Friday, 11 January 2013

Ack! Mosquitoes!

How can I possibly be grateful for mosquitoes, nasty, annoying little things that they are! Here they are so small that you don’t even know that the nasty little vampires are sucking you dry until you find yourself absently scratching away at various body parts. Even more annoying, they NEVER bite Bryce, but seem to hone in on my tender skin! I have been good about this for the past few days, honest I have, trying my best to be grateful while I am concentrating ever so hard on not scratching. If I can just make it through the first half hour, the itching eventually settles down, and becomes at least tolerable. I bought a little bottle of rubbing alchohol to dab on the itchy spots, which seems to help take most of the itch away. 

Bryce, the ever so well prepared outdoorsman comes handily prepared with all manner of bug repellant, but, being a purist, I simply refuse to slather that horrid poison all over my skin. I find it hard to believe that Deet is safe, particularly since it smells so bad!

However, after enduring two days of being eaten alive, I overheard someone say that Dengue fever is bad in the area with all the mosquitoes. Say, what? Here I thought that those pesky things were just a nuisance, completely oblivious that they could be infecting me with a horrible infectious tropical disease…..not exactly what I have in mind to bring back from our trip to paradise!

So, as I slather the dreaded poison all over my body, one more time I admit to my darling husband that he is right, which I am sure he will never let me live down. Meanwhile, I am trying my hardest to think of what I am thankful for in this very itchy circumstance.

Okay, I know that bugs are needed for the health of the ecosystem, I’m sure that mosquitoes are a delicacy for some fabulous tropical bird. I can’t imagine what else they could possibly be good for! I’m grateful for, shall I say it through gritted teeth: Deet! ARGHH! Poison on my body, gross, I can’t stand the smell of it, it makes my eyes water, just the thought of it is gross! I’m grateful that I’m sleeping inside a condo with (mostly) good screens and not sleeping on a park bench somewhere where mosquitoes would be the least of my problems!.....and I’m grateful that there is good medical treatment easily available if I should come down with Dengue fever! (The incubation stage is between 3 and 7 days, so I’ll know in a week if I have to be grateful should I get Dengue fever!!)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Puerto Vallarta Dream Vacation!

We decided to go to Puerto Vallarta for the month of January, because it is too cold in Arizona at that time of the year. (Anytime that I can’t lie by the pool is cold in my books!) The flight went well, considering that we had to transfer from domestic to international in Los Angeles, complete with luggage and dog. We couldn’t believe our luck when we came out of the terminal and asked directions to the international terminal. We were told to go to a traffic island directly across from where we were standing, and a shuttle would come by and take us directly to the international terminal. Within 5 minutes, a van pulled up, helped us load our luggage, and drove us directly to the international terminal. We made it through check in and security, and were at our gate ready to go, within half an hour of landing. Were we impressed with the amazing efficiency of the L.A. airport! 

Our cab driver from the airport in Puerto Vallarta had a hard time finding our condo, and we had never been here before, so we weren’t much help. Bryce had asked for directions from the property management company before leaving home, but they weren’t very helpful, so we ended up with a great tour of the area, with the cabbie stopping every 5 minutes to ask for help. We eventually found the building, but!!! When we got to the condo that we were to be renting, the property management person was a no show, and she wasn't answering her phone. We finally reached the Mexican man who does the yard maintenance, but he said that no one had seen her for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, a nice young man from Vancouver who is renting one of the condos let us sleep in his second bedroom, but it was not exactly how we imagined our first night in Puerto Vallarta would be. 

The next morning, the property management company finally sent someone over to let us in, but the place was really dusty, as it hadn't been used for quite some time. We sat out by the pool until 3:00 when they finally finished cleaning it.

Now, you would think that laying by the pool in paradise wouldn’t be such a hardship, but I found that I had to keep reminding myself to be grateful in all circumstances. It was true that our flight down here went as smoothly as it possibly could have, and I was grateful for that. It was also true that we were rescued from having to sleep on a park bench, or more likely having to find a hotel room on one of the busiest weekends of the entire tourist season. It was also true that we enjoyed our evening visiting with our new friend Nathan, who was a brilliant  young man who has travelled all over the world setting up computer systems for both large companies and for non profits in developing countries. Meeting him was a blessing that we would have missed out on if all had gone smoothly with our original rental agreement. It is also true that the weather was a near to perfect as it could have been as we relaxed by the pool. 

I’m not sure what it is about me that wants to find fault with a situation. It is my default switch, my habit of thought that somehow or other thinks that life should be perfect. When it isn’t, I can so easily fall into grumpiness and complaining, which only makes the situation worse! Knowing that I was going to eventually have to come clean on this blog, though, helped me to stay focused on seeing the good in the experience. We ended up having a pretty good couple of days in spite of the challenges, and are now happily ensconced in our lovely P.V. home away from home. In fact, we might never leave!

Monday, 7 January 2013

“Be Thankful in All Circumstances”

Jan. 7, 2012

I came across this verse in the Bible almost eight years ago while I was grieving the death of my son. During the first few months after the accident, I was unable to do much other than sit and read my Bible and write. I just surrendered to the grief, as wave after wave of immense, soul wracking pain threatened to wash me away and smash me to bits in a tsunami of tears. As I went through the process, there seemed to be two parts to my consciousness: the intellectual side that knew that my son was gone and nothing would bring him back; and my mother’s heart that was full of a thousand questions and irreconcilable whys. Why didn’t he look before he crossed the road? Why was the taxi driver that hit him so careless? Why didn’t he just break a leg instead of being fatally injured? Why? Why? Why?

The futility of these questions eventually began to sink in, as I came to terms with the unalterable truth, and nothing would ever change the fact that my son was gone. I will not see my son this side of heaven again, and I eventually came to see that my very happiness depended on my ability to accept the unacceptable. One of the things that helped me was this bible verse, which is found in 1 Thes. 5:18. I had trouble wrapping my mind around what this verse was saying, and argued with God, saying, “You have got to be kidding, how can I possibly be thankful for my son’s death?” However, I quickly saw that being grateful in a circumstance was not the same as being grateful for the circumstance. 

The reason that my faith is so enduring is because I have tested the precepts in the Bible and found them to be powerful. Every time that I have trusted God, He has proven His unshakeable love and grace. I swallowed hard and decided to take the faith plunge as I decided to depend on Him to take care of me, and I said a prayer of thanks that went something like this: “Father God, I will never be glad that my son died, but I trust you and give thanks to you in the midst of my sorrow.” As I prayed this prayer, I felt a significant shift within, some of the blackness began to lift, and I started to see God’s goodness, love and mercy that had been buried all along in the depths of my grieving . 

Surviving such a devastating loss holds within it the gift of gaining a greater perspective on life. I have found that the usual things in life don’t usually faze me, as most challenges are insignificant in comparison to losing a child. I have also been given the blessing of greater appreciation of the small moments. I have learned only too well that the people that we love are transient, we cannot hold onto them no matter how desperately we wish to. Our children grow up and leave us in one way or another, friends sometimes move on, parents die, and families change. I try to savour every experience as if it is my last, as I know only too well that it may be. 

In spite of these valuable life lessons, seven and a half years later, I occasionally find myself getting grumpy about silly little things, and forgetting to be grateful in all circumstances. My challenge to myself for the New Year is to practice gratitude, no matter what my circumstances. I intend to blog on these situations and to share how this attitude impacts the situation. I challenge those of you who might read this blog to do the same and add to the discussion on this blog so that others might see how gratitude in all circumstances impacts your life.