Sunday, May 30, 2010

to be where i am

Remember this post from a few weeks ago about waiting upon the Lord? Well, it seems that I hadn't internalized that message very well.

This may sound a bit random.  For several weeks my right foot was itching for no reason whatsoever. I hadn't been bitten by a bug and there's no poison ivy or oak around my house.  My skin wasn't red or swollen. I rubbed anti-itch cream into the itchy spot and got no relief. My foot just itched and I couldn't figure out why.

I have been a little anxious lately to get on with my life, or in other words itching to move and do more.  I have a good life, right here, right now.  I like my both my jobs, civilian and reserves.  They are challenging,  I'm learning a lot, and having some great opportunities to spread my wings and take charge.  I am learning what kind of a leader I am, and getting to know myself better.  I am quite happy with my church responsibilities, my friendships and my activities.  My life isn't too busy and it's not too dull, in fact I would say it's just about right.

I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago about my anxiouness to get on with life.  As we talked and shared ideas, I was able to ask myself questions about my current life situation and what I should be doing.  As we talked and I listened, I felt strongly impressed that I am in the right place doing the right things, that there are important reasons for me to be right where I am.  I really stopped and held on to that feeling.  I also spent time trying to internalize this by acknowledging to God that I had heard him and would try my hardest to simply be where I am.  Even now while writing this, I'm holding onto that feeling.  Call this my public acknowledgement of that feeling.

My mom even called me out of the blue this week to tell me that for several weeks there have been times when she will be thinking of me and feel strongly impressed that I need to be sure to be right where I am supposed to be.  She said she didn't know why, but that was what she was feeling, and she wanted to be sure I got the message.  I love my mom!  Thanks for reinforcing everything I was feeling and thinking.

Over the past few weeks I have tried to remember that where I am is where I am supposed to be.  There's still a small part of me that is excited to see what's ahead, but for the most part I am content to focus on the present and the reasons I am where I am right now.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about all this and trying to feel God's guidance more fully in my life.  I figure if he's telling I'm in the right place, then maybe I should be asking how I can serve him better right here, right now.  The answers have been surprising, quiet and not impossible to achieve.

Oh, and my foot has finally stopped itching.  I guess I literally was "itching to move forward" in my life, and now that I've acknowledged God's hand a little more fully in my life and internalized the message, the itching has stopped.

I am content to be where I am.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

a weekend to remember

while you spend time with family and friends this weekend,
the sacrfices of those who made it possible for you to do this.


Friday, May 28, 2010

shuttle launch!

Here are the long awaited photos from the Space Shuttle Launch!
I recommend clicking on each photo to enlarge it.

It was a gorgeous day for STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The lights at night from 12 miles away.
We wanted to see the launch pad at night with all the lights.  This was the closest we could get, but our little reconnoiter trip made us resolve to come back to this same spot to view the launch.

Sunrise, about eight hours before the launch.

This was such a great day. SD and I woke up at 0530 and by 0558 our tents were down, we were changed into our clothes for the day, a bathroom run was completed, and we were backing out of our camping space and heading to Titusville, FL to get our viewing spot for the Shuttle Launch.  About 20 minutes later we paid, parked and got out of the car just in time to catch a gorgeous sunrise.  Perfect timing!  Then we climed back in the car, and went back to sleep for about three hours.  We woke up surrounded by cars and people.  Lots of time to relax, walk to Walgreen's and Circle K for bathroom runs and cold drinks, sleep some more, read and think about life.

Off she goes!  Just a few seconds after launch.
This was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  These photos don't even do it justice, but we had to try to capture it.

Even from 12 miles away, we could hear the launch.  It took a few seconds before we could hear it, and at first it was just a rumble in the distance that grew louder and louder.  Then almost imperceptibly the ground began to vibrate for a just a few short seconds.  It was amazing.

Go baby go!
I was crying and praying, "God Speed.  Come home safe.  Thank you for this."
It was so much better than I had every imagined.

Words just can't do it justice.
It seemed like we watched her go up forever.  It was a perfect day for a launch.  Visibility was fantastic, because we could see her go and go and go and go.  We wondered afterwards what it must have been like the day that Challenger blew up.  If the weather and visibility were anything like our day, then it would have been an absolutely perfect view for such a chilling sight.  "God Speed.  Come home safe."

There's a bright white spot at the end of the jet stream where Atlantis is.

Atlantis had a perfect final mission and landed without mishap on 26 May 2010 at Kennedy Space Center.  Now she will be outfitted one last time as the back-up, rescue craft and be put on standby for an emergency.  I really hope she isn't needed for a space rescue (can you imagine?), but I would love to see her fly again.

Beautiful white jet stream against the perfect blue sky.

The vehicle assembly building (VAB) in the center is the iconic NASA building
I remember so well seeing it on television as a child.
Just above the flag, is the Crawler which transports the assembled Shuttle
with the External Tank and Booster Rockets
one mile down the gravel track to the launch pad.
Awesome engineering!

Enjoy my slide show!!!
Here's the link, if the embedded viewing doesn't work:

My seven-year-old self was jumping up and down, and crying for joy this day.

photos by sd who traveled with me- thanks a million!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

quiet joys

we should all do what,
in the long run,
gives us joy,
even if it is only
picking grapes
sorting the laundry.
-e.b. white

I realize that doing laundry doesn't give most people joy (from what I hear from most people with kids, laundry definitely doesn't give joy).  And for migrant field workers in California, picking grapes probably doesn't give joy either (there could be a whole other post on this, but I'm not a political commentator.)  However, joy is possible in the outcomes of both situations.

I really do like sitting on my couch, watching a favorite show or listening to a conference talk on the internet while folding clean laundry.  I like the neat piles of clean clothes, towels, sheets, socks and pjs ordered across my couch.  I like putting it all away, knowing I have clean laundry again.

I even like ironing and will do a mass ironing about once a month while watching a movie.  Nothing like multi-tasking.  I like having a closet full of neatly pressed blouses and trousers.  It gives me a feeling of accomplishment and expands my wardrobe choices quite a bit.

When asked what my simple pleasures in life are I usually include clean sheets, fuzzy socks, comfy pjs and sweetly tart, juicy red grapes.  Some days I come home from work exhausted and change right into clean pjs and sit down to eat a handful grapes and some rosemary & olive oil flavored Triscuits while reading a book.  And let me tell you, that right there is joy.  Quiet joy, but joy nonetheless.  All that laundry folding pays off, and those migrant grape pickers certainly enabled my joy.

P.S.  I have a big pile of laundry on the other end of my couch waiting to be folded tonight, and some ironing as well.  The possibilities for joy abound.  Now I just have to decide what movie to watch.

P.P.S.  You, whoever You are, are great.  Thanks for your comments, the Neil Armstrong dream made me laugh.  Can You leave me a hint so I know who You are?  I promise not to reveal You.  xoxo

Monday, May 24, 2010

winning the battle - week 11

I didn't step on the scale this morning.

Cravings.  And feeling like I can't get enough food.  Yep, it's that time of the month.  Seriously, I can't get enough food.  For instance, today at lunch I eat a great salad with tuna and crackers, and an hour later I'm starving again.  A snack of an apple with peanut butter and an hour later I'm starving again.  Yogurt and an hour later I'm starving again.  And this has been going on for the past three days.  Ya gotta love the hormones.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgh!

The good news is I can actually run again.  I'm taking it easy to see how I do, but it feels good.

So goes the battle...

via with tips on how to control your cravings
applicable to everyone

Thursday, May 20, 2010

the happy isles

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,...
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

i want to be here

i want to be here again.
i have a need to feel sand between my toes
and sun on my knees.

i want
a beach vacation
a pile of good books
sun screen
cold water
nothing but time
dark sun glasses
bikinis and flip flops
my ipod
walks on the beach
wading in the ocean
long naps

yep, i want to be here again.

Monday, May 17, 2010

winning the battle - week 10

1 pound lost this week.  I lost that pound I gained last week.

I think I've turned a corner in my relationship with my body.  I'm much more comfortable listening to it and hearing what I really need in order to be my strongest and healthiest.  Lately, I've been eating what I want, when I want. 

What sounds good to me lately are salad greens with a combination of the following: shredded carrots, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, avocado, English cucumber, snap peas, baby squash, spinach, swiss chard, green beans, etc.  And when I eat this stuff it's as though my body sighs in contentment.  Even though I spent a week eating chocolate when I needed "drugs" for my back pain (see last week), I also ate lots of green stuff and I think that was the trick to being able to stay on track with my weight loss.  It also made it easy to make wise choices while I was traveling last week, so I could stay on track with my goal of becoming stronger.

Good food is easy to eat and it's even better when it's the healthy, fresh food that my body craves.

P.S. Chocolate still is gooood.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

a teaser

here's a teaser... a preview of friday's space shuttle launch.
it was spectacular.
the most beautiful, incredible sight i've ever seen.

more to follow soon.

photo by friend sd

Thursday, May 13, 2010

another thought

image from:

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men
who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than
to explore the power they have to change it.
Impossible is not a fact.  It's an opinion.
Impossible is not a declaration.  It's a dare.
Impossible is a potential.
Impossible is temporary.
Impossible is nothing.
-Mohammed Ali

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

the final frontier (or a dream come true)

I've always been a little nuts about
and the people who go there (and even the people who play people who go there).  I've read lots and lots of biographies about the real astronauts over the years, trying to imagine their perspective of our lovely planet, the rush of flying that fast and far into space, and the feeling of doing something that few people on this planet will ever get to do.  For a short time, I even wanted to be an astronaut.  Then I was told that in order to be an astronaut I had to lots of math, and that was the end of that.  Math is just not one of my stronger areas.

I had crushes on astronauts as a little girl.  Without internet I had no pictures up in my room or anything like that, but at school when I would see them on TV I just thought they were the handsomest men in the whole wide world... Heck the whole wide universe for that matter.

I once had a major crush on this guy!
John Young,  Captain of STS-1,
the maiden launch of the space shuttle program.
He too walked on the moon.
Plus he was a major hunk.

I currently have a major crush on the guy on the right.
And I do have to admit that the guy on the left was rather nice.
(yes I know they haven't really been to space)
But that's a whole other story.
My love of all things space extends to:
Star Trek
Star Wars
(the original trilogy, of course)
(I love Macgyver)
(Seriously, Fox what were you thinking when you cancelled this show?)
Defying Gravity
(So sad it was cancelled)
and a multitude of other shows and books and people.

I clearly remember at the age of seven, sitting in school and watching the first space shuttle launch on television.  I was amazed and remember saying to myself, "Someday I will see that in person."

Guess what!?!?!?
On Friday, 14 May 2010 at 2pm
I will be at the
Kennedy Space Center for the launch of STS-132,
the final voyage of Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Seven year old me is jumping up and down for joy.
I'm so excited!

Yes, this is me and just last year.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

i carry your heart

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

ee cummings

inspired by meg who writes letters to the man she loves but hasn't yet met.

nasa image at 

Monday, May 10, 2010

winning the battle - week 9

0 pounds lost this week, in fact, 1 pound gained.

I injured my back last week and was unable to work out.  It was hard to wrap my head around stopping this week and letting my back and body rest.  My head didn't like it so much.

I learned once again that I am a total emotional eater.
And my drug of choice when I hurt is chocolate
Not exactly the wisest of food choices.
I needed to get my endorphine high somehow.
(Yep, that's the not-so-logical logic that I used.)
And chocolate seemed to me a good way to do this.

I was also reminded how important it is to listen to my body.  It really does know best and if I stop to listen for a moment, it tells me what it really wants and needs.  Try it some time, you'll be surprised what you hear.

more on these homemade, hand-dipped beauties to come


something magical is happening. i can feel it in the air.
it woke me up this morning. a feeling of anticipation,
excitement and butterflies in my stomach. a sense of
urgency followed by calm. don't know why or what,
but something magical is happening.

image from:

Sunday, May 9, 2010


My life is full of amazing women who are moms,
especially the ones in my family.

Happy Mother's Day to you all.

Friday, May 7, 2010


"Eventually you'll remember and it will only hurt a little."

'Tis true. Time does heal all wounds. 
Perspective is a good thing.

At first I missed him so much it took my breath away.
My heart gasped for air.
My gut clenched waiting for safety.
Panic at the thought of being alone.
My inner rhythmn gone.

Then I would remember why.
Why I chose to walk forward.
Why the hurt of separation was better than all the hurt of staying.
All the ways I couldn't be me with him.

Years later it doesn't hurt as much.
But sometimes, when I sit alone
and remember it does hurt, just a little.
Not because I walked away from what could have been,
but rather at memories of my self betrayal.
How for a little while I lost me
and ignored the small voice in my heart.
That voice that hasn't led me wrong yet.

So, now when I remember it only hurts a little.
I remember too the lessons I learned.
The hard way.
And then hope.
Hope comes softly, brightly and stays.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


pain is weakness leaving the body.
that's the motto for one group of extremely crazy, hard core guys.
i suppose in some cases that's true.
like when you're running and pushing up a hill,
or doing loads of pushups in formation at 0530 in the morning.

but what is pain when it's immobilizing,
making every slight movement an agonizing affair
and the only relief is when i'm flat on my back in bed
and finally fast asleep after taking loads of drugs to stop the pain? 
what is that pain all about?

certainly not weakness leaving the body,
'cause it's making me weak and cranky. 
and miserable.

i am thankful for my body.
it's strong and healthy.
it lets me do pretty much anything i want.
it rarely complains, but when it does...
i am thankful for my body.

i did something to my lower back last week
and now it's rebelling against every movement i make.
i don't know what i did to make my back so angry.
my brother says pain just lets you know that you're alive.
yep, i'm alive and kicking, or at least being kicked.
seriously, you can stop now.

sorry to complain, but i needed to vent for a moment
this morning while i wait for more drugs to kick in
so i can actually move to get ready for work.
thanks for listening.

and yes, i've called the doc.  just waiting for a call back.

maybe i just need one of these,
'cause after all a really big bandaid always makes everything better.
find these on

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

a thought

turn your face to the sun
the shadows fall behind you.
-maori proverb

p-dub was here

The P-Dub was here!  Also known as The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond was in town today signing copies of her new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.

She rocks!  And as one of my new P-Dub friends said, she attracts a crowd of good people.  It's true.  I stood in line for four hours with a stack of five cookbooks waiting for my moment with Ree and met some of the most nicest, funniest women who were waiting as well.  We had a lot of fun talking, sharing how we found the blog and why we like it.  The lady in the red shirt went out to move her car and came back with a dozen cheeseburgers and fries from McDonald's.  It was great, she went up and down the line offering the food to everyone.  All the kids who were tired and hungry, and there with their moms were really happy to get fries.  We were all hungry and tired, but excited to be there.

I first met Pioneer Woman in 2008 while I was deployed to Afghanistan.  I don't remember how I found her blog, but it was exactly what I needed.  It took me about a week and a half to read her true life, love story, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (the first chapter is at the bottom of the page) and it proved to be the great escapist reading I needed at the time.  I fell in love with Marlboro Man right along with Ree, and felt her pain over her parents' relationship falling apart.  I also fell in love with her life on the ranch.  But her recipes, oh, her recipes, are the stuff of dreams.  Let me tell you, when you're stuck in the middle of nowhere and the only food you have to eat is a rotating, unimaginative menu of food that's just plain boring and not that yummy, you dream of food.  Ree's recipes provided plenty of fodder for food dreams too.  Her blog was the perfect escape from the desert mountains of Afghanistan for a few minutes every day.

Her cookbook is really fun with crowd pleasing recipes and glimpses into her family's life on a ranch in Oklahoma.  The recipes aren't low fat or low calorie, after all when you're feeding four kids and a husband who spend their days riding horses while working on a cattle ranch, mending fences and doctoring calves the last thing you need to worry about is cutting calories.  You have to keep their energy up for all that hard work.

The book is great for beginners in the kitchen, because she provides step-by-step photographed directions for each part of the recipe.  Not only do you see the finished product, but you see what each step should look like as well.  It's great, especially when the recipes are unfamiliar.

When I read on her blog that she was going to do a book signing in my area, I decided I was going.  I called sis-in-law T and told her I was going.  She sent me an early Christmas present, Ree's book along with a copy for herself, and one of her sisters-in-law.  I then bought two more copies, one for my sister who married her cowboy and one for a wedding gift. 

Ree is just as beautiful and down to earth in real life as she is on her blog.  She took time to talk with each person and make meaningful eye contact.  She shines!  I was happy to meet her and tell her about each person who would get a cookbook.  I was really happy to be able to thank her for providing an escape for me in Afghanistan. 

 I'm so excited to have a signed copy of Ree's book.  I can't wait to try more of her recipes and share them with friends here in DC. 

Thanks Ree for signing all five of my books.
Thanks too for being so nice in person.
Hope you enjoy your stay in DC.

photos are mine

Monday, May 3, 2010

winning the battle - week 8

1 more pound down.  10 pounds altogether!  i'm almost halfway there.

this week's topic is motivation.  what motivates me?  'tis a good question.

i've thought a lot about this lately.  why do i really want to lose the weight?  what is it that will keep me from returning to my old habits?  what will i do to maintain my new weight and my new habits?  i don't have all the answers yet, but i'm getting there.

one of the things that excites me about losing the weight is the thought of not having the little bulge around the waistband of my jeans.  i remember when i returned home from afghanistan, my jeans fit awesome and my curvy silhouette was smooth in all the right places.  i want that body back again.  that's one motivation.

my core has always been my weakest link.  i want to be strong in my core.  i think that's one of the keys to feeling stronger period.  that's another motivation.

i have two dresses in my closet that i want to wear.  one is red and looks amazing on.  it will only look better later.  the other dress is a cute little, deep purple, cotton, peasant number that i found when i started the diet and fell in love with.  more motivation.

my sister and i have been talking about running a marathon together for several years now.  i want to be strong enough to do this, so me losing weight and changing my habits are steps towards running a marathon with my sister.  another motivation.

most important, i want to do this.  i want to feel better, stronger, healthier.  i want to be my best self.  that's the true motivation.

image here