Archive for January, 2013


Oh my…
Know that feeling when you put down a book with regret and thanksgiving?
Regret because you’ve come to the end.
Thanksgiving because the book has touched you in your soul.

Oh my….

I just finished the healing (lower case intentional) by Jonathan Odell.

It’s a book I picked up on a whim at the airport.
It was a splurge!
Yep!  I paid full price.
But MY GOODNESS was it worth it!

This book is all about STORY and the many fine threads that weave us all together — past, present & future.  Told from the perspective of a freed slave mid-wife, this tale captivates from beginning to end.

And, yes.
I connect! I, a blue-eyed blonde from Central Texas, CONNECT!

Shouldn’t we all?

As I sit here, continuing to mull over the words and their images from the pages of this novel, I am struck not only by the power of STORY, but by the very nature of the story that binds us all.

We are all one people.
One family.
One STORY.

The power of story has held families together throughout out the ages. Every family has their designated keeper of the stories. The teller of stories weaves us all together -pulling past, present and future together through shared memories and experiences, through the laughter and tears. Through the STORY.

And if we all come together as one, we find that our family stories weave in, out, about and through each other…. Bringing us ever closer together. If only we open our eyes and see.

The story of creation. The story of our history. The story of our past. The story of our future. The STORY.

THE STORY.

Isn’t it incredible to reflect upon your story, my story, OUR STORY?

What was that game? 7 steps to Kevin Bacon? The game illustrated the point that we’re all connected if we take the time to connect the dots.

I suppose that’s the urge I feel pulling me now. The urge to connect the dots….

**************************************
postscript

I finished devouring the book with tears in my eyes — completely and fully engaged — and
completely and fully feeling the irony that, on my way to nurture others in tapping the
power of their story, I should pick up a book that reveals so clearly the power, the nature, the NEED for story.

Then sings my soul….

Advertisements

Airports & Chicken Poop

On this whirlwind weekend of travel & hope, it’s chicken poop that’s got me thinking….

Yesterday morning, travel clothes on, I made one last stop in the chicken coop to check water and feed.
Nothing unusual. Blackie puffed up, Little Miss scurried & and the three of us did our little dance.

And then.
Just like that.
I was on my way to the airport on my hope-journey.

Everything proceeded just fine.
The folks at check-in were good-natured and helpful when I confessed I’d not flown in a few years.
The people around me while we waited to go through security were all relaxed and friendly (not always the norm).
All was well.

Then….

The checkpoint!

I took off my belt, emptied my pockets, loaded my stuff in the bins, then took off my shoes….

Oops!!!!

CHICKEN POOP!!!

You know that new-fangled x-ray thing they have now?
And the position one must assume…?

Now. Add those things to chicken poop.
What do you get?

Yep.

A SERIOUS case of the giggles!!!!

Oh my. Yes. THE GIGGLES!!!

And so.
I got to thinking.

How many stories — how much chicken poop — were on board that plane?
As many (as much?) as there were people.

In life, we all step in the chicken poop.
And yes, we probably carry a bit with us.
But — if we’re lucky, it’ll give us a chance to giggle, grow and smile at the world around us with the full and complete knowledge that the poop is part of our story, too. Continue reading

Seven years ago, I started a journey that has forever changed my life:  I became a Relayer.
I ventured onto the track not completely sure that I belonged.  Sure, I had lost friends and family to cancer.  Sure, I knew that cancer was a beast and I HATED it.  Sure, I was all about community.  But how on Earth could all those things come together for 12 hours on the football field..?

I didn’t wonder for long!

The tenets of Relay For Life say it all:  Celebrate!  Remember!  Fight back!

Through Relay, I celebrate all who are battling or have beaten this stupid disease.  I remember all who are lost too soon — stolen from friends and family by a beastly disease that takes far too many forms and far, FAR too many lives.  I stand strong with my community – THIS community — the community I LOVE — to do all in my power to FIGHT BACK!!!

Through Relay, I learned to tap into, embrace and share the spirit of HOPE that makes miracles possible.

Through Relay, I became a part of that HOPE.

And it has changed my life.

I was asked recently if I still did “that cancer thing.”. 
“You’d better believe it!”. I replied.
“as long as this stupid disease keeps trying to kill people I love, I will DO THIS CANCER THING!!”

I’ve said more than once, “you never know whose life you may be saving….”. On June 13, 2012 I found out just how close to home that statement would hit.

I was diagnosed with cancer.

I was lucky.  It was early.  It was contained.  And my doctor and I were of one voice when we said, “Let’s get it OUTTATHERE!!!”

Here’s the kicker:  the advanced testing that made my early diagnosis was developed through research funded by American Cancer Society.  The very organization I have worked so hard to support was directly responsible for saving my life.

Whew.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

I used to think I was passionate.
I used to think I was committed.
Now I KNOW what that really means.

To all who have Relayed in the past or supported those who Relay – I thank you.  I thank you for saving my life.

If you’ve never been a part of Relay, I urge you to find the nearest community event and join in. I promise — you WILL NOT REGRET IT.

Let’s band together and save some lives!!!!!!

Oh, these chickens….

It’s late afternoon at the Marx place and time for the dogs to come inside for their nap while the chickens are out to roam, eat, peck and poop. And it’s time to gather the daily egg.

But first – I have to laugh at ol’ Blackie.

Blackie is our ENORMOUS rooster. He’s impressive in both stature and plumage – much more so, in fact, than his name would imply. When the light hits him just right, you see every shade from the deepest blue to the brightest green shimmering throughout his tail. Golden highlights accentuate his wings and his head is crowned with a most glorious comb and handsome wattle.

Oh he’s good lookin’ all right.
And he knows it!

Blackie first came to live with us among a mix-matched set of chicks we brought home this summer. Even before the chicks lost their down, he stood out from the flock – bigger, stronger, just MORE…. My husband would positively crow himself every time he saw Blackie amongst the chicks. “Would you look at him?? Now that has GOT to be a rooster? Just look at how he carries himself! Yep. Rooster. No doubt.”

Young Blackie turned out to be a strong one, too. Our fledgling flock took hit after hit – and before we knew it, we were down to 3: 1 speckled hen, 1 ginger rooster, and none other than the biggest rooster of the bunch — Blackie.

Blackie was the first to crow — of course.
He moved quickly through the “cat-locked-in-the-closet” phase to a full on COCK-A-DOODLE-DOOOOOO!
Our poor ginger boy tried with all his might to compete, but just couldn’t quite rise to the challenge.

We made arrangements with a friend to swap out our ginger boy for another hen — and that’s when it got interesting!

The new hen to our henhouse was a feisty young thing – just a little older than our chickens – and far more (ahem) mature.
…and Blackie liked that maturity.

A lot.

A whole, whole, WHOLE lot.

Blackie chased that poor hen all over the yard.
He became quite the cocky young man – if you will – and he did so with gleeful abandon.

The hen, however, was not impressed. She did anything and everything in her power to stay AWAY from this swaggering paragon of fowl masculinity. She would, quite literally, fly the coop to get away from his advances. While this may, on one hand, seem like a fairly smart thing to do – remember those dogs who are taking a nap as we speak???

And so — before long, we loaded up this now tired little lady and took her back to her previous home and AWAY from the unwanted overtures of young Blackie.

Remaining in our flock: Blackie and the speckled hen.

And Blackie had not yet learned his lesson.

At feeding time, he pushed the hen away and ate the best of the best.
At “yard time,” he rushed through the gate and sought out all the biggest grasshoppers – again keeping the best to himself.
At night time, he roosted in the middle of the boxes, leaving just a smidgeon of room for his coop-mate.

Finally, she had had enough as well.
On a gray day, she took flight and flew up and over the fence to see what was on the other side.
Sadly, she met our pups….

But the story doesn’t end there.
Remember – this is a lesson in relationships!

A week or so later, my husband came home with a potential mate for Blackie.
It’s another mature ginger hen – and this time, she’s greeted by a kinder, gentler Blackie.

At first he tried his usual tricks – showcasing his crow, strutting his stuff, fluffing his feathers….

She was NOT impressed.

Then he started finding the bugs and calling her over…
And sheltering her much smaller body from the cool winter winds…
And standing guard for his lady when she drank from the pond….

In short, he stopped putting himself first and started caring for another.
And boy-oh-boy did it ever pay off.

Every morning we awake to the cheerful crow of young Blackie – answered by the good-natured cackling of his hen.
He steps aside to let her through the gate – and won’t go on without her.
At night, the love-birds are nestled together, with her smaller body tucked under his wing.
The soft sounds of chicken whispers – almost like coos – carry across the yard as they settle in for the night.

And, yes, he’s still a cocky son-of-a-gun.

But Blackie has learned what we all must learn: The secret to good relationships, it seems, is to share the fattest grasshoppers and offer shelter from the storm. Or in other words: Putting others first and caring for their needs, makes our world a much better place — a place with an egg a day!

A Momma’s Prayer

I read once that the decision to have a child is the decision to, from that point forward, have a part of your heart walk around outside of your body.

How true it is. How very, very true.

You give birth to this darling human — this absolute miracle — and instantly, you know a love unlike any other.

The blessings are without measure and without question.
Smiles,
coos,
first words,
first steps,
those joyful bursts of laughter….
Each fills your soul with immeasurable joy.

But it’s not the joys that lie on my heart tonight.

It’s the trials. The hard times. The heart aches.

Through all the phases, all the growing pains, all the speed bumps — that unbelievable depth of love sees you through.

When our babies are little and things are tough, you need only look at their sleeping faces to feel the love literally pump from your momma heart to ease your worries and reassure your soul at the deepest level that all is well.

Then….Teenage years.
Tough times, those.

As teens, our babies are finding their own way. And it is sometimes hard, hard, HARD to watch.

It’s harder still to live.

My own beloved boychild is 21 now — but I almost lost him at 18.

And at 19.

And at 20.

His choices put his life in danger. Direct, immediate danger. Thinking about it even now makes my heart hurt…. As the mother of teen, however, you have to let them venture out. You pray continuously that their choices will be good and their hearts will stay strong, but ultimately they have to find their way.

And so, at 18 and as a recent high school graduate, my son was at a party in a neighboring town. I will probably never know the details, but what I do know makes my blood run cold.

In a nutshell, tempers flared as the alcohol flowed… My son — the kid from out of town – was jumped by bigger boys. He was surrounded and jumped… An easy target with a fiery temper of his own.

He was jumped from behind. Brought down to the ground. Brutally kicked, punched and slammed with hit after hit.

They had him. They had my boy. He was down and defenseless.

And that could have been the end.

For reasons I will never know, they stopped.
For reasons I will forever celebrate, they stopped.

The blur of emergency rooms, x-rays, specialists, surgeries….

The face of my sweet baby boy, beaten and bloodied beyond recognition….

These things are all a part of what I now know is a happy ending.

My boy survived.

I told him at the time — and believe firmly to this day — that it was the lifetime of Momma-prayers with which he’s covered that saved his life. God has other plans for him.

And I am grateful beyond words.

My boy survived.

Two days ago, another 18 year old from my home town was in a fight.

Someone brought out a gun.

He did not survive.

As my heart breaks, I search for meaning where there is none — for understanding where there is none. There is only deep, deep sadness, grief and sorrow.

I keep thinking of his momma. I know, he too was covered in a lifetime of Momma-prayers. What made his outcome different? Why is his Earthly story ending? Why…?

Someone also said that it is not ours to understand.
Again, they are right.

What it is, then, is ours to treasure, to savor and to embrace.

It is true that, as mommas, quite a large part of our hearts walk around outside our bodies.
It is true that letting our children go out into the world is the ultimate act of faith.
But it is also true that we must.

This momma’s son has been granted another chance more than once. There is a greater plan for him and I know not what it is.

And so I pray for my boy, my only son. I pray that he treasures, savors and embraces this life. I pray that he makes the most of every moment, every opportunity, every chance.

For he survived.

Momma & the Boychild
Summer 2012

Momma & the Boychild
Summer 2012

Strong Work

“Strong work.”

I heard the words 10 days ago in an entirely unique and unrelated circumstance, but they’ve set up quite the echo….

Strong work.

Isn’t that the goal for us all? I mean, really. Does anyone want to do WEAK work??

Not this chick!

And so — my resolution on the board for all to see at the neighborhood gym declares it so: Strong work.

STRONG WORK — for my body:
Making the appointments.
Committing to putting myself high enough on the list to get the exercise I KNOW I need.
Taking the supplements I’m so good at buying but pretty crappy at consuming.
Eating my veggies!!

STRONG WORK — for my mind:
Really, truly investigating my options professionally.
Reading for work.
Reading for play.
Challenging myself to become more organized….
While building in time for faffing!!

STRONG WORK — for my soul:
Breathing deeply.
Saying “thank you” often.
Sky-gazing.
Loving completely.
Laughing out loud.
Giving thanks AGAIN.
Following my passions.
SHARING my passions….

STRONG WORK.

Strong work.

Strong. Work.

At the core of it all: strong work.

Then sings my soul….

My Blue Heron

The beach has always been a special place – one for healing, for laughter, for rejuvenation.  Never was this more true than the summer of 2012.

Blue HeronI met this heron on my first sunrise walk of the summer. He was injured and moving slowly yet still possessed such grace….  I stared.

I found myself motionless – captivated in wonder at this beautiful bird  and thankful beyond measure that I had this moment.  He was injured — that was evident.  But yet he stood with such patience and waited for the fish – his nourishment – to come near.   Elegance and serenity radiated from this tall, proud bird.  He stood for all of these things:  strength, elegance, serenity, patience… But mostly, he stood for grace.

You see….

My summer was off to a rocky start.  On June 13th, I had heard the words:  You have cancer.

It was cervical cancer.  It was early.  It was probably contained.  And my doctor and I spoke as one when we declared, “Let’s get it OUTTATHERE!!”  Surgery was scheduled for July 9th – a time too far away and too near.

On the morning of my first Blue Heron encounter,  I’d just taken a call from my doctor during which I heard that things might be “more complicated” with my diagnosis and I was frightened to my core.

I felt injured … And I was moving slowly.

That morning on the beach, I prayed for the grace of this majestic bird as I soaked up the peace blessings of the sand, of the sky, and of the surf…

My prayers were heard and answered.

There was, in fact, no evidence of invasion.

Those were, in fact, my new favorite words:  NO EVIDENCE OF INVASION.

Two surgeries later, I was on my road to recovery.  At the earliest possible opportunity and at every feasible moment, I was back on the beach for my sunrise walks.

Throughout the summer of 2012,  I continued my beach communion of sunrises, walks and prayers.

And I sought out this feathered friend.

As I healed throughout the summer, I saw my heron friend heal.

To see him now, you’d never know he’d been wounded… But if you look closely, you’ll see he has a scar.

He is not damaged, but he is different.

His life has been changed… And still, he moves with grace.

I am like him.  I am not damaged, but I am different.

My life, too, has changed…. And still, I pray for grace.