Thursday, June 24, 2010

Strength vs. Control

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

I don't know that I can really even adequately explain it, but today has been one of those days when I knew that God was making sure I understand that He is there and working in my life, if I will just slo-o-o-w-w-w down and listen. When it comes to faith and our path in life, it is my opinion, (and that's all it is, so take it with a grain of salt) that we are not "predetermined" to a particular path in life - we absolutely have the choice to do or not do something, and God allows us to make those choices. But He is there with us and helping/leading us, if we will just not always have to be so "in control" and think it is absolutely all our doing.

And I just needed a little reminder of that, I guess. I'm back from vacation this week, wrapping up at my current job. I'm really excited, but also a little nervous about making this big change, and more than a little sad about leaving all the people- and leaving the comfort and familiarity for something that will be brand new and unfamiliar in many ways. As I go through each day, making lists and going through files, etc, that little undercurrent of worry is there...

I had a visit from an old friend today; Phyllis was my first supervisor out of college, when I was an admissions coordinator at a nursing home, and she was the director of the social services department. She was a great mentor for me, and although we've lost touch over the years, I still appreciate her insight and the things she taught me early on in my career. We had a great visit today, and caught up on both business and personal. She changed jobs and careers about a year ago, and it wasn't by choice; she was downsized from her director position with another local health system after several years. But she's doing great, and loving her new job - it was really great to see how happy she is, and hear her talk about how she knows that she's where God wants her to be.

And then I heard this verse from Ephesians tonight, in the power yoga class that I've been attending at the Y. The class is called Selah Strength ; it is a very physically challenging class, but it is also a workout- and then quiet time - for my spirit. I didn't know much anything about the class when I started going six weeks ago, other than it was an intense workout for the core and arms, and a gal in my cycling class was proof of that.

I always enjoy the class, but tonight just really spoke to me. The instructor opens each class with a prayer and starts into stretching and an hour-long workout set to Christian music, a lot of which I recognize from our contemporary service at church. At the end, when we stretch and have a quiet time, she reads a Bible verse, and talks for a few minutes before ending in prayer. Tonight's closing verse was the one above, from Ephesians. The instructor, Rana, read the verse, and then just quietly talked about how each of us are unique, and are made for a specific purpose in life - God gives you talents and abilities, and is there with you...

As I was driving home, I thought "OK, Nancy. You've heard that twice in one day... first, from a friend who you haven't seen in a year, and then it is the verse in Selah tonight... probably a God thing, and not just a coincidence." It was a great reminder to me that He is there with me in this process, and a source of strength and calming, as I move forward.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Squid picker upper

That was my job yesterday, out on the boat. I had managed to steer clear of any fish touching until then, but once it was a necessity (no one else had a free hand to bring Dave a piece of bait) then I was caught - then they knew I could (would) do it. But I drew the line there – NO cutting any squid up, no putting it on a hook, or touching the fish they caught.

Dave and Neil fished both days that Jace and I were in Orlando, so they were ready for some “fun” fishing on Wednesday and Thursday; we all slept in both mornings until 9ish, and then went out in the boat for 3-4 hours. Wednesday we went out about 2-3 miles off shore, to do some shark fishing. It involved a lot of “chumming”… I’ll forgo the details, but basically it involved cutting up fish and putting them in the water behind the boat, to attract the sharks.

The chum did its job, and within an hour Neil had hooked a shark! Then a little while later, Jace reeled one in, too:

The sharks they caught, the 3-foot Atlantic Sharpnose Shark, are one of three species found off the coast of southwest Florida. They weren't huge, but definitely were sharks, with plenty of teeth.

Dave did have one pole set with a hook and bait for a larger shark, an 8-10 foot species; he did get a bite on that line, and it must have been a pretty big one, because it broke the line and took off. I think we were all fine with that, because Dave didn't have the gear to handle one that big. He did have the necessary equipment to unhook the sharks they caught, and then they threw them back, after I took several pictures.

On Thursday's fishing outing, Dave caught this King Mackeral; as he was reeling it in, the mackeral was putting up quite a fight, and leaping out of the water. It was a good four-plus feet long- I put my size 8 flip flop down by it to give an idea of the size. It had some teeth too, but Dave managed to unhook it and throw it back.

Today we drove about an hour and a half south, to the Everglades, and took an airboat tour:

A little windblown!

We saw several alligators, and learned a lot of interesting facts from our guide; alligators eat "real" meals usually only once a month. But many of these are also used to the tours, and are enticed by the guides' treat of... marshmallows, believe it or not! It was very interesting - they only eat what is on the surface of the water, so the guide would throw a rock, and get no response from the gator, since the rock sank as soon as it hit the water. But the marshmallows floated, and the gators headed for them every time.

Tonight we're packing, we'll leave for St. Pete/Clearwater about 8AM. Jace is taking back a bag of sand dollars and shells he's collected over the past few days, and a dried coconut that he found under a neighbor's tree a couple yards down.

Dave and I agreed that this has been our favorite vacation - we missed having Paige with us, that's the only thing that would've made it even better than it was. I think the boys had an awesome time, it was wonderful spending a week at the beach with them, some great experiences and memories.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Jace and I headed to Orlando on Monday and Tuesday, and checked out Universal Studios and Sea World. I really struggled with the choice of what we should do, since "going to Disney World" is what every kid hears about... but since Jace is almost 12, I didn't know if he would really like the younger parts of Disney. After talking to several people in the weeks before the trip, we settled on Universal Studios, which is a movie/TV theme park located in Orlando, and we definitely weren't disappointed.
It was an awesome time, but geez - so hot! The temps have been at 97-99 degrees this entire week, which is not typical for June, according to many people who live here. Sea World was really neat, but I thought they would have more water rides - only one! We drank a lot of water both days, and just tried to keep cool - at least the roller coaster rides helped to cool us off.

One of the shows we saw was on horror movie special effects; computers have definitely changed the industry so much in the past twenty years, but current movie monsters are a still mix between old and new technology. They also demonstrated how to cut someone's arm off (a hesitant audience member was the volunteer) and several other cool things.

The Simpsons ride was our favorite at Universal Studios - it was a simulation ride; we were in a "roller coaster car", four people in two rows, with sides put down, and then all the action took place on the screen that was all around us - like IMAX on steroids. Jace rode it three times; I could only handle two, had to sit out the third time.

Sea World was very cool, although I told Dave afterwards that the actual aquariums/exhibits were neat but I really thought that the New England Aquarium in Boston was better; would love to take Jace there sometime, it was one of my favorite places to visit. But the sealion show was great, they are so entertaining! And we rode Kraken, the "longest and fastest coaster in all of Orlando"... whew!

Shark exhibit at Sea World

Petting the manta rays

Sea Lion show

Jace had a great time, and I was glad we were able to visit - it was my first time to any of the parks as well- there were enough kids in my family that vacations were a very budgeted luxury, and Disney or the like were understandably out of the question, we'd have spent a fortune! This will probably be a one time experience for Jace, and I'm glad he got to do it - especially the special effects, the movie sets, etc. But as far as the rides, I think he'll be just fine to enjoy the coasters etc at Six Flags and Silver Dollar City, which are a little more affordable and closer to home.

Our next day was back in Fort Myers, out on the boat - some shark fishing! More on that soon.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Island Hopping

Our morning started semi-early today, about 7am; I drove Dave and the boys over to Cape Coral to get the fishing boat we had rented for the next few days. Then they boated back over to our rental house, which is located a canal on the back side of Fort Myers Beach. As I waited for them, I fixed some breakfast, packed up some necessities for the day, and then we headed out. The boat is a center console fishing boat, which is a very common boat down here on the ocean, but not so much back home on Tablerock. It is outfitted with multiple fishing pole holders (for lack of a better term), and has some seating, but is really a serious fishing boat. We saw many similar boats out on the ocean today, some rigged out with eight and nine poles and all of the other bells and whistles.

Yesterday we had a quiet first full day here, did a little swimming at the beach, and then walked around and looked in some of the shops on the boardwalk. Our plans for today were to take the boat out to several islands, including a couple that are only reachable by water. I was a little worried, because I have been out on the ocean in a fishing boat one other time, and kept getting seasick every time the boat would stop. But that was in Hawaii, many years ago, and the Gulf is much calmer; I did just fine today.

The weather in southwest Florida has been unseasonably warm for early June, with highs in the mid-to-upper 90s for the past week. It was wonderful to be out on the water, definitely didn't feel the heat and sun, as we zipped around on the water. It was deceiving, how much sun we were getting; even though we applied and reapplied sunscreen, my back is red tonight.

Our first leg of today's trip took about an hour, at a pretty good clip. The houses were huge, some three and even four story homes as we boated northeast up the coast, past Sanibel and Captiva Island; we stopped and dropped anchor on North Captiva island, which is one of the islands only reachable by water. There were some amazing homes there as well, mostly located at the ends of the island; looked like several of the inhabitants traveled there by their sea planes or big cruisers. We stopped at a pretty quiet spot in the middle, not near any homes; seemed to be a popular spot for boaters, with fishing boats and cruisers moored up and down the shore. Jace and Neil put scuba masks on and looked for shells, and when Neil tired of that, he and Dave broke out the football for a little catch. I just enjoyed the water, remembered to bring some noodles to float on today after not having them at the beach yesterday.

After we piled back into the boat, we headed further north to Cabbage Key. The restaurant on Cabbage Key is famous for its cheeseburgers; it is said that Jimmy Buffett's "Cheeseburger in Paradise" was written about this place, and I don't doubt it! The island was purchased by Alan and Gratia Rinehart for $2,500 in 1929, and they then spent over $125,000 developing the resort and amenities that are still there today.

It has been operated by three couples since then, and the present owners have lived on and maintained the resort for the past 30 years. We arrived after the lunch rush, so didn't have to wait to be seated; the restaurant was simple but full of character, with two fireplaces, a bar, and lots of photos of famous visitors. One of the traditions at Cabbage Key is to commemorate your visit by taping a dollar bill to the wall. You can see them hanging from the ceiling in the picture below:

It is estimated that the running total of dollar bills affixed to the walls is at about $70,000, and we added our dollars before we left today.

After lunch we headed back on the intercoastal route, between the islands and the mainland. Dave stopped at a quiet inlet to let Neil try out his casting skills, to catch some bait fish for them to use when they go deep sea fishing tomorrow. Neil had been practicing at home with the net, in the yard, after watching the how-to video on YouTube.

He got the hang of it after a couple of tries, and did net a few fish, although he admitted it was a lot harder to cast it and keep his balance on the front deck of the boat than it was when he practiced in the front yard. As he was casting, we started seeing lightning in the distance and clouds moving closer. We headed back towards Ft. Myers Beach, and I fully expected we would be caught in a torrent of rain, looking at the clouds:

We made it back with just a few sprinkles, and it apparently didn't even rain at our house. Tonight we're preparing for busy days tomorrow - Jace and I are leaving to go to Universal Studios in Orlando, and Dave/Neil are heading out for a full day of fishing. We'll all be leaving the house at 6am, so tonight will be busy with packing before getting a good night's sleep.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Passing the Time

We’re an hour away from Fort Myers Beach, after two days of traveling in the car; it has been an enjoyable trip, nice to spend some time with Dave, given both of our work and home schedules lately. We opted to take his car instead of the Jeep Liberty, a wise choice after he pulled some back muscles last weekend and it is a 20 hour trip. The seats are much more comfortable, but the 1993 Lexus GS (or Cuban gun runner, as my BIL Matt calls it, since it is square and white with dark-tinted windows) is old enough that it only has one cigarette lighter. With the GPS plugged into it, I couldn’t play my iPod, so the radio has been our entertainment all the way here.

Dave is excited just now, because he found a talk radio station, “finally”. I can do without it, but thankfully we’ve also listened to lots of music, and played “name that band” much of the way here. Dave’s got me beat on some of the 70’s music, but I pretty much know the rest and it was fun to pass the time. Whatever we didn’t know we “Shazamed”, with his iPhone – all you have to do is hold it up to the speaker for a few seconds and it gives you the song title, artist, album, etc.

For a gatherer of (mostly useless) information like me, the internet is a wonderful thing. One can pretty much find anything you want to know on Google. Yesterday, we googled “tree with pink flowers”, trying to find/remember the name of a type of tree that was blooming along the roadside as we traveled south. Within less than five minutes, I had my answer – mimosa tree. Technology is a fabulous thing.

I’m looking forward to stretching my legs, unpacking the luggage, and just relaxing. I have all the my vacation necessities: a fresh bag of Churchill’s Sinless Pastry coffee, a stack of library books, a collection of bathing suits (Lord knows I won’t be happy with how any of them look, but I’ll just deal with it), my iPod, and lots of flip flops and other comfy beach attire. More posting and pictures after we get settled in.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Leaving Home

Well, I'm changing jobs after nine years, and it does feel somewhat like I'm leaving home; I'm definitely taking a giant LEAP out of my comfort zone. I'm not going too far from home- I've taken another position within the health system - but my new job will be very different than what I'm currently doing. The decision to pursue the job was made after much consideration, and a lot of prayer, before and during the entire process.

Interviewing for the job was a bit scary, in part because I hadn't interviewed for anything in years, and also because I really wasn't sure that I wanted to change jobs. That sounds silly, considering that I applied for the job, but I initially found myself with mixed emotions when it came down to interviewing and getting serious about leaving my current position. I have the most amazing group of women that work with me here in our little corner of the health system, and thinking of leaving them was the hardest part of even considering a job change.

My new position will be as a physician practice manager in our system; I will have responsibility for 10-12 physician clinics, which will be a total of 30-40 physicians and all of their staff. The interview process was the clincher for me - I felt like I was interviewing them as much as they were interviewing me (in a good way), just to really make sure it was something I could and would want to do. Of course I had asked a lot of questions in the inital interview with the administrative director, but meeting with the other practice managers helped me to get a feel for the job, and I left the interview thinking that I could definitely see myself in the position. It will be very different from what I'm doing now, but I am up for the challenge and ready for the new experience! And it felt good to know that they thought I was a good fit, too - I was their top choice out of six finalists, and 100+ candidates.

Now I'm in the process of wrapping things up and letting everyone know that I'm leaving, and that's the hard part. I hate to say goodbye to all the committees, coworkers, volunteers and friends that I've made over the last several years, although at least I will still see many of them since I'll still be here in the system.

And, to top it all off, we're leaving for Florida in the morning - I guess it is a good thing to get the vacation in NOW before the new job starts. My last day in my current job is July 9, and then I'll hit the ground running in my new position. I'm looking forward to our time in Florida, will post some pics and updates while we're there.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Power yoga, an hour long, last night. I am far from mastering the poses, but where I am is still amazing for me. Those strrrrretches.... my back is so much more flexible, I can bend so much further than I could when I started. And the way I feel in the days after class, as I can see the results, the lengthening of my body and the leanness and definition in my core that hasn't been there for years. The cycling/cardio has been burning calories and building muscle, but this yoga is the other piece of the puzzle for me, the other half of my weekly physical work.

Another step forward, more growth in the past two years of changes for me... Dave and I were talking about it in the car on the way to the lake this weekend - it has been a little over one year since we've been back together, and that year has been a rebuilding for me and for us. But I can't discount the downhills and the valleys that brought me to that low point in my life- and made me realize some things about myself, and about where I wanted to be... as a wife, a mother and a woman, and to start listening to God and what He wants for my life, instead of just what I think is best for me.

I had to be in that valley, and realize some things about myself and about the relationships I wanted, in order to begin this uphill climb - to say goodbye to some of those comfort zones of my life, to find the strength in myself to learn how to break some patterns - patterns that were easy, but not healthy - emotionally, physically or otherwise. Rebuilding and strengthening my relationship with my spouse, but also rebuilding my relationship within myself - how I deal with me, and finding more of "me"- which in turn improves my relationships with those I love the most.

And now I'm opening up and concentrating on my physical self with this new mindset, and it feels awesome. Exercise for me over the past several years has primarily been me and a book on a cardio machine at the gym or walking outside on the trail near our home. Taking that step to join a class was a turning point - out of my comfort zone, not caring if I look stupid while doing lunges or jumping jacks or whatever as we plow through the obstacle course portion of our cross training class on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Watching my endurance increase each week, as I am able to keep up with the instructor, turn up the resistance on the bike, peddle faster, harder and longer. It feels awesome, and makes me want to do even more - and, it helps me make much better food choices, knowing that I don't want to undo all of the work I've accomplished.

More changes in my life, coming very soon, another comfort zone going by the wayside... more on that in the next couple of days. Time to get up and get ready for Jace's Field Day, which was NOT yesterday, it is actually today! (Oops!)