My 50th Blog Post and 50th Birthday

In case you didn’t notice, it’s been a while since I posted. My plan was a grandiose 50th post giveaway on my 50th birthday so that you could have a chance to win a few nice prizes and celebrate with me. Don’t worry though, we will have a giveaway sometime soon!

Theoretically, my 50th birthday should have been a most delightful experience! It was a great celebration with parties and decorations, cards and presents, cakes and dinners out! It’s just that I did not feel the celebratory nature within myself that I had hoped. I wasn’t quite prepared like my friend, who has a 50th birthday next year, and has already been working on 50 things to do before her 50th year is over. Darn, I should’ve thought to do something to emotionally prepare before hand. Unlike many people, I did not have any issues with turning 30 or 40 or any other age….and then suddenly 50 hit, as if I didn’t know it was on it’s way. What was different? Well, as it turns out nothing is different besides having an extra reason to celebrate – that, even against odds, with my disability, I manage to live a productive and fulfilling life without too many unexpected health glitches for 50 years! Hooray!

Thankfully, I spring back quickly and don’t lollygag in my sorrows, realizing with gratitude the wonderful life I live. Gratitude is my recurring theme and medicine…my husband, my health, my family, my friends, my church, my hope in Jesus…the list goes on and on. Yes, you might be sick of hearing me say it.

Now that the ‘big’ day has actually passed, I am fully excited about the new year and all of the prospects of growth before us. My goals this year include a few that are quite a stretch for me – but that’s for another day’s discussion. Let us get on with our accomplishments and make a 2012 difference wherever we are called.

Have a peek in to my first week of 2012….it’s been a bit ‘me’ focused…

My friends for 35 years and pastors for over 25, John and Beth Fichtner, kicked off the first day of 2012 with an early birthday dinner.
We spent four days taking care of a friend’s golden-doodle, Hooper. Can you tell Brent is the dog whisperer?
We had to leave Hooper at home while went we to our Friday night church where Brent surprised me with a party afterwards! He amazed me with his impressive decorating and food coordination! Usually I lead the way when it comes to entertaining. Thank you Brent and thank you to my ‘seasoned sisters’ and all of the other friends that attended.
Special thanks to Andrea and Hannah who brought a toy for Tahoe who patiently waited in the van during the party.
‘The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.’ Abe Lincoln

After the party, my present was Hooper and Tahoe…
Sweet sleep…

On my ‘actual’ birthday, I was greeted by mooing in the front yard. Maybe I should ‘Eat Mor Chikin’ – I’m glad I’m not among the obese in this nation…I might have taken the cows personally.

Don’t I look excited? Cows via one of my ‘over fifty’ brothers and sister-in-laws (Brian and Ann) and my precious nieces, Leah and Maya.
Topping off the day with flounder from an amazing new restaurant nearby. We had the best table in the house. Believe it or not, that was half a serving!

He is my hero for life. I love him.

Try it if you are in the Atlanta area. I read a review that said, ‘Finally, a real restaurant in Marietta’.

Door decorations…

Homemade brownies and candies in our ‘Christian Believer’ class the next day. One of my bffs, Cynthia, baked. After the food was almost gone I snapped a photo!

Oh yes, flowers and Godiva from my sister-in-law, Linda, arrived the day after, too. Nothing like making a celebration last…I needed the chocolate because I missed Hooper who had just gone home.

By the way, I was made for this year! My maiden name is Pentecost which means 50, and biblically, Pentecost is when the power of the Holy Spirit came to believers of Christ – and the Jews consider the 50th year the year of jubilee!! It’s the year of release and redemption! During this year all debts were canceled back in the day…guess America could use a concept like that about now.

Thank you everyone for a fabulous 50!. Let’s have a great 2012!

PS. Don’t worry, I’m emotionally stable….now.

Hawaii – Blast on the Big Island

As colder weather invades the northern hemisphere, I’m drawn to thoughts of balmy beaches and caramel colored sunsets like the ones we relished on the Big Island of Hawaii a few years ago. Year-round the temperatures range from the 60’s at night to the 80’s during the day. Climate perfection! My disability and wheelchair are obstacles in travel situations, but thankfully with focused effort, they can usually be overcome. We’ve trekked across the Pacific several times for both business and pleasure. We were blessed with great situations that made the Hawaiian paradise an affordable excursion each time.

Transportation is an extra challenge with a heavy non-collapsible power wheelchair. When our plane arrives at most destinations, we wait for the chair to be brought to the gate, or I get off the plane and use an over-sized airline wheelchair while we wait for airport staffers to bring my chair. The airline’s ‘manual’ wheelchairs make my small frame feel like a floppy Raggedy Ann doll. Thankfully, I didn’t need to use the airline’s chair when we arrived in Kona. Other passengers disembarked via the stairs while I anxiously waited for a makeshift jet-way/lift-truck that raised my chair to the plane and lowered me to the tarmac. It was the first time I’d felt like merchandise in Home Depot. See the Orange and White on the lift-truck? Home Depot colors, too!

Our next challenge was a short wheelchair accessible ride to our condo on the Kohalo Coast. We splurged for the ramped van rental during our stay to make sight-seeing more convenient.

Pre-planning and research is definitely a must. There are merely a few rent-able wheelchair vans on the island!

We settled into the fully equipped timeshare unit that Brent’s sister and brother-in-law let us use…did I say blessed? Beaches are fabulous for relaxing, but we needed adventure.

We booked a wheelchair accessible snorkeling tour out of Kona. The boat had a ramp for my chair and extra men to help lift me in and out of the water for snorkeling.

I made a superb cart for snorkels, masks and fins, too.  And in case you are wondering, no…I don’t use fins, and Brent shouldn’t need any with his size 15 feet!

The snorkeling excursion was a little choppy, but I managed not to suck water in through my snorkel and afterwards we enjoyed the cruise back to Kona together.

When we took a gander above us, we only saw the feet of fellow snorkelers on the upper deck. Darn. It was not accessible!

We employed a not so accessible mode of transportation in a helicopter.

Only the brute force of several men could get me in the ‘Madge-sized’ seat!  ‘Blue Hawaiian Helicopter’ staff were exceptionally helpful and accommodating.

On our two hour tour we got a bird’s eye view of the lava fields. They were accessible by helicopter, but too dangerous for walking or four wheeling!

Hot lava flowing into the sea.

We headed up the coast toward the fertile Waipio Valley. Note the other helicopter in the distance for perspective of the valley’s enormity.

We marveled at the stunning waterfalls.

Hawaii is truly a paradise. Winter is a lovely time of year to visit not only for the perfect climate, but also for the peak whale watching. Whether you are walking or wheeling, Hawaii is a destination for a bucket list.

Waiting for warm weather,


I Love You Siri – Even with Your Problems

Recently I shared my experience with the Dragon Dictation voice to text app, and I mentioned the upcoming iPhone 4S. Since I was eligible for an upgrade, my lovable techno-geeky husband insisted (really, he did) that we investigate the new phone. He’s so generous to give me the upgraded phone and inherit my older model. He’s just that kind of guy.

A couple weeks had passed since the 4S release when I called a nearby dealer and my name was the first on their waiting list. Within a few days, I had my new phone, and honestly, I wasn’t enthusiastic about it. I thought my iPhone 4 was just fine. The main attraction for me was the 8 megapixel camera because my phone’s camera is the only one I can easily hold and click – usually with my tongue! The 4S camera is much better than the iPhone 4’s.

Now that I have the 4S, I wouldn’t want to be without it! Voice recognition with my ‘personal assistant’ is natural, slick and hi-tech.

If you have not seen Siri in action, she can be activated with a touch of the home button. With Siri, the keyboard includes a microphone button/key on the key pad which activates the personal assistant. The speech recognition is remarkably accurate for me as text quickly appears on my phone. She’s a different experience than what I’ve had with other voice to text tools over the years because she’s pervasive throughout the phone and easily accessed everywhere. What a time-saver! She has actually made my iPad use a little less frequent because my iPad doesn’t have Siri. At least not yet. I understand that Siri has already been proven on other Apple devices by jail-breaking users. Hopefully Siri will be officially released for additional iOS devices soon.

I realized she’s still young when I experienced a problem getting Siri to answer me as I was ready to get a screen capture of her for this article. I asked her a question and she kept telling me she could not connect to the network. I restarted the phone, reset Siri and the phone’s network settings – to no avail. It turned out Apple had a Siri outage. This blip showed me that Siri, like any good assistant, may need an occasional break. I forgave her and trust that she’ll become more reliable.

My minor inconvenience does not put a damper on my opinion of Siri. I can’t believe how easy it is to work with her. She also has a delightful sense of humor. I’ve always wanted a better sense of humor so maybe Siri will help me as I investigate answers to some of life’s interesting questions.

Siri, how old are you? -I am not allowed to answer that question.

Open the pod bay doors. –That’s it. I’m reporting you to the Intelligent Agents’ Union for harassment.

Open the pod bay doors. -I’m sorry, Madge. I’m afraid I can’t do that, are you happy now?

Am I old? -I would prefer not to say.

Siri, you are nice. –Oh, go on.

Do you like me? –I really have no opinion.

Siri, do you know Jesus? -I suppose its possible.

Siri, I love you. –You can’t.

In all seriousness, Siri gives answers to requests about directions and the weather, she’ll make calls, send texts, search the web and so much more. This is ‘beta’ Siri? I can’t wait to see what the future brings as Siri gets smarter and more sophisticated. Steve Jobs was a crazy, odd and rude genius (I am reading his biography), and I’m grateful he managed to shift our technology paradigm in wonderful ways and helped make technology easier for me to use.

….Let me see, what shall I do now? I’ll ask Siri.

Siri, what should I do now? ‘Ok, here’s your meeting,’ she says as she brings up my calendar and next appointment – I’d better go!

Leave a reply

A New Normal

Sometimes life’s circumstances call us to adjust to a ‘new normal’.  A baby, a career change, the loss of a loved one, chronic illness or disability, marriage or divorce – they are all life changes.  Changes in our ‘normal’ call for adjustment, and oddly enough, even the ‘good’ or ‘minor’ changes can require grieving, healing and ‘overt’ attention.

Recently, I felt a tug…a calling to step down as leader of a group I’ve been committed to for over six years.  I love my study group and this change brought a sense of sadness.

A grief.

A letting go.

A desire to take back.

A desire not to adjust to God’s current plan.

As I prayed and pondered this rather minor (in the grand scheme of life) situation, I was reminded of adjustments during the first couple of years after my accident and spinal cord injury.  When I interacted with people, I felt the need to share and explain that I used to be ‘normal’. Now, that statement is pretty funny since everyone has their own ‘normal’ and no two ‘normals’ are identical.  We all face challenges whether visible or invisible. I’d explain to people that I wasn’t always in a wheelchair, so they should continue to treat me the same as before my injury and by all means ‘see’ me as an ‘able’ person. No pity please!  It took time for me to adjust to the new normal. Disability education and advocacy were additions to my life and so was an awareness for people with varied challenges. My 18 years of living had not prepared me for this new journey. Nevertheless, through some rough times, including victories and defeats, I learned to let go, adjust some former dreams, and develop new dreams.

New normals.  A small grief now occurs as I let go of a piece of ‘normal’ with my precious group.  Oddly, grief knocks in a wide array of circumstances.  Time softens and heals as we adjust to the ‘different’.  But what do we do during the times of adjustment?  It seems the only constant that we face is change – and we have the important choice of gratitude or ‘bad-i-tude’ even during difficulties.

The book of Exodus describes the Israelites’ journey out of slavery in Egypt toward a land flowing with milk and honey. They wandered in a desert that became their normal for forty years before they finally entered their promised land.  They whined and complained about their situation all along the journey of change even though there was provision for every need they had. Their bad attitudes and actions were contagious. They sound a little like me when I have a bad attitude.  Our attitudes and actions during journeys of grief determine the living conditions for more than just ourselves in the desert.  When we faithfully embrace His provision in the scorching sand of our desert, He can cultivate the soil of our hearts and new dreams can take root.  Our appropriate attitudes prepare us to help others along their journeys and I’m convinced that we will be surprised as we impact lives in amazing and unexpected ways.

Lord, help us say goodbye to the ‘old’ even if it is pretty good.  Help us make room for the ‘new’ you have for our benefit and for the benefit of others – even when it’s hard to let go. 

How to adjust to new normal with life change....


I always pray with joy…..being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:4b,6