Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…

However one must still take the medicine. That is one of many bits of wisdom that I have accumulated in my lifetime of adventures and books, a bit of wisdom from childhood complements Disney’s Mary Poppins.

I am happy to be known as the Mary Poppins Nurse, I knew she was a Time Lord long before Pop Culture acknowledged her origins. I knew she was a Time Lord when PBS was in its infancy and Oscar the Grouch was orange. However, I am not here today to discuss Time Lords, or Mary Poppins or other purportedly fictional bits of sugar that helped my wisdom grow and flourish, I am here to talk about the medicine.

Medicine is the tough stuff we have to swallow to become better: better health, better writer, better informed, better person. Medicine is often bitter with wide ranging side effects, not all of them pleasant.

I remember just how disappointed I was as a child when I read a biographer’s portrayal of Jack London (how I loved, loved, loved his books) as a soft, overweight man willing to trade his name to grape juice manufacturers for ten silver pieces, and as much likely to survive an adventure as a spoiled persian cat. It was a tough pill to swallow.

I was still too young to realize that sometimes more motivates a biographer than love and facts; yet old enough to know that not everything in books is real; I somehow expected much more of Jack. I vowed then, I was not going to be like Jack, I would be a lifetime adventurer.

I now have great empathy for that armchair traveling Jack I so despised as a child.

AlThough it is also good to know that one opinion was mostly false, more scholarly biographies have reinforced my original perception of Mr. London without ignoring his faults, the facts are that he did slow down as he aged due to renal insufficiency of unknown origin and he was one of the first to trade his name and image to a product for money.

I am still am an adventurer.

I still have to take my medicine, including the aches, pains and infirmities of age, disease, and a few bad choices.

But there is so much sugar in my life, from roses blooming outside my door, to smiles from babies and the triumph of met goals.

Today at Physical Therapy my exercise assistant (who is a mere 22 years old and cute as a button) said with awe, “You’ve done so much!”

My first response was, “I’m old, more time to do things.”

But the truth is, if my life had run smoothly would I have had so many adventures? I don’t think so.

Today I salute all the hard parts, the things that made me better, more interesting, the things that led me to realize there really are only three important questions when contemplating an action.

1. Is it compassionate?

2. Is it ethical?

3. Does it support my long term goals?

Now all of you go out and take your medicine and say a thank you for the sugar that helps it go down….

Straight to the Heart, and You’re to Blame

Good Morning!

Things that give love a bad name are buttered movie popcorn, playing addictive phone games, and shopping.

Things that go straight to my heart and kind of give love and my heart a boost are dogs, birds and pigs (sorry cats, you and I have that sort of love that bad young adult romance is based on, I love you, you kill me: i.e we can co-exist only with the assists of decongestants.) Also 50-80’s music and archery and swimming

First time out with Two Moons and loving it. Also great way to see what to fix!

First time out with Two Moons and loving it. Also great way to see what to fix!

That’s me using borrowed equipment on Sunday Mornings at Papago park. I had much fun thanks, and actually got 12 points in my first speed round ever.

Listening to a little Bon Jovi while I bring every body up to date on the life and times of this S.O.F.T. lady complete with stats, goals, recent challenges and needs and amazing life surprises.

Always on to start and end with gratitude let me tell you some of the universe’s recent perfect timing and fun surprises.

Back story on the first one is that I did a good deed that was very hard for me, I lent my Nintendo DS3 to a mom who had more need than I, complete with my Zelda game.
I really missed it last week as I wanted more than anything to disappear into anything game, glass of wine or box of popcorn to avoid the glaring absence of my beautiful old Golden.

Sunday night I got back from archery and the zoo with my honorary grandkids BAM and Tam (and their parents of course) and found a box from Amazon outside my door. Inside was a Disneyworld Nintendo 3DSLX, anonymous gift. So Gifter if you are reading this, like BIG BIG BIG hugs.

So I gave my 3DS, the one I got from Sara to this Mom. Lending her my game until she beats it, or I can replace it. Crap, I guess I am still a little selfish.

So I have real love in my life as well, like, you know, a potential rest-of-my-life partner which is both awesome and kind of freaky for me. He has also joined in with my trips to the gym and eating right, though he is quite calorie focused and I am more nutrition.

I am only on Essiac Tea for the cancer and less PTSD meds for the PTSD. My hair on my head is currently giving me a lovely layer of fuzzy stubble among the parts that didn’t fall out and so my hair has awesome body. Bad news is my genetics are showing and my eyebrows again need daily maintenance, as does my moustache. But this is to say I am getting healthier.

My current stats are 222 lbs, BMI of 42 and body percent fat of 41% (Steroids, self pity eating and couch only energy levels for a year will do that to a girl, but hey, I’m here to whine about it!)

Starting where I am…yesterday my steps were 4229 and it was truly all I could do! My goal is 10,000 steps a day. My swimming goal is a mile in an hour, and well I did 0.3 miles in 50 minutes. Did 25 meter lengths with pause then another length. Down from my first two attempts where I did 50 meters with just a turn.

So what are my big goals?
1. Ability to swim 3 miles open water!
2. Hike the Appalachian trail
3. Live to see Bam, Archer, and Tam graduate High School.
4. Publish a book of my poetry.
5. Publish a new fiction book I can be proud to put my name on.

Not much I know, LOL

What do I need?

Hiking gear
Donations
A definite plan…

What can you do to help?

Join me. Support me with comments or donations.

Make it your best day.

For now Namaste.
Crowfae

Acceptance is the key to the closed doors in life

I start with the premise that life is a journey, or a meal, or a really good book because these are the things in life I love most and therefore understand best. I love to travel; short distances, long distances, foot, bike, car, plane the mode is moot and the distance relative because I love the going, the looking about on the way, the arriving, and the familiar comfort of coming home.  I love to cook and feed people even more than I love to eat, and I LOOOOOVE to eat. I also love devouring written words, especially well written words. These three activities have much more in common than just me.

A trip requires a destination, a route or map, the method of achieving the distance in the time allotted and actual movement. A meal requires a menu, recipes, ingredients, a method of heating and combining the ingredients to create the desired outcome, and the effort and time to transform the raw materials into the delicious dishes craved. A book may be an internal feast or journey but its birth begins with a story line and requires an understandable  language, word, sentence and plot structure to carry the reader from the dark and stormy night to the ultimate triumph of love*. Life like journeys, meals and books must first have a goal, a destination, menu, plot.

My goals are true compassion and peace. Living this ethic is the journey I want to be on in all my moments awake and asleep, the meal I want to prepare for others and to feast my soul upon when I am alone, the book I want to write.  This is comparable to saying I want to go live a month in Antartica, make a vegan party feast for all my friends and family to enjoy, or read all the works of  Alexandre Dumas (or maybe better yet, write as many, LOL).  The goal is large, intimidating and easy to dismiss as impossible.

That door is closed. Antartica is only for scientists and I cannot walk or drive there on my own; my son and many of my friends are dedicated carnivores and would never enjoy the foods I love to eat and make; Dumas has 277 books according to Library-Trivia.com many more than 1000 pages and others never translated to English.  The world is too hard, selfish and chaotic and I am a product of this world and am therefore to full of needs and neurosis to be able to live peace and compassion. I am just an degree-less LPN; even my roommate avoids my healthier foods, everybody I know likes salty, sweet and animal fat too much to be happy with a vegan feast; most of Dumas’ works are probably out of print; sure people like the Dalai Lama or Pema Chodron can manifest peace and compassion in all their actions but they live a monastery life, I don’t have the luxury of leaving life behind, I have to work in the real world. My son and DIL call this portion of thinking “spinning the excuse wheel,” I must say I have a talent for it, maybe you do too.

Except I truly believe every door, even the locked and sticky ones, can be opened. I also believe that acceptance of exactly where I am, how life is, and what I have to work with is the key to opening any door.

The first step in getting or giving directions is to know where one is.

The first step in cooking is to assess the available ingredients and equipment and the tastes of the desired consumer.

The first step in reading an authors collected works is knowing how well one actually reads the languages in which the works are available.

The first step in developing compassion and peace as a way of life is knowing and accepting the clutter, lack of discipline, attachment and greed that currently pervade my life.

Without knowing where I am, the best directions are useless.

A shopping list of ingredients made without assessing what I have will inevitably (as all cooks know) lead to a missing key ingredient 30 minutes before the guests arrive.

A thick book of only words without the skill to understand them is just a boring, jumble of marks in a very large doorstop. (My book club’s assessment I think of my attempt to bring my love of another French authors romanticism to our reading list.)

Accepting that suffering, attachment and selfishness (mine and others) are a part of life, and then blessing and embracing them for the lessons are how I begin to be grateful, compassionate and acceptance, in and of  itself, grants me inner peace.

But Acceptance is the key that opened the closed doors.

I must first accept where I am and exactly what I have, but then once the key is in the door I must push it open…

To get to Antartica will require me to improve my physical condition, achieve financial independence, acquire the skills needed to be part of an expedition…make a plan and stick to it.

The feast begins today with assessing what I have in my home, finding a recipe and practicing my cooking.

To read all of Dumas, I must begin with a book with the books on my shelf in English, keep a list and notes as I read them, and practice my reading of french on smaller things like children’s books, pick up a few french movies again, start watching the movies I know and love with the french subtitles on, so that when I get to the tomes that are untranslated I will have developed the comprehension skills to hear his words meaning.

To live compassion and peace, I must meditate and read works that inspire this behavior, but mostly what I must do is one dirty dish at a time, one aggressive speeding vehicle endangering me, one angry bitter thought by me, one harsh word by  another, one chance to consume what I don’t need, cling to something as “Mine!”, or run away from responsibility or pain; one choice at a time I must place the ethic of compassion first and embrace with gratitude what is, even when “what is” is not my mess, or worse yet is my mess.  Accepting that this messy, sometimes selfish, sometimes lazy and incredibly imperfect person is who I am, and that this harsh, materialistic and power hungry culture is my home environment but not neither of these realities are necessarily where I live or who I have to be.

*refers to the book “A Wrinkle in Time* which I am currently reading to my patients and personally think everyone  will love and should read aloud to someone or someone’s at least once in their life.

 

 

 

Life’s obstacles do not define me, or faith precedes the miracle

There is a video out in the cloud ( wanted to add the link but still on the techie learning curve with that one and opted for finishing the blog over obsessing on the link) that is of me at my heaviest, trying to get into my sons lifted jeep. It is hilarious and I try and try and try to get into the front seat with more creative contortions and finally succeed in getting up there, only  I end up in there backwards.

I saw an obstacle, I set a goal, and when one method didn’t work, I tried again. I was persistent, creative and not afraid to laugh at my learning process. My son video taped it with my full permission. I wanted a record I could look at to remind me of how things really were, and well, because it was funny to be the person confuzzled by such a small challenge and figured it would make others laugh as well.

However, the real obstacle wasn’t the jeep, although that was what was the practical manifestation of the problem. The obstacle was a lifestyle focused on intake and excess of calorie consumption without disciplined expenditures, I was very fat and very out of shape.

I like running, but it is hard to run when your frame is bearing double its designed load and the support structure is weakened by disuse. I wanted to ride a bycicle, I liked the idea it looked fun, but I never learned as a child and I would full-on panic at sitting on a bike and lifting my feet. I like lots of outdoor activities but I was pretty inhaler dependent as well due to compromised breathing. I also really like food and it is easy to drop onto the couch, switch on a mechanism like the computer or TV that requires nothing of me but existence and a few finger pushes and consume addictively high calorie consolation for how hard it is to do what ever I am struggling with at the moment.

I would love to say that I suddenly had an epiphany that day I struggled to get into and addressed the real problem. I didn’t. I laughed at myself and made excuses for why I couldn’t change.

However last November when I moved to my new home I got on the scale and realized I was well on my way to adding a third persons weight to the two people I was already carrying on my frame and slowly began to make changes in how I ate and lived. I still did not have a concrete goal though and so my weight would go down a bit and up a bit and down a bit more and then up to the starting point.

I was also struggling with my health and depression again so I started rereading my go to people when I am tanking emotionally Kabat-zinn, Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle and remembered that to get somewhere one must have a destination. It was now May.

I have had completing a Triathlon on my bucket list for more than 5 years. However just “I wanna do a Triathlon” wasn’t enough to get it done. I picked a race date at the end of October and signed up. Now I had a deadline. I needed to find a place to swim, learn to swim, a bike, learn to ride the bike, and relearn how to run, and probably needed a trainer.

My personal obstacles were pedal neuropathy, physiologically reduced lung capacity, a now 237 pound body(I was on my way back down) on a frame meant to be 137, and a tendency to whine, some lower back and neck and shoulder issues. My liver wasn’t really happy with me either and I pretty much lived on Tylenol and Ibuprofen to keep moving through the bodily aches and pains.

And yesterday I met my goal.

The miracles along the journey were too many to even list or count from finding an incredible chiropractic practice through my friend Sara who were very willing to work with my limited finances (I did do a lot of over time and robbing Peter at first because the reduction in pain from going to Backfit of Gilbert was immense enough to know I needed the care), my daughter-in-law and son joining in and offering me not only the use of their pool but their side by side training support, same son and DIL and also Pat taking me to their gyms, the unexpected gifts of my bikes, my sons careful research and persistence in teaching me to ride the bikes, and the list goes on and on and on…

What I know today is life is full of opportunities to learn new skills, change old habits and focus on what works instead of what doesn’t. Wishing is a good first step. Then comes making a measurable goal. Next is making the effort, sweating the sweat, moving through the pain, believing anything is possible and somewhere along that road comes the miracle.

What’s up next for me…well continued training and an April race that is longer, where I will be even faster and stronger. And well, its November, which means Nanowrimo starts tomorrow and a 50,000 word novel will begin with one sentence.

After that, I am thinking maybe space travel.

But Mom, everybody is doing it….

          Three recent posts from internet friends have been playing themselves out over and over again in my psyche, or at least the questions they raised in my head have been swirling intriguingly. One post was about the Australian census and concerned identifying one’s faith practice, I am not Australian but I love putting myself in another’s shoes so I tried to pin down what I would do . The second was a George Carlin video that’s overwhelming message was hopelessness; life in America sucks and he doesn’t believe that we as American’s have choices and only the ignorant believe it is going to get better and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The third asked the question, "What is the most important lesson you have learned and now you know it, what do you wish you had done different?" These seemingly disparate issues are intricately woven together in my head under the heading, "One size does not fit all."

     Does anyone else remember the inexpensive one-size-fits-all pantyhose of the days when wearing pantyhose daily was an academic and professional feminine requirement? I bought them because they were the cheapest and most readily available. There were others I could buy at the upscale department stores that didn’t cause chafing between my thighs when I stood to walk and the crotch suddenly dropped to just above my hemline. The silky department store ones also didn’t make painful seam marks on my toes, and had fewer unusual color gradations, but I chose the cheap, easy ones. Besides, everyone else wore the same kind as me and no one else was complaining so I just assumed it was me. It wasn’t.  In fact the most important lesson I have learned in life is that  anything "one size" fits no one. One size garments can accommodate a large number of figures and body compositions but that is not the same as "fitting".

 
     This is true, as well, about diets, lifestyles, religions, books, etc. I am comfortably a vegetarian. I do not need to convince anyone else to follow my eating patterns. I have lots of good reasons I decided to choose this lifestyle, some are personal health issues (my body does not process dairy or meat well), some are spiritual concepts (Ahimsa), some political (carbon footprint of meat, meat productions contribution to third world famine). I do not expect other people to even understand my choice and I do my best to not foist my beliefs on others while still taking care of myself. (A balance I am still learning how to maintain, as evidenced by previous posts, LOL.) 
 
     I am less comfortably public and yet more balanced in my spiritual journey. I once had a bumper sticker that said it all for me. "Buddha wasn’t a Buddhist, and Jesus wasn’t a Christian". I strive to have integrity, be ego free, and practice compassion.  I am as comfortable in a grove of trees as I am in a Catholic Mass, Islamic gathering or Mormon chapel. I realize that there might be some in that Druidic circle, mass or chapel service who would be less comfortable with me, since I do not share their belief in competitive, ego-centric deity. My current practice would look on the surface to be a mixture of New Age Nature practice and Buddhism as I have a personal altar with the cardinal directions expressed with elements and a statue of Quan Yin on the water side and Buddha on the Fire side.  I embrace the teachings of both the Holy Bible and the Koran, however, in my reading of them I do not find that mankind is broken or hopeless, only that compassion is the greatest of spiritual laws. I embrace the Tao Te Ching and have it as a goal to memorize the stanzas. I also find reflected in the works of many New Age/Wiccan/Druid/Shamanic writers my own experience with the magic of the universe that is primarily addressed in the mystic and gnostic writers of the Judeo/Christian/Islam traditions. My many attempts at affiliation with religion have been like the one size fits all pantyhose, they provided support and ease of accessibility but they never really fit. Bottom line is I do not fit in any of the boxes, no matter how hard I squish my spirit and am only glad I don’t have to make the choice which one to check. That is the other part of this most important lesson I’ve learned is that since one size does not fit anybody, it really is about personal choice and personal responsibility.
 
     Which leads me back to the George Carlin video, I agree with the facts he highlights in his rant. Media, politics, education and economics are all being desperately manipulated by the few individuals (WEM’s) that are not content with having almost everything but need a little bit more. I don’t believe however that I am helpless or hopeless in the face of this. First of all believing I am hopeless to change anything does me no good and feeds into the broken system in place as I then try to fill the porous spiritual holes in my life with "more" power, success and things which once accumulated must be protected or lost which makes the holes bigger requiring more filler, etc. Hopelessness, anger and victim mentality are key factors in addictive and self-destructive behavior. Second, as Ghandi and Victor Frankl learned and taught in situations worse than any I have ever experienced(imprisoned in India and concentration camp in WWII respectively) and so clearly taught in their writings, I always have choice. I choose how I respond to what is placed before me. When I make good choices I feel better. The things that create happiness (not just fleeting pleasure) in me are expressing gratitude, showing compassion, and developing discipline.  
 
How do I know if something is a good choice for me. That part is easy. Do I find myself mentally creating reasons or defenses for the choice, especially if those defenses include placing the responsibility on someone else (If only she had, if only he had not, etc)? If my answer to this question is, yes, then I already know inside it is not a good choice that’s why I am defending it. A corollary to this question is am I trying to make everyone else do it with me? Again obvious evidence I don’t support my own choice and want to hide my guilt in the crowd. (This is my favorite self-sabotaging tactic for undisciplined eating, drinking or spending). Finally does this choice or behavior enhance or detract from the person I want to become. Which circles back to the part hope plays in my life; because I believe that I am created perfect, that all I need is available to me now, and that this moment is exactly what I need, I have a dream. And I have hope. 
 
 I also have as an allegory for my continued Pollyanna perspective a favorite "peeing in the ocean" story. Those close to me are probably real tired of this tory, so I will just paraphrase it. The bottom line is that as a child I tried to raise the level of the ocean by peeing in it. I even marked the pylons of the pier with a pencil and got other kids involved. I was always unsuccessful, and then someone pointed out my foolishness as the ocean was so very, very big. I felt stupid that I had tried. As an adult, and very pregnant, I accidentally peed in the ocean and had an epiphany, my goal all those years ago was off base. I never raised the level of the ocean but I had definitely warmed my little circle. This is my approach now to living including voting in elections, spending locally, eating vegetarian, speaking politely, not taking things personal, reading all sides of an issue (especially the opinions that differ from mine) letting other drivers into my lane, sharing my abundance and saying thank-you as often as possible. George Carlin is right, the problems facing society are ocean sized and my ability to contribute is puny, but today I don’t try to raise the level of the ocean, just warm my own circle.
 
So I might not check the same box as most of my friends in the religion section of a census because I would want to check them all; and although our conclusions are different, I definitely do agree with George Carlin’s data. The problems American society faces, and more importantly to me the world as a whole faces, are rooted in an unhealthy lust for "More" that I cannot change in anyone else but me. This is the most important lesson I have learned in life, one size does not fit all, in fact in trying to accommodate all, it fits nobody. So for my life to fit comfortably, I need to take responsibility for my own choices. 
 
Some days I may be indistinguishable from the crowd, and some days I may stand alone in the best choices for myself; but this choice in how I respond, this choice to be grateful, hopeful and happy can never be taken from me regardless the swirl of circumstances that surround me. 
 
I have made a plethora of mistakes in my life, mine and someone else’s share at least, and so spent a great deal of time thinking about the second part of that question, knowing this, what would I have done different? I am small and insignificant, even taking into account ripple effect. Also, my vision can only encompass a few pixels of the entire landscape of life and so I decided to rephrase the second portion of that question. I would not go back even if I could and huge mistakes not withstanding, I am not wishing I could change anything. Instead I ask myself today, is their any action from my past I need to make restitution for today? I choose to use my past, gaffs especially,  to make better choices in the future and to identify where through my choices I have bridges to mend, and consequences from which to grow. It may be trite but if I do what I did, I will get what I got, so if something in my now causes dissonance I need to try something new.
 
And that’s my blog today, and now I am going to go snuggle with my old canine lady a bit and work on defining my dreams, tomorrow is back to triathlon training, but today I am swimming in different waters.  Processing this transition with Noien makes me both sad and grateful, as I am sure all pet owners understand, grateful for the years together and sad to watch her health deteriorate, knowing it is my choice and responsibility to let her go.
 
 
 
     

Being “Meme”ingful with Alien inspirations

This Meme is borrowed from the blog of Gini Koch (http://ginikoch.blogspot.com/) an author whose work I stalked in her too few pseudonymic incarnations. Recently I got to share a bit of whole grain bread, organic peanut butter and ginger marmalade with her as well as talk about her novel "Touched By An Alien".  I like all kinds of reading material just like I love all kinds of food. Her Kat books, if they were a food, would be Krispy Kreme Donuts. So since the writer’s block prompts sent me off in directions of which I intend to keep this blog clear, I will meme instead.

 1. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?
My choice has varied between flying and invisibility, although both are super powers that seem to less useful if they aren’t coupled with hours at the gym buffing up for the punch or years at college to make sense of the overheard and over"seen" info. Today I pick invisibility as favorite

2. Who is your style icon?
Easy peasy, except not so much….which style? Fashion? Philosophy? Lifestyle? I would say my style icon is Victor Frankl as played by Doris Day in a tribute to Katherine Hepburn about Kuan Yin.

3. What is your favorite quote?
Today it is "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. "
George Washington Carver

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
I have a box of awards, published articles and even programs from conventions where I was a "noted speaker"  that speak my attributes with erudition but whose memories are faded and grey if not intangible.  On top of that  is a 10 year old picture of me with one of my  sons from a  day when I heard . "That’s  MY mom", spoken with pride by my teen-ager when he thought I couldn’t hear and I can still smell gamer socks, cheesy puffs and mountain dew with a huge warm smile. 

5. What playlist/CD is in your CD Player/iPod right now?
Its a self-made list called "Jason, no Argonauts" that begins with U2’s "If I Don’t Crazy….", moves to some Jack Johnson with "Breakdown" then I  Concretely "Dance Along the Edge" and eclectically meander on through other semi-pop and rock music of the last two (3?)decades including some Ego Likeness, Queensryche, and Dreamtheater. This playlist is one of the three I made last year for Nanowrimo. Just before that I was listening to Stings amazing John Dowland CD.

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
I am a crow so what do you think? Corvids are up at dawn and asleep by sunset .

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
I am happiest when the proud Mother of both but always have a dog, cats come and go.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
The name I want to legally change to as a final means of escaping into my super power of invisibility, and Ok, its my magic pirate name and if a black feather is found in your soup when I am around, I know nothing…

And the importance of this meme  to my preparations is that now all my Nanowrimo 2010 characters will be answering this as well as the Faire Character interview on the days leading up to November 1.

And now I am supposed to tag three people….but I don’t think I even have three readers here.LOL. See it IS my superpower already!  Nanowrimoers, friends, and invisible readers chomping at the bit go for it…..