Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quote for the Week

Wild Geese

By Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers,

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

TZ Does Dallas

Okay, this isn't as hot as Debbie Does Dallas--it's barely lukewarm--but it is the story of a wonderful weekend, one I really needed.

The last two weeks have been dismal. My computer crashed, my cat needed treatment at the vet's emergency room on a freezing Saturday night, I developed an upper respiratory infection and bronchitis and totally lost my voice--not good for a speech pathologist. I spent a week lying around, alternating between reading, watching TV and playing Hangman on my computer. When I went back to work, I was still exhausted and my voice would crack by the end of the day. I wasn't even sure I wanted to spend the weekend in Dallas, even though I'd planned on it for some time.

I took ear drops along, just in case. I took antihistamine, nasal spray, and the Robitussan-to-Go packets I'd seen advertised during my long days of watching TV. Alas, I discovered you need scissors to open the packets and of course you can't take scissors on a plane. But I actually began feeling better once I got to Dallas.

One thing I learned on this trip: It is possible to get lost even when you're using a GPS. The pleasant female voice that usually keeps me company was strangely silent when I needed her. Did I program something the wrong way? Was she just feeling ornery? Fortunately, I called my friend on my cell and she guided me the rest of the way. Take that, pleasant female voice.

The purpose of the weekend was visiting with old friends. One was a member of my writers' critique group in Houston. She moved to Dallas a few years ago, and we still critique by e-mail and phone. She is one of the most determined, courageous people I know. Despute her husband's sudden death a couple of years ago, she has approached life energetically. She has continued to write and submit despite rejections and is on the verge (fingers crossed) of selling her first book in 15 years. She has set new goals for herself and achieved them. Even though she became a widow after me, she's been a role model.

The second friend goes further back. She was a sorority sister of mine in college. She, too, moved from Houston to Dallas. We aren't in contact as much because she doesn't have a computer! I tell her if I can manage one, she can, too. But we do talk on the phone. She, too, has gone through some rough times, but she reads, exercises, plays bridge, spends time with grandchildren. She was an outstanding teacher at a private school I work with, and she brings that teacher mentality to everything she does. On Friday we met for lunch, then browsed through some stores, giggling the whole time about clothes we couldn't wear now...or maybe ever.

The third friend is from the ancient past: high school. Actually we met in middle school. I spent the night at her house Saturday and she invited some other Austin High alums for dinner. Of the four of us, two are widows, one divorced, one both widowed and divorced, and two still married to their first loves. As we reminisced and told stories of our present lives, I reallized no one is immune to tragedy. We've dealt with illnesses, disappointments, natural disasters (Hurricane Katrina, for one), worries about children and grandchildren, and yet every one of these women has persevered. One travels all over the world. This isn't her primary career, but she "likes to keep up with what's going on." She contributes to a travel publication and has advocated for gender equality at her university. Another was a flight attendant after college and returned to that career at age 60! Both her sons are pilots. Another, I learned, worked briefly after college for the CIA Okay, she was a clerk-typist, but still, how many people have the CIA on their resume? The fourth is a breast cancer survivor and the fifth has had knee and hip replacements and has recovered function through therapy and determination. I am so inspirated by these old friends. Maybe we've slowed a tiny bit, but we're all still going.

The most important thing I brought home from this weekend was the importance of friendship. Old friends, newer ones--doesn't matter. We have to cherish each other and the time we have together. So, to all of these amazing women, thanks for new and special memories.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More About Survival

Just finished reading this book. While it's mostly about surviving physical trauma, it applies to emotional trauma as well. In fact, the author says we're all survivors. No one gets through life without a few tragedies.

I've managed to survive both physical and emotional trauma--I suffered third degree burns when I was 19 and spent three months in the hospital--so I was especially interested in the qualities that survivors share. Here are the ten listed:


My top three were:

Here's my question. What do you think your top three survivor qualities are? I'd love to read your comments.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Quote for the Week

Unable are the loved to die
For love is immortality.

Emily Dickinson

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Don't you hate widow stereotypes? Months before my husband died, I pictured myself as a widow, and the image certainly wasn't flattering. A dried up, sad old lady with lips turned down and shoulders hunched. But isn't that the connotation of a lot of widow synonyms? Dowager, beldam, crone, hag. Even matron doesn't sound too cool.

Then there are the other words for widow, words that imply she's a woman on the make. Words like vamp, vixen, flirt, siren. And of course there's the evil black widow.

Personally, I prefer the word survivor. The basic definition is "one who survives." That doesn't tell you much. The legal definition is "one who outlives a spouse."

But the definition I like best is "a person who continues to function in spite of opposition, hardships or setbacks." Folks, that's us!

See you in seven.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

New Publication

My article "A Tale of Two Doctors: The Patient's Point of View" is now on an online publication. Hope you'll take a look.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Quote for the Week

In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you learn to let go?" — Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha)

Tips for a Healthy New Year

When I was a little girl and I was unhappy or disappointed, my mother would say, "At least you have your health." Tell that to a kid who didn't make the drill squad. But now those words suddenly make sense. As life goes on, health becomes more important. So here's my tip for a healthy year.

Go to and start by taking the Real Age test. After answering a few questions, you'll learn if your real age is younger or older than your chronological age. What makes you younger? Health history and healthy habits. You even get to subtract months if you floss your teeth--it helps prevent infections. My real age is 8 years below my chronological age, which always makes me feel great. And if yours isn't, well the website gives you tips for becoming a younger, healthier you . No, it doesn't get rid of wrinkles,though I believe it does recommend some moisturizers, etc. And no, it doesn't get rid of sags and bags, but it does recommend some great at-home exercise programs.

If you sign up, the website will send you weekly suggestions of healthy foods, vitamins, other ways to stay healthy. Realage was established by the famous You Docs, authors of such books as You on a Diet, You Staying Young, etc. I love the You Docs and highly recommend their books. Whoever "you" are, there's probably a book that will fit your needs.

Wishing you a healthy 2010

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