Monday, September 2, 2019

Hunkering Down in Florida

I get a kick out of language and the humorous side of difficult situations. Since we are currently watching and waiting to see what Hurricane Dorian is going to do, this is a perfect time to look at all the catch phrases that leap out of our mouths when a really bad storm is threatening our way of life. 
I don’t know how many times I’m encouraged to “batten down the hatches,” “hunker down,” and “ride out the storm.” Last I checked, hurricanes aren’t horses. I’m not sure I can hunker in a wheelchair. I’m pretty sure I don’t have any hatches to batten down, and I am not sure how to go about battening down anything, much less a hatch. Despite my asking people what this means, I have so far garnered only puzzled looks from the speakers of these phrases. They are as clueless as I am, so I decided to do some research in between the battening time and the hunkering time. 

Now I know the phrase “batten down the hatches” is a nautical one. According to the Oxford dictionary, it refers to securing a ship’s hatch-tarpaulins in preparation for a storm. So when a storm threatens, everyone in the US, including those in landlocked states, turn into a bunch of shipmates, using nautical terminology that otherwise stays locked away in Davy Jones’s locker (Google this if you don’t know what Davy Jones’s locker is. I don’t have time to explain jokes while I’m preparing to hunker down. Hint: It has nothing to do with a late British pop star of Monkees fame.). I’m rather surprised we don’t go buy macaws to sit on our shoulders and start sprinkling our conversations with outcries of “har!” and “ahoy!”

So once we’ve battened down our hatches, we have to await the arrival of bad weather so we can start hunkering down. One definition of hunkering is to squat or crouch down low.” I know I can’t do that so I will have to improvise in my wheelchair. Another definition is to “apply oneself seriously to a task.” College students, when someone tells you to hunker down, this is what they mean: “Study hard and don’t waste that money I’ve spent a lifetime saving!”

If you’re going through a bad storm, you need to crouch in a defensive position. Face it, you’ll be better prepared to bend over a little farther and kiss your arse goodbye, which is particularly appropriate if you’re in the path of a Category 5 hurricane. 

Now that we’ve battened down our hatches and are prepared to hunker down, we just have to “ride out the storm.” This idiom is explained by the Cambridge Dictionary thus:

ride (out) the storm. to manage not to be destroyed, harmed, or permanently affected by the difficult situation you experience: The government seems confident that it will ride out the storm.

What is particularly disconcerting about this definition is their example of usage about the government. I’m not so confident that our country will not be permanently affected by our current administration. Nor am I confident that we will all ride out Hurricane Dorian without being permanently affected. At least one family in the Bahamas will certainly be permanently affected by the storm. Their seven-year old boy has drowned.  

So while we bandy about these otherwise unused phrases, let us pray for those who are already being adversely impacted by the storm, figuratively and literally. Peace be to all and mercy.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Healing at a Snail’s Pace

“Even a snail makes progress if it keeps moving.”—me

I suppose it seems a little vain to quote yourself, but I truly say some of the darnedest things sometimes. It’s like every once in a while, my Higher Self sneaks in and drops a shiny pebble along the path to get my attention. I stop and pick it up, rolling it over and over in my hand, marveling at its simplicity and beauty. I tuck that shiny pebble into my metaphorical medicine bag. Then when I need it most, the pebble tumbles out of my medicine bag and brings healing to some broken part of me or someone else.

Thus above words are for a heart that is weary of needing so much help. I had been making slow progress up until I got my new wheelchair. Then for several different reasons, transferring got tricky again. First I had to have the leg pads removed because they were making it difficult to impossible to step out over the footplate upon transferring. Then I quickly discovered that the footplate was far too long for me to pull it up out of the way without scraping it along my calves, causing blisters and scrapes.

The added difficulty of calculating the exact positioning of every molecule in my body, the dimensions of the new chair, and the precise trajectory needed to execute successfully eight different transfers, proved to be too much. After scratching and scraping my legs for a few days, I was able to get a couple of friends to put the footplate of the wheelchair I had been borrowing onto my new chair, making it much easier to transfer. While things went much better after the footplate switch, I was sporting several new open wounds as a direct result of the new chair. 

Eventually I fell again in the bathroom twisting my knee and slicing back several layers of skin on my right foot.  I bandaged my foot but later that same day, I tried to transfer and my knee gave out, being too weak of a link to support my iffy transfers. I had the EMTs take me to Celebration Hospital in Orlando. I spent four days there letting them bandage my wounds and allowing my knee to heal. I went home four days later weak from the down time but with a mostly healed knee. 

It took four days to regain my strength, even though I had not yet completely regained my stamina. That took several more days. Once I was back up to par for me, I noticed that I was having spells of feeling weak suddenly when I transferred in the bathroom. I wasn’t sure what was happening but I knew something wasn’t right and I suspected that it was related to my blood pressure. In talking to a nurse yesterday about it, she suggested that I might have orthostatic hypotension. Many times I have wondered if I needed to be on medication for hypertension when my blood pressure is nearly always low when I get it checked either at the hospital or at home. Only sometimes when I go to the doctor does my blood pressure register high. This sudden drop in blood pressure is, I suspect, the reason I fall sometimes. 

It’s exhausting to have to figure all this out on your own or to tell your doctor only to get a quick diagnosis of this or that, which someone else has already ruled out via tests and observation.

After another hospital stay of eight days, they finally approved some home physical therapy to help me in strengthening my body so I can successfully transfer consistently. I am showing signs of improvement on days I don’t have to push myself to keep going. If I push too hard, I feel the sudden fatigue and my transfers are iffy at best. I have had to call Fire Rescue three times since I have been home. That’s so discouraging but I do feel that PT is helping. They are supposed to evaluate me this week to see if I am benefiting from the PT. I see a distinct improvement when I am not experiencing one of those sudden weary spells. 

I sometimes wonder if there is something else I need to learn before I can finally turn the page and finish this particularly long and difficult chapter in my life. I am getting better and stronger but most of the time my improvements have come at a snail’s pace. I’m not happy about that. To use the tortoise and the hare analogy, I’m usually the hare. I don’t like being the tortoise. It is not my style. Or at least it didn’t used to be. Right now I guess it is until enough healing occurs so I can begin to walk then run finally. I look to Isaiah to remind myself that it’s not a bad thing to wait on someone else’s timing. 

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 41:31

I’m ready any time now to mount up with wings as eagles. I’m ready to run without weariness and walk without fainting. Any time now. Until then I guess I just have to wait and watch, since I have already been told that God is doing something new and I need to pay attention to it (see earlier blog entitled, “Behold, Something New” at my Mystic Angel Healing website). I’m still not sure what the new thing is, but I am still watching and waiting. Although  I do admit to some drumming of my fingers while I wait. I am human after all. 


Friday, July 12, 2019

Facing Grief

(Reprinted with permission from my Slices of My Life blog.)

I had a very long talk with a chaplain yesterday because I have been having a hard time emotionally lately. It has been difficult to maintain emotional equilibrium. I was surprised when our conversation came around to the fact that losing my nephew, David, was still bothering me so much. It has not been that long, and I have always been close to my nephews, so it shouldn’t have been surprising. However, the depth of emotion was a bit of a shock. My siblings’ children are as close as I will get to having children of my own. Of the four I have had the joy of knowing and loving, I have had to say goodbye to two of them already. Both were sudden and unexpected departures. 

As much as I want not to be hurting still from the loss of David, I had to realize and accept that the loss of this precious young man has been stalking me all year. I am angry that my current state of health robbed me of being able to see him more frequently at a time when I knew he was hurting and feeling a little lost himself because he went from having Ben’s two children in his and his father’s care to being an empty nester. I had talked to him about it at my house when he was there a few months prior to his passing. I wanted so much to be able to spend more time with him, but my lack of mobility has hindered me from going anywhere except the doctor.

After the loss of a loved one, life moves on, only a piece of the puzzle of our lives is missing. We can try to pretend that it isn’t missing, but it doesn’t change the fact that there is a gaping hole in our hearts where a person who once resided on this plane is no longer there. 

When we lost David’s twin, Ben, we were all forced to move on immediately. As soon as we got home from the family gathering after Ben’s funeral, we became aware that Hurricane Charley was barreling our way. We were jerked from grieving mode and thrown into survival mode instantly. 

When David died abruptly at the end of last year, it was like losing both of them all over again. The grief from the loss of Ben had been pushed aside in order to make sure my mom and my sister were going to be safe during and after the hurricane. I knew their hearts were broken and I tried to make sure that we were all going to be ready and as safe as possible when Charley came knocking at Mom’s door, where we were all three huddled together. I clearly recall standing next to my mom going through an emergency preparedness list that is permanently tattooed on my brain from spending so many years in earthquake country. After a careful inventory, Mom and I went off to buy bottled water since that was all we needed to be as ready as you can ever be for a hurricane. The quick shift from grief to survival mode grated on the heart, shredding it a bit because the shifting of gears was done without having time to use the clutch.

I am angry that my current state of health prevents me from driving to my mom’s house every other weekend to spend time with her. That is what I was doing from the moment I moved back to Florida in 2010 until I had to give up driving when I nearly crashed my buddy’s car because of back spasms that periodically rocked my body, forcing my right leg to go ramrod straight. That isn’t a big deal in normal situations, but it’s downright scary when you’re driving and the leg that loses control is the one pressing the gas pedal. 

I had to make a quick lane transfer to keep from ramming into a car that was stopped in front of me. I managed to make it safely back to Jan’s house with the help of a host of traffic angels. I went in, hung up the keys, and told Jan not to let me drive again until my back stopped causing my leg to do that. 
It’s been five years since the woman who drove across the continent a dozen times hung up her keys. When my Washington drivers license was nearing expiration, I got a Florida ID card instead. Thus ended my regular trips to visit my family. After moving 3500 miles back from Seattle so I could spend more time with my family, I had to ground myself. Since that time, my condition has made it nearly impossible for me to make the hour long trip even if someone else drives me.

Not being able to visit my mother at this time in her life is infuriating and another kind of loss and grief. Yet it isn’t something under my control right now. If will power and the desire to go were all I needed, I would be there with her already. I need my body to cooperate with me and heal so I can get around again on my own. 

The chaplain and I talked about how humbling it is to have to ask for help. Having to ask for the level of help I have needed for the past five years is downright humiliating. I know that I am a burden sometimes even though I’m told that I am not. I sense the anger and the frustration about having to worry that I am okay and not on the floor somewhere, and I understand it. It is difficult to have to be constantly aware of someone else’s safety. It’s stressful and I know it. It’s stressful and frustrating for me too. The loss of independence is yet another source of grief.

I have been very independent over the years. I moved across the country from central Florida to the Seattle area. Short of going on up to Alaska, something I considered doing when the Wasilla Waldenbooks store became available and was offered to me, I couldn’t have gotten farther away from the family nest. Ultimately I decided to stay in the more moderate Western Washington climate. Yes, i have had to ask for help at times in the past, but it has always been a last resort and an act of desperation after every other avenue had been explored. It has also been only for a short time rather than year after year of varying levels of dependence.

Yesterday I sought help from a chaplain because I knew I needed to talk to someone who was outside of the situation. I knew something was wrong and that I wasn’t figuring it out on my own. I’m so glad I did because it helped. Have my circumstances changed? No, but I think I can stop beating myself up for feeling so down. No matter how much we want grief to go away and leave us alone, it has its own time schedule. We may make ourselves busy and push through to survive the devastation, but that doesn’t mean that the waves of grief have washed us ashore to a new place in our lives, where we can stand and take those first faltering steps forward. Until that happens we can only try to keep the waves from overwhelming us. We must allow the waves of grief to wash over us until they subside into ripples in shallow water. Only then can we move on to a new place.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Why-not Wednesday

(Reprinted with permission from my Slices of My Life blog).

Today is Why-not Wednesday. Is that a thing? It is now. This is one of my (now deceased) LL Bean Adirondack lawn chairs. I used to sit outside in my chair and just be. Sitting in my chair outside was inspirational. I wrote many a poem from this seat. I watched the sometimes noisy, idyllic world act out its drama from this place. 

I came up with lots of good ideas while in this chair. Some have been carried out while others have fallen by the wayside. I was sitting by Hood Canal one night in one of my two identical chairs when I spotted a UFO and got the holy bejeebers scared out of me. I do NOT wish to repeat that experience even if it does make for a good late night scary story. I did a lot of good thinking, resting, chilling, sleeping, listening, and writing while in this chair (or its twin). Now the chairs are gone. They rotted in the summer rain and heat of Florida when I was back in Washington during the summer of 2012, mostly chilling back in my old stomping grounds on the Kitsap Peninsula. 

Even though the chair is no longer with us, what this chair represents is a time and a space carved out in the midst of the maelstrom of life where I let myself just BE. I didn’t have to prove anything. I didn’t have to produce anything, even though I did write a number of poems during my being time. I had a very demanding job when I first started using my chairs for quiet reflection in nature.

I was managing a rapidly growing Waldenbooks store in nearby Silverdale, Washington. I was in the process of creating my online bookstore, Bookshop Without Borders. I was working part time for my then publisher, learning the various aspects of book publishing. I created a syllabus for an independent study for a friend of mine, who was attending Evergreen College. I was actively practicing conscious living and being. 

Even just thinking about being in my chair is giving me some good ideas for creative projects. Let’s see where these ideas might take me. This is my first Whynot Wednesday and I am asking myself “ Why not?” Why not do something new? Something different. I am already doing that in a lot of areas in my life. What other things can I do? 

Do you have a place and time where you can ponder the big picture and ask unanswerable questions, listening quietly to see if anything comes back to you? If not, you might want to create such a place and start dreaming big dreams then asking yourself why not? You might be surprised by the responses you get. 

Sunday, May 5, 2019

New Affirmation

"I have all the resources I need to accomplish everything I want and need to do."

So many times in the past few weeks, I have thought and sometimes even said aloud, "I don't have enough time for this." Or, "I don't have enough energy to get everything done." It really felt that this reality was growing exponentially. Finally today, when I was reading a book about manifesting (I'll reveal this title at a later date wen I'm finished with it), it dawned on me that this feeling of not having enough time, energy, or money to do what I needed to do had arisen from thoughts along this vein that had become their own mantra. I was manifesting this reality increasingly, and it was making my life much more difficult than it needed to be. This is not a new concept for me, but I guess I needed a serious reminder. Today this lack mentality stops.

I created this new affirmation this morning so I can start getting everything done that I need and want to get done. As I align my thoughts and words with the reality I wish to create, then my feelings will begin to playing the supporting role I need them to play. Feelings are very important in helping us to  create the reality of our daily lives and, for the most part, they are under our control. They arise from the thoughts we entertain. If you don't like how or what you're feeling, then change your mind. Point your thoughts in a different direction. Focus on something else for a change. Even just watching an engaging movie or reading a captivating book can redirect your energy away from whatever negative scenario might be playing in your head, thus making you feel bad, sad, hopeless, or whatever.

Now I realize that some thoughts are fleeting and are not given the chance to create reality. This is a good thing. You don't want to manifest instantly your every passing thought. Trust me on this. It might be great if you are thinking about winning the lottery, but not so great if you're thinking about something negative. If you're going to manifest things in your life that you want, you'll have to focus on the outcome of what you want to manifest. It's the difference between a sideways glance and an intense stare. How will it feel if you were to regain your health, find a new job, run your own business, buy a new house or car, or maybe find a life partner you can trust and spend your days
enjoying their company? How would this change your life for the better?

Be specific about what you want. Don't be specific about how you want it to come about because that puts limits on an infinite universe and may delay the arrival of the manifestation.. In other words, your perfect mate might not be who you expect it to be from where you're standing today. But perhaps that will change in the near future. Or you may want newfound wealth to come to you in the form of a lottery ticket when it may actually be about to arrive another way, through a promotion or an unexpected inheritance. Visualize the experience of your dreams coming true, but don't limit the conduit of this dream. See the end results;.It's like staying and watching until the movie is over, savoring the feeling of satisfaction you got from it. You don't have to sit there watching the credits roll, unless you want to, but you do want to see the end and focus on that feeling of completion and happiness.

Probably the hardest part of manifesting is figuring out what you really want. We may think we know what we want until we really start focusing on it and living the feeling of it through our emotions. We might think we don't want to work another day of our lives, when what we really want is greater job satisfaction and better pay. Without visualizing it happening, we wouldn't know that endless days of being a couch potato wouldn't be as great as we first thought it would be. Maybe huge piles of stuff wouldn't be as cool as simply having enough of the right stuff. Too much stuff can morph into hoarding and clutter quickly and neither of those things is beneficial to our well being.

So as I work on my new affirmation, I will also work on being more specific about what it is that I want and need so the universe can supply the resources for it. You can start working on what you want and need too and start believing that the resources you need to manifest those desires will appear as you need them so you can take the next step along on your journey towards fulfillment.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Accidental Gardening Project

Here’s my new accidental gardening project. Not long after we moved into this house, I bought a big bag of raw sunflower 🌻 seeds to eat. I had gotten to eat maybe a handful of them before they mysteriously disappeared. I looked for them periodically, but never found them. A couple weeks ago, Beth found them on the top shelf of the pantry when she was looking for something else entirely. 

Now if you want to hide something from a person confined to a wheelchair, put it on the highest possible shelf and put something else in front of it. Voila! You’ve just made it disappear completely as far as that person is concerned. I can’t even see anything on the back part of the top shelves of the fridge or freezer. Forget the pantry.

Anyway, they were out of date and not smelling or tasting too fresh so I decided to toss them out to the birds, only I kept forgetting to do it. Finally I remembered one day and flung the entire bag out handful by handful until it was all gone. That night it started raining and didn’t stop for a few days. I felt sort of like I was back in Seattle, only it was about 20 degrees warmer. Unlike Seattle, the winter is our dry season so this nonstop rain in winter was quite the anomaly.

As you might have guessed already, that rain beat the seeds into the moist ground where they germinated and sprung up in patches all around the yard. Ahem. I hadn’t meant to do that, but there they were everywhere. I decided to let them grow a few days to establish a good root system. After a few more days, Beth got on our heavy duty scooter and went around the yard pulling up sunflowers by the handful. I then potted the best ones in some clay pots and hoped for the best. My first two pots struggled a bit the first couple days after the transplant before becoming more stabilized and looking as though they might make it. 

When Beth told her brother about it, he asked if I could start some plants for him to place in the garden he started in memory of his wife who just passed in November. Naomi loved sunflowers. 🌻I was thrilled to start a new pot for him, so Beth grabbed some more “volunteers “ from the yard and I planted them. No first day struggling or anything. They are already getting cozy in their new bed. 

The more I have thought about this whole series of coincidences, including the fact that the mowers hadn’t been here in a couple weeks, the more it feels like Naomi is working on the other side to put sunflowers in her garden at her home on this side of the veil. I’m delighted to be her hands on this side helping to make this happen. The more I work on my “accidental gardening project,” the more sure I am that there is nothing accidental about it. There is a design and purpose behind it. Of that I am certain. 

Naomi’s pot of sunflower 🌻 starts is the single one in the photo. I had already put my two pots together. I am really looking forward to seeing how this works out. I bet that pot produces the best sunflowers ever! 

I love you, Naomi! Thanks for letting me participate in this project for you and thanks for the kitty and butterfly quilt you picked out for Christmas for me before you left this world. It made me cry. It is precious to me.