The Perils Of Being A Romantic

I avoided watching Call The Midwife because…well, I thought it was just about giving birth and who needs to watch ladies screaming in pain? At least this is what I told myself. I have a PhD (Piled Higher & Deeper, according to Hunter-Gatherer) in self delusion. I can convince myself of most anything and my arguments are top notch. So, I didn’t consider my “No Call The Midwife” position as anything but sound logic. And then I really watched an episode. Oh my. How I was wrong.

My First Time

I don’t remember what happened in the first episode I watched. I only remember how I felt. I do know that HG was not home, and for some reason it seems it was cold outside. That last part could be entirely wrong, but watching this amazing period piece set in chilly East End London in the 1950’s always makes me imagine it is cold here as well. The stories all center around a group of nurse midwives and the nuns with whom they work and live. I must admit that even after watching that first episode I did not become a regular viewer. Again, I convinced myself that it was because of the timing, Sunday evenings, or the fact that like most British television programs it only aired a few episodes a year then was gone for months at a time. More personal delusion.

The fact of the matter was that it touched me somewhere deep in my soul and I wasn’t sure I wanted those areas to see the light of day. Was it the never giving birth myself thus too painful of a reminder? Possibly. Was it just too emotional? Could be. Or was it something else? Could it be that there are many forms of giving birth? Birth to relationships, ideas, personal growth, or just open to the possibilities life has to offer?

Savor vs Binge

Thanks to technology humans can now sit in front of a television, computer or tablet and watch television programs nonstop for days at a time if they so choose. It is not the healthiest of habits to be sure, and one that folks like me need to be wary of. Fortunately, this program should not be viewed in such a manner. There is much to digest, allowing it to permeate one’s soul. I have decided to savor it. Watching, living, imagining, and dreaming. I watch the nurses in action and remember. I was a nurse. I always say I fell into nursing because it was not something I grew up wanting to do with my life. I never had the calling of a nurse, but I was a good caretaker. So why did I travel that path?

The Journey

I graduated high school with absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my life. A fairly scary experience. I came to Texas to spend the summer with my childhood best friend and her family, and something happened one morning around the breakfast table that sent me home with a plan. I knew I wanted to be a mom and yet I knew nothing about taking care of kids. So, I decided that I would go to school to learn to be a Medical Assistant and specialize in the care of children. At the end of the summer that is exactly what I did. I returned home to California and enrolled in the California College for Medical Careers. Nine months later a new medical professional was born. I became certified, got a job and life moved forward.

Not having a college degree or proper title was always a source of embarrassment. I felt less than, and was always trying to improve myself. I decided to take another step forward in my career and attended a hospital based Licenses Vocational Nurse program at Hermann Hospital in Houston. Hermann Hospital, at that time, was one of the oldest and most well regarded hospitals in the country. It was and is the teaching hospital for The University of Texas and home base of Life Flight founded by Dr. Red Duke. I felt as though I was among the elite of the elite and quite proud. I graduated with honors and received an award for compassionate care.

I went to work on the pediatric nephrology unit and lasted only six months. I did not have a strong mentor and my personal life was crashing down around me. I left hospital nursing to return to the pediatrician’s office where I had worked as a medical assistant. I loved my work there and should have never left. But, leave I did.

Putting The Pieces Together

I spent a total of twenty two years in the medical profession. I cared for hundreds of children and touched lives in ways I will never know. I look back proudly at that service, and that is why I watch Call The Midwife. In the days when this show took place, nursing was a much more limited profession – no technology, fewer medications, thus more human contact. It was gritty, hard, painful but rewarding work. I chose to be an LVN because I wanted to touch lives and care for people. I was not interested in being in the OR, ICU, or any other high stress area. I just wanted to make a difference and I am confident that I accomplished that goal.

One of the children I cared for in the pediatrician’s office later became my step-daughter and now mother of my grandchildren. Our family’s circle of life is slightly different than most but it is intact. You see, what I considered a personal flaw – not staying in the hospital situation and furthering my career, moving backward so to speak – was actually me following a higher path.

Only God knew what lie ahead for HG, his wife and daughter and where my compassionate care would be needed the most. So, now I put on my rose colored glasses to enjoy Call The Midwife. I can recall the joys of caring for people in need, understand the hard work, and be grateful for the time I had in that role. Then I take the glasses off and re-enter the real world to care for the people God has placed in my life.

Life In The Rear View Mirror

It is so easy to romanticize the past or paths not taken. I am one of those dreamers who lives in her own head and sometimes forgets to live in the real world. I plan and scheme for things to be different to the point I can miss the good that is right in front of me. When I look back on the choices I have made and the turning points in my life I am amazed. I’m so grateful that God had a firm grip on me as I was completely clueless.

I’m turning sixty in less that a month, so I suppose it is normal to be doing a bit of reflecting as well as looking ahead to what I want the remainder of my life to look like. I am doing less looking backward or forward and more living in the here and now. I have taken the necessary steps to limit unhealthy daydreaming and am trusting more and thinking less. Seems a little counter intuitive for the world we live in, but I believe that is my recipe for a good and peace filled life.

Until Next Time,

In With The New

Happy 2018 to all!

I heard something funny on a television news segment about traditional good luck foods eaten on the first day of a new year. This chef said that pork is traditional because pigs can only move forward. They cannot walk backwards. I had no idea. I have not fact checked this, but I choose to believe it to be true and think it there is something to be learned from these amazing creatures.

We had something of a watershed end of the year in my family that I think is going to lead to healthier relationships amongst all of us. Sometimes it takes an outsider coming into a tight knit circle to help give clarity and perspective to the very small worlds we build for ourselves. The exact details are not important, but what is important to share is that, at the end of the day, we have very few people with whom we share our lives. It behooves all to make the best of those relationships…as is possible. And when it is not possible; when the damage is so severe that separation is the only thing possible, then I believe God brings a new “family” into our lives to help fill the hole in our hearts.

Now…Back To The Future

I believe that when we stay connected to God we become sensitive to His movement in the universe around us. For me this becomes evident in my attitude. When I am disconnected I look at the world through an ever darkening lens. It is as if I am going blind…and in my blindness I panic. And trust me, I can panic with the best of them! Those who know me intimately have seen Sheryl panic up close and personal it isn’t pretty. But how can panic ever be pretty? It can’t be. It shouldn’t be.

Sometimes a bee or a wasp sneaks in the back door when it is opened to let the dog in or out. Those poor things fly all around but always come back to the light shining through the window. They bump into the glass, buzz back and forth, then (I imagine they are exhausted but who knows) they rest for a while before the cycle begins again. I feel bad for them. I don’t want to kill them – nor do I want to be stung – so I open the back door, fan it back and forth trying to create a suction of air to pull them out. When it works and they fly out and off into the world, they are free. No more panic.

In Whom Do I Trust?

Misplaced trust can be devastating. But God assures me that trust in Him will set me free from panic…”The one who trusts will not panic.” Isaiah 28:16. The key is in whom that trust is placed. Isaiah refers to the “cornerstone.” That cornerstone is our Lord, Jesus Christ. “In God We Trust” is printed on the currency of the United States of America. I don’t think this was an accident on our founders’ part. Without God it is so easy for other things like money, material possessions, and the pursuit of both, to become our gods. We are to always remember and only trust the one true God.

So, let’s move forward together. Stay connected…stay free…pass it on.

Until tomorrow…

Reflection

It is nearly the end of 2017. This has been one doozy of a year, hasn’t it?

Everything I thought I knew seems to now be wrong, bad, or something for which I should be ashamed. Some days I turn on the television and I am blasted with all sorts of nastiness and I just feel like I should go take a shower. I’m not going to recount the issues and then provide a counterbalance. That is someone else’s job. I’m just here to share the only way I know how to cope.

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.      Ephesians 4:1-3

Lead A Worthy Life

I used to tell my oldest granddaughter to “Take care of yourself it is a full time job.” She, being the first for many years and oldest believed that it is her job to manage other people. She was quick to tattle, and find fault with everything other kids (especially her sisters) did while ignoring her own situation. Isn’t this an applicable life truth for all of us.

In a world where we are obsessed with what sins other people have committed, and all the wrongs that were done two hundred or more years ago, I think we need to stop pointing fingers and feigning outrage and just take care of our own life. Look inward more than outward. I know for me there is plenty of junk I need to deal with long before I even think about pointing fingers at someone else.

Characteristics Of A Worthy Life

Humility

Some days it seems as if the self esteem movement has wiped humility off the face of the earth. They do not have to be mutually exclusive. Remember the Golden Rule?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

That is humility in action. Having a strong self esteem means living in a way that says you have intrinsic value, God given value. Life circumstances can chew us up and spit us out, but this truth never changes. What changes is whether or not we choose to believe in the Truth.

What an amazing world this would be if we all just went back to kindergarten and lived by The Golden Rule.

Gentleness

Oh my goodness how we need this in our world. Be gentle with your words and actions. Our politically correct environment has made it difficult to have conversations with folks because we are so fearful of saying something that might offend them. We have managed to make the most vulgar of curse words everyday language while at the same time overthinking the simplest of phrases. I return to the Golden Rule, if you wouldn’t want it said about you or done to you, don’t say it to or about someone else, or do it to them either. Be gentle.

Patience

In our “got to have it now society” the ability to be patient with one another has been replaced with road rage shootings and blatant acts of aggression. Put up with one another. Let others do and be who they are; stop requiring they behave just like you think they should.

I find myself getting impatient with folks who just stroll down the isles of the grocery store, stopping in the middle, leaving their cart blocking the way. An entire conversation rolls through my head as I complain about how self centered they must be to think they are the only person in the store. Fortunately none of this comes out of my mouth, but the truth of the matter is they aren’t doing this simply because they are rude, they are likely as focused on their shopping as I am on mine. So, I allow them the space and if I am in a hurry I will smile and say “Excuse me.” What a simple solution. This, too goes back to that one simple rule.

Love

This is another over used thus trivialized word in today’s society. The love required to live a worthy life is transformative and begins with the love shown us through Jesus Christ. He loved so that we can love. This is not romantic or even parental love. This is a love that literally changes us from the inside out. It is the only love that can change the world. I believe that what we are seeing in our world today is the result of God’s people not being this kind of love to the world. Our light has dimmed as we become more like the world around us. I include myself in this – no finger pointing happening here.

How To Acheive A Worthy Life

So, how do we as mere mortals live in a manner such as I have outlined? Our humanity often prevents us from acting in such a gentle and loving manner. I know that I am unable to do it under my own power. If I don’t have a loving and kind influence, my mind can get very dark and vindictive.  Without the love of Jesus I am powerless to live up to this standard. But because of God’s love for me I can (and should) extend that love, patience, kindness, and gentleness to others.

We, as believers, should be living in unity with one another, in a peaceful and loving manner so that we can show the world what a worthy life looks like in action.

We shouldn’t publicly argue doctrine or spend our time pointing fingers at people who don’t live the way we think they should. That’s not our job. Our job is to love like we are loved. Jesus showed love and compassion to everyone and we should do the same.

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and look ahead, I have three goals for the new year.

  1. Fill your heart and mind with God’s word so there is no room for the ugly stuff.
  2. As you encounter people – in all situations – pray that they “be rooted and grounded in love.”
  3. Practice The Golden Rule in all aspects of your life.

Imagine, if we all lived this way, what a wonderful world it would really be.

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Life Not Fiction

No Chapter Two…or any other chapters for that matter. Now is not the time in my life for fiction writing. I’m not sure there will be a time for that. I love the idea, and maybe that is still in my future, but right here and right now is not the time. So, I will just write from the heart, the funny, the sad, the real stuff that happens to me. I’m just an ordinary woman trying to live life while keeping my neuroses in check.

Lately I haven’t been doing such a good job with the psychological stuff. I was on a roll and then circumstances beyond my control popped up and bit me in the ass. And there is a great deal of ass here to bite. Ever been where I am?

You know, that place where life just hums along and everybody who matters are just doing their thing, predictably and then, suddenly they change course and your like, “Whoa, wait a minute, you’re supposed to be doing this, living here, being this kind of person. What do you mean making changes in your life that affect me?” I know it sounds petty and childish, but don’t pretend you’ve never thought those things!

The problem is, they have every right to make changes and if those changes are for their good, who am I to feel this way? The word selfish comes to mind. I really don’t mind change…as long as I am the one doing the changing. I know, back to that selfish thing. I am baring my soul here, give me a break. Despite my advanced years, I still have quite a bit of growing and changing to do. I want to work on these things before I get so old and set in my ways I become that person no one wants to be around because she is always complaining. Back to my ample ass…I give you (and you know who you are) permission to kick me in it if I get too out of control and maudlin.

I’ve always reveled in being the unpredictable member of the family. The one that doesn’t do things according to family norms and lives life by my standards and enjoys being impossible to pigeon-hole. Anytime anyone tries to label me as any certain thing I am determined to prove them wrong and fly off in the opposite direction. There is nothing worse for me than my mom telling me “You’re just like your mother.” I detest that not because my mom is a horrid person, or because I don’t like her or love her. No, I detest it because I know I am like her and I accept that; what really gets to me is this sense that “Can’t something just be mine?”

“Mine.” This is a running theme in my life. I know it is a toddler like mentality, but why do toddlers behave in this manner? Control. They want something in their lives over which they can exercise control. Good parenting teaches them how to gradually handle this intoxicating power.

Please, for the love of all things good, tell me I am not the only sixty-something that is still dealing with things like this.

What I do know is that God is the ultimate parent. The all loving all knowing Father who does and allows whatever is necessary for our own good. I have more to say on the subject, but I’ll let you digest this and then tomorrow I’ll flip the page and we will talk about the positive side of this dilemma.

 

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Chapter 1

Voices swirled around me like a cacophonous fog descending over me until I disappeared.

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NaNoWriMo

I signed up to do this and had every good intention. I researched and wrote out several topics, but when it came to November 1st, 2017…I froze. Actually the cooling off process began several days before when I got distracted from my goal with other, equally valuable pursuits. 

You may or may not know that I have a second blog: The Woolen Hook. This is where I chronicle my love for crochet and all things wool, yarn and fiber related. The Woolen Hook is in the process of becoming a real brand with a real purpose in the world. There you will only find posts about those subjects. Where as here, you will find anything and everything that strikes my fancy at a particular moment in time.

So many people believe they have a story in them that worthy of telling. I believe that is true and I am one of those people. Ever since I was a little girl I loved to write. I still have poems and things that I wrote as a very young child. One of the Sheryl Stories that entertain my family is a sentence I wrote in the second or third grade. We had to use a vocabulary word in each sentence. I don’t remember what the vocabulary word was, but my sentence was “Kiss me you fool!” Surely it was something I had heard on television that just plopped back into the frontal lobe of my brain then onto the paper. Wherever it came from, I’m sure it wasn’t what my teacher expected.

The examination of my kindergarten report card indicated I did not start off well in the areas of making up stories and creativity. Something I found to be quite shocking. But then when I looked more carefully, it was grading verbal expression of such things. I have never been good at making stuff up on the spur of the moment and – I suck at improv. But putting things into writing, that’s a whole different subject.

So, back to NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – this is something to challenge oneself to actually sit down and write every day for a month and complete the draft of a novel in that time period. Well, as is usually the case, I’m doing it my way. So, every Monday until the story has been told, I will post another installment. My goal is to tell a complete story and then have the basis of something I can work on to be a full novel, unless it is so complete that I just need to write something else. 

In between these posts I will have my usual food, homemaking, decorating, grandchildren, and husband stories to tell. I’m not extraordinary, I’m just an open book. I write these things not because I’m special but because I find humor in in my humanity and hope that helps you do the same.

The story I am writing is loosely based on family members as they have been described to me and the rest totally made up. It is rooted in research I have done for The Woolen Hook and my maternal grandmother. I never really knew any of my grandmothers (I had two biological and one step) so in my story I am making up a relationship I would have liked to have had with my maternal grandmother – Willie Brooks Woodring. 

I don’t know who these women are. I bought the photo because it inspired me. I look into those faces and there is a story to tell. Though this story I’m writing now will be set in a different time, I will write their story as well.

I’m off to spend the rest of my day reading. H.G. Is literally off hunting and possibly gathering this weekend. The first weekend in November in these parts is a sacred ritual for deer hunters. For me, the television has been off all day, classical music, writing, drinking coffee, and now a good book will complete the experience. I am re-reading Little Women. I know this will be sacrilege to some of you, but I cannot remember how old I was when I first read it. Because of my friend at the time who read it as well, it was likely fourth grade. It is a timelesss story and one that fits nicely with the mood I am currently living in.

Until tomorrow…

Food For The Soul

I have had a love hate relationship with food my entire life. My family dubbed me “The Foil Package Bandit” for my unique skills at taking food from foil packages without leaving a trace. It was a symptom of something larger, but in the 1970’s we didn’t think as much about the psychological aspects of behavior like this. To my family it was funny. To me it felt like I was some kind of weirdo that even my family couldn’t understand. They still laugh, sometimes. I still don’t.

The Throwing of The Gauntlet

I am now three months and two days from officially being sixty years old. I think I am finally growing up enough to take proper care of myself. Hunter Gatherer is perfectly capable of caring for himself and Maggie, well, Maggie is a dog and she’s happy when she’s with me; I need to take care of me. Three things happened recently that jerked my food additcted butt into high gear.

First, my niece, in general conversation about her life mentioned how much weight she had lost. I don’t see her that often and last time I did she looked pretty much the same as I remembered. Then she sent me photographic evidence and, of course I had to ask what she did to drop the weight. No fancy diet plan. No extreme workout regimen. She cut out the white carbs and soda, took the milk and sugar out of her daily coffee, ate lean protein and veggies, walked her dog and went to the gym 2-3 times per week. Wow! That doesn’t sound painful or difficult at all! I could do that. I have a dog.

The second event was H.G. going for his annual physical. His doctor is very old school and runs many of the basic tests in his office then sends the rest to an outside lab. He came home proudly announcing that his sugar, cholesterol, and hemoglobin were all great AND, he had lost eight pounds since last year. Oh, great. Gee thanks universe. The man who has about the worst eating habits of anyone I know looses weight. 

The final straw was another man in my life proudly announces how he lost weight and clothing sizes in just a few days after going low carb.

The Gauntlet Picked Up

I don’t have a lot of faith in myself in this area. Too many years of making proclamations, great starts, and a week later I am right back to where I began. I am now almost two weeks into this challenge, and I must say, so far so good.

I started with the white stuff. I have already done lots of this, but I reaffirmed my intentions and looked at what was left that I was still eating that could be modified. And, I believe “modified” is the key word. There are things that I will occasionally eat…because I like them and I am human. I know that if I swear myself off everything all at once I will fail. By giving myself permission I also free myself to make choices. It is a weird psychology, but as long as it works, I am happy.

 
The Plan of Attack

I’ve got to navigate a meat and potatoes husband, Mexican food Fridays (a 26 year tradition), my every abiding love for starch, What-A-Burger (Texas folks know what I mean), and my favorite cocktails; sadly, bourbon and gin are not low carb. 

So, what will I eat? My daily menu includes many of my favorites – meats, cheese, vegetables, the occasional ancient grain and fruit. This is a good time of year for me to make the transition. I love roasted root vegetables and I can make a meal of just those. I prefer cooked vegetables in the cooler months and salads with my protein in the summer.

There will be some bumps in the road and hilarity along the way, so stay tuned for all the fun. I post lots of my food photos on my Instagram page (@sherylmeans) but be prepared for the husband and grandkids as well.

So, I leave you for today with some culinary inspiration. If I can do this, anyone can…stay the course.

Taco meat topped with egg, pico de gallo, queso fresco, with a side of guacamole.
Poached egg on a bed of ancient grains and spinach.

Salmon on bed of Romaine with seasoned cashews, pico de gallo, and honey mustard dressing.