Every breath you take, every move you make….

Safety, and the desire for safety when expressed as fear, is an insurmountable prison, but Maslow had it right, safety based in personal responsibility and love is the foundation upon which true friendship grows.  Some lives begin with every breath and every move monitored just to keep the breath and movement continuing. These are the lives I serve professionally. Some lives end with an ever increasing need to have others meet their basic needs, this is where I also serve.

I am taking away so much from this week in Glendale.

Synchronicity, or as my friend James would call it ” signal,” brought another nurse and her husband to my table at this years Nurse appreciation dinner. My company, MGA, may be completely patient focused,  but it treats its nurses well too!

I spoke first of my lovely trip to Kenya and how, no matter where I am, small children and those whom age or health have clouded cognition find and befriend me. The husband of my co-worker mentioned how it has become harder and harder for his mother to be safely alone throughout the day and how a long planned family vacation was looming, their dilemma because few affordable and good short term in-home options exist in our cities-without-community for those not really able to be alone, but far from needing round the clock care.

It seems that those in need of someone to really see them befriend me easily.  Or perhaps the universe helps them find me, and I befriend them.

I am not sure how it actually works, I just know it happens. And that is how I ended up spending a week here in Glendale with a lonely cognitively cloudy Octogenarian. We have a love for Kenya in common, of Isak Denison; and in her younger days the woman took my dream train trip across Asia. She also loves salads and vegetables more than meat, and thinks coffee in the morning is the bees’ knees. Therefore it has been easy to find common ground with which to build a friendship.

I am so glad to be here, and she is happy to have me here as well. I listen and look at the picture albums. I found a couple old movies and an inexpensive DVD player (thank-you Target!)

She is very lonely, most of the friends and family of her youth have died. The other thing she is, she knows she is not herself anymore, that she forgets things.  For so many reasons, she is very afraid.

I have a core belief that every life wants to be seen for the bright shining thing that it truly is; that the clearest communication is a warm friendly smile; and no one is my enemy.  I have little fear and little mean in me. Maybe that is why I am good at this thing, I don’t even know what to call it, but this thing where the vulnerable and I are friends.

Actually my friend Sara says I can make a friend anywhere. Maybe that is true. I really don’t know.

Do not misunderstand, there are those who see me as other, and I have a desire for safety born out of love for life, and a love for that which is hostile to me. I lock doors, and occasionally preclude poisonous lives, including humans, from my dance space.

An example of creating safety versus acting with fear would be my relationship with bees, ants and some antibiotics.

I have had an anaphylactic reaction to a bee sting, ant bites X 2, and once each to sulfa and cephalosporins.  Anaphylaxis is incredibly frightening.  Twice I lost consciousness  from my allergic reactions advancing so quickly. The first time I woke in an ambulance one of my sons had called, the second time I was already at the hospital (ABO) and woke to IV’s and breathing assistance. I am lucky to be alive and I legitimately have a spill of fight or flight chemicals at the sight of an ant crawling on me, or just before I take a new antibiotic (ABO).

Does that mean I pour white vinegar down every ant hill I see or smash their scurrying worker bodies with malice and/or gusto? Do I add to the eco-toppling demise of the buzzing little bee with garden pesticides and never again grow the herbs or flowers I love? Or perhaps avoid the outdoors all together? Should I flee my chosen profession to avoid contact with these common treatments for infection?

No, that is safety based on fear.  To completely avoid these risk factors my life would become so narrow that happiness could never, if ever, slip through and embrace me.

Safety based on love and understanding means I wear shoes and socks when hiking, at the zoo, and pretty much anytime I will be out in nature. Hiking sandals may be cooler and more comfortable for my feet in AZ’s heat but breathing is a higher priority. Safety means I always have non-latex gloves AND masks in my nursing bag so if I need to crush a pill for g-tube administration I will not accidentally touch or inhale my allergen.

What else do I do?

Well I try to keep my system clean through healthy eating and exercise so if I do get bit or come in contact with something that my immune system reacts to, it doesn’t go all nuclear on it.

That is how I handle people as well. I have no enemies, but I now come equipped with emotional gloves and mask, and I meditate daily and consume books, movies and music that feed what is best in me. Using potato chip entertainment as the snack size portion for which it is intended. Am I spartan in my lifestyle, hardly. Look around, nature is hedonistic. In fact my healthy diet beats out a junk diet in taste as well as nutrition.

More importantly though, I walk through the world with a faith in the pattern. For some the pattern is the scientific definition and the mathematical art of energy, for some it is a Mother with arms of earth, for some it is the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God, for me it is all of these and none of these.  What I know for sure is that it is the anti-thesis of fear and it is gains no joy in meanness.  And this thing I call capital “L”  Love assures me that it will all be right in the end.

I also know for sure that it was synchronicity that brought me here this week.  If my new friend and I had met in another time in either of our lives, and seen only the labels or boxes society would sort us into, we might have been enemies. If we had, we would certainly have missed out on a grand adventure.

I also learned that I still cry at “Gone With the Wind,”  and I will cry all four times I watch “Out of Africa,” and that anyone who does this 24/7 for their loved one is truly my hero.

 

Skipping over the ocean, like a stone

I was never as good at skipping rocks as my sisters, even as an adult to get three bounces gives me the woohoo thrill my sister chirped out when five became six, but that’s alright with me, I still love the process.

First I scan the water, diverted from the acquisition by dragonflies and water-skippers, dragon flies before transition, and minnows. I love the way minnows dart in at my feet to search for food; my feet are slowly turning blue in the coldness of the stream, seperating themselves numbly from the experience.

My eyes find a roundish flat stone.

I pick it up, weigh it in my palm, feel for the necessary smoothness, discard it as too rough. Choose another, not as flat; and it is also discarded as too heavy. Usually the third or fourth one will sit properly and answer correctly the questions of my fingertips. Arm back and my wrist flicks it across the water scattering the dragons and damsels, one or two skips. Then my missile sinks beneath the surface to wait for another purpose and time.  I always manage a skip or two. My sisters laugh taunting me to match their feats of four and five and six, but I never even get to three.

I skip more stones than any of us, enjoying the process long after they lay grumbling and bored on towels getting tans next to my mother while my father fishes.

I like the process, and that is enough.

So many other ways I have been unable to excel in comparison to my sisters, I am as a child repeatedly chastised, even humiliated, sometimes even encouraged to stick to what I am “good” at; to accept my limits and respect my natural boundaries. Music and sports  and beauty and love are for my sisters; I am smart, I can act, I can write, words are my destiny; they say, “stick to words and academia,” or “stop being stubborn,  and acting stupid,” or just “stop trying to be something you’re not!”

It doesn’t matter that I also like to run and swim and build and sing, perhaps off key, but at the top of my lungs. No one asked then what I wanted, or liked, or thought; no one really asked anything. Except why I was so odd, so clumsy; why I wouldn’t make eye contact; why I couldn’t act like a lady; why I didn’t get straight “A”s; why I kept trying to do the things I couldn’t do; what was wrong with me.

Except nothing was wrong.

Except I could do all those things, and laughter bubbled up inside me pouring out over my being like an agitated cola when I tried.

I might not run faster than my sisters, I might not win races, but I could run then, I liked to run then, and still I do. Not as often and not as well, and currently not very far, but I can, and I do. Its the process. That moment when new sneakers feel the dirt and my feet are taken with the magic of movement. I run.

Sometimes I  run because practice and patience and discipline have another sort of magic but that is another blog, this one is about loving to skip stones when your best skip is, was and always has been two.

I am so very lucky.

I listen to so many lost and scared and sad people on the interwebs, so many people afraid of not being enough, not being loved, waiting to find the one right person, the one right job, the thing they are best at, wanting to win. They never wade into the stream and pick up a stone.  They miss so very much.

I build relationships kind of like I skip stones. Some people just don’t feel right, their energy to heavy, their surface needing a bit more polishing, but I do not wait for the one right person before sharing my heart, I love to the best of my ability the person before my eyes and within the grasp of my arms.  Some have been my spouse, some are my children, some have been friends, some lovers, and some remain strangers who I greeted with a glitter ball of love sparkling out from my smile and received a sunshine return. My life is full to the brim with happiness and love.

True, frequently and currently I sleep alone, so maybe here again just two skips of the stone; but also here again, how I love the process.

Oh, I have never taken first in any race; my one silver Sprint Triathlon Medal mostly a reward because  even though I am all those things that others use to excuse their sedentary state; slow, and old, and fat, I still try.

I still run.

I love.

And sometime soon I will find a shore to skip stones.

 

 

Broken windows and empty hallways, a pale dead moon in the sky streaked with grey

My week (since last Friday) contained almost no time except sleeping and driving when I was alone.

It has been tremendously fun.

It has included group activities, girl time, dates, doctor appointments, class and 41 hours of work.

I have been reminded that I am truly alive and still beautiful, and conversely reminded that I  am small in the grand scheme of things

I am full

Yet I am so drained.

It was a rough day at work as well.

Gratitude list and some meditation is mandatory.

Introvert recharge is under way.

In the meantime,

may human kindness rain down in your life too!

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away….

facingfear

Like most people, I am afraid of certain things.  I am afraid of rejection. To me rejection looks like being laughed at, it is me being less because I am fat,  it is being told I am acting stupid or more often told I am acting  “too smart”.

I know I am not unique in that, because of my interests – comics, legos, science, math, sci-fi, games – many of my friends have social anxiety issues; because of my choices, body build and medical challenges, I am not naturally graceful nor am I thin; because of my broad travel and other non-geek interests – philosophy, social action, music, fine arts, classic literature, poetry – my friends and my knowledge base and perspective are frequently disparate.

It is very easy for me to use my chronic pain and fatigue to isolate and sit with my dogs in my house until fear of being terminally unique  swallows me whole. I have been laughed at, rejected, humiliated and hated in my life; both friends and family have done their best at times to destroy my sense of self both publicly and privately. I have a thousand good excuses to be hopeless, helpless and chronically needy and depressed.

I just don’t really like doing that.

So I hope this revelation of my rampant introversion and social fear doesn’t jive with who you see in your head when you see me, because I really am working on being the kind of person with whom I want to spend the rest of my life.  Cuz guess what? Wherever I go, whomever I am with, there I am.

That is why I recently joined a Sci-Fi singles group, the one my last post promised a follow-up post about, well here it is: the guys were all hotter than their profile pics, two of the women were so beautiful I would have married them on the spot, and everyone I met of both genders were warm, friendly and pretty much awesome.

A while ago I got this little book at Changing Hands, the one in the picture, to motivate me back onto my wish track,  (you know the road that makes  “I just wish….” into “Guess what just happened..”) as I hit a bit of rubble the road and had once again been rolling back towards an old rut, this daily journal challenge seemed just the thing.

The problem is, owning something is not the same as using something.

Like many overweight try-athletes I own a dozen different videos and books about diet and exercise.  If the only exercise I get is moving them from shelf to shelf or dusting them off, I am no stronger, and books on diet only translate to better diet through my reading the information and choosing to use the wisdom.

I used to be one of those people who excused my appearance and performance with the statement, “I have tried everything, nothing works.” I have changed that today into “If what I have been trying isn’t working, what can I do new today to move me towards my goal?”

Sometimes what I need to do to make a difference is just persist through multiple repetition of the same mundane action (walking anyone?), sometimes I have to break my wish down into tiny little bites and take small mouthfuls and chew very well (completing a full triathlon, building lasting relationships),  but sometimes you just gotta close your eyes and dive in!

slipnslide

allwet

laughing

 

 

I had a lot of fun this weekend.

I was clumsy, and fat, and acted stupid, and mentioned my recent obsession with Hannah Arendt to roomful of people who I am pretty sure all just thought Huh?, and guess what, I was afraid.

But then I closed my eyes and dived in, and I had the best time ever.

I still ached, I almost threw up on a person while talking, I had gas and ripped a fart my man-children would have been proud of while sitting at a packed table playing CAH. Oh the joys of chemotherapy recovery, LOL.

I had a hard time thinking or talking straight, (knew that would hit this week-end so no shifts till Tuesday), lost my sunglasses, but most of all discovered that when I jumped, this time the parachute of friendship opened wide and the view was glorious.

If you are reading this and were any part of this very fun and happy post chemo celebratory week-end, Thank-you! I loves ya!

If you weren’t, lets make plans to do something that scares us soon!

 

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy, fish are jumpin’

So sipping some coffee I may or may not get to add to my long term caffeination while listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong perform the most sublime Porgy and Bess.  Someday I will have an awesome pair of headphones to put on and lay on the floor and listen to this 2 disc classic LP set, but my turntable is blissing me out just fine right now.

My bodies clean up crew is apparently having some kind of competition, not unexpected, but this is the part of the process that is always the hardest, whether illness or accident or death of someone I love.  The crisis is over and re-actions are complete, in this case the last treatment available done, and follow-up scans and blood work taken, but the real work is just starting.

Now comes recovery and learning what the new reality will be and shifting myself to fit that reality in a constructive way.  Everyone has challenges. Even good things like the birth of a perfectly healthy new baby, accepting a new better paying job, or the completion of a long time creative venture have this piece of limbo – the summer of the cycle, where everything holds its breath waiting to see how the wheel will turn. Nothing is familiar and there are no more familiar rhythms leading you to the next note or word. Forging forward is tiring when I cut a new path, whether the journey is a chosen happy one or a necessary rough one, for some reason this is the part of the journey where I am most likely to implode emotionally. (I am great in a crisis, its later I need two baskets to carry me cuz one won’t even due.)

My body got that memo and seems to be trying to expedite the process.

Knowing how hard this part is for me, I made myself a brief social commitment for the afternoon, and agreed to give someone a ride so I couldn’t cancel.  And because of really special reasoning that very possibly only Miss Laurie might understand (cuz MY Doctor is brilliant and well informed but NOT in any way attractive or personable!), the social engagement I picked today is a Sci-Fi Singles Meet and Greet.

Hey, if anyone asks me on a date today, they are definitely worth saying yes to, LOL. I look awful, I can’t shave cuz I might nick myself and bleed everywhere, I can’t get rid of my nice Italian facial hair (sparse mind you, but that doesn’t actually make it look more attractive, pubescent boy beard on an old lady is just not sexy!) because well, the chemicals; aand my hair is coming in greyer this time and making my adorable cut have a mind all its own. Hee hee hee. I am at my worst appearance wise and totally bringing mints cuz sure my breath is well, chemo special. But i am going. And dammit, I AM having fun!

And I am wearing my T-shirt. It says “Being a person has become too complicated, time to be a unicorn.”

Cuz, my own private joke and truth today, and well, my nose, think Despicable Me’s Gru.

I will be back later and report on my new friends and any Prince’s I meet.

For now, just thanks for all the love and support.

And Hey, still looking for links in the comments section to other Blogs, good deed doing, or other like minded people and places.

And Porgy, I is your woman now……..

If you can get this vinyl, do it! If not and you live nearby come on over sometime and I will share!

 

What’s New PussyCat?

Though I would do a bit of an update, hope to get a new recipe up here this week-end, I am going to back up to red and start over in rainbow order because, well, because if you actually know me you will understand, if you don’t actually know me yet, give it a couple more entries and you will understand.

Besides, that gives us another shot at green.

So training is postponed for one more week, trying to just let it be and walk through the delay; sort of like my personality the quirky blood cells are making the normal blood cells chase shiny things instead of you know, carrying oxygen, clotting my blood, etc. Hope to be in the pool again by the week-end and running after my follow-up tests. Meantime eating arugula and blueberries and all the yummy plant stuff I have in my house.

Special thanks to my new surprise donor, and you know who you are, I am humbled by others kindness. I only hope to make my extra time worthy of such unexpected generosity.  Friday I will be writing some thank-you cards. Don’t know where all the lovely healing energy is coming from but I can feel it working in my life.

Feeling a little exuberant and silly this morning because I have coffee, AND it is still in my stomach an hour later. Time to walk my furry buddies and got to work..

My thanks to all of you and a request to boost the signal, not just for me, but for anybody or anything that needs community right now.  None of us can do everything, but we all can do a little. I have no money to give but later this month I am donating time to stay with a woman with Alzheimers so her family can take their vacation. Anyway I would love to see some links in my comments today from your favorite “Make the World Better” place and again, thanks for reading, thanks for spells, prayers, believing in me and my “real” self (the healthy, perfect one), for time and rides, my awesome new haircut, and the financial assistance.

Love and hugs,

Joanne

P.S. You are welcome for the earworm, it is due to a feral that likes to lay on my patio table and clean himself provocatively at my dogs.

 

 

It’s Not that Easy Being Green…..the first in a rainbow of recipes

I personally love vegetables and fruits, so being green, or red, or orange, yellow or purple or even blue is easy peasy for me.

But not so much true for most of my friends and family, so for those who find getting your greens a challenge I propose my Kermit Smoothie.

 

The Kermit Smoothie for 1

Into the blender place

1/2 a banana (Bananas are all sizes so about 7 slices 0.5 cm thick if you want more exact measurements, or the length of your index finger)

small handful spinach (1/4 cup of small torn pieces)

1/4 cup pineapple chunks

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

fill blender to 0.5 liter mark with Coconut water or carrot juice (I use Coconut water or Trader Joe’s Dynamo)

small handful ice (3 ice cubes from my trays)

3 T Hemp seeds

1 tsp maple syrup.

Blend it till it’s all smooth and creamy. Drink, and you will be amazed at how delicious a serving of greens and protein can be! This is in fact an very complete meal and a great way to start a day!