Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Three kidneys are better than two...

Today is the last day of Donate Life month. Be sure to check out my other two blogs regarding the subject of organ donation and organ transplantation.

I thought I would post a little bit about MY transplant experience. Let me just say that if a major organ is going to fail in your body, you are fortunate if it's the kidney. You can live for an extended period of time without functioning kidneys thanks to technology and today's dialysis. I have heard horror stories about life on dialysis, and hopefully it's a temporary soluton for most people until they can receive a kidney from a living donor or a cadaver. I was extremely fortunate in that as soon as we learned I would need a transplant, my mother went ahead and did all the necessary testing to see if she would be a good candidate for donation. This was over a year before I actually had the transplant. Then it was just a wait and see time. We'd watch my labwork get worse and worse until the doctors said that we needed to schedule the transplant in December of 2002. They said that my kidneys were functioning at about 15%. They actually couldn't believe I was able to work a 40 a week job with my lab work being what it was. It was such a gradual decline that I didn't even notice how sick I had become. And I was so fortunate that I never had to go on dialysis, and that I was able to have a living/related donor. Many people in my situation have to wait years for a transplant. Just to have a chance at a normal life- to be able to actually go to the bathroom and eat and drink normal foods! When I actually had my transplant, they said the color returned to my face almost immediately. Something you may not know about kidney transplants is that they do not remove the existing "dead" kidneys. They just add the new kidney to your abdomen! Scott was funny when I had the transplant- he thought it was like changing a lightbulb- take one out and screw the new one in! Here's a diagram of how a kidney transplant works:

So after you've had the transplant, the waste and toxins are filtered through the dead kidneys and then filter through the new/donor kidney and THEN they go to the bladder. It's a very interesting process.

I've had my mother's kidney since February 13, 2003, more than 5 years. That's a BIG milestone. And my labwork has been perfect since day one- no rejection episodes at all. I thank God every day for "healing" me through this new kidney and for giving me an "almost" normal life. One day I want to give back and do some fundraising or public awareness for the National Kidney Foundation or the Georgia Transplant Foundation. I also want to play in the Transplant Olympics... I know they could use my volleyball skills. :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Don't take your organs to Heaven (Part two)...

Don't take your organs to Heaven,
Heaven knows we need them here!

I got quite a bit of response from the last post about organ donation (isn't Google amazing- connecting people from all over the world) so I decided to post some common "myths" about organ donation. Since I just learned about Donate Life Month, I'm trying to fill the last few days of April with information about organ donation and transplantation. Although my blog is supposedly about "useless" facts, I hope that you find these facts very useful and implement a plan about organ donation into your life. You never know when you or someone you love dearly may need a life-saving organ transplant.

Unsure about donating organs for transplant? Don't let rumors stand in your way of saving lives.

Myth No. 1. If I agree to donate my organs, my doctor or the emergency room staff won't work as hard to save my life. They'll remove my organs as soon as possible to save somebody else.
Reality. When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors focus on saving your life — not somebody else's. You'll be seen by a doctor whose specialty most closely matches your particular emergency. The doctor in charge of your care has nothing to do with transplantation.

Myth No. 2. Maybe I won't really be dead when they sign my death certificate. It'll be too late for me if they've taken my organs for transplantation. I might have otherwise recovered.
Reality. Although it's a popular topic in the tabloids, in reality, people don't start to wiggle a toe after they're declared dead. In fact, people who have agreed to organ donation are given more tests to determine that they are truly dead than are those who haven't agreed to organ donation.

Myth No. 3. Organ donation is against my religion.
Reality. Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most religions. This includes Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam and most branches of Judaism. If you're unsure of or uncomfortable with your faith's position on donation, ask a member of your clergy. Another option is to check the federal Web site, which provides religious views on organ donation and transplantation by denomination.

Myth No. 4. I'm under age 18. I'm too young to make this decision.
Reality. That's true, in a legal sense. But your parents can authorize this decision. You can express to your parents your wish to donate, and your parents can give their consent knowing that it's what you wanted. Children, too, are in need of organ transplants, and they usually need organs smaller than those an adult can provide.

Myth No. 5. I want my loved one to have an open-casket funeral. That can't happen if his or her organs or tissues have been donated.
Reality. Organ and tissue donation doesn't interfere with having an open-casket funeral. The donor's body is clothed for burial, so there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donation. For eye donation, an artificial eye is inserted, the lids are closed, and no one can tell any difference. For bone donation, a rod is inserted where bone is removed. With skin donation, a very thin layer of skin similar to a sunburn peel is taken from the donor's back. Because the donor is clothed and lying on his or her back in the casket, no one can see any difference.

Myth No. 6. I'm too old to donate. Nobody would want my organs.
Reality. There's no defined cutoff age for donating organs. Organs have been successfully transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s. The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria, not age. Don't disqualify yourself prematurely. Let the doctors decide at your time of death whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation.

Myth No. 7. I'm not in the greatest health, and my eyesight is poor. Nobody would want my organs or tissues.
Reality. Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. The decision to use an organ is based on strict medical criteria. It may turn out that certain organs are not suitable for transplantation, but other organs and tissues may be fine. Don't disqualify yourself prematurely. Only medical professionals at the time of your death can determine whether your organs are suitable for transplantation.

Myth No. 8. I would like to donate one of my kidneys now, rather than wait until my death. But I hear you can't do that unless you're a close family member of someone in need.
Reality. While that used to be the case, it isn't any longer. Whether it's a distant family member, friend or complete stranger you want to help, you can donate a kidney through certain transplant centers.
If you decide to become a living donor, you will undergo extensive questioning to ensure that you are aware of the risks and make sure you're giving away your kidney out of pure goodwill and not in return for financial gain. You will also undergo testing to determine that your kidneys are in good shape and that you can live a healthy life with just one kidney.

Myth No. 9. Rich, famous and powerful people always seem to move to the front of the line when they need a donor organ. There's no way to ensure that my organs will go to those who've waited the longest or are the neediest.
Reality. The rich and famous aren't given priority when it comes to allocating organs. It may seem that way because of the amount of publicity generated when celebrities receive a transplant, but they are treated no differently from anyone else. In fact, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the organization responsible for maintaining the national organ transplant network, subjects all celebrity transplants to an internal audit to make sure the organ allocation was appropriate.

Myth No. 10. My family will be charged if I donate my organs.
Reality. The organ donor's family is never charged for donating. The family is charged for the cost of all final efforts to save your life, and those costs are sometimes misinterpreted as costs related to organ donation. Costs for organ removal go to the transplant recipient. (believe me this is true, Scott and I had a line item on our Vanderbilt bill for "organ procurement" when I had my transplant)

source: Mayo Clinic

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Don't take your organs to heaven...

Heaven knows we need them here!

Have you guys ever seen that bumper sticker?

I love seeing that bumper sticker on the back of cars because I know that the people driving the car have been affected by organ transplantation, as I have. I recently learned that April is Donate Life Month. Every day in April, people across the U.S. make a special effort to celebrate the tremendous generosity of those who have saved lives by becoming organ, tissue, marrow, and blood donors and to encourage more Americans to follow their fine example. I wanted to take a moment to salute my mother for donating life to me. She is an amazing woman. She gave life to me twice, once as an infant and again on February 13, 2003 when she donated her kidney to me. In honor of Donate Life Month, I'm going to post some practical things you can do to promote organ donation!

Make it known: I want to be a donor
Register with your State Donor Registry, if available.
Say YES to donation on your driver's license.
Tell your family, friends, physician, and faith leader that you want to be a donor.
Fill out and sign a donor card, have it witnessed, carry it with you.

Tell someone: The need is great and growing.
More than 98,000 people are in need of an organ for transplant.
Each day, about 77 people get the organ transplant that gives them a second chance, but 17 to 19 others die because they did not receive an organ transplant.
More than half the people on the waiting list for a donated organ are racial or ethnic minorities. Chances of getting a transplant increase if donor and recipient share the same racial/ethnic background.

Thank you guys for reading about these very USEFUL facts about organ donation. For more information visit

Friday, April 25, 2008

Useless Facts about me...

My friends Brooke and Joy tagged me so now you're about to know some useless information about me!

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
I was a sophomore/junior at Auburn University trying to figure out what to do with my life. I still don't know. :)

2. Five Things on my To Do List Today
plant annuals outside
work on a spreadsheet for work
figure out dinner for tonight

3. Five Snacks I enjoy
lorna doone shortbread cookies
sour patch kids
ice cream
100 calorie packs
hummus/pita (the only healthy thing on the list!)

4. Five Things I would do if I were a Billionaire
buy a beach house
give to church/charity
give money to family
scott could retire and write songs all day
i would go back to school for interior design

5. Five Bad Habits
biting my nails
no putting clothes away after laundry
leaving the lights on
leaving my shoes around the house

6. Five Places I've Lived
Huntsville, AL
Chattanooga, TN
Auburn, AL
Franklin, TN
Macon, GA

7. Five Jobs I've Had
architecture intern
marketing/p.r. intern at hospital
yellow page salesperson (worst one)
marketing specialist at TVA
cabinet sales representative
tourism/p.r. director

Now, You're IT! I tag Gina and Keri!,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day to everyone,

Now I am not a huge environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do care about the earth and what happens to it. And of course, everyone knows I'm a "tree-hugger" (see my previous post entitled "Trees, please...") Scott and I do our small part by recycling and energy conservation, but I know there's a lot more that we can do.

I used to work at the Tennessee Valley Authority and working there made me much more aware of environmental issues. While working with the Green Power Switch program, Energy Right program and Generation Partners programs, I was constantly having my ear bent by environmentalists trying to encourage TVA to do more for the environment. Many of them were irrational with their desires (i.e. "Let's all go OFF the grid!"), but many of them were caring people with big hearts who just wanted to protect the earth for future generations.

I know my friends in Nashville are working hard right now to do everything they can to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy, as this is the busiest time of the year for marketing these type of products. I'm proud of them and I'm proud that I was a part of creating programs that will make a lasting impression for years to come.

Here's my plug: If you live in an area served by TVA, go sign up for a block of Green Power!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

100 things about me...

So my friend Joy tagged me (thanks a lot, Joy!)

Here goes. This could get mighty random...

1. I was born on May 18, 1978 in Jackson, MS
2. My dad was a resident there.
3. He followed my mom there after they met at UAB when he was in Medical school and she was a dietician
4. But this is about me, not about them
5. My mom told me that the only time my dad got to see me was when she took me to lunch at the hospital
6. After Jackson we moved to Birmingham where my dad did a fellowship at UAB
7. Then we moved to Huntsville, where I attended kindergarten at Whitesburg Baptist Church
8. Then we moved to Chattanooga, where I attended first grade at Bachman Elementary school.
9. I met one of my best friends to this day in Mrs. McClister's 1st grade class. Her name is Gina and check out her blog here
10. Then in 2nd grade we moved BACK to Huntsville where I attended Jones Valley Elementary
11. Then in 3rd grade we moved BACK to Chattanooga where I lived until I graduated high school.
12. I loved moving back to Chattanooga because I learned cursive handwriting in 2nd grade in Huntsville and we were just learning it in 3rd grade in Chattanooga. My teacher let me "tutor" other students. I suppose that's where my bossy streak began...
13. A devastating tornado struck the elementary school I attended in Huntsville soon after I left. I remember that vividly as a child.
14. I am the oldest of three girls
15. I probably should have mentioned them earlier, but I got caught up in all the moves we made when I was a small child.
16. Megan was also born in Jackson, MS also, and we moved to B'ham when she was just 10 days old!
17. My mom is an awesome lady to put up with that!
18. Maddie was born when I was in the 3rd grade.
19. When I used to bring all my college friends home , she would always want to hang out with us and she would develop crushes on the boys.
20. I think there is still a tree near Signal Point that says, "Maddie Loves Chad"
21. "Little Maddie" is now 21 going on 22, and I know this freaks out many of those friends that knew her when she was a 9-10 year old
22. I played a lot of sports when I was growing up
23. I was a bit of a tomboy I guess you could say
24. It probably stems from the fact that my dad did not have any boys, so he had to teach us to throw the softball, football, etc
25. I actually wanted to try out for my middle school football team for the quarterback position
26. It made sense to me- at that age I was as big as most of the boys and I could throw better than them too!
27. My dad had to sit me down and explain to me that it was very dangerous to play football as a girl because of the ways girls differ from boys. That was an awkward conversation. :)
28. I have always loved to draw.
29. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an "artist" when I grew up
30. When I got into high school, I changed that slightly and decided I wanted to be an architect.
31. I took drafting in high school with all the boys. The class was taught by Coach Brown (the wrestling coach) and all the athletes took the class and chewed tobacco the whole time.
32. I guess that's why I received the "Drafting Award" my senior year.
33. I played the piano for two years and the flute for two years.
34. I quit because they interfered with sports.
35. I wish I had kept with piano or flute, because those are skills I could use today (especially after marrying a musician!)
36. I was super involved with everything in high school.
37. I played volleyball (our team went to state 3 of the years I was there)
38. I ran track (mile relay, 100 meter hurdles and 400 meter hurdles)
39. I was on student council, wrote for the school paper, was involved with Young Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was in the musical Bye, Bye Birdie, etc.
40. I actually enjoyed high school (is that bad to admit?)
41. We had an exceptional class though... just ask anyone that went to Red Bank and they'll tell you
42. I got sick when I was 16.
43. I was in the hospital forever, and they finally diagnosed me with Wegener's Granulomatosis. read about it here
44. I had to go on chemotherapy and missed the last half of my junior year of high school
45. I still got a 4 on the AP U.S. History test (this is an inside joke because my history teacher constantly told the other kids in the class that there was NO WAY Carmen would pass the test! I showed him!)
46. I went to Auburn University
47. I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Auburn- it was the only school I applied to. I was actually accepted in April of my junior year of high school!
48. I am a third generation Auburn graduate- I guess you could say I was bred to go there
49. Hopefully my children will attend there, but my husband will oppose this. He is a UGA Dawg fan.
50. I still love him though.
51. My dad barely let him marry me.
52. I was in a sorority at Auburn :Delta Delta Delta
53. I met some wonderful girls there, but most of my best friends I met at the Auburn BCM
54. One of my proudest accomplishments is that I set up my friend from the BCM, Brad, with one of my sorority sisters, Brooke, for a formal. Now they are married with a child! Check out their blog here
53. I started at Auburn in Architecture, but had to leave the major due to my health. Many of you have heard how grueling "Summer Option" was at Auburn, and I had to drop out.
54. So I wound up majoring in Marketing, mostly because it was the more "creative" side of business
55. One of my dreams is to go back to school and "finish what I started"... I want to earn an Interior Design degree and follow in my mother's footsteps.
56. I love college football
57. I have gone to Auburn football games since I was a little girl.
58. I miss going to football games now that I am "grown up"
59. After I graduated from Auburn, I got a job in Nashville, TN
60. I was one of the few people there who was NOT there for music
61. I got a "real" job at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
62. One of my best friends, Joy (who tagged me), moved there with me
63. We had a GREAT time growing up together in the "real" world and with our roommate Keri
64. I dated several goofballs before meeting Scott at The People's Church in Franklin, TN
65. I actually tried to set Scott up with Joy and Keri before deciding to date him myself
66. I know that sounds weird, but it's true.
67. Scott and I met in the singles group (the Pathfinders) at church.
68. I worked at TVA for 5 years. Just enough time to be fully vested
69. It was a great first job. I got all kinds of training and was involved in developing two new products. Check them out here and here
70. I also made some wonderful friends there... I still keep in contact with many of them.
71. I had a kidney transplant at age 24 due to my sickness mentioned in #43
72. I was working at TVA and people donated their leave so that I would get paid for the 8 weeks I was off after the surgery. That shows you what a great company it is...
73. My mother donated her kidney to me
74. I never had to go on dialysis which was wonderful
75. I had my surgery at Vanderbilt hospital and my mom was the third person they performed laproscopic surgery for kidney donation on. pretty amazing.
76. Therefore I have three kidneys, but only one works.
77. That is another post for another day.
78. Scott and I had only been married for 6 months when I had the surgery. He was such a trooper.
79. I was in the hospital on our first Valentine's Day together
80. We have been married for almost 6 years now. Wow, time flies.
81. We have two puppies and one cat
82. They all have Russian names. Gorbachev (Gorbs)- The cat, Alexandra (Lexie)- the beagle and Anastastia (Anna)- the labrador/sharpei mix
83. We love them dearly (well, Scott is not especially fond of the cat)
84. We want to have children one day
85. Hopefully we'll be able to have one biological child and then we hope to adopt
86. We moved to Macon in 2005 for a job for Scott at Ingleside Baptist Church
87. I have held a myriad of jobs since living here, including Director of Tourism and Public Relations with a local Chamber of Commerce and Sales Representative for cabinet manufacturers. Now I am working part-time at another local Chamber of Commerce and am doing some freelance marketing/public relations for a large EMS corporation in Macon.
88. I love the flexibility of these jobs
89. We love our house. Every house in our neighborhood has at least three acres.
90. We have three acres with lots of mature trees.
91. I love trees. See my previous post about the lovely trees in Macon entitled, "Tree, please"
92. Mexican food is my favorite
93. I also love bleeps (big sour, sweet tart-like candies) and sour patch kids
94. I love all animals. I just rescued a baby bird from my cat yesterday.
95. I want to foster animals with a local rescue agency, but Scott won't let me. He says I'll get too attached
96. I love to sing. I sing in the choir at Ingleside and occasionally on the Praise Team.
97. I am a second soprano. This is not just a part in the choir, it is a way of life. If you knew the other seconds, you'd understand.
98. I enjoy taking Sunday afternoon naps
99. I am just beginning to learn photography. I actually help shoot a wedding a few weekends ago. Scott got me a digital SLR camera for Christmas
100. And above all else, I am a Christian. I hope that people see Christ's love through me every day.

That was long and hard. And it pretty well describes me: Random.
I now tag Gina B, Keri T, Brooke S. and Scott. Don't expect to see 100 things about him, though. :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

30 days to 30

So my friend Alison wrote a post entitled "30 days of 30" after experiencing her 30's for one month. Her post was mostly about what she wants to accomplish in her next 30 years, but it inspired me. If you haven't figured it out already, I will turn 30 on May 18, and while I am not upset about it in the slightest, it has caused me to be somewhat introspective. What have I done with my life so far? What have I not accomplished that I thought I would? What do I want to accomplish in the next decade or the next 30 years as Alison pointed out?

These are all potential posts, however, for this post I want to concentrate on what to do with my last 30 days of being in my 20's. So, I need you guys' help. What should I do? I need this to be realistic, so traveling around the world (while fun) should not be an answer! I need some guidance.

I am an immature woman of 29 who wants some suggestions for living up her last month of youth. Maybe I'll follow Alison's lead once I have become a wiser woman of 30 and create a list of things I want to accomplish in the future.... right now I want to live in the present!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Off the beaten path...

“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.” Anatole France

I'm sure you have all been wondering about the header I have posted on my blog. I bet it's been keeping you up at night.

The header is a picture of a "C" road we were traveling in Scotland this past summer. Britain has a letter and numbering system to classify and identify all roads in Great Britain. Each road is given a single letter, which represents the road's category, and a subsequent number, with a length of between 1 and 4 digits. "A" roads are the main roads or motorways (i.e. interstates in the U.S.), "B" roads are numbered local routes (i.e. state highways in U.S) and "C" and subsequent letters are for lower density roads that are unclassified. Many of the roads in Scotland are "C" roads or lesser. Needless to say, we were definitely on a "C" road for this journey. The GPS unit in our car (who we named "Beatrice"- that's a whole other story) did not even register this road on the unit!

We were staying in a lovely bed and breakfast near Perth, Scotland owned by friends of my parents. My parents have been travelling to Scotland for many years and have made friends with this charming English couple who retired to Scotland. So, when we decided to make the somewhat long journey to Loch Ness, Tony (the owner of the B&B and historian of all things British) asked us if we wanted to take the short way or the "scenic" route. We (meaning my mom and I) jumped at the chance for the scenic route. Scott, the driver, felt differently, but the women prevailed and we were off on our little adventure. An otherwise 4 hour trip took us over 6 hours, but we enjoyed every minute of it. At every twist and turn in the road was another glimpse of God's creation and the unique beauty that is Scotland. One minute it was lush and green with highland coos (Scottish cows) grazing, and the next minute we were in the highlands of Scotland with the mountains covered with the purple majesty of heather. Here are some images of that trip from Perth to Loch Ness.

Notice the purple heather, the one lane road and the beautiful castle that awaited us near the end of the journey. What I learned most about this adventure is that sometimes it's important to get off the beaten path and enjoy the journey. If we had chosen to take the "A" road that day, we would have arrived at Loch Ness far sooner, but we would have missed the beauty along the way. It's important to not forget the journey on our way to the destination...I think we often forget that in the hustle and bustle of our American lives.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saving the Evidence...

Scott made me aware of the poor, baby zebra that was found grazing on I-75 near Locust Grove, GA. We live about 40 miles from Locust Grove right off of I-75, so I was interested in the location as well as the subject matter. I am an animal lover! I would take any animal and raise it if I could. Just ask Scott...I am forever bringing in baby animals (i.e. squirrels, rabbits, etc) and asking if I can "keep" them. I'm not sure what his hangup is! I think we have reached our limit of animals with two dogs and a cat, but if I was a vet, we would have a zoo!

Anyway, this poor zebra was found grazing right off of I-75 and apparently had fallen out of a truck or trailer and then hit by another vehicle. The police began referring to him as 'evidence', so the name stuck!

One of the most interesting parts of the story to me is the fact that the zebra was sent to Auburn University's vet school for surgery and treatment, when UGA's vet school was right up the road. Do you think this is "evidence" to the quality of the schools? :)

Check out the story here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Old or young?

It's been a wild week, and it's not over yet. Today is the only day this week that I will be in Macon. I left Sunday after church to drive to Chattanooga, helped my mom prepare "reception" food and then drove Monday morning to Johnson City, TN for my sister's senior art show/reception. Megan is finally graduating from her second degree! She is getting her BFA in Photography and will graduate in May. All seniors in the arts have to display their senior projects for a week, starting with an opening reception. We prepared lots of fancy food for all those starving artists/college students. Here's a picture (from my phone) of the three sisters in Megan's gallery.

Megan, Maddie and Carmen at Megan's Show

She did her project on Reeltown, the town in Alabama where my dad is from. She spent the summer in Reeltown taking photographs and preparing for this project. She did such a great job depicting life in rural Alabama. Congratulations to Megan!

On another note, I leave tomorrow for a retreat for (one) of my jobs. This retreat is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and will consist of local leaders dissecting the community's problems and what we as a community can do to fix them. Fun times. At least it's going to be at a really cool state park AND we are having a volleyball tournament (guess who's one of the captains!) I haven't played in years, but something tells me that I will be heads and shoulders above the rest of the group (mostly because of my age!) I love going on retreats like these because I'm the "baby". It's strange how it certain situations I feel old (like going to art shows at a local university, see above paragraph) and in certain situations I feel young (like playing volleyball with middle aged politicians!) Anybody else feel this tug?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Trees, please...

I love trees. I guess you can say I'm a bit of a tree hugger. (Alison, Garet and Bull, remember that pic of me hugging the giant redwood in Cali?) I grew up on beautiful Signal Mountain, TN surrounded by trees. When Scott almost moved me to Ft. Worth, TX after getting married, I wanted to live on a flood plain because it was the only place with big trees! We've bought two houses that needed work over brand new ones because of the big yards and the mature trees. You can't put a price on mature trees in my opinion.

One of the things I LOVE about Macon, GA is the thousands of yoshino cherry trees everywhere. Here's a useless fact for you: Macon, GA is THE Cherry Blossom Capital of the World, according to Congressional records. There are over 300,000 yoshino cherry trees in Macon. Yes, you read that right, over 300,000!

It all began with a a couple of concerned citizens who had a dream of these graceful trees populating and identifying Macon with beauty. Today, a foundation donates thousands of trees a year to the citizens of Macon, securing its title of Cherry Blossom Capital of the World. (These trees also bring thousands of tourist dollars into the community for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, a top 20 event in the south and top 50 event in the U.S)

I've lived in several cities, and I have to give a shout out to Macon. I'm not sure there's a place on earth as beautiful as Macon during the early spring with these thousands of trees in bloom. What a great thing to be known for! I'll be sure to hug some this year for you...

To learn more about the International Cherry Blossom Festival visit their website at :

Friday, April 4, 2008

Hair today, gone tomorrow...

I have never had good hair. You can comment all you want about how this "not true!" but the truth is I have thin, mousy brown hair (with a touch of gray.) My husband, on the other hand, has beautiful, thick, perfectly textured hair. Just ask our hairdresser. In fact, I got my hair cut/colored today and our hairdresser spent most of the time commenting on how Scott has "great hair." It's one of those unfair things in life, such as when men have super-thick, long eyelashes. These are some of the great injustices of the world.

However, you will rarely, if ever, hear me complain about my hair. You see, when I was 16 I lost all of it due to chemotherapy. Many of you know me and know that I have an autoimmune disease that eventually led to the destruction of my kidneys and a kidney transplant. When they were first diagnosing me with this disease, I was so sick that chemotherapy was the only option to wipe out my immune system and thus keep the disease under control. So here was this 16 year old who was scared for her life, AND lost all her hair. I even went to prom wearing a wig. Sometimes I think I was braver then than I am today. But when you go through those sort of situations, you realize that God gives you the strength to get through. It's happened again and again to me. But I digress... back to the topic at hand, er, hair.

You don't realize how much you take things for granted until they are gone. It was like that for me with the hair loss. Even when I was feeling much better and the disease was somewhat under control, I still had the bald head as evidence of being "sick". So, you can imagine my elation when my hair returned for my senior year! I vowed then that I would never take my hair for granted. Even when I am having a "bad" hair day, I remind myself that it's a "at least I have hair day!"

I'm sure there are many of you out there that can relate to this story because you've been there yourself! Is there anything you didn't realize you took for granted until it was gone?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The confusion that is Copeland blogging...

Hello friends (and future friends!)

I've been feeling a lot of pressure lately to start a blog, and have been very hesitant to do so. Why do you ask? Honestly, I'm not sure my life is interesting enough to merit having it documented daily on the world wide web. But alas, my sweet husband, has finally convinced me to begin one. This is a selfish move on his part because he is tired of me commandeering his. Even though we don't have a ton of exciting things happening to us on a daily basis, I am all the time saying, "ooh, you should blog about that!" or "why don't you blog about _____ that we did this weekend." Sometimes he obliges me, but most of the time I get the eye roll and a comment about how I should "start my own blog." Thus, "Carmen's Blog of Useless Facts..." is born. If you knew me in school (or know me now) , you'd know that I have an amazing memory for useless facts. I can tell you anything you want to know about Chattanooga, TN. I can sing the lyrics to just about any song that I've ever heard. I know tons of interesting tidbits about the Civil War, urban sprawl, the tourism industry, dog training, house renovation, and I always like to give my input on worship leading. My friends in college used to say that I should write a book called, "Carmen's Book of Useless Facts", but I'm thinking this blog will be the closest thing to that. Also, it allows me to cater the blog to whatever I feel like on any given day. It gives maximum flexibility for my minimum thoughts. :)

I figure that those of you who are interested (why, I'm not sure) in what's going on with the Copelands, you should probably look here first. Scott's blog will probably contain mostly his artsy topics and his occasional rantings about politics and global warming. Enjoy and leave lots of comments!