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54 Things You Have to Say Goodbye to When You’re 54…

reading glasses

MIP Book Clubbers: Please don’t take this as permission to club a book. Go here to see the July MIP Book Club Selection and my suggested reading plan!

Warning: War and Peace was shorter.

Last week a hilarious post by Kristen Lee splashed across my FB feed about the things one must say goodbye to once you’re 27. Since my eldest and his compadres are all 27, it just seemed so true of the single gals from his graduating class. Click here to see what I mean. But, after picking myself off the floor from laughing so hard, I realized that Kristen may be even more irritated once she knows what a woman gives up by the time she’s twice that age…which I am. So, Kristen? Here’s my list of what you can look forward to when you’re twice your current age:

1. The original color of your hair. By 54 you’re going to have at least 1 gray hair. Thus, that beautiful ebony, auburn, or bleach blonde hair of your youth is not the same set of hair. Even if you elect to return to the hair of your youth via your hairdresser or the hair color aisle at Wally World, it won’t be the same hair color…trust me.

2. The texture of your hair. What used  to be silky and strong is now replaced by stubborn, weak and dull hair. Yes, Virginia you can use products to slow down this process, if you’re Oprah.

3. Any disposable cash now freed up from your kids being out of the nest. The products in # 1 and # 2 cost big bucks. So, does your kids’ college education, even if their brain surgeons in training, gifted athletes or musical child prodigies. And don’t forget he extra storage building you need for storing all of your kids’ stuff which keeps returning home…often with them.

4. Perky chests. This is one of those things that happens when you give birth. No one tells you that and for good reason. It’s downright depressing. There’s a reason why I moved to the south…to be with my chest again.

5. Bras without underwire. See # 4. I swear a man developed these torture chambers and then put the extra padding in the ones that require a small home equity loan to purchase.

6. Your waistline. Gone forever are the days when you can consume an entire family-sized bag of chips and not have it add inches to your middle region. Which, brings me to # 7.

7. Comfortable underwear. Those cutesy bikini and thong numbers don’t look so hot next to cellulite and stretch marks. And I don’t care how many sit-ups, crunches, or weights you endure during the day, there’s still going to be some lurking around somewhere. Thus, you procure Spanx to stuff all of the above back where it used to be and pray for three things: That the event requiring such attire will move along quickly, that you don’t get hungry, and that the temperature at said event is sub-arctic. This leads me to # 8.

8. Chronically being chilly or comfortable. Thanks to homicidal hormone fluctuations, you get to experience hot flashes and night sweats. Hot flashes would be more accurately described as internal explosions requiring either a team of firefighters or a firing squad. Night sweats are more aptly described as wet jammy alarm clocks.

9. Sleeping soundly. This usually ends around the time the first child arrives, who is hungry and wet nearly non-stop for the first 4 months of his or her life. Once the little dickens finally learns how to sleep through the night, you then lay awake thinking something is drastically wrong because Junior isn’t waking you up every 15 minutes. Then, as you adjust to that little novelty, they introduce you to the nighttime onslaught of all childhood illnesses and infections that generally include projectile vomiting. After they finally get some immunity to some of these horrendous things, they start driving at night and dating. Since you can recall what you did while driving at night and dating yourself, you never sleep again until you get to the homicidal hormone fluctuations. See # 8 for why you don’t sleep after that.

10. Only worrying about yourself. I don’t care if you never marry or never have kids. By this stage in your life you start having to take care of your aging relatives and as a result, you worry about their health, their finances, their sanity, etc., etc., etc.

11. Having a brain. At the precise time in your life when you need to worry about the entire planet (because you’re in the “sandwich phase” of your life) and its well-being, your brain will decide to take a permanent vacation without you. Mine must have gone to Bonga-Bonga-land. All I know is that there’s no decent cell reception in Bonga-Bonga-land.

12. Not having to take any pills. Currently, my rather large plastic basket is overflowing with pill bottles. Why? Because your body starts falling apart after the babies arrive. And if you want to save money on pills, you buy them in the large economy-sized bottles that eventually require an even bigger organizer. I sense a vicious circle here.

13. Being able to fit all of your daily meds into a small pill organizer when you travel. See # 12. This also happens because of # 11. You have to either put all of the bottles in your luggage and pray that TSA doesn’t think you’re transporting drugs to Cartagena or you have to have a “Morning/Noon/PM/Bedtime” organizer that looks like Elfa shelving on steroids.

14. Reading anything without the use of glasses. Hillary Clinton was wrong. The vast right winged conspiracy is that when you hit 40, everything is suddenly written in microscopic, blurry print.

15. Having elastic skin. One day you see Sexy Sandy in the mirror and the next day, Saggy Sue ensues. And it’s hard to find Spanx for my toes, thumbs and face. At least ones I can afford.

16. Being carded. No one under the age of 50 is going to think you’re under 21. If you pull out your ID to buy liquor, they’ll just openly guffaw that you’re still breathing.

17. Going to Disney movies by yourself. If you do, people start checking their pedophile locator apps on their phones while periodically glancing back at you with a very concerned look.

18. Knowing how to operate your TV. About every 5 minutes someone invents an even more complex set of black and gray boxes that need to be tuned, set and programmed with about 5 different remotes with microscopic print on the keypads. See # 14.

19. Knowing how to operate anything involving a battery or charger cord. Again, see # 14 and # 11. Since my generation wasn’t born with a cell phone in our hands, even in the wealthiest of homes, our fast-dying, hormonal brain cells are not helpful here at all.

20. Hearing anything the first time it’s said. Why? We got our music the old-fashioned way by blaring it on our car stereos and by hearing it at rock concerts. Of course, it could have been the fact that I could only afford tickets in the nosebleed section and thus, got a little extra bang for my ticket buck. I got all the peripheral “haze” in the upper atmosphere at my favorite arenas. Those who have been to concerts in the 70s know exactly what I mean. Maybe that is why I no longer have any brain cells? But I didn’t inhale!

21. Joints that work properly. Either because of a sports injury from our youth or just because we picked up those toddlers one too many times, suddenly every joint in your body complains loudly at being still for more than 15 minutes at a time. And if you do move those joints more often than that, they complain about that, too.

22. Snickering about the Depends ads on TV. You are the Depends ad.

23. Being fashionable. What I think is cute my daughter thinks is “grandma-looking.” Don’t know when I lost my fashion sense, but maybe it went with the brain cells to Bonga-Bonga-land.

24. Being cool. Once Aerosmith shows up on the “Classics” station, that “ship” has done sailed.

25. Having a day where all of your body cooperates. The days of going 9 hours between car trip pit stops are gone. So is going without the pain reliever du jour.

26. Having money to spend on yourself. All my money goes for wedding presents and baby presents, too. Why? Because the children of my friends are all getting married and having babies. So, just like Sting, my money isn’t going to my kids, either. It’s going to their friends.

27.  People thinking you’re useful. Around the time you finally learn to do a pile of stuff well, no one cares. Well, maybe the dog. But no one is listening to her, either.

28.  Having only 1 doctor. When the body decays, the health problems multiply. When they multiply, they require specialists. When they require specialists, your insurance won’t cover it entirely.  Which leads me to # 29.

29. Fun telephone conversations. You’re usually on the phone with a doctor, his or her receptionist, an insurance company, a funeral home or a telemarketer.

30. Fun cars. I tried putting a car seat in a Pontiac Trans Am. Once. I tried chauffeuring the entire team to the away soccer game in my sedan. Once. I tried putting my eldest’s entire room in my minivan. Once. Now I just settle for fun SUVs with a trailer hitch and a luggage rack.

31. Evaluating new car purchases on engine size, acceleration speed, and nifty hubcaps. Now I evaluate them on air conditioned and heated seats, wider wheels and better suspensions.

32. Saturdays being fun. Instead you are usually repairing some part of your house that’s broken, remodeling some part of your house that’s broken, getting your oil changed or arguing with one more person on the phone about your lack of insurance.

33. All of your important papers fitting into 1 box. You can thank the U.S. government for that.

34. Being irresponsible. The day they put a baby in your arms at the hospital and tell you to take it home is the day you start thinking about life insurance and wills. You also stop speeding in your new practical car and start eating better. Eventually, you even start exercising. That is probably when I stopped being cool, hunh?

35. Not sounding like your mother. See # 34.

36. Criticizing other people’s lack of parenting skills. About the time your little darling puts your Jimmy Choos in the toilet, you realize maybe you didn’t know what you were talking about anyway when you saw brats in the next booth over at your favorite restaurant.

37. Believing in self-help books. Unfortunately, self-help books are usually written by people who think that all of us are carbon copies of each other. This applies to all parenting books, too. The day I threw out the parenting books is the day I finally became a little better parent.

38. Not screaming at people. Because of your bad hearing and because Junior put the Jimmy Choos in the toilet, eventually you lose whatever composure used to be your style.

39. Not wearing slippers at night. One midnight step on a Lego or Barbie shoe and that’ll end that. Now I wear army boots when I walk into the “combat zone.”

40. Sexy swim suits. Unless made by Spanx, I’m not going anywhere beachy in anything less than a tankini…covered by a really large pair of shorts.

41. Cut-offs. They just look stupid with cellulite. And now you can afford an actual pair of shorts.

42. Spicy food. Sweetie, you don’t want to know. Trust me on this one.  I never knew my 2 mortal enemies were going to be onions and jalapenos in my 50s.

43. Short trips to the bathroom after a dinner of spicy food. I now take a new novel with me every time. It’s amazing how short those things are these days.

44. Living for months on end without having to unclog your toilet. See # 42.

45. Being amoral. See # 34. I actually rejoiced the day the youngest left for college because I could, again, use the s word if I stubbed my toe. Unfortunately, when I did eventually stub my toe, I couldn’t remember the s word. See # 11.

46. Eating dinner at a fashionable hour. See # 42.

47. Pulling all nighters to learn new material. There’s two reasons for this: a) You’ve already learned it. b) You’ve already forgotten it by 8 am the next morning.

48. Having empty closets, drawers, and cabinets. The entire world stores their stuff at my house…rent-free. Actually, it’s worse. I inherited it and foolishly thought my kids would appreciate “collectibles and antiques.”  Note to Self: Call Hoarders Anonymous next Saturday.

49. Laughing at the Life Alert commercials. Now, I’m taking notes and paying attention to when those suckers are on sale.

50. Listening to the TV at a normal volume. See # 20.

51. Thinking that you have to have the perfect spouse. I’ll just settle for being dependable, being brilliant in a crisis and having great health insurance.

52. Thinking you will retire before you die. Have you met our U.S. government?

53. Not caring about who is running our country. See # 52.

54. A good day being getting a raise. A good day now is any day I’m not in the hospital or not spending a Saturday talking to an insurance company.

Friday’s Post: More Points to Ponder

You Might Also Like: Even Web Sites Get Spam; The Effect of “Other Women”The Odd Days of June; Lessons Learned from a Family Vacation and The Odd Days of May


Lessons Learned from…


One of the unfortunate “side effects” of the last 2 heart attacks is that I can no longer take ginkgo biloba to help with my chronic memory problems. Anyone reading this blog has already probably concluded that I need more brain cells and thus, not being able to take this anymore did not help! Add to that being a little sidetracked by grief and it’s amazing that I’m even typing this right now.

So, to try and stave off the genetic heritage of dementia, I elected to join While some may call it pseudo-science, the reality is that I do think I might be making some small improvements here and there. I’ve only been a member for less than a month, so the jury is still out, but at least I’m actively trying to use my brain each day, which is more than I can say for the “Barney years” when I was only knowledgeable about Arthur, Oscar the Grouch, and Blue’s pal, Magenta.

But, here’s what I’m learning so far:

1. I am a good problem solver. Tell that to the diabolical level Sudoku puzzles I’m trying to complete.

2. I am pretty flexible. Ummm…I raised 3 kids (who couldn’t be more different if they were adopted), worked with college students who don’t know how to sign their names in cursive and counseled people who dream about doing nasty things to other people…in their dreams. Yeah, I think I already knew that.

3. I am lousy at speed tasks. Could that be because game systems came out when I was in the Barney years and I was too busy picking up those game systems??? Hmmm….To this day I have yet to play more than 1 computer game, unless WiiFit counts. (I suck at that, as well.)

4. I’m not much better at memory tasks.

5. Naming your web site “” doesn’t improve my memory. Why? Because it’s not a real word. And I confuse it with other words that are in the dictionary, such as illumine, luminescence, etc. Please note that I can spell those!

6. What is my name? See # 4.

7. I don’t do much better at attention tasks. Why? Because I’m still trying to answer # 6.

8. I’m improving at attention games. Why? Because I finally remembered my name.

9. I kick tail at games involving words. Go figure. Especially if you have to create words beginning with the stem “ill” or “lum”. See # 5.

10. I’m pretty speedy at answering simple math facts. This apparently improves my problem-solving score. I hate to argue with Lumosity, but I’m pretty sure that has to do with memorizing them as a child.

11. Memorizing is usually about employing your memory, right?

12. Since I’m already strong in the problem-solving category, could we up my memory score instead??? See # 11.

13. I am now processing better than the 70 and older age group. I guess I can delay reserving my room at the rest home until tomorrow?

14. I also seem to be remarkably smarter than the 16 to 20 age group. Would Lumosity send an email to my 19 year old to tell him that? Oh. Wait. Send him a text instead. He doesn’t do email anymore.

15. The only area where I don’t kick tail with the aforementioned age group is in the speed area. Perhaps that’s because I wasn’t born with a game controller in my hand like the 19 year old???

16. I have no sense of direction, particularly when it involves the arrow keys on my keyboard.

17. I seem to have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to the arrow keys on my keyboard.

18. I now hate all Lumosity games involving the arrow keys on my keyboard.

19. I think has failed to address one part of my brain–the part of my brain with no hand-to-eye coordination. Where are the games to work on that and measure that??? Oh. Wait. Maybe there are no games where a negative brain score is possible. That’s a glitch in their programming, right?

20.  More of my to-do list gets done if I “reward” myself with playing another Lumosity game.

21. Based on # 20, Pavlov’s dogs are laughing their heads off.

22. Based on # 20, I start addiction therapy next week.

Monday’s Post: Are you a pettifogger?

You Might Also Like: Lessons Learned from Counting Quarters and Lessons Learned from Completing a Hospital Survey



We’re Still Losing This War…


Warning: War & Peace was shorter.

If you’re hoping for a book review or book announcement or something humorous from me today, you came to the wrong blog. Sorry! But, as I said on Wednesday, I’m still in my grief fog. Thus, I’d like to do something productive with it, so here goes:

The reality is that even though many, many types of cancer are now virtually curable, there are some other forms of cancer that still are, basically, a death sentence for its victims upon diagnosis. Yes, a death sentence.

Now, I want to be absolutely emphatic about a few things before I launch into specifics:

1. ANY battle with cancer requires tremendous courage on the part of the patient, curable or not. Even for these cancers, our treatments for them are still barbaric, if you ask me. We either chop off a part of your body, nuke it, or poison it. In many cases the treatment plan includes all three. NBC News just did a report last night on how chemo may not be a wise treatment for many breast cancer patients because of its long-term psychological, physical and economic ramifications. Thank goodness–for breast cancer patients, there ARE other alternatives, in many cases.

2. I am not bringing this to your attention because of what happened to my brother. I’m bringing it to your attention so that you can make better decisions about how you participate in the solution to these deadly cancers. In fact, esophageal cancer has a better rate of survival than several others. If you ask me, the ones more deadly than esophageal cancer need to be addressed first.

3. Don’t assume that you can target your donations to a cancer research or fundraising organization for the most deadly cancers. I checked on this for the most known cancer organization in the U.S.—you can’t.

Now, with that being said, here’s what I know and have learned:

1. Cancer is about to become an epidemic in this country in a few short years. When I would tell people about my brother, most people’s responses were: “Geez. Everyone I know seems to have cancer.” And they are right to feel that way. If it hasn’t touched your immediate family yet, consider yourself one of the fortunate few.

2. We still know very little about what agents in our universe cause cancer. Even if we do know, we seldom alert the public about it enough for anyone to change their lifestyle to limit their risk. For instance, did you know that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for esophageal cancer? My brother quit drinking cold turkey the day he learned that. Too bad he didn’t learn it sooner.

3. Deadly cancers are deadly cancers because there is far less money donated to these cancers than others.  The reason why that’s so is because we, as a society, decided that these more curable cancers, at one time, were so deadly and killed so many people that we had to attack them with a vengeance. I agree with that philosophy and I am thankful that I’ve been able to enjoy the presence of so many of my family and friends because of that philosophy.

4. When less money is donated to a particular type of cancer, that means fewer scientists want to research ways to treat it. This isn’t mean or greedy on their parts–they need to pay the bills, too! If you’re being paid through a research grant, you have to research whatever the grant wants you to research!

5. When fewer scientists work on a particular type of cancer, there are fewer odds they will find innovative ways to fight it. Let’s be honest–the more brainiacs we have working on a kind of cancer, the greater the odds something brilliant will happen to find a great treatment.

6. When there are fewer ways to fight it and diagnose it early, then the chance of you dying upon diagnosis is much, much higher. Why? Stage IV cancers are much more complicated to fight. This is, largely, what happened to my brother. In esophageal cancer there isn’t even a Stage IV because you’re dead before it’s diagnosed!

7.  Even if diagnosed early, fewer treatment methods mean fewer chances for remission. Even if you go into remission, the chances are far greater it will return for deadly cancers.

So, which cancer is the most deadly? Here’s the top 5 and their mortality rates:

1. Pancreatic cancer – 94%.

2. Liver cancer – 83.9%.

3. Lung cancer – 83.4% and it still claims the most lives every year.

4. My infamous buddy–esophageal cancer – 82.7%.

5. Stomach cancer – 72.3%.

Notice anything about the top 5? 4 have to do with digestion. Think about that for a moment. If you get cancer in your digestive tract, isn’t that going to lessen your chances for survival? Uh. Yeah. Because you can’t get proper nutrition while you’re enduring this barbaric way we currently treat cancer! And that’s exactly when your body needs the most nutritional help!

My brother’s tumor was located at the junction where his esophagus meets his stomach. The tumor so blocked the stomach that he couldn’t even swallow his own saliva. And if chemo made him nauseous, things didn’t go the other way, either. Gross, but true.

Now, let’s look at the highest funded cancers for research per the National Cancer Institute:

1. Breast Cancer.

2. Lung cancer.

3. Prostate cancer.

4. Colo-rectal cancer.

5. Leukemia.

What does that mean for our Top 5 Deadliest Cancers? They are not as likely to find cures as quickly. Now, since lung cancer takes the most victims, I am very, very thankful it’s # 2 on the funded list. And I’ll agree that we need to throw money at leukemia, too. Why? It’s # 8.

Want to know where breast cancer, prostate cancer, colo-rectal cancer and leukemia fall on the deadliest cancer list? Here’s the most curable cancers:

1. Prostate Cancer

2. Thyroid cancer

3. Skin Cancer.

4. Breast Cancer

5. Uterine Cancer.

Want to know where the deadly cancers rank for funding levels? Pancreatic cancer is # 10. Liver cancer is # 12. Esophageal cancer is # 19. Stomach cancer is # 28.

When I was a kid, breast cancer was definitely a death sentence. But because of the Susan G. Komen model, it now has an overall survival rate of 89.2%. Stage 1 breast cancer is at 98%! Here’s even more good news: There are Stage IV survivors who have survived for 2 decades! When I was walking the 3 Day for Susan G. Komen in 2009, they announced that the Komen organization had been responsible for nearly all of the great advances in breast cancer research over the last 30 years. They seem to know who to fund, don’t they? That Komen model works!  My suggestion? We need to replicate it for those deadly cancers. And fast…before that cancer epidemic.

And, I think we need to be smart about taking care of our bodies and knowing what cancers are in our family history. And we should “choose wisely” when sending in our cancer donations.

When I realized that you couldn’t target donations to a well-known general cancer organization and realized that my brother was going to die, I decided to look for an organization that targeted funding towards esophageal cancer for those who wanted to send a donation in his memory. I found one that’s working on genomic testing for esophageal cancer. Genomic testing could lead to earlier diagnosis and thus, better survival rates. This organization is quite young, but it’s very well organized and pretty creative about fund-raising.

If you, like me, wonder how much of your donation goes to actual research, you can check out your favorite cancer organization at Look for cancer charities with a 4-star rating. A 3 star rating is also good. But, if it has less than 3 stars, please consider giving to an organization truly worth your hard-earned money or asking that charity to take the necessary steps to earn a 3 or 4 star rating. Or suggest that they take a page from the Komen model and find ways to get that money where it most needs to go.

Why? You and your family may be the very beneficiaries of that.  And here’s a thought: Most of us can spare a dollar a day without really suffering. If we did that every day for a year, each of us would have  $ 365 that could be spent on cancer research. If just half of the U.S. did that this year, we would raise over $ 58 billion dollars for cancer research. Let that marinate in your vast brain for a while and then go make me proud.

Monday’s Post: The return of WOW!!!!!!! Can I get an Amen?

You might also like: Why I Stopped Writing, Another Kind of WOW, A Real Scare, and Lessons Learned from the 2009 Breast Cancer 3 Day


What the Results Mean for MIP…

typing on keyboard

For the last 2 days, I have relayed the results of the survey I asked my readers to answer. So, what does that mean for MIP going forward? First, let me say that changes right now will all be on a trial basis and as people give me feedback more informally, I will continue to tweak what I’m posting. Keep in mind that the changes are so that I can spend more energy on other projects, such as writing the novel and Lessons Learned book.

But, for now, I will keep doing the Word of the Week posts on Mondays. Do I hear a bunch of you thesaurus junkies rejoicing out there?

I will probably reduce the number of Slow Reader posts, simply because I am a slow reader and need more time to actually digest some books. A significant number of you do like these posts, so I don’t think I want to abandon them entirely. Besides, a writer should read and this makes me accountable! So, expect to see 1 or 2 Slow Reader posts a month.

I will probably continue the 26 Tuesdays post until we are finished with all 26 Sandy Hook victims only because I think that my self-improvement journey should include acts of kindness and again, this keeps me accountable. And because I believe these victims, along with all other victims of senseless crime, should be honored and remembered with “goodness” instead of evil! (May I suggest this for the Trayvon Martin case?) However, don’t expect these posts to be replaced by some other series.

Each week you can expect either a Lessons Learned feature or a serious post or a humorous post. In truth, the Lessons Learned series are often both serious and humorous. Don’t expect a Lessons Learned post every single week. Likewise, don’t expect a serious post every week or a humorous post every week, particularly in the beginning.  You will get at least one of the above each week, though. It will be a surprise!

So, for now, here’s the new format:

Mondays – Word of the Week
Tuesdays – 26 Tuesdays
Wednesdays – No Post
Thursdays – Random, Surprise Post
Friday – No Post
Saturday & Sunday – No Post

Later on, the format will look like this:

Mondays – Word of the Week
Tuesdays – No Post
Wednesdays – Random, Surprise Post
Thursdays – No Post
Fridays – Either a Slow Reader Post or a Random, Surprise Post
Saturday & Sunday – No Post

And, I will probably send out links for the new posts around 11 am, which is a much more sane hour for me right now. I will make this more and more “like clockwork” as time goes on, but expect some variation short term because of my current health adventures. I am finding that recuperation from this latest adventure is taking more time than I thought it would.

Many, many thanks to my readers! You are blowing my mind…in a good way and I treasure each and every comment and email you have sent my way to encourage me while I continue to recuperate. You bless me in ways you don’t even fathom!

Next Post: The Return of….the Word of the Week!

You might also like: Word of the Week: flehmen, 26 Tuesdays: Caroline Previdi, Slow Reader Thursdays: Quitter, and Lessons Learned from Heart Attacks 3 & 4


Lessons Learned from Heart Attacks 3 and 4…


Warning: You may want to get 2 beverages first. 

For a little background on why someone like me would wind up in the hospital with heart attacks last Monday, please go here.

The very last thing a cardiologist should do to a writer is strap her down to a hospital bed for 8 days with medical “leashes”, put her on morphine and Xanax, and then think that she won’t use this “quality creative time” to her full advantage. I hope you’re up for a little gallows humor, because I’m about to explode with what I learned.

  1. Two sips of Merlot and I’m in the ER. I always knew I hated red wine.
  2. I think I now have a phobia about Merlot/red wine.
  3. Nurses have amnesia, particularly when it comes to remembering my birthdate. Thanks to them, I can’t seem to forget it. As a token of my gratitude for helping my memory, I’m sending them Merlot wine.
  4. My scooter still works. I didn’t even know I had one.
  5. Don’t hug and kiss the Careflite nurse.
  6. I got to cross off “Ride in a helicopter” from my Bucket List, but I don’t remember putting it on my List twice. Maybe it’s the morphine.
  7. I also got to cross off “Travel down the main thoroughfare of our fair town with police permission while wearing nothing but a hospital gown on a gurney accompanied by 2 guys who aren’t my husband at 1 am in the morning.” Yeah, I was surprised that was on my Bucket List, too. The hubby was even more surprised.
  8. We need to repave the main thoroughfare of our fair town. Remind me to vote for local road improvement at the next election.
  9. If you’re claustrophobic, don’t ride in a Careflite helicopter. If you’re bigger than me, you may need to become a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to fit.
  10. I have an alter ego. Her name is Mrs. Hook.  And apparently, my alter ego has a different address. She’s smarter—she decided to live closer to our local schools and my church. I wonder what illnesses she has. I hope she is okay.
  11. While attaining my counseling degree, I studied nonverbal client behavior. That is not a good skill to have when watching your catheterization team look at your coronary arteries.
  12. My nurses loved my mani/pedi. Note to self: Always schedule a mani/pedi 3 days prior to your next heart attack.
  13. I have “young skin.” This gives me a new reason to stock up on my favorite Bath & Body Works products, right? Think I could be their “Jared”?
  14. I baffle doctors and nurses because I don’t smoke, drink, eat too much, and exercise too little. They aren’t used to patients who follow their instructions?
  15. I now know why I’ve been reading all these books on Heaven and death. God’s sick sense of humor just moved to a whole new level of twisted. Where were the books on resurrection????
  16. Since I had symptoms prior to the gurney ride, my doctor ordered a nuclear stress test, in which they shoot dye into your coronary arteries prior to making you run on a hamster wheel until you fall off. Thanks to the Merlot, that was cancelled. I consider this a good thing since I only want dye applied to one part of my body—the part with the gray hair.
  17. While scheduling the stress test, the receptionist gave me the following instruction: “No funny stuff between now and then!” I guess heart attacks are serious???
  18. Always chew the chicken in your mouth prior to the next morphine drip.
  19. I neglected my children’s musical education—they didn’t understand my Carly Simon reference when I uttered: “I haven’t got time for the pain.” Of course, it could be that I was morphine mumbling it and trying to chew my chicken at the same time.
  20. I can recite the Lord’s Prayer in my sleep, unless the sleep is induced by morphine. Did you know Carly Simon lyrics are part of the Lord’s Prayer? Me neither.
  21. I know night nurses can get bored so I like to keep them entertained with projectile vomiting every so often just to break up the monotony. Let’s just say my capacity to do this means I coat walls better than industrial spray paint equipment. Guess that will teach them to put that little plastic tub too far from my hospital bed, hunh?
  22. My aforementioned little skill requires the contractor size of a Hefty bag to contain the clean-up materials. Maybe I can be Jared for Hefty??? Okay, so that would be awkward, too.
  23. The hubby can conduct business from anywhere. For his next magic trick, he plans to take conference calls on Mars.
  24. The hubby has an interesting career. You have no idea what Morphine MaryAnn does with the conference call term, “cows in heat.”
  25. Morphine confuses my sense of direction. I thought my room was in the corner. That may be because I spent a good portion of my childhood there.
  26. Doctors and nurses don’t believe me when I tell them the truth about my medical history. Of course, I’ve always thought my life story would make a good musical comedy. At least it would be more believable than “Cats.” My theory? “Cats” was dreamed up during “quality creative time” while on morphine.
  27. Doctors are finding more Prinzmetal patients these days. Dang. I liked being unique.
  28. However, few Prinzmetal patients actually produce heart attacks from their vasospasms without other heart disease risks. Guess my over-achiever/perfectionistic tendencies apply to my insides, too. Probably need to work on that sometime, hunh?
  29. If you’re “tied to your hospital bed,” you go to bathroom by “committee.”
  30. I never liked committee meetings.
  31. I missed my treadmill. Yes, I missed my treadmill. Maybe I need to check into Bellevue next.
  32. Last time they put me on Demerol. This time they said I would become too addicted to Demerol. (So, you can get addicted with a 14 year absence of Demerol in your system???? That’s impressive. Must add this to my things to do as an over-achiever.)
  33. They injected morphine ad nauseam (literally) and then told me to get off the morphine because I might get addicted. This little “lecture” came 24 hours after the first injection. You can get addicted to morphine within 24 hours of the first injection? Yay—another way to be unique! And I have so much access to morphine living in small town suburbia. And my favorite way to entertain myself on the weekends is to stick needles into my veins.
  34. Does morphine come in Merlot flavor? If so, I’m sending a case to my new favorite doctor, along with a 6 month supply of needles I found at Wally World on sale. I think they were on sale because they were “reconditioned.”
  35. While attaining the master’s in counseling, we talked a lot about projection. See # 33. Dr. Freud would be so proud.
  36. I’m supposed to endure torturous pain without morphine or Demerol. But, Xanax is fine? They didn’t study the same textbooks I studied. Uh, Doc? Xanax comes in pill form, thus eliminating the inconvenient need for needles from Wally World. (It’s so inconvenient to run there when you’re in withdrawal.) I guess morphine/Demerol addicts never take pills too often.
  37. I think I’m beginning to understand why addiction is such a problem in the U.S.  And why counselors (who generally try to help addicts) so commonly abuse drugs.
  38. A heart attack will bring a couple together more than a marriage retreat. Unfortunately, they’re usually more expensive than a marriage retreat. I personally think the reason why heart attacks bring couples closer together is because heart monitoring electrodes look so alluring by candlelight. They complement the IVs  quite nicely.
  39. A heart attack is not enough for me. I like to throw in migraines, anaphylaxis, non-stop nausea and pericarditis just for grins. You know how I hate boring. My doctors and nurses were not amused.
  40. Want to clear your busy schedule for a while? Have a heart attack. BOOM! Schedule cleared. Even your demanding writing schedule lightens up.
  41. In a unit where you’re encouraged to rest, the nurses and patients are pretty deaf. At least that’s my conclusion after hearing them yell at each other. Either that or morphine and Xanax improve my hearing.
  42. To deal with # 41, ask the youngest to fill up your iPod with inspiring songs.
  43. The same child informed me, after heart attack # 3, that I have now had as many heart attacks as children. He said, “No more children, Mom.”
  44. After heart attack # 4, I started looking around for my 4th child. The daughter always wanted a little sister. #4 is my “favorite” since she never required diaper changes, potty training, “the talk”, adolescent tantrums or enormous college tuition bills. She has good skin like her mother.
  45. It really hurts when you fall out of your hospital bed after hearing the Newsboys lyric: “They Don’t Serve Breakfast in Hell.” What?! No IHOP in Hell???? Geez. I guess I really will have to believe in the Big Guy now. I don’t want to miss breakfast.
  46. The youngest apparently has the same twisted sense of humor as God.
  47. I am blessed to have the best prayer warriors on the planet in “my corner” to make sure I don’t miss breakfast—ever. No Merlot necessary.

Next Post: Lessons Learned from Recuperation…

You might also like: Lessons Learned from Committing a Neatness to my Laundry Room, Lessons Learned from a Routine Examination, Lessons Learned from My Dentist  


Slow Reader Thursday: Going Places


E. D. Hill was a co-host of Fox and Friends from 1998 to 2006. While there, Ms. Hill found that there were few books on the market that helped her and her husband reinforce good values as she read to her children each night in a manner in which children could understand. Since she had access to a large number of notable people in her line of work, she began asking these people what values helped them to become successful and what principles guided them. The result? Going Places: How America’s Best & Brightest Got Started Down the Road of Life was published by Hill in 2005.

Hill gives a brief, personal introduction about each person she interviewed and then the person’s responses follow in essay style. Presidents, cabinet members, military leaders, congressmen and women, models, actors, and recording artists all donated their thoughts to Going Places and it makes for really entertaining reading, even if your philosophy is not the same as that of the person writing their thoughts. One entertaining part of the book is how each VIP tells of the people who inspired them!

Hill adds her thoughts about the values that formed her character at the conclusion of the book. While she wrote this to encourage and inspire her children, all Americans would benefit from reading Going Places, in my humble opinion. One starts to realize that there are recurring themes from a variety of people, such as, “Get your education,” “Work harder and longer than everyone else,” and “Don’t let setbacks deter you.” My favorite quotes from the book? Read below:

1. From Alphonso Jackson, Former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development: “A setback is simply a setup for a comeback,” That quote may have to go on the MIP Quotes page! This quote originally came from his parents who only completed the 5th grade and 11th grade of their own educations.

2. From Ted Nugent: “Acting decent is just as much fun as acting horrible.” Some of my adopteds would probably argue this, but as someone who grew up listening to this rocker’s music and rebelling some in college, I’m here to tell you Ted is right. I’m having a ball being trying to be a decent human being, even when I fail miserably at that.

3. From football player Rosey Grier: “Trouble is easy to get into and tough to get out of.” Oh, boy, is that ever true! Where was this message earlier in my life??? The translation? Stay out of trouble–it’s much easier that way.

Are there many, many more of these I could mention? Absolutely! So, if you haven’t read this little collection of wisdom, then get it today and give yourself a huge treat of encouragement.

Tomorrow’s Post: Lessons Learned from a Minister and His Family…

You might also like: Slow Reader Thursday: A Grace Disguised, Slow Reader Thursday: Tuesdays with Morrie, Slow Reader Reader: If Only I Knew, Slow Reader Thursday: Mink River


Slow Reader Thursday: Tuesdays with Morrie

pill bottles

I am probably the last person in the world not to have read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. Or should I say by Morris Schwartz? I would feel ashamed, but when this book was first published in 1997, I was busy potty-training a 3 year old and reading Dr. Seuss to him non-stop to keep him on that infamous seat. Wonder what Morrie would think about that process?

He’d probably approve since much of Tuesdays with Morrie discusses his reverse “potty-training” as he battled his body being ravaged by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Mitch Albom spent a great deal of his time with his professor during his time at Brandeis University, whom he affectionately called, “Coach.” Later, Albom encounters his professor again as Ted Koppel (Yes, that Ted Koppel) interviewed him. Albom decides to start visiting his old professor again when he finds himself on strike from his current publishing employer. They meet on Tuesdays and hence, the name of the book.

I can see why this book has touched so many. I cried openly and laughed out loud several times. But that’s okay. So did Morrie. We cried together. 🙂

I probably would have cried more often, if it weren’t for the fact that I was “forced” to learn many of these same lessons when I had my two heart attacks in 1999. Fortunately, Grace (the kind from the Man Upstairs) decided to intervene in my situation and allow me an additional 14 years this month. It’s interesting that I hit that anniversary this past Saturday and Monday and was reading Tuesdays with Morrie at the time, but that is just how my God works.

Some of Morrie’s quotations (that sum up my conclusions about life far more eloquently than I could write) are as follows:

1. “The truth is, part of me is every age. I’m a 3-year-old, I’m a 5-year old, I’m a 37-year-old, I’m a 50-year-old. I’ve been through all of them, and I know what it’s like. I delight in being a child when it’s appropriate to be a child. I delight in being a wise old man when it’s appropriate to be a wise old man. Think of all I can be! I am every age up to my own!”

2. “Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning…You notice…there’s nothing in there about a salary.”

3. “…there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble…And the biggest one of those values, Mitch?…Your belief in the importance of your marriage.”

While reading this old professor’s final words, I had fun imagining what my “textbooks” would be if I were to develop a course on living life to the fullest myself. I would probably drive my students crazy, because I would require them to purchase about 16 books. But, Tuesdays with Morrie would be part of the required reading. If you, like me, have not read it, do it now. There is no tomorrow. That’s an illusion, my friend.

Tomorrow’s Post: Think the MIP Eating & Fitness Plan are crazy? Yeah, me too.

You might also like: Slow Reader Thursday: If Only I Knew, Slow Reader Thursday: Mink River, Slow Reader Thursday: There Has to Be More Than This



Slow Reader Thursday: i am not but i know I AM

Gospel of John

On My Soapbox: WARNING! If e. e. cummings had had Microsoft Word and grammar check, he would have thought twice about using all lower case letters in his poetry. How do I know this? Just try to type the title of the book I’m reviewing this week without Word wanting to correct all your lowercase i’s! And since I have always enjoyed Mr. cummings’ poetry and his innovative use of lowercase, this especially annoys me. Okay, I’m getting down (off the soapbox) now.

I’m sure today’s author, Louie Giglio, was also annoyed as he desperately tried to type this title and his entire book, littered with the lowercase i. And he was trying to do this for one very good reason: to make the point that we are very, very small people in comparison to a very big God.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I had difficulty reading this book at first. Your first clue is that I did not do this review one week ago, as scheduled. Have you ever felt that a book didn’t penetrate your soul the way it should have simply because you had finished reading a book that will never leave your soul??? That’s how I felt reading i am not but i know I AM.

Is Mr. Giglio a poor writer by comparison? No. His use of words is truly creative. Is his message to us trite and over-exposed? No. It’s rather fresh. Is it 1600 pages long, making it difficult to finish? No. Even with 3 very readable addenda, it’s a mere 166 pages long.

So, what was the problem? Me. I tried to read this book like I read every other book—in bits and pieces, around other tasks in my daily schedule and while multi-tasking. Now, this usually works for me very well. Not so with this book. This book demands serious reflective time and consuming it in rather large chunks, since the message slowly builds upon itself.

Because Mr. Giglio emphasizes that we should be servants first and think about ourselves last, I also felt that he writes quietly. No big applause or bravado with his writing (although he readily admits to succumbing to that, upon occasion), but simple, timeless truths about who we are not and who God is.

And despite my initial loathing of this book, page 134 reduced me to tears. Giglio states, “When I crumble under the pressure, I have lost the plot, declaring that the outcome of life rests squarely on my shoulders, not His.” Ouch. Yep, that would be me.

And I am taking something more (than this one quote) away from this book—the One-Word Bible Study method, in which Giglio meditates on only one word of a Bible verse each day. The first day he did this, the word to be pondered was “and.” Not exactly an exciting word to begin a Bible study, hunh? And yet, by merely thinking about “and” for one whole day, Giglio was given huge insights about God and his relationship to God. Similar things happened on subsequent days, even when the word was “the.” So, trust me, I am about to launch into some one-word Bible studying myself.

So, to read or not to read? That is the question. Yes, most definitely read it. Don’t let little me get in your way. But, do yourself a favor—read it when you have a serious chunk of time to devote to it, so that it can penetrate your soul the way God intended.


Changes Since the Maize Arrived…


The FB faithful will tell you that a large number of my FB notes featured yet another member of my family. No, she’s not the DD. She’s Maizie, our beloved and spoiled rotten golden Labrador retriever. Maizie actually belongs to the youngest DS. He “earned” her by meeting reading goals in 7th grade, when reading wasn’t exactly his favorite activity. Heck, it’s still not his favorite activity. She was just a pup when she came to us at the end of that school year, although she was a very chunky pup and 12 weeks old already.

Since I am, admittedly, a dog lover (According to my mom, I was a dog lover at birth.), Maizie definitely captured my heart upon her arrival in our family. And thus, FB fell victim to the infamous “Dog Diary” notes from moi. When I announced on FB that I was “taking down” my notes, these were the very notes everyone wanted to read before they permanently left FB. Apparently, our sweet lady has captured more hearts than just mine.

Yesterday Maizie celebrated turning 5. (Her way of celebrating? A new rawhide bone and two rounds of frisbee-catching.) Yes, she is now 5 years old and while she has grown and mellowed, she still exhibits a lot of the personality quirks that we came to love in the Dog Diary Days. As I type this, she is sprawled out in my office, rawhide bone nearby, taking one of her many naps. We are already dreading the day when she won’t be out-catching Texas Ranger outfielders anymore. Here’s a look back at her very first birthday, as I penned it back in March of 2009, along with an update of how she’s doing today:

Maizie celebrated her first doggie b-day by quickly chewing up yet another supposedly indestructible toy, chewing off the end of one major rawhide bone and keeping us up all night…oh, and spilling red melting liquid on my lovely blue carpeting…sigh. As a result of her over-exuberance at being 1, she was relegated to her dog crate for the night…she protested with barking and whining…and this from the dog who never barks at strangers…sigh again. Update: The crate is permanently in the garage…no more bad behavior to warrant it!

So, here are the changes since June 1st, when the little puppy girl (as the youngest DS calls her) arrived in our home, in our hearts and on our clothes (no one escapes Maizie’s blonde puppy fur):

1. We have fewer intact sox. Update: Now we have too many sox. Maybe I need to pour some beef juice on a few old ones???

2. We have fewer intact shoelaces. Update: Loafers and boots work fine.

3. We no longer leave any clothing item whatsoever on the floor for longer than 10 seconds. Update: The PH and I still don’t leave our clothes on the floor. The youngest DS? That’s another story. Fortunately, Maizie just sleeps on them now. I think she thinks of them as a really smelly nest.

4. The broom is wearing out from sweeping up shed blonde hair. Update: I have a broom? Since we no longer have 3 people in the family working on college degrees at the same time, there is now enough in the family budget for a grooming appointment for Maizie every 2 weeks in the wintertime. In the summertime she has fallen victim to the PH‘s tendency to shave anything with 4 legs.

5. The vacuum had to be replaced…too much stress from picking up Maizie fur and the remnants of chewed up toys. Update: I finally quit buying cheap vacuums and bought a Dyson…let’s just say that we could probably provide fur for another dog by the time I finish vacuuming with my trusty new vacuum, which just happens to be called The Animal….Dyson’s choice…not mine, but apropos.

6. The funniest sight in the world is watching a puppy try to upend a Frisbee on a tile floor. Update: Maizie figured out that if you push it to the edge of the carpet, it will flip up just enough to get a big paw on it and allow it to be put in a mouth. So, now she merely “kills” those mean bubbles that the DD and the youngest DS blow at her. Yes, she will actually jump up to bite them.

7. We now vacuum the trampoline. Update: The trampoline was getting dangerous from a sizable dog and a teenage boy jumping on it simultaneously all the time and had to be torn down. But, that’s okay with her. She has more of a vantage point now to be able to spot pesky birds, squirrels and skunks when they invade her yard.

8. We no longer have to pull out dead flowers or shrubs…we have a four-legged extraction machine, fueled by dog chow. Update: The PH just commented this weekend that we may have to call someone to trim the trees this year. Maybe I should give her less dog chow??? That would be cheaper than paying for someone to trim trees, right?

9. The national debt is smaller than our dog chow and rawhide bone bill. Update: Even with a growing national debt, this is still true. I’m off to the store today to buy more rawhide bones…no kidding.

10. We have a rather large bag of puppy food that will never get used…may I never, ever, see Maizie sick again. Update: She can maim a tree just fine, but if you give her one too many bones or treats, we revisit “sick Maizie” days. And I still would rather have a root canal.

11. The window sills now need replacing…baby Maizie thought they were teething rings. Update: The window sills were replaced last year…thanks to a kitchen remodel. And Maizie now has no interest in the new ones whatsoever. However, she does like to “nose slime” our windows so she can see what’s going on outside. At least Windex and thick rubber gloves fixes that issue. For a day. Two, if I’m lucky.

12. We’ll be getting a new kitchen table soon…Maizie mistook the feet for her rawhide bone…well, they are the same color. Update: The table with the chewed legs now resides in the DD’s and DSL’s home where…they have a new puppy. At least the new puppy will know where to start…Maizie left him a “road map.”

13. New door locks will be going on a lot of doors…Maizie has figured out the current ones. Update: To be fair to Maizie, the door locks needed to be replaced and thanks to the youngest DS and the PH, they are all replaced now and she hasn’t figured out the new ones. Yet.

14. A running treadmill and a tennis ball will entertain a dog for hours. Update: We figured out that she tears up tennis balls too easily. I found teeth resistant frisbees on and she seems content to catch these any day it’s not raining. (And they are the slimiest, ugliest frisbees you have ever seen. The next time I have to clean them, I’m donning a hazmat suit.) She is completely bored by the treadmill these days.

15. Maizie will offer to be your companion while you’re trying to do the yoga standing tree position on Wii Fit. Apparently, she thinks that is more torture than I should endure. I tend to agree. Update: Both she and I have given up on Wii Fit, but she does still offer to be my yoga buddy for the Sun Salutation whenever I feel the need to stretch. She seems to think I can pet her while in Downward Dog. I’m lucky if I can just do the position.

16. We buy batteries in bulk now…to replace in Maizie’s fence collar. Update: Now, we just have a regular shipment mailed to us and these last longer than the original variety. Note to self: Give UPS delivery personnel a really good Christmas bonus next December.

17. We have 2 collars and 4 broken leashes. Update: Thanks to our “Dog Whisperer,” we haven’t bought a leash or a collar in years. That’s a relief to the basket that holds all things related to Maizie.

18. We like the jingle of dog tags. “Stealth puppies” should not be trusted. Update: She occasionally gets to be the “stealth puppy” after a bath for a few hours, but if we don’t hear the jingle of dog tags when we call her name, we start to worry…not about the mischief she’s in, but about her well-being.

19. We buy cheap hot dogs in bulk. Update: We had to quit this practice because Maizie started putting on too many pounds. She’s now on the “Healthy Weight” Beneful diet and she only gets treats on the weekend…when the PH is home. Hmmm….I’d stop him, but he gives me treats on the weekend, too.

20. We no longer have to go in search of meat or cheese….Maizie’s nose will find it for you. Update: Heck, if we open one part of our refrigerator, she’s right there. (She could have been in Siberia prior to this event and somehow she is still right by the refrigerator. We don’t call her “Stealth Puppy” for nothing.) The nose is obsolete.

21. We no longer roll down the windows when Maizie is in the car…’nuf said. Update: We don’t roll down windows too far, but we do open the sun roof and yes, her head will be out of the top of the car, except when we brake. She learned that one the hard way.

22. We think $ 500 and 45 minute commutes to weekly dog lessons are a bargain. Update: She is now such a “good girl” that she has taught herself new commands, so doggie lessons are no longer necessary. (As the Dog Whisperer said, “Maizie has read the Dog Training Manual.”) She even plays “Hide and Seek” with ridiculous accuracy and doesn’t mind being “it” every single time.

23. We have company when we visit the restroom, whether we like it or not. Update: Still true, but she will sadly, dejectedly, mournfully, go lie down elsewhere when ordered. I think she got this look from my 3 offspring. Why? Cuz it worked for them, too.

24. The only difference between a puppy and a child is the amount of hair they shed. Update: Maizie and I are having a contest to see who can shed the most hair now. At least hers doesn’t clog up the shower drain every 3 months.

25. The best therapy in the world is a wagging golden tail when you walk through the door after a tough day. Update: This is still so true that we get worried if she isn’t right at the door waiting with her wagging tail and hyper-ness. She even knows the distinct sounds of all of our cars and may actually whimper until we get through the door. That is, if she’ll let us through the door. Greetings must come first in her mind. Forget that you’re carrying groceries or luggage.

Point to Ponder Challenge: Do you have an animal friend, too? Is the animal up to date on all health checks, vaccinations, and grooming tasks? If not, celebrate Maizie’s birthday by taking a little extra care of that pet. And if you’ve been a diligent pet owner, then hug that pet and spend some time having fun with him or her today. It’s a little bit like taking time to smell the roses. 🙂