Tiptoeing Through November

“All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hop, skip, or dance, just don’t tiptoe.”~Shane Claiborne

November has always been a month of extremes for us. We’ve come to expect a wild ride through the November’s of our lives. From Dengue and death to awareness and gratefulness, we tiptoe through November in awe of the insight we’ve gained and hopefully the lessons we’ve learned.

This November is no exception. Ron’s mother passed away yesterday. Although, it has been difficult to wrap our heads around the fact that Ron is now an orphan and we are left with only loving memories, Jane gifted us with some remarkable insights for Jane was not a tiptoer through life. She was a dancer.

Jane                                            How Not to Tip Toe Through Life

1. The best things in life are free.
Bear hugs. Jane passed these out freely to everyone in need. “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck,” she said as she hugged children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and elderly patients. There were no strangers in her life, only friends she had yet to meet.

2. Learn the art of empathy. Too often we judge people on too little information. We must try to understand what they do instead, put ourselves in their shoes, start with the assumption that what others do has a good reason if we understand what they’re going through. Life becomes much better if you learn this art. Jane mastered empathy.

3. Be passionate about your career. Jane was born to be a caretaker and a nurse. After seeing the devastating effects of polio in Indiana, Jane returned to Pennsylvania to serve polio patients. During the polio outbreak in the early 1950’s, she worked at the Watson Institute in Pennsylvania. Dr. Jonas Salk conducted his first clinical trials of the polio vaccine at the Watson Institute. Jane was proud to be a part of this groundbreaking event, and as a result she made lifelong friendships with polio patients. 

4. When your child asks for your attention, always grant it. Give your child your full attention, and instead of being annoyed at the interruption, be grateful for the reminder to spend time with someone you love. That was Jane to a “T”.

5. You’re never to old to dance the Hokey Pokey. We’re so caught up in trying to do everything, experience all the essential things, not miss out on anything important … that we forget the simple fact that we cannot experience everything. But, Jane’s secret was: life is better when we don’t try to do everything. Learn to enjoy the slice of life you experience, dance the Hokey Pokey, drink milkshakes, and love unconditionally, and life turns out to be wonderful.

We are on our way to the states to celebrate the life of Jane. Ron’s sister rented a museum for her celebration, which will include dancing the Hokey Pokey, drinking lots of milkshakes, and recalling many fond memories of life with Jane. Here’s to not tiptoeing through life.



Battling Bugs

Chayules…swarms streaming…clusters congregating…gnats gathering…masses mobbing
My house is overflowing…jam-packed…filled to the rafters…overrun with chayules.
To complicate matters, we haven’t had any running water for two days now.

This is the price of paradise. Living lakeside creates some challenges: Chayules are my number one challenge. Two times a year, when the wind shifts and blows from the lake, millions of chayules hatch. They live for 3 days and cover every surface. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is out-of-bounds.

They are relatively harmless little gnats if you don’t mind breathing, eating, and sleeping with them. Lacking running water, the rinse water for my dishes is now a swimming pool of gnats. I had chayule flavored coffee this morning, as I picked them out of my ears and nose. Unable to cook, I ate sandwiches on the beach yesterday. Oddly, they weren’t swarming on the beach…only in our houses.

My neighbor’s kids spent the day at the beach. They helped me gather trash that had washed ashore. We played and bathed in the lake. Marina started a fire on the beach and cooked rice. It was a pleasant afternoon, as long as we stayed out of our houses.

But, when darkness blanketed our beach community and we turned on the lights in our homes, the chayules were unforgiving. Fans swirled the gnats like little tornadoes. A whispering buzz filled our homes, warning us of an impending attack. Babies cried. My cats swatted the gnats relentlessly. There was no escape until the lights went out.

At seven o’clock in the evening, La Paloma was dark. We all sought refuge under our mosquito nets ( those of us who have mosquito nets). When I awoke this morning, all was eerily quiet. Mountains of dead chayules dotted the floors. Carcasses clung to the walls and spiderwebs like curtains.

It’s time for the leaf blower. Living on the beach is challenging at times. Yet, I’m determined to make the best of it. We’re going to invest in a water tank and a pump. It’s easier for me to deal with the chayule attack than to live without running water.

You are probably wondering why we continue to live here. Honestly, the challenges of third world living have made me a better person. I’m more flexible and less stressed… more giving and less greedy…more tolerant and less unforgiving. The intangible qualities of life attract me. Soothing…speculative…mythical qualities. Sometimes it’s like living in a fairy tale.

Well, back to reality. It’s leaf blower time! Maybe today we’ll have a dribble of water. The price of paradise. Is it worth it? You betcha!