Sunday, June 6, 2010

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Body, My Responsibility

* New posts will only be at as of June 1.

"Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon." ~Doug Larson

Physicians and other health care professionals are a necessary and tremendously valuable resource. The average Jane isn't educated to distinguish pink eye from allergies or skin cancer from a hairy mole. We need those people. However, we also need to be our own advocates and do a bit of research about worrisome conditions. Those attending to our care are not infallible or omniscient. They are limited to treat and diagnose based upon A. The info we give them, B. What they observe and C. Their personal experience and training.

My mother-in-law had skin cancer removed from the back of her leg many years ago. There was a graft successfully in place for a long time but in the past couple years it's been opening up. She had a surgical repair a year ago but it never quite healed, despite expert wound care. The plastic surgeon told her they needed to repeat the surgery. When my MIL asked about the value of hyperbaric chamber treatments he was very dismissive but said she could give it a try if she wanted to. She researched, scheduled and underwent a series of treatments. Everyone agreed that it might expedite healing in the upcoming procedure. The day of surgery came and when the doc saw her (before the IV was in place!), he announced that the wound was completely healed and there was no need for surgery. He was surprised and pleased, admitting doctors don't always know best.

My husband had intensely sharp pains in his leg and after a couple days went to a physical therapist. He was evaluated and sent on to an MD. The doctor examined his leg, poking and prodding. He asked good questions to rule out serious conditions and decided that a round of prednisone would be the best place to start. He wanted to decrease inflammation then recheck. None too excited about this medication, my husband stopped by a chiropractor's office. He was given an evaluation and treatment. The pain has not returned and steroids were not involved in his recovery.

I had numbness in my leg and after trying a few things the doc sent me to physical therapy but also wanted me to undergo a painful nerve study. The therapist respectfully disagreed, asking me to give his treatment time before taking that next step. It's been weeks but the numbness is slowly receding and I'm getting correction for a back problem I had just learned to live with.

When my sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer, she researched every option and settled on a plan that incorporated traditional and natural treatments, not blindly following the advice of one person but insisting they work together for the best of both worlds. She remains cancer-free.

These are just a few personal examples of why we shouldn't simply follow orders like sheep. While I know that researching conditions on the internet can "give us just enough info to make us dangerous" I also know that I'd rather know the right questions to ask. When painful, expensive or risky treatment is prescribed, a second opinion is always wise. This is your body. You own it and God expects good stewardship. Qualified health care professionals appreciate it too.

Has there been a time you've not followed a doctor's advice? (This isn't doctor bashing time, this is self-responsibility and awareness ya docs!) Comment at
Diane Markins

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Marriage Longevity Requires Good Humor

"Laugher is the closest distance between two people." Comedian Victor Borge

"I love how you still think he's so funny after all these years." This is a comment I hear on a regular basis from my friends about my husband, Brad. Don't get me wrong, most of them think he's funny but they don't have to listen to him all the time. I believe it's one of the most affirming compliments we could get about our marriage. It always comes when I'm not expecting it, but have just stopped giggling over some stupid thing he's said. I look over and Marilynn (Lavona, Marlene, Chris, Bev, Paula...the list goes on) utters that remark with admiration.

There are so many critical elements and skills that keep a marriage alive: love, respect, forgiveness, patience, kindness and physical affection to name only a few. But shared humor and laughter top the list. If you can still laugh together all those other things will be by-products. It's impossible to remain angry with someone when they're making you laugh. When they're working to make you smile because they care about your happiness, it demonstrates love. And for me, there's nothing sexier than sharp wit.

My husband shared his secret with me a while ago. Sometimes he doesn't feel like kidding around, especially when he walks in and I'm clearly not smiling. I may even snap at him because the cat brought in another lizard or the computer went down. Yet he knows that he has the choice, in those first few moments to act or react. If he ignores my mood, not snapping in return--and says something funny, I almost always come around to a lighter mood. For years I was unaware of his intentional effort and the awareness he had of my attitude. Talk about being attentive, sensitive and humble! He know he has the power to set the tone for (and sometimes salvage) our whole evening.

We all have this ability if we approach relationships sacrificially. When our minds are on our own challenges and focus is inward, it's impossible to be the leader and pace-setter in our intimate relationships. As we learn Brad's secret formula: taking the pulse of our partner, setting our own "stuff" aside, then deliberately infusing a dose of humor, we gain a tremendous advantage.

I hope this works for you. It's still working for us...we're celebrating our 31st anniversary on May 26th.
Do you agree that laughter and humor are hugely significant in marriage? What other secrets have you learned for relationship longevity? Share comments and see our wedding photo at WordsInHighDef.
Diane Markins

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Don't Mix Politics With...Well, ANYTHING!

"Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, political parties, nations, and eras it's the rule." Friedrich Nietzsche

Politics should stand alone. Politics and sports, politics and religion, politics and entertainment...even politics and (many) friendships should not be paired up. This was crystallized in my mind last week when my beloved Phoenix Suns took a public stand on a controversial issue. Management and players were quoted taking positions opposing recent state legislation regarding illegal immigration. Then, this week Nancy Pelosi urged clergy leaders to do the same.

Regardless of your opinion on this, or any other issue, my point is that politics should remain apart from all else. As a Suns fan, we already love our team. They can't improve our devotion by taking a political stance. However, they do risk losing our affectionIf they publicly oppose our politics. This is a no-win for teams. Fans prefer that they play ball, not politics. When they retire they can be politicians. (Right Barkley?)

There is no law prohibiting clerics from preaching political ideologies, and in fact many do. Our constitution does, however, separate church and state. If Ms. Pelosi decides to address religious leaders, she should encourage and inspire them, not push a divisive political agenda. Each of us is so blessed to live in this great country where our place of worship is a personal choice. I'd be the first one to demonstrate this freedom if my pastor used the pulpit on Sundays to prescribe political allegiances. My seat would be vacant and I'd begin searching for a new church that preached about life, God's love and character—allowing congregants to derive their own political affiliations.

Some people can easily separate a wonderful singer or actor from his/ her radical (loudly proclaimed) politics. I find that difficult. The entertainment experience is significantly diminished because I can't erase the sound bite from last week's news. I applaud celebrities for doing good works in the community and the world, but spouting politics isn't as admirable or universally productive.

I think it's ridiculous, if not dangerous, to have only like-minded friends. A lively debate over social issues can be fun and invigorating, but it can also cause hurt feelings and ruined relationships. If done with grace and a watchful eye, we can share opposing views with friends, but there is always a risk. It's probably wiser to keep these topics to a minimum and steer back to things we can agree on, like sports...unless that gets political too!

Do you think it's effective or helpful to mix politics with anything else? Please post comments at new site. click here

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day: Lessons in Letting Go

From the moment a child is born his mother begins her journey to let go...
At least that's the way I see it.

Any good mom’s heart longs to cling to her child. Sometimes we have to be prodded to ease up a bit. Only when it becomes obvious that letting go is the best choice do we relax our iron grip… like the mother in 1 Kings 3: 16-27. As the story goes, two women brought a baby to Solomon. Each woman claimed the baby was her child. "Cut the baby in half and give half of the baby to each woman," Solomon said. "NO!" screamed the real mother, "Give her the baby. Do not kill him." Then Solomon knew who the real mother was because of the sacrificial way she loved the baby. He gave the baby to its real mother.

My son was only about six month old when I first started teaching him to “swim.” It was sort of a trend at that time to train babies to hold their breath, flip on their backs and float in a pool. Theoretically this would save them if they ever fell in unsupervised.

It sounds really dumb now, but I was a young mom and since there was a pool almost everywhere we went in Phoenix, I jumped in (pun fully intended) with both feet. Clutching the dearest thing in the world to me, I became paralyzed when the instructor said it was my turn to let him go in the water. She spoke to me like a small child learning to ride a bike. “You can do this…let go…he’ll be OK!”

With my heart thudding in my ears I finally pried my fingers away from his pudgy little body, blew in his face (so he’d inhale) and released him with a gentle shove toward the instructor. She retrieved him immediately and he emerged with a sputter and a giant grin back at me. Soon, the flip/role/float was mastered with great pride.

At age four I carefully taught him to ride a horse. When he was thrown in a field, my dad held me back from running to the rescue, instead insisting I help him back in the saddle to complete another lap. “This is a great life lesson,” Dad told me. “He’ll learn courage and not to fear failure if he gets right back up there.” I wanted to grab my little guy and flee, but I lifted him aboard that animal and told him to be brave. He grew to be cautiously bold… neither reckless nor fearful.

In high school my boy went away to work at a youth camp one summer. They were short-staffed so he was required to work long hours of labor with only one day off each week. He didn’t know anyone, was feeling isolated and exhausted and wanted to come home early. It broke my heart to hear him sound so sad and desperate on the phone, but my husband assured me it was best to make him stay. When he returned home, he thanked us and told us it was a wonderful and life-changing experience.

David taught his son, Solomon this less as well. "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.” 1 Chronicles 28: 20

Especially for mothers, the journey of parenting is an ongoing lesson of letting go. We innately want to protect and direct our kids away from pain, danger or discomfort. When they’re grown, these instincts don’t subside, but as we see our kids gain strength, wisdom and courage, it becomes increasingly clear that we must continually release them. It’s a little easier with the assurance that God never lets them go. Perhaps the Lord’s nudging you to relinquish a bit of the grip on your child. He may be saying, “Let go…you can do this…with me, he’ll be OK.”

And for those blessed enough to still have a mother, perhaps you need to extend an extra measure of grace when she holds a little too tightly. Especially on Mother’s Day, try to receive it as the expression of love it’s meant to be. “Her children rise up and bless her…” Proverbs 31:28
Comment and see a great picture at .
Diane Markins

* A special Happy Mother's Day wish to my daughter-in-law who will begin her journey in July when their first baby arrives.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bonus Post: Good Comeback... Rebuttal to Cyclist Rant

*All new posts will only be on as of June 1.

Following is a guest response to my post on April 25th about city cyclists by Jeff Williams.

Playing Well Together, Sharing Our Toys (and roads)

Dear friends,

I'm sorry to see that some of you have inspired the ire of my friend and increasingly influential writer, Diane Markins. Would you please consider behaving yourselves as much as possible on the streets of Phoenix so that "we" (yes, the collective "we" of road cyclists) might be treated with more respect than disdain? In effect, respect means a better chance to live than to be maimed by drivers incensed by the arrogance of some of us. With that said, I have some rebuttals for you, Ms. Markins.

Road Hogs -- Bike lanes should be used when available, but sometimes they aren't user-friendly. Why? Drivers throw out trash, including broken glass onto the side of the road. It's not always easy or safe to ride through such debris. To the roadies: Why not drive your bike to less traveled sections of pavement to enjoy less threatening cycling?

Flow from red lights -- When we hog the road it is usually to protect ourselves. Some driver's can't stand to be delayed 2 seconds by a cyclist approaching a stop sign, so within 20 yards of the intersection they speed up then screech to a halt, endangering themselves and us by the reckless maneuver. If we go into the middle of a lane as we approach intersections we assert our right to obey the same traffic laws as drivers. We also hog the road in order that you might see us, and not try to pass where there is no room. When we hug the side of the road drivers think they have room to pass...not always true. We move out onto the road to protect us from being sideswiped, and you from being charged with a crime. Hogging the road helps to keep you out of jail, and your conscience free of the idiocy of saving five seconds at the cost of a life.

Blasting past slow traffic -- You've got us here. I've done it. But sometimes it prevents more confusion and problems. For instance, if I "sneak" through a light before it turns green, then you get off the line as fast as you want, and turning cars don't get confused about right of way. However, the hypocrisy of arrogant cyclists that obey traffic laws when convenient can't be ignored. If we truly want to improve our reputation with motorists, this is a great way to do it. Yep, there are no excuses for us on this one, but crowded roads and lengthy waits at intersections is plenty of incentive to take the time to get out to country roads for safer riding for everyone. What? No country in Phoenix? Well, if cycling is that important to you, move somewhere that you can safely enjoy it.

They don't pay their fair share -- That's a non-starter, in my opinion. The majority of cyclists in the U.S. also own and drive cars. We pay like the rest of you. So what if we're masochistic and want to travel more miles of roadway than if we simply drive pollution machines?

Finally, the goofy bike attire. Diane, you don't know what you don't know. The goofy attire prevents tremendous pain. Have you ever tried to sit atop the tip of a spear for hours on end? Well, those skinny little seats turn into spears UNLESS there is padding between our sitting area and the saddle, and the padding of cycling shorts comes embedded in tight, bright patterns of sponsors who sometimes greatly subsidize the cost of the clothing. The fact that they are tight-fitting and made of special moisture-wicking material is both a comfort and performance issue. Chafing is averted, and wind resistance is minimized. AND, the bright colors are strategic. They help drivers who are going too fast and doing too many illegal things in their vehicles so that we all can avoid senseless tragedy. What would you propose we wear? Try twenty miles on a road bike in your most comfortable summer attire and I'm sure you'll agree.

Thank you to the many patient and kind drivers that help us crazy cyclists to enjoy our passion for two-wheels. We hope to improve our reputation and safety by treating you with the same respect that we want to receive.

Jeff Williams, a roadie in the Midwest

OK, so I may be a bit more sympathetic after this explanation, but only when cyclists share the road with good manners! Share your thoughts below. Contact Jeff here.
Diane Markins

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cyclists: Share The Road With A Car (Please?)

"Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live." ~Mark Twain, Taming the Bicycle
Warning: This post is going to be a bit of a gripe session so feel free to tune out at will. One of my biggest pet peeves is the attitude of some bicyclists on the streets. Yes, I know how green they all are and they aren't contributing to higher health insurance costs because they're so fit!

I'm sorry but those feel-good factors for the positive column don't come close to balancing out the negative side of the equation in my book. I'll elaborate and share the things that bug me most about many (not all) city cyclists.

They're road hogs. Many city streets now have bike lanes designated strictly for their use (and go largely unoccupied because there is a relatively small part of the population using them). However I frequently have to make dangerous maneuvers into the next lane to avoid the guys who always ride just on the white line. It strikes me as arrogant and inconsiderate. New bumper sticker: Share the road with a car!

They disrupt the flow of movement away from red lights. They take up position in the middle of the street (along with motorized vehicles) at traffic lights. When the light turns green they begin to peddle at speeds much slower than surrounding cars. This presents a hazard for nearby automobiles.

They remain in the bike lane (when it's convenient) and blast past slow traffic as well as intersecting side streets. It's really difficult to see them coming when making a right turn and they're approaching from the rear at a great rate of speed on the right. Blind spot!

Even the goofy bike attire annoys me. It just screams, "I'm a real cyclist...I'm not an amateur...and I've got the tacky, pricey clothes to prove it!"

They don't pay their fair share. Taxes and fees related to driving a car help pay for road maintenance but cyclists use it for free. Drivers pay for accident insurance. Statistics on auto accidents caused by cyclists are sketchy but based on the many near-misses I've witnessed, I'm convinced there have to be a significant number of them.

They disregard traffic signals, often going through red lights and running stop signs. I'm sure it's inconvenient to come to a stop and have to put the effort into restarting but isn't the effort and workout a part of the enjoyment? Traffic laws are for everyone, not merely a suggestion.

I know there are drivers who can be total jerks to cyclists as well. They honk and drive too close to the bike lane adding fuel to the flame of discord that already exists. That's unacceptable, but I'm not one of them. I follow traffic laws as well as rules of common courtesy. I'm working on a kinder attitude about this...but on my way home today (once again) a cyclist darted in front of me at an intersection then gave me a one finger salute accompanied by words I won't mention when I had to slam on my brakes to avoid a collision. I'm hoping God will soften my heart in the issue of this pet peeve (forgive me, biking friends!) and will protect me from a cyclist related accident. Any near-misses you'd like to share or other pet peeves to vent? Comment below.
Diane Markins

*Check back Wednesday for a rebuttal post by avid cyclist and marriage coach Jeff Williams.