September 24, 2007

Love Is Not Irritable...

This weekend I was invited to attended a program to hear a "sister-angel" speak at something called, "Women With A Call International, Inc."

Sometimes I wear little angel pins on my uniform when I'm working as a nurse. Those of you who know me personally are aware that I'm a big believer in angels. So, I'm at the MRDD workshop (filling in as a substitute nurse) and I notice one of the staff wearing an angel pin just like mine.

The regular staff nurse I'm working with asked the angel-pin staff member if she enjoyed her recent vacation, and "Ann" responded that she had been attending a seminar (or something like that) for women. Immediately, my ears perked up, and the angel on my blouse started jumping up and down and clapping her hands!

Later, I asked Ann about the women's convention, and she invited me to a local chapter here in Columbus, Ohio. Our chatting time is limited at work, but we have been able to wave at each other and I've promised to attend the next chapter meeting when I could.

At first I hesitated and was inwardly relieved when I had to work on the first day I was suppose to attend last month. I wasn't sure I wanted another bad 'religious" experience with "religious" people who don't have a clue what "religion' is all about.

But, last week Ann told me she would be the guest speaker, and she gave me a printed invitation. Her presentation was titled "The Ministry of Helps" which I thought was a little odd, and I was interested in what the meaning of this "helps" was.

I didn't know how I should dress or if this was a business meeting or a religious presentation. She had mentioned I might be asked to give a little information about my book, "Dusty Angels and Old Diaries" so I grabbed a copy of that and found an old Bible that belongs to Jim. Just in case...

Isn't it strange that I have no Bible? And, my Jim who professes no religion or church affiliation has this nice New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha sitting on a box in his tiny office? (He later told me someone gave it to his mother to pass on to him when she died.)

I used to own an entire collection of Bibles and religious books. At one time, I could nearly quote the entire Bible! Alas, my heart was crushed by false 'religion" and it's been mighty tough putting it back together! I left all those books behind me somewhere along the way.

Okay, lets put a Bible on my Christmas list or Thanksgiving List or Anytime List. (Soon because we're moving to a new address on October 20.)

On Saturday, I found one dress in my closet - the one I wore to Philip and Shelley's wedding - and with my heart in my throat I set off for another adventure in the world of sharing with other women!

When I arrived (very early!), there were exactly three women present, and my friend, Ann, was not one of them. But, the three women who were present gave me enough welcoming hugs to unsettle my fears and make me feel like I belonged there. I soon discovered these Women With A Call follow a different set of rules. Actually, there are no rules!

"Pastor Ann" arrived in plenty of time, and her presentation touched my heart. She looked beautiful in her royal blue suit and she spoke with grace and power! But, most of all, the atmosphere was full of unconditional acceptance and love for everyone.
Yes, I opened Jim's Bible to her scripture verse at 1 Corinthians 12:28, but continued reading on to those verses that I memorized long ago in Chapter 13. I was reminded about true love and what it really means. On purpose, I'm not going to quote scripture here, but if you are reading this posting on the Internet, you can Google 1 Corinthians 13 (or click here).

Last night Ann called me to say she has started reading my book and is already shocked at the story of my life. She is excited that we might get together to help her start writing several books that sit heavy on her heart! Ann believes there is a joyous journey ahead for me that I cannot imagine. It's the start of a simple path that I look forward to with refreshing peace.

In the last year, I've been blessed with several 'sister-friends'. Including getting to know my two precious daughter-in laws a little better, and old friends from the past who have stepped back into my life.

If you are reading this today, remember, you ARE very special and you have a unique purpose in life! Let it began now!

I close with a posting comment on this website from my friend Floyd who was responding to other comments left on my website from members of the Worthington SDA church. His honest words meant a lot then and still resound in my heart.

Floyd said...
I tremble to add to the cacaphony of expressions elicited from the last post. I was chagrined by the uncaring defensive words of those trying to defend their church while also trying to look like they are reaching out. I suppose I am not one to talk though. I have a reputation for callous comments that have hurt many hearts because of my self-preoccupation.As I read the most refreshing comment I was disappointed that it came from a BAP ('born-again pagon' as my husband teasingly calls himself). Not that I don't believe he has the sensitivity and wisdom to express such insights, but that it contrasted so sharply with the unsensitive comments of those claiming to follow a God of grace.I have read the book (Dusty Angels). I have also experienced a somewhat similar religious background though not to the extremes that Linda has survived. I can't blame little sister for her intensity of bitterness after all the hell she endured in the supposed name of God. What saddens me is that in all the intense feelings and defensivness it seems to be the reputation of the local church that is more important than the grossly twisted lies firmly planted on God's reputation that's seems to be the issue. But unfortunately it is usually that way. I think to some extent I understand Linda's heart and where she is coming from. I am soooo glad she has a husband who is devoted to caring and protecting her heart. He relects the way God feels about her to a very great extent. I happen to believe that after all the dust settles that those who are honest, open and humble enough will be surprised and delighted that God is very different than the way we always believed. I believe the real truth about Him will ultimately overcome all the slander and misrepresentation smeared on Him by professed believers and detractors alike. Linda, you are very unique and special. Your honesty and openness have been a real inspiration to me along with your husband. I consider you one of my few heart friends that I can relax with. You are very special and loved. And someday you may be surprised by joy - and maybe even in the company of Christians.

Take Care on the Journey,

September 16, 2007

News from Sheba-Dog

My mommie said I could write the posting tonight because she's been real busy with a family member in the hospital and something about us moving within a month. She says the computer keeps eating her stories too and she's quite tired of that. We hope the computer works better for me because she just lost a posting she had almost all done!

I was really glad when mommie got back from her trip to Oregon because I wasn't feeling very well. Daddy Jim kept telling me that mommie was at work, but I knew better because I saw her packing that suitcase. I'm no dummy. She told me she was going to see my favorite person - Billy! I ran to the window to see if he was out in the yard because sometimes I get a little confused and don't know if it means Billy is here or she's going to find him someplace. Guess she was going to find him if that suitcase had anything to do with it.

When she got back she used that "Vet" word and I know what that means too. I tried to pull back on the leash, but when mommie gets something in her mind, I might as well go along with it because she always gets her way! They put me in a cage and I went to sleep for awhile. Then she came back and they let me go home. She told Daddy Jim that I am very important now because my trip to the vet cost, "800 dollars". I don't know what that word means, but it was pretty upsetting to the family so I guess I'd better not do that again.

Now she gives me a pretty blue pill every day in something very tasty called cream cheese. She said it's so my back legs won't hurt so bad and I'll be able to chase the dogs next door again. Lately I've been taking it easy lying on the cool green grass and not interested in doing anything that involves jumping or running. I really like that great big chair they put at the foot of the bed so I can jump up on the bed to sleep again. I was sleeping in the kitchen, but mommie's favorite living room chair is just the thing.

I want to tell Ginger, Billy and Katy that I'm real sorry they lost their little kitty cats this week. To be honest, I'm not afraid of death but my masters were really sad when my play-pal kitty cat Samantha moved on to another life, so I know how you feel. I would give each of you lots of kisses but Internet HUGS will have to do. ((:)) ((:)) ((:)).

Did you hear that we are moving next month? Everyone is very happy that we will live on a ground floor apartment really close to where we live now. I can still watch my favorite white poodle when she's outside, but we won't have to climb those awful steps. Truth be known, my master complains more than I do about the steps. She says her hips hurt so bad sometimes when she climbs the stairsteps that it makes her sick to her stomach, so we're all delighted to be moving DOWN.

Of course, I don't have to do any packing. I get to sniff all the boxes.

Imagine my surprise when my other favorite person came to visit yesterday. Big John came and stayed all weekend. His wife is in the hospital here in Columbus. John slept on Ching's favorite couch and Ching had to sleep on the floor. We're always happy to see big John. He's cool. I heard the John's wife is doing better and may get to go home soon. But, she's still in the hospital and my mommie has been spending a lot of time there too.

Well, that's all the news I can think of for this first time on the web. My mommie says to end with her favorite good-bye saying. I send greetings to all my furry relatives. Especially my old friend, Ringo the cat! Ruff-Ruff.

Take Care on the Journey,

September 7, 2007

Claustrophobic Flying & How To Rise Above It!

A study done on claustrophobia reports that 10-20 percent of people who fly in the United States suffer from the fear of closed spaces. I am one of these people who becomes physically ill at the thought of being closed in. I can see a picture of someone in a small space and feel the quiver in my heart. The fear of flying is not safety related. I’m not bothered by stomach-displacing turbulence or strange noises erupting from the bowels of the jetliners, but I feel like saran-wrap is stuck to my face when I'm in small places and especially when I step over the thresh hold into an airplane.

It’s a powerful feeling of suffocation that grips me like a vice and squeezes tighter and tighter until I am paralyzed with a panic that feels like I’m trapped in a body that can’t breathe or move. And, that can be triggered by the tiniest thought of entering the doorway of any airplane and making my way to the isle seat nearest to the door!

My sister, Sandy, also suffers with this and we know it’s somehow related to our early traumatic childhood, but that does not lesson the physical discomfort and paralyzing life-changing fear that turns us into wild-eyed, babbling idiots with tears running down our pale face and white lips while we clutch our cold hands into tight fists and gasp for breath, seeking desperately to escape the oppressive prison that surrounds us and robs us of life-giving air! (And if you are out of breath after reading this sentence out loud in one breath, that’s just a fraction of how we feel in small places.)

But, I have determined not to let this disabling condition dictate my method of travel in this world. If I want to get someplace that requires more than five hours of drive time, I book that $59 flight and get there in time for supper!

So began one of the longest airplane trips of my life this last week when it was time to visit oldest son, Billy in Portland, Oregon from Columbus, Ohio! Perhaps I’ve flown to that city before, but due to the acute discomfort that comes with flying, it’s like my birthing experience with Billy, I don’t remember the details!

Months before (if possible), I book online and pick out my seat on the isle as close to the front as I can get. For some unknown reason, my sister needs a window seat so she can glue her face to the window the entire trip. Exit seats are the best, but they don’t let you select them online.

You may ask for one at the counter if you promise to lift heavy objects and throw them to the back of the plane during an emergency.

Because even thinking about being claustrophobic brings on the insidious terror, I must have all my ducks in a row before I get to the terminal.

I have read the first and last page of a book that is good enough to grab my attention and long enough to last until I get there. (It won’t be a religious book, so don’t look!)

Extra bags are checked outside the terminal so I don’t have to stand in more long lines than I have to and think about what’s ahead. The boarding pass has been printed out at home the night before.

During the mile-long security line that moves slower than a sick snail, and because they won’t allow us to joke anymore, and because they make us discard all of our comfort foods, I pretend I’m a spy and take careful notice of every detail around me. I memorize shoe colors, hair colors, idiosyncrasies, body odors, jewelry and sticker messages stuck on luggage. I check out old men’s hearing aides and young people’s piercings in odd places. I notice expressions, body language, cell phones, I-Pods and try to guess what’s in the packages that must go through the x-ray machine ahead. I make everything a game so I can forget where I’m headed.

When it’s time to board the plane, I’m last in line (even if they’ve called my “zone”) so I can let everybody get ahead of me. Or, I slow down and irritate the people behind me for the same reason (so there can be a lot of space ahead of me). I don’t want to be clogged up at the doorway when I’m going to be making some important decisions. And, I’m not taking a chance that I’ll kick the person ahead of me who takes five minutes trying to squeeze an oversized suitcase into an undersized spot while people pile up against each other in the minuscule sized isle!

Even so, as I enter the airline doorway, there’s this urge to turn around and run away. The number one objective is to clear my head of the question, “Am I staying here or not?” I don’t let any of the catalytic questions flitter completely through my head although the questions are banging at the forehead. “Am I going to stay here or not?” “How am I going to get out?” “Will my seatmate be really big and take up my space too?” “Is this plane going to close the doors and then sit on the tarmac with me encased inside”?

"I’m staying! I'm staying. I'm staying!", I say to myself with each step into the cavernous tank.

If the airline hostess (there’s that word “air” again) smiles and catches my eye as I step past her and turn right into the airless cigarette-sized coffin, I will explain that I have claustrophobia and would appreciate it if they don’t stop with the service cart beside me. Sometimes he/she will nod and smile in agreement, but most times don’t count on any empathy or sympathy from the hostess.

I sit without looking at the door, but I don’t buckle my seatbelt. I hide it under my blouse because they walk by and ‘look’. I turn on both air vents above my head and glare at my seatmate if he/she starts to reach up to turn it off. I open my book and start reading, not looking up for an instant. Right about then those air vents are going to stop hissing cool air and the swaddling blanket will start to tighten! If the suffocation gets too great, I close my eyes (first) and put my head back against the seat toward the air vents and envision a category-5 hurricane tearing recklessly through the aircraft, or I add creativity to a vast colorful ocean sunset.

Pink whales, orange iridescent starfish and gigantic cones of chocolate ice-cream fill the sunset scene.
If that fails, I go the more subjective scene. A tall, handsome man in a really small bathing suit with a monkey on his shoulders and a parrot on the monkey’s head and a banana on the parrot's head and a fly on the banana and a flyswatter coming down on all of them…

“Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen. The doors have been closed and the captain has put on the seatbelt sign. We are number 14 in line so sit back and enjoy the flight.”

Create a picture for THAT one!

Next, there's always the little problem of having to pee during the 5-hour flight. They don't provide little pee jars, but the tiny cubicle provided is about the size of one! Just to prove I could, I actually fitted myself into the shell casing called the 'restroom', and didn't panic until the door stuck and I had to stop and read the little letters on the the door that said, "push here". By then I had the door pushed almost into the first class section of the plane.

Now I’m trying not to think about arriving at our destination when everyone will stand up and clog the isle and slurp my last bit of oxygen as they crush against the tide of people anxious to be the first off the plane.

So far, what works best is for me when that crush starts is to stand up in the isle and be a bit pushy myself. I put my arms out against the seats in front and stand with my feet apart leaning over so my butt keeps people away at the back, and my body keeps others from leaving their seats beside me. Look out the window and watch that airport employee driving that little go cart real fast, and notice how they all interact like little bugs on the ground. Hope the attendant knows how to open the door and be glad that people do move fast to get off the plane!

I thank the pilot for a 'nice flight', and step back into the sweet freedom of breathing again and suck in the bright sunshine of life. I'm finally free of the phobia grip, and can spit it's sickly bile into the wind.

Welcome back to earth!

Take Care on the Journey,


"Mommy Home!" That’s what I said to my tail-wagging, tongue-licking dog, Sheba, who was jumping between the front and back seat of the car when hubby met me at the airport in Columbus, Ohio last night! (Hubby was glad to see me too, but not quite as expressive…)

During this last week, my ‘birthday celebration’ has taken us to visit friends (Floyd and Tania) in Illinois by car; and then my trip (alas, alone) to Portland, Oregon to visit oldest son and his wife by plane, taxi, bus, taxi and plane again! Whew! I was only in Portland one day, so the trip was exhausting travel-wise, but wonderful to see the ‘kids’ again!

I’m posting a separate story titled, “Flight Across America” about the last leg of my trip home on a Delta airline that was a, once-in-lifetime experience for me because by some miracle, I was able to sit in a single window seat in an exit isle, and look out on the clear earth below from Salt Lake City, Utah to Columbus, Ohio! I even saw a UFO! I took careful notes and will explain in the story posted, "Flight Across America".

At my son’s home, someone asked the question, “Are you an Extrovert or Introvert?” The question wasn’t directed at me as I recall. It was just part a conversation, but it got me to thinking because I really don’t know the difference! Is one better than the other?

Later, I noticed a book on the same subject lying on the piano. Titled, “The Introvert Advantage” by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D. It answered the question for me!

While most who know me would laugh and tout, “Linda is an extrovert!” Hummmm. I don’t feel like a loud, boisterous, party-going, friend-seeking, fun-loving person who craves action.

But, I do enjoy striking up a conversation with the person who happens to be my seatmate on a plane or bus. (This got me into delicate situation on the plane, but opened an unusual opportunity on the bus). I’m the first to offer directions to someone who looks lost or assist someone who looks like they need it. Does this make me an extrovert?

While waiting for my flight out of Portland, I noticed a little white-haired lady sitting in a wheelchair all alone. I asked her if she wanted me to bring her anything. “Thank-you”, she responded with a beautiful grandmotherly smile, “but I’m being careful how much I drink right now”. That brief encounter got us into a conversation about her life.

She told me she was 93 years old and this would be her last trip to see her kids. “After this, I’m doing the cooking,” she offered with a chuckle. She lives only a few miles from our home and has eaten at the same restaurants near our town! As the skycaps wheeled her into the airplane, she used the tip of her silver-tipped cane to point out a bumper sticker stuck to her suitcase. It said, “If you’re living like there’s no God, You’d better be right!”

Earlier, on the flight to Portland, my seatmate sat next to the window with an empty seat between us. That was great because I suffer from extreme claustrophobia and always ask for an isle seat so I can look over everyone’s heads and imagine that I’m getting more air. Sometimes all the mind tricks in my head don’t work at all. Especially if they stop that snack cart right beside me, and even more so if I politely ask them to move away because I need air and they refuse. They have come close to having to drop out of the sky and remove me from the plane when that happens!

But this time, I had air and was able to control my head and concentrate on the book I was reading. It was only after my neck pillow “exploded’ splattering thousands of tiny white dots of Styrofoam all over both of us that my seatmate and I got into conversation. I happened to complain that the Bellingham (Washington) Airport had no public service to the bus station, and he offered to take me – not to the bus station – but to his town not far away and ‘arrange for a bus from there’.
Of course I refused and hoped he would go back to sleep and let it drop. But, he mentioned it again. I noticed he had a hat that said, “Retired Army” so I said, “Are you retired from the Army?” When he responded that he was, I used the opportunity to inform “Mr. Army Man” that "my husband was in the military and was in Vietnam.” That still did not deter his continued offer to take me to his home, so when we stood up to get off the plane, and everybody had their heads all close together in our direction, I responded rather loudly, “I don’t even know you. I don’t want to go home with you!” If I am a true extrovert, I don’t think I would have felt the least bit guilty for speaking to “army man” like that (but I did). I never saw him after we deported the plane.

I had to ride two different buses to Portland from Bellingham. I thought I had a good deal with a $10 ticket on Sky Bus from Columbus to Bellingham with “easy connections to where ever you are going”. Not so! Don't do it!

A few hours later on the Greyhound bus, I sat next to an older man who had just spent several days/weeks in Alaska! Hiking, I would assume from his clothing and other clues. He was a bit introverted at first and I wouldn’t have minded his aloofness, but I felt sorry for him trying to give me more seat space than I deserved, so I struck up a little ‘howdy-doody’ conversation to help him feel more comfortable.

From there, he eventually used my cell phone to make a call to his brother who works for the state department in Washington D.C. to let him know he was back safe and sound. After that, the young girl across the isle used my phone to call her mother and let her know she could meet her at the bus station. After that, the mother called back on my phone (using caller ID) and asked to speak to Crystal. “The girl who just borrowed your phone.” I passed the phone back across the isle for that unusual call which gave several travelers a good chuckle!

Later, a young man got on and sat next to me. He too seemed a little nervous-like and sat huddle tight in his narrow seat. At first I tried to concentrate on my book and avoid being pleasant and friendly. But, his comment that he was going to see “the old lady” kept interrupting the lines of my book about Lewis and Clark. Who is the “Old Lady”? Finally I put the book down, apologized, and asked the question.

“I apologize if this is none of my business, but who is the old lady?”

He laughed and relaxed a little as he explained it was his girlfriend. Then he started telling me how his ‘old girlfriend” was bringing his ‘new girlfriend” to the bus station because his ‘new girlfriend’ didn’t have a car. He wondered how he was going to react to that slightly uncomfortable situation.

Later, he confided that he had just today been released from prison and had great expectations to live by the law and get his life together and do something worthwhile with his life. “This isn’t just prison talk either,” he said with conviction.

I wished him well and encouraged him to stay strong. He pulled out a Bible from his small kit and said he was surely going to give it a try! He has a long road ahead of him and it will not always be sitting next to a kind lady on the bus who encourages him to stay strong!

Needless to say, 14 hours after my long across-the-country trip began at 6 a.m. in Columbus, I was delighted to give my tall, handsome Spanish Professor a big hug, and happily greet his pretty wife who takes time from her busy schedule to work out six days a week. You go girl!

Oh yes, I took the personality test. I got Introvert = 14 and Extrovert = 16. But, in short, what you are is based more on where you get your energy in life. Alone or with people. I like both! I highly recommend the book.

Now I need to get out my little airplane notebook and put together the, “Flight Across America” story. I think you will enjoy it very much. I have to work (as a nurse) later today, so 'stay tuned' if I don't get it posted right away.

Take Care on YOUR Journey,