Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Dear Diary

Dear Diary,

Every time I write in a diary (or online journal for the world to see) I think of Cecily Cardew from The Importance of being Ernest. As far as my knowledge goes she had the most wonderful diary ever. (I have a bit of a penchant for books written in diary or letter fashion). Cecily's diary was only a small piece in the play and really only mentioned in reference but it still sticks with me. She wrote in it all the things she wanted to happen as if they had happened already. She was engaged, broke it off, got back together and experienced a mad array of adventures in between, all before ever even meeting Algernon, her betrothed. 

And, while Cecily is tinkering with a bit of crazy, I do believe she (or rather Mr. Wilde) has touched on something brilliant. Why shouldn't we write down the things we want to happen? Isn't that what The Secret was trying to teach us? I think The Secret was just ripping dear old Oscar off. Believe what you want as if it has already happened and it will. And if it doesn't you'll still have a grand ole time in the process. 

Well, my dear Diary,

I had the dreaded doctors appointment today. I hate it when they poke and prod at my wrist. It swells up and hurts so much. Well that's what I would normally say, isn't it? But today was different. They x-rayed and poked and prodded and twisted and not a painful moment was to be had. Amazing, I know! The kind doctor (she's kind now that she isn't hurting me) told me that she's never seen anything like it and what had I been doing because the recovery is miraculous. Apparently, get this diary, I am in full remission. There is no more blasted RA anywhere to be seen. Well I explained to her v plainly that I had been following some orders; eating healthy and exercising every day, but that I had actually stopped taking any of my medication. I do hate sticking myself with needles. I dont' know how diabetics do it every day. Obviously they are made of sterner stuff. I explained to her that I had met a witch doctor. I know he's called a homeopath, there's no need to scold, but I think he seems more like a witch doctor and really, isn't that more fun? Anyhow, I told her how I am taking the special magic pills every night. As they dissolve on my tongue I chant the special mantra I learned, "I am healthy, I am pain free and I am western medicine free." About that, you know that I just love western medicine. I don't know what I would do without aleve, especially after a harrowing night on the sauce, but I don't want the mantra to assume the medication is helping so I make sure to include that last bit. Well, the good doctor was overwhelmed and so happy for me. She gave a me a watermelon jolly rancher (the best flavor) and sent me on my way. It's too exciting for words, so instead of writing anymore, I am going for a run in the park and then I shall do push ups until I faint. 

much love, 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Husband and Wife

Dear Diary,

Wow, the wedding is over. I can't believe it. What an adventure that was. What a stressful and exciting and crazy adventure. I'm not sure if I feel any different. The engagement and the move, now those were life changers, but marriage. I mean, my insurance will be better and K will get a tax break and I have a million pretty pictures and I mean of course, yes I get to spend the rest of my life with someone I love, but I was planning on doing that anyway so what's changed? I suppose I am using the word husband quite frequently. I say it at the supermarket to the butcher, "I'm not sure my husband will like the chicken, do you have any steak?" I say it when friends ask for plans, "Let me ask my husband to see what he's up to." And people seem to say it to me all the time, "Get home to your husband" or "how's your husband?"

I feel awful saying this, even to you diary, but the day after the wedding, I cried. Hard and long, like huge sobs of relief and mourning and exhaustion. I was not depressed, I was tired and I think I was slightly in mourning. Not because getting married is like a kind of death, in fact marriage is more like a birth; a new relationship, a new adventure. But it is also an end to a different adventure. And I think that I was crying for that adventure. It was fabulous, my 35 years of marking the box single. I learned so many things and I had so much fun. Perhaps that's what marriage is. It's taking all those things I learned and all those things I should have known better and mixing them with all K's education and mistakes (did he make any of those?), adding all our old jokes and a brand spanking new joke book, stirring in extra vulnerability and a heaping of I've got your 6, adding a whole new set of people I can call family and who will be there for me in an instant. Yes, that's what it is. It's family. I'm making a new family and that kind of makes me cry with happiness because that's pretty special.

Last night I was in San Francisco with A, and I stayed out quite late. The drive home was just a bit more harrowing that I anticipated and I was a lot more tired. K stayed on the phone with me the entire drive. He just laid in bed, put me on speaker and chatted. He told me stories, he gossiped and he drove me all the way home.

I suppose things are different now. I mean I am still a bad ass and I will still be me, but I'm now me plus one.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A place of your own

A few years ago I was sitting with a woman (in therapy) who was crying. There were a multitude of reasons why she could have been crying; she was homeless, her husband was in jail, her children had been taken away, she had no job, no money and an abusive past that would have killed weaker women. but it turns out the thing that was upsetting her most right at that moment was that she had been passed up for a locker at her shelter. They gave it to a guy who hasn't even been there as long as me", she cried. "I just want a place to keep my stuff."

I totally empathize with this.

When I was little (and still now actually) I had tons of little boxes and special hiding places to keep my special things. I had jewelry boxes that held notes from friends and trinkets from the fair and old jewelry of my grandmothers that I got to play with. As I got older and I started to have my own spaces I had a closet to put my shoe boxes full of things and shelves with albums for my pictures. When you have flat mates you end up using your bedroom as a place for all your things and then if you're lucky enough to live alone (which I have done once) you have a whole apt to put all of your special things in their special places that are just for you. There is something really special and important about having a place to put your things. A place that no one else will sully or trespass into.

After the session I mentioned above I went to the store and bought a bunch of art supplies. I came to our next session with a shoe box and tons of pens and paper and glue. We spent the next hour decorating that box until she felt that it was just right. I let her keep it in my office and told her she could put whatever she wanted in it (except dangerous or illegal things, I'm not insane) and I wouldn't look in it. Every time she came to see me I would give her a few minutes to add or take away or just peruse the items she kept there. Now I know that having a shoe box in my office didn't make being homeless any easier but it did make her feel like she had one little place of her own. Eventually she got a locker and then a small apt and she was able to put her shoe box there.

I think that we forget sometimes how important it is to have something that's ours alone. As adults with homes and families and room-mates we share so much of our space and forget about our little boxes of childhood. Maybe you should dig up that special box from when you were a kid or maybe it's time to have a craft day and make a new one.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jump Start

Lately I have been uninspired about writing. I have been so busy and overwhelmed (mostly all v good things) in my life that I haven't been paying much attention to the smell of the roses. Fortunately tonight pulled me out of my relay race. I was given the glorious opportunity to speak to a group of pre and post op bariatric surgery patients. I am not going to go into exactly what that means but the short answer is weight loss surgery. This is not liposuction because you want a six pack for your wedding or surgery for cosmetic reasons, this surgery is only given to people who are obese, often morbidly so and at a serious health risk. Unfortunately there are some people who will be given this surgery and then go right back to their old habits, eventually regaining the weight. I was asked to come and talk to the patients about pre and post op exercise and health options.

I don't think I can fully do justice how moved I was. The people in this group are so dedicated to taking an active role in changing their lives with the help of this "jump start". One man talked about how he always keeps his phone in a different room so when it rings, he has to get up and walk to get it. One woman was giddy when she described sitting on an airplane with the tray table down for the first time. They didn't really need me there because every one of them are walking and swimming and stretching and moving all day long. They have been to the unhealthy side and they do not want to go back so they are doing everything in their power to take advantage of health.

Obviously this made me teary and excited and introspective. There are many people who are against Bariatric surgery. They say things like, "Those people got fat because their lazy and have no willpower, it's their own damn fault." Now I disagree. There are a million and one reasons why a person becomes morbidly obese and it usually has v little to do with lazy. It's usually depression, genetics, co-occurring illnesses, injuries and or joint problems. Add that to a family system that doesn't value health in a society that says they value health while they shove diet pills and cheesecake down our throats and you've got a problem. Bariatric surgery is a jump start to a situation that seems un-fixable. But this post is not about the benefits of surgery so I digress.

Let me use a more personal example and then I will get to the point. I have RA. While I know it isn't my fault, I do believe that I have a say in my recovery. Unfortunately until I started taking bad-ass RA drugs, I was unable to do more than whine about my pain. Now that I am on meds, I feel well enough to make a conscious effort to get myself well. I eat right, exercise as much as I can and do spiritual practices to get my immune system fighting the right foes.

Last week the BT had a horrible cold (which he gave to me, thank you v much). He took over the counter medicine in order to feel better. If he had taken that medicine and then stayed up all night partying with friends, got stressed about work and ate a bunch of sugary crap, it would not matter if he had all the Sudafed in the world, he would still be sick.

If a person is suffering from depression and they are prescribed anti-depressants, they need to know that it is just the jump start. Medicine and surgery and pills and salves are only a push in the right direction, they are not the holy grail. Anti-depressants work best if used in conjunction with a healthy life.

What I am trying to say in this v long winded diatribe is that you have to take responsibility for your health. Go to the doctor, do what they say (if it's sane and helpful), get knee surgery (if it's right for you) but don't expect your knee to heal by itself. You gotta put in the hours, strengthening and stretching and icing and massage.

Got the flu? Go ahead, take some NyQuil if it helps you sleep and feel better (and your doctor says it's OK) but make sure you get the sleep you need, drink a ton of fluids and stay home.

How many of you reading this have something you are taking medicine for? How many of you are also taking responsibility and being good to your body and soul?

Let our saviors (the doctors and nurses and healers) give us a jump when we need it but make sure we get that car into the mechanic for regular tune-ups, feed it healthy fuel and don't let it sit in the garage unused. It's a priceless piece of machinery and it's all ours.

Be Good to your Body, it's where you Live.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Last year I wrote an entry around Thanksgiving about being grateful. As I am sitting at my computer thinking about what to write this week, I find myself continually being drawn back to that post. Probably it's because this is that gracious time of year but also because recently I have been thinking a lot about being grateful. It's so easy in the hustle and bustle of our lives to forget how lucky we actually are. There's traffic and money woes, job stresses and physical pain, there's emotional stress and lack of sleep and all of it mixed together can create a v ungrateful mood. Unfortunately that's the easy road. It take a little more effort, but reminding ourselves how lucky we are, is the high road. And trust me, it pays off to be positive. For the past few weeks I have been keeping a "gratitude journal". It's a diary of things I am thankful for. It could be a notepad, your phone or a voice memo but I prefer the old pen and paper route.
Every morning after I've woken up and had my coffee, I open the diary and write 3-5 things I am grateful for. It has the benefit of reminding me how lucky I am and it puts those things in the forefront of my mind thereby preparing me for a blissfully gracious day. Even if you feel like there is nothing t be grateful for, give it a try, you will find something I promise. Somedays all I feel grateful for are sleep and the hot water in the shower but that's ok. You don't have to wake up every day and scream to the heavens how lucky you are to be alive. I mean, it would rock if you did that but somedays, hot water is all I can muster. I highly recommend trying out the gratitude journal this week, I mean it is after all Thanksgiving next Thursday and isn't that why we get together? To celebrate with friends, family and strangers how absolutely wonderfully lucky we all are to be alive.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Gardener

Every morning (or rather every morning I am not a madman rushing around trying to get my overslept ass out the door) I read a daily excerpt from a book called, "Simple Abundance". My sister in law turned me onto this book earlier this year and I have been grateful ever since. Sarah Ban Breathnach's book has a page for every day of the year loaded with tidings of simplicity, calm, serenity and peace. Often she is so right on in her knowledge of exactly what I need to read about that I would swear she was writing it solely for me. Sometimes the entries are a little sappy or religious or just not my thing but most of the time they have the effect of turning my attention away from the stresses of daily life and upon the beauty and abundance of simple things.

I had just such an experience this Tuesday, the 1st of November. I have been in a bit of a mood for some weeks now, fretting about the commute, the traffic, my aching body, my isolation from loved ones (I moved to the South Bay Area) and the general physical ailments that come from lack of sleep and excess of coping mechanisms. I have been neglecting my daily inspirations but felt compelled this Tuesday to pick up the book. The story I read was perfect for the moment and I would like to share it with all of you. Sadly I cannot find it anywhere on line and I don't have the book currently in front of me so I am paraphrasing/rewriting it.

There once was a queen who lived in a village far, far away. (that's how all the great stories start) Unfortunately she was very sad and she had no idea why. She had everything in the world she could ever need or want. She had a beautiful kingdom, an adoring king, a loving family and all the mead she could possibly drink yet for some strange reason she was v sad. Some days she would cry for no apparent reason and other days she would wake up in a mood so fierce she was scared of herself in the mirror. On days such as these it was wise to stay away from her.
The queen knew that her sadness was unwarranted and so she sought out any and all means to be rid of this ailment. She called doctors and psychics, she read poetry and watched jesters, she painted on a face of happiness and hoped it would just appear but alas nothing helped. She sent out a kingdom wide message to all her subjects, "Please, anyone who can help the queen to regain her happiness will be highly rewarded". Men and women flocked from villages near and far to try and entertain the queen but still nothing worked. The queen feeling very dejected and even more upset leapt from her throne and ran out to her gardens to try and find solace from her own selfish suffering.
While walking amidst the trees she came upon her gardener who said to her, "Your majesty, why must you try to undo your sadness. Look upon these trees. Their leaves are falling, their color changing, their flowers dying. Look at the ground, the grass is turning icy and the roses are but mere stems. Mother earth is changing and it is normal to mourn her change. Even if you look forward to the colors of autumn, you must first say goodbye to the colors of spring.

But do not fret, for this too shall pass.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Be Nice

Have you ever been driving through a toll crossing only to find that the person in front of you had mysteriously paid for you? Have you ever found an Itunes card in your mailbox with a note that said, “listen to something that makes you smile”? Has a kind person ever offered to put your shopping cart back after emptying your groceries? Have you ever found flowers on your doorstep or a note on your car that said, “Have the BEST day, you deserve it!” How cool would it be if anyone of these things happened to you? Wouldn’t it just make your day?

I know it would, but I honestly think what would make your day even more awesome would be if you were the person performing all these wonderful acts of kindness. It’s called paying it forward and it’s good for the soul. It’s also good for the world because if today, every single person did something nice for someone else, than every single person would also have had something nice done for them. Even if you don’t believe me, and you think that the world is unfair and no one takes care of you so why should you take care of others. Well, I’m sorry that life has been so sour for you and while I run the risk of making you cringe, we all know that sour lemonade just needs a little sugar, so sweeten up and take a sip.

There is a fabulous woman named Patience Salgado who makes her life work into paying it forward.

She leaves Starbucks gift cards on park benches, on the first day of school she writes chalk messages on the sidewalk “don’t be shy, were all new friends”, she sticks free ice cream coupons into backpacks at the department store (just waiting for someone to get a happy surprise). She and her kids will even do guerilla missions, ringing the doorbell of a stranger and dashing but not without leaving behind some flowers.

Here’s an excerpt about my favorite of her escapades from Oprah magazine:

But her work isn't all sweetness and cheerful slogans. Last year, when a hate group announced plans to picket local Jewish and LGBT organizations, Salgado helped found Pennies in Protest, urging residents to donate to the organizations being targeted. In one week, they raised nearly $14,000. (She also sent the hate group a note to thank them for inspiring such generosity.)

Come on, how amazing is that?

I propose that this week we all try and do a little paying it forward. Like the cheesy bumper sticker says, Let’s all practice, Random Acts of Kindness”. My hope is that you all become addicted. If you do end up trying something out, let me hear about it. Hopefully you can help inspire other readers! If you're not sure where to start, check out this list.