Thursday, July 8, 2010

you never know...

i have an "I 'fleur-de-lis' NOLA" translate--I love New Orleans Louisiana--bumper sticker on my car.

i walked out to the car the other day to find something under my windshield. thinking it was some kind of ad offering to install siding for my brick house i was about to throw it into the recycle. but upon closer look this is what i found:

My name is Emma and I just move here from New Orleans. I am terribly homesick, and just wanted to tell you your bumper sticker made my day.
Thank you!
Displaced NOLA Girl.

you just never know...

Monday, June 7, 2010

the goose egg

my mom likes to tell the story of when i started to walk. she said she lost 20 pounds that month.

i crawled at 5 months and ran at 8 months. yes, i said 8.

that was in the days of hard leather soled baby shoes. we had a terrazzo floor in our house. a pre-toddler running on a terrazzo floor in hard leather soled baby shoes are not a good mix.

mom says that every time she would schedule photos for me i'd fall down and end up with a big goose egg on my forehead. she must have rescheduled all of those appointments because i've never seen proof.

when i was 5 my teacher suggested that i might be "hyperactive" and my parents should take me to the doctor. thank goodness for good old Dr. Roach. he told her i was too coordinated to be hyperactive. not to worry, i was just a busy child.

i've always been coordinated. of course, i'd wake with party bruises of unknown origin, but never anything substantial.

but this saturday i hit my head and i now have a big goose egg.

i was putting my sweet sleepy sugar lump in the van after a late dinner. i was parked next to a tree. so i used the remote to open the sliding door.

as i bent down to walk under the branches to get to the open door the sliding door slammed into my face. i saw stars, my teeth rattled in my head and i was a bit dizzy for a few moments.

my forehead took the brunt of the hit. i've got a big old lump just above my eyebrow. it's a pretty shade of purple right now. i'm looking forward to the colors to come.

the worst part? i didn't even have a drink with dinner.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

music and the creative process*

i stole this idea from my high school friend, Bob. Bob is an architect and wrote about the presence of music in the studio when he is working. he's got a pretty cool blog. you can find him here:

i use music when i'm writing my sermons. i'll usually latch on to a specific song that somehow puts the scripture into perspective for me and i'll listen to it over and over while i'm writing. (that and red vines get me through!) most of my sermons have some lyrics from a song in them. sometimes my sermon titles are names of songs. i've even been known to make the congregation sing. (so i don't have to sing alone.)

writing a sermon is a huge undertaking--in my opinion. i read the scripture, go back to the Greek or Hebrew (yes, i can read ancient Greek and Hebrew), consider inconsistencies in translation between sources, read surrounding and referenced scripture, find some relevance to what's happening in the world today, and write a sermon. then i throw that first sermon away and write the real sermon. this takes me anywhere from 10-20 hours.

there is no substitute for music in the creative process. it stimulates my brain and imagination in ways nothing else does.

my tastes run the gamut, not just for listening but also for preaching. in my last sermon i used the song "kookaburra." the sermon before that was James Taylor's "Home by Another Way." I've used Talking Heads, Indigo Girls, John Williams, John Barry, Etta James, Marc Cohn.... I'm all over the map, with music from soundtracks making the most appearances. I think this is because the music evokes images and memories for me. also, just putting iTunes on shuffle and letting it pick up all the things you don't often hear can be interesting. i never know when the inspiration will hit.

so, how 'bout you? where does music fit into your creative process?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

i enjoy being a girl

so this is my morning:

so i got up 3 hours earlier than usual in order to drive 1.5 hours to an all day meeting in Jerseyville, IL.

so i recently decided i needed waterproof mascara so i wouldn't sweat mascara all down my face when i'm doing my uber-tough workouts. (or when my eyes water.)

so i'm putting on my waterproof mascara this morning and poke the applicator in my eye. normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but i wear contacts. the giant smudge of waterproof mascara is on my contact. waterproof. contact. i. repeat. waterproof. contact.

so i take my contact out and put it in the no rub solution and start rubbing like crazy, all the while trying not to tear the contact. of course the waterproof mascara won't come off. waterproof. contact.

so i get out the eye makeup remover and pour some of that in my hand on the contact. yes, it's safe for contact lens wearers. i scrub that baby as best as i can and finally get the giant smudge of waterproof mascara off my contact. but now i have eye makeup remover all over my contact.

so i get out my no rub solution again and rub that puppy until the eye makeup remover is cleaned off. contact is now good to go.

so now i have waterproof mascara all over my face from trying to get the contact out and then back in. it's virtually impossible to fix that kind of mess without starting over.

so i start over. this process has taken at least 20 minutes.

so i'm running late for my meeting, it's raining and i'm going a place i've never gone before. i set my iPhone map app to get me to the church on time. but i'm directionally challenged. i take a wrong turn and end up in sauget. yes, sauget.

so there's no easy way to get back to where my map app tells me to go so i decide to venture out on my own. maybe i'll get there, maybe i won't.

so, long story short: i got there. just in time. contacts in and makeup on.

but don't think i didn't have a drink when i got home.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

across the pond

i am obsessed with all things British. as we speak, i'm watching the results of the House of Commons election results on c-span.

i've never been to Great Britain. some day I'll go.

mostly i want to go to Scotland.
i know most of you are shocked by this confession. if you know me, you know how much i hate cold and moist weather. I'm not saying i want to live in Scotland. i just want to visit. maybe for an extended time. i'll let you know when i get there.

the problem is that i have no plans to get there.

why, you ask, would i want to go to Scotland?
first and foremost, the scottish accent is so sexy.
second, my family is from there. yes, it was a long time ago, but still...
third, is is the birthplace of presbyterianism as we know it. John Knox and his pals.
fourth, i love tartan plaid. i know, dork.
fifth, i want a sporran. yes, i know i can get one at Thistle and Clover in St. Charles, but i want one from there.
sixth, i know the loch ness monster exists and i plan to photograph her.
seventh, i want some Wellies.
eighth, i can't think of an eighth. do i really need an eighth?

of course there are places i'd like to see in addition to Scotland. i'd like to go to Northern Ireland. i'd like to see Wales and the Isle of Mann. i'd like to go the beaches. i'd like to see the lake country. i'd like to explore the land of Jane Austin. i want to spell words with "ou's." it makes me feel so sophisticated. and all those other accents are sexy, too. if i'm flying over there why not get my money's worth?

so, anyone have some frequent flier miles they would like to donate to the "pat wants to go to Great Britain" fund?
i'd bring you back a souvenir!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


If I had lived 200 years ago I would have been called "sickly." I would have been one of those people who was constantly run-down. I would be the one everybody looked at with sad eyes and the knowing nod of the head as I sniffled and coughed my way through life. I wouldn't be able to provide for the family because gardening made me too sick to do anything else. Poor me.

I hate cottonwood. Cottonwood trees infect the planet with their beautiful, fuzzy spawn, coating the planet with a fine layer of spring "snow." Sure it looks pretty, but cottonwood is pure evil.

Every April the cottonwood trees would bloom and every April I would get sick. Until the spring my dad cut down our cottonwood tree. God bless him.

I thought that when I left Texas I had left the cottonwood behind.

Our neighborhood has a cottonwood tree. Every April it blooms and every April I get sick. I take my zyrtec. I use my nasal stereoids. I use my neti pot. I stand in a hot shower. In my 41 years I haven't found anything that will work. (And before you start recommending decongestants and cough syrup, I can't take them. When my neurologist says "no" I tend to follow her advice.)

I dream of the day this tree will be gone.

I want to sneak over and cut it down in the middle of the night. But then I remember that a) I don't own a chainsaw and b) even if I did, I don't know how to fell a tree.

So while I wait for lightening to hit the tree, even if it means our power goes out, I'll spend every April (and May) sick.

Damn cottonwood.

Monday, April 26, 2010

the power of a colored pencil

When I was little--maybe not too little--5th grade, maybe--my mom got me these incredible colored pencils for Christmas. I think there must have been 40 colors. All the shades I could imagine. And these pencils could be blended and used with water to change the texture and feel of the drawing.

I don't know what happened to the wonderful ones mom bought for me. Next time I'm at my mom's house I'm going to hunt for those pencils.

Now don't let me fool you into thinking I'm any kind of artist. I can't draw a stick figure.

But give me a drawing, and I'll color it in like nobody's business. I love colored pencils--and crayons, for that matter--for all the shades and textures you can show. A colored pencil is powerful!

My love of color and texture doesn't stop with the pencils. Put me in a needlework store with a painted canvas and I'll give it every shade and texture the thread can imagine.

Now I have my own set of colored pencils. Mine are simple Crayola pencils with just a few colors. But they are mine. Nobody else can use them. Shoot, nobody else can even touch them.

My colored pencils are my release. Sometimes I just think about the fact that I have them. I don't even have to take them out of their hiding place. I just imagine the possibilities they hold. I know it sounds crazy, but they're a breath of fresh air.

That's the power of a colored pencil. Go get your own!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

On Pointe

There are some days a mom looks forward to more than others. This was one of them.

Today my oldest daughter got her first pair of pointe shoes. For any mom who ever danced, watching your daughter hit this milestone is huge. And when that mom danced on pointe, you reach a whole other level of proud altogether.

I was her age when I got my first pair of pointe shoes. They're hanging on a hook in my bedroom. Yes, it's that big of a deal.

But I didn't work as hard as she has worked to earn hers. Mine were a gimmie. My teacher didn't care about my physiological development or technique.

Earning hers has been anything but easy. She has worked hard in class, two and three times a week for the last ten years, strengthening her feet, ankles and legs. She has learned how to stand, how to spin, how to breathe, where her arms are supposed to be and when. She has trained hard to gain the muscle memory that will allow her to succeed in this next phase of her dance training.

For any of you that think pointe is just the next level of ballet, think again. Point is it's own animal. For one thing, you use the foot differently. Not only does the dancer literally stand on the tips of her toes, she has to balance there with tight ankles, calves, thighs, glutes, abs... you get the picture. Imagine knowing how to drive an automatic car but being thrown into a manual. Now imagine that difference times 10. Same end result--a beautiful dance--different mechanics.

On pointe your feet are squeezed into shoes that by all rights shouldn't fit your feet. Square at the toe, boxed past the ball of your foot, and a shank (sole) with no give. Pointe shoes could double as baseball bats. And this is what she will proudly torture herself with for the rest of her dancing career.

As soon as we got home she pulled her shoes out of the box and showed them off to her dad. Bright, shiny and pink, they'll last through one class that way. But right now they're pretty and new.

After showing off your new pointe shoes you must sew on the elastic and the ribbons. I made her do it herself. She wasn't happy. But sewing on elastic and ribbons is something every dancer must know how to do. Like I said, not a happy girl.

But then she was done, proud as could be, and ready to start the next shoe, she smiled at me and said, "It feels so good!" "What?" "Finishing that shoe!"

Her first class on pointe is Tuesday. She's not allowed to wear the shoes until class when the teacher shows her how to tie them correctly and can watch her carefully as she learns to releve on them. The girls already on pointe are taking bets about how long she'll be able to keep her shoes on that first class. Let the blisters and bleeding begin!

I had my camera with me today as she was trying shoes on. I'll have my camera with me at her first class.

I am one proud mamma!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Not to put too fine a point on it...

Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet...

Last year I got a bee in my bonnet. Maybe it was turning 40. Maybe I just needed a challenge. Who knows. I just knew that bee was bugging me.

Last year I decided I needed to run a half-marathon. Why? Of course, there was a bee in my bonnet.

I remember when I thought I'd never be able to run 1 mile. All I could think was how far that sounded. One Mile. Mind you, I'd never really been a runner. Maybe a couple of times in college when I pretended to run, I think mostly to get away from the residents on my hall.

So in February of 2009 I joined a gym. There was no way I was going to run outside in the cold. This Southern Girl can't handle the walk from the house to the car when it's below 40 degrees. Why would I subject myself to an hour + outside? So the gym and the treadmill it would be.

The race was in April. The Go! St. Louis Marathon and Half-marathon. Still thinking I was crazy, I paid my entry fee and was off and running, so to speak.

Remember that mile I thought was so far? Well, it was. Sooooooooo far. But eventually I made it 2, then 3 and eventually 7. Wow! 7 miles.

The crazy thing about running a half-marathon is that training plans never have you run the full 13.1 miles. 11 was the farthest distance I went before the actual race. But I knew my friends had my back. Chris had been encouraging (sometimes annoyingly so) in my training. My facebook friends were cheering me on. People at church cheered me on. Seems everyone I knew was cheering me on. And one friend in particular--Cory--reminded me almost daily that I could do it. And if they believed in me even when I didn't, how could I let them down?

Race day dawned cold and rainy. Yes, you read that right: rainy. But I had made that commitment to run. So run I did.

My goal was to finish. And I really wanted to finish in under 3 hours. Miles 11 and 12 were the worst. So close and yet so far. Water was running off the brim of my hat. I was soaked to the bone. My socks were squishing in my shoes.

But all along the way my family was cheering me on. They drove downtown, jumping the course so they could see me in several places along the way. They ran along side me. They rang their cowbells, and I knew they'd be waiting for me at the end.

And I did it. I met both of my goals: I finished in under 3 hours. JUST under: 59:38.

Woo Hoo!

Well I thought one race would get that bee out of my bonnet. But no, now there's a whole hive in there.

I ran the Mardi Gras half marathon in New Orleans in February, finishing in an amazing (for me) 2:30. Mind you, the course was totally flat. But that finishing time was a big ego boost.

This past Sunday I ran the GO! St. Louis again. Unlike last year, the weather was beautiful. Cool and sunny. And I shaved 12 minutes off last year's time. Still slow, but faster than last year.

Now I'm actually setting goals for myself. I want to get faster. I want to go stronger. I want to someday feel that "runner's high" I've heard so much about.

My next half-marathon will be Aug. 1 (my 42nd birthday) in Chicago, IL. Between now and then I'll run several 5k's. I'll work on my speed. I'll find some new places to train. I'll get out and enjoy the weather. I want to reduce the size of my butt...;-)

39.3 and counting.

Make a little birdhouse in your soul.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

to blog or not to blog

that is the question.

seems lately there's a lot to say. i've never been good a journaling, but maybe this electronic thing could work.

so you may be wondering about the title of my blog.

6 years ago--has it been that long--i was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Dr. Sylvia Awadalla, my neurologist extrordinare, sent me to Dr. Keith, neurosurgeon extraordinare. Dr. Keith is no McDreamy. He's as specific and dry as one would expect a neurosurgeon to be.

in my three weeks of interaction with him he only cracked a smile once. yes, once. as i was being released from the hospital after a series of MRIs, a cage screwed into my head, more MRIs, an awake bioppsy of the right motor cortex of my brain and an extended stay in the iCU, i asked Dr. Keith about the hole in my head. he had told me that the hole they had drilled in my skull would not grow back, it would remain a hole.

i asked him if when i leaned over grey matter would fall out. well it worked. ee smiled a real smile as he assured me my grey matter would stay put.

it's been six years since my diagnosis of a "demyelating lesion in my right motor cortex." it's been 4 1/2 since my last seizure.

it's good to be alive. it's good to be fully functional on my left side.

it's good to see my children's many milestones: moo walking, sawyer racing his bike, sarah starting high school. it's good to know i will see many more.

Life is Good!