Monday, August 31, 2009

Hark, the Day of Colonoscopy Has Arrived!

It's here. The day I've dreaded for six first foray into the wonderful world of colonoscopy. Or maybe I should say the wild and wacky world. Or the wretched world. I'll keep you posted on that.

Of course, I recognize that it's entirely possible that you don't want me to keep you posted. Maybe you prefer not to hear about it at all, lest your entire nervous system go into some kind of involuntary sympathetic reaction, thereby making you feel like more of a participant and less of a voyeur in regard to my most excellent adventure.

Be that as it may, I am sharing. Your decision to read or not to read, as always, is up to you. After all, free agency is what Sue's News, Views 'n Muse is all about (our creed, as it were), and that includes right to peruse or or run...embrace or shun. It's your call, my friends. Entirely yours.

Having said that, I do hope you will take under serious advisement the immortal words of whatever anonymous, shameless, and irrepressibly maudlin creature(s) penned these little gems:

A friend walks in when the rest of the world walks out.
A friend sees through you and still enjoys the view. (I find this image somewhat disturbing.)
A friend knows everything about you and still likes you.
And, finally...
Lots of your friends will ride with you in the limo, but a real friend will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.

Well, the limo done broke down, folks! And as you can see, I don't like riding the colonoscopy bus alone. Or at all, for that matter.

And now for the public service announcement:

The simplest way for average-risk individuals to prevent colon cancer is to receive colon cancer screening starting at age 50 and continuing through age 75. Colon cancer is the third leading cause of death due to cancer in the United States. About 75% of people who develop colon cancer are 50 or older with no other identifiable risk factors. Getting a colonoscopy can reduce the average person's risk of dying by 70-90% (depending upon the study) and, when diagnosed early, the majority of colon cancers are completely curable.

So, even though talking about colonoscopy can be funny (as I found out last night, discussing it brazenly with friends at an open house), getting a colonoscopy is serious business. If you've reached the golden age of 50 and haven't quite been able to force yourself to comply with the Surgeon General's advice, the Sue General advice is...JUST DO IT.


PS. Having just read this post over, I am impressed to add one final cloying platitude: "A true friend thinks you are a good egg even when you are half-cracked." (Which I appear, in this moment, to be.)

I blame the Miralax.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

On Temple DEDICATION, in Every Sense

Our gospel doctrine teacher opened his lesson today with an oddly gleeful admission that he had skipped church while vacationing in Utah last Sunday. I must admit to being a little surprised by his obvious pleasure, because he's pretty much of a stickler for such things. Then he explained.

As those of you who call Utah home are already aware, LDS church services were not held in your state last week. In other words, there WAS no church. Why? Because President Monson cancelled it. Yep, for the first time ever, in my memory anyway, the Prophet called the whole thing off! Instead, members were encouraged to attend a dedication session of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple with their families.

As it happens, four people from my ward family were visiting the area last week and managed to attend the dedication on the spur of the moment. This morning, each one of them spent a couple of minutes during Sunday School sharing their experience, and each one of them was overcome with emotion in speaking of it. Listening to their powerful testimonies of the temple made me wish I could have been there as well.

Several years ago, I was privileged to attend the dedication of the Palmyra Temple in a similar manner. Being there (even vicariously) affected me so deeply that I wrote down a testimony of that day for my posterity. This very personal witness, recorded expressly for my children (and my children's children), feels a little too sacred to share in such an open forum as this, but these two excerpts describing my thoughts and feelings do seem appropriate:

"I felt a love for my Redeemer and for the temples He has commissioned to do the work of bringing eternal families back to Him; and I knew that I wanted my children to understand, as I do, the significance of temples and the saving and exalting ordinances performed there."

"Everything we came here [to earth] to accomplish is centered in those sacred buildings, and as I heard the Prophet invite the Lord to visit His house, I knew with even greater clarity that He would and does visit His house, and that He desires us to be there with Him, as frequently as possible."

A valuable personal challenge, inspired by the dedication of each beautiful new temple like this one, would be to increase my own dedication to serving more frequently in the temple near my home. I miss too many opportunities to be there, and I need to do better.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

10 Honest Things...AND an Award!

Thanks, Momza, for hitting me up with this one. (I really LIKE awards.)

Okay. 10 Honest Things About Me:

1. I'm a binge reader. Sometimes. When I let myself be.
2. I'm a binge writer. Most of the time. And I usually give in to it. (Hey, at least there's a finished product, right?)
3. I'm a fairly mediocre cook (or maybe a better word is unadventurous). I can make a few things well, but it takes me ages to perfect a recipe, and total culinary disasters are my specialty.
4. I'm always either dieting or rebelling against the need to diet.
5. Without my glasses, I can't even see the eye chart, let alone the big E.
6. I dislike almost every one of Oprah's book selections. (And I'm not too fond of Oprah these days, either.)
7. I am something of a nienie-phile.
8. At times, my humor can be slightly irreverent and/or even a bit caustic. (The mom/grandma in me monitors this pretty carefully as compared to my younger self, though.)
9. I've been known to use music, candles, and certain favorite aromas as mood-altering substances. (For a knock-out punch, I add the scriptures to this mix.) Read applicable poem here.
10. I can be funny/flat, sweet/sarcastic, spiritual/worldly, flexible/opinionated, loyal/exacting, determined/casual, thoughtful/pushy, accepting/picky, kind/confrontational, hopeful/angst-ridden, curious/bored, creative/shut-down, compassionate/self-absorbed, talkative/introspective, lofty/earthy, gregarious/reclusive, realistic/a dreamer, and...(you may consider this list as exhibit A)...honest.

So that's the scoop on granny sue. Now that I've blown the lid off my image, I hope others of you will consider doing the same. Just grab the award, stick it on your blog, and go for the self-disclosure gusto! I mean, what's the worst that can happen? (Besides having all your followers desert you en masse and rip your buttons ignominiously from their blogs, that is...)


Friday, August 28, 2009

Too Cool for School

Can't believe how old these two are getting. An almost eight-year-old third grader and our just-turned-five kindergartner...unbelievable!

The little guy (who adores his siblings) will be two in November.

And this dude is getting cooler by the minute!
(Guess who bought him the hat? Yep. G'ma.)

And he's rockin' it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hope Floats, Time Flies & Mammography Matters

One of the happiest moments I experience all year is that supernal moment when my mammogram is completed. How my flattened mangled bosom thrills to hear those indescribably liberating words: "The films are good; you may go now."

Today was just such a day. I am released for twelve entire months from the crushing (literally) responsibility of this non-too-enjoyable test, and I feel free as a bird...or at least, some kind of milk-producing mammal.

Why do I subject myself to this yearly trial by torture, you may ask? (Sometimes I ask too, which is a pretty silly exercise because I already know the answer.) The reason I sacrifice my body to the mammogram machine is because early detection works. I've seen it. And I have friends who are alive today to be wives and mothers and grandmas and everything else they want to be because of their yearly screening.

And so I do it. I simply pick myself up, drag myself over to the local mammography center, and do it. With great reluctance and even greater determination, I offer up my assets for their 52-week checkup.

And then I skip all the way back to my car.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tradition Is a Golden Thread

Tradition is a golden thread

that binds our lives together.

It weaves through every memory

and whispers of forever.

It shines a light on every face,

adds luster to the commonplace,

reminds us of a distant song,

and lets us know that we belong.

It wraps around us in the cold,

warms every heart, both young and old,

sustains us through the storm and strife,

infuses meaning into life...

And lets us know that we are one.

Our family lasts forever.

Tradition is the golden thread

that binds our souls together.

the(re is no) end

And Carli seems to get that...


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Afghani Women Reading about "His Children"

Anita Schiller, the photographer who first approached me with the idea of writing poems to complement her work for a coffee table-type art book she was creating (now a fait accompli entitled "His Children"), decided to get involved with a literacy program in Afghanistan. Anita is one of those people who is always out there looking to find the needs and meet them, and her paradigm is not only multi-cultural, but global. What a treat it has been for both of us to see these pictures of Afghani women learning to read English using our book.

I think I can safely say that we count these amazing, courageous women among our favorite readers...


PS. Anita's latest efforts are directed toward an organization called Generations Humanitarian, whose purpose is to find homes for street children in Latin America.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Walking Where Jesus Walked

Yesterday I had the pleasure of listening to a BYU-Idaho devotional given by President Monson's daughter, Ann M. Dibb. It was called, "My Father Is a Prophet," and Sister Dibb spoke very frankly about her dad and what it was like to see him called as Prophet, Seer and Revelator of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (By the way, it was fun to note her strong resemblance to President Monson, including not just physical appearance but inflections and gestures.)

Because I am still thinking about it today, I wanted to share a portion of what this rather impressive woman said was the most powerful testimony she'd ever heard her father share. Apparently, it was given to the members of his home ward. Relating his experience of going to the Holy Land and walking on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus must have walked in the meridian of time, this is what President Monson said:

I may have walked where Jesus once walked, but what is more important to me is that today, I can walk where Jesus would walk if He were still with us. I can listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and minister to those the Savior would minister to today.

I try to never delay a prompting. When you honor a prompting and then stand back a pace, you realize that the Lord gave you the prompting. It makes me feel good that the Lord even knows who I am and knows me well enough to know that if He has an errand to be run and prompts me to run the errand, the errand will get done. That is the testimony of my life.

I'm afraid it isn't true as yet, but I would love to be able to say that God can always trust me to get the job done. I want to be a person the Lord knows He can count on, a friend who is constantly listening for that whisper of knowledge that one of His children needs comfort or assistance.

Of course, I have to be willing to do what it takes, and what it takes is drawing near enough to Christ so that I can hear Him. "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me..." (D&C 88:63). This proximity will ensure that I am close enough to be filled with His pure love and charitable enough to pour it out on others.

I'm not sure that I'll ever get the opportunity to walk where Jesus walked in Galilee, but surely I can discern His path today by following the needs of others and ministering to them. As long as I travel in His footsteps, I can "walk where Jesus would walk if He were still with us" and find my way home.

Consecration Prayer

©1999 by Susan Noyes Anderson, Awaken Your Spiritual Power, Karisma Press

I consecrate my soul to thee,

Who died for me on Calvary;

This life devoted to thy care,

Who hung and bled and suffered there;

This mind a sacred place wherein

No temptor’s power may enter in;

These eyes and ears and mouth are thine

To see, hear, speak thy truth divine;

This heart a fertile place to grow

The love thou plantest here below;

These arms thy servants day by day

To give thy seeds of love away;

These hands to nurture carefully

Each seedling gift of love to thee;

These legs to go where I am led,

To walk where thou wouldst have me tread.

May these feet in thy footsteps be

That I might find my way to thee.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dances with Goats (Wolves not available)

I love this pic of my youngest grandson trying to form a relationship with one rather unresponsive goat. (If the little guy can just establish eye contact, these two are gonna be friends for life!)

It occurs to me that if we approached all of the people at work, church, school, and in the community at large with similar enthusiasm and interest, we would never be lonely or feel like we didn't "belong" again. Eventually, we would catch their eyes and gain their attention. Especially if the expression on our faces was as interested and inviting as this little friend-finder's.

How many of us walk into a new situation and expect others to do the connecting? And then, when they don't take the initiative, brand them as unfriendly (or worse, jerks), and give up?

I'm going to take a lesson from this open, actively engaging toddler and go the extra mile in making those connections out there. Why not? We could all use a little more face time.

Especially when the face is such an appealing one.


PS. Of course, a less gracious and inherently uplifting woman than myself (heehee), might have responded to this photograph differently. She could have been piqued by this animal's indifference to her grandson's endearing overtures and penned a peevish poem, for instance...

Don't send a welcome wagon, and
don't feel you have to dote.
But don't ignore me, either, 'cause
that gets my grandma's goat!

Naturally, I rise above such petty concerns and reactions. (Though I must note, for the record, that this particular goat does exhibit an appalling lack of social acumen.)

And even less taste. ;)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

Well, the surgery is over, and the patient survived!

The mother survived, also, but just barely. Honestly, the older I get the less I like surgeries, hospitals, and the like. Even office procedures put me on edge, especially when they are happening to my children. Guess I've been burned a few too many times myself, because I never used to be bothered by such things at all...other than disliking the boredom of waiting rooms.

Speaking of the boredom of waiting rooms, by the way, that's one thing that has improved immeasurably over the years. Sitting in an ergonomic chair, Kindle in hand, cell phone at the ready, and laptop nestled at my feet constitutes a big step up from the old days...when I generally occupied an unyielding plastic seat, carried extra quarters for the pay phone, held a battered library book in both hands, and used my foot to jiggle the unrockable infant seat positioned on the floor beside me. (Those new, curved kind are so mom-friendly!)

Three of many harrowing experiences I recall involved handing my 8-month-old baby to an OR nurse for double inguinal hernia surgery, rushing my 2-year-old to the ER because he was unconscious and seizing for no apparent reason, and finding out that my toddler had Kawasaki syndrome, a condition which can lead to deadly aneurysms. Only slightly less traumatic were the many midnight visits for babies in respiratory failure (severe asthma runs deep in our family)––to say nothing of the requisite broken bones, stitches, and lumbar taps. Ah, sweet memories. No wonder I'm burned out on doctors, procedures, and the like! (Did I mention that the seizing toddler contracted typhoid while being treated at Children's Hospital in LA?) They sent him home with a week-long, 105-degree temperature, largely because my pediatrician felt I was a "good enough" nurse to care for him myself. (At this point, being "experienced" in the care of sick children felt like a mixed blessing!)

All the same, and the above-listed litany of medical emergencies notwithstanding, I have to count myself very lucky. Each of my children has become a healthy...even reasonably, and it would be ungrateful to complain when they and I have been so richly blessed.

In fact, I probably ought to delete this entire post and start over, but I don't think I will. After all, weren't we just talking about smoothing like an ocean stone?

(I guess we can put me down as still workin' on that!)


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Smoothing Like an Ocean Stone (Chris O'Brien)

I've gotten quite a few private e-mail responses to yesterday's post on waves. (Apparently, I am not the only one who finds the ocean both healing and soothing.) Additionally, as a couple of readers mentioned, the ocean can also be smoothing.

Have you ever seen a piece of sea glass, with all the sharp edges worn off? That's what I'm aiming for, and Chris O'Brien says it best in the video posted below for your listening pleasure. Be sure to click off my playlist (in the red box on the right sidebar, near the bottom of this post) so you can hear the great lyrics. You're gonna like this guy.

What do you think? Are you a Chris O'Brien fan, too?


"I'm breaking like the waves; you know, I'm dragging like the days, and I am smoothing like an ocean stone."

"My love speaks softly to me, when love is holding on to that little piece of truth."

"The music sets her soul to dance."

(Each of these last two lines is worthy of its own post.)

And I'll be writing them. Soon.

PS. My youngest son is having surgery at 2:00 PM today. Probably nothing dire, but I'd really appreciate the prayers of anyone and everyone so inclined.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bundles and Bushels of Birthday Bliss to a Super, Sensational, Stellar Sis!

Guess whose birthday it is today?

It's my little sister, Jayne's. Looks pretty good, eh?

Too bad she doesn't have any of that old spark left. heehee
(More like a bonfire!)

Can you tell she's more fun than a barrel of these?

And more fierce than an army of these??

Because she has a black belt in karate,
and that's no joke!

(These are only a few of the remarkable things about my sister.)

Here are a few more, for good measure:

1. Gives the best massage this side of the Rockies. (And probably the other side, too!)
2. Is the sole female athlete in our entire family. (Don't be messin' with AJ, cuz she will take you down.)
3. Looked like an eskimo when she was born and still gets tanner than the rest of us combined. (She can do this without the aid of sunshine or tanning lotions, by the way.)
4. Has genuine, bona fide Japanese feet. (It's a gift...)
5. Is a loving mom to her daughter, Kirsten.
6. Is a crazy and fun-loving aunt to her nieces and nephews. (She's pretty much up for anything.)
7. Thinks she can beat up our little brother, Rich. (He begs to differ.)
8. Always tries to look on the bright side. (Even when there doesn't seem to be one.)
9. Served a mission in Austria and still retains much of her German. (Sang "I Am A Child of God" in that very language at her homecoming and had to stop mid-song because she was overcome by emotion...) (We won't say what kind of emotion.) ( was laughter...and she blames ME.)
10. Cares enough about her family (us included!) to take a week from her busy schedule every year and hang out at Newport Beach (and Huntington Beach, home of yet another sis).
11. Doesn't seem to have a shy bone in her body.
12. Can sell pretty much anything to pretty much anyone (and has!).
13. LOVES to play. Works hard, too. (But methinks playing is her favorite.)
14. Did I say she's a black belt in karate???! (How cool is that?)
15. Is kind and generous (with a pinch of feistiness added to the mix)...
16. And oh, so funny. (To say nothing of loving and lovable.)
17. Probably knows how to use nunchucks (and if not, could fake it well enough to make it).
18. Once talked her way into a job at Macy's as a buyer even though she had no retail experience or training.
19. Once took a little gift in a box to the neighbor child, before she was old enough to know better. (Not a Gift from the Sea...a gift from the...toilet.) (Sorry, Aikins family.) (Sorry, Mom.)
20. Ensures that anyone lucky enough to be in her company will never have a dull moment. (Not if she can help it anyway.) (And she can.)

Yep, that's my sis...Now you know why I love her! (We ALL do.) Which makes her universally loved. (An enviable state.)

We know you'll make it a good one.


PS. Did I tell you she's a black belt?
PPS. And, yes, my sister can beat up your sister.
PPPS. But she doesn't, cuz that's not what zen-like karate people do.
PPPPS. Not in her dojo, anyway. ;)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Taking Charge and Turning Points

Isn't life an interesting thing? It comes in waves––or maybe I want to say in sets––of five, six, or even seven. (Most surfers will tell you seven is the magic number.) I'm no surfer, but like all of us, I am riding the crests and swells of life as best I can. Sometimes I catch the wave just right, and other times it catches me and drags me along the bottom for a bit. Occasionally I come up gasping for breath, with a nose (or lung) full of water, salt in my eyes, and scratchy sand in places I never imagined, but I always do come up. And the most important part of that equation (on land or sea) has always been trust: letting the waves of life or ocean take me, reminding myself that even when they beat me up more than I'd like; if I can just relax, keep the faith, and hang on to my patience; this turmoil, too, shall pass.

Today is one of those days for me. The most recent set of waves in my life hasn't looked all that treacherous, but the churning currents beneath the surface have been pretty rough (riptides, I guess), and I've been buffeted about and drug around a bit more than has felt comfortable. This morning, though, the tides have turned. All at once and with little warning my ocean is looking smooth as glass, and I can see the horizon clearly. Even the lighthouse shines more brightly in the distance, as I plant my feet on solid ground and know that a lull has come once again––a much-needed time to breathe deeply and slowly––a time to fill my lungs and renew my energy and resolve.

I love these peaceful lulls, but they couldn't exist without the large and small sets of waves that surround them, the make-or-breakers that swell and rise and crash and recede, again and again and again and again, rendering our senses alive and alert and ready to engage with something, Someone, greater than ourselves. (Lighthouses are always, for me, a reminder of Him.)

One thing is certain. No matter how frequently or infrequently the sets roll in, the moment I begin to think I see and understand the pattern, it will change. Perhaps this is at the very root of my reason for loving the ocean as I do, because it is in every way imaginable a metaphor for life, a soothing reminder that while I am not in charge, the timeless and inviolate rhythm is set in motion by the One who is, He who calms the sea and stills the tempest inside me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Happy Monday!

Guess who's staying home from work today? You got it! The bishop. Yep, he's gonna kick it with his lovely wife and help her get ready for the big YA Family Home Evening BBQ at our place tonight. (A pretty blissful time with this dude is hard to come by these days.)

So the blog is short this morning, but the happy Monday wishes are looooooong. Have a good one!