Why Me? Why Write? Why Now? Why Not?

The Me is Doug Curran…Douglas M Curran…Douglas Metcalf Curran. Douglas is Celtic for “dweller by the dark stream”. Curran in Gaelic means “little spear”. And Metcalf? Scottish for “I met a calf”? Hey I don’t know! I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to get the questions right. At least I seem to be a spear fisher by some dirty water. Or maybe I'm a Druid. And that Curran thing may not even be as Irish as my Irish American wife, Colleen Fitzsimmons, hoped it was when she married me. Ok, I might be a Viking. It's like this. I was reading this book, The Lion Of Ireland, see, and the author, Morgan Llewellyn, recounts a last battle between Brian Boru and the Viking invader king, to regain Irish dominance again throughout the island and kick the fureners out. The Viking king's name? Olaf Cuaran? Cuaran? Curran? I'm a Viking now, so I am? And a descendent of one of those marauding and murderous pillagers and plunderers? I've never pillaged a thing in my life...well, maybe a book or two from somebody. I'm really just a gentle giant who loves books and music. Ok, I bought a sword recently, but only as a wall decoration to enhance my Irish family history coat of arms! Honest! Viking, Schmiking, so rest my Irish soul! Or my wife will have my old bald Irish head!

April 30, 2010

Eye health, mini-strokes and other updates!

So I was just sitting down to a little mid-afternoon news catch-up after some chores on Monday April 19 and this grayish black shade dropped down in my right eye to a straight line in the middle. I tried to blink it away, but when that didn't work, I hurried in to our office, got online and started looking up various eye phenomena - but found nothing just like this. By this time, it started dissipating until it was just a little grayish quarter circle in the corner of my eye, then gone all in about 15 minutes. I got right on the phone with my Ophthalmologist's office and got an appt for the next day.

Not having seen Dr Nelson in a while, it was good to get an exam for all the possible causes - diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, detached retina - and get an all clear on those. He also said my Glaucoma levels were normal and my very minimal cataracts were also still very minimal. I wasn't even aware I had those. So what then? Ever heard of a TIA? Transient Ischemic Attack? That means mini-stroke, a prelude to a bigger stroke, if that's what it even was. Usually it has other more glaring symptoms, but eyes can also be indicators. I felt nothing with this episode however, only saw that little shading for awhile.

Nevertheless, he suggested and ordered an echocardiogram and a carotid artery scan, both ultrosonic, which I did in the next few days, and since have shown nothing out of the ordinary, a little irregularity here, a little abnormality there, a little plaque in the right carotid - but nothing momentous or cause for extreme measures. This prompted me to have my kidneys and prostrate checked - all ok - and get my blood sugar and pressure checked - all ok, even better than ok, because my A1C was down from 7.0 to 6.6 and my bp was 106/60 at IHC. Just need to get that colonoscopy done still, after Colleen's out of school for the Summer so she can drive me home during the wooziness after.

I also saw a neurologist, and he said an MRI of the upper carotid under my jaw might be an option, but that the ultrasound showed good blood flow to the brain, so it appears that there is no real blockages going on. I'm always conscious of clots in my legs from sitting too long, since losing two good friends around here to blood clots from recent traveling without walking enough. I've also been having some facial nerve pain called trigeminal neuralgia, and an MRI might show neuromas, but he didn't really think there would be any - and the other has been minimal since my blessing from Stephen O'Bryant and Steve Hansen back a few weeks ago at Wendy's baby blessing.

So where does all this leave me? I'm still pretty healthy for a big old heavy balding bearded guy, am losing weight at about 4-5 pounds a week on Isagenix, and those weekly cleanses may be helping my sugars and pressures. My urologist said that initial kidney tightness was from adjusting to the extra protein and water consumption - and after a few weeks, I am having less bladder urgency but still need to drink more water to overcome the occasional backup, if you get my crass "TMI". More roughage, you say, more roughage?

I need to exercise more of course to see more results on Isagenix, which is really a whole body cleanse program with weight loss as a side effect. But I'm feeling better mentally and physically, have more hope and confidence, more creativity in eating the right foods, with only a minor relapse now and then. Now if the world would stop falling apart with volcano eruptions and oil spills and earthquakes, I could sleep a little easier, though I am actually sleeping better lately anyway. I may even be nodding off right now, in fact, and not even know it...Oh yeah, and today marks the 55th anniversary of my baptism, of no small import in my life of course, but almost glossed over in all this other health hullabaloo.

April 19, 2010

Shane Family Birthdays And Other Weighty Matters...

Had a big Saturday party of birthdays, all in the Shane Curran family at his condo in Pleasant Grove. His youngest Aidan Douglas turned 4 on the 11th, a funnier and more precocious pixie boy I've never met! He's got a face like Thumper and a mop of black hair that curls all over the place - and can he make screwed up faces! His dad Shane, our third child, is no child at 36 on the 18th and his teeny little bride Sharon turns ? on the 20th. She wouldn't tell me. A big week for all of them though. Colleen and grandson Kai made nearly 100 deviled egg halves Saturday morning for the party, and the rest of the fare was barbecue/Cranberry chicken on buns, with mac salad and veggies. Birthday cake was strawberry short!

It was tough meal to eat after doing Isagenix for almost two weeks, mostly two shakes a day and a meal of lots of salad and fish. Tough because I could have eaten a lot more. I've had to be a little flaky at times to adjust my blood sugar to the fructose in the shakes and may have to go to more protein added. I did lose 12 pounds the first week, but was drinking so much water, and flushing it out, it was probably a water loss mostly, not sure. Finished a second all day cleanse today, eating only some celery and almond butter at midday, but had to eat again after all four cleanse doses, because of blood sugar worries - some low-fat cottage cheese and kalamata olives. I will probably gain some weight back this past week but again, blame it on the blood sugar ups and downs I think. I will be happy with ten pounds a month loss, though it could go quicker if I can control things better. How heavy the weightless thoughts of man, eh?

April 11, 2010

Ye Gods And Little Fishes! And Isagenix! Say What?

Yes, that first line is what my mom used to say to express her preposterousness at something. And her mother before her...and who knows how far back that colorful but antiquated phrase goes. So that's what I have to say as I watched a little of the PGA Master's Tournament today and watch how far this idolatry goes. Honestly folks, why do we let ourselves be fooled into thinking these guys are gods because they can wield a few iron sticks with skill and concentration to get a very little ball into a very little hole? And people actually go and watch this stuff with reverent awe, applaud with adoring emotion and grovel at the feet of their feet! It's a self-perpetuating media and money driven exercise in modern day idol worship.

It's the same with so many athletic contests and the well-developed bodies and amazing physical prowess displayed, often again having to do with mastery of some kind of ball. But as we've seen, a lot of those who do it are no models of morality or lives well-lived in service and kindness and love. The entertainment industry is the same, providing us with larger than life, big screen idols to worship and adore and try to emulate and hang on their every word about beauty and fashion and polititics, though many of their lives are skewed and flawed and over indulgent. Ah the hubris!

We saw little Michael Buble on stage a week or so ago, and I emphasize little, because although I like his voice ok and do appreciate that he's revived a lot of the good old vocal standards, I honestly gagged at the ear-crushing din of screaming and applause at his diminutive appearance. He had a big stage of musicians and special effects to back up his tiny body, otherwise he would have had little impact. And yet, we accept all these amplifications in sound and visuals as real, because we love spectacle, love things that are loud and flashy and big!

I was there once, singing with The Letterment in 1969-70, enjoying but more being baffled at the adulation I received for merely walking out on a stage and singing some already recorded top 40 hits, as a stand-in who could fake the real guy for awhile while he recuperated from a psychosomatic voice loss. Yes, I was idolized by screaming and mindless fans, but never felt comfortable with it, got bored with it after the first weeks of show, and found I could live without it when it was over in a year or so. Not that I didn't enjoy it of course - but I wasn't obsessed by it.

And then there's the real God, one of a trinity of Gods, the man whose victory over physical and spiritual death on the cross, in the garden, gave us eternal gifts, supernal gifts, love and forgiveness, a real model of life and courage and patience and compassion and charity. I tried to quietly celebrate His life last weekend, Easter weekend, with contemplations and supplications and rededications to keep His commandments, so I can live a full life here and with Him someday in the kingdom of His Father.

To me, more and more, that's what my live should be about, especially when every day's a countdown in my late 60s. Sure I love to watch a good athletic contest and attend a great concert. But deify the participants and honor them above the Savior of the world? I don't think so, in case that's what going on by what I see in these fawning and ingratiating celebrations of man-made celebrities who we too often substitute for the real thing.

And by the way, I'm on the seventh day of trying Isagenix, doing my deep cleanse today, trying to shed the burden of weight I've accumulated by lackadaisical living and forgetfulness and non-attention to my body and health. I have obviously used food as a comfort and neglected healthy activity, gradually growing larger and larger till I have come to my breaking point and need to change. So by replacing two meals a day with two nutritious and good tasting shakes, I am taking the guesswork out of choosing those meals everyday, am saving money I spend on them, and am not allowing myself to choose otherwise whatever suits my fancy in a fit of hunger pang. I hope it works and will report my progress as I go.

April 4, 2010

Easter Rise and Shine!

Wow, three whole weeks without a blog...I'm getting rusty. Easter coincided with my church's General Conference again this year, so it's two exciting days of great spiritual messages from Apostles and other Church leaders. But as for me, here's my little Easter piece I email everyone each year, but haven't blogged it yet, so...

"Now that I’m older and “wiser”, I have a lot more questions than answers. Like what do we really mean when we say “Happy Easter”? I mean, it’s not like saying “Merry Christmas” is it? We don’t give presents, although I know people who get new clothes and give each other strange unrelated gifts – any excuse for using that plastic. It is a major Christian holiday like Christmas, but do we really have Christian sentiments behind that greeting? Or do we really just mean things like Happy Spring Cleaning? Or Happy Daylight Savings Time? How about Happy Egg Boiling? Bunny Hopping? Bonnet Buying? Parade Chasing? Cadbury Chocolate Gorging? Or Diabetes Recovering? Flower Fertilizing? Ham Basting? Spring Breaking?

"And when will we really ever get past that Easter bunny/egg-laying paradox and all its candy spin-offs? For most people today, it’s a celebration of Spring, flowery dresses and weird women’s hats, and planting seeds, and yeah I get the egg-fertility-rabbit connection. But I still think it’s a very forced and mixed metaphor we continually push upon our kids without ever resolving the psychological ramifications that are very confusing and totally unrelated to the Christian reality of it all - and no, rabbits don’t lay eggs – well, maybe there’s some distant convoluted connection. But isn’t that how we get traditions anyway, from so long ago that people forget why we do them today?

"Aren’t we really supposed to be celebrating something that may be just too difficult to wish someone? Do we even believe it? Do we really believe that Jesus died and came back to life? The Resurrection? One man said that that was the biggest question of life - “If a man die, shall he live again?” And that because of Jesus, we will all live again too? I say “Amen” to that! But are we even thinking about that at all when we way “Happy Easter?” Maybe we should be coming up with something more creative and definitely related to the real meaning of this international Christian holiday more than just a sometimes predictable “Happy Easter”. How about something like, “Good Resurrection!” “Rise and Shine Forever! “ “Happy Undead Day!” Now that does it for me.

"But could we actually say that and be politically correct? “Have a nice resurrection!” Doesn’t that say way too much about death and dying for us to feel comfortable? Even though we are talking about the ultimate solution to dying - the ultimate reason to not be afraid of it? The ultimate miracle of life is the afterlife! Isn’t it a bit presumptuous and maybe too premature to be wishing someone something that will directly relate to their having to die first? And if we wish them a happy resurrection, shouldn’t we first wish them a joyful death, or a painless passing or a quick demise - that maybe they’ll get hit by a car rather than having to suffer with agonizing toenail cancer? And THEN wish them a nice resurrection? No really, I want to finally get this out on the table so we can get past these sometimes inane wishes we make at Easter without knowing what we actually mean, and come up with something that works!

"Shouldn’t we really focus on the changes in our bodies that our resurrection is going to bring? Forget all that plastic surgery and liposuction and tummy tucking and face lifting and Collegin and Botox injections! Yes, forget about it because you are going to get a brand new body anyway, right? A heavenly makeover to the max! So why spend your kid’s college money and your life’s savings on stuff that you’re going to get later anyway? And continually pad the pockets of those surgeons who should be out there transplanting livers and hearts and eyeballs!. It’s ridiculous! Unless of course you don’t believe in it, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not going happen, right? Doesn’t Paul or someone like him say something like " …if we believe in this life only, then we are all of men most miserable"? That would sure sink my boat.

"So maybe when we wish people a happy resurrection, we should also throw in something like – “…and a tight bottom too!” Or “…and a head full of great hair!” Or “…and an amazing new schnozz! Or “…and a 38 DDD!” Maybe we won’t even recognize each other, we’ll look so young in the hereafter – that is if we have only known each other as older people; because I know in my case that people don’t recognize me from my 40-year-old fotos. “Hey, who’s that stud with your wife?” Yeah, I get that a lot. And I also hear that a good resurrection will take us back to our 25-year-old body, unless of course we have already corrupted it at that age with booze and tobacco and Skittles and Big Macs. I heard that people who lose their children while they are young will get to raise them still, because they will resurrect as children. I just hope there are lots of little kids around.

"So I think we need to get past the colored eggs, the yellow peeps and the burnt honey-baked ham and get to the other meaty stuff – like what kind of resurrection are we going to have anyway? Yes, it’s not all just one big happy reunion of body and spirit, even though it is a free gift from Jesus – and He did pay an awful price so we could have it. But because of Him, we also get to choose our own personal resurrection! Say what? Paul says in I Corinthians 15 that we won’t all resurrect alike. He says we will have different resurrections, comparing it to the difference between the sun, the moon, and the stars, as we perceive their differences from earth, I assume. He calls one Terrestrial, like the moon, and one Telestial, like the brightness of the stars.

" I know from some modern sources that the sun is called Celestial, and that they all represent a degree of glory that God will provide to all of his children, depending on how they’ve lived on earth. Yes folks, there is still some earning to do here. But the highest degree is a Celestial resurrection and those who inherit it will come forth in the morning of the first resurrection and live with Him right here on this celestialized earth. So will there also be an afternoon and evening resurrection? I’m a late morning kind of guy myself and not too anxious to just burst out of my coffin for an early breakfast. But I’ll do early if that’s what it takes.

"And will it be all that easy getting out of those boxes anyway? No one wants to be conscious and still in the coffin. We don’t want any fingernail scratches messing up the inside of the lid, right? We’ll get some help digging through that dirt, right? I have a problem just getting off the bed each morning. And I keep seeing images of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and hoping that at least I’ll have time to clean up before I go see anyone. I don’t think I’ll be doing any dancing right away. Of course, the first person I’ll look for is my wife, to see if she’s still that good looking babe I married, just to see if this resurrection stuff really works. Hey, what am I saying? She still looks good to me right now! I know she’ll be hoping that I am back to that coiffed hair and that flat six-pack stomach and marathon-runner physique I never had before.

"And what will we do while we’re waiting to resurrect? There has to be a waiting place, a place for our spirits to keep busy too. I hear it’s called spirit prison for those who didn’t know Jesus or lived badly by His light and who are still receiving His word through His servants, who just might be some of us when we get over there. You remember when Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to touch Him because He hadn’t ascended to His Father yet? Was that because she was only seeing His spirit body – not his resurrected body yet? Or maybe He was resurrected but too glorified to touch. In Ephesians, it says that after Jesus died, He went and preached to the spirits in prison while in the spirit, to people who had died but hadn’t known or believed in Him yet. He gave them a chance to accept His Gospel there too. Remember on the cross he told one of the thieves that he would be with Him in Paradise?

"Well, I think Paradise is the waiting place for those who believe in Jesus and who don’t have to wait to be taught about Him. Since baptism is an earthly and necessary ordinance as Jesus said, “Except ye be born of the water and the spirit, ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven…” – people who accept the gospel in this spirit world after they die can still have baptism done for them by proxy on earth as mentioned in I Corinthians 15 again, when people were asking Paul about the resurrection. They said in passing, “Why are they then baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?", as Paul was trying to convince them of the reality of the Resurrection. Baptism for the dead is being practiced today all over the world in special Temples – and no, it doesn’t mean exhuming dead bodies and baptizing them. Remember that word, proxy, ok? Go look it up! It’s doing for others today what they might not have been able to do for themselves in a time when baptism and the Holy Ghost weren’t available or not bestowed by legitimate authority.

"Yes, so come on resurrection! Can’t come too soon for me – unless I have to die first, of course, in which case I can hold off for a little while, no big hurry. Actually, I’m hoping for that “change in the twinkling of an eye” kind of rapture they talk about, no pain, just levitation without hesitation. I want to put in my order for that right now. Yes, that’s Curran with a C not a K, then U – two R’s, A not E, and a big N-ding. Yeah, it will be nice to see my folks again and visit with other relatives I never knew except by their pictures. Can’t remember my two grandfathers, I was so young when they died. And one grandmother was killed in a car accident while I was a nursing baby. I only knew my father’s mother, who helped us get into a home and who lived with us till she passed away. And so many of their parents and grandparents I’ve come to know through doing family history – nobody likes that G-word much…Genealogy. But it’s still fun.

"I’m sure they’ve been very busy on the other side though, with time to cheer my family on here and hang around to help us, their progeny, and get through this life so we can all get on the next stage in our progress – together! Angels? Could it be that this mystery is so simple? They’ve been our ancestors all along? I’ve been trying to do their saving ordinances like baptism too, so when I do see them, I don’t have to go skulk about guilty and hide in some cloud because of shame for not doing that work for them .They did so much for me in just coming down here first and laying a great foundation of freedom and peace through their blood, sweat and tears.

"And I’d really like to meet Abe Lincoln, a childhood favorite of mine. Oh I guess there are a lot of other people I’d like to meet – James Stephens, a tiny Irish poet, the subject of my masters thesis. And William Wordsworth, the sublime English Romantic poet I love to read. C.S Lewis of course – but he’ll have such a crowd around him I bet. Maybe I’ll see some of the people I served in Brazil as a missionary, like Ignacio Morais. Now there’s a guy with a story. His dad was a river boat captain on the Amazon, who jumped in the water to save a passenger who had fallen, and they both got eaten by piranha fish! Yikes. I’m sure he is thankful for the resurrection! And his son barely lived to tell me the tale, because he showed me an arrow wound in his shoulder from those crazy Yanomamos using him for target practice. I got to teach Ignacio the Gospel and baptize him and his wife, so I hope to hear some more of his tales someday. Their daughter Iolanda called from Brazil some years back - what a treat!

"So how about that eternal life – God’s life! And eternal progression! Now that’s what Easter’s all about to me anyway - and celebrating the life of the only pure and sacrificial Lamb who could make it possible through an infinite atonement, paying a price we couldn’t for our sins that we might be clean enough to enter God’s holy presence. Christ only asks for our sincere repentance, that broken heart and contrite spirit – and then He makes up the difference. It’s about freedom from not only the first death, the death which Adam and Eve brought providentially into the world so we might have a probation – but also freedom from the second death, that separation from God that comes through sin and rejection of His plan of happiness. Salvation from the physical death is free to all men – all will be resurrected. But salvation from the death of the spirit, we have to earn, for it is “by grace are we saved, after all we do.”

"And one other thing before I tie this all up into a nice little Easter basket. I am baffled by those who say God is a spirit and God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost are all one person. The New Testament is replete with evidences of their separateness. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3, for instance, when Jesus is so painfully praying for release from His Father in Gethsemane. How does Jesus give us the free gift of the Resurrection, claiming His body first – and then disclaim that body and become a spirit if, as some believe, He is the Father as well as the Son? Doesn’t work for me. And we have glorified bodies but He doesn’t? The Holy Ghost, a spirit, yes - but Jesus and His Father? Two people, two bodies. For me, that makes it a Happy Easter. And an egg with a little salt and pepper."