Monthly Archives: August 2015

Happy Things

Things that make us happy
Things that make us smile
Things both big and small
All things we think worthwhile
-JSV_

It should take you approximately 60 seconds to read the following list of thoughts on specific things that, in most cases, should bring a smile to your face. After reading the list, I encourage you to save the list and use it to periodically take you to a happy place. Focus on one or two items at a time and think about a time, the first time or the last time, or anytime that you experienced the particular item; letting go of a helium-filled balloon, seeing the fruit trees around you all in bloom or experiencing an especially memorable holiday. Use that focused moment of thought to take you to a happy place. Keep the list close for those times when you need to something to make you feel good and smile. Remember, when you think you are being tested to the fullest, God is the person who ultimately made the items on this list possible. He is good!

Finally, if you think of things that are not on the list, email them to me at jvessel@iupui.edu and I will compile a new, larger list.

Your parents Helium-filled balloons A lake swim

Your first kiss The movies Christmas

Bicycle rides Holding hands Licorice

Marshmallows Fruit trees blooming Graduation

The smell of baby powder Mac and cheese Vacations

Peanut butter and jelly Fresh flower smells A warm sun

A field of clover Birds singing A boat ride

Birthdays A new (your first) bike Weddings

Picnics A walk with someone special A baby’s giggle

Thanksgiving dinner Fresh cut grass Amusement parks

Grandma’s pies Electric trains Your best friend

Church on Easter A Christening Road trips

Your first car Ice cream or sherbet push-ups Butterflies

Update – Since I last posted the blog, I have had two chemotherapy infusions, have NOT stayed overnight in the hospital, had appointments with Dr. Akosa, my primary care physician and my annual checkup with Dr. Wolverton, my dermatologist. I had breakfast with my friend Laura Klaum, Development and External Affairs Director IU School of Physical Education and Tourism Management. We had dinner with our friends, the Slaughters and a visit from my cousin David and his wife Laura (from North Judson). I participated in a conference call to start the process of finding my replacement as Executive Director of Phi Epsilon Kappa and played 18 holes of golf with my friends Frank and Bill. This morning I was at the hospital less than two hours for today’s infusion.

I know this is more than you wanted or needed to know about my last eight days but I wanted to share the fact that I’m not just sitting around.

Stay Strong and Keep on Keepin’ On

Friends

There has probably been as much written about friends and friendship as any other topic. Friendship has never been more evident to me than during this journey. I can’t begin to express thanks for all those cards, phone calls, emails, and texts filled with good thoughts and prayers. At the recent funeral of a beloved priest, the church was bursting at the seams. The number of those paying their respects at the funerals of two well-known, well-liked corporate executives, on the other hand, was quite small. In a recent book, Jim Denison asks the question, “Are You Building a Resume or Writing a Eulogy?” I hope you have given at least equal time to your eulogy.

For more than forty years I have been a member and then the Executive Director of a Physical Education fraternal organization whose motto is, “Friendship Hath Power.” I’d like to borrow from the fraternity’s section on friendship. Friendship is defined by Aristotle as “one mind in two bodies.” Think about your best friend or friends and how much you think alike, respond in similar ways and generally have an almost spiritual trust in one another. Don’t put off that next phone call, email or text to your best friend. If it is been awhile and you’re not sure exactly what you’ll say, take some inspiration from Edgar Guest’s poem written at Christmas time.

A FRIEND’S GREETING

I’d like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me;
I’d like to be the help that you’ve been always glad to be;
I’d like to mean as much to you each minute of the day
As you have meant, old friend of mine, to me along the way.

I’d like to do the big things and the splendid things for you,
To brush the gray from out your skies and leave them only blue,
I’d like to say the kindly things that I so oft have heard,
And feel that I could rouse your soul the way that mine you’ve stirred.

I’d like to give you back the joy that you have given me,
Yet that were wishing you a need I hope you will never be;
I’d like to make you feel as rich as I, who travel on
Undaunted in the darkest hours with you to lean upon.

I’m wishing at this Christmas time that I could but repay
A portion of the gladness that you’ve strewn along my way;
And could I have one wish this year, this only would it be;
I’d like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me.

It has been said that we make our friends, not by calling them friends, but by being a friend. The greatest loss would not be the breaking of friendship ties, but the failure to make these friendships. Jesus never said a more gracious word to His disciples than, “Ye are my friends.” He bound them to Him and He bound Himself to them in ties of unselfish devotion.

UPDATE – This is a short blog because I was released Wednesday from my third hospital stay in the last four weeks (12 days total). I am on oral antibiotics and will restart the chemotherapy on Wednesday with the hope that we can complete one full cycle of three treatments. I may be my own worst enemy because I fell today at the hospital. I got my feet tangled in the straps of my backpack and bounced off the door frame and slid to the floor. My upper arm took the brunt of the collision and I elbowed myself in the ribs. I did not hit my head. It might have knocked some sense into me. Whoa, way too late for that.

Stay Strong

Remember To Do The Little Things

This past week I interacted with at least 10 nurses, 10 doctors, five food service people and five cleaning people at the hospital. I was reminded how important it was to respect them and to value how each of them contribute to my recovery. I was also reminded how easy showing respect is to do. It’s a smile, a pleasant greeting and a please and a thank you. Also, the same respect for what they do should be shown to clerks, receptionists, waitresses and waiters and the many others we depend on to assist us , often, with things we take for granted.. Think about the time you had something to return that didn’t work. Did you charge up to the service desk with, “This thing is a piece of junk? “ It doesn’t work. I just drove nine miles round trip. I certainly didn’t expect to have to do that. Here, I need a replacement.” Wouldn’t have this exchange started better if you greeted the clerk first? Then, “could you please see if I am able to replace this?” Then, end with a “thank you.”

Say Please – “Grandma, may I please have more cake?” “Of course you may dear.” The question, asked this way, is hard to refuse.

While your prayers do not have to include a please, there is no reason not to include a “please.” I find that I have an opportunity each day to ask for something.

Dear Lord, Please help me trust you and trust in your timing. I tend to get impatient
and I tend to try to take matters in my own hands. I know this is a weakness of mine.
I am so sorry. Holy Spirit, please transform this part of me. Help me to trust in you
Lord and trust that your timing is best – in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Say Thank you – “Grandma, thank you. The cake was delicious.” This response sets the table, so to speak, for the next time there is cake to be had. This is one of the times when it is obvious that a “thank you” is warranted. There are many other opportunities to say thank you, even in the face of some difficult times. This is a prayer I use.

Thank You Lord for the roof over my head and a nice bed to sleep in

There’s food on my table and shoes on my feet. Your loving touch is everywhere.

Forgive me if I forget my great blessings, if I ever start to complain.

Only let me live each day full of praise and thanks immersed in your grace.

The third response in your arsenal should be I’m sorry. “I’m sorry” is needed more than we say it.

I went to see Ricki and the Flash yesterday and one of the songs was Canned Heat’s, Let’s Work Together. It has some great lyrics but I’m especially reminded of:

People, when things go wrong
As they sometimes will
And the road you travel
It stays all uphill
Let’s work together
Make someone smile
Let’s all work together
And make life worthwhile

Update – Well, once again I was the guest of Indiana University Hospital from last Friday until this week Tuesday evening. It was another run-in with bacteria in my blood. The bacteria is gone and infusion is scheduled to restart on Wednesday after a month off.

I want to share this poem that my sister-in-law Dorothy sent me.

Little Things
It’s just the little, homely things,
The unobtrusive, friendly things,
The “won’t-you-let-me-help-you” things,
That make our pathway light.

And it’s just the jolly, joking, things,
The “never-mind-the-trouble” things,
The “laugh-with-me, it’s funny” things
That make the world seem so bright.

For all the countless famous things
The wondrous, record-breaking things,
The “never-can-be-equaled” things
That all the papers cite

Aren’t like the little human things,
The everyday-encountering things.
The ”just because I like you” things
That make us happy quite.

So here’s to all the simple things,
The dear “all-in-a-day’s work” things,
The “smile and face your troubles” things.
Trust God to put them right.

The “done-and-not-forgotten” things
The “can’t-you-see-I-love-you” things,
The hearty “I-am-with-you” things
That make life worth the fight.

Stay Strong and Keep on Keepin’ On