Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

The amazing Sagrada Famlia - the Basilica and Epiatory Church of the Holy Family, a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Spain. (WIKI articleAntoni Gaudi (1852-1926), was the architect and helped with the transition of styles from neo-Gothic art to Modernism. He was said to have transcended Catalan Modernism and merged into an "organic" style reflecting his love of Nature. In much of his work and in the Basilica, one can see this influence of Nature. If you get to Barcelona, GO SEE THIS CATHEDRAL! DO IT! YOU WON'T REGRET IT!
Sagrada familia, Barcelona, Spain, January 2014, C. Carson
The place is STUNNING. I spent several hours there and left having had an incredible spiritual experience. I want to share my photos from my visit so if you have the chance, do look through them. The light was so amazing in every part of the building. I took the tower to the top and saw fabulous views of the city. The grounds are also worth checking out. DEFINITELY purchase the audio guide - it's very worth it! I took many photos of the same view as the light changed through the glorious windows. I believe that you simply cannot take a bad photo here - even if your lens cap is on. Here's my album - I hope you like it!

VSG - What Am I Eating?

[In catching up on my blog posts from last Fall]

Well, in a word: ANYTHING

For me, I have been extremely lucky in that I can eat anything I could eat before surgery. I am truly grateful because while I had surgery knowing there was a possibility that I'd never eat things such as rice, grits, sunflower seeds, flax, or random other imaginations, I CAN and I DO eat all those items! WHEW!

For some people, especially a local friend of mine, certain foods cause stomach upset or cannot be tolerated at all. Sometimes, it's a texture issue and sometimes just comes right back up for no reason. One of my friends told me that she threw up almost every day for two months and I remember that she definitely could not tolerate many foods. In spite of all that, she said that she would do it all over again!

As for me, I have not thrown up once and I can eat anything. I suppose it depends on the individual. I have had a vitamin B deficiency in my January vitamin panel, but I take that daily now and am fine.

Things I eat for breakfast:
- Vanilla Greek yoghurt with Torani sugar free raspberry flavoring
- Club crackers with cheddar cheese
- apple slices
- granola bar
- leftover Hibachi or whatever I made that's lasting four days, LOL

Things I eat for lunch:
- the same list as above
- a protein shake occasionally
- the inside of a sandwich (I sometimes eat some of the bread)
- my favorite spinach and greens salad w/ carrots, sunflower seeds, cheese
- leftovers

Things I eat for dinner:
- I've started making casseroles for convenience and eating them for a few days at a time
- Hibachi (I am officially addicted
- salad
- fish....I love cooking salmon
- beef and rice
- fruit is often a dessert now

For me, nothing has changed THAT drastically except some of the following:
- portions are much, MUCH smaller
- I feel ok about grazing
- I tend not to drink and eat at the same time as much, but I still do it carefully
- I still have soda, but I buy the mini-cans and one pack may last a month or more now
- I eat a TON of popsicles sometimes (so I mostly get the sugar free kind)
- Hibachi, a new addiction :-)

VSG Hair Loss - YIKES!

[In catching up on my blog posts from last Fall]
What can I say about VSG and hair loss.....
It happens and it STINKS.
About three months after surgery, I began to realize that the hair coming out was increasing and then it became INSANE how much would come out. In fact, I was shocked I even had that much hair. I was already taking vitamins and the VSG is NOT a surgery which is known for malnutrative events so I was hoping to avoid hair loss, but NOPE. I was told various things by several doctors and some patients who had the same surgery. They included taking "Hair, Skin, and Nails" vitamins, eating your required amount of protein, taking Biotin, and actual hair products. My personal hair loss felt extreme and raged on from August until December. Since then, it has settled a bit. I can tell I'm still losing more than I previously did, but it definitely has stabilized. Also, there is new growth which makes my head look shabby and slightly uncontrollable, but whatever....
I just wanted to wrote this post to say that I believe the hair loss is unavoidable. Your body goes through quite a shock with anesthesia, surgery, simply not eating the amount of food you could before, etc. Don't worry too much - I understand there are not any bald VSG patients unless they were bald already! :-)

The Pilgrim's Hymn

The Pilgrim's Hymn by Stephen Paulus
Sunrise March 29, 2014 on Frenchmen Street, NOLA - iPhone and it's a steamy / foggy morning :-)
Even before we call on Your name
To ask You, O God,
When we seek for the words to glorify You,
You hear our prayer;

  Unceasing love, O unceasing love,
Surpassing all we know.
Glory to the father,
and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
Even with darkness sealing us in,
We breathe Your name,
And through all the days that follow so fast,
We trust in You;
Endless Your grace, O endless Your grace,
Beyond all mortal dream.
Both now and forever,
And unto ages and ages,
 ~ Text by Michael Dennis Browne and Stephen Paulus and found at this link

Have a listen :-)

Sunrise of the Soul

Sunrise of the soul! This is exactly what I feel is happening in my life right now! It's SUPER EXCITING and a bit scary too. Sometimes the butterflies are a-fluttering in excitement and sometimes they're raging a bit fearfully. I feel a bit like I've been living a foggy a manner of speaking....always searching, always unsure of some things...etc. I am quite sure I will continue to live that way and even dare to presume it's sometimes a part of the human condition - to live foggily. (I want to add here that I actually love fog! It can be beautiful!) On some fronts, I am finally feeling like I am seeing the fog clear and in a very joyful way! I FINALLY feel that all of the longings, yearnings, and old tuggings are starting to get stirred up and simmered on a grand stove. I can see that something tasty is being prepared. It's a good feeling because I've been hungry for it all my life! I feel like I'm able to feel God's presence more clearly in my life for the past four or five years and mostly the past three years and even more so the past sixteen months and six months! I have this wonderful life and most things seem exactly as they should be so I'm quite happy, loving, my jobs, and absolutely loving living in New Orleans! I get to sing for some fantastic people, I get to conduct choirs, judge festivals, travel, participate in fun diocesan events, and more. Why then, do I feel like fog is lifting? Why NOW? Well, for many years now, in Milledgeville at First Presbyterian and here at UNO and St. Paul's, the pull to being more involved in ministry has resurfaced. There's a whole spiritual autobiography I've written twice which I won't share here (right now), but suffice it it say that I feel strongly that the pathway is clearing and I am becoming more aware of how God is working in me, my work, and my life. I'm not sure what the outcome of it all will be, but I am trying to stay open to the possibilities and follow where God leads - and trying to have an open heart and mind. I've been in spiritual advising for about a year now and I LOVE IT! It's helped to sort some things out, to consider new ideas and directions, and help me begin a journey to mature into a more sacred life. The best news of the day - God's with me where I am and he's not done with me yet! :-)