Saturday, January 30, 2010

Panic Comes to Los Angeles

Despite a week where crankiness overtook me periodically like a bad scratch cutting across a favorite LP, I find myself in a great mood right now.

I'm hanging out on the couch, basically ignoring housework and being lazy-tired while the girls and hubby sort out the laundry. Tomorrow, we're going to drive all the way to Santa Monica to see a crazy Belgium cartoon I read about in the paper today.

Check out any of the excerpts from A Town Called Panic at youtube. My daughters are delighted with its frenzied fun, and I am looking forward to the feeling of urbane sophistication at the edge of the sea.

A trip to SM means the pier and roller coaster, merry-go-round, aquarium, 3rd Street Promenade where we favor the yoga shops and the Indian imports store, and probably vegetarian fare, Pinkberry and/or ridiculously good cupcakes. I say it's well worth the drive. (That's actually the SM pier in the header photo, from our last trip.)

None of the house is clean enough and my work is not all done. So what? I'm taking a break and coming back into a new month raring to go!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pondering the Fall

photo copyright Mark Spires

Perhaps because one month of the year has already fled, and I am still in my dithering limbo or "to kidney or not to kidney," I am focused on health. Like a sunbeam breaking gold-intense through the clouds, the topic of healthy living streams into mind over and over during the course of a day.

What is health? I find myself wondering this morning. How much health does one have to possess to count oneself healthy? Is the goal to be completely illness and injury free at all times? Or do health challenges, like other obstacles in life, provide those small storms, those moments of contrast, that allow for an appreciation of the balmy spring days of wellness?

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship," wrote Louisa May Alcott.

I find myself musing that perhaps storms are exactly what we need on our voyages through this life, that without them the calm of the waters would be unbearably monotonous.

At this moment, I have the worst bruise of my entire life, a hidden sunset of purple, pink, green and yellow, tucked away below my left breast. It is my sole injury from an embarrassing fall this week. In a moment of mindlessness, I slipped as I stepped into our open bathtub to wash off my feet. With only one foot below me, the scum of soap I stepped on acted as a sled, and I skidded into a slow, cross-legged sit, bringing my left side down on the faucet as I fell.

Falling like that is an awkward shake-up, a reminder that life is not nearly as safe and controlled or stable as we like to think. The realization of how badly I could have been injured but wasn't is sobering. This is the kind of fall, I think, that breaks ribs and hips of the frail eldery, spiraling them into the descent. Just one moment, and the end can begin.

In total, though, the fall feels like some strange sort of success. It feels like brushing against a terrible fate, only to evade it. Because I've been doing yoga, my muscles engaged to slow and control the fall even with nothing to brace myself against. My body automatically folded itself well, not coming down on top of my ankle, leg, or wrist in what would have been a nasty break. My hips and spine absorbed the shock without protest, due no doubt to engagement of my core muscles. And thankfully, the impact occured in my breast and not my side ribs.

The pain has already subsided. The healing, automatic. I'm inclined to see this horrible bruise as an emblem of accomplishment, a badge of disaster avoided. Within minutes, my vital life force had already begun the process of healing, of assessing the damage and rebuilding the tissues with pulses of blood, of electricity, of energy.

So, again, I wonder - is health avoiding the fall, or is it the ability to recover quickly and completely?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Good Morning?

I am slow today, so s-l-o-w...

I didn't get enough sleep for the third or fourth night in a row. Fell asleep too late and woke up too early, for no good reasons.

Found myself at Walmart in the still dawn-infused light, spending $35 on umbrellas of dubious quality and appearance. At least, they are large. It rained last week for six days straight; more rain is forecast today. When I broke my third umbrella Friday, I thought I'd pick up another one.

Not so easy to do here in "sunny" Southern California. Walmart was the sixth store I've stopped by, the first one to actually have ANY umbrellas in stock. I bought their last three.

So if it rains, I can keep myself, and two select others (probably my offspring) dry.

Now I just need to get back to that sleep thing. This is the torture part of working from home, where technically I have enough of a job that I will feel terribly guilty if I go back to bed, but I don't actually have co-workers ringing my desk and thus preventing me from snoring my way to oblivion like the actual work world provides.

I guess it's time to turn to coffee.

Like Memories

The last persimmons
Are decaying
In their clear glass bowl
Overexposed, withered
Sunset hues fade into the
Ochre shadows of dusk
As day to day life keeps
Passing them by

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thyme Tea - Good for Cough and Congestion

Regular readers of my blog may remember back to late 2008, say around November and December, when I was having a urge to make tea out of thyme.

Even though my family was less than enthusiastic, it turns out that Thyme Tea is indeed good for something.

From Monday's People's Pharmacy column in the Health section of the Los Angeles Times, I quote:

"The usual ingredient in cough syrup, dextromethorphan, is no better than a placebo for kids and only modestly effective for adults (Journal of Family Practice, October 2009). Natural alternatives that may provide some relief include tea made of thyme or ginger."

HAH! I knew I knew what I was doing!

As an aside, I've entirely stopped giving cough syrup to my girls as the research is pretty clear that's it is useless at best. It's interesting that I came across this item today (yes, I'm behind in my news reading), because J woke up with a horrible bout of coughing out of nowhere last night. And I thought, well, medicine can't help...

Now I know to brew up some thyme.

(Ahh, don't you wish you could brew up some Time??)

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Welcome to Yoga

I have to admit. Over the last year, my yoga practice has slowed down to its lowest level in the five years that I've been practicing. As a busy modern woman, with a marriage to preserve (going quite nicely, thanks!) two young children to care for, a passion for writing fiction, and my own business to run, I've let general busyness erode my devotion and commitment.

And I've felt the consequences. Weight has crept on. Achiness has crept in. I feel years older than I used to.

it's been an interesting and dramatic - if unintended - experiment.

But with the new year, I've renewed my commitment to yoga. And I have to say that each minute I find to practice has been fabulous. Yes, each actual minute feels better.

I entered class today apprehensive about a few mild injuries - hip joints complaining, hamstring unhappy, and for the first time ever, a twinge in my knee. But, you know what?

Moving is better than not moving.

It really is that simple. After the last hour and a half, I feel refreshed and renewed. And much more agile.

The year is still young. Want to join me in a commitment to motion?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Storm Gathering

Yesterday one of the fiercest storms we've had here ripped a large branch off a tree in our front yard.

Because I was diligently working in a nearby cafe, my car wasn't parked in its normal spot and the branch landed harmlessly on street and sidewalk, only tickling its leaves up against the neighbor's mailbox.

My husband came home soon after I and began the daunting task of cutting it up. Within minutes, our next door neighbor was there with his saw, helping. After that, each time I glanced out the window, another neighbor had shown up with equipment to assist.

Five guys with assorted chainsaws, ear protectors, and clippers made short work of that huge mess.

I'm just feeling so grateful for living in a neighborhood where people still gather to help each other, where we know each other by name and circumstance, and feel like working together is in our common interest. I think they actually had a lot of fun, reducing that hefty branch to logs and twigs.

Last night, the girls and I baked homemade chocolate chip cookies and dashed out through a break in the rain to deliver them, still warm, to all our helpers. Our way of saying thank you for a job well done.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Along the Route: Palm Springs

Suddenly you pull the car to the side of the road
Below the rugged mountain peaks
Gravel growls below the tires
And you turn to me

Caught up in your arms
I hear the words I most want you to say
I love you. You are beautiful
Held in your embrace that
does not end

Around us, the desert stretches its infinity
of spartan beauty
and atop the brown mountain peaks
a sprinkling of snow
pushes paradox into the sky.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why We All Love Being Online!

Where else can you find something as fun as this video? Thanks to deemikay of Stars Sliding for posting it first!

And just in case you wanted to hear the originals...

And one more interesting version that appeared unexpectedly...

So many pathways...

Preparing to Give

My kidney recipient doesn't know this yet, but I am continuing my preparations to donate my kidney to her. When things stalled out this fall, it was understandably hard on her - and me as well.

If I think back to August, September, October, I can barely remember how the depression and anxiety were so strong at times that I felt like I was being lifted away from my self and my life.Overall, my depression was still fairly mild - I guess - although I do have a tendency to be a bit stoic about physical pain and downplay trauma.
This is why I love writing, because I didn't start out to talk about this at all, and look right where my thoughts went. Writing's like this wonderful lantern held up to illuminate our inner thoughts. And this is all connected together. Because a traumatic event triggered me to want to donate my kidney, as a way to focus on the positive physicality of my body. And the depression and grief that came after slowed the process down while I stepped back to re-evaluate my stability and my motivations.

But, now, NOW, I am in a GOOD place. I bear no malice. I learned a lot from the whole process of my life, and I'm very grateful for the person I've become.

That person grows stronger and richer by the day. This year is dedicated to stability and growth and fulfillment. I've stepped up my fitness routines to enable this wonderful donation to take place. Today I've already walked twice and attended back-to-back yoga classes. By losing 30 pounds, and making sure that I am strong and flexible, I will be ready for surgery.

Like I said, I'm not telling K until the time is closer. Maybe when I'm certain that I've lost a minimal amount of weight. It's not fair to her to plunge her into the mountainous territory of hope and fear, joy and disappointment until I am 100% positive. But I'm planning surgery for Summer Solstice or right around there.

My whole family will be on vacation and we won't have to hassle with school schedules or driving much. And I won't need to drive at all for the six weeks of healing, which will end just in time for school to start again. (A trip to France will just have to wait until next year.)

I love my kidneys, don't get me wrong. And it is sobering to think of giving up an integral part of my self. But I don't think I really need two of them. I think I'll hardly notice that one's gone. And I know it will have a wonderful new home, in a person whose life just might be saved by it presence. If things go optimally, that kidney can give K 20 more healthy years. And that's quite a bit, huh?

I continue to realize that anyone who has lived through marital troubles, career loss and reinvention, trauma, and everything else I have been through at this point, really doesn't need to worry about surgery or recovery, or about the long-term implications for insurance and finances. God will continue to bless me as He always has.

What an adventure life is!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oh My Word(s)!

In my past lives, when I was a cat, I died of curiousity every time!

In Tune

The singing up and down my spine is a merry cricket chirping energy into my morning walk.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

At Work

Back into the groove again.
Back into the groove.
The spin of words
Through my head
Pulling me
Focusing me
Giving me the direction
I need to take
As I become
Comfortable, competent,
Back into the groove.
Point Loma, San Diego
Always gorgeous and rejeuvenating!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

He is Good, and I Am Also Good...

I was struck by this passage while reading last night, thinking, Yes, this is what I believe and how I like to live:

"Never begrudge another man his success, sonny.
Remember, all of us live out our own destinies.
All our lives run on a parallel path-
someone else's success neither pulls us down,
nor does his failure boost us up.
You just focus on... your own work."
p46, If Today Be Sweet, Thrity Umrigar

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Warm Up

In a cozy cafe, trying to get back into the swing of things. Pick up my pace and all that.

I'm amused by the chase and whirl of my emotions, how they move like clouds through my being. It is a blessing and a curse to be a writer by both nature and trade.

I so often feel insecure, inadequate even while I laugh at myself for being like so many others. My computer is processing slowly, reducing the speed at which I can type. This gives me a wonderful opportunity to practice patience, to slow down and tune in. Deep breathing helps.

My resolutions? Unwritten, vaguely formed. Sustainable changes in diet and life habits. A reduction in expenses. An uptick in income-based hours. Maybe I'll look for a day job, just to see where that leads. More writing by hand, a physical connection to the print different than the warm, clicking tangibility of my lovely, but tempermental, laptop.

Our vacation? Rows of dollhouse bright mansions next to a park lapped around a lake and with history jutting a rosy glow into the sky. Rain glistening streets in the dark, city night where a promise dances around every corner. The jewel-like hustle of Union Square, bedecked with lights, wreaths and joy. People bundle in and out of fancy hotel lobbies, trailing scarves, and ice skaters look like miniature figures in a music box.

Mornings, B would wake me before the others and we would stroll a strange suburb under leaden skies. Holding hands and chatting happily, in love with the world. We found a shop full of people eating breakfast, all speaking a foreign tongue, drinking tan liquid out of battered tin cups. Milk tea, Asian-style. We marched right to the back and ordered some to go, to the consternation and disbelief of the clerk. She didn't think I knew that it had condensed milk. She didn't know that tea this way is my favorite. We also took away some fresh red-bean cakes, back to the hotel room for breakfast the Cantonese way.

We stayed up until 2 am, not driving out of San Francisco until 9 or 10 pm, then playing word games with my brother and sister-in-law until we were exhausted, keeping our voices down around the grained oak table while the baby slept. Mornings we were up by the crack of 11, out into the world to eat and explore.

My daughters hardly left their baby cousin's side, entranced by her smile and wondrous eyes. Every moment, in so many ways, this vacation shows me how far I have come in my life and how happy I am to be here.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 Arrives!

Back from vacation. Wonderful. Romantic. Exhausting. Inspiring.

Today was resting, grocery shopping and laundry.

Tomorrow a regular schedule recommences.

Best wishes to all.