Choices, Children and Chocolate

Ok, there is nothing here about chocolate – but Natalie entered the room as I was about to hit “Publish” and thought that it made a nice-sounding title.  Maybe I will go find some chocolate…
OMSI has an exhibit on aging with a lot of interesting facts.  I blame aging for the fact that I have to take photos of interesting facts to be able to remember them later… anyway, when I saw the statement about environment determining our longevity and health, I began to think about choices and consequences.  Before sitting down at my computer I fixed myself a snack of sliced apples and goat cheese.  I made the choice to put my bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds and the consequence was that the apples were slightly warm and the goat cheese was slightly melted.  Delicious!
During my short O.R. nursing career, I often worked the 10-6 shift.  This meant that I gave morning and lunch breaks, and didn’t take a room of my own until 3:00.  I was able to see new patients every 10 to 30 minutes and I always knew that I would need to look consult my schedule to determine the patient’s age.  A 40 year-old person could easily be taken for a 60 yr-old, and the opposite was also true.  Their lives, and the choices made during those lives, made such a difference.  Those who looked younger than their age tended to be much more friendly, and less likely to be undergoing surgery for something brought about by their own choices.  I was in my twenties at the time, and decided that I would try to make wise health choices.  More importantly, I needed to choose to be happy, with all that such a choice would entail — these are mostly little things.
Last week I made a simple choice that helped us be happy.  I had the three younger children at Lewisville Park to play tennis.  Eventually only Natalie and I remained on the court while David and Kimberly wandered.  When we were done with tennis, Natalie went to sit in the car while I found the others.  They were nearby, playing on those old swings which are so much more fun than new ones (due to having nice, long chains).  At this point I made my choice… go get Natalie and play on the swing set with children before going home.  It was a fun time to play and laugh together.  The next night Mark and David were out of town.  Natalie texted me from drivers ed that she hoped dinner was ready because she was so hungry.  Well, with just the girls home I knew dinner would be simple.  It was time to get Natalie and we made a choice… we threw together some sandwiches, picked her up and went back to the park to swing.  Another fun evening of being silly on the swings.  We took ridiculous selfie photos… probably not the best choice, but fun for memories.  Obviously we cannot go and play at the park every night, but I truly believe that we could (and should) play together more often.
Swinging at Lewisville – like cuddling a baby…
With my third child graduating and leaving home— my time is running out to make as many good family memories as we can.
Why do people do these?
Kimberly and Natalie
photobombing my selfie
Nedra has been my friend for almost twenty years.  She had her 7th child the month before I had my first.  We met when they were both three.  She used to tell me that if she could do it all again, she would spend a lot more time sitting and cuddling her babies, rather than worrying so much about having a perfect house, etc.  I respected her experience and made the choice to follow her advice.  Playing on swings with my teenagers is like cuddling them as babies.  (Well, I still cuddle them when they let me!)  I am thinking that the choices we make in regard to how we spend our time are going to be the most critical.
Natalie’s brain surgery is scheduled to occur in just five more days.  Up until two days ago I was aware of being able to begin to think about surgery, and instead make the choice to think about other things and be productive.  If I started to feel the weight of the situation I would reflect on the lessons of Trust learned during Jackie’s surgery and the brain surgery just melted from my mind.  It was like sunshine entered, swept away fear and I went about my day.  It felt great to be able to think and accomplish a few things.  I remember that as Jackie received her clean bill of health regarding her MRI I knew I had a month of no worries.  Two days ago my month ended – or so it seems.  The weight of the upcoming surgery is being felt… but this is ok.  I still have a choice to make.  This time my choices seem to range from:  think about it and curl up in fetal position on the couch… to think about it, talk about it, and still just keep life as simple as I can so that we can all smile.  I choose to smile.  I certainly feel the burden on my shoulders and somewhere in my gut, but my heart and my spirit are happy.
I think Jackie broke the rules.
It doesn’t look like
she is swinging???

Here are a few things that we have learned about Natalie’s surgery.  When we arrive at the hospital they will admit her and take her for an MRI that will determine the exact parameters for her tumor.  From there she will go to surgery and then to the PICU for the night.  We should be able to return home after just two or three nights.  She will have another MRI the day after surgery.  A year ago she had never had an MRI – I believe that this one makes #8 for her.  Natalie’s recovery will be a bit more complicated than we had been led to believe.  Apparently our surgeon was really referring to few limitations due to pain, but there are still plenty of limitations on activity levels.  We had to cancel her week-long high adventure camp in July.  That has been one of the saddest things yet.  After a couple weeks she will be able to participate in activities as her energy level dictates, as long as there is no risk of falling or river/lake water involved.  Hiking is approved… as long as it doesn’t involve going uphill….that might be tricky.

Natalie worked overtime
trying to make horrendous
faces – she said I needed
to add them to my blog and
say this is what a brain
tumor does to a person…

Anyway – I asked Natalie today if she was thankful that she has a brain tumor.  She said yes – so I asked her why… I will try to remember as much of her answer as I can, “I am thankful because I like the feeling of going to sleep during surgery.  I like getting candy, chocolate, flowers, notes, attention, blankets, getting to watch movies, sleeping, etc (that was a long list of indulgences).  I am glad that I get to have an experience not too many people get to have.  I am glad that I will have things to say when I am a motivational speaker.  I am glad that I can write a book when I am old and have things to say.”
I told her that I was glad because it would make her a stronger person.  “What?  It makes you stronger person? or me?”
Hmmm, yes, it does make me a stronger person… but I am mostly grateful that it would make my daughter be a stronger person.  I forgot that it makes me stronger also –I forgot to be thankful for that.  If I am stronger… stronger for what?  ugh.
Alright, not really “ugh” – I will learn to be grateful for whatever else is in store.
Here is a story I found a couple weeks ago – funny that it is about a coffee bean.  I cannot even stand to go down the grocery aisle with coffee beans because of the smell.  A childhood incident makes the smell incredibly repugnant to me… but it is a nice little story.

Note:  Natalie just walked in the room and said, “Not that picture Mom!  It is horrendous!”  Interesting that we both used the same adjective.. it is incredibly accurate.  Why do such pretty girls like to take such silly photos?

The carrot, the egg, and the coffee bean
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.
It seemed that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.
She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the young woman replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” the mother asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour.



If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

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