new growth

I’ve been thinking about the A to Z challenge again. I did it last year, with 7 sins and friends. I wrote about an emotion each day…. and I planned to do it this year starting with the 7 virtues. Bet you can’t name as many virtues as sins…. though I don’t think any of the emotions are sins. They are part of us. They are part of the way we respond to the world and survive. We have to learn to pay attention to them and not label any of them as negative or bad. We cannot excise grief or fear or anger from our psyche and remain human. Instead we need to learn to be curious about each emotion….

…..and there has been a shift in my life, three parts all shifting at once, this week. It is very odd to have all three go at once. I may leave the virtues until next year, because this sudden freedom is strange, peculiar, unfamiliar…. I need to expand in it and explore it….

New growth….

quit

I’ve quit

again
stop start

stop
quit

I don’t think I’ll go back
it wastes the days
makes me so sick
takes so little for me to overdo

I resent lost time
and suffering

my body doesn’t want it
and tells me so
ferociously

alcohol you say?

that too

but I was talking about men

 

The photograph is my mother’s father’s mother. I have one of the originals. The back is stamped: Battle Creek, Michigan. So she was having a “rest cure” at Dr. Kellogg’s famous health retreat.

Advice to a college daughter

I am submitting this to the Daily Prompt: Careful.

I talked to a young woman recently who left the college that my daughter is going to.

And then I gave my daughter advice.

“If you are attacked or assaulted, sexually or otherwise, do not go to the campus police. Go to the city police. Or better yet, a State Trooper.”

Because, you see, the Campus Police work for the school. It is a conflict of interest.

If you are attacked, get a friend. Have them help you get to the City or State Police. Have them record your initial story on their cell phone. Have them photograph any injuries, torn clothes, you crying while you tell them. If you are raped, have your friend get you to the City or State Police and then to an emergency room for a rape kit. This is documentation of your story. Write out what happened the next day. Keep all of it. It is admissible in court. Name names. Tell every word that you can remember that the other person said. Try to figure out if there are any witnesses.

Because too many men lie. Men lie in our culture and the system dismisses what women and girls say, dismisses domestic violence, dismisses assault, dismisses rape. You do not want to be Cosbyed or Trumped. You will not stand for it. None of us should stand for it.

Fight back. Stand up. We will not tolerate this culture and we will make it stop.

Armour Suit IV: Walk like a toddler

At each massage, one every two weeks, I have locked my hips back up in the Armour suit. This is really annoying.

My massage person says he wants to be able to lie face down like a baby: head, arms and legs all lifted and playing. That is core strength. Babies can do that… why can’t we? He says that when he does play therapy with kids, by a certain age they lose that. He picks them up and flies them around lying on his arms: by age 4 or 5, they fold up. They have lost touch with that core.

I think about that.

During a massage a few months ago he pokes my lower belly. “Tilt your hips using your abdominal muscles.” Feels weird, but I do. “You aren’t engaging your core.” I find it really annoying to have to relearn how to walk.

Engaging my core. Little children who have just learned to walk do lead with their bellies. And they can still lie on the floor on their bellies, all limbs up.

I am trying to picture an adult who walks with their belly. Who? The Buddha’s belly comes to mind. But I can’t see him walking. Who? Toshiro Mifune: the old samurai movies. He and the others walk like small children: from their core, from their bellies.

I try it for two weeks. I flatten the arch of my lower back by using my abdominal muscles, not my gluteus maximus. I walk with my feet apart a bit, my belly leading. I am trying not to walk with my toes gripping the ground. I walk with toes up. He says I have walked with my toes gripping the ground for years, and that is the only place that I have early arthritis.

It feels a bit silly to walk like a samurai. When I do it right, I can feel that engaged core and my legs and hips feel looser. It is not elegant, not a catwalk uptight shake your ass walk. It is more of a loose free walk, like a toddler, like a buddha. I don’t care. I have to concentrate to keep my abdominal muscles flattening the arch of my back, and so I walk slower.

After two weeks I am back: it’s worked. Partially. My hips are LESS locked. The metatarsal phalangeal joints, the big toes, are less sore then they’ve been for years. And I can feel that abdominal core.

Skiing I try to do the same thing. Engage the abdomen and keep it engaged, and ski with my toes up. I ski slowly and with great swooping turns, letting the skis do the work. Rentals. They give me 158s the first day, I talk them into 165s the second day and then I am on 172s. Finally feels stable. I am getting used to that core feeling. I quit when I get too tired, going in before my kids.

Walk like a toddler, walk like a samurai, walk with core engaged.

First published on everything2.com January 7, 2016. I needed the right picture: this is my sister and me about a month before she died of breast cancer. I miss her so.

Wean yourself

SoFarSoStu has tagged me for the three days, three quotations and tag three other people. This is day three, only I am a day late.

The rules are to post 3 quotes over 3 days and nominate 3 bloggers each time to carry on with the challenge.

Today I choose Rumi’s phrase “Wean yourself” and post his poem. This is one of my two favorite Rumi poems.

Wean yourself
Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.
From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say ‘The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.

At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.’

You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed.

Listen to the answer.

There is no ‘other world’
I only know what I have experienced.
You must be hallucinating.

_____________

I love this poem. To me it’s about our human development and I love that we go from a searcher after wisdom to a hunter of more invisible game. Have you ever had the feeling that you have figured some part of your life out, that aha! moment? Smooth sailing now, you think…. only to find out that new challenges present.

I use this poem in clinic. When I am talking to a new patient I have to find out where they are, what some of their medical beliefs are, what their level of education is, what their prior experience with allopathic medicine is, do they see a naturopath, are they taking ANY pills? Prescription, over the counter, alternative, herbal, homemade? I read Rumi’s poem as a discussion about our levels of development: we come out of the dark to be an embryo. Where do we go from there? I have to understand at least some of my patient’s background in order to communicate with them: I have to meet them halfway. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes my doctors fail…. we experienced that when my mother was in hospice. We were not given instructions for how to take care of her nasogastric tube at home…. and it got blocked. I think that the inpatient nurses made assumptions and the hospice nurses may have too… or just didn’t know.

This poem also relates to how my thoughts about healing and health keep evolving. Currently I keep reading on the internet and hearing from patients that they want a stronger immune system. There are all sorts of “immune system boosters” being sold. I think this is interesting and I think it is a wrong approach. Why?

I have gotten seriously ill four times. Each was triggered by severe stress in my life: mononucleosis at age 19, influenza in 2003, systemic strep A in 2012 and systemic strep A in 2014. So… do I think that my immune system needs boosting? No. When I got symptoms in 2014, my thought was “I am so stupid.” My father had died in 2013. His will confused me, the house was full of his things, my mother’s things, my sister’s things, my grandparent’s things, all dead. I would work in clinic and then go out there and try to get things done and mostly sit and cry. I did deal with the estate, but what is wrong with this picture?

I ignored what I would tell a patient to do…. I did not take time off to rest and to grieve and to take care of myself. Rather than a failing immune system, I pictured my immune system marshaling troops. “She won’t rest. We are going to have to take her down AGAIN. Won’t she ever learn to listen to her body? When will she learn to REST? Let’s see, who do  we have to knock her down…. ah, strep A! Great! Here, the door is open, take her out.”

And boy howdy, did it. I was out for ten months and ten months later am still on half time work. And I could have kicked myself! How stupid I am! If there is a major emotional loss in your life, cut back and rest and take time to let yourself heal!

So when people say, “I need an immune booster,” I wonder. I wonder what is happening in their lives, what their level of stress is, are they taking care of themselves. I worry that our culture thinks that we just need the right combination of supplements and then we can keep going and drive our bodies into the ground, instead of stopping and saying: “Oh. I am really cumulatively tired. I really need to rest, and sit at the beach and stare at the waves, or lie on the couch and read a silly novel, or just have a cup of tea and do nothing.” I don’t really like pills. I think that pills are often a band aid on a deeper wound than we admit. If I had rested, I would not have needed high dose penicillin: though I am deeply grateful to have another try at healing and health.

And three people to tag to do the three days of quotations if they so choose… everyone may be too busy at this busy time of year:

hargunwai

mindlovemisery

ohmyglai

The pink edged cloud looks like a giant paramecium or other bacteria, up in the sky….

Molting

I am growing
My shell hurts
It hurts it hurts!
I cannot shed it
I try and try and try
I fight
I seek allies and help
I fight
One year, two years, nearly three

I’m free
My shell suddenly releases and slides off
I can feel my soft body expand
To my real size
Bigger
Joy!

Oh!
They’re attacking!
Why why!
My brothers! My sisters!
No!
Your claws hurt!
They are cutting me
Ow ow stop why!

I run
Scuttle sideways
Soft and clumsy
Hide
In the mud

Why why?
Oh, my wounds ache
Stabbed
By multiple claws
Deepest pain
In my heart
At this betrayal.

I hide
I sit
I think

It was so hard
To shed my shell
Why would they attack?

Oh!
Their shells hurt too!
Their words
They were grabbing me
To try to see how I’d shed my shell
They were desperate
Oh they must be in such pain!

Can I forgive them?
Do they know not what they do?

I hide
I sit
I think
I heal

My shell is strong now
I am bigger

I will go forth
And see who is trying to shed their shell
I will try to protect the newly molted.