About Me~, Poetry, Writing

Forty -Nine~

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Stars Collide

Only sixteen, 

I was a mess of clumsy limbs, 

with my head going faster than my feet most days.

Tangled curls of black hair, forever in my eyes.

He was tall, 

his eyes as green as the leafy oaks in summer.

In that moment,

the world somehow seemed,

as if gravity were suddenly released .

And I knew, 

knew that if I didn’t make him mine,

I would fly off into space un-moored,

forever losing something 

cosmically wonderful.

So I took hold 

of his lumber-scarred hands,

and I’ve never let him go.

Ruby Jeanette Woods

Happiest of birthdays to the love of my life,

Thank you for all you are, and for making the world a kinder , gentler place.

I’m a better person because I know you.

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Bitter or Better ? ~

Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.
— H. Jackson Brown Jr.

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The world’s a crazy place these days.  Everywhere you look , every web page that flashes onto our screens seems to just scream negativity doesn’t it?  You can’t even leave a status on FaceBook  without people spewing their personal outrage about what you’ve said.  For some reason anger, jealousy, and profanity seem to be the knee-jerk reactions to everything .  I’ve been accused of being a Pollyanna , naive, or even just stupid for being a positive person.  I’ve had people glare at me, or even swear at me for smiling at them and speaking kindly.

I first started waitressing when I was 13 years old, in a little cafe in the town about 10 miles from where I live. My older sister worked there full time , so the  manager let me tag along , so to speak , to learn the ropes.  I had a lot of great teachers there, from the fry cooks in the back in the kitchen , to the night managers, to the owner. But one of the lessons that ran solidly through with all of them was that the more upbeat your attitude, the better your workday would go,  and the greater the likelihood that you would achieve success.  Always try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes.  Maybe they had a hard day at work. Maybe there were troubles at home for them. Maybe even they were on drugs.  Learn everything that you could about each customer.  The more you knew about them as people, the better you could serve them. It made a huge difference.

It’s why I’ve always loved the above quote.  Everyone , EVERYWHERE  is experiencing some type of struggle. Maybe it’s not obvious. You may never know what it is. It could be physical, mental or emotional. It might be something so horrible that they feel they can never speak of it again.  It only comes out in rage , or even silence. The real truth is , we can only be responsible for US.  OUR reactions. OUR words.  So every day , with each person you meet, ask yourself, “Will they leave this encounter with me, bitter, or BETTER?”  

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Like I Haven’t Heard THAT ONE Before~ “You Don’t LOOK Sick!”

This is me. I like like poetry, writing it, reading it, hearing Robert Burns read in Gaelic style. I’m not going to tell you my age , if you know me well enough to have read my blog, or just know me well enough, then you know how old I am. I have black hair, and green eyes. 10603462_729906193748723_4065940491525995201_n 10411255_729906263748716_5728919877270098224_n 10625102_729906277082048_4005102635514899624_n

So here in this picture you might make all kinds of assumptions. She looks young , vibrant and healthy. She looks like she enjoys spending lots of time outdoors, and is fairly active. She looks good. But here are some more pictures of me.

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This is what I look like too. I have systemic lupus erethemetous. I also have complete heart failure, nervous system damage, seizures. Raynaud’s phenomenon ( a circulatory problem that causes your extremities to turn blue, purple or even black with cold) , Sjogren’s ( an auto immune condition that causes extreme dryness in your joints, and other areas such as your mouth , eyes and soft tissues.)  , and also POTs. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome a rare heart condition caused by my lupus damaging my nerves in my heart. I get adrenaline overload almost constantly from these, and so my heart rate runs a constant 125 sitting still , if I attempt to move or do any activity it will shoot up closer to the 200 bpm mark. I only have 30% function of my heart, and have such extreme allergies that just the very smell of certain things can cause me to have an extreme reaction . So WHY did I show you these? Because I want you to know what a person with lupus REALLY looks like. To know that we deal with excruciating pain on a daily basis, but still manage to look that first set of pictures. We don’t want your sympathy. We want your compassion and understanding. We want you to know that people DON’T take us seriously BECAUSE we DON’T look sick. We’re warriors every day . Our bodies are the enemy, and the weapons the doctors have given us are very limited. What we have is fatal. Yes, I said fatal. There is NO cure for lupus. It is the zombie of the disease world, eating us from the inside out. And yet, we still manage to get up, smile, walk on, love our families, and still hold joy for life, however short it is.  So maybe that’s why we choose to make sure that people see us this way, and why we hear SO often that dreaded phrase, “But you don’t LOOK sick!!”

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About Me~

GobSmacked~

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Have you ever had someone make you so angry , that you were struck with laughter? I mean literally ? You laughed? That the person could be so absolutely so gobsmackingly stupid as to say something so baldfacedly in-your-face that all you could do was to laugh? I have , and just today. And the problem was it was my teenage son that said it. I mean don’t get me wrong , I love my boys, and they are good boys. Just about 99.99 % of the time. But every now and again one or the other of them says something that you are just struck either completely dumb, struck with laughter, or with the absolute desire to run screaming for the hills. I know completely that my mother stood over a cauldron with herbs and a little stirring stick and said the words to curse me, for I have a child who is the spitting image of meself. In face, in body language, in compassion , (people tell me, not I, in heart also ) , oh but also , also , in that wee bit of rebellion that rises up and says ” Make ME. Just MAKE ME” And let me tell me you if it had not been for my dear old Dad , I swear I would not speak with a full set of teeth now, for I was twice the handful he is , I assure you. My mother earned every one of her beautiful grey hairs. I know I will make it through these times for they are 13 and 15 and we have not far to go, but whew. This morning I was tempted to run to my mother’s just up the hill and beg forgiveness for every gobsmacking thing I had ever said or done , and beg her to reverse the curse, but then I thought , “No , this is my due penance, and she is deserving of watching me pay it. ” Then I thought I shall go to the kitchen and get out a own cauldron this eve, and say some things of my own.

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Quicksilver~

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He knows the routine by heart now. He knows the way around the building like a seasoned veteran. He pushes me in my wheelchair without any need of help from anyone . Fifteen ,going on thirty, he makes the turns in the hospital warrens completely sure of where he’s headed . Left , right, up , down, to the elevator with the big yellow circle. Up to cardiology. Sign in, give your papers to the nurse, settle down to wait. They call his name, and he pushes me completely confidently, not that he needs me, but he knows that I need to know what they will tell him when he goes back there. He turns right for the EKG room , and takes his shirt off without being asked. He smiles at me , and asks me if “I” am alright? I am , so we go to the next room to get his pacemaker checked by the Medtronic expert. This is his second implant to have had. He got his first one when he was 9 months old. His second when he was 7 years old. He has a rare heart condition called Complete AV block of the heart. So he’ll always have to have a pacing unit , he knows. He doesn’t seem to mind, doesn’t see himself as disabled. Sees it as more of an aggravation than anything else. Time out of his busy boy’s schedule . The Medtronic ladies come in , and he flirts with them , of course, like any boy with his shirt off should. Then we wait for the doctor . It’s a bit of a wait so my big boy gives me his special smile and wants to know if I’m okay? He’s concerned that all this has taken too long, and I am worn out now. I tell him I’ll be fine , a little while longer. Finally, the doctor comes and does the regular exam , and tells us , we’ll be alright to wait and get a new unit until Summer . My son seems unfazed as usual , his world hasn’t changed at all, he is just worried over wheeling me out to the van so I can get comfortable. I am suddenly struck with wonder . Wondering when he grew from a toddler needing , needing , to this half grown man worrying worrying over me? When did I miss that drastic of a change? Or did it come about slowly somehow, slipping by me like quiksilver through the days til suddenly there he stands? I’m not sure, but it has happened just the same. And something tells me it will happen again just that quickly and again , and again, til all the silver has gone from the glass and his own big boy stands there with the smile, asking ” Are you allright?”

About Me~, Uncategorized

No Make-up Necessary~

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(Today is Restful Wednesday! Or Nap Day. 🙂 No dressing up, or application of make-up required. I have decided that on Wednesdays I am going to have a day just to rest. I will do my blog posting and FaceBook early if possible, and not worry about anything but rest, at least for Wednesdays. Because,I have decided that my health is like that L’Oreal commercial, it’s worth it! If you are tired, this is a public event, so get your favorite jammies and join in. Find your special spot on the sofa, and let’s just take care of ourselves for one day! )

Fatigue. It is probably THE hardest symptom of lupus to explain to people. Yes, I know , everyone gets tired. We’ve all had those days where we felt like we just couldn’t roll out of bed. And sure, we’ve all had those days where we COULD roll out of bed, and just didn’t WANT to…….:) But what my non-lupie (those without lupus) friends don’t “get” is that the fatigue of this disease is SO much more severe than anything they can imagine. I know that might sound harsh, and you can say I’m exaggerating if you want, or being dramatic, but it’s the truth. There’s nothing like it. The only way I know how to explain it to those who care enough to ask, is to say , Imagine the worst case of flu you ever had. Remember how tired having the flu makes you feel. How just making it from the bed to the sofa in the living room is so exhausting you think you might have to call the ambulance. Got that flu feeling/memory in your mind? Alright. Now. Imagine that it NEVER goes away. That every day when you wake up this is the first feeling to hit your body. That no matter how much you slept the night before , you are still NOT rested when you get up. But stuff still has to be done doesn’t it? Housework, taking the kids to their activities, being a functioning human being….etc…. When you have the flu , it just lasts maybe a week tops, and people understand. They’re sympathetic. “Oh, you poor baby. The flu is so awful!” But , when this becomes your life, people are a lot less understanding, let me tell you. They really start to get that whole, “Well, we’re ALL tired!” attitude with you. “Suck it up.” I’m not complaining, really. I know there are people who are never going to understand. These folks are never going to “get” it , so to speak. But, I just wanted to write, and let everyone know. The next time someone with lupus says , “I am exhausted!” or they make their joke / not a joke about needing a day just for naps, you might picture a flu day in your mind, and understand maybe a little bit better…. There’s also an awesome story in the lupus community called “The Spoon Theory” that I sometimes give people to read when they really WANT to understand…….it explains it so well, you can read it here……..http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/wpress/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

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Making the Grade~

Well , we got our first set of tests results back for our homeschool ( end of the year) testing. My son did really well! He scored above his grade in math, and reading was okay , too. We haven’t gotten set #2 for the youngest boy yet. I know it sounds silly, and it’s probably just the way the “establishment” would have me to think, but I worry every year! “Did they learn enough?” , “Are we working hard enough?” “Should I add this subject, or that one?” And every year, they prove that they can pass the test, and ARE learning what they need to know. Of course, school is not just addition or American History. When you homeschool, the whole world is where you learn. At the store, helping the elderly. Church and community. It doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can do advanced chem, but have no compassion for your fellow man. I mean, sure, you NEED math, and spelling and all those things. But it’s NOT what really makes the world go ’round. We don’t just need “educated” children. We need children of character. That’s the funny thing about children. They don’t just learn in that set time of books and pencils. They learn every minute of every day. What they see, what they hear, and what they are shown is the TRUE education that they receive. I guess my only real hope would be, that when the time comes to stand on their own as men of honor and respect, they can pass that most important of tests.

About Me~

The Things That People Say~

Meeting strangers can be an odd experience.  I love to talk to people of all colors, shapes, sizes and life experiences, so when I was 13 I got a job. I was a waitress in a small family style restaurant.  Eye has not seen, nor ear heard the strange things that you encounter as a waitress.  And despite what people say contrariwise, you CAN tell when it’s a full moon, because we always got the most eccentric people in on those nights.  Some people’s stories I never did learn, as they were just passing through.  But we had our regulars.  I’ve always had a compassion for those with mental illnesses, and it really bothered me when some of the waitresses would not wait on those who were “different”.  We had one young man who came in who obviously had problems.  He was never violent, just very much in his own mind , his own world.  A bunch of the girls said to me , “You go wait on him. He smells funny, and he thinks your his girlfriend!”  and they laughed and laughed.  Things like that just make me burn!  Of course , he was always polite, but he was just very different. And he talked about a lot of REALLY different things.  I got to have a lot of experiences like that, and I think I’m better for them.    But I guess if had to name the MOST unexpected thing I ever heard from a stranger, it would be this.  A very quiet man came through our drive through one night, and ordered. He spoke so softly I had to lean to hear him when he came around to pay.  He was dressed very neatly and cleanly, and was driving a VERY nice car.  A Jag.  I had never seen him in the restaurant before, and wondered who he was.  Before I could make polite conversation, he asked me , “Are you from here?”, I replied yes.  “What is your name?”, he wanted to know.  So I told him, Jeanette.  He took his food bag from my hand and ever so softly says to me, “The most beautiful women in the world are named Jeanette.”  , and he drove away.  I only saw him a few more times after that, and he never said anything else other than “Thank you.” or what he needed to say to order his food.  I did find out later what the man’s name was, and where he lived.    Sometimes I miss waitressing, and seeing and meeting all those unique people.  I don’t mind the differences.   Different to me is just a kind of beautiful.  Maybe you have to dig a little deeper, or look through the glass just a certain way.  But the ugliest people I’ve ever known were the ones who were ugly on the outside.

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About Me~, Uncategorized

Simplicity~

I like simple.  Simple is good.  Simple is easy.  Simple allows you to focus on the important things in life.  Our house rules are very simple.  We only have six.

The Woods Family House Rules~

1. Treat EVERY-one the way YOU want to be treated.  Even a small child can understand this.  All you have to ask them is “How would you feel , if? ”  Your toy was taken , or someone pushed you? We first learn by the example we have set before us. We learn to interact based on the way we are interacted with by others. This is the most important rule, hence it’s status as number one.  If we filter everything we say, do, think and feel about others , based on what we ourselves would like, there will be a lot less strife, and turmoil.  If we ask ourselves, “Would I want someone to say that to me?” , and the answer is no, then we shouldn’t say it!

2. If you dirty it up , you clean it up.  We have to learn that when we grow up , keeping our own areas clean is a great habit to have.  We all live healthier when we live clean.

3.  If you take it out , you put it away.  We also need to learn that when we keep our stuff in a specific place we are more likely to know where it is when we need it.

4.  If it’s hungry , feed it.  Our animal friends and even our children need food for nourishment and to  grow the way God has planned.  We can also be spiritually hungry and need to fed in this way also.

5. If  it’s thirsty , water it.  Animals and pets depend on us to make sure they have clean water. They can not run to the store and get bottled.  When we take on the responsibility of a pet, or of another human being, we have to be diligent in making sure they do not get thirsty.  We also have to remember to teach our children that our inner selves can become thirsty too!

6 If it cries , love it.  This is almost as important as number one.  All people need love.  From the smallest to the greatest.  Even the most hardened soul has a part somewhere that longs to be loved , accepted , cared for , for the person we are now, and not the person we are going to be.  Love is so powerful!  And compassion!  These two MUST go hand in hand.

So there you have it.  Those are the rules I kept posted for the boys when they were little.  Six simple little things that even the tiniest kid can understand.  I am happy to say that my boys have taken most of these to heart.  We still have to work at it, but they understand the principles behind the ideas.  See, I always knew when they were little that this was the kind of people I wanted them to be.  Not the smartest. Not the most successful in business.  Not the ones with the biggest car or house. I wanted my boys to know true success is being known as a man of honor, of empathy, of kindness and dare I even say it, of grace.  If they can become those kinds of men, maybe I will have accomplished a not-so -simple task after all.