happiness is...

happiness is...
kenya 2010

Sunday, December 23, 2012

"how is your butt?" and other things people ask me at church

i can't begin to tell you how disturbing it is to have my butt be the topic of conversation. i mean, seriously... "how is your arm?" would sound so much more dignified. instead, i suffer through "how is your butt?". even at church. i must have been asked 100 times today. don't get me wrong, i am thrilled that people care about me and want to know how i'm doing. i also don't want them to feel like they can't ask. i just wish it was on my arm!

so here is the update- i think it is getting better, but it is far from healed. i have a friend (my roommate is getting of the hook on this one, and boy is she grateful!) coming once a day to pack it. that involves stuffing 2 feet of 1/2 inch wide gauze through the inch wide incision into the crater under the skin, which i estimate to be about the size of a raquetball. obviously, that is NO fun- for either of us. i have yet to figure out who's getting the worse end of the deal. before she comes, i medicate with 2 percocet, pull out the 2 feet of packing she put in there the day before, and hop in the shower to wash out the wound. then i spend the rest of the day trying to recover from the pain once the percocet wears off. at bedtime, it is 2 percocet, 800mg of ibuprofen, an ambien, and a beer. that allows me to sleep reasonably well so that i can start all over the next day. ugh.

the fevers still come and go. i am on antibiotics for the staph infection that is in the wound, but the good news is that it isn't a form of staph that is resistant to medications. it's just a run-of-the-mill bacteria, but boy it's kicking my butt! literally.

overall, it is improving. the reddened area is smaller and there is less drainage. i also no longer feel like i might die during the night. see? that's an improvement! just please pray for the drive to st. louis on the 27th. i am ringing in the new year at a mission/worship conference (urbana). it is hard to drive while staying off one side of your butt- so i am guessing it is going to hurt! i could try the percocet/beer combo, but they frown on that while driving. guess i'll just have to suck it up (shudder).

merry christmas to me... 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

it finally happened- a spider tried to kill me

i need to watch what i wish for. i was just thinking, "i haven't had anything newsworthy happen in awhile. i need a good story for my blog!"...and then, as if on command, a spider tried to kill me. to be fair, i am not absolutely, positively, 100% sure it was a spider. i have no actual proof (except the aftermath) but i know they're pure evil and intuition tells me one was to blame for what i've been dealing with all week.

this all started on friday. i was spending a lazy day in my lazy boy. okay, it's from world market, but lazy boy has a nice ring to it. :0) i had been reading in my chair for a couple of hours, and when i got up i felt a burning, itchy little area at the top of my left hip/buttock. disclaimer here for anyone who's heard me tell this story using the euphamism "top of my leg". technically my butt IS the top of my leg. the VERY top of my leg!! okay, okay...my blog is a place of honesty and transparency, so goodbye to dignity-sparing descriptions. i have what i think is a spider bite (SHUDDER at the thought!!) on my butt. sigh.

at first i didn't realize it was a bite. i thought maybe the seam of my jeans had embedded in my skin from sitting in the same position for too long, and it was just an indentation that would go away. by the next morning, it was obviously a bite. it was about the size of a quarter and hot, with a hard center. if that sounds bad, fast forward to sunday when it was the size of a grapefruit! in my defense, i really thought this would go away on its own. i wasn't being avoidant because i am a nurse, although i am admittedly a better nurse than a patient. i have had these a couple of times in the past and they have always gotten worse for a day or two and then slowly resolved without any treatment. this got bad FAST! by saturday night, the left side of my butt was about 1/3 larger than the right side (oh my word, that was horrifying on so many levels), the tissue was hard as a rock, red, and hot, and i had a fever. i had to wear a skirt because i was too swollen to fit into my jeans- really! by sunday, i was actually scared. all of those stories of flesh eating bacteria and people with amputations (how do you amputate 1/2 a butt??!) came flooding into my mind. all of the ER horror stories i've told and heard were suddenly way less amusing and entertaining and way too much of a potential reality.

i called the doc on call and got some antibiotics started on sunday afternoon, and even drew a line around the edge of the wound with a marker to keep track of its progress. i doubt i needed that for reference. by the next day, the redness had spread to nearly 2 inches outside the marker line, the pain was worse, and the fever didn't budge. the nutshell is that after 8 hours worth of ER visits in 2 days, 2 liters of IV fluids, 2 doses of heavy-duty IV antibiotics, one IV start that accidentally hit an artery, 2 rounds of being cut open with a scalpel and having the wound cleaned and packed with gauze, and a visit to the surgeon, i think i am going to live. i still have a long road ahead of me and it is far from healed, but i am on the right path. the surgeon did some serious work on it in the office and said to me, "i think if you hadn't come in today, you would have been in real trouble. you would have ended up with extensive surgical debridement and loss of tissue". translation: "i would have to take you to surgery and cut a big chunk out of your butt". if they would consider taking a chunk off both sides of my butt, i might consider it. anyway...

prayers for all the doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners that have had to see my swollen, wounded butt this week. we will ALL need healing after that. even more prayers for my roommate who will have to pack it with gauze once a day until it's all over and done. i really should add this to the lease.

the moral of the story is that once again, good prevails over evil. spiders beware!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

viva el peru!

viva el peru!

before you start saying things like “what a good person you are” and “how wonderful that you’re helping people”, let’s get one thing straight- this was not a mission trip. i know, i know. i’m a bad person… but i'm a bad person with one bucket list item crossed off! once i was accepted as a missionary to nepal, i realized that my ability to just jet around the world on fabulous vacations was about to come to an end. i also realized that if i want to get to some of my bucket list items, i need to do it now. i have saved up some money just for this purpose, and this week #1 is officially completed.


what an experience. this was my first foray into the continent of south america and what a foray it was. peru is absolutely beautiful- not as “undeveloped” as some of the places i’ve been, but still rough enough to be up my alley. funny, but the older i get the less i want the luxury experience and the more i want to immerse myself into the true local culture and local way of life. i even feel a little “jipped” when the hotel is too fancy. not a problem on this trip. the hotels were clean and had all the amenities (well, except hot water in the second one) but still simple and unassuming.

the first place we stayed was below the town of cusco, in urubamba, or the “sacred valley” (in the incan language of quechua). it touted spa services and we were exhausted after 2 days of travel, so brian and i decided to book massages to relax and unwind, and prepare ourselves for hiking machu picchu. really- you need loose muscles to make that hike. we considered it a medical necessity and not an indulgence. :0)  we needed to be done early enough to get ready for our tour group dinner, so the front desk arranged for 2 massage therapists to do them- his at 4:30p and mine at 5p. when i arrived for mine, the girl met me at the door to the massage room, cracked it open, and ushered me inside, whispering, “okay, senorita. okay.” and pointing me to the table. right next to brian’s. here we were, in a tiny room that resembled a potting shed in the back of the hotel, and evidently we were getting a couple’s massage. now, for those of you that don’t know this, brian is one of my best friends. has been for 18 years. we have never, ever (nor do we plan to) seen each other naked. ewwwwwww (sorry brian- but i’m sure you will join me in that sentiment!). it would be like seeing your brother/sister naked. it’s just not necessary. so the girl backs out of the room, the guy keeps doing brian’s massage, and i am left to disrobe and crawl onto the other bed. to his credit, he kept his head turned the other way, but that didn’t muffle the snickering. the rest of the massage was pretty ridiculous. he was laying on what looked like a wood pallet with a pillow on it, and my bed was about 4 feet long. they were no more than 4 inches apart, max, and my massage therapist had to keep pushing my bed side to side to get around me during the massage. at one point she got stuck in a eucalyptus tree in the corner near the head of my bed and the rustling and sounds of a struggle nearly drowned out our laughing.  it was not the most relaxing massage i've ever had, but it was certainly the most random!

interesting little fun fact: peru grows over 3,000 varieties of potatoes. (see? i listened during the tour).

machu picchu. wow. if this isn’t on your bucket list, you need to put it there. it was absolutely spectacular. those incas were some truly innovative and resourceful people, and the ruins are amazing. you can only access the ancient city by foot- oh how I wish I had the time to hike in via the inca trail! there are no roads for cars or buses. we took an excursion train to the town below, a bus to the trailhead, and then hiked the rest of the way in. when we got to the top of the stairs (endless stairs), the view took my breath away. well, it could have been the nearly 8,000 foot elevation, too. either way, it is something i will never forget. as a group we had a 2 hour tour and walked the ruins. then we had lunch on our own and were left to explore. about 8 of us decided to head back up the mountain and head down the backside on a narrow mountain path that hugs the cliff face and leads to the “inca bridge”. we had to sign in and out at that trailhead and found out later that this is the area where the majority of deaths occur from plummeting  down the mountainside. i guess this is so they know where to start looking when you don’t show up at the end of the day.  the bridge was terrifying and thankfully closed. i am phobic of heights but am crazier (or more stubborn) than i am chicken, so would have found it necessary to try to cross it, had it been open. chances are i would have gotten stranded partway across, paralyzed and unable to go forward or turn around. i am SO happy i wasn’t allowed to find out. it was about 2 foot wide and made of stacked logs spanning a 20 or 30 yard long section of cliff face. cliff to the left, nothing to the right. this led to steps carved into the stone of the cliff, leading back up the opposite mountain. all of this Is about 1,000 feet above the valley/river below. i think the moment we reached that bridge was the highlight of this trip. have i mentioned that i love my life?!

there was so much more to this trip that i don’t have time or space to get into, in detail… there was shopping at a market where the locals shop, eating alpaca (tastes like lamb) and guinea pig (i liked mouse better), touring ruins in cusco, visiting the “white Christ” which is a replica of the one in rio, brazil, watching shows featuring traditional dances and music, having dinner in a local family’s home, visiting a shop where they taught us how to distinguish clothing made from “baby alpaca” vs. adult alpaca or “maybe alpaca” (the baby is much softer and cool to the touch), participating in a cooking demonstration and then getting to eat the results (called causa), going to a local cemetery, witnessing a blessing by a kichwa shaman, touring the catholic cathedral, losing my credit card (ugh), doing a city wide tour in lima- all amazing (except losing my credit card). peru has a rich culture and warm, friendly people.


trust me. get your pencil and add this one to your bucket list.


Monday, October 22, 2012

oh kim, this is wrong. i should be writing this to you 45 years from now, when i'm 89 and you are (were) 97- after having danced yourself to death in the nursing home singles "mixer" on a sunny sunday afternoon. that was my plan. why do you always mess up my perfectly reasonable plans?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

think of all the fun you can have with $107

i recently took a different job with about half the hours to help me move forward toward my move to nepal. this was a prayer-filled, well thought out change and so far it's been wonderful. i have been very intentional about using the extra time to be productive. i have studied for my missions perspective class, read my bible, weeded out clothing i'll no longer need and have taken it to the second hand store for consignment... i have read 2 of the 6 books recommended to me by TEAM, and started a bible study/mentoring program with a young woman from church. i have completed online fundraising tutorials and surveys needed before my week-long orientation in chicago next week. i have cooked and cleaned and decluttered. i refinanced my house at a lower interest rate to lower my mortgage payments so that my roommate's rent will mostly cover it while i'm gone. like i said, i have been productive.

one of the things i decided to do today was make a budget. i have never made a budget. in fairness, i have never had to. i make good money and live a very modest lifestyle. i have no debt except for my mortgage. even my jeep is paid for. i am not a "shopper"- the only money i really spend is on things like eating out and entertainment. i am never in danger of spending more than i make, unless i'm traveling. i figured that i could easily live on half my salary if i tightened the reins a little on those incidental things. over the past several months i have cut expenses even further by volunteering at the food bank (they can't give out the dented cans for safety reasons, so us volunteers get to take some home, thus lowering my food bill) and becoming a "karma yogi" which means that i clean the yoga studio for a couple of hours a week in exchange for free yoga/exercise classes. that will allow me to eliminate my gym fee too. i have started frequenting our local "discount grocery store" on days like monday, which is "monday mania" and rotisserie chickens are $4.49, and tuesday when bananas are 19 cents a pound! in other words, i have a plan!

back to the budget. i put down my average monthly costs for my mortgage and utilities. i was doing pretty well at that point. that left me with between $400 and $500 a month for incidentals. oh wait... i forgot gas. i only get 14 miles to the gallon in the jeep on a great day. better take off another $150- more while i'm driving to and from raytown for class. okay, i can work with $300 or $350. oops... the text message that just came in reminded me that i have a cell phone bill too. bye bye to another $85. so now i'm down to $225ish. omg- how did i forget about car insurance and my internet bill? after all, i'm using the internet to look up my online bill pay info. sigh. after it was all said and done, my total after those expenses was $107. i haven't even taken off for food, yet, or the extra $200 a month i will have to pay for health insurance now that i'm part-time.

moral of the story- do the budget BEFORE deciding whether or not to take the part-time job. i am not sweating it though. i will trust that god will provide. and i'm starting the "freegan diet" again. this will be good for me, right? what better way to prepare to live like a missionary than to actually live like a missionary?

p.s. yes, i will take and eat all your stuff that has expired but still doesn't smell too bad. :0)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

back to online dating- just for your amusement!

so, by now you know i'm an eternal optimist. or a fool. i prefer optimist and this is my blog, so i'll go with that.

i know i've had some dreadful online dating experiences (reference past blog posts. haha), but i am always one to play the odds. odds are that it's bound to get better, right? between that assumption and a recent request from a friend to post something humorous as opposed to "deep" this next round, i decided to take one for the team and go back on the online sites. i signed up for "christian mingle" and went back to browse "plenty of fish" which was a site i frequented before. actually, that was the one where i found the guy with 2 fiancees and 19 women who thought they were his girlfriend. wow. i really am optimistic.

christian mingle is fine but a little slow. the nice thing is that it is a christian site so not everyone is just trying to "hook up". plenty of fish, on the other hand, was sending me matches of folks that i am sure i wouldn't be attracted to in real life. i am not being harsh or judgemental, but we all have our preferences and the things that we find attractive, and these didn't fall into those categories. there was an option to go to a set of profiles and "rate" the pictures so the matching software would know what i prefer and send me matches based on those preferences. well, there was one out of the first 20 that was a "hit" so i rated him high. much to my surprise, it sent him an email telling him i wanted to meet. oops! i decided to throw caution to the wind and go with it. a friend and i were supposed to meet for dinner after my KC class last sunday but she had the nerve to have a baby and canceled on me. since i was going to be dining alone and he lives in KC, i asked if he wanted to join me. he did.

the nutshell was that he was handsome, well dressed, intelligent, educated, professional, interesting, and interested. overall, a pretty darn good date! i regained my hope in online matching potential. he did try to land a kiss in the parking lot, but i'm not that kind of first date girl- so i did a polite swerve and leaned in for the hug. after the date, he texted that evening and called the next day to talk for a few minutes. today we exchanged a text or two and made plans for a phone call this evening after getting home from all the "stuff" we had planned.

then i got the other text. "hey babe, i'm good either way, but i'm going to plan on picking up food and heading over unless you tell me you want to go out."... did i mention that he was NOT heading to my house? he sent that text to the wrong girl. it was followed by "my bad. sorry."

awkward! and back to square one.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

boring little update :)

sorry- no witty banter, earth shattering news, or shockers. i just thought you might want a general life update, since so much has been going on in mine lately. let's see- where to start?

i started my new job last week. i spent the week shadowing in the different areas where i'll be working (prep, procedures, and recovery in the endoscopy center) and i'm thrilled. the job seems like it will be interesting, fun, and varied, but what is even better is the morale and relationships between the nurses in the department. everyone is upbeat, positive, and willing to help each other out. the manager is fair, flexible, and a working part of the team. best of all, i will be back at the bedside and able to connect with my own patients. i had forgotten how much i enjoy that. how much i need that.

i am still single and grateful for that. with each passing day, i am more and more convinced that i'd rather be single than paired up with someone that is not a good match for me and vice versa. that's not to say that there aren't lonely moments- but they have more to do with loneliness in general than they do with missing a particular person. that's the human condition, i think. we are wired for companionship and are never quite satisfied when we don't have it. that is why we keep trying so hard to make the wrong thing the right thing (or at least i do)... because of that deep need for connection. i just need to keep reminding myself that i'd rather be single than wish i was! ;)

i preached the sermon at church a couple of weeks ago. what a trip that was! i am sure i talked a mile a minute (how odd!) but it must have been effective because i preached on "missions" and when i got done, the congregation donated $1800 into the special offering for our church missions fund. how awesome!! the downside is that they put nearly all the offerings into that fund and next to nothing into the general offering plate for the week. our priest is thinking twice about having me preach. that'll teach him!

i know a lot of you are wondering about my sister and how she's doing. thank you for the continued thoughts and prayers. this has been an awful time. she is on hospice and they gave her "2-4 weeks" about a month ago. no one knows when that time will actually come. in some ways it will be way too soon and in others, not soon enough. it is awful to say goodbye to someone you love, but worse to see them suffer. i have been asked to sing her funeral (a request i hope you never need to contemplate) and i have decided i will try. i found a wonderful friend- one who got me through singing at one of my best friend's son's funerals- to play for me, and if i choke while i'm singing she will pick up where i leave off and finish singing it for me. that's the best i can do. please pray for that. it is a gift i really want to give to our family.

that is the update...the good, the bad, and the ugly of my life. i am blessed to have all three because as hard as this life can be, it is teaching me compassion and strength and is giving me a better understanding of all that people carry on their shoulders every day. it has made me kinder and more patient. i certainly don't want to add to their burdens so i will give them a smile and a safe place to rest, and send them on their way happier than before...

...with god's help.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

god and my cell phone were arguing in the grand canyon

we get messages from all sorts of places, and sometimes it's difficult to determine which ones are lying to us and which ones are telling the truth. i believe, in part, that it is our responsibility to filter them and decide which ones we will allow to speak to our hearts and whisper to us who we are. after my breakup last week, i was hoping that my trip to sedona and my hike into the grand canyon would give me lots of time to talk to god, and some time in return for him to talk to me and remind me who i am. what i am. what i should do. you know, words of wisdom from the creator that made me in his image. that's not asking too much, right?

i am not naive enough to believe that you have to trek halfway across the country and head into the wilderness to encounter god- but it sure makes it difficult to ignore him or deny him when you're surrounded by the majesty of nature and hours upon hours of solo time trekking down (and then up... forever UP) into the canyons of arizona. i planned to take full advantage of that uninterrupted time to speak to him. uninterrupted, that is, except for my cell phone. thanks to technology and text messaging, god isn't the only one to talk to in the middle of nowhere. evidently my ex can reach me there, too. and "he" did. (i should admit that i replied...every time. sigh.)

it's not that god and the ex were telling me drastically different things on the surface- it's what was being whispered to my heart that was so different. god was saying, "you're loved". "he" was whispering, "you're loved, but i love myself more". god was saying, "you're special" and "he" was whispering, "you're special, but not special enough for me to make you a priority". god was saying, "you are beautiful and valuable" and "he" was whispering, "you are beautiful and valuable, but still not worth enough for me to try to find a way to make it work". god was saying, "i miss you and want you in my life" and "he" was whispering, "i miss you and want you in my life, but only to the extent that it doesn't interfere with anything i'm doing or inconvenience me in any way. i want you there on my terms because this is about me and what i need, and not you and what you need." i should have thrown that cell phone off the south rim and into the colorado river.

ultimately, it's good that it happened. it taught me a lesson. when we broke up, there was discussion about how he likes to remain friends and keep in contact with his ex's and how i believe it's healthier (for me and my sanity, at least) to cut all ties and have no contact, unless absolutely necessary. if i am not your girlfriend anymore, i don't want to see your face, hear your voice, be told about your activities- nothing. i want to pretend that you don't exist. that may sound harsh, but if you are no longer my reality, you can't hurt me anymore. i also don't think it's fair for you to be able to use me for electronic company when you're bored, or lonely, or sad, or desirous. it's not fair to keep your foot in the door. for me, it's an all or nothing thing. if you don't want all of me, and all of this experience, you get nothing. that's god's model. he wants all of my heart. in turn, i give all of my heart to him and to those i love. i expect the same in return. who am i kidding? i expect it all in return, but i'll accept 20%. if you can't give even that, what's the point? that's when the healthy thing to do is cut loose.

today, something new was whispered to my heart. it was a sound, and not words... 

..."snip. snip."

Monday, September 3, 2012

oh- didn't i mention that??

You know your life is eventful and tumultuous when you quit your job and it doesn’t top the list of the most important things to blog about that week. Or the next. Wow. Now that we’ve gotten the other news out of the way…..drumroll please…..wait for it….

I quit my job.

Hmmmmmmm. Seems a little anticlimactic now, but it wasn’t then. It was a pretty dramatic decision. Dramatic, but quick. I talked to the manager over the Endoscopy Center at our hospital on Tuesday, mulled it over on Wednesday, decided to take the job Thursday, and gave my notice on Friday. The decision brought  an onslaught of emotions- some I anticipated, others I didn’t. Guilt over leaving my office mates (and leaving them with my workload when I go), sadness for turning over the program I created and developed, anxiety for our patients who may or may not have an official “advocate” when I leave,  concern over the future of the program, trepidation, anticipation, resolve…and relief.

So much relief.

This will be a half time position (oops- I forgot “fear of starving to death” in my above list) doing bedside nursing in the Endoscopy Center. I will be caring for patients and assisting with scopes and procedures. My patients will be happy (because I’m their nurse, duh!), and I’ll be happy dealing with happy patients. I will have an extra day off each week, and afternoons free from 1:30p or 2p on. I will have flexibility to help Kim or care for Cameron as her life here on earth comes to a close. I will have more time to study and do fundraising so that I can move forward in my quest to get to the mission field. I can practice living frugally in prep for the life of a missionary (um…yay?). And most of all, the hope is that I can sleep again once the frustration over what my job has become, in contrast to my vision for it and what it should be, has faded.

So much relief.

(Please join me in humming the tune to Jeopardy as we anxiously await September 21st.)


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

a win and a loss on the same day....

today i won the contest i had with my boyfriend- "first one to lose 10 pounds wins a fabulous prize!" what is the prize, you may ask? well, i don't actually know. i never got to find out. today i won the contest but i lost my boyfriend.

did i mention that we were also supposed to go to sedona tomorrow for a labor day trip? yep. timing is everything. perfect, as always.

out of respect for him and his privacy, i won't expound (seriously, don't act so shocked) except to say that there are some people you are meant to love but not be with. evidently that is true with us.

my heart is broken. broken, but thinner. there's always a bright side.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

looking for the bright side

the week before last was a rough week. on monday, i had to put my dog to sleep. on that following sunday, my stepmom died. like i said, it was a rough week.

i recently had a good friend say to me, "i don't think i've ever known anyone who has suffered so many significant losses in such a short period of time." this wasn't comforting, considering my friend is a psychologist specializing in depression, and has studied hundreds if not thousands of depressed people. that is definitely a distinction i wish i could trade in for one more fun or glamorous. truth is, he's right. in the past 2 years, i have lost both cats, my dogs thor and xena, my mom, my first love (see blog post entitled "time to be authentic"), and my stepmom. my sister kim is also dying. as much as i hate to say that out loud, not saying it won't make it less true. before this year is over, i will probably have lost her too.

i try to tell myself that it isn't about me, but that's not exactly true. death is not really about the dying. it's more about the ones left behind. the dying will finally be healed. we are told that there are no tears in heaven. not so, on earth. while the dying are finally healed of everything that was broken in this life, their loved ones are still broken...and more so, because of their loss. so, while it isn't really about me, it is. how many times can a heart break in 2 years? why do i have to be the one to find out? they say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. by now, i should be the strongest woman on earth.

i am always one that's able to find a bright side in every situation- a silver lining, so to speak. it has been tough this time. the thought that my life is clearing out of everything and everyone i love, and that the lack of "roots" will make it easier to move away, doesn't quite seem like a bright side.

for now, it's all i've got.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

play it safe or play with fire?

i've never been good at playing it safe. this time, that may come back to bite me. i have started seeing someone and he is not "nepal guy"- meaning that i am moving to nepal to do full time mission work, and he is not. can't. not an option. absoflippinlutely not nepal guy... yet now he's my boyfriend. hey- i TOLD you this was going to come back to bite me.

i only have myself to blame. i knew he was not nepal guy when he asked me out. well, to be fair, i didn't actually know he was asking me out that first time. i know that sounds silly, but we have known each other a long time semi-socially, and i thought he just wanted to get together over a beer and discuss my latest trip (nepal, ironically) and catch up. turns out that for a "professional dater" (his pet name for me), i can be pretty naive. it was definitely a date. it probably wasn't a very fun date for him since i spent it cataloguing all the reasons we'd be a horrible match, and all the concerns i had about being associated with him in more than a casual way. i even went so far as to tell him that i wanted to avoid all the drama, and date him in private...only go places no one was likely to see or recognize us.. oh my, i was a fun one that night. believe it or not, i must have looked smashing because despite my less than encouraging feedback, he asked me out again. and again. and i kept going. despite myself, i kept having fun. i also kept telling myself that i wouldn't get attached because it's a really bad idea, especially considering the mandatory end- my move to nepal. i took solace in my "professional dater" status, knowing that i rarely get too attached and seldom go on more than a few dates with any one person. in other words, i'm cool calm and collected and am always in total control. i haven't had a long-term boyfriend in 4 years. no problem.

you guessed it. five weeks and 2 days later, i'm attached. he's handsome, nice, funny, and thoughtful. best of all, he's smitten and seems to adore me. that's a quality i admire in a man. it's a little too late to be asking these questions, but i have to wonder if this was wise. should i have played it safe and protected my heart, knowing there is a time limit to this relationship, or should i have gone ahead to experience all that this has to offer in the "here and now"? life is short as well as uncertain, and it seems sad to look so far into the future that you don't fully embrace the now. the now feels good and makes me happy, so i'm leaning toward the latter.

ask me again when it's time to leave.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

six pounds! count 'em six!!

just a quick update...i have stayed true to my resolution of a couple of weeks ago- to watch what i eat and exercise more, and as a result to lose weight. i love myfitnesspal.com. it has helped me stay right on track and to keep my net calories to around 1200 a day (average). and guess what? i probably gave it away in my not-so-subtle post title, but...


not bad. i have a few more to go, but i won't focus on that for the time being. for now i'll focus on my SIX POUNDS! :0) can you tell i'm psyched? i have a contest going right now with "the boy that's to blame" (more about him in my next post) and the first one to 10 pounds wins a fabulous prize. he is at 3 and i am at.....say it with me...SIX! only 4 more to find out what my fabulous prize even is. i have one picked out for him, too. but shhhhhhhhhhhhh. it's a secret.

say some prayers for me tomorrow. it's pizza party day in our department. sigh.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

fat. it's a state of mind...until you step on the scale


so, i'm tired of being fat. okay, maybe not exactly fat, but fatter than i need or want to be. over the past couple of years i have let my fitness level decline. some of that can be blamed on circumstance- 2010 was largely spent helping care for my dying mother, and 2011 brought with it a much needed, but very limiting, spine surgery. since then, however, i have nothing to blame it on but being lazy and somewhat unmotivated. granted, i have my moments of brilliance, but they have proven to be too few and far between. i am still active and relatively fit, doing things like biking and kayaking- but evidently it isn't enough. i stepped on the scale for the first time in several months, and i am ashamed to say that i am about a pound shy of the panic level. you know, that weight that you absolutely, positively, without a doubt refuse to surpass. whew! just in time...

over the past couple of weeks i have made some big changes in my lifestyle. there is a boy to blame, of course, but that is a different story.  i have started doing my kickboxing again and am working back into yoga. i have signed up on a fitness and diet tracking site called myfitnesspal.com, which allows me to enter my daily food intake and exercise exertion and calculates how many calories i have left in the day based on that info. it takes into account my activity level, age, gender, and how many pounds i want to lose each week (it won't let me pick 25. i tried), and gives me feedback on how i'm doing toward that goal. it is a very tangible measure of my progress when the actual pound loss or body changes come too slowly to motivate me. i am now hooked. i have to be careful...you know how i can be when it comes to balance...but so far so good. while i do obsessively log every single bite (as soon as i get off of here i am going to sign on and enter the 2 raw almonds i snacked on a few minutes ago) and i faithfully include every single bit of activity i do (like dancing to the music at a Third Day concert last night), i still think this will be a healthy and positive life change. perhaps my favorite part is that it tells me when i am either eating too little or exercising too much, and am in danger of going into starvation mode. true, i could probably live a few months on body fat stores alone, but i appreciate the warning anyway. :0)

i am looking forward to pursuing this goal, and all that entails along the way. i am shooting for a definite 15 pounds and a possible total of 20 if i feel that i still have a way to go when i get there. i am also trying to keep in mind things like body fat and muscle mass, since my kickboxing may bulk me up like an american gladiator (yeah, right!). what i am less excited about is the ability to feel every single muscle i have used in each and every workout. they scream at me with every move. walking up the stairs when i get home is a herculean task, and brushing my teeth is tricky because it hurts to hold my arm up for the entire 3 minutes. yike. the upside is that i can feel those screaming muscles turning into solid muscles, and the cushion layer over them is slowly melting away. i am confident that in another couple of weeks, i'll be able to brush my teeth without giving it another thought. in the meantime...


Sunday, June 17, 2012

answers to "how was your trip?" and other unanswerable questions

since returning home from my "vision trip" to nepal, i have had innumerable people ask me, "what do you think? was it fun? did you like it? was it an amazing experience? is that where you want to go?" i had no idea how difficult it would be to answer those questions and not sound like a raving lunatic. truth is that i am still processing the experience and my reaction to it. even as i write this, i am learning, little by little, what i think and feel about the trip and my future in nepal.

i say "my future in nepal" because regardless of my answers to the above questions, i still feel called to serve there. that isn't where my struggle lies.

my struggle lies in reconciling my experience with words like "fun", and "like", and "want". everyone expected that i'd go to nepal and i'd have this really rewarding visit and love the people, and the place, and know without a shadow of a doubt that this is where i belong. that is what i expected, too. instead, i had a trip full of challenges and obstacles, and fears that i had to face head-on. i was met with occasionally unimaginable conditions and the understanding that it was in these conditions that i'll eventually be living, no matter where i end up serving. i struggled with the knowledge that i, and everyone i know, have always envisioned me living and serving in africa. more than on any other trip (and there have been 15 since 2005), i struggled. that sounds bleak, doesn't it?

then there's the flip-side. no matter the challenge or the obstacle, there was always a way over, under, or around if i had the courage and the faith to take the path open to me. no matter how impossible the situation seemed at times, after much prayer, it became possible. no matter how inhospitable the conditions, the people met me with unparalleled hospitality- especially the other missionaries living both in kathmandu and "up the mountain". at times i felt like job in the bible, where god says to satan, "do what you want with her, just don't kill her" and satan had his way with me...testing me with spiritual warfare to see how obedient and faithful i'd really be in the face of such adversity. as a result, i felt myself getting more and more stubborn...and developed a "bring it!" attitude- because i felt that god was always there, ready to be my support and my strength when i didn't have any more of my own to rely on. while i didn't have an overwhelming sense that i "want" (on a conscious level) to spend my life serving in nepal, i DID have an overwhelming sense that it is what god wants of me- at least for now. he made a way for me there and is paving a path for me to take. he will be my strength when mine fails and he will be even more glorified by the fact that this is his agenda and not mine. i get a real sense that he has ordained this ministry and will show his glory through my uncertainty.

or i'm a raving lunatic.

so i told my story to my priest, who responded with characteristic transparency by saying that it was very overwhelming for him and he needed time to decide if i'm a lunatic or not. :) my story is overwhelming for me, too. this whole concept became really overwhelming for me as i was there living it. it hit home that i am really on the path to doing this, and that i’ll be leaving behind life as i know it back here and moving forward into a new and unchartered life. it’s not that i’ll be gone forever, even if this assignment is “permanent” -there are times of furlough and currently the plan is for me to furlough back in Lawrence for 3 months each year, instead of being gone for 3 or 4 years and then coming back for a full year…but i will be immersing in another culture and living the majority of my time in a completely different environment. i was hit with this wave of anxiety as i was standing on the street in kathmandu, surrounded by honking horns and cows in the road and dirt and trash and diesel smoke and heat and scooters and craziness….i had this almost unbearable longing for the peace, serenity, and “zen” of my life back here… and for the very first time i was truly afraid. funny, because in all of my travel trials and adventures (even in nepal) i was never really afraid. afraid of creepy spiders, yes (haha) but not afraid in any real sense. i was trapped alone in the terai with machine gun wielding soldiers and no ride, and i wasn’t afraid. i was left alone by those soldiers and left sitting in the desert heat with no ride and no cell phone and no idea what i was going to do- and i wasn’t afraid. i accidentally ventured into an army commando camp in the heart of the jungle and wasn’t afraid. i was staring into the eyes of a jackal/leopard/jungle cat on the path to my guesthouse, even then i wasn’t truly afraid. but standing there in kathmandu, envisioning what my life is to become….THEN i was afraid. i don’t think the fear has anything to do with the “wrong path”…. i don’t think it is a sign that this is not god’s will….i think it is the very real fear that i am not who i think i am (character-wise) and that i don’t have what it takes to be fully god’s. it is the fear of failing god, maybe… or the fear of not accepting this new life with enough grace…or the fear of being weak…maybe also the fear that this IS god’s path and i will be on it- alone- indefinitely... the fear that i won’t ever find that life partner that i always thought i’d find, to share in this really challenging journey… i don’t really know how to put a label on it, but it’s fear. period. the farther i get down the path, the more real it gets and the more freaked out i get. and the more excited i get, and antsy to move forward and get started. it is a constant tension between the pull back and the pull forward. yike.

how screwed up am i? you can tell me. i can take it.


Friday, June 15, 2012

pics of the peeps

i thought i would include a blog featuring the people i was blessed enough to encounter on my trip to nepal. this is in no way an exhaustive visual list...just a cross-section of humanity half a world away- in no particular order. enjoy!
pemba- my trekking guide. yes- the one that that got us lost and instead of taking me to a village for lunch, wandered onto a commando army camp in the heart of the jungle...much to their irritation

kripa- a super sweet and very compassionate nepali nurse. and short don't forget short!

the rickshaw driver

flora helping me buy my sister's bday present

marcy and "mim"

ona and jeremy

me and ruth- of cooking fame :)

 doug and a very special patient

more twins!!!  


Friday, June 8, 2012

the HDCS/TEAM hospital. i'll let the pics tell the story

the hospital, as seen from inside the compound...that is a guard that mans the gate at night and keeps watch over the comings and goings of the hospital

the crowd is beginning to gather for the day, waiting to be seen in the outpatient clinic. they see about 38,000 outpatients a year!

one of the "wards". not much patient privacy, for sure- but those ARE new beds!

i guess instead of being horrified that they have to wash and re-use their surgical gloves, i should be glad they have gloves to wash
"central supply"

the ER

newborn baby warmer. recognize the warming contraption? the diffuser on the hair dryer ensures they they are warm, yet not frizzy

playing with those cute babies every chance i get!

this mom's in labor. she had her baby less than 5 minutes later

what they use as hand sanitizer- alcohol in an old urine dipstick bottle with a hole poked in the top for dispensing

hanging the xrays in the courtyard to dry. they view them here, too (as well as start IV's)- it's the best light in the hospital
typical footwear for the healthcare professionals. that is an RN on the left and an aide on the right

for more information about the HDCS TEAM hospital and all they do for the far west region of nepal, please visit their website.