Category Archives: Life

Solar Eclipse 2017

This year we were in the 90% zone for the Total Eclipse, and I was quite happy with that. I’ve enjoyed two other partial solar eclipses and four total lunar eclipses within the last 10 years. Since I enjoy photography almost as much as writing, I was excited for the opportunity to take pictures of this one. Especially since it was closer to a total than I have yet experienced.

Until friends of ours who live in Nebraska invited us down to view it from their house. They live in Scottsbluff which was in the totality zone. You can imagine my excitement, I’m sure.

And here’s the result (eleven photos total):

https://500px.com/amarq013/galleries/solar-eclipse-2017

If you’ve never seen a total solar eclipse, I recommend that no matter how far you have to travel to see it, do it. There’s no other experience like it, and you certainly won’t regret it. It’s awesome and eerie at the same time. It’ll make you feel small yet privileged that you could experience such an amazing cosmic event.

If you want to know when and where the next ones will be, check out timeanddate.com. And no, they didn’t pay me to advertise their site.

For History’s Sake, Write Your Life

We’ve all heard the refrain that history is written by the victors, and as such, the entire story can never be told.

In a society where the loudest people get all the attention, and biases in news agencies grow more obvious and prevalent, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for those not in the literal midst of important events to know what’s true and what’s false.

I don’t recommend we ignore important events, but I do recommend we do our research, and see if we can find people who were there to get their perspective of what happened. And not only one person, but more than one, and from all sides. The truth will eventually be found.

Discernment is key. And honesty.

Yesterday’s devotional focused on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) who “wrote books that shed a true light on what was happening behind the Iron Curtain.”

Without him and others like him who wrote and spoke fearlessly and honestly about what happened in their country, it’s likely the truth of that time would never have been revealed.

We must do the same.

With all the furor over so-called offensive statues with regard to the Civil War, and calls to rename everything because some people find it offensive is not only silly, but dangerous. As ugly as our history is at times (and no country can claim otherwise), destroying it is equally as ugly. If we’re not honest and open about our history, we can never learn and grow from it.

And where does it end? Will we now destroy the writings of people who lived during that time, because what they wrote offends some people?

Who ultimately gets to decide what’s offensive anyway?

Plenty of people find our founding documents offensive, including the Constitution, simply because it was written by people who did what many consider terrible things. Who wrote them is unimportant compared to the document itself. Should we ignore the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. because he cheated on his wife?

But I get off topic.

We live in interesting times, sometimes dangerous times. If we don’t chronicle them, and do so with complete honesty, our children will never know what we accomplished — both good and bad — and they will in effect never learn from either. History will then be guaranteed to repeat itself.

It might anyway, but that’s another entry.

I believe that world literature has it in its power to help mankind, in these its troubled hours, to see itself as it really is, notwithstanding the indoctrinations of prejudiced people, and parties.

— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

What Matters

What Matters

I received an email congratulating me for signing up at http://www.writing.com, a website for writers who want to review and be reviewed by other writers, twelve years ago today.

Twelve years. It seems like a long time, but at the same time, not long enough.

I wondered at how much I have accomplished in that time, and I felt a little twinge of almost regret. When I started here, I had the singular dream of being published. Now, twelve years later, I’m still unpublished (mostly).

Have I wasted those twelve years?

Then I read the next email. Someone kindly reviewed one of my items:

Hello vivacious [my username on the site] ,I’d like to wish you a very happy account anniversary, may you have a magical day. I chose this item to review for your anniversary because I thought the title and the item description were very curious. I think this poem is very short on words however it packs with it a powerful message in which I totally agree with.

I think this is an easy to understand and very special poem. it makes me feel like I am glad to be alive and that I am but a child being guided through life by an all powerful God. I did not see any mistakes with your writing.

Thank you for sharing this item with me I appreciate your talent, you keep writing and I’ll keep reading God Bless You

The item in question I remembered was a poem, but that’s it. After looking at the date I added it, I knew why: 2006. Eleven years ago.

It’s short enough, so here it is:

These are not my words.

This is not my voice.

These hands are not mine.

Count this not as wisdom from me.

Only to God.

Only to God does this all belong.

These last twelve years were not a waste. Quite the opposite. I’ve touched many people here (figuratively speaking). I’ve made many friends that I keep in contact with both here and on other sites. Perhaps my words have encouraged and even blessed others.

Best of all, the review and the poem together smacked me across the face (figuratively speaking). It was God’s way of not allowing me to feel sorry for myself. My words matter. I matter, because he created me.

Regardless of how many years of my life passes, God will use me in ways both seen and unseen. Whether my own lofty dreams come to pass In the time or ways I want and expect them to is not important as far as eternity is concerned. What matters is that God’s will be done when it needs to be done. Not too soon, and never too late.

Expanding Empathetic Horizons

I tried to find a synonym to "horizons" that started with an "e", because a little alliteration for a title is always kinda neat methinks. Alas, I found none.

Aristotle theorized that people who read fiction in particular are better able to understand and experience life, and empathize more with their peers.

Several studies have shown his theory has credence: The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction

What I found most interesting in the article was how the mere mention of a word such as cinnamon or other smells lights up the part of the brain dedicated to smells as if that person actually smelled it. The same goes for how fiction describes characters, their thoughts and how they interact with other characters and their surroundings. Our brain activity when reading reacts as if we're engaging with actual people.

So if we want a more empathetic society, we need to read, and encourage others (children especially) to read more. It doesn't have to be fiction only, because some non-fiction is written in the same way as fiction such as describing the world around them, and interactions with others.

God's genius is obvious here, because he not only designed our brains to learn language at an early age, but the desire to share our lives and experiences through that language, whether written or spoken. He did so, because of our inherent need to understand the world around us, ourselves, and each other.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some reading to do.

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little." —Anne Lamott

Saying It Right

Everyone needs a method of expression. Some express through painting, dancing, singing, music, mathematics or simply through speaking to others.

I am good at math, and liked to draw and paint when I was younger. I even liked to dance and sing, but I never tried to be good enough to do it in front of others.

Speaking, now there's a talent that I never had. I always say that God didn't connect my mouth to my brain. Growing up, when I had a thought, I could never express it how it formed in my mind. If anything it came out the opposite of how I intended.

For instance, my grandmother gave me a silver and turquoise ring when I was about eight or nine. Maybe ten. I noticed the price in black marker on the inside said "$10." For a turquoise ring. I thought, "Wow, I expected it to be worth more than that, because it's so beautiful. Grandma got a real good deal on it."

What came out of my mouth: "Wow, this ring was cheap."

Grandma was not impressed, and in fact felt (rightly) insulted. She said, "Well if you think it's cheap, you can give it back."

I was shocked that she got angry, and couldn't understand how I hurt her feelings. After she calmed down, we talked about it, and I was able to explain better what I meant. I also realized how my words hurt her feelings.

There are countless other instances, and even today I find myself eating my feet.

Another instance was in 1st or 2nd grade. All the students took turns reading part of a book out loud. When it came to my turn, I stumbled over the words to the point a boy sitting next to me said, "Don't you know how to read?"

Apparently the teacher noticed as well. She recorded me and called my mom to replay it. She was concerned enough that she believed I needed to be placed in a class for the learning disabled.

My mom put the kibosh on that by saying, "Can my daughter read, and comprehend what she's reading?"

"Yes," the teacher said.

"So she can't read out loud. That's not a learning disability."

My mom didn't tell me any of that until years later, and for a long time, I wondered if something was wrong with me when it came to reading out loud. After a while, I realized it was because my brain was reading faster than my mouth could keep up with. Hence the stumbling. Even today I have to concentrate on making sure my eyes and brain read at the same speed as my mouth. I don't always succeed, and I admit it's frustrating.

I hope no one asks me to do a reading of one of my books if ever I get published.

Writing, on the other hand, for some reason that came easy, even at an early age. Now as I look back, I'm grateful God didn't give me the ability to speak well. It forced me to find another way to express myself, and writing became (and still is) my outlet. Most everything I write, especially when writing from my heart and soul, comes out on paper how my brain envisioned it. That's not to say it doesn't need editing for spelling, grammar, and concision (I tend to ramble), but the meat and bones are there. The best part is I'm rarely misunderstood. Not as often as when I talk anyway.

"The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say." –Anais Nin

To AC or not to AC

That is the question.

It's not a matter of money (or lack thereof). Nor is it determined by the temperature of the air.

It's how this aging body of mine can't seem to make up it's mind. I'm either cold or breaking out into a hot get-me-out-of-this-sudden-sauna sweat. Every five minutes (not really, but it seems that way).

Still, I have to consider the people around me. Their personal thermostats are working just fine, so to turn on the AC one minute only to turn it off three minutes later in favor of the heater, and then once again complain about it being too hot … Yeah, why share the torture?

I have to remind myself that this is merely the natural progression of aging. It is what it is, and I will simply have to endure.

One thing I am grateful for is I'm not having the typical and severe mood-swings associated with menopause. I hope I never do, because I watched what it did to my mom, and by extension, those around her. It was rather hellish for everyone.

This is my own theory, so you're welcome to give it zero credence if you like, but I think the whole mood-swing thing is purposeful from a survival stand point. When we over-react to things, it's usually a sign of unresolved emotions or conflicts. Those mood swings force us to either face them or fight them, but they need to be resolved one way or another. They can no longer be ignored or suppressed.

Why during menopause, you wonder? Because our body, our mind and our heart simply can't handle the stress and distress we could when we were younger and more resilient.

For instance, I read one reason heart disease increases after menopause is largely due to no more monthly periods. Our bodies tend to hoard iron, because millennia ago, with diseases, infections, and injuries, humans tended to bleed a lot more. Our bodies are designed to hold onto iron so that it can create more blood cells quicker – hence increasing our chances of survival. At least in first-world countries, people live healthier, so they don't bleed as much. When a woman no longer bleeds once a month, iron builds up in the body and can lead to heart troubles.

Add stress to the equation, and our health is further compromised.

While I do have periods of stress in my life, I resolved my larger issues years ago. Because of that my mood-swings – at least so far – have been quite manageable. I can feel them coming on, but before they overwhelm me, I tell myself to stop and ask why I feel like punching someone, or bawl over a toy commercial. When no legitimate reason comes to mind, I know it's hormonal (or lack thereof), and it usually goes away.

I know it's easier said than done. Some of our oldest issues, hurts and scars are the most difficult, especially if they're caused by people who have passed, who want nothing to do with us, or we want nothing to do with them. There are no easy answers, so I can't provide them. I just hope that anyone going through the same thing will stop, consider, and try to at least find a solution.

Putting yourself and those around you through the hell that is menopause isn't worth not trying, and your life could very well depend on it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to turn on the air conditioner.

I Had Hoped . . .

To go through the rest of my life with all of my parts.

Alas, this was not to be.

About nine months ago, I experienced pain on the top of my stomach. It only happened at night, and lasted about four-to-five hours. After some research, I discovered that I had classic symptoms for gall stones.

Knowing this, I wasn’t too concerned. It only happened once every six weeks or so. Even so, I did tire of it. Literally, because those nights I got very little sleep. I finally decided to go to the doctor.

Turns out I was right. I had at least one gall stone, one as large as a marble. The next step was to remove said gall bladder via laparoscopic surgery.

This morning, that’s exactly what happened. So now, I am sans gall bladder. The surgery went well. From the time I entered the clinic to when they sent me home was 3-1/2 hours. The worst part for me was processing the anesthesia. My body don’t like it, not one bit. I ended up getting sick on the way home, but that might have also been a combination of the drugs and the fact I only ate a few crackers before they gave me a painkiller in pill form.

I immediately went to bed and slept for about four hours.

The only pain so far is the carbon dioxide in my system. To anyone who’s never had a laparoscopy to remove something from the body, they fill the body with carbon dioxide to better see the organs. They remove as much as they can, but never all of it. It causes pain in the shoulders and neck that no painkiller can touch. It’s something a person simply has to endure. It’s not too bad, and I have been burping a lot. I tell you, my burps have never felt so good.

The surgeon recommended I take a week off from work, three days at least depending on how I feel. I plan to do a lot of writing and reading, but we’ll see. I tend to go a little stir-crazy stuck in the same place for more than two days.

In fact, after I gave birth to Tom, I was supposed to stay in the hospital for three days. After twenty four hours, I begged every nurse and doctor I saw to let me go home early. After another day, they finally decided to let me go. I think they tired of me asking. Squeaky wheel and all that.

My new hope is that no more parts need to be removed from my person. Enduring the removal of one is enough, thank you very much.