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The Magic In Between

Land of a Thousand Distractions

There are great moments in life, moments they say define you, the celebratory highs of accomplishment, the heroic lows of courageous struggle. But this month I have a little different take on what defines our lives.

I say a person is defined by what they do in between such dramatic and emotional moments. When no one is watching. When the stakes are not high. When one day falls quietly into place behind the last.

These are the times that try men’s souls.

The problem is that it’s easy to see the glory in riding off to rescue the damsel in distress or wresting a continent from the hands of a genocidal tyrant. But it’s hard to see the glory in watching John Wayne shampooing carpets when the puppy threw up because she ate a sock.

No one says Winston Churchill’s finest hour was spent at Home Depot searching for a solution to his dog’s sudden urge to tunnel under fences like Steve McQueen.

Did Hemingway have to kneel by his bedside to blog “For Whom The Bell Tolls” because his chocolate Lab thinks she’s still a puppy yet takes up her master’s entire side of the bed?

Did Lincoln have a granddaughter with eyes so big and blue that they seem to hold the sky within? I think not. Otherwise his mind would have turned to mush like mine and the Gettysburg Address would have sounded like:

Four score and
Das’ my sweet sugar wuggar.
Does her wub her
Granddaddy waddy?

Look! Squirrel!

Somewhere along the way toward changing the world I have become ensnared. Pinned to the beach like Gulliver. Immobilized by ten thousand soft threads of distraction.

All of them seem to be necessary. But definitely not heroic.

I cannot, for the life of me, picture Indiana Jones on his day off waiting heroically in line at Comcast, bullwhip furled, fedora in hand, soundtrack on pause.

Dah, dah dah daaaah! Dah, dah da . . . “Please Take A Number And Wait For The Next Available Associate.”

What is an associate anyway?

Some things shouldn’t be seen.

Imagine Lucy Liu at the DMV. Or Johnny Depp at Wal-Mart picking up word search books for his mother. I can’t. Don’t want to.

These are scenes that should be edited out. Or not filmed at all. And yet, my life seems to be made up entirely of scraps from the cutting room floor.

Outtakes. An adventure-free zone. The stuff in between the good stuff.

If that’s all there were to it then life would be pointless. Tedium. But then . . .

Glimpses Of Glory

Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, like a flicker in a passing mirror, I catch a fleeting glimpse of life as it could be. Or could I be seeing life as it really is?

Could it be that what I do is more significant that it appears? Is it possible?

It always catches me by surprise. Something tickling at the back of my brain makes me look up. An instinct. A hair-raising hint.

Suddenly my eyes are assaulted with a sky-filling blaze of color, a sunset so magnificent that it stops me in my tracks.

Thundering Hooves

Or I’m driving to work with plans filling my head to the brim when a sideways glance captures a field of endless green.

There a herd of horses gallop wildly over rolling hills, manes flying, tails swishing, all for the sheer joy of the wind on their faces.

The grace. The colors. The excitement! And then they are gone leaving me and the morning traffic behind.

Were it not for these moments reminding me of the beauty of life, it would be easy to overlook.

The Moments You Fight For

During Suzie’s year and a half of fighting for life I can remember very clearly a few surprising moments that carried me through. They were not at all what I expected.

Once I was standing beside Suzie drying dishes while the kids watched TV in the next room. The afternoon sun was slanting gold through the back yard. We weren’t talking about anything but I found myself filled with an unexplainable joy.

So much so that I had to question where it came from. I had never felt joy washing dishes before. Never imagined it. It was just something that had to be doe before I got on with the good stuff.

It dawned on me that this calm and tedious moment was such a contrast from the constant shocks we’d endured. It was the very thing we were hoping to get back – a moment of peace and quiet. Something not terrifying.

Something Normal

While chasing bad guys, having hair-raising adventures and being the hero is exciting, the entire point is to get things back to normal.

We do not fight wars for the fun of it. We do not set fires for the rush of dragging children from the flames. We do not rob stage coaches for the camaraderie of riding in a good posse.

What we really want is the crisis to be over so we can get back to our lives. To do exciting things like, well, wash dishes and clean up puppy barf.

The Good Life

So, when I understand my life correctly, the good parts are not dodging bullets, saving continents, preventing nuclear holocausts or surviving tsunamis.

Instead, the good life is the part after the novel is finished, after the movie credits roll, after the treaty is signed, after the horses are back in the barn, after the pistols are cleaned, after the family is reunited, after the fire is out, after the town is rebuilt.

The good life begins after the crisis ends.

And while it may seem boring by comparison, the good life is also cleaning carpets, washing dishes and feeding the dogs. It is the freedom to have your life back, to have time to write a world-changing novel, or hold a grandbaby, or share a meal.

The good life is not being the hero, as much as we love them. It’s being there for the people you love. It’s working to pay the bills. It’s sitting in traffic. Or being an associate. Or maybe even taking out the garbage.

Oh no! I forgot to take out the garbage! I can hear the truck in the distance. Can I beat it? Will trash win or will our hero save the day? Refuse or rescue? Be the man or get canned?

Stay tuned next week. Gotta go.

Now, where’s that bull whip?

Dah, dah dah daaaaaaaaah. Dah, dah daaaaah!

Adventure Blog Brain Fun Change Courage Featured Recovery Success

The Mysterious Case Of The Thanksgiving Brain

Thanksgiving always raises the hair on the back of my neck.

Not because I will have to deal with family or a belt that’s too tight or the horrors of Black Friday – a man’s worst nightmare – but because Thanksgiving opened the darkest, most terrifying chapter of my life.

Now, it invariably takes me back to the last few moments of calm that I would feel for years. There was only a hint of what was to come, the briefest icy prick walking down my spine. I was clueless of impending doom, safe in the certainty that I was appropriately grateful for my life.

Hmm . . . uh, Thanksgiving?

So, what does my family’s harrowing trip through multiple cancers have to do with Thanksgiving? It has to do with how our brains work. It has to do with the reason for the original Thanksgiving.

My wife’s brain tumor, her loss of the ability to communicate beyond monosyllables and her recovery initiated my unwanted education into how brains work. Slowly this turned to a lifelong fascination.

I learned that our brain is always overloaded with too much input: the feel of our toes in our shoes, the hum of the air conditioner, the terrain beneath our feet. Our brains are constantly looking to sort out essential information from a constant stream of irrelevant data.

Floor, floor, floor . . .

If something doesn’t move or change or threaten our lives, if a thing stays put and leaves us alone, then the brain makes a note and moves on to more important things.

This saves us from constantly having to waste brainpower to recall things like the floor. It’s just there. Floor, floor, floor. We don’t have to constantly remember it. Floor, floor floor. That would be a waste of time. Floor, floor, floor.

Our brain looks for dangerous things that threaten to end us – tiger, lion, mother-in-law – or annoying things to avoid – traffic, taxes, Lady Gaga – or essential things we need to survive – food, shelter, the NFL.

The Efficient, Ungrateful Brain

This means a normal, healthy brain ignores the good things we have. The things we possess are cataloged and tucked away, our freed-up brain now ready for further action.

That’s why when you finally get that precious thing you always wanted, suddenly it doesn’t seem so shiny and bright anymore.

Our brains don’t mean to be ungrateful. They’re just trying to keep us alive and moving forward. Which is good, right?

Enter The Thanksgiving Brain

But there are times when we are suddenly, powerfully aware of the blessings we have, like when someone gets cancer, or a near-hit accident, or a child is born.

Or say when you’ve just crossed a vast ocean in a leaky wooden boat only to nearly starve while losing many of your best friends like the Pilgrims did.

Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til . . .

This is why we don’t miss some things until we don’t have them. We recently moved and had to, like the Pilgrims, survive some harrowing times – without a washer and dryer and breakfast without the toaster, which remained stubbornly hidden in a mountain of boxes.

I knew I would miss the mountains, the river, the deep-cut, boulder strewn canyons when we moved. But I had no idea that we would miss our veterinarian so much. It seems that Riverview Animal Hospital in Chattanooga is very nearly the perfect vet and all others we’ve found are sadly lacking by comparison.

(No advertising dollars involved)

We’re Alive!

That’s why the Pilgrims had their epiphany. They understood how close they had come to not surviving. They saw clearly how much of life they had taken for granted.

They had all taken daring risks for their beliefs. They had all been courageous. Some had not made it.

It just seemed downright hard-hearted to enjoy a beautiful life without remembering those that helped them get there, without remembering that they were living the answer to their prayers.

They needed some time to give respectful acknowledgement of their blessings and publicly remember those that had not been as fortunate.

We’ve GOT To Remember This!

They thought of Thanksgiving. And it was a great idea! It spread throughout the colonies to become embedded as a national holiday.

They didn’t think of college bowl games but I’m sure they would have approved.

As we all participate in this celebration of the blessings we have,
as we rest our restless, efficient brains and consider what we’ve accomplished,
as we eat too much and watch parades,
as we bow our heads and thank God for the very air we breathe,
may we also thank the Pilgrims,
promise we will stretch this moment,
and keep our Thanksgiving Brains for the entire year.

Photo Credit: kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop) via Compfight cc

Blog Courage Dreams Encouragement Endurance Featured Never Give Up Recovery

How To Dream In Difficult Times

The Big Dream

I have a bit of a confession to make. I’m not normally into confessions as a rule, especially not in blogs, but this time I’m making an exception. Just don’t expect any blubbering in my tea. Coffee is much better for blubbering.

So here it is. We live in difficult times. There. I’ve said it. I’m glad that’s over with.

I could make a list but the thing about difficult times is that everyone has a list. The only thing interesting about my list of difficulties is that it began the very day, no, the very instant that I decided to go for my Big Dream. You know the one, the dream that lurks in the back of your imagination and just won’t go away.

“Dreams are extremely important.
You can’t do it unless you imagine it.”
― George Lucas

The Big Bust

There’s something about a big dream that seems to provoke problems. History is filled with such stories. Here’s 26 of them. They’re easy to find because no one gets by without problems.

And while it’s nice to know that legendary people survived in spite of their problems, what about when you don’t feel so legendary yourself. The fact is that reading about Henry Ford’s or Einstein’s problems doesn’t really cheer me up because I don’t think of myself in that crowd.

What about plain old me? How am I supposed to get a dream accomplished when the world seems bent on stamping out the dreams of regular people in order to accomplish some great, historic dream that we would never dream for ourselves.

“There is no success without hardship.”

No Small Dreams

The tendency would be to put your big dream on hold until better times, when dreams don’t seem so far away and you feel more in control.

Or maybe you might want to scale back your dreams to smaller sizes.

But as we’ve already seen in Dream Big vs Dream Small, there are no small dreams because dreams have a way of growing to their proper size, one step at a time. Other people can catch your dream and then it’s bigger than you.

If you’re not dreaming, you’re dying. ~ Rick Warren

Dreaming Against The Wind

Difficult times demand dreams more than any other. Dreams that help you get through. Dreams are what you have when you have nothing else.

Dreams are a very vivid kind of hope. They are faith in visual form. The substance of things believed.

Prisoners and holocaust victims dreamed of tea parties and feasts long before scientific studies showed such vivid dreaming actually reduces hunger. It was a way of visiting a future that contained food.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Dream Competition

Often our difficulties arise because of someone else’s competing dream, people who see you as a small piece of their dream instead of having a dream of your own.

So difficult times call for turning up and clarifying your dream rather than putting it off or dreaming smaller.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” ~ Steve Jobs

Difficulties Inspire Dreams

 Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol out of desperation to pay mounting bills. Alexander Graham Bell’s mother and wife were deaf which led to the creation of the telephone. My greatest lessons came, not during great vacations, but during great problems.

The old saw,”What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” is often true. In fact there was a Study Done In 2010 that found it to be correct in many cases, if you put a lot of stock in studies done by young psychologists itching to get published, which I don’t.

But they also found that it’s not guaranteed.

Dream Work

It’s a struggle to dream in tough times, but it is essential. Your dreams may have to change with the circumstances. When my wife, Suzie, was struggling with multiple cancers, we didn’t dream of big houses, international travel or new cars anymore.

For a while the future disappeared altogether. We were drowning in problems. We dreamed of survival.

But then, in the darkest days, a dream reappeared in the back of my mind. It was a promise that I’d made to Suzie and never found the time to fulfill. Now I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to fulfill it.

It hurt like crazy. I thought dreams were supposed to be happy, pleasant things but this one burned in my heart like a hot coal. I swore to myself that if we got even half a chance I’d make it happen somehow.

“Nothing happens unless first a dream.”
Carl Sandburg

Did I make it happen? Yes, I was fortunate to get the chance. What was my dream? It’s too long a story for today. Just insert any one of your dreams here. I’ll get to it sometime.

The point is that dreaming is important, that dreaming in hard times isn’t easy but it is never needed more. My hard-learned lesson is this:

When times get tough, whatever you do, don’t stop dreaming.

Dream harder.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis


Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

Blog Change Featured Nature Recovery Uncategorized

Sneaky Dreams

Some dreams develop slowly, like an old Polaroid picture, too slow to see the change but impossible not to notice. They kind of sneak up on you. And before you know it, you’re hooked.

For example, a writer I know suggested that you just start writing a book without really knowing what it’s about. He said sometime around page sixty or so the novel will suddenly appear in the corner of your mind. Inspiration will unfold until you have he whole picture.

One of my sneakier dreams began with a story about a tree and what it does to us. Not a forest, not a landscape, but just a single tree. It’s a pretty amazing story but I think maybe I’ll let someone else tell it.

Someone like Marsh Hirsch . . .


You can also see That Tree on Facebook HERE

Photo Credit: Tree Reflection – Nikos Koutoulas via Flickr

Blog Featured Health Recovery Stress

Monday De-stresser: Window Treatment

For three decades I sat staring out a control room window that led to another room. Over time I began to crave nature. I would take long drives just to see the outdoors.

Then, out of total boredom in a hospital waiting room with nothing else in sight, I picked up a JAMA – The Journal of the American Medical Association. While flipping through and looking for pretty pictures, I ran across a study that said a view of a tree from your hospital bed measurably decreases post operative infections and complications.

I finally had proof that I wasn’t entirely crazy to crave nature. It fueled my passion and I began to look for other information. It was easy to find.

When I finally set up a home studio, my console and monitors were centered on a window with a view of my front yard. It felt so much better but, since I wasn’t in a post-surgery hospital bed, I had no proof other than my own feelings.

Enter professor Peter H. Kahn, Jr., Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle.

He did a study of windows. Participants were shown one of three views: a natural setting through a window, a digital display of the same scene and a blank wall.

Then, as professors are want to do, Peter stressed the people out – artificially. There is no mention in the article of exactly how he did this. Rather than read the scientific tome, I imagined a pop quiz – in electro-shock therapy – but that’s just a guess.

Then, he timed how quickly their heart rate returned to normal after he (possibly) threatened them with a tax audit, or maybe a Justin Bieber concert. I’m still just guessing here.

In any case, after they rounded up Bigfoot, the people who looked at nature got back to normal faster. The people looking at the video did the same as those staring at a blank wall, because we’re really not that dumb after all, which is encouraging.

Professor Kahn’s conclusion was:

“We do best mentally and physically
when we’re connected to nature.”

I concur.

So, if you’re looking for a way to vent some Monday adrenaline, take a good, long look out your window. If your boss thinks you’re daydreaming, show him this blog. Then, after he chews you out, he can go back to his office and stare out his window, giving you a little more unsupervised time.

Your welcome. Happy Monday!

Previous Monday De-stresser

Photo of the view from the Goba Guest House in Leh, India by Sistak via Flickr

Blog Courage Featured Recovery

The Let Down

“There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it.”
― Mindy Kaling

The Big Sleep

This morning we slept late – very late. Suzie and I must have been more tired than we thought.

It should have been obvious how tired we were after two stressful days in the hospital. And all hospital days are stressful. There’s a reason the TripAdvisor app doesn’t have a column for hospitals alongside flights, car rental and hotels.

But when you’re full of adrenaline you feel more wired than tired. Well, the overindulgence of coffee and Dr Pepper probably didn’t help. Not together. Although, if I’d thought of it . . . Hmm. No, Yuck!

System Reboot

“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

We are a design wonder. Once the adrenaline isn’t needed it takes awhile for it to burn off. Then it’s recovery time.

It can feel like a total let down after a long tension buzz. You might not have realized how tightly you were wound. It might feel like depression or like you’re on the verge of a cold.

To go from hair on fire to fuel tank empty is a long drop. It can feel terrible.

It’s A Good Thing

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
― Ernest Hemingway

But it’s not terrible. It’s healing. It’s rejuvenating. It’s rebuilding.

After riding the stress roller coaster so often, I’ve learned not to be alarmed. All I have to do is take it easy this weekend.

I’ll take some walks. I’ll get some sun. I’ll eat healthier and try to kick my sugar habit that I’ve re-established with a vengeance. Stress makes a great excuse for bad behavior.

No Thinking

“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.”
― Akira Kurosawa

I’ll try not to make any life-changing decisions for a couple of days. Positive thinking and ninja problem solving are probably not my strong suit right now.

I’ll pray and ask for wisdom, direction and energy. I’ll work a little to keep my mind oiled and moving. I’ll try not to drive like I’m on an episode of Top Gear. I’ll try not to use my warrior growl on innocent cashiers. I’ll even try to stay calm when someone asks me if I want cheese, fries or the latest fried creation with my meal.

No Depression

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”
― Anthony Burgess

This is not a permanent condition. The first few times I went through crisis withdrawal I thought I was coming unglued. I thought I was suddenly an emotional basket case. I felt I had no control even after things were better.

I let a few innocent friends have it over nothing. I bit a few stranger’s heads off. I wanted to make radical changes so this never happened again. It was disturbing that I wasn’t my normal calm self.

But now I know, this too shall pass.

Energy will return. Calm will prevail. Patience is not a thing of the past. Positive, innovative, creative, active thinking will return.

Not This Weekend

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”
― Homer, The Odyssey

But I won’t bounce back immediately. It will take more time than I want. But I’m still me.

I can be amazing at some later date. Life will be good. Indescribably sweet moments will still occur.

In fact, they are occurring now.


“A true friend finds a way to celebrate—even in the worst moments of life—
and forces it upon you.” ― Rionna Morgan

While Suzie was in the hospital, my son, our youngest, was in the last final exam week of his college career. He’s now totally done with school, if he wants to be.

Like all of my children, I think he’s amazing. He did it all himself on scholarships. I couldn’t be prouder.

This weekend we will celebrate. We will be glad for this day and glad we are around to see it.

Good things happen after bad. Happy after sad.

Rest. Recovery. Renewal. Rebirth.



Photo: Zoo Rhinos Sleeping by the grey sky morning via Flickr

Adventure Blog Brain Fun Change Featured Recovery

Choosing You

This morning I had music in my head. It happens a lot but this morning it was insistent. I had to choose what to write and music won.

Sometimes you have to choose the less travelled path. It’s good for you. It restores your soul.

It reminds you that you have a choice.

We are creatures of habit. Recent studies estimate as much as forty percent of our day is decided unconsciously by our habits.

That’s not really bad. It saves brainpower and time. We don’t have to rethink the world every day.

As long as we understand this and choose our habits carefully then it’s like having part of your life automated.

But every so often we have to break our habits and take the wheel just to remind ourselves that we have control.

To make sure habits are not addictions.

To feel the tiller in our hand and choose a course against the wind. To point the bow to sea, leave land behind and hold our heading against a tossing wave.

To feel free.

We serve so many people and causes in a hectic day that we must remember that we are a cause too. We have a unique point of view. We are individuals unlike any other.

As much as we lose ourselves in others, we have a responsibility to be us because no one else can do it, or should try.

So, today I wrote some music.

What will you uniquely do?


Photo: Sailing by Jklinger via Flickr
Blog Courage Encouragement Featured Recovery

Living On A Battlefield – A Lesson For Terrorists

I live on a battlefield.

It’s hard to forget. There are memorials, historical markers, road signs and billboards announcing it. The names of creeks and ridges are synonymous with battles. There are military graveyards next to schools and roads. Cannons point over the city. Tourists come from around the world to see it.

I live in Chattanooga, home of the Choo Choo, The Battle Above The Clouds, Chickamauga Creek and Missionary Ridge, the first step on Sherman’s march to the sea.

We have the fastest internet in the country for the same reason the second bloodiest battle of the U.S. Civil War was fought nearby – geography. We sit where the Tennessee River carves a gap through the Cumberland Plateau. Internet trunk lines and railroads naturally gravitated to the point of least resistance. It’s a natural gateway.

It’s a war zone.

Almost 50,000 men were killed or gravely wounded in multiple battles around the besieged city. The first national parks were created here to make sure no one ever forgot. The Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Parks are promoted as great places for families to picnic.

It’s an odd esthetic.

If that’s all there was to the story it would be a depressing place but it’s not. And that’s the point.

It’s a survival zone.

A full 2% of the U.S. population was killed in the Civil War. New studies gaining acceptance now estimate the dead at 750,000 soldiers. Today that would translate to more than six million people.

But that means 98% of the people survived.

They built a new city over the old one. They rebuilt the railroads for the Chattanooga Choo Choo. They harnessed the power of the rivers to generate electricity. They built interstates and ran internet cables through the same mountain passes soldiers marched.

Today I walk the streets of a city that has survived some of the worst carnage in our country’s history. I get coffee. I walk my dog. I am not afraid.

There is no terror.

The idea that cowards placing a few publicity-generating bombs against defenseless marathoners is going to make us all quake in our boots is pathetic. It shows an ignorance of who we are and where we walk every day.

I walk on a battlefield.

My father and grandfather were soldiers. We are a nation born of risk-takers and adventurers. We have conquered oceans, deserts, mountains, skies and outer space. We run 26.2 miles for fun.

We take battlefields and turn them into parks to remind us of the sacrifices made for freedom. We will not run from those who threaten freedom bought with such a price.

You will find us standing.



Photo of the Chattanooga National Cemetery by Hal Jespersen at en.wikipedia. Released into the public domain (by the author). Other photos by Dennis Ritchie.
Blog Change Emotional Featured Recovery Spiritual

Gloom To Zoom In One Easy Step

When the clouds of disappointment are hanging low over your head, when you’ve had a bad day for as long as you can remember, when you’ve reached the end of your rope and there’s no hope in sight, remember this:

Change comes in a moment!

There have been many instances in your life when circumstances changed very quickly. Think about it.

  • You were jobless and then you were hired.
  • You were loveless, then in love.
  • You were in school, then the bell rang.
  • You were angry, then happy.
  • You were hungry, then full.
  • You were overwhelmed, then took the first step.
  • You were knocked down, then you got up.
  • You were alone, then found a friend.
  • You were exhausted and overcome in the dark, then slept and woke up in daylight.

You can easily add to this list from your own experience. Immoveable objects move. The Berlin Wall fell almost overnight.

But it gets even better than that.

Hope comes in a flash!

Circumstances don’t even have to change for things to vastly improve. Hope can show up unexpectedly and take you by surprise. All you have to do is change what you think, what you believe about yourself or your situation.

It’s like the first ray of dawn after a long, hopeless night.

Like the change that happened in Lisa Allen’s life. She went from years of disaster to better in one taxi ride in the desert. The change took longer than that but the hope didn’t!

Hope is one step away

There is no college course you have to take. There is no long drawn out process. There are no barriers to hope. Nothing has to happen first. There are no prerequisites. You do not need job experience. There is no test to pass. There is no down payment to save.

Hope is no mountain you have to climb.

That’s because:

Hope is internal

This means no one can stop it. It means no one can take it away. It means no one can put it out.

You own it. As long as you are you, you can have hope. In the deepest recesses of your soul, the part of you no one knows but you and God, the real, intimate, private you – that is where hope resides.

People have found hope in the worst situations ever encountered by man. People have found hope in utterly hopeless situations. Because is wasn’t in the situation; it was inside of them.

So, Hang On

Yesterday was a bumpy day for me. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of frustration. Lots of traffic. Lots of emotions. Lots of failure on my part. You know the kind of day.

Today I woke up, took Nessie for her morning walk and stepped out into one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen. The sky was a vast sheet of pink, purple and blue. The color was at its peak. A warm wind blew into my face. Birds sang. The grass was greening. The spring leaves were sprouting. The world, in all of its glory, turned eastward and smiled as the sun came over the mountain.

It took no time. I didn’t have to read a book. I took no course. I received no phone call or word of encouragement. I didn’t even pray.

All I did was open my eyes and see the beauty and complexity of a world that turned without me as I slept. A world where God is in control.

A world full of life. And spring.

And hope.


Photo: Easter Sunrise by anoldent via Flickr


Blog Courage Featured Health Prayer Recovery

The Imagination Difference

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
― Albert Einstein

Imagination is the difference between yesterday and tomorrow. It is the possibility, the hope, the dream of what could be, come to life.

Today Suzie and I sit in a doctor’s office dreaming of feet. We are trying to imagine the possibility of walking without pain, thoughtlessly, carelessly. We are struggling with the fantasy of shoes not made of foam rubber. It takes imagination.

And courage

Cancer is an autoimmune disease. It affects the entire body, even without cancer being present. Cancer patients can also have bone, joint, blood, soft tissue, brain, nerve, hormonal, digestive, skin, allergy, ear, bowel and cardiovascular diseases. Wikipedia has a list of 172 diseases related to the immune system and admits that the list can never be fully complete.

We are lucky

Suzie’s list is short and begins with her feet. They hurt. But she knows enough about orthopedic surgery to know it is a can of worms. Foot surgery can keep you off your feet for a long time.

Where courage begins

Suzie, who has faced more surgeries than is fair, is reluctant to press her luck. It’s understandable. But pain is a great motivator. So, here we are imagining a better life beyond the fear.

X-rays are taken. We wait. The doctor comes in trailing his posse. Questions are asked, tests conducted. So far we are on the normal path taken by a competent doctor, of which we have seen a few.

Then he begins to teach us with clear pictures, charts and visuals. He encourages us to ask questions. Because I am in the room, “we” have a lot of them. He is precise, efficient but patient. He gives us everything we need to make a decision then gives us options and asks what we want to do.

We decide

Then, as he heads slowly for the door still filling in the details, he does something without thinking that shows me who he is. Without the slightest bump in the flow of information, he straightens a picture on the wall.

He is a knowledgable, patient, listening, teaching, multi-tasking doctor who pays attention to details.

That’s what I want in a surgeon. That’s how we learn trust. It’s not in the big, calculated things you say. You can professionally fake those. It’s in the small details that we learn who you really are.

Information plus confidence

Knowledge is better than ignorance, even when the news is bad. This time it’s not. In a few weeks Suzie will have the least complicated surgery and can be back on her feet in a week. The pain should be better. Life should be better.

All because of the courage to imagine a better life.

And now the praying begins . . .


Photo: The Straightened Picture by Dennis Ritchie