Saturday, March 6, 2010


I like to talk about happiness this month. But first, lets ask ourselves a question. What does it mean to BE happy?

I put this question to a few people and got a myriad of responses. Thanks to those that responded, I appreciate the help. What I got was a myriad of responses but with a certain commonality to them. This question it seems is not so easy for folks to answer and it requires a lot of thought. I sort of expected this to be a no brainer, a slam dunk if you will so the fact that they had to put so much thought into it and the depth of the answers I got back… well quite frankly surprised me!

See, we as a people are VASTLY different from one another. Sure some of us share certain things in common and perhaps that draws us to one another, but we’re still different. So I guess it only stands to reason that what makes us each happy, as individuals, should therefore also be vastly different. Add to that the fact that we are all in different places in our lives, have had different life altering experiences if you will and PRESTO! It’s as plain as the nose on your face.

Now factor in that we all communicate best in various ways and you get things like plain English such as:

Happy= "enough" of basic things- enough money to meet my needs, enough food
in my house, enough peace in my doesn't require me not to have
any drama or anxiety or whatever, and I don't have to have tons of EXTRA
money, but I am happy when things are just fine....

Or perhaps a more spiritual viewpoint like:

What is happiness? Being happy, is being content with who and what you are, with what you have. Why aren't more people happy? Because they are never happy with what they have. They are always looking for the next best thing, or wanting what someone else has. This is why the poorest and lowliest of us can be more happy than the richest of us.


Happiness. This word means so many things to me... Joy, Peace, Calm and Contentment to name a few. Your life can be in complete chaos and yet you can have happiness in your heart. It's a state of mind.

And still others will express themselves through the words of others like this:

I think that a poem by Priscilla Leonard might help convey what happiness means to me. Here is a part of that poem. "Happiness is like a crystal, Fair and exquisite and clear, Broken in a million pieces, Shattered, scattered far and near... ...Yet the wise as on they journey Treasure every fragment clear, Fit them as they may together, Imaging the shattered sphere, Learning ever to be thankful, Though their share of it is small; For it has so many pieces No one ever finds them all." Happiness for me means treasuring the million fragments that comprise my life. Some of those fragments have had very sharp edges, but I believe that everything that happens in my life is kismet and as my life continues toward it's end, hopefully I will remain happy with myself. There are no "do-overs".

While I would express myself through my photographs:

The facts are, as I in my infinite wisdom see them, that happiness is a good many things to a good many people and that they express their happiness in a multitude of ways depending upon a variety of factors. I think we should all celebrate our happiness and that of others. You see, some people really struggle with finding happiness and keeping it. You probably know someone right now that is not “happy” for whatever reason. How then can you help them to “be” happy? A phone call perhaps, maybe a handwritten letter or send them a few photos or poems. Maybe just tell them in plain English that they are part of what makes YOU happy. You certainly can’t MAKE them happy, but what you can do is walk beside them while they look for it, maybe even carry them for a ways. The important thing is that you are there for them. It is in reaching out to one another when we know that someone is not where they want to be whether it be physical pain, sadness and depression, loneliness, loss/grief… Just as there are a huge variety of things that can make each of us happy there are also a huge variety of things that can bring us down. But! Together we can, and WILL see each other through. This I KNOW to be true.

Now to switch gears just a bit for some medical news. The spleen continues to grow and I have lost more weight. I still have plenty or reserves so no worries, YET! The doctors have basically left it up to me to decide when it will need to come out and I am holding out until the bitter end. I guess I feel that God put it there for a reason and even though other organs can pick up the slack if it were gone, I still feel it ought to stay put and do its job. Help is on the way though, maybe… I met with the hematologist last week and there may be a clinical trial at Stanford University that I can possibly get into. It would be for a medication that she feels could reduce the size of the spleen. Fingers crossed…

Also of note and as some of you already know, I went to the emergency room twice last month. To say that it was unpleasant would be a severe understatement. The first visit was initiated when I went to the doctor to try to get something for this dang cold (turns out it was the flu coupled with bronchitis) and the nurse found my blood pressure to be rather low. The VA, where I was seeing my doctor, sent me to the ER at one of the local downtown hospitals where my blood pressure was then fine if perhaps even a little elevated… *sigh* Anyway, it was two days before my scheduled transfusion, and in the course of all their tests they discovered that my blood count was very low (nothing new to me) but they have to do what they have to do I suppose. Three days in the hospital, two bags of IV antibiotics, and five units of blood later they let me go… I suppose it’s really not so bad, it was only two wasted days as I would have had to spend the day at the VA getting blood anyway but it was a lot of stress on Sarah and the kids not to mention the in-laws that had kids dropped on them. It was of great comfort to see the emergency response system that is my network of family and friends at work. Thanks to all who stepped up to the plate whether watching kids or just sending me words of encouragement. You are ALL very much loved.

The second trip was the day after Valentines day after I had been vomiting all day along with some rather nasty stuff coming out the “other” end. Sarah was worried and called the advice nurse at the VA and she told Sarah to take me to the ER. They basically just rehydrated me with two huge bags of saline… after sitting in the waiting room for countless hours on end. It is what it is I guess. Another life experience, though one I would rather not relive!

So add all that up and the fact that I missed a couple of appointments with my counselor and Tracy goes back into depression. Not fun! That would be the biggest reason that you did not get an update last month. Sorry if that caused you any concern, it was all kind of out of my control. All seems to be back to normal though, or at least as close to normal as it gets around here. I am still looking to the future, to the transplant and what life will bring me after. I’m not sure if I will be able to do what I did before or not so I have been putting some thought into just what else I might like to do career wise. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I also picked up the camera the other day and snapped a few shots of some goats, cows, and a really cool rock outcropping so check out the Flickr page in the near future for those.

Finally, we said goodbye to our dear friend Rocket the minivan last month. She took us on many grand adventures from the U.P. of Michigan to the East Coast and Washington D.C. and finally she brought us across the country to our new home. I suppose the only thing missing was a trip down south to make the four winds happy. We have replaced her with a similarly capable vehicle in Bullet. She’s a 2005 Chevrolet Suburban (only two wheel drive, no snow here *huge smile*) that seats eight, has more power gadgets and doo-dads than even I can figure out how to work and best of all, has a thundering V-8 beating under the hood. I can’t WAIT to see where she’ll take us… Perhaps a trip to the PNW (Pacific North West) is in order, or maybe the Grand Canyon… I think a weekend retreat for our anniversary is in order first though. 19 years this coming April. Love you Schmoopy!!!

Also of note, my sister and her posse will be visiting us as well as the Kauffmans (Kauffmen?) for spring break so all my west coast people beware, we’re partying Midwest style for my birthday this year! Details to follow…

Well, as always I hope this finds you all well and should it not, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. If you would send some prayers to Delilah, Clark, and my friend Veronica’s dad who are fighting their own personal 800 pound gorillas. Thanks.

Peace, love and happiness, whatever that means to you. ;-)


Ps. Thanks to all who gave of their time and their thoughts to help make this post possible. You are a big part of what makes ME happy! :-)

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