Everybody’s Got Something

I thought it was Gilda Radner who said, “Everybody’s got something,” but after a quick look at Google, I discovered that this saying is the title of Robin Roberts’s latest memoir.

“Regardless of how much money you have, your race, where you live, what religion you follow, you are going through something. Or you already have or you will. As momma always said, “Everybody’s got something.” ~Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts’s momma, Lucimarian Roberts, was right, and she was a wise woman. None of us is immune to the trials of being human.

If your life is going swimmingly and you feel on top of the world, rest assured, that will change eventually. You may have to deal with the loss of someone dear to you, depression, financial struggles, job insecurities, substance abuse, after-effects of trauma, a shattered relationship…the list is endless. But the converse is also true: if you are going through a really awful period in your life right now, tie a knot and hang on tight: things will eventually change.

I am taking time to reflect on some experiences I’ve gone through in the past couple of years. When I look back at my private journals, I see evidence of God’s fingerprints all over my life. I have journaled about prayer concerns. Many of them have been resolved, some in ways I would not have chosen, but they have turned out okay. I keep a card in my daily devotional magazine that I received from the alumni director at my dad’s college when I wrote her to inform her of his death. It says,

“God is our REFUGE and strength,

an ever-present

help in trouble.”

~Psalm 46:1 (NIV)

I have found that to be true.

I am also reminded of some verses I read in the Gospel of Mark (chapter 9) just this morning, in a passage where a man brings his son to Jesus.  He says, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.” (Sounds like symptoms of epilepsy to me.) I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

To which Jesus replies, with a hint of exasperation in his voice, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Scripture records that “they” brought the boy to Jesus. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at he mouth.

Jesus, I sense speaking with compassion, asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

The father replies, “Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. but if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“IF I can?” Jesus responds. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

The father instantly exclaims, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-24)

I will leave it to you to read the rest of this story. Yesterday in a Skype session with an author who is writing a book for us, the author pointed to this scripture passage as one that spoke to him deeply as a teenager. Maybe that’s a prayer we all need to pray:
“Lord, I believe. Help the parts of me that don’t believe.”

Here are some situations I’ve been praying about in the past 3 months. God has answered some of my prayers; other situations remain the same. As I’ve heard it said, waiting is the hardest part. But it’s also encouraging to see how many prayers were answered.

January 13

Friend of a friend–Cousin’s child was having seizures and was life-flighted to Vanderbilt. (Update 2/15: Friend reported the child had recovered.)

Same friend’s mom and dad–Both are having serious health problems. The mom was diagnosed with several new health conditions, including diabetes, and the doctor said there was basically nothing he/she could do for her. The dad had much pain in his spine and arthritis in his lower back. Pain management and epidural shots weren’t working. A bad knee was preventing him from driving. As of the first week of March, he has improved and is more mobile. The mom’s situation is not good and probably won’t ever be.

Prayers for my friend as she provides care for her mom and dad. She has had to quit her job, and she has three children. Also dealing with a relative with a brain injury who is undergoing occupational therapy for life skills. I pray for strength for this friend. She gets overwhelmed at times but keeps her faith. Once a week she is able to get out and go to a Bible study.

Prayers for my husband as he awaits surgery on Jan. 20 (and as the doctor’s office ran into snags trying to get his surgery approved by insurance). Update: The surgery was approved, and John came through it well.

February 15

God, help John to continue to heal from his surgery. Thanks for the progress he’s made so far.

Lord, help my high school friend who has a rare form of skin cancer. She’s miserable. Give her some relief and reassurance of your presence.

Prayers for safe travels and comfort as my yoga teacher and her boyfriend travel to Indiana for her boyfriend’s cousins funeral.

Prayers for safe travels for us and all family members going to Weber City, VA, for my uncle’s 95th birthday celebration. Thanks for his long life and how he has touched others!

Special comfort for a dear friend who has just lost her mother…be present with her during visitation with family and friends and as her mother is buried tomorrow. Prayers for her comfort and a sense of your love and peace surrounding her.

February 22

Lord, be with our next-door neighbors. He was just diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, and doctor said he has about 5 years to live. She has a 99-year-old mom who is still in good health and lives alone, but that situation weighs on her. She also has a tough relationship with her brother and is caring for two grandkids. God, please sustain this woman and give her encouragement. Show us how we can help.

Other next-door neighbor: We’ve had a difficult relationship with her over the years. Help us to be sweet and kind to her when we see her. She must be lonely.

A young couple on our street who have a new baby.

One of my friend’s sister’s family…her sister had a baby in January who was born with retinal cancer. Praying for successful treatment for this tiny baby who is already on chemo. What a tough way to start out in life. God, surround her parents with peace, strength, and love.

Our children–help them make wise decisions about their love lives, finances, close friendships, and jobs.

John–Continued healing. Please help his pain. Give us discernment about what to do regarding retirement and building apartments on our house. Help me to be cooperative with him and refrain from criticism.

Our country. Show me how to respectfully resist when the current president seems bent on destroying US relationships with other countries, bans immigrants from particular countries, when some cabinet members and other agency heads seem to directly oppose the areas/agencies which they are responsible (education, environment, for example). And healthcare. Oy vey. We need divine intervention there. The current Affordable Healthcare Act has many problems, but what I hear about the replacement plan/repeal sounds even worse. God help President Trump. I could start by praying that you’d give him a heart. (Guess I’m being critical here. Help me to live with heart.)

February 27

Prayers for my friend Jim as he heals from a recent procedure that left him very weak. He is having a liver biopsy on Mon., March 13.

Prayer of the name: I lift up to you Donald J. Trump.

Prayers for my high school friend’s son, who has serious GI problems. Help them to find relief. He is only 21 and is unable to work or go to school because of this condition.

March 15

President Trump is coming to Nashville today. Prayers for our city. Prayers for safety for all involved in the Trump rally and for the protesters (my son included) who show up to peacefully demonstrate.

March 17

Prayers for my friends Kent & Penny

My friend Linda (3/16 birthday) and her daddy, who has cancer

Praise you, God, for Jim’s good report from his liver biopsy. Praise you for his 80th birthday and the celebration we are having tonight. Continue to sustain him & his family as they live with his wife’s dementia.

Healing prayers for my friend Marti’s partner, who broke her ankle recently and has broken her back and compressed vertebrae several times. They are going on vacation next week. May this be a time of rest and healing for all involved…and give them patience with teenage twins!

Doug, that he will be happy with new job.

Doug and his partner Frank…and all the gay couples I know. Legislation is before the Tennessee assembly to ban same-sex marriage, or at least not recognize it as valid marriage. The legislation defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Lord, I don’t understand why we are revisiting this territory after the Supreme Court ruling a couple of years ago.

Prayers for those affected by the U.S. House Resolution on education, especially its implication for special education and the many areas where we will go backwards…I pray this bill will not pass. Show me how I can respond effectively. Jim Cooper, our representative from the 5th district, will vote against it.

Well, those are just a few of my prayer concerns from the past 3 months. I believe in the saying “Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there.” I also believe in putting feet to my prayers, so I ask God to show me how he would have me respond to various situations. Still pondering a lot of this.

I am going on a silent retreat (overnight) next week. I hope to gain clarity and hear God’s voice about several situations in my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parting Words

I sent my love out the door
with a kiss and the words
“I love you. Be careful today.”

Some would say I fret too much.
I prefer to think that I am aware of
all the things that could happen…
and I want to leave my love with
words of blessing
instead of fussiness.

Too often I have rushed by him
barely brushing my lips against his
and casually saying, “See you later,”
or sometimes in anger,
“Have a NICE day” (if we have exchanged
some heated words that morning).

Later I think,
“What if these were the last words
I ever said to my spouse?”
None of us knows what could happen
during the day
to those we love.

I’ve had that truth brought home
to me too often.
One of my daughter’s friends
succumbed to depression
and took her own life.
A colleague fell ill about a year ago
and died.
The husband of one of my coworkers
was struck by a 30-foot limb of a tree
and was seriously injured.
Three people at my church have
had biking accidents in recent weeks.

So as my love goes out the door
and returns two or three times
to pick up a forgotten item
I smile and think,
“Yes, have a good day…
and be safe.”

The Secret to a Long and Happy Marriage

A couple of weeks ago I attended the bridal shower of a friend who is the same age as my son. (My motto is “Make younger friends in case all of your older ones die off.” Just kidding.) At the shower one of the planners asked everyone to ponder a question: What advice did someone give you before your marriage that has been helpful, or what advice would you offer Angela from your own experience?

I mentally gulped as I considered what words of wisdom I would offer. First, I felt a little insecure offering advice. My mother always used to say, “Unasked-for advice is half scandal.” Well, this advice wasn’t unasked for, but mercy, advising someone about marriage is such a dangerous thing. What would I say to any young bride-to-be?

I decided to be honest. When John and I were engaged, I really wondered whether we would make it as a couple. You see, we used to fight every Thursday night. Every. Single. Week. So I told this story, not quite as long as I make it here:

I used to worry about John and me. When we were engaged, we had a fight every Thursday night. (At this point I saw a few people at the shower squirm a bit, like they were thinking, “Oh no. What is she going to say?”)

John belonged to a square dance club, and he took me square dancing on Thursdays. Being a sweet, innocent, young thang of only 23 years, I went along with his wishes and grudgingly went square dancing. I’m not sure I disguised my lack of enthusiasm very well, especially after I got a STUPID yellow dress to wear square dancing. I’m sure John loved the dress because it showed off my long legs, but I hated, hated, hated it. I felt conspicuous every time we danced. I have always felt klutzy, and on Thursday nights during our engagement, probably never felt more klutzy at any other time of my life.

The reason we fought was twofold: I was immature, and I was tired. I am by nature an introvert, though many people see me as an extravert. At that time, I had not yet learned to limit my activities and take care of myself. I undertook too many responsibilities at church, and by Thursdays I was just plum tuckered out, to use a good, old-fashioned Southern idiom. On Wednesday nights, I worked with children in choir, teenagers in missions, and attended adult choir practice. So by Thursday I was ready to stay home for the night.

I tried to be a good sport, but I really disliked square dancing. I felt stupid doing it, trying to make my body twirl and remember all the things I was supposed to do as the caller instructed, “Do si do, turn your partner, promenade now!”

The first thing I did after John and I were married was say, “Now I don’t have to square dance any more.” And we didn’t. Perhaps this was selfish on my part (John still wistfully remembers our square dancing days, and I still have his name tag from Flat Rock Square Dance club in my memory box), but I just call it realistic.

My next piece of advice? Well, I thought that since I was attending a shower where everyone present was connected by the common bond of being Christian, it might be good to offer some scriptural advice. Again I was my usual frank self.

“We tried to follow the scriptural admonition, ‘Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.’ But I found that sometimes we did go to bed mad at each other. There were some things we just couldn’t work out by staying up and talking about them.” (More squirming by shower attendees.) An aside to the reader: I believe in and trust the power of scripture and try to obey as much of God’s Word as possible, but I also think God gave us brains for a reason. God knows that I can’t reason very well when I’m tired. My sweet, wise, and very patient husband also knows that sometimes it’s just best to keep your trap shut.

So John and I have had conflict, but somehow we’ve always managed to resolve our conflicts, even if it took awhile. One thing I wish we had done differently is arguing in front of our children. I grew up in a home where my parents never fought in front of me, but boy could I feel the freeze-out if they’d had a disagreement. John grew up in a home where his parents let it all hang out. You can see which parental pattern we chose to follow. I wish I’d had enough self-restraint and maturity to whisper, “Let’s talk about this later” when John and I were having a “discussion.” But at least our children saw us engage in conflict and then resolve it. I hope they have learned a thing or two from watching us. I hope they will be a little less public with their disagreement than we were.

One thing I’ve learned over the years (now I’m not recalling what I said at the shower but just writing my thoughts) is that there is no ideal couple. The couples I have watched whom I thought were “the perfect couple”…well, some of them have divorced.

God only knows how my and John’s marriage has survived for nearly 33 years. Well, I do know how it has survived: by God’s grace and a little fairy dust sprinkled in. Sometimes I have been the strong one; sometimes John has been the strong one. We have certainly had our  hard times…raising children, dealing with the deaths of three of our parents, financial struggles, depression. There were times when I had to act as if I loved John. (I read somewhere that if you act like you love someone, even if you don’t feel like you love the person at that moment, the feeling will follow.) When the chips have been down, we were a team. I think some of the toughest times in our marriage have also been the times when our love has kept us together.

So what’s the secret to a long and happy marriage? I wouldn’t presume to tell you. It’s essential to be able to trust each other and to forgive. But as I said previously, it’s all quite mysterious to me…and it all depends on God’s grace, plus a little fairy dust.

Adventures in Caregiving

I entered 2015 with the idea that I will not make New Year’s resolutions because I didn’t keep mine last year…one of which was to write something, whether it be a note or blog, every day. I’ve since read why New Year’s resolutions don’t really work. We are creatures of habit, we have good intentions, but life often gets in the way, and that certainly proved true last year for me.

On November 24, 2013 my dad came to live with us after being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a common disease in elderly people. John and I had to do a good bit of talking to convince him to move in with us, but he finally agreed. We had no idea what the future held when Daddy came here. I told him to pack enough clothes for the winter at least, and a few things for spring. He brought mostly winter clothes; I think he had in his mind all along that he would return to North Carolina.

Dad’s treatment began on December 3 with an infusion of rituxan (rituximab?). John and I took turns sitting with him during his first treatment. I didn’t have much vacation left at work, so I needed to be there as much as possible, but I knew it was important to be with Daddy too (more so than being at work). Daddy did fairly well except he began shivering uncontrollably after he got up to go to the bathroom. The nurses were attentive and gave him something to stop the shivering. He was a real trouper and didn’t have any ill side effects other than fatigue from the treatment. We were blessed to have a nurse practitioner from our church who worked at the doctor’s office; she did the initial assessment of my dad and was supportive through the whole time he was undergoing treatment.

Daddy took two chemo pills daily along with the infusions, which were once a month in the beginning. As his body started responding to the treatment, the infusions were cut back to once every two months, and the chlorambucil tablets were reduced to one a day. In his last PET scan, there was no evidence of leukemia, and I was gratified to see that Daddy had gained nearly 20 pounds since coming to Nashville. (He was practically skin and bones when he came here.)

Along the way I began to appreciate my husband more each day. Self-employed, his schedule is a little more flexible than mine, so he assumed most of the responsibility of taking Daddy to doctor visits, which became quite frequent, especially after Daddy complained of back and leg pain, had a scan, and the oncologist determined that his pain had nothing to do with his leukemia. We set up a primary care physician for Dad, and monthly visits ensued.

I would like to say that the year (13 months) Daddy stayed with us were a breeze, but they weren’t. He was a good patient and usually was pleasant to be around (a real blessing). John and I had added responsibilities, like picking up medications and buying certain grocery items for Dad, and I undertook the weekly bath routine. Daddy took care of daily sponge baths, but the all-over bath on Saturdays required assistance. Some weeks I nearly forgot, or I was exhausted by the time Saturday night rolled around.

There were time I had to go into “bossy daughter” mode, and Daddy usually accepted what I said. He got a little depressed from being housebound and isolated. We tried early on taking him to church with us on Sundays, but that proved to be too taxing. Daddy’s back and legs hurt after sitting for a couple of hours, and moving him from our Sunday school class to the sanctuary was quite a feat.

John was my support and reality check throughout the year. Around September he started pushing me to start looking for assisted living. I was reluctant, feeling a bit guilty about leaving my dad’s care (or the brunt of it) up to others, but really the whole situation was starting to take a toll on my mental and physical health. Not to mention the pressures on John’s and my relationship.

Then when my dad took a couple of spills at our house in November 2014, we got serious about looking for assisted living. Daddy had been on the waiting list for assisted living in Canton, NC, where he had lived for the past 20 years, but it looked like we might be waiting a while on that. So the week of Thanksgiving I started looking around Nashville for a place for Dad (using, ironically, a website called A Place for Mom). I had a helpful representative there who immediately called me as soon as I registered on the website, and she suggested some places near our home to check out as possibilities. The search began the week after Thanksgiving, and we soon narrowed it down to two places, one 2 miles from our home and the other about a mile from my workplace.

On December 16 John took my dad to eat at the assisted living place two miles from our home. We were about to decide on that facility for him, but fate (or providence) intervened. As I was going into Google mail to get to my Google documents that day, I saw an e-mail from Silver Bluff Village, the facility where Dad had put down a deposit in November 2013 to get on the waiting list. My heart sank. I thought, “Well, I must tell him about this,” and I knew what he would decide. So that night I asked him carefully about his impressions of the senior living facility he’d visited. He said, “It was okay. The food was pretty good.” Then I asked about the atmosphere of the assisted living place. He said, sounding like an obedient child, “It seemed like a nice place.”

Then I told him about the e-mail I’d received from the admissions director at Silver Bluff. Immediately his eyes lit up, and I knew what the outcome would be. That night I e-mailed her back and told her Daddy was interested in the available apartment.

So on December 26 we left Nashville, spent the weekend in his wife’s house in Canton, and then we moved him to Silver Bluff on December 29. He was so excited to see the mountains of North Carolina once again, and our visit to his church on Sunday showed me what a community he has there. All these women were hugging him, and I thought, “Hey, there’s nothing better for a 92-year-old man than to be hugged by younger women!”

Daddy’s last words to John and me as we left about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday were, “I’ll miss you and John waiting on me!” He also said he loved us, and he told John for the first time in our 32 years of marriage, “I love you. You’re a good son-in-law.” That is undoubtedly true.

Now the adventure continues…keeping in touch with him and trying not to worry. He is happy with the food at his assisted living. He’s having to walk more (with his trusty walker) to get to the dining room and activities room. He has accepted his new situation with grace and a positive attitude, despite the stress of having to march to someone else’s routine. I am happy that he is back with people his age and that my stepsister and stepbrother are nearby. We will have our challenges, I expect, but for now life is very, very good.

Gratitude for Strong Women

Strong women inspire me,

Cause me to look at my humdrum routine

And see how I might shake it up:

Live a little,

Do something daring,

Work less at my daily roles,

Paint and draw and write and dance more!

Breathe …

Break free from the bonds of my ordinary life, yet appreciate the holy moments found in the everyday —

Rise above the clamor of many demands pulling me in various directions,

Look deep inside and realize the potential waiting within.

 

These thoughts were inspired by attending a writers workshop over the weekend. I was honored to be invited, then awed as I heard the women around me read beautiful, insightful, pain-filled yet victorious words they’d written on the spot. I’ll admit I was intimidated by sharing my paltry thoughts and beginnings of ideas. But a seed was planted, and I look forward to what comes from that. I have a voice and I have something to say. Now begins the journey of discovery to find out exactly what form that voice will take and where it will lead me.

Our Christmas Letter for 2013

Dear Friends,

I had every intention of writing a Christmas letter and inserting it in my Christmas cards, but that didn’t happen. Life gets busy, and you have to be flexible.

Wanted to share with you 10 highlights of 2013 for the Trudel family. For those of you who notice things like this, pardon the switch between 1st person and 3rd person point of view.

1. John began the year with a new venture: he is managing a pool & spa maintenance business. I admire him for having the guts and stamina to start a business at his age. He is like the Energizer bunny…says he thinks he’ll work at least 5 years.

2. In January Daniel, age 26, finally moved into his own apartment. Yay! One bird launched from the nest.

3. Julie gave a senior voice recital in March (I think…we made several trips to Jackson, MS this semester). She did a fine job. So proud.

4. In May Julie graduated from Millsaps College with a B.A. in Spanish and a concentration in voice.

5. In the summer Anne started traveling for work. Attended a copywriting seminar in Indianapolis in June (and got to see longtime friends Sharon & Jim Myers and their 3 kids). Went to a children’s ministry conference in Greenville, SC in July, the Congregational School for Development in Denver in August, and at the Apprentice Institute of Spiritual Formation at Friends University, Wichita, KS, in September. Decided after missing a week in the office each month that business travel is not always as glamorous as it seems.

6. In September Anne turned 55, and there was a huge party with most of  my cousins  present. Wait, no, the gathering was not for my birthday but for the wedding of my cousin Nick (Joe’s son) and Stephanie in Hilton Head, SC. It was a beautiful wedding on the beach. My 91-year-old uncle officiated. John and I made a vacation of the trip. We spent some time in Charleston and enjoyed a day trip to Savannah from Hilton Head. It was great fun to be with my cousins on my birthday.

7. September 14 was a big day for more than one reason. In addition to being Anne’s birthday and Nick & Stephanie’s wedding day, it was also the day Julie left for Madrid, Spain! (The second bird launches from the nest!) She is spending at least one year there as a teaching assistant, and she’s tutoring children on the side. She is getting lots of experience with various ages of children. It will be exciting to see where she winds up.

8. Between the end of October and November 22, Anne made three trips to Canton, NC. On the third trip, she and John brought her dad back to Nashville to live with us for the winter. We will decide next steps after we see how Daddy, age 91, does this winter. He’s yearning to get back to North Carolina, and he had just put down a deposit on an assisted living place that we both liked before coming to Nashville.

9. We spent a quiet Thanksgiving at home, and that was a relief to Anne after traveling so much. We keep in touch with Julie by Skype and e-mail. Technology is a marvelous thing. (Except Anne is still learning how to use her smartphone. Evidently she is smartphone-challenged.)

10. We set up a Christmas tree this year after no one caring about whether we had one last year. (Anne missed it.) Our cat, Lily, has had a heyday with the tree. Before ornaments were put on, she climbed halfway up the tree. Now she thinks it’s her personal playground, and she’s launched a few sneak attacks from under the tree. She has also adopted a few cloth ornaments from the bottom of the tree.

All in all, 2013 was a most excellent year for the Trudels. Just like anyone else, we’ve had our challenges, but we feel richly blessed to have friends, family, a roof over our heads and other necessities, jobs we enjoy, and a wonderful church home.

We wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas and a hope-filled New Year.

Love,

Anne & John

The Summer I Missed

Lord, have mercy! I cannot believe it is already October. What happened to summer?

A strange phenomenon has happened as I’ve gotten older. Time is speeding up. I know, I know. It’s really not passing any faster than it did when I was a “young-un,” but now it seems that every time I turn around, a season has passed.

This summer has been full of adventures and it has passed by at warp speed.

I usually don’t feel like it’s summer until I have been swimming at least two or three times. This summer I tried to make it to Wave Country, our local wave pool, on August 23, my daughter Julie’s 23rd birthday. We were stunned to discover it had already closed except on Saturdays and Sundays. Julie and I looked at each other as we sat in the parking lot, then she got out and went to the gate to read the sign that confirmed yes indeed, the pool was closed. This year school started in Davidson County on August 1. Julie commented, “That’s just not right.” My feelings exactly.

Back in the dark ages when I was growing up, school didn’t start until after Labor Day. I remember the crispness in the autumn air, the smell of freshly cleaned floors and the (what seemed to me then) wide halls at my elementary school, the thrill of getting new supplies for school (which were ever so much less expensive than what parents have to buy today). I passed on my love for school supplies to Julie, who looked forward to shopping for Post-it notes, new notebooks, notebook paper, organizers, colored pencils and crayons, book covers, etc.

The beginning of school was a different matter for our older child, Daniel. He stressed out every year when it was time to start school. In third grade he began showing symptoms of stress: his chest hurt, among other physical symptoms. He called home (John was working from home) and asked his dad to come get him. If I had been there, I would have kindly told him no, that he could make it through the day. John took a different approach, and perhaps it was for the best. Our sensitive son needed a little extra TLC. Fortunately he had nurturing, empathetic teachers who were patient with him while he tried to learn all the rules. For the first month or so of school every year from third grade on through about sixth grade, Daniel would say to me, “Mom, tell me the rules. There are so many new rules to learn!” I tried to simplify things for him. “Son,” I said, “remember these things: Do what your teacher says. Pay attention. Keep your hands to yourself.”

Darn. I forgot where I was going with this post, chasing the rabbit trail of memories of the first of school with my kids. I think I was going to say that summer just passed me by while I was traveling for work. Starting in June, I have been out of town for at least 3-4 days once a month until my last trip, to Wichita at the end of September. I like to travel, but I usually I am not away from home that much. While I was traveling, I fell behind in my e-mails at work. I finally just started going through my inbox, pressing Delete, Delete, Delete. Who has time to read all those marketing blogs, writing tips, and other interesting stuff when you have work to do? I started limiting myself to 15 minutes of e-mail in the morning, another 15 around midday, and another 15 at the end of the day. Thanks to one of my boss’s help (it takes two people to manage me, heh-heh), I learned to prioritize (triage e-mail) and take control of my day.

So now I’m looking forward to a little time at home before the holiday season. I am trying to slow things down a bit. I enjoy walking, so I take walks by myself sometimes and enjoy looking at chipmunks, squirrels, butterflies, trees (I am forever trying to identify them), and even the “wildlife” (students) on Vanderbilt’s campus. Fall, my favorite season, is here…and I’m determined to enjoy it. I can’t wait to take at least one hike. Maybe it’ll happen this weekend, who knows?

My mantra for fall has become: “Breathe in, breathe out. Realize how much you are blessed.”