Monday, April 4, 2016


      Since December I have been hiking every week with a friend. Last Monday we decided to do Hemmed in Hollow. Hemmed in Hollow is in the Buffalo River national park area and quite possibly the most beautiful place in the state of Arkansas. As usual the buffalo never disappoints.
     This was my first time to go to Hemmed in Hollow.  During my typical pre hike research. I kept reading again and again in both blogs, videos and even the national parks website. "this is a strenuous hike for even experienced hikers" Intimidating much? Yeah, but my friend and I decided we were gonna go. The night before I printed a map, prepped my backpack  and went to bed. For the first time before a big hike I felt a little trepidation and whispered a little prayer, "don't let me be biting off more than I can  chew here" and went to sleep. 

Hemmed in Hollow
    The next day I woke up and we headed out. It only took about 1hr 45mins to get there. The start of the trail is flat and follows a ridge line. Then suddenly, things got more serious. The trail became an obstacle of steps winding down the side of a mountain. A fall could easily end up with a visit from my favorite neurosurgeon. Every step became incredibly deliberate. It took 2hrs to get down that mountain. I didn't notice much of the scenery because I was watching every step. EVERY step. I remember commenting to my hiking partner that I would love for some flat trail just so I could walk naturally for a bit. 
     Once we got to the bottom and to the falls we sat and had lunch and enjoyed the view and the breeze. I looked at my watch it was 1pm. I thought we better leave by 2 that way we are off the trail hopefully by six ( assuming it was gonna take us double the time to work our way back up). at 2pm we began the ascent. Again every step being deliberate. We took several breaks. Breaks which allowed me to enjoy the view and forest. I was seeing all I missed on the descend which was nice. It took us 4 hrs to climb back out from the hollow. It was insanely hard. 
    While on the trail and working my way back up I kept telling myself just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Each step took me closer to the top. We finally did reach the top and my car and I was immensely proud of our journey. It was a tough hike. I love hiking because not only do I get to see and experience these beautiful natural wonders I also get to push myself and see what I'm capable of. Most people would not think I could do that hike. But then people always under estimate me and my abilities. 
   Hiking is like life. Some trails are easy some trails are very hard. Life is sometimes easy other times it's hard. But you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I have had many "mountains" to climb in my lifetime. Thus far I have always managed to climb them. Its not endurance, its determination.  I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pink: a testimony to faith

My favorite color is pink. Over the years, I've gotten used to people teasing or commenting on what they might consider a pink obsession. But did you know that pink is not "real." Apparently,  it does not exist. They say that all colors are just waves of light, so every color we "see" we see with our brains.   

We have invented the color pink. It doesn't really exist we have manifested it in our hearts and heads yet we physically see it, and in my life I see it everyday.  Pink is the evidence of our supernatural perception. Pink is not found in nature but in the cosmos of our minds. Pink is what we "see" to make sense of what we can't. Yet, do you know anyone who would deny it when they see it? Pink is palpable faith.  When you can't see what's there but you know something is. That's what pink is to us. We fill the void with pink. Is it any wonder it's my favorite color? 

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”- Audrey Hepburn 

Thanksgiving: More Than a Holiday.

Presently,  I have a cornucopia of treasures and gifts to be thankful for. To start I have an amazing family. I have a doting husband for whom I can't begin to express my thanks for. I have a daughter who each and every day, despite her teenage angst, makes me beam with pride. I got into the nursing program and have made new friends I hope to have for a lifetime. Everything seems to be coming up roses.

In the Past, I like most might sit back and just bathe in the bliss that is my life. However,  I can't help but think about those who don't have it as well. While I'm grateful and pleased with my own life a part of me feels sadness for those who don't have the same things in life. During the course of my clinical work I have witnessed many things that have touched my heart. I think about how some people will never know what its like to have a family, a life, a career or a even normalcy.

Recently, a 18 yr old boy died from meningitis at my school. I feel sorrow for his family who will be spending thanksgiving grieving their loss or attending a funeral. I thought about him. What were his goals? What was his dream for himself and his future? Was he ambitious? His dreams snuffed out in an instant. It makes me sad. I imagine it will be difficult to find "thanks' in that.

Yesterday, there was news about a 6yr old girl found murdered. The news reported that prior to that they had investigated the family for tying her to a dresser at night. When I heard of her death I couldn't help but cry. I can't imagine a life like that. What was her dream ? To be a ballerina? A movie star? Did she have normal hopes and dreams of a 6 yr old, or was her dream to be saved from the nightmare she lived in? Furthermore, what has the world lost with the loss of the six year old? What could she have become? An advocate for children ? The first female president? Or maybe just a wonderful mother?

Tomorrow,  I will sit and fill my belly with good food and give thanks for all those things which I have, but I will be thinking about all those "gifts" we've lost as well. Each life is a gift. Each day we have on this planet is not only a gift but an opportunity. I want to give thanks, but I feel the need to question why? Why do I have so much while others suffer? The only answer I can find is that; I have so that I may give.

In the future, giving thanks should not just be about counting blessings. In counting our blessings we should be enabled to share them with the world and multiply them. That is how I hope to give thanks in the coming year. I hope to some how make someone's life a little better. I hope to be a blessing found in the cornucopia of Thanksgiving next year. Imagine what the world could be like if giving thanks was more than a sentiment in November, but a verb we practice and live everyday.

Monday, August 20, 2012

My Life with Death

When do most people become cognitively aware of life and death? Death is not something we are born knowing. Mortality is an acquired sense.  I don't know when most people become conscious of it, but I was very young. When I was around 6  I first met death in a vegetable garden outside my grandpa Smiths house. Death introduced himself to me as tiny white bunny nibbling away on lettuce met with a bullet from my fathers gun. It was then I first encountered death. As that bunny's fluffy white fur turned to crimson and lay lifeless on the ground a heavy axiom seized my mind and heart. After that moment death must have taken a liking to me because he has been ever present in my life since. Like a stalker he has followed me through the ages. 

At first, he haunted me late at night as I would try and go to sleep. The notion that those I love, mostly my grandparents, would die bullied me until I fell asleep crying at times. Then in the 5th grade he made good on his threats and abducted my grandpa before my very eyes on Christmas morning. Before I was ushered to another room to pray he wouldn't leave me I watched my favorite person in the world succumb to death as his heart failed and he vomited on our front room floor while paramedics beat on his chest. While most kids were delighting in their christmas presents I was bargaining with death to bring my grandpa back. 

Death has harassed me my entire life it would seem. Not long after that he came for my grandma. He had an uncanny ability to recognize who meant the most to me in life at any given moment seemed to take perverse pleasure in stealing them from me. Just as I was growing close to my grandma she died. What seemed like a small infliction turned fatal and she expired during the middle of the night at the hospital. I felt particularly provoked by death with her. I had been taking care of her, nursing her leg, until the night she went to the hospital and exhausted from the emotions of leaving her there I fought with my mother over something as trivial as dishes. She had to threaten me with not getting to go see grandma the next day if I didn't do dishes. Odd the way we interpret things when we are only 12. For the longest time I felt some responsibility for her demise. Convincing myself if I had just done those dishes like a good girl without complaint somehow she would be alive. 

For a little while after that death found me hard to antagonize. If I didn't allow myself to care for anyone so deeply there would be no one for death to batter me with. So for the next 3 yrs I built a wall around myself in an effort to protect both myself and others. I think I may have even forgot about him for awhile. Until I was 15 and he decided to refresh my memory. I was a candy striper at the hospital passing out meal cards to patients when I walked into a room to find a man grey in the face and not breathing.  I rushed out of the room and yelled for help. As I watched the nursing staff react and charge into the room all I could think of a his cold grey face and unmoving eyes. He died. I was unable to finish the last two weeks of my assignment, something I have always regretted. Allowing death to win and keep me from completing something I was very much enjoying. 

After high school I became a CNA having realized how much I love working in the hospital and determined to not let death defeat me. At first, I had to do my time in nursing homes before I could work my way into the hospital program and the med/surg floor. It was in the nursing home that death was able to move beyond intangible tormentor. I was forced to touch it.  Working in the nursing home and performing post-mortem on what seemed like a routine basis began to anesthetize me to him. I thought I had finally conquered my fear. Sometimes they say facing your fears is the very thing required to get over them.

Until I lost my first husband I thought I had overcome deaths crippling effect on me. Maybe I had become too confident about my lack of fear, but death proved once again that behind my convincing exterior hid that same terrified 6 yr old girl. Gawking at the face of death on a white rabbit in terror. Only this time death was determined to violate me in a way that I would never forget to be certain that I would never again consider him the weaker of us. He dragged my husbands death out until his body wasted away before my very eyes. He ate him bit by bit as I looked on unable to do anything but watch in horror. I realized then that death is never to be provoked or baited by ego. 

 Death still scares the shit out of me. After years of entanglement with him I've come to understand it is a part of life.  So when do we realize mortality? When do we as humans learn of death? I was six when I met him, but it took much longer to meet his even more terrifying acquaintance; Life. 

I realized at 29, Life is equally scary. Life, like death, is unapologetic for it's harsh realities. It makes no excuses or offers any false platitudes for it's cruel nature. It can be fair and just one minute and abusive and bias the next. Life makes no guarantees and can be more painful than death. Life even at the end can become so unbearable that death is welcomed. Most of my life has been spent in the company of death. As a result I have become somewhat more comfortable with him than Life. Yes, death still scares me, but what really terrifies me now is failing Life. Its taken me over 30 years to begin to achieve goals I had long ago set. What could likely be half my life already gone. When I evaluate my performance thus far it appears disorganized and unrealized. Frightening. 

My life could be considered almost half over and I feel like I've wasted some of it being unproductive. Underachieving living in mediocrity. While others are well established by now I'm just beginning to build a future. A future I hope is longer and happier than my past. Uncertain of myself at times I live in the moment afraid to think too far ahead because I might fail to realize it. I'm not even sure where this is going. I just know I woke up at 630 with the words "my life with death" in my head and several of these thoughts racing around demanding to be written out. 

 I am choosing to work in a profession where Life and Death constantly collide. Is it because I'm some sick fool looking for answers? I don't know. Maybe it's just that witnessing others struggles with these two villains gives me a better understanding of my own and I don't feel so alone. That somehow giving of myself to others will leave less of me for Life and Death to badger. Or maybe I'll learn how to embrace them both someway and achieve peace. I'm hoping for the later even if it's the by-product of the former.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Legit Love

The dictionary defines Love as "a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another PERSON". I'm having a hard time finding where in this definition lie the restrictions people want to place on Love.

YOU see gender. I see LOVE. 

 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
-Mark 12:31 
Whether you hold certain opinions or not about "traditional marriage" matters not. It's irrelevant. You are absolutely "entitle" to your opinion. However, since when did your opinion dictate how the rest of society lives? I realize I will never convince some to be compassionate and kind and loving to ALL people. To those I ask, how does two men or women getting married diminish your marriage? Is your marriage so shallow so weak it existence is based solely on sex? Is your marriage nothing more than a public statement of what "traditional marriage" is? I can tell you my marriage is greater than this. Two men or women getting married has nothing to do with my marriage. My marriage exists beyond genitalia. There is far more to my husband and my undying affection for him than the fact he has a penis. You are not asked to condone gay marriage. No one cares if you think it's "dirty" or "sinful". However, Its also a GREAT sin against marriage to be an adulterer should we also make that illegal?  I wonder how many churches would be emptied if we it were? We have to be be careful when we seek to create theocracies, because you may find yourself a victim of it. Jesus is forgiving the law is not.  

Luke 16:18 Jesus says: 
Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. 

You shall not commit adultery. (NIV, Exodus 20:14)
But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. (NIV, Proverbs 6:32)

"It is estimated that roughly 30 to 60% of all married individuals (in the United States) will engage in infidelity at some point during their marriage (see, Buss and Shackelford for review of this research).  And these numbers are probably on the conservative side, when you consider that close to half of all marriages end in divorce"

The sanctity of marriage needs protecting, but not from gays.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Compassionately Candid

I know I am far from perfect. Of course I have my moments when I slip and become or behave a way I would prefer not to; but, sadly, as much as I'd like to disown that behavior it's ME too.

 Over the past two weeks I've been in clinical. I am just getting a taste of what nurses do. So far I am in love. I have reaffirmed this is what I want to and and I actually like charting. What did I observe? Sure I saw and learned many things pertaining to nursing, but more specifically I observed the human condition. I watched and felt the bitter rejection of some nurses who apparently where not welcoming to us as students. I watched CNAs who have been in the field for so long they have become indifferent to their jobs. I witnessed a broken system. A system that has been cultivated by the "market" and "profit". At first glance at this system one might be outraged (and rightly so) but who do you get angry with ? Do you get angry with the aids? the nurses? the children who place their parents in these establishments? the system which creates an environment that leads to these conditions? 

It is hard to truly get mad at anyone. We come in new thinking we understand everything and seeing immediately all the wrong ways that things are being done. We fail to learn that seeing the "real world" is also part of the learning process. I'm not advocating anyone engaging in bad practices I'm simply saying that if all you're doing is criticizing you might be missing a bigger lesson. 

I've worked in both hospital and nursing home. I've seen the right way and the bad way. I have been guilty of poor body mechanics and having come home with aching back. I have NEVER abused anyone or neglected anyone though. The last two weeks have been different I have been able to just observe moments that before I'd be too busy "doing" to really take in. What I realized is, that even though these people and systems have their faults they provide a necessary service to our communities. And that nurse who is angry she still shows up everyday and better that she is nasty to me than her residents. That Aid who is indifferent I caught her hugging a resident. A resident who smiled afterward. That family member who put them there. I saw them come in before breakfast and sit all day in uncomfortable chairs to be near their loved ones. I witnessed the human condition. Flawed, damaged even broken in places, but enduring to carry on the best they can and that includes some moments of imperfection. 

When we see imperfections fix it were where we can, but don't judge too harshly. Will judging them make the problem any better? After all, I know I'm guilty of imperfection. Are you? 

“Everything with me is either worship and passion or pity and understanding. I hate rarely, though when I hate, I hate murderously. [...]. But I am much more preoccupied with loving.” 
― Anaïs Nin, Henry and June: From "A Journal of Love"--The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


 Sunday the rover will land on Mars. I, like many other citizens of this planet, will be tuning in to see what happens when it does. Over the last few decades our horizon has gone from just over that hill to the edge of the universe. We have achieved so much, yet accomplished so little (people are still uninsured, under fed and hated for the most absurd reasons). We have ambitiously propelled ourselves into the galaxy, yet we still are unable to step outside our own egos.
     As I peer into our television screen and glimpse into a far away planet I will be thinking about my own horizons. What I thought possible in my life before, what is now possible, and what could still yet be possible. However, most of all I will be reminded how paramount it is that I continue to strive to travel outside my own self and explore alternative view points.