Don’t Lose Your Marbles

Jar of Marbles by DazT

I’ve always loved Saturdays. As a kid, it meant Pop was home all day, and he’d make waffles, pancakes, or muffins for breakfast. It meant cartoons, visiting my grandparents’ house, no school work.

As a teen, Saturdays took on the meaning of movie night, time with friends, no school work.

As an adult, I reverted to some of my favorite childhood activities: cartoons in the morning and painting shows in the afternoon. Saturdays meant no “real work,” a day when I could paint and be creative.

Now, Saturdays once again mean no “real work.” I’ve set them aside as a day of relaxation and renewal, leaving myself free to draw, write, or play to my heart’s content.

But not too long ago, I lost sight of Saturday. While editing our new novel, writing became work. The freelance graphic design I couldn’t complete during the week spilled over to my weekend, and art became work. Days blended together. I got stuff done, but I didn’t take time to enjoy Saturday…to enjoy life.

A precious jewel of a day

Something else I’ve always loved are marbles. When I was a kid, I thought those swirling, multicolored glass orbs were every bit as beautiful as precious stones. Unfortunately, most of mine came from the same set, all similar shades of drab green and yellow. Very boring. But every so often, I’d come into possession of one that was larger or smaller or more colorful than the ordinary marble. To me, that was a real treasure.

In the book Charging the Human Battery, there’s a story in which the author likens Saturdays to marbles:

I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about 75 years…I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3,900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime…

It took me until I was 55 years old to think about all this in any detail, and by that time I had lived through over 2,800 Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be 75, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1,000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container…

Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.

There’s nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight. ~ From Charging the Human Battery by Mac Anderson

When I let “real work” take over my life, the days become like those old green marbles: all the same size, shape, and color. If I really wanted rainbows of glass when I was a kid, I could have made the extra effort to go out and buy them. But it was easier to just complain a little about my lot in life and enjoy the few bits of beauty that I got my hands on. Much the same way, it’s easier to let work take over the weekends, rather than go out of my way to plan, schedule, and enjoy re-creation time.

Our days of life are precious and brief. Letting a Saturday pass by unnoticed is like dropping a jewel into the trash.

I can’t salvage the ones I’ve missed, but I can surely treasure what’s left. I won’t put a finite number on them—as far as I’m concerned, the only limit on human life is 120 years. But I intend to fill a vase with gorgeous, unique marbles, and keep it close by…to remind me.

So. What are you doing next Saturday?

“Jar of Marbles” photo by DazT

Tag, I’m It!

I’ve been blog-tagged!

My good friend Melanie has tagged me to share 5 facts about myself on my blog, and to tag five other people to do the same!

Here are the rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog. 2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird. 3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. 4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.


So here goes: 5 facts about me:

1.I have been thrown from a horse.

2.I survived carbon monoxide poisoning

3.I can do the Upward Bow pose in Yoga

4. I’ve designed a 10-foot-tall stained glass window in a church

5. I know a huge amount of Disney Trivia

And I tag Susan, Sean, Kelly, Stacy, and Mick!


I’m Not As Cranky Anymore

I can’t stand it, but sometimes I catch myself with such negative, defeatist, discouraged thoughts.  I was just doing that without realizing it.  I’m working on managing my client’s (sister’s) photography business details right now, and I was feeling the press of too much to do, not enough time in which to do it, thoughts of how I could have done some things better—or managed my time more properly.   Thoughts getting tangled, going down, down, down, into the realm of grumbling.

I have Christmas music on repeat…you know how it is with “repeat,” it becomes a nice background, and you hardly hear it, except for a word here and there.  It’s that way for me, at least.   But suddenly, as my thoughts grew gnarled and dingy, suddenly, all I could hear was the music.

Todd Agnew singing “God With Us.”  Emmanuel, God With Us.  The King abides with us.  Todd Agnew’s raspy, powerful voice, with a soaring chorus as accompaniment.  Symphony music that wraps around one’s heart and pulls it Heavenward with silver strings.  Ending on the soft hint of the timeless notes to “We Three Kings”…the Magi.

The King abides with us.  Suddenly I feel like I can do anything in the world, in record time.  Suddenly I know my King is here with me.  I see golden lights where there used to be darkness.  I feel arms surrounding me, as a safe refuge. 

I’m not alone…it will be all right.  Thanks, Todd.   

And thank you, my King.



Imagine how it is to wade through waist-deep water. It’s challenging to do, especially when you want to move quickly. That’s how my thinking feels on a daily basis.

Now try to imagine how it would be to wade through waist-deep mud. That’s how I feel while trying to think on a bad day.

Four years ago, my family and I were made aware of the fact that we had been exposed to chronic carbon monoxide poisoning. Over the course of a year and a half, without our knowledge, varying levels of carbon monoxide were being emitted by three gas-burning appliances in the rural farmhouse we were renting. From what we’ve been able to piece together, the levels of CO were typically low to moderate, and at times shot up to almost deadly proportions.

The only thing my Dad, Mom, teenage sister, and I knew was that we felt terrible. We had severe headaches; dizziness; numbness in our faces, hands, arm, and legs; whistling and ringing in our ears; nausea and other digestive troubles; horrible fatigue; escalating depression; blurred thinking; memory loss; heart palpitations; the list goes on. Ironically, the same house had also served us with e-coli bacteria in the water when we first moved in. Though the e-coli problem was quickly detected and resolved, we attributed our declining health to it…simply because we didn’t know what else it could be. We had always been healthy and active, until we moved into that house. The thought of carbon monoxide came to my father, and he contacted the gas company. But their representative told us the house tested clean for CO.

We called them in five times over the course of a year and a half. Each time we were told that carbon monoxide was not present. We desperately attempted to find another reason for our health troubles…while our minds slowly slipped away from us. It was like walking into a dark tunnel filled with fog—we left clear thinking behind and stepped into darkness, as heavy numbness wrapped around our thoughts.

We had moved to another state, away from all our friends and family. The unexpected problems resulted in financial challenges, so moving again was difficult—to us, at the time, it seemed impossible. As I look back now, I’m overwhelmed with guilt over not simply packing up and leaving, despite being broke. I find myself trying to make excuses for something I was physically and mentally unable to do at the time. Last year, a friend put it in perspective for me—she said, “You needed someone to rescue you. You couldn’t rescue yourself.”

Thank Heaven, part of that rescue did come. A prospective buyer brought an inspector to the house one day—and when the man tested the basement appliances for carbon monoxide, he found the second-highest levels he had ever seen in a home. He told us we were “lucky we didn’t wake up dead.”

It’s been a long journey since that day. Recovery, rebuilding life, has been my main occupation. Carbon monoxide deprives the blood of oxygen, causing brain damage. I’ve come away with many after-effects, not the least of which is a constant tremor in my hands and forearms. Oh yes, and memory loss. I never used to take notes in my work, because my brain was my filing cabinet—I could remember everything. These days, I describe it as my “Swiss-cheese memory.” That’s exactly what it’s like—I have blank spaces where I know something should be. Sometimes those spaces will suddenly blink into view for a minute…oftentimes, they won’t.

I am an artist and a writer by profession. I can no longer draw a steady line. I can’t think of words. I used to have sharp thinking—I was able to mentally “look” at the project I was working on, see the work at hand and visualize what I wanted to do with it. I could see far ahead, past the current project, and on to other plans. If I added music in the background, my brain would burst afire with inspiration and ideas.

Right now, when I sit down to draw, I have to stare at my paper and try to remember all the things I want to do. Then I need to find the impetus to do them. It’s like trying to get a boulder rolling. My brain feels fuzzy, slightly numb. I know what I want to do, but I can’t see the whole picture. (Figuratively! And literally—nobody can see the whole picture till I draw it.)

I have a great drawing sitting in front of me right now, and I need to paint it—somewhat quickly now, so I can list it on eBay this evening—and I’m enthusiastic about the plethora of opportunities that are before me today. Yet my brain is wading.

I put on some Newsboys music, “Secret Kingdom,” and with the first burst of music and percussion, I was suddenly inspired. It felt like I had been closed up in a warm, stuffy room, and suddenly somebody turned a light on and opened the door, letting in a blast of fresh, cool air. It opened my eyes and awoke my thinking.

But the fuzziness gathers quickly back into my brain…so I need to work while I have the mind for it. I’ll keep the music going, have a cup of coffee, and try to keep the boulder rolling. This is how my day goes, almost every day.

A small suggestion—no, make that a desperate plea: have your gas appliances checked professionally twice a year. The fire department and gas company will do it for free. If you still feel lousy for no reason, go to the emergency room. Tell your friends and family how you are feeling. And watch your friends and family, please.

They may need somebody to rescue them.


For more information on carbon monoxide poisoning and safety, please click here.