I used to be a reader. I read all the time. Then, life got busy. Then, life got busier. Then, television got more convenient as a way to wind down. And my books got dusty.

Part of the issue of my non-readership was not being able to figure out what to read. As a kid, I would get really involved in different reading topics or different authors. I would inhale every book written on my subject of choice, and then eventually move on.

As an adult, I've encountered some books that aren't well written or worth my time. I believe that we have to be careful what we put into our minds as far as visual media, because it can inhabit our minds for possibly forever. But with books, it might possibly be even more imporantat because the memories and experiences created somehow form a serious bond in our brains.

A book conjures up worlds that not even media can produce. How many times have you heard someone say, "The movie did not give the book justice. The characters weren't the same. So many parts were left out." It's because a book involves imagination and so many other parts of the brain. Reading can be a serious business.

Hence, I don't like to read garbage. I don't want to read a book that is going to put images in my mind I can't erase. I read a book for a book club once that seemed innocent enough, but one of the scenes is forever stuck in my mind. I didn't even see the movie even though it had one of my favorite actresses. I really did not want to relive that moment in any form ever again.

After all of this pontificating about reading, my original topic was to announce that I've been reading a new book via Amazon Prime on my Kindle. It's officially grabbed my attention where I will sacrifice sleep to capture one more chapter.

I hope I keep up this habit. Reading is good for the soul (except in the incidences I mentioned above). I have done some unofficial studies based off of my high school friend's ACT scores that it makes you smarter, too. My friend, Emily, was an avid reader and blew the rest of us away in the ACT and even achieved academic greatness on the LSAT. So there's my proof. Reading makes you smart.

I'm hoping writing has the same effect as well, so that's what I'm blogging a bit more again.

For about 22 years, I have been dealing with issues swallowing my food. I clearly remember the first day it started. I had ordered a special croissant sandwich from a nearby restaurant and was going to attempt to eat it during my senior year lunch period. I took a huge bite of the sandwich, and as I gulped it down, something went wrong. The bite didn't go down, but got hung. And it was very painful. After that time, I had periodic experiences of the same thing. I figured, it was just something odd about me.

Many years passed. For friends that knew me well, I would give them a heads up at restaurants that if I abruptly disappeared during a meal, I was okay. I just had to relax and get my food to go down, then I could enjoy the meal.  It was embarrassing. No one likes to disappear into a bathroom for long periods of time.

As Paul and I dated, he decided I needed to go to the doctor. I did not want to go. I went once before, and the solution was to stretch out my esophagus. The procedure was expensive (even with insurance), so I had cancelled the day before the appointment. I heard from some a physician I worked with at the time, that he had the same thing, and it would come back.

After Paul's prompting, I finally went to the doctor and tried to explain what happened to me. During this time, my sister also attended a conference about EOE. So, I had a scope put down my esophagus and a biopsy done, and ta-da! A diagnosis! I had EOE (my sister said she knew it already--sister's always know everything).

It was nice to know I just wasn't crazy. The real name of EOE is a really long name, eosinophilic esophagitis. It's kind of like too many white blood cells that gather after being triggered by allergies--most of the time to food. The problem is figuring out which one.

Because I have had years of data experience, one day I was finally able to deduce that I have issues with soy and possibly other legumes. I put this all together because every time I had a Starbucks soy latte, I had horrible heartburn and couldn't eat the rest of the day. And each time I had tuna fish, I would always get the first bite stuck. Also, when I had sushi the same things would happen (I thought it was because the rolls were too big).

I did some research and exploration and discovered that tuna fish is packed with soy! It's not my favorite food, so I didn't encounter it that often, but each time I did, I would have an issue.

Since the discover I have had some sushi (I love sushi). But I ate it sans soy sauce. And nothing got stuck!

I had an issue swallowing a different brand of fish oil the other day, so I looked at the label: soy.

It feels freeing knowing that I can eat without fear. I tended to avoided some things anyway, but now I know that it's not the texture or the too big of bite, it's EOE. 

Paul and I are on a new schedule with the start of school. It involves going to bed early (bleh) and waking up even earlier (double-bleh).

We've been reading up on ways to get sleepy. So, we've adopted the practice of trying to reduce staring into screens checking up on last minute status posts. We've tried to shut off the t.v. an hour or so before sleeping. We're drinking warm milk. We're reading before bed. And we're taking melatonin.

I've only sampled it a few times, and it makes me feel a tad groggy. The worst thing is when you still have insomnia after taking one of those things. Not fun.

I wish I could be a natural early-to-bed/early-to-rise person, but my preferred method of living is the life of a night owl. I get energy at night to watch old reruns on t.v. and start weird projects. Late night snack foods can be the most fun meal of the day!

But, I digress. I thought I was out of the early wake-up business when I left teaching, but the school system and its early bird demands has found its way back into my life. It's not a bad trade-off to have a sweet and dear husband, but the summer was an oh-so-sweet time for us! We miss it!

So, for the next 173 instructional days, we'll be sampling melatonin and doing a slow fade into the land of Sleepytown.


I come up with a new exercise and eating plan about once a month. Maybe it's from reading too many health and fitness magazine, because every month, they offer a new plan that will really work this time! If I stuck with
one plan for longer than about a week, it might actually work. But my theory is if I combine them all, then maybe I will get some amazing combined result. Nevertheless, it's not really working.

My latest plan involves writing down my food into a little tiny green Moleskine journal. I love those little journals. I figured the journal would really inspire me. It was really a good plan for about three days, then I lost the journal. I continue to refind it, then lose it again.

Another part of my plan is lifting weights. A friend of mine has jumped into fitness full force and is now going to be competing in a fitness contest. She is lifting weights for an hour and doing cardio for 30 minutes.

Since I will be hitting 4-0 (gulp!) in the springtime, I have decided that I will do 40 minutes of weightlifting. I'm not planning on doing any contest, but I would like to fit into last year's shorts.

Usually what happens is I finally let cupcakes and cookies win. After that, I realize that even when I thought I was in bad shape while working out, I am in reallllllly bad shape if I give up all together. So, then I start the process again. I bet when I hit 40 I am going to have all this workout drama settled. Perhaps I need the Moleskine with the pocket in the back. That will help.

Yesterday, Robin Williams' passing hit the news. And then it spread a wave of memories and sadness and ache all over the country.

Being on the watcher side of movie world makes you feel like you have a connection with actors. You feel like they are your friends. They've made you feel something heavy or light--whatever the case--the best actors have created a connection between themselves and you through the media of movies.

We quote their lines. We act out their scenes. We relate situations expressed in the movie to ourselves.

But when one of them passes away from a tragic death, we realize that maybe we didn't quite know that person at all. We forget they had bad days or struggles. We forget they are flesh and blood, just like us.

I grieve for the real Mr. Williams, the one with family and friends that knew and loved him. And I grieve for those like me--those of us that quote his lines and act out his scenes and had a connection with his movies.

On behalf of "me," I will treasure what was. Thanks for Mr. Williams for adding laughter and points to ponder to my childhood, teen years, and beyond.  I will miss his rapidly thinking mind and uncanny comedic actions. I thank him for the many movies that made me laugh.

To those of us who remain, carpe diem. God has plans beyond what we can see or know. Trust Him. No matter what your eyes see or your hearts feels, don't give up hope. Ever.

I listen to many people talk. Some are monotone. Some talk fast. Some talk slow. And some speak with much inflection.

Maybe it's from my years in the theater (okay! I'm counting high school drama club), but I try to make sure that when I speak in front of a group, it's clear speech with some inflection for emphasis. I can do all those things just fine and speak with expression (and even fun accents), but what I really wish I had was a more interesting voice.

When you hear someone's voice, it instantly sets off synapses in your mind and you quickly form an image and ideas. I wish I had a very recognizable voice like that--a voice of emphasis and strength.

Perhaps I really just want Maya Angelou's voice. I can't remember the first time I heard it--maybe in a class at school listening to a recording of one of her poems--but I will never forget her voice.

As I write this, I'm trying to scheme a way I could have a voice like that. All summer I could practice speaking like the dear, late Maya Angelou. It might make people laugh instead of making me sound more dignified. I could never reach that depth and would just wind up sounding silly.

But I still may practice.

I can't believe my dad would have been 70 years old today. He passed away at the ever-seeming-younger age of 56 from pancreatic cancer.

I miss my dad very much, but I am grateful for all the years he lived, because he lived them well. I had a great father who was a loving husband to my mom, a wonderful granddaddy to my nieces and nephews, a dear father-in-law, a kind brother, a silly and trustworthy friend to his many long-time buddies, and a fun co-worker (and his other many, many, titles and roles). He was fun (hence, the party hat), smart, and rolled through life rather peacefully.

When I think about the years since his death, I reflect on what he missed. I remember that in heaven there are no more tears and no more pain. Some hard things have happened since his death. He missed events like 9-11 and the many tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes. He missed divorces and deaths. He's in heaven which gives me great peace. At the end of life, what's done is done, but you hope to leave a legacy behind you of people seeking out what is truly important in life, and my dad did that.

If my dad was celebrating his 70th birthday here on this side of life, I bet he would be doing one of his favorite things. Or he'd be wishing he was doing one of those things.

Bruce's Top 10 List
1. Eating some good food.
2. Playing golf.
3. Spending time with his grandkids.
4. Watching a UK game.
5. Driving a fast car.
6. Teasing someone.
7. Underlining passages in his Bible.
8. Reading a John Grisham book.
9. Watching an investigation show.
10. Eating some more good food. :)

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

I suppose God made our bodies a little more cushy on the back end to accommodate for sitting. I feel like I sit too much. I sit all day at work. I sit in the car driving to and from work. To relax after work, I sit on the couch. That's a bunch of sitting!

But then when I stand, I get tired of standing and want to sit. Before a plane ride, I try to stand as much as possible, because on the plane, everyone has to sit for what could be hours.

I kind of wish someone would event a car that enabled the drive to have a sit or stand choice. Also, this idea could be carried over to plane travel. I would pay extra for a seat that allowed me some stand time.

I have such hopes for the future--a hope that we will all be standing tall!

Marriage adds new elements to all parts of life. Modern marriage adds the element of room temperature adjustment. I don't know if Charles and Caroline Ingalls ever argued over temperature. If it was cold, they needed more firewood. If it was hot, all they could do was open their one tiny cabin window with real glass and perhaps the door. But in today's day and age, temperature can be adjusted by specific degrees. And all of us, seem to have our preference of temperature.

I prefer to live out the indoor day on a nice 70 degrees. My sleeping temperature preference is a cool 68 degrees. My husband and I can mostly agree on the day time temperature (of course, most of that time we are at work), but for sleeping temperature, he prefers a warm 72. We've made an adjustment to about 70. Although I sneak it down an extra degree after I noticed he has set it up a degree or two. He usually notices.

If my temperature is off by just a couple of degrees, I wake up with sweat around my hairline. It's really weird. How does my body know the temperature is not my favorite? You'd think if I was sleeping, I would just sleep and not be so picky.

I might develop a match-making website called "Six Degrees of Separation." If a couple was too many degrees different in temperature preference, the relationship would not be a match for the system. In real relationships temperature differences can still work--but effort on behalf of both parties must be instituted such as adding elements like flannel pajamas or a partial bed heating element.

I have not included the sleeping element of a fan (ceiling or boxed) because that would be an entire additional chapter. But for the record, I do like a small fan for white noise, and a ceiling fan on low during the night.

I made a praise song out of a Backstreet Boys song today. I could not get the song out of my head, so I decided if it wanted to invade my brain and shower time, then it must have a positive purpose.

I don't know the copyright laws for using the tune and changing the words around. I might need to consult Weird Al. However, I really like the praise song.  

"Are you spiritual? yeah-ahh."

I tell ya, it's catchy. I really hope Chris Tomlin doesn't read my blog. He might take my idea.