Friday, September 26, 2008

Process of Elimination

In our nursing curriculum this week, we've been focused on disorders of elimination and nursing care to restore proper other words, what happens when you can't go, why that is bad, and how to fix it.

Most people shrink from discussing Number One and Number Two. Those things take place behind closed bathroom doors. They are smelly. They contain bacteria that are the byproducts of normal function, but which can be contaminating and cause illness.

Yet, they are natural functions. Our bodies miraculously take in delicious morsels of God's creation--a luscious bite of fruit dripping with juices; a crunchy mouthful of vegetables bursting with flavor; warm bread with its springy texture; fragrant roasted or baked meat. Through an amazing mechanical and chemical process that takes place over several hours, those ingested substances are transformed into molecular-level fuel for every one of the billions of minute cells that compose our physical form.

That fuel allows us to continue to exist. Without it, we would die. It also allows us to form new cells in order to heal, repair and regenerate our temporal form. It enables the firing of neurons to carry messages around our body that interpret the world through our five senses or enable us to move fingers and toes. That neural net also keeps atoms and molecules whirling and working together in an amazing symphony, resulting in a body that is capable of housing an immortal soul and interacting wondrously with it.

No matter how much of that fuel is used by our bodies to function, there are unusable portions at the end of the process. They have been much transformed, into something unrecognizable and base. In its initial form it was of great benefit to us; in its current form it is no longer of use. All the usefulness, all the benefit, all the good has been extracted. This end product is called waste, and it was never meant to be retained. It has to go. If we hold on to it, we will sicken, experience unspeakable pain, and die.

The body's processing of food for fuel results in tangible wastes; yet, there is another metabolic system at work: a spiritual one. We take in the experiences of our lives and are fed by them. Yes, some are bitter; not all are luscious. If we will allow it, all may nourish us, enable us to renew ourselves and to grow, and are transformed by how we process them through our lives.

As time goes on, we move through and past experiences and situations. Some no longer have any usefulness. Some have been so transformed that the end product in our lives is toxic. It is time to let go, to eliminate. If we attempt to retain the toxins, our spirits will sicken and we will experience unspeakable pain and disease.

Just as physical elimination systems can malfunction or fail and require intervention, so do spiritual elimination systems. Sometimes we are so poisoned by what we hold on to that we are unable to see the need to let go. We may recognize that need, but be unable to release that which no longer serves. We require intervention.

Intervention may take the form of training for our spiritual "muscles", or the form of an event or individual that prepares the way and unblocks our hearts and souls, enabling us to expel the waste instead of cling to it. Sometimes, God has to perform drastic "surgery" and resection our lives.

The more I learn about the body, the more amazed I am at this "people suit" which houses the soul, and the more grateful I am to be allowed the privilege of inhabiting it. How amazing the interdependence: without our immortal soul, the electrons would cease their complex orbits and the molecular bonds would disintegrate, and to dust we would return. I hope it makes you all as awed and as grateful for every breath as it does me.

Have a truly blessed day!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vote for Bubba

I just love the rural Deep South. People run for political office using their childhood nicknames.

Where else will you see a television ad campaign soliciting your vote for Randy "Bubba" Pierce for Judge? "Vote for Bubba!" dozens of upbeat citizens exhorted. When Bubba came on screen to speak his piece, he was well-groomed, educated, articulate, and definitely had all his teeth. Not at all the stereotypical Bubba.

During the last local elections, among the candidates for sheriff were Ray "Two Bits" Dooley and Robert "Puppy" De Groot. Up north, you'd never see those nicknames on a ballot. You'd also never see them on large billboards and signs all over town. You'd definitely never hear people debating the candidates' merits saying things like, "Two Bits got more local experience, but Puppy was a marshal!"

There is something to be said, though, about running for office using a nickname. It implies a sense of continuity and familiarity with the community. It says that someone is known as a unique individual. There may be hundreds of Rays or Roberts in the vicinity, but Two Bits and Puppy could only be...well...Two Bits and Puppy.

It never fails to make me smile.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

There's no tryin' to reason with the hurricane season

Jimmy Buffett (a native of Pascagoula, Mississippi) was right. Those of us who call the Gulf Coast home know the statistics and accept the risk that a hurricane could directly affect our lives. Most of us are prudent and maintain a reasonable level of preparedness year-round.

I tell y'all though, we in the Magnolia State are starting to get a little fed up with the Weather Channel. According to their geography, the Gulf Coast of the United States consists of Texas, Louisiana, New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans, Poor Battered New Orleans Still Recovering From Katrina, Alabama, and Florida. Now, I took 5th grade geography and I'm pretty sure that they missed a state. I tried to post a comment to this effect on the Weather Channel viewer discussion forum, but they had closed it down after a flood of posts from other Mississippians pointing out the same thing. They still won't mention us by name.

[If you wonder why Mississippians get so upset at the mention of poor New Orleans, it's not that they don't sympathize. They do. But in the midst of the contstant media attention on New Orleans for over three years now, there has been so little media attention on Mississippi--even immediately after Katrina--that most of y'all aren't even aware that the entire MS coastline--over 80 miles--was completely obliterated by storm surge that was over 30 feet in some areas. The total destruction extended several miles inland, damages totaled over $125 billion, and we were left with 45 million cubic yards of debris which took nearly 18 months to haul away.

Mississippians don't want pity or welfare; they want to move on. While everyone has remained focused on New Orleans, they've scrambled to adjust, to innovate, to make do. They've helped each other, and are continuing to rebound. So hey y'all, come on down and have some shrimp or something, and help out our economy too. But I digress--]

There are a lot of jokes about how dumb everyone is in Mississippi, but unlike inhabitants of the other 49 states we manage to extrapolate critical storm warnings from the Weather Channel without our state ever being mentioned out loud, so at least (a) we know where we are located on a map of the United States, and (b) we can all read the dire warnings running across the bottom of the television screen. That's more literate than some high school graduates in Vermont these days. We're also smart enough to know that if Jim Cantore shows up in our town, we should pack all our valuables and run screaming at 150 miles per hour to Montana, so quit yer nit pickin'.

Speaking of help that isn't particularly helpful, how about FEMA's emergency supply packing list? If you're ever bored, look it up. You could open your own trailer park with all that stuff! How the average family is supposed to evacuate with even half of that in tow is beyond me...maybe we should all keep a Hurricane Preparedness Trailer packed and ready to pull north behind the little economy cars that are all anyone can afford to drive these days? 160 years ago it was "Wagons Ho!" when a great migration beckoned. "Prius Ho!" just doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

My husband and I had recently been venting our frustration on these subjects to one another. The following day, I received the bulletin below from a fellow Mississippian via email. I found it to be refreshingly accurate and genuinely helpful, so I thought I'd provide a public service by sharing it here:


Hurricane season is an exciting time to be in Mississippi . If you're new to the area, you're probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we'll get hit by another "big one." Based on our experiences, we recommend that you follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:

STEP 1: Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.
STEP 2: Put these supplies into your car.
STEP 3: Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.

Unfortunately, statistics show that most people will not follow this sensible plan. Most people will foolishly stay in Mississippi . Therefore, we offer the following tried-and-true hints from seasoned residents of the Magnolia State.


Your house should have hurricane shutters on all the windows and doors. There are several types of shutters, with advantages and disadvantages:

- Plywood shutters: The advantage is that, because you make them yourself, they're cheap. The disadvantage is that if they get hit by a flying lamp post, you're still going to need new windows.
- Roll-down shutters: The advantages are that they're very easy to use, and will definitely protect your house. The disadvantage is that you will have to sell your house to pay for them.


If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out ahead of time. To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license. If it says "Mississippi", you live in a low-lying area. The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two hundred thousand other evacuees. As a bonus, you will not be lonely.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television (if you have a generator to keep the TV going) and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the ocean and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the ocean.

OK y'all...NOW come on down and have some crawfish or somethin'! We'll be lookin' for ya!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Love is in the air

Twice a year, the Gulf Coast is plagued by swarms of harmless black flying insects numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Their slow, drifting movement is almost reminiscent of snow fall. The flights occur twice each year, first in late spring, then again in late summer--for periods of 4 to 5 weeks. The wise Southerner breathes with his mouth shut in March, April, August, and September.

The Lovebug is so named because it spends almost the entirety of its adult life joined below the hip with its mate in one long love fest, even while in flight. After mating, the male dies, but the female drags him around by the hiney anyhow until she lays her eggs.

Lovebugs are the bane of car owners. During peak season, so many of them splatter on the windshield that you need to use your wiper blades and fluid even on short drives. The sheer volume of them plastered on the grill has been known to clog air intakes. If left for more than an hour or two, the remains become dried and extremely difficult to remove without a scraper; because the insect's body is so acidic, it can actually pit and etch paint and chrome.

For reasons nobody seems to know, lovebugs seem to be attracted to lighter colored objects and especially white ones. Rather than get all stressed that your white picket fence or car are now black, try to enjoy the seasonal decorating. Who knows? --the little critters may even inspire you to romance. Just don't try to nuzzle out on the porch swing, or you might get a little something more than sugah in your sweet bubby's kiss!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Today in Numbers

Times I hit the snooze button on the alarm: 0
Hugs and kisses before leaving the house: >20
Huge, unsolicited smiles from passers-by: 6
Spontaneous, spirit-lifting conversations with total strangers: 4
Words of encouragement from acquaintances: 2
Songs in my heart: 1 continuous streaming 'podcast' (Godcast?)

All of this, no less, by 3 pm on a Monday...I am blessed!