to be living near family for the first time in my life. Speaking of family, it's grown in the last year. I now have two nephews and a niece. My sister adopted an adorable two year old, Matthew. He's certainly going to keep them on their toes! Erin starts school on Monday. Can you believe she's nearly six now? Ethan's going to be in fourth grade and is a smart little man! Now that I'm a pharmacist though, I don't know when I'll see them again. I'm hoping that I can get back to Iowa for Christmas but the move to Maine and all will determine if that's possible.

I wondered today what the journey of the past few years would have been like had I had a partner to share it with. I'm sure some things would have been different but I'm sure I wouldn't be who I am today if I did have a partner. The struggles I've been through with school and my personal life over the last four years have shaped me and made me the person I am today. So, I survived pharmacy school and I survived my first day as a pharmacist. And here I am now. Turning the page on the past and wondering where the future will lead me. It's scary and exciting and overwhelming all at once. Ah, the possibilities!

I hope life has been as good to you as it has to me in the past years!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Official

Apparently I passed all my pharmacy exams because as of 5:00 this morning, I am licensed pharmacist #27626 in the state of Massachusetts. Yikes!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

All in a Year's Time

It is quite amazing to see what all can change in a year's time. Babies are born. Jobs change. World travel happens (okay, not so much world travel but a lot of travel). Degrees are conferred. Honors are awarded. Exams are finished. Life starts anew on a daily basis.

A year ago yesterday, my two best friends and I were celebrating never having to take another final in pharmacy school (along with one of them having a birthday but we were more excited about not having more finals)! We were looking forward to, and dreading, the final year of pharmacy school which involved five rotations at different pharmacy settings. My first one not only was amazing for its location but it changed my life completely. Zuni, New Mexico. Indian Health Services. Located in the high desert of the American southwest, among the rattlesnakes and prickly pear cactus, I started a life changing process that is continuing to evolve. This is where I became most acutely aware of the past decisions I'd made and how they were effecting my life. Within days of coming home I'd taken the first step of a journey that feels like a million miles sometimes and signed up for my first boot camp. Forty-three pounds lighter today, I know I've still got a ways to go but I've truly enjoyed this journey. The taking off the pounds has been hard work but it's been more fun than the lonely nights of eating that put them on.

Today, just a year after celebrating no more finals, I've finished my licensing exams for the state of Massachusetts and if all goes well, meaning I've passed both of them, I'll be a licensed pharmacist in about a week. It's scary how much things have changed in the last year. There I was, terrified on my first rotation, hundreds of miles from home. And today, I'm just as terrified that I'm the one who will soon have the license, who'll soon have her own students wondering how on earth they'd landed where they had.

If all goes well, and even if it doesn't right now, eventually it'll all align, you may never guess where life may take me. Yes, I'm moving soon to a different state and my life will once again be a little shaken up but that's not necessarily a bad thing. A little shake up here and again is what keeps us grounded, keeps us knowing what the important things in life are. It's what it takes sometimes to realize where our roots are and who we can count on. It also gives us the chance to see just what we're made of. Do I have the strength to take off to a new place, leave behind the people I care about, and grow? I'm sure I do and we'll see how this next year changes my perspective on life. Who knows, triathlons, family, traveling? I'll have more stories to share in a year and, like it or not, life goes on with or without me. I'll be more than happy to jump in and see where we go from here.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Shopping Spree

It's been nine months (wow!) since I started going to boot camp in the morning. I've missed one month thanks to some moron who "didn't see me" when he was driving home and totaled my car but otherwise I've been to everyone of the other camps. Boot camp is this amazing exercise program at 5:30 in the morning and I go Monday through Friday. I love it. I think it's addictive. And I've met some amazing women. Yes, it's all women except for the one co-ed camp a year. It's been a lot of fun and it is the only, THE ONLY, reason I am still living here in Worcester right now. Thanks to the neighbors (see the previous blogs for that story) I'm ready to move now but the thought of leaving boot camp right now just absolutely kills me. I have no idea how I'm going to go the last day or how I'm going to say good bye to everyone. I cry just thinking about it already and I'm not leaving until December. That's also why I haven't said much to my trainer who wants me to do a triathlon. I can't see myself working with another trainer after I move and it kills me to think she's not going to be there cheering me on.

But I digress (what's new there). I mentioned boot camp because Friday was the last day of the most recent boot camp and it's been three months. Every three months I do what they call an assessment. One of the trainers weighs and measures me and I get actual numbers to show me what all this work has done for me. I was absolutely sure that these past three months, with graduation celebrations and several vacations, that I wouldn't have made it to the goal I was hoping to be at. In fact, I'd already resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to make it out of the obese category by my birthday which is my goal. So I was shocked when I stepped on the scale to see I'd lost 18 pounds in the last three months. EIGHTEEN! That did not sink it at all. Until I hit a red light about three blocks from home and I realized wow, I could actually do this! Later that day when I opened my email and looked at the results and compared it to when I first started last October, I added up all the numbers and I've lost 43 pounds and 23.75 inches. WOW! Now I can kind of see why people are starting to tell me I look good. (I'm still having trouble seeing it but hey, I'm happy for the compliments!) I can also see why NOTHING I OWN fits me anymore! NOTHING! Even my T-shirts are too big. Ugh. So, how do you buy a new wardrobe when you're broke? I guess that's were plastic comes in to save the day because at this point there is no getting around needing new clothes. It was a necessity. Well, it was that or dust off the sowing machine but I'm not THAT good! We're talking 3 pant sizes and size medium shirts. Do you know when I last wore medium shirts??? Me neither!! 5th, 6th grade?? I have no idea.

So, I bought a bunch of clothes, some of which are going back tomorrow because they're too big. When I came home I took a bunch of pictures of me in the new clothes and stuck them on MySpace and Facebook. I now have one friend telling me I should be a model. Thanks, Steve, but I've got a ways to go still. If I should happen to reach my ideal body weight, I literally will have lost half of me. I wonder where that other half goes?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sometimes You're the Windshield, Sometimes You're the Bug

It's been a pretty rough couple of days. Yesterday I took my NAPLEX exam. That's the North American Pharmacy Licensing Exam. One of two tests that stand in the way of actually being a real pharmacist now that I have the degree. The thing is I have some pretty rude and obnoxious neighbors living above me. This test is a culmination of three years of graduate school and six years of undergrad work. It's a four hour test and it's all that stands between being able to pay back my very expensive school loans at this point. Needless to say, it's VERY STRESSFUL! I didn't work for the week before the test so that I could study. Two nights before the test I hardly slept. I was nervous, anxious and, frankly, a little freaked out. So, I went to bed at 10:30 the night before the test, with ear plugs in because I could already hear the neighbors making a bunch of noise. At 11:30 they woke me up but somehow I managed to get back to sleep fairly quickly. At 3 AM, I woke up again, not really sure why. I tend to wake up quite often during the night so I thought nothing of it other than taking out the earplugs because the longer I wear them the more my ears hurt. I figured by 3 AM the neighbors had gone to bed. Boy was I wrong. They were pounding around, making all sorts of noise. I was tempted to call the police (again) but figured by the time the police got there they'd have stopped the noise. Again, I was wrong. At 4 AM I think they passed out. Why do I think they passed out? Because when I got up at 4:45 AM there was a beer can on my patio and it reeked of alcohol out there. I was so angry that I couldn't even think straight. It's five hours until the NAPLEX!! Five hours until I see if three years and several thousands of dollars in debt are going to be worth all the blood, sweat and tears they caused me.

I'm not really sure how I managed it but I made it through the NAPLEX. I didn't yawn at all. I even sort of felt like I knew what I was doing for some of it! Thank goodness for a presentation on cystic fibrosis that I did a few months ago that's all I can say. I've decided that God was nice enough to give me lots of those questions cause I kind of knew what I was talking about there. Thank you!!! There seemed to be a million math questions but I don't really think I got more than anyone else usually does. I hope I did well. I'll keep you all posted in about 10-14 days!

So, after the NAPLEX I went to work because I'm broke and have bills due! When I got home after this miserably long day I was sitting down to check email and relax when I heard what sounded like pouring down rain. But, I knew it wasn't raining so I went to see what the heck was going on. Get this, the IDIOT neighbors that I have, apparently neglected to walk their dog today and he decided the patio was a good enough place to pee!! So, my patio door is wide open and I now have dog pee on my carpet and all over my patio. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???? Who the heck does that kind of stuff?

I'm so angry about the entire situation that I'm thinking about moving to Maine earlier. Which just makes me cry because I'm not ready to leave boot camp yet. That's just one commitment for myself that I'd like to follow through on but I don't know how much more of this I can take. Despite my love of boot camp and the tears running down my face just thinking about leaving, I can't deal with being angry all the time when I'm home. Can't I just have normal people living around me? (Here's where I hear my boss go "Welcome to Worcester!" Sigh.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Born Country

Yesterday I was driving across town to meet a friend for dinner when I realized, I'm going to have to relearn how to drive when I move. Now, for those of you who don't live in Massachusetts or have never been to Massachusetts or have never met someone who has driven through Massachusetts let me just fill you in a bit. They call drivers in Massachusetts "Massholes." Just think of it this way, rudeness + aggression = Massholes. And after living here for three years, I'm sure I've picked up a lot of that. You almost have to in order to survive driving in this state. Don't be surprised when you get cut off by a mini cooper even if you're in a semi. And do NOT floor the gas pedal when the light turns green. Chances are at least one car will go through the red light.

That being said, when I move to Maine where life is a whole lot slower, I've got to remember yellow lights mean slow down, not hit the gas. The person in front of me is going to stop, not keep going. Horns are not a means of communication in any other state, well, most other states. And 75 is not the new 65. This is going to take some getting used to again.

What won't take getting used to is the quiet. I can't wait to not hear radios blasting from cars or the neighbors apartment. I can't wait to be able to hear the birds and the tree frogs. Okay, so if I get up in the middle of the night I hear the tree frogs here and the birds are pretty persistent anywhere but I won't have the revving of motors and screaming neighbors competing with the sounds of nature. It'll be nice to go for a walk and not smell diesel fuel. Then again, I'm going to have to get used to the smell of mud flats and bait! EWWW!

As the song says, "I was born country and this country's what I love" but I'm ready to be out of the city and just come back to visit every few weeks. My friend asked me last night what it was that I'd miss the most about living here in this city. I said "Boot camp." His reply, "Then I know you're crazy and belong up there in Maine!" Does that mean he thinks all people in Maine are crazy? I guess they are Mainiacs, right?

Born Country by Alabama

Clear creeks and cool mountain mornin's.
Honest work out in the fields.
Cornbread in my momma's kitchen.
Daddy saying grace before the meal.
Family ties run deep in this land.
And I'm never very far from what I am.

I was born country and that's what I'll always be.
Like the rivers and the woodlands wild and free.
I got a hundred years of down home running through my blood.
I was born country and this country's what I love.

Moonlight and you here beside me.
Crickets serenadin' in the yard.
What more could two people ask for.
Laying here in love beneath the stars.
Now this is where I wanna raise my kids.
Just the way my mom and daddy did.

I was born country and that's what I'll always be.
Like the rivers and the woodlands wild and free.
I got a hundred years of down home running through my blood.
I was born country and this country's what I love.

I was born country and that's what I'll always be.
Like the rivers and the woodlands wild and free.
I got a hundred years of down home running through my blood.
I was born country and this country's what I love.
I was born country

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Secrets We Keep

I'm starting to believe that even the most innocent, boring adult has secrets that would shock their closest friends. Secrets that may have even shocked themselves. Maybe this is why they seem so quiet and innocent.

I was at a friend's house last night for dinner and games and my friend made the comment (about me) that it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. He knows my secrets. I know his. We've both shook our heads at the other person when we heard what the other has done in our lifetimes. But, we're still friends and we didn't judge each other by what we did. Okay, we certainly have learned a lot about the other person when these secrets were revealed but the fact that we can deal with them, move on and still be friends is pretty amazing in my mind. Why? Because I know what I've done and I'm no sure I'd be friends with me! Because it would firmly place me in the category of "one of THOSE people" and I wouldn't want that drama in my life. But people change, sometimes for the worse but not always. I had a couple rough years. You might call it hitting my teen years a little late. A little rebellion against society (and no it wasn't illegal, well, in most states). But it was definitely out of the norm for me. My friends who knew me before and during those two years tell me I should write a book. One likes to tell me my life was just like a really bad Lifetime movie and that I should write a movie about it. I told him I'm sure it's been done.

Which makes me wonder. If we all have secrets, but the "movies" already been done, just why are these things so shocking? I've lost at least one friend over what I've done. Haven't heard a word from him in over three years. But, we're human. We all make stupid choices. Thankfully I've learned from mine and it's cost me a lot. Not just the friendships but it took its toll on my faith in myself. Two years later, I'm still working on that. I'm amazed at just how many of the pieces I've picked up and fit back together in just the last eight to ten months! Life is good as they say.

What's even better is finding a friend I can confide in, who hopefully will not judge me too harshly once she's heard the whole story. Because, while the pieces are starting to fall back together, there are a few that are, oh, pretty well shattered. When I was in second grade I played Humpty Dumpty in a play and I remember after my first relationship fell apart, telling the next person in my life that the shell holding me together was pretty fragile, let's not try to see what happens if it breaks. But he had to push and just like Humpty Dumpty, all the pieces couldn't be put back together again. Maybe I'll just fit a few new ones in place of the old ones. Hopefully, I won't build a new wall to sit on and watch life go by. Hmmm, I'm pretty sure I haven't done that. In fact, it seems I've jumped head first into my life lately. And I'm liking what I see...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

When the Sand Runs Out

Here's the words to the song that I titled my blog after. It's by Rascal Flatts.

I spent the morning at an old friend's grave
Flowers and Amazing Grace, he was a good man
He spent his whole life spinnin' his wheels
Never knowin' how the real thing feels
He never took a chance or took the time to dance
And I stood there thinking as I said goodbye
Today's the first day of the rest of my life

I'm gonna stop lookin' back and start movin' on
And learn how to face my fears
Love with all of my heart, make my mark
I wanna leave something here

Go out on a ledge, with out any net
That's what I'm gonna be about
Yeah I wanna be runnin'
When the sand runs out

'Cause people do it everyday
Promise themselves they're gonna change
I've been there, but I'm changin' from the inside out

That was then and this is now
I'm a new man, yeah, I'm a brand new man
And when they carve my stone they'll write these words
"Here lies a man who lived life for all that its worth"

I'm gonna stop lookin' back and start movin' on
Learn how to face my fears
Love with all of my heart, make my mark
I wanna leave something here

Go out on a ledge, with out any net
That's what I'm gonna be about
Yeah I wanna be runnin'
When the sand runs out

And as a cold wind blows across the grave yard
I think I hear the voice of my old friend whisper in my ear

I'm gonna stop lookin' back and start movin' on
Learn how to face my fears
Love with all of my heart, make my mark
I wanna leave something here

Go out on a ledge, with out any net
That's what I'm gonna be about
Yeah I wanna be runnin'
When the sand runs out
Wanna be runnin'
When the sand runs out mmmm
Yes I do

To Be Honest. . .

I decided to get up and go for a run this morning and as I'm driving to the trail where I wanted to run I met someone else running. Now, it was 6:30 in the morning but he's running down a two lane highway in the MIDDLE of the road. And when he sees me coming, instead of getting over to the side of the road he's supposed to get on he crosses to the other side (without looking) and after I passed him, he goes back to running in the middle of the road. What the heck? And as if that wasn't weird enough, on my way home I met another person running down the middle of another road. Really people, didn't you ever learn what it meant to stay on the SIDE of the road?

Anyway, that wasn't why I sat down to write this blog. Well, other than the comment that I got up and went for a run this morning. On my own. It's Saturday. There's no boot camp today and six months ago you wouldn't have caught me thinking about running anywhere without someone making me do it. So the fact that I got up with that purpose in mind is quiet impressive. Okay, maybe just to me but anyway. . .

I wanted to get out to the trail before anyone else did. I'm still not impressed with the idea of running with other people around unless I know the other people. And hey, I ran an entire mile without stopping. Not really sure how long that took because I had shorts on with no pockets and I had 1) a bottle of water, 2) car keys, and 3) the cell phone with the clock on it. I chose the first two thinking they'd be more important than the cell phone as it's a pretty busy trail. If something happened someone would come along (and sure enough someone did--not that anything happened). Okay, I'm rambling again. . .

The reason I was wondering if I could even run a mile without stopping is because somewhere in her brilliant mind my trainer seems to think I should sign up for a triathlon next summer. My email reply to that was, "Triathlon! Are you crazy???" But I have to be honest. I got into this whole fitness thing when coworkers were running 6K's in New Mexico and I was huffing and puffing my way down a 2 mile walk. I knew then that it was time to do something about this. And I always thought it'd be kind of cool to be a runner.

I hadn't really given competitive running much thought though. Not that I'd be running to compete against anyone but myself but I still hadn't thought about it much. Until this summer. Alexis, one of my trainers, was competing in a triathlon that looked like it'd be an amazing course just to see. I love walks through historic, old towns and beautiful country and it kind of reminded me of something like that. Then, when I was in Maine for the 4th of July I found out (well, I already knew about it. I was reminded of it.) they do a 10K walk/run called the Stonington Six (not sure where the name came from). But my whole reason for going to Maine on the 4th is to play in the community band since I rarely get to play my flute these days and I never play my piccolo anymore. So when I went to the Stonington Six race that morning I only walked the "fun run" part of the race which was about two miles maybe. The whole time I was thinking, maybe next year I could run this race. That'd be kind of cool. But, then that other voice in my head goes, "you might miss playing in the band if you did that." Well, let's just say after the disappointing band this year, I don't think I'd mind missing it next year. So, hopefully next year on the 4th of July you can catch me running/walking the full course for the Stonington Six.

Now, back to this triathlon thing. I think Alexis is getting early onset Alzheimer's or something (by the way, Happy Birthday, Alexis!). Either that or she's just loosing her mind in general. :-) Just kidding. To be honest, like I said, I'd been thinking it'd be kind of cool to run in a race. But bicycle and swimming?? I can doggie paddle! I'd have to find a pool in Maine because even if I live 3/10 of a mile from a lake I'm not swimming in it during the winter and heck if I'm setting foot in the north Atlantic either!! Brrr! And that bicycle thing, I did get my bike out earlier this summer for the first time in a year. I had to walk it up a hill about a mile into the ride. Yeah, gotta work on that one. So, Alexis, wanna come to Maine and train me? It's a beautiful place to ride if you don't mind putting your life into the hands of the lunatic drivers up there! But maybe. . . We'll see.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Easy Living

Sometimes I wonder why life is so difficult. Why can't we just live and let other people live? Why can't we all just get along? And when we are getting along so well, what happens to change that? Then I realize there are things called emotions and that's where all hell breaks loose and life becomes difficult. Here's a few examples I see both in my own life and in the world.

This moving to Maine thing was an easy decision for me to make but it's made some things in my life sort of difficult. I get up every morning to attend an exercise program called boot camp here in town and I LOVE IT!! It is often the highlight of my day just because I feel like I've accomplished something good before most of the world is even up. But I've grown attached to the people who run the camp and a few of the other participants. I will desperately miss these people and despite the pending move still being over five months away, I cry most days thinking about leaving them behind. I feel a little torn about the whole situation. I'll be happy to be living around family for the first time in my life but I will miss the people who have become my family here. Those darn emotions. If I'd just not become attached to people this wouldn't be a problem. But like I said before, I will definitely be back to visit.

Then on a larger scale we have things like wars and immigration issues that make life difficult. A person is only free to do what they'd like or say what they'd like basically in their own head. Even in "The Land of the Free" saying the wrong thing in the wrong place can get you thrown in jail or, worse, killed. Why is that? Because people seem to think their way of thinking is the only way to think. It's like the churches that think if you don't belong to this church you're going to hell. I don't believe that. I don't believe that any one person or any one church is perfectly right about, well, anything. Why does my government tell other countries who can and cannot live here when we ourselves are a nation of immigrants? I mean we did come over here and nearly wipe out the native people so who are we to tell other immigrants that they can't be a part of our country? (Wouldn't it be cool to have a Native American president. . . ) But we don't want more poor people here so we only allow the rich people from other countries into ours. You would think that if the government doesn't like having all these poor people around that they'd do something about the ones they've already got living here. But what do I know. I'm not a fan of politicians at the moment.

But anyways, let's get back to the beginning of how this blog even entered my mind. I was in the shower this morning and a song came on called "I'm a Mo'fo' Genius Because I've Got the Answer to World Peace." It's by this amazing transgender spoken word artist Athen's Boy Choir. I saw him live. He's great! He has no problem telling you straight up how he sees things. And he makes it sound so easy. These are the word (as best as I can get them while listening to the song) but I love, love, LOVE this song. You'll have to excuse the language but seriously I think in this case it might just be necessary.

I wanna write about politics
See I wanna write about politics
but to tell you the truth I can't even watch let alone keep up with the news
those crimson hews gets alluded in living rooms too far removed
so you see I wanna watch the news
but images of blown up kids have lost their shock value
and when you can see those pictures and not cry
suffice it to say you've been desensitized
suffice it to say I've been desensitized
see my grandma wished on falling starts
to see the end of falling bombs
and at just 26, well at just 26,
I've already witnessed two wars in the Middle East
that mysterious place overseas
over seen are we, those that disagree
and at not yet 30, well at not yet 30,
yes, at not yet 30,
I'm a mother fucking genius
'cause at not yet 30, I got the answer to world peace
and you know what?
it's beautiful in its simplicity
it's as easy as this. . .
stop blowing up shit
that's it.
stop blowing up shit
stop pulling the trigger that triggers more fingers on buttons of destruction
'cause you see,
the same stories been spun since histories begun
and we need evolution in these revolutions
what we need is to stop blowing up shit
Hell, I know Jesus didn't arise after being crucified for smart bombs
ain't nothing genius or clean about TNT
doesn't take a prodigy to count civilian casualties
and I ain't that quick
but I know enough to say
we gotta stop blowing up shit
we're already in danger of apocalypse of the human spirit
and we are more alike than we are different
more resilient than we know
and more fragile than we care to admit
so that's it
stop blowing up shit
stop shooting up villages
stop killin' kids
and if you must have war
if you gotta, need it, have it now
a war
well then hell,
that's what virtual reality is for
(insert Mario Bros. music here)
alright check this out
in the same what that Dance Dance Revolution is this kick ass cardio work out
we'll set up computer scenarios and set up platoons of Luigis and Marios
Donkey Kong can be in charge of missiles and bombs
and all the Ms. Pacmans will join hands
and finally bring that front line a mother fucking feminine side
and I know it sounds silly
but it's no more silly than blowing up buildings
so we can feel all good about rebuilding them buildings
we have the technology to fight this war on computer screens
the same way we have the language skills to write up them peace treaties
so that soldier's mothers don't have to be afraid of the phone
so that shell-shocked citizens don't really in reality loose their homes
so we don't have to identify bodies by DNA and dentals
so the death toll is just a number
a computer code
see, sometimes I find myself wishing on shooting stars
to see the end of shooting guns
and the beginning of something different

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Movin' On Down

I often am amazed at the plans God makes for us even when we don't realize what's going on. Like I said in a previous blog, I just returned from Maine after an amazing week at camp. I got home and wanted nothing more than to be back in Maine at the campgrounds soaking up the songs of the phoebe's and ducks and trying to catch a glimpse of that mysterious black bear who made an appearance during the week.

The day after I got home, I went to my mailbox and had a letter from Rite Aid, my employer, and wondered what they wanted now. Little did I know I held my future in my hands. As I opened it up and started reading this is what I saw "Dear Stacie, Enjoy what Maine has to offer! Summers are filled with festivals, going to the beach, hiking in the mountains and fishing by the rivers. The winter experience is one of the best around with unlimited skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and sledding. Let Rite Aid help you enjoy the best the seasons have to offer through a temporary or a relocation package to this beautiful area." It goes on to list a dozen Rite Aid stores in Maine that are in desperate need of pharmacists. The very first one is where my grandma gets her prescriptions filled. It's a store I'd been in twice during the week while I was in Maine.

I got that letter on Saturday. On Monday morning I emailed the person in the letter and by noon on Monday I'd made the (more than likely life-changing) decision to move to Maine. I'm not leaving right away. I'd like to finish out a year at boot camp and hopefully ingrain exercise into my life habits. I'll move around the holidays. Hopefully I can find somewhere to live but there's good news: Rite Aid will pay for temporary living or I can stay with family. I'm not sure my cats would enjoy the living with family as grandma has a cat too but you do what you gotta do, right?

I know just by going to Maine I won't get the warm fuzzy feelings back that I have when I'm at camp up there but I know that I'll be much less lonely living among family and many friends! I will greatly miss my friends here but that just gives me plenty of reason to come back and visit on long weekends! And hopefully my friends will feel welcome at my house to come visit any time they'd like. Maine is a beautiful place so even if I'm at work during the day, my friends can go exploring.

So, looks like things are moving and shaking and I'm movin' on down to the coast of Maine. Funny how childhood dreams take 30+ years to become reality. But God's always got something in mind and if I hadn't lived the last several years the way I had, I wouldn't be here now with this amazing opportunity in front of me. I can't wait to see where this path leads me.

Monday, July 21, 2008


You know, I've done a lot of traveling in the US and have come to realize that poverty is not across the ocean on some far away continent in some dessert community. Poverty is here in our backyard, waiting for the same humanitarian efforts that have become worldwide movements to save the oppressed of foreign countries. It's really bothered me to hear everyone talk about how we need to save Darfur. (I say this while wearing a grean "Not on our watch." bracelet.) I'm not saying that the people in Darfur are less important at all. We're all children of the same God and every life is valuable in his eyes. What I see is borders causing a huge problem. If we got rid of the borders and had one global community, one human race, instead of the multitude of differences that separate us, we could concentrate on the fact that we're all humans, all worthy of living life, finding peace, and exploring our world without worrying about where our next meal will come from, who is around the next corner waiting to rape us, mutilate us, tear us down or worse, and where we'll sleep at night.

I see the struggle of the Native Americans as equal to that of the people of Darfur. They're a people abandoned, tormented and even forgotten by the rest of the human race. But again, we're all humans. We're all entitled to a roof over our head, the love of a family and friends, the feeling of a full stomach and a warm smile from a stranger. The people of Darfur have been displaced and no longer have any of these things. The people of Pine Ridge may or may not have the love of family and friends. They may share the roof over their head with 20 or more other people and there may be no windows in the walls when the windchill hits well below zero.

And here I sit, in front of my MAC computer, with my air conditioning on, staring at my green Save Darfur bracelet wondering what in the world this world has come to. John Lennon's song "Imagine" runs through the back of my mind and I wonder if that's a possibility. Wouldn't it be nice. . .

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vacation and Homesickness

Well, I've just returned from Brooksville, Maine where I've spent the last week at an amazing camp (Winneaugwamauk). Ever since the day I was born I've been going to this camp almost every summer but with school being year round the last three years I hadn't been to Reunion for awhile. It wasn't as big as the Reunions were when I grew up. There weren't many people my age there and there wasn't quite as much organization as there used to be. Things were different that's for sure but I have to say I had an absolutely amazing week. The culmination of several experiences resulted in one of the best Reunions I've been to.

First, I got to see people I hadn't seen in several years and get reacquainted with them. Some of them have children now. All of us had grown and matured since the last time I'd been there.

Second, I got to spend the entire week on the grounds. I slept in the motel. I studied in the motel (for the NAPLEX). I ate breakfast in the old dining hall. I spent evenings worshiping in the tabernacle and I sang in the choir. Little things that I didn't really think were all that big of a deal but they helped me refocus on life.

I also had the chance to go to an amazing Native American flute performance in neighboring Castine. If you ever have the chance to see Hawk Henries play you should definitely go! It was at a great museum in Castine, the Wilson Museum, which overlooks the water and you can watch the sailboats go by as you listen to Hawk play. He also told stories and so many reminded me of Section 163 in the Doctorine in Covenants that I wanted to share it with him but I myself was playing my own Native American flute that evening and didn't get much chance to chat with him after the show.

Another amazing opportunity I had this week was spending two mornings with Becky Savage, a member of the First Presidency of my church. She's the first woman president of the Community of Christ church that I belong to and I've never met a more down-to-earth person in my life. Well, maybe I have but I didn't expect someone in the First Presidency to be so open to letting me drag her around the coast of Maine! The first morning I spent with her, she asked that I walk her around the campgrounds and show her some of the sites. So I walked her out to the point where there's a great view of the lake and surrounding forest. I took her over to the well where my grandfather held up the head of his dying friend when the well they were digging collapsed. I told her some of the history of the campgrounds as I knew it and I showed her some of the natural beauty around the grounds. Then we sat down and I showed her my photo books from my trips to the Zuni Indian Reservation and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I wanted so much to share more with her but my emotions were far too close to the surface this week and I was in no mood to cry through the whole story.

The following day I took Becky to Deer Isle. First stop, Pumpkin Island, a lighthouse just off the shore of Little Deer Isle just a couple hundred yards up the road from where The Man Without A Face was filmed. Then I drove over to my grandma's house and we stopped and chatted for a little while there. Then up to the blueberry field. How many people in my church can say they've gone blueberrying with the president? My mom and aunt were there and we showed Becky which blueberries were the best (the black ones!). After picking nearly 2/3 a quart of blueberries I offered Becky the choice to head back to the grounds or head down to Stonington, a pretty traditional fishing village. She picked Stonington and so off we went. I drove by all the C of Christ churches on the island, including the old one on the hill in Stonington (my favorite one). Then we went to a cute little gift shop right on the shore and I told her about Two Bush Island. (Okay, am I rambling yet?) So, I showed her a couple more places in Stonington and then we headed back to the grounds, stopping first for lunch at El El Frijoles (L.L. Beans in Spanish!), a little Mexican place on the mainland.

I had an amazing time with Becky! It didn't take much to see she is a very caring and gentle person, no wonder nursing was her chosen career! I hope very much that I'll have the opportunity to sit and talk with her again some day but the likelihood of that happening is pretty small being that my path doesn't very often cross the path of the First Presidency unless it's at World Conference when everyone is running in three directions at once it seems. Anyway, I very much appreciated Becky's gift of time, listening and friendship for the few hours I spent with her. She personifies the quote "Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend."

So, I drove home pretty much right after Reunion ended. As usual I cried at the end of the final service. WHY do they have to pick "Tell We Meet Again" as the final song? Gaw. That song will make me cry until the day I die! But as I got home the loneliness and homesickness feelings start. I miss the community we have while at Reunion. I miss the "family" that's always there. I miss the quiet and peace of the grounds. But mostly I miss feeling like I'm part of something. So now I'm home and feeling lost. My focus is gone and my thoughts are confused. I know going back to the campgrounds would bring some of the feelings of peace back but I also know that things in the real world will never be like they are at Reunion. I just can't figure out why they can't be.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Random Thoughts

I was reading some old blogs I'd posted (actually they aren't even that old) about some wierd random thoughts that I'd had on a couple of days. I'll cut and paste them down at the bottom of this blog but I find it odd thinking about "random" thoughts. Are they really all that random? I mean aren't most of our thoughts pretty random in general? I work in the healthcare field and some of the best medicines had to be random thoughts because who really thinks something in gila monster spit is going to make a great medicine for people with borderline diabetes? I mean really now! But our own random thoughts seem to be our most creative moments. Do you think the person who wrote the poems everyone knows and loves didn't start out with a random thought? About the only place in this world where random thoughts are frowned upon are schools. Which I find to be a bit of an oxymoron because schools are supposed to teach us to use our creativeness to find new ways to do things. How many of us had our creativity and imagination squelched by some teacher who was a little too enthusiastic with their red pen?

Thankfully many of us get through the craziness of a formal education with a tiny bit of our imagination intact. Some of us do not. And those are the people whose glass is half empty, who can't seem to see the brighter side of things because they've lost the ability to imagine something better. Of course, some of these people have wildly overactive imaginations and can picture the world being out to get them. So, I guess while most all of us lose the infallible imagination of our childhood many do retain a slightly warped version as adults. Maybe we see things a little more rosy than they are or maybe it's a little grayer but I guess it keeps us entertained (or other people anyway)!

Hmmm, that was kind of a random post but here are the promised "random thoughts" from past days:

How does Numa Numa get stuck in your head in the middle of the woods while it's pouring down rain? Better yet, how do you get it OUT of your head?

Why is it that everyone says that female drivers are so bad? I got rear-ended by an idiot GUY who wasn't watching the road! Frankly, women drivers are more polite and THAT'S what I think men have an issue with. Didn't your mothers ever teach you to take turns?

If the rain comes pouring in the hallway window of an apartment complex, does anyone care?

Whatever happened to common courtesy?

Hiking in the rain is awesome. Everyone should try it out!

Who ruined my fresh air with cigarette smoke?

Why do women put on perfume to go to an all women's gym at 5:30 in the morning? I wonder if they shower first too?

Unperforated toilet paper is about as fun as unperforated spiral notebooks. It's a little annoying but is it really necessary to be perforated? Scott Tissue needs to sharpen their perforating blades.

Do single adults or married adults act more like "adults?"

Why can't people figure out rotaries? And why do the construction companies insist on tearing out a perfectly good rotary and putting in something that confuses the hell out of all drivers?

Does having cruise control give you better gas mileage?

Why do I have chocolate in my gym bag?

A lot of people sure are in a hurry to get to the liquor store on a Friday night.

I love the smell of the organic food department in the grocery store.

(Seen on a bumper sticker) "I'm not anti-Bush. I'm anti-stupidity."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Long Trip Alone

I had a friend tell me something one time that has bugged me to this day and made me think, did he really believe what he said? I'm not exactly sure what we were talking about but it had something to do with relationships. His comment was somewhere along the lines of "even if you're with someone you're still alone. You still die alone." I think at the time I was pretty much stunned and couldn't really even come up with a reply. To this day I can't quite put my finger on why this bothers me so much. Well, other than I don't believe it at all. At this time I'm single. There aren't any prospects out there either. I have only a handful of good friends, most of them live in states hundreds of miles away. When I'm not at work I'm home alone. Lonely usually. But the words that my friend spoke conjure up in my mind something darker than just loneliness. I've been in a relationship where my life revolved around the other person. I didn't do anything without considering the other person. My life and her life were one. We weren't alone, we were "all one." We had two lives wrapped together into one. I guess some people would say they'd rather be free to do what they choose but a relationship that's worth anything isn't going to keep you from doing what you want, being who you are. If that's the relationship you're looking at then you've got it all wrong.

But back to my friend's comment. I still can't quite put into words just how sad the comment made me. There's a song called "Long Trip Alone" that makes me think of this conversation with my friend. If you think about the big picture, our lives are pretty short and meaningless unless there are other people in it. I may spend most of my time outside of work alone but I never feel the loneliness that my friend's comment conjured up in my mind. Sure, I'm alone but there are friends out there on this journey with me who will always be there for me. And someday I do hope to find that someone who will take this long trip called life with me. And if not, I'm still not alone. Friends will always cross my path, take my hand and walk with me for a little while. And if life takes that friend away, another comes along to walk with me. And because I still don't feel like I adequately put into words how my friend's comment effected to me, I'll leave you with the words of the song that say it so much better than I can.


"Long Trip Alone"

It's a long trip alone over sand and stone
That lie along the road that we all must travel down

So maybe you could walk with me a while
And maybe I could rest beneath your smile
Everybody stumbles sometimes and needs a hand to hold
'Cause it's a long trip alone

It's a short piece of time but just enough to find
A little peace of mind under the sun somewhere

So maybe you could walk with me a while
And maybe I could rest beneath your smile
You know we can't afford to let one moment pass us by
'Cause it's a short piece of time

And I don't know where I'd be without you here
'Cause I'm not really me without you there

Yea Yeah
Yea Yeah oh

So maybe you could walk with me a while
Maybe I could rest beneath your smile
Everybody stumbles sometimes and needs a hand to hold

So maybe you could walk with me a while
Maybe I could rest beneath your smile
Maybe I could feel you right beside me 'til I'm home
'Cause it's a long trip alone

Friday, May 30, 2008

Get "Philled" In

Nope, sorry guys, this isn't about Phil, the flying mouse. My friend just sent me a link to this hilarious commentary on youtube:

I like the way this guy thinks so I wanted to share it with anyone who reads this. Anyone who wants to poke fun at the Westboro Church's philosophy is someone I'd like to meet!

In other news, I can not wait for vacation! I would really just love to find a nice patch of green grass in the sun with a nice cool breeze and lay there for a couple hours. Soak up the sun, enjoy the smells and not have to think about the bills, the studying, the stress. Ah, the peace and quiet.

Thankfully, next week is vacation! Of course, peace and quiet are thrown out the window with two nephews age 8 and 2 and a niece age 5 but I like that kind of turmoil! Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Too Quiet?


Maybe I'm being unreasonable but my landlords have seriously annoyed me over the past four months. It all started on Super Bowl Sunday when new tenants moved into the apartment above me. Okay, fine. I had new tenants move in next to me the Super Bowl Sunday the year before. I hoped that these new neighbors upstairs would be quieter than the previous occupants who had a three year old that loved to scream from the balcony and dump stuff off of it along with throw temper tantrums that echoed in my apartment with everything in dropped, kicked or whatever he was doing up there. So, understandably I had hoped for a nice quiet neighbor. But unfortunately it wasn't to be. I chalked it up to they were just moving in and they didn't have all their furniture yet. You see, the previous tenants, when they moved in, before they had a the bed moved in they slept on the floor in the bedroom above me. On the floor. Yep. They (my landlords) say that I have concrete soundproofing. But for the first several days I got the fun pleasure of hearing my new neighbor upstairs SNORING! You have no idea how happy I was that they got a bed! But for the next year or so that they were here I slept with earplugs in. Imagine my delight when they moved out and my ears weren't sore every morning!

But I digress, back to the current neighbors. The first weekend they were here I assumed they didn't have their TV stand unpacked yet and the TV was just sitting on the floor. I was half right. As the bass echoed through my apartment I'd literally be on the brink of insanity. It was like someone had trapped a dog in a cage and started blowing a dog whistle. If there is one sound I can't stand it's the sound of bass coming through the wall/ceiling or even a car driving by with their radio on too loud while I'm trying to study or get things done. So when it got too obnoxious for me to handle I pounded on the ceiling. Probably rude, yes, but I didn't know WHO was living upstairs other than a big dog which I had yet to see. And it worked. They turned down the noise and I went back to studying.

Since I'm not a big fan of confronting total strangers I went over and asked my landlords to have a chat with them about the volume of their music. When this didn't solve anything I talked to them about it again. I even called them during the day once when the noise was bothering me and they came over to my apartment to actually listen. Then they went upstairs to find out the problem. Turns out the new tenants have some fancy floor model TV with speakers on the bottom of it. So I get to listen to the reverb in my house. It doesn't help that after a car accident a few weeks after they moved in my ears seem to be even more sensitive than ever.

Anyway, when the noise didn't stop I went back to the landlords again. They assured me that the volume was not loud in the tenants apartment and that the tenant had taken measures to fix it. Apparently she'd placed a mat of some sort under the TV. Hmmm, yeah, that didn't work. I was still hearing bass. There are actually several people in the office and as I was talking to one another woman chimed in (thank you) to tell the other that a mat wasn't going to help. The TV needed to get off the floor. I'm sure if looks could kill there would have been daggers right through the heart of that woman right there! But instead of helping the landlord looked at me and said there was nothing else they could do. It's just because it's so quiet here that the neighbor's noise bothers me. If things weren't so quiet I wouldn't notice. Frankly, if things were any louder I'd have moved out a year ago!

Feeling rather defeated I figured my only other hope was explaining to the tenant upstairs what the problem was. I typed a nice letter to her explaining that it literally sounded like someone had parked a car on my balcony and left the bass on every time they turned on the TV. I got a nice letter back that stated now that she understood the issue she'd work on it.

I was psyched!

Until a few days later when the noise was back. It comes and goes but at 11 PM it's annoying no matter how long it's been going on! So pounding on the ceiling helped a little. Until the night they decided to pound back. I'd had an overall crappy day at work and wanted to come home and just relax in the quiet of my own house. But there was none of that as their TV was on before I ever got home. (Now, I'm not saying they shouldn't watch TV but you can't tell me they only watch TV between 10 PM and 1 AM.) So just to make sure I heard them right I pounded on the ceiling once more and had a responding pounding back.

Oh no, they did NOT just do that.

I figure I have two options here since there is absolutely no way I can ignore the sound and the fact that, where the heck else am I supposed to go? So, first choice: call the police and file a noise complaint which will take them over an hour to get there and meant I'd have to listen to their noise for that entire time. Or, choice two: I can strap my subwoofer to the ceiling and turn on a little "noise" of my own. Besides, the landlords said it was too quiet here. (Lesson here: Don't piss me off when I've had a crappy day. I'm in no mood to think reasonably!) So, I strapped the subwoofer to the ceiling and cranked up the music louder than I ever had in the past. They pounded on the floor but seeing as that didn't work when I did it to them, why would I consider turning down the music for them? A few minutes later mom (yeah, it's a mom and teenager that live upstairs) came downstairs. I was in absolutely no mood to be hospitable to anyone so I didn't answer the door. I played two songs. TWO. Less than 15 minutes. Turned it off and went about enjoying the quiet evening. Now was it really that difficult?

But this blog isn't really about the neighbors, or it wasn't supposed to be anyway. My lease expires in two months and I'd desperately like to move out. Unfortunately I don't have money for a down payment on a house so I'm stuck here until then. I got my lease extension five days before they wanted me to turn it back in. So glad they give you plenty of time to think about it. There are three options: 1) a year's lease, 2) an 8 month lease, or 3) a 60 day notice to vacate option where you give them a two months notice that you're leaving and also meaning your rent can increase every two months! Okay, so they're crappy options. I want to move! But the thing that really irritates me is that they've increased my rent based on what they call enormous utility cost increases. Funny, last time I checked I paid my own utilities. I don't think they need over $150,000 a year to pay for what small increase they may see in the cost of turning on a light. Not to mention I haven't seen any "enormous" increase in my utility bill. In fact, I haven't seen any at all or if there is one it's tiny.

At this point I start looking at my options. Sign it and forget it. Go over and talk to them which has never gotten me far in the past. Just outright refuse to pay the increase and continue paying the same thing I've been paying. Or move. So I talked to a friend of mine who is himself a landlord. I decided that I'd start by writing them a letter and letting them know that the amount of rent they're asking me to pay is more than their published rental rate on their website. As a loyal tenant for 3 years that seems downright unreasonable to me. So, that's what I've done. I'll keep you posted on how that goes. I'm guessing it will get me no where. At which point I decide if I want to continue paying the rate I pay now and risk being taken to court and evicted or if I suck it up and sign it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Something Holding Me Up, Something Holding Me Down

I decided this morning to turn on the iTunes radio and listen to that instead of my own CDs. The first song that came on was called Jesus and Gravity. No, I wasn't listening to Christian music although I'm not a stranger to that. I was listening to a country station and this song is by Dolly Parton. The title of the blog is a line from the song and it talks about how she's got all she'll ever need. I'm not so sure how true that is. There's plenty of people out there who don't believe in Jesus but they still have something holding them up.

I met someone on my last rotation in pharmacy school who I now refer to as my long lost cousin (that's a funny story, maybe I'll share it someday). She's Jewish. Coming from the middle of nowhere Iowa, I'd never really had the chance to sit down and get to know someone who did not believe in Jesus. I'd met plenty of atheists and agnostics but most of them had at some point been Christian. But that's not to say I didn't ever have the opportunity to learn about the Jewish faith. I went to my church's college and I took a few religion classes while I was there. Believe it or not, I think "Music and the Church" was the class I learned the most about religions that were either Orthodox Christian or something other than Christian. I've always found it fascinating to learn about people and their faiths. They may not realize it but if they were raised in any sort of religion it has influenced much of their personality, even if it's spending the rest of their life trying to keep that upbringing from influencing their life.

It's also interesting to see how my generation, raised in Christian faiths, have tried to make sense of all the contradictions. I guess I see this more because so many of my friends are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It puts a whole new spin on "love thy neighbor." Some have had their families, Christian families mind you, turn them away. Now exactly what kind of love did their God teach them? As I've made friends out here in New England, most of them being GLBT, I've also seen my definition of family expand. I have brothers that are not blood brothers but they watch out for me as if they were always there. It's almost like GLBT people are better Christians than the hardcore Christians. They don't judge you by how you love. They'd rather love and be loved than hate and be hated. I'm not saying that we're all angels in any way. Between my friends and I, we've broken pretty much all but one of the 10 Commandments. Being that I'm not writing this from jail and none of my friends are in jail, I'll give you a hint: no one has killed anyone. But we love the best we can. We tend to tolerate other people and their quirks much more. And we're not about to push our beliefs onto someone else. Maybe we've got a more open mind. Maybe we've been pushed around so much of our life that we've learned to see the big picture more clearly just in the effort to protect us from the hate.

Anyway, there was a point at the beginning of this and it may or may not have gotten lost in translation. Basically, I'm not sure there will ever be one right religion. Christian, Jewish, etc. all have the same foundation: love. Whether we believe in God, Jesus, Buddha, or Wankan Tanka, we all have learned to love, to hate and to live as best as we can. Which religion, if any, we pick to call our own is a personal decision. I don't hold it against anyone what they believe until they cross that line where their religious beliefs have started hurting others. If we could just funnel it all down to that simple core belief--Love--we'd all figure out just what it is that holds us up everyday.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Phil, the Flying Mouse

"You should write a book!"

That's what my mom said to me when I called her the other night to tell her about my adventures in Philadelphia. A couple coworkers/classmates and I drove down to Philadelphia to attend a review session for the NAPLEX which was being provided by our employer. Since all expenses were paid, they were putting us up in the Hilton and all we had to do was get there we signed up pretty much the day we got the invite.

As we all piled in the car to head to Philly, I asked if anyone had been there before. Nope, no one had. Oh, now THIS could be an adventure. To get to Philly you have to drive through New York City. I hadn't been to either and I had no desire at all to drive through NYC! But since it was my car it looked like I didn't have a choice.

Obviously since I'm writing this four days after the fact, we made it to Philly (in fact, I'm now home again). And the drive wasn't event he adventure I'd called to tell my mother about.

We got to Philly pretty late Thursday night and we were exhausted. And hungry. So we ate at the restaurant in the hotel and figured we'd find somewhere more reasonable to eat the next day. So Friday evening we ask the shuttle driver to take us to Ruby Tuesdays.

As we chat with him on the ride someone mentions they'd rather not eat at a franchise. His eyes light up and he goes, "Well, I have the place for you! Do you like steak and seafood?" We all said sure and we'd be willing to try some other place. So off we went to a local restaurant & bar. Our first shock of the evening was "Smoking or non?" Well now, that's a blast from the past, something none of us had heard for quite awhile.

We were seated in a room that had probably a dozen or so tables for four in it. There were three other tables occupied. The waitress and hostess were friendly. We ordered drinks and sat down to take a look at the menu. Hmmm, everything looked good. Eventually we settled on something and chatted about life in general and future plans while we waited for our meal to be served. Another round of drinks were delivered and dinner was going scrumptiously.

Then all of the sudden something goes flying between me and the lady sitting next to me and drops down on our table by our plates. My first thought was the scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Robert flings the snail across the restaurant. Oh, but no! It wasn't that at all. The woman beside me and I realized pretty much at the same time just WHAT had landed on our dinner table. She gasped and shot away from the table. I stood up and stared at it in disbelief. The other two ladies at the table were still trying to figure out what it was when I went "It's a MOUSE!" and at the moment the mouse rolled over and started scurrying around our dinner table.

No one screamed which in and of itself is amazing. The four older ladies at the next table didn't even drop a fork while they watched their dinner entertainment from less than three feet away and continued right on eating. The gentleman at the next table came over with a cup and tried to trap the mouse at which point the mouse decided jumping would be better and flew off the table to the floor.

At this point one of the ladies I'm with climbs on a chair and I pick up two of our purses on the floor so we don't take this furry, uninvited dinner guest home with us. The waitress has run off to find the owner and the gentleman with the glass somehow manages to trap the furry critter under it. The owner, embarrassed, sweeps out of the kitchen, scoops up mouse and glass and disappears into the kitchen in less than 15 seconds.

Sweating, shaking and a bit in shock, we're seated at another table and asked if we'd like another drink. OH YEAH! Make it something hard! We're no longer hungry and we're more than ready to leave but the shuttle won't be back for 45 minutes. After a half hour of looking over our heads, we decided we'd much rather be outside than wondering where our furry dinner guest's friends were.

We were commended by one of the older ladies for not screaming and when they came out of the restaurant they even thanked us for the free meal. Oh, yep, no problem, you're welcome! As we stood outside we laughed about the whole thing saying, well now we have a story about Philly. This is when we decided we should name the mouse and nothing fit better than Phil since we were in Philadelphia.

Soon our shuttle driver pulled up and we loaded up on board. He asked us how the meal was and we said, well, the food was good, the entertainment and dinner guests, not so much. And he stopped and looked at us in the mirror. We told him how this mouse had fallen from the sky (we're pretty sure he fell from the ceiling fan) and landed right smack in the middle of our table. He didn't believe us so we told him to go in and ask them! And he did. He comes out shaking his head, muttering "Never in 17 years!" We laughed all the way back to the hotel.

The next night we went to Ruby Tuesdays and had a rodent free, slightly less dramatic evening but the food wasn't as good!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Something To Work On

Yesterday at work I actually had a guy pull me aside and whisper to me "You're beautiful." I'm pretty sure I probably blushed. I said thank you and continued on with what I was doing. When I walked by again he stopped me again. This time to ask me if I was married and if he could get my phone number. I was more than a little caught off guard. But I thought it was kinda funny and I apologized and said no. When you work at a pharmacy, that's the last place you want to pick up a guy. It's like picking someone up at a mental hospital (and I know someone who's done that)!

Anyway, this was the first time a guy has actually hit on me since I've started going to boot camp. I'll give boot camp all the credit. I feel better and I've been told by several people I look good. This is what I need to work on. I've still got a long way to go but people are starting to notice that I'm losing weight and I'm finding the compliments, while very nice, a little strange. It's not that I can't take a compliment. I genuinely say thank you to anyone who mentions the change. I am truly happy that someone has noticed. But after years of telling myself all the bad things about me, I'm finding it hard to hear some good things from other people. I'm not one of those people who can stand in front of the mirror and go "I'm beautiful no matter what" sort of things. I'm trying hard to change the habit of putting myself down. And in the area of actually looking better I'm doing ok. There are definitely other areas that I still need to work on. Relationships for one. More specifically, believing that 1) there might actually be someone out there who would want to be in a relationship with me, 2) I deserve better than what I've had in the past, and 3) someone out there will actually like me for me and not want to change who I am. Yep, those one's still need a lot of work. Do you think there's a boot camp for that?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Body Hates Me

And frankly, the feeling is mutual. It seems that the harder I try to get into shape, the harder my body fights that. But then again, things sort of seem to be getting better. I think this is the sixth boot camp I've done. This one and the last one have been a challenge in more than one way. Apparently my body isn't completely healed from this car accident. If we spend an hour concentrating on shoulders my right shoulder gets so tired I can hardly move it after camp is over. But today was considerably better than last week when we did shoulders so things are looking up! YAY! I didn't end up at the chiropractor today or even really have too many issues at all. It's sore yeah. That's to be expected.

Then there's the allergies. Geesh! If this tree pollen doesn't go away soon I'm gonna have a full blown asthma attack in the middle of boot camp. Today was as bad as I think it's been. I was gasping so hard at one point I thought I was going to throw up. It's got to get better soon, right?

And after having a few days off work my foot was feeling pretty good. Not standing all day seemed to do it good. But I went back to work today and we ran a lot at camp and now my foot hurts again. Do not touch the side of my foot or I'll be doubled over in pain. Oh well, I guess it's not going to break anytime soon or it would have done that by now.

So let's see, my knees and elbows have all given me issues but looking on the bright side, they haven't this camp or the last one. The neck, shoulder and upper back seem to be getting stronger. So, while my body continues to hate the things I do to it, I'm working on actually liking it again by, well, making nearly half of it disappear :) Woo hoo! Just call me a magician! HA! On a serious note, I'm not giving up until I get to where I want to be! So fight all you want this body of mine but some of you are in your final days!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Writers Block

Have you ever had a ton of things running around in your head you'd love to write about but just can't seem to get them to straighten themselves into coherent sentences? Ugh. Well, one of these days I'll figure out what this jumble of thoughts in my head is trying to say. At the moment it's rather depressing and I'm not sure that I'd like to share some really depressing thoughts.

I was really happy, and rather surprised, to get a graduation card from my fitness trainers this weekend. The sentiment was truly appreciated and almost made me cry. I did get some really cool graduation gifts. My parents gave me and my two best friends solid silver (okay, 0.999% solid silver) coins engraved with our names (preceded by Dr.) and the date of our graduation. My sister and her family went to Build-A-Bear and made me a stuffed bear and got a white coat online with Dr. Stacie stitched on it (that one made me cry). I received cards and gifts from church people too and well wishes from friends and teachers at school.

I'm a little bit lost as now what? I feel like three years is done and I'm a little lost as to where I go from here. I can't actually practice as a pharmacist until I take the licensing exams later this summer or early fall (hopefully sooner rather than later) but I am still working. I have to study for those crazy exams too. Ick! Plus, I'd like to spend some time with my family and doing some traveling. It's a crazy summer coming up and my heads reeling from the thought of everything I have to do!

It's also kind of strange to have the house to myself again. I'd say it's quiet but that's not it as my upstairs neighbors are NEVER quiet! Even if I try to go to bed early I have to use ear plugs so I don't hear them and then I'm afraid I'll never hear the alarm at 4:45. I guess it's just more loneliness than anything else. And I'm not really sure why I feel lonely. I have three people that want to get together with me this week but I don't have time to. Maybe it's lonely because the people I expected to congratulate me on graduating have actually FORGOTTEN! WTH??

Oh well, I will lay down in bed and smile rather than cry as I think about my five year old niece helping my sister clean up the house. My sister had asked her to move daddy's shoes to their bedroom so being that my brother-in-law has clown shoes (size 16) she could only carry one pair at a time. As she was carrying the second pair past the recliner chair where he was sitting she heard her say "I wish you'd get off your fat ass and do this yourself!"

Friday, May 16, 2008

Looking Up

One of the perks of getting up at 4:45 every morning is that during this time of the year the sun is just coming up. I walked out of my apartment this morning and almost stopped dead in my tracks. In front of me was the most beautiful sunrise I've seen ever in this city. (Being from the country sometimes I wonder if nature can be beautiful in the city. I'm working on that.) The reds and pinks and purples had me breathless, or maybe that was the tree pollen, but it was fascinating nonetheless.

Sunrises, sunsets and stars. They seem to be something most people tend not to notice very often unless they hear about an eclipse in the news or a comet or such. I remember as a kid growing up reading some book (and if any of you know what it's called let me know) about a baby hippo who gets "lost." Except he's not really lost. He's standing on the top of a hill looking down at his family of hippos who are all wandering around looking for him. He's having the time of his life because he doesn't know that all their stirring around is because they think he's lost but eventually he figures it out and starts to wonder when someone will just look up. Such a simple thing to do and there he'd be waiting for them. But no one looks up for the longest time. It's very much like the world today. We're all busy "keeping our eyes on the prize" that we tend to forget the little things that we need each day. When was the last time you literally stopped to smell the roses? Did you notice the passing of the daffodils and the blooming of the lilacs this spring? Have you been so busy in your life that you haven't realized the grass needs mowing, the plants need watering and that the trees have pretty much unfolded all their leaves?

It makes me think about this song by Athens Boy Choir. He's a transgender FTM performer from Athens, Georgia and he writes spoken word poetry accompanied by music of some sort. I saw him live up in New Hampshire once and loved it! One of his poems/songs is called "Settle for a Hello." It's all about how people walking down the street don't talk to each other, don't really even notice each other and, if they do, they look through you when they're talking to you. Yep, we'll look anywhere other than into someone's eyes these days. When did that happen? It's never been a part of my culture to not look someone in the eye. If someone doesn't look me in the eye when I'm talking to them I think they've got something to hide. Then again, I'm guilty as charged. I have the worst time looking someone in the eye anymore. To many lies in the past, too many broken promises. It seems looking someone in the eye is a whole level of trust that I've lost. It's a huge inner struggle for me to force myself to look someone in the eye sometime. I catch myself looking over their shoulder or down at the ground.

Sigh, and now we're back to the point of the story. Look up!!! There's a whole world passing you by and you're missing it watching your feet shuffle on the side walk and not even noticing the ants scurrying around. LOOK UP! Maybe that person walking towards you has the most beautiful eyes in the world and you're going to miss it. LOOK UP! Did you see the falling star? LOOK UP! Watch the world live and be part of that living! LOOK UP! See the tears in the eyes of your friend struggling to go on after losing their best friend. We miss so many opportunities when we stare, glassy eyed at the world. Look up and find you in the people passing through your life.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

No Pain, No Gain?

Okay, for those of you who know me you would know that I'm overweight. Actually, I'm pretty sure I'd actually fall into the obese category. For way too many years I have used and abused and mistreated my body with food. I guess you'd say I had a rude awakening this past fall when I realized just how horribly I was treating my body and finally realized that all the health care education I had was showing me exactly what was going to happen to me if I didn't fix it sooner rather than later.

When I got home from New Mexico last fall I Googled fitness trainer and found an amazing program called Baystate Adventure Boot Camp run by two amazing fitness trainers. They don't yell at us or anything else you might picture from the military boot camp. Well, they don't stand in our face and yell until we yell back Ma'am, yes Ma'am or that type of thing. They do push us. How else would we possibly spend an hour working out without some sort of motivation? Granted, we all should get a lot of credit for getting up and being at the gym at 5:30 in the morning but it's the extra push of the trainers that get me going and it's their encouragement that keeps me coming back.

However, I was in a car accident in February which meant I was out of boot camp for six weeks while I recovered from that. I saw a chiropractor, a doctor and a physical therapist. I was in a neck brace for a week and a half or so. But I wanted to go back to boot camp after six weeks and no one said that would be a problem. I went back knowing full well that I was going to be a little behind where I was when I left and that it was probably going to be a little bit painful. It was two weeks before I'd even put my gym back with the weights in it on that shoulder. But eventually I started feeling better. I could turn my head pretty much as far right as I could left. But, the more I work my shoulders the more I hurt. Push-ups and working the shoulders with weights literally brings tears to my eyes now. I would have thought that by now, nearly three months after the accident that it would be fine. But I almost feel like it's getting worse. The weakness in my right shoulder should be getting better by now. The stiffness in my neck should be loosening up. But if I fall asleep on my back it takes a lot of moaning, groaning, abdominal muscles and pain to get out of bed in the morning. What's the deal?

To top it all off, my feet are killing me lately too. Not both really. Just one. I injured one when I was in track in junior high and I'm afraid now it's grown into full blown arthritis in my foot. So, my foot hurts, my shoulder hurts. Now what? I don't want to quit boot camp. The idea is that if I loose weight the pain will go away in the foot because I won't have so much weight to carry around. At least that's the hope.

As for the shoulder, I'm off to the chiropractor again. Hopefully we'll have a few days rest from shoulders at boot camp. And hopefully the weakness is just temporary and if I work through this annoying pain I'll get stronger. Hopefully.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dancing in the Rain

As I've gotten older I've grown to appreciate rain more than I ever did as a kid. Maybe it's because of where I've been and where I was growing up. Rain as a kid often brought things like tornadoes which, as well expected, terrified me as a 6 year old hiding in the basement wrapped in a quilt.

Experience has changed my perspective of rain a lot though. Especially in the last year. It's not something I fear. It's more of a blessing now. While spending six weeks in the desert last fall I noticed something one day at the county fair. It was HOT! As it should be int he desert! The sun had blasted down on us all day and my friend and I had both forgotten our water bottles so watching the rodeo at the fair was on the brink of torture, at least for our thirsty bodies. As we stood in line for the BBQ at noon I noticed how all these people had umbrellas. Where I grew up umbrellas are for rain. These people were using them for shade. Something I hadn't really thought about when I saw them handing them out as incentive prizes on one of their Diabetes Walks. As we stood their parched, we noticed rain clouds in the distance. Not many, just a few that may pass or may go slow enough to drop some much needed moisture on these desert people's lands. As we inched closer to the front of the line the storm moved in. Large spatters of rain kicked up dust when it hit the barren dirt road we were standing on. The clouds moved over the sun and pretty much in one motion, the umbrellas all went down. People stood in their little groups seemingly unaware of the rain now pouring down over them. In the back of my mind I'm wondering why these people would put down their umbrellas in the rain. Isn't that what they were made for? But I was also thinking just how wonderful the cooling rain was. It was such a relief from the heat of the noonday sun that I couldn't help but stand there and just let it pour down on me. It only last for about five minutes. Enough to cool everyone off. Not really enough to make a difference to the gardens but maybe a little. Later I asked one of the local Native people about the umbrellas and letting it rain on them. She said, "We pray for rain in our dances. Why would we cover our heads from something we pray for?" What a wonderful way to look at a rainy day!

I've never really been the type to see rain as "liquid sunshine" but I no longer dread a rainy day (although several in a row kind of put me in a grumpy mood). Listening to music this morning in the shower a song came on by the Glengary Bhoys called "Alberta." The song has always touched me, even before I knew what it was about because the chorus has a line in it that I love: "Let's go dancing in the rain!" It turns out that this song was written as a tribute to a woman who was succumbing to Alzheimer's disease. My grandmother had Alzheimer's. It's sad to watch a woman who was so strong become a helpless child but I always remember how it seems that many patients with Alzheimer's tend to live in their happiest memories. So despite the nursing home and the missing dentures (which probably ended up in someone else's mouth!) and the sadness of watching someone slip away while still being right in front of you, I think of this song and the hope that it has. It's the woman's lover/partner/friend, promising to remember for her. It's kind of like that movie, what was it? The Notebook? It reminds me to take every day and LIVE because I never know when I may be the one with Alzheimer's and I will need my friends to remind me of the life I lived, of the memories we made and the laughter and fun. It's why I grab my keys and head to a great trail for a 5.5 mile hike despite the rain clouds I see on the horizon. It's why I get up every morning at 4:45 AM and work out. I want to live the life God gave me so that I can look back and live in the happiest times if it ever comes to that. Even on the bright sunny days like today, through music, through nature, and through friends I will go dancing in the rain!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Foiled By A Bum Sock

It's a beautiful Mother's Day in New England today. Well, at least my part of New England. So, on my way home from church today I decided to stop at a National Park and take a little hike. I've been driving a new route to church lately and it takes me right passed Minute Man National Park. Most Sundays I have homework to get home to or the weather isn't that great so I drive by and wonder when I'll get a chance to explore the wonders of this particular National Park. For the record, I've been to several National Parks and Monuments, along with state parks, in the past year as I've been lucky enough to travel across the country this year. Well, I finally got my chance today. I decided that after church I'd grab a water bottle from my car and hit the trails that I drive by every week. But first I stopped at the visitor's center since I knew very little about this actual park and have forgotten most of the history I learned about the Revolutionary War. I watched a movie and then head off on one of the trails. It was a great hike! I saw violets and lily of the valley (one of my favorites!) and, even better, saw very few people headed the direction I was going. I was planning on looping around passed the visitor's center and heading off on another trail to hike for about two hours. Unfortunately, my socks had other plans. I had to keep stopping and pulling up my sock because it was bunching up and giving me a blister, well, not yet but working on it. Since tomorrow starts another four weeks of boot camp I decided to call it a day and just head for the car. But, fear not! I will be back to explore the park on another day. With a better pair of socks you can bet on that!

Since I drive so far to church it also affords me plenty of time to think on a Sunday afternoon drive. And today for some reason found me thinking of the past. Past relationships but mostly a past job. It reminded me of working at the adventure/environmental camp up in New Hampshire. Mostly because I was noticing how the trees are filling out again with all their rainbow of colors. I got thinking about one day when I was teaching an environmental lesson and I asked the kids to take 5 minutes to count the number of colors they saw. After about thirty seconds a few of the kids looked at me like "That was easy. Why do I need 5 minutes?" It was these kids I was trying to teach at that moment. When the 5 minutes was up, I asked for a show of hands, "Who saw at least five different colors?" Everyone raised their hands. Then I asked, "Ten?" Still had everyone. After 15 I started losing a few hands. And the same kids that wondered why it took so long to count the colors were shocked when I got to 30 and there were still hands raised. Someone had counted nearly 40 different colors from where they were standing. The next question was just as simple. "Without killing or harming anything, point out something green." There were 10 kids with me and nearly everyone of them pointed out a different shade of green. Someone mentioned that the same color green in the sun is a different color green in the shade. It was moments like that where I felt like I'd actually taught them something. The ability to observe the tiny nuances of life is a powerful thing that many of us miss in day to day living. Open your eyes kids and really LOOK! That's the lesson I was trying to teach them. What's right before them is not always as simple as green, red, brown. It may be teal, sea foam, lime, cherry, sienna, burnt orange, etc. It just takes stepping out of the shadows (or into them) to see a totally different perspective.