A Fun Phobia

More than twenty years ago, a beautiful heart-shaped balloon popped while I was blowing it up and left a large welt right beside my eye.  It was a specialty balloon made out of unusually thick rubber, which apparently had a flaw in it.

To this day, I have a slight phobia of balloons.  Over the years, this has grown to include other stretchy rubber things, like exercise bands, when they get too close to my face.  My family relishes teasing me about it.

photo of lady peeking through a red birthday balloon, background is black and white

As a form of therapy this morning, I inflated several balloons — all by myself!  🙂  I do a better job, though, if I blow them up while sitting down…with my eyes closed…with both hands in front of my face like a shield…with a few pauses to turn away and take deep, cleaning breaths to slow my heart rate…

three ladies having a balloon fight on a couch, background is black and white

Still, balloons can be a source of simple, childish fun, whether used as colored filters for viewing the world, swords in battle, slow-motion tennis balls, or static-filled hair decorations!  They stimulate the imagination and bring out the kid in all my family members.  An intense balloon battle is a fun way to get a little exercise, too, as long as nothing gets broken (in the house or on a person)!

four long balloons stuck to a woman's hair with static cling

I had four of the long balloons stuck to my head at one time this afternoon — a new record!

May you be blessed today with an acute awareness of the simple pleasures that surround you!

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Do you have a phobia?  Do you know how it started?  I’m all ears — tell me about it!

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Moments of Joy: June 2016

Last month, I retold the story of how my family began an experimental health journey that has had great results for all of us.  This month emphasizes something much more mundane.collage of dark draperies with sunny window in the middle

My husband is going to a conference to accept awards he has won for his performance at work.  Since we have old friends in the area, we contact them to see if we can visit them that day.  Sadly, we find that they are going to be out of town that week.

But, the friends kindly offer their house to us as a place to stay so we don’t have to make the long trip there and back in one day.  My husband decides to take a few days off work and turn it into a mini-vacation.

We spend several days exploring new back roads and towns, visiting art museums and botanical gardens, and generally just taking it easy.  What a relaxing week!

The things that bring me the most joy during the trip are: 1. time with my family, 2. seeing other friends in the area, and 3. coming home to get a long night’s sleep in my DARK bedroom. (Our friends have no curtains at all in their house, and the room we slept in faces the morning sun!  Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to nap or sleep when there is bright light.  I thought I had really slept in late the first morning when I woke up at 5:40 a.m. Lol!).

Family, friends, and sweet sleep — these three blessings are what bring a smile to my tired face today!

Visiting Your Parents

This post impacted me today because I struggle with this one myself.

The business of life has overwhelmed me. I spend day after day frustrated that things always seem to get in the way of me visiting my parents and contacting my friends. It’s time for me to reevaluate and make my actions line up better with my priorities.

When you’re trying to juggle all the parts of life, it’s okay to let some of the less-important parts drop to the floor. I try to do my best on keeping God and relationships first in my life, but I think I am failing in certain respects.

Life flies so quickly…put your loved-ones first. Someday I will be the lonely parent, and what am I teaching my daughter?

Life - Happiness & Joy

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LOVE YOUR PARENTS.  We are so busy growing up, we often forget they are also growing old.  (your daily love emotions on 16 quotes.com)

I remember when my husband and I left Arizona and moved back to Arkansas –  we did not drive the 20 miles to his parents house to visit often enough.  I loved my husband’s parents like they were my own. Jobs, raising kids, and other activities seemed to consume our time.  Both my husband and I regret to this day that we did not spend more time with his parents.  Suddenly, my husband’s parents were old, they became sick, and they left this world.  You think back and you wonder why you did not give 2 older, lonely people more of your time. They often told us when we did go for a visit that we did not stop by enough. What is life about, if…

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Photo 101: Home 3.0

This is the last time, I promise! “The third time is a charm,” right?  Since my longings for a WordPress Photography 201 class have not materialized, I’m giving Photo 101 a final run.  Let’s see if I have improved photography skills since I began blogging a little over a year ago.

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Day 1 goal:  Learn about your camera’s buttons and functions.

"Any season, anywhere, as long as the ones I love are there!" Collage about "home"

I was in a photo editing mood and put way too much time into this one.  I’m not sure if it was worth it.  What do you think?  Would a single, simpler photo be a better way to go?

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I’m always desiring to learn and improve upon my photography.  If you have the time, I’d really appreciate hearing your opinion:  Would you compare this post to the previous two and leave a comment telling me which one you like best and why?  Thanks!

Home 2.0 — Presenting a photographic list of insights, inspired by my messy living room.

Home 1.0 — My daughter helped me out with this theme the first time I participated in Photo 101.

Moments of Joy: February 2016

Blessings abounded last month, as they always do, but it was nice to share my awareness of them with you.  Any time you get the chance, it’s beneficial to meditate on the good things around you.

This month has gone so fast for me, even with an extra “leap” day added, that as I begin this post, I’m not sure where it will end up…Hmm…I’m thinking back over February.  I have several possibilities in mind to share with you…

How about we enjoy an “aaawww” moment this month?  Oh, and maybe a little laughter, too.

pink collage of Valentine photos, with the words "Family, Friends, Love, Kindness, Laughter"

My hubby started a tradition many years ago of cooking a special meal for me on Valentine’s Day.  When our daughter was quite small, she began donning her favorite apron and “helping” him prepare the meal.  Now she is a teen, and her cooking skills are improving all the time — she’s especially good at making bread and rolls!

The last couple of years, she and her best friend have completely taken over preparation of the traditional Valentine meal, and it has grown to include all the grandparents, too.

It’s quite an undertaking these days: everyone is banned from the kitchen the morning of the meal as the girls bustle around the room prepping the food (making messes?).  The table is complete with special decorations, including long-stemmed glasses with hearts all over them.  This year, caramel-filled chocolates are scattered across the table for a splash of color.  I’m a big fan of that one!

The sound of clanging pots and pans echoes through the doorway to the living room.  Occasional shouts of “Oh, no!” catch my attention, followed by “Don’t come in here!”  The girls giggle and laugh as they set the table and place decorations.  Good smells begin to waft through the house. The dog paces back and forth, smacking her lips, and staring meaningfully at each one of us.

When the meal is set and everyone is assembled, the most entertaining part of the event begins: attempting to take the family’s annual Valentine photo.

Why is my daughter’s plan of taking a photo so funny?  You see, dabbling in photography has become a bit of a hobby for me.  So, I often play around with my camera’s settings for different types of lighting and shots; yet, every year we forget this fact when my daughter sets the camera up on the tripod for our family photo.

(You will be able to view samples of my efforts in a week when I participate in the WordPress Photography 101 class…again.  You can click on the Blogging University symbol in the sidebar on the right side of your screen to learn more about the different WordPress classes; they are fun and free for anyone to participate.)

Sometimes we notice this fact while attempting to take the photos, other times we get a surprise.  For example, we also take a photo of us at the table for Thanksgiving.  When we pulled last year’s photos up onto the computer screen, we saw that I had apparently been playing with the shutter speed.  Each family member who moved in any way was blurry, while those who smiled politely and sat still were in perfect focus.  In one photo, my mother-in-law looked like her face had been smudged out for the witness protection program or something.  (Hey…I’d better keep a closer eye on her!  ha ha)

On this Valentines Day, it is the timer delay which has been altered.  My daughter carefully aims the camera on the tripod and indicates who needs to scoot in or out to get every face in the shot.  She pulls out the chair closest to the camera so she can easily sit and smile before the shutter goes off.

“Everyone ready?”  She pushes the button, steps toward her seat, and the camera says “Everyone say cheese!” followed a split second later by “Click!” as the camera flash nearly blinds her.

(When I first got the camera years ago, I discovered a setting where you can record a sound and replace the camera’s typical notifications.  I’ve had a laugh several times when people around me would suddenly look my way and say “Did your camera just say ‘Click’?!”)

“What?!” my daughter laughs.  Obviously this is not the 10 or 15 seconds we were expecting to elapse before the photo was taken.

She messes with the camera to adjust the timing, but the family is hungry and neither one of us can remember how to get to the correct menu on the camera screen to add more time.  “I’ll make it work!” my daughter exclaims while everyone is giving her advice at the same time.

A second attempt is made by clicking the button and leaping into her chair.  Her rear is almost in the seat this time before the photo is taken.

She checks the results.  Everyone is smiling and seated perfectly, except for my husband who is half-hidden behind me.  And except for the fact that my daughter’s hair was still in mid-spin and is standing straight out from her head.  It looks like she was having a severe static electricity problem, or maybe that a freak windstorm had brewed up just around her chair.

“No, no, I can do this!” she laughs while prepping for the third try.  She pokes the button while simultaneously twirling toward her seat with a slightly-manic smile already plastered on her face.  Yes!  Success?

This one is better, but we have a little problem getting my husband in the right spot.  It seems that no matter where my daughter places me to get out of his way, he leans that same direction during the photo.  What a mess that man is!  Lol  Finally, my father grabs him and bear-hugs him to hold him still. That particular photo is one of the best ones!

After a few more attempts, everyone is turning bright red and falling all over each other with laughter, so we give up and start the delicious meal:  baked pasta, homemade bread, special fruit punch in our new punch bowl…Yum!

Best of all is the celebration of the love of our friends and family.  That is something to cherish every day of the year.  Oh, and my husband even did the dishes afterwards — score!

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Sharing that story has made me hungry, so I think I’ll go have lunch!  Thanks for reading!

Moments of Joy: January 2016

Last month’s post demonstrated a sweet side of teenagers and mother-in-laws.  Today I’ll show how the season of gift-giving does not have to stop when the holidays are over.

collage of blessings: working heater, wedding, health, clean home, snow, friends, compliments

The blinding glare of the late afternoon sun forces me to walk down the narrow paved street with my eyes almost closed.  The warmth which penetrates my face, shoulders, and arms feels so soothing.

Sixty-eight degrees, wow!‘ I think to myself.  “It seems so crazy to be walking in a sleeveless shirt when last week I was stomping around in four inches of snow and ice!

To my left I can hear the clicking sound of 16 little black toe nails tapping out a rhythm on the pavement.  The main reason I decided to take this walk was to reward my sweet dog after she tremblingly endured me trimming her thick, fast-growing nails.

The rough asphalt and concrete will file them nice and smooth by the time we get home. She needs the exercise, too.” The thought makes me smile; I always love accomplishing two things at once.

I turn my face away from the bright sun and look behind me to check for traffic before turning onto another street.  No one is in sight in this sleepy neighborhood.  No trucks, no cars, no trains, no planes, nothing disturbs the air except the pleasant sound of birds chirping and the continued pitter-pat of my faithful companion’s feet.

The sun emerges from behind a small wisp of cirrus cloud.  “This is so relaxing,” I muse as the sun’s warmth intensifies slightly, now concentrated on my left shoulder.  “This moment is like a special gift, appearing out of nowhere between last week’s snow and next week’s forecasted cold front.”

A happy realization flashes in my mind: “I’ve had a lot of wonderful moments like this lately, many special gifts and blessings!

My thoughts wander over things that have happened since the holidays, and the “gifts” begin to stack up in my mind…

  • On one of the coldest Saturdays right after Christmas, our central heater quit working.  We tried several things to fix it, but had to give up and call a repairman.  Fortunately for us, we were able to borrow a small electric heater while we waited.  And, more fortunately, the heater was not broken after all!  A small safety switch had flipped during the night due to unusually strong winds that happened to blow down the exhaust pipe at just the right angle.  The repairman figured it out in less than five minutes, showed me where the switch was, and gave us a few extra tips about the heater.  Then he left with a friendly goodbye and said it would be no charge for his time.
  • The next weekend, my family was invited to a lunch in honor of special friends of ours who were back in town for a wedding.  We were able to attend the wedding with them later that afternoon.  The very creative bride had been making plans for the event for nearly a year, and it truly was one of the most beautiful weddings I’d ever been to.  Every tiny detail was amazingly coordinated to be as fun and beautiful as possible, right down to their departure in the evening under the light of a tree-filled courtyard draped in miles of pale blue holiday lights.
  • My daughter had her wisdom teeth surgically removed.  I had misgivings after an initial consult with an oral surgeon.  Thankfully, we followed the recommendation of several friends and got a second opinion.  The second surgeon did a wonderful job (and saved us $1,300 in the process — HOORAY!).  During the procedure, I was chatting animatedly with a friendly lady in the waiting room.  Suddenly, in walks my husband with a large bouquet of flowers in hand. He had worked it out to take a break away from his job to give sympathy to his girl.  On the drive home, our drugged-up daughter couldn’t remember how she got into the car or why she suddenly had her coat on; but she did remember getting the flowers from her daddy.
  • The threat of surgery was looming over my mother.  Thanks, again, to the recommendation of friends, she found a doctor with an alternative treatment idea.  Within hours of meeting the doctor, my mother was feeling better, and surgery was no longer even on the horizon.  We all breathed a sigh of relief for that one!
  • Another weekend, we were able to spend the day with family, touring their new house.  It was a lovely home on a great piece of land, that put put them quite a few miles closer to us, too.  I’m so happy for them!

I notice the sound of panting has joined the rhythm of my dog’s tapping toes.  Her tongue is hanging out and she’s fallen behind me a bit, so I slow our pace for the last couple of blocks.  I search my memory during the remainder of our sunny walk and easily add more “gifts” to my growing pile.

  • Teaching Home Ec as part of my daughter’s homeschool schedule means I’ve had motivation and help for deep cleaning the house!
  • We woke to a beautiful, and unexpected snowy day, which afforded me an easy excuse to practice my photography hobby.
  • My husband and I were invited to a get-together with a group of college students from church.  It is so fun to spend time with them!
  • I’ve been missing my busy best friend.  Out of the blue, she set up an evening to go out to dinner with my daughter and I.  We had a great time catching up, and she even demanded to pick up the tab.  Finances are going well this month!  Lol
  • I surprised my mother-in-law by cooking some very low-salt venison chili to share with her. She is on a low sodium diet and was so excited about the mention of chili that she gave me a big hug.  After sharing a couple of bowls with my neighbor, he told me, “I honestly think that’s the best chili I’ve ever eaten.  I’m not kidding!  It was that good.” (And he’s in his 80s — that’s a lot of opportunity for tasting chili!  Lol)

The reverie ends as we arrive back home.  “What a month it’s been!  The best gifts don’t come don’t come in a package…”

My pup collapses in the middle of the living room and prepares for a nap.  My husband looks up from the football game he’s watching and gives me a smile.  My cup runs over!

bible open to Psalm 23, King James Version

Thankful from the Top of my Head to the Tips of my Toes!

Have you ever been upset about a situation and had someone come up to you and say “Oh, don’t get all bent out of joint over it”?  Maybe not.  It’s a phrase I haven’t really heard since I was a child.

Well, yesterday I was literally “bent out of joint”!  At least, I think my toe was…

FRAGILE HANDLE WITH CARE, red and white label

Have you thought about how fragile we are?  While I was processing a deer with my family in the fall, I shuddered when I thought about how my bones, tendons, and muscles were no stronger than those we were quickly cutting into steaks and roasts.  I’m frequently reminded of my frailty because I bruise so easily — and because of the aches and pains I wake to more often these days.

How often do you feel grateful for your health?  Even if some parts of your body aren’t working so well, other parts are.  If nothing else, your brain is functioning well enough to read and understand a blog!  There are always aspects of health for which to be thankful.

That brings me back to my toe.  Yesterday when I awoke, the “pinkie” toe on my right foot was in terrible pain.

feet sticking out from under the covers in bed

“What?!” I thought. “I was sleeping! How could I have hurt myself sleeping?”

[To save your valuable time, I’ll fast-forward to the end of the story:]

We had plans for that evening (which I almost skipped), and my daughter and I decided to go out to eat first.  As I hobbled around the house getting ready and debating out loud whether we should go at all, my daughter shook her head and laughed,  “All this over a little baby toe?!”

He laughter abruptly stopped when she witnessed my inability to brake the car quickly (the fact that I was moaning out loud probably added to the effect).  I almost overshot the entrance to the restaurant, which was flanked on both sides by a narrow, deep ditch.

When she gave thanks before our meal, she included “and please keep us safe tonight and help us to get back home safely.”  This took me by surprise and elicited a snort of laughter that turned a few heads at the next table.  A little pinkie toe had my child fearing for her life!  Lol

We safely arrived back home that night, though pains were still shooting in my foot as I got out of the car.  When I stepped into the house, however, 90% of the pain suddenly vanished!  I was confused but very thankful that it felt much better for the rest of the evening.

This morning, I stretched slowly as I came out of sleep, but stopped short due to a jolt of pain.  My toe was hooked on the edge of a small fleece blanket I keep in the bed because I get so cold in the winter.  Aha, mystery solved!  I must have done the same thing the day before and popped my toe out of joint.  It must have popped back into place that evening, perhaps due to the sock or shoe I wore?

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The bible compares the church to a body and describes how each small part (each tiny toe!) contributes to the whole body.  If one part is “out of joint,” the whole body is affected.

Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

~  Ephesians 5:23

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable

God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

~ 1 Corinthians 12:12, 21-26,

The scriptures also compare Christ’s body (the church) to being a family, with God as the Father.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

~ 1 John 3:1

The truth I’ve been reminded of this week, by my painful little toe, is that everyone is important and valuable.  Another person’s joy or grief should touch me personally, as we go along life’s path together.

Whether you are spending this holiday season with physical family or spiritual family (church members/friends/loved-ones), I hope you will treat each person around you with respect and love and that they will do the same in return.

 Wishing you happy holidays and a bright new year,

Merry Hearts Medicine watermark. MerryHeartsMedicine.wordpress.com

winter scene Happy Holidays