Friday, January 26, 2018

Dear Santa: You'll Need The Head's Up

Dear Santa:

I realize this letter is a bit early, but considering it may involve some time travel and shape-shifting magic, you better get started on my list.

1. My son's Christmas present tea. Someone (he can't remember who) gave him a container filled with a delectable herbal tea, probably home-made or a craft fair hence minimal labeling, and I have been "sharing" it with him. Since I (usually) make him a cup of tea at the same time, I do believe that act cancels out any proclivity towards the Naughty list when I just flat out pilfer his stash.

2. Lafayette. To be specific Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. I was toggling between him and Jefferson because I was listening to Hamilton and remember adoring both men from history class (intelligence and passion = sexy) and then found out they are played by the same actor, go figure. But Jefferson had the whole pro-slavery thang, and Lafayette has an adorable french accent when he raps, so the choice was obvious. I'm not sure how this will work since we're both married and exist 200 years apart, but you'll figure it out. You're Santa!

3. My teeth. Remember the song "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth"? Well, I'd like to keep as many as possible. Because of the damn Cushing's, the integrity of my bone and dental health is suffering, hence Le Previous Year of Broken Feet. Yesterday I had my first tooth pulled that had already cracked in half. Two more are giving the dentist the side-eye. So this request is not so much getting something as keeping something. Several things. S'il vous plait?

4. The ability to transform into a dragon. I recently read Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and have decided that the scaly, itchy skin patches I have acquired are not from Cushing's but are signs that I am half-dragon. This should come with some sort of magical powers and I have decided I don't need the powers, but would rather just become a gorgeous, mythical, flying beast. Sometimes. Like when politicians are being morons, I could pay a little visit. (FYI: I just spent 20 minutes looking for the perfect dragon picture to give you a decent idea, but nothing had that je ne sais quoi.)

5. That the family member who is sick is still with us at Christmas.

6. A llama.

That's my list, Père Noël. And you should totally hear my 8 year old niece rapping Lafayette:








Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.



Sunday, January 14, 2018

Sipping Without My Ace of Spades

I have a natural tendency to look on the bright side of life (whistle...) Twenty two years ago, this very week, I gave birth to my baby girl. When my boyfriend and I found out I was pregnant, in college, it was overwhelming and there were many tears. However, not even a week after we had the confirmation, and the adamant choice to continue with the pregnancy, we found the positives. We were sitting on the floor of the university library, he leaning on the wall, and I nestled in front on him, his arms around my still-flat belly. Suddenly one of us realized, "We get to name it!" And we both smiled mischievously, and the fun side of parental responsibility came to fore. We joked around for a bit, but soon enough he said her name, and we both knew it was the one. Find the happy.

But 2017 was a tough one.

First of all, it's none of your business, and second, of COURSE I didn't vote for him!

As was evident in my previous post, I finally embraced anger and despair. This was good. Good for me. "Don't hold things in or they will turn into cancer," was one of my grandma's dying words. (The other was a full on swearing session to Stephen King because he wouldn't finish the damn Dark Tower series before she died. Steve, if you've been haunted by a Sicilian ghost, now you know why.) I keep things in. There's some good reasons in my past for this, but that survival strategy no longer serves me. I know, I know, I know that Cushing's was caused by a growth on my adrenal gland. But when I first found out the news and needed a surgery, I talked with my young nieces about it. My eight year old asked, "But Aunt Becca, will it grow again?" Although I could honestly tell her that the whole gland was coming out so no, the fear that another could grow on my remaining gland is there. The question to myself is, "how did it grow in the first place?" Like my grandmother's firm belief that some secrets caused her ultimate demise, I'm searching for how I can alter my life to keep another growth from forming.

Yeah, yeah, meditation. I know. I do that already.

I started 2018 with a guided meditation on letting go of the past year and setting positive goals for the future. In the beginning of my previous post, I stated that my memory of the past year was filled with a cloud of despair. I know it is a human tendency to focus on the negative; it's a survival mechanism. But it's not me. I'm the whistler on the cross, remember? Thinking back to my view of 2017 was like an image I recalled from biology class that showed what our body parts were in proportion to how touch sensitive they were. It's a freaky image.


Certain events and feelings totally out-sized others. There were plenty of moments of joy and fun and love and laughter last year with my students, family and friends. Yet the anger and sadness clouded my recollection. It's healthy to acknowledge the full range of emotions, but then I need to let them go. Writing the post, publicly throwing my heart out there, was healing. 

In the beginning of that new year meditation, I was guided to breathe in all the negative emotions of the past year. The guide took some time to do this with multiple, slow breaths to really imagine the people and situations that hurt us, blowing them out into a mental white balloon and then letting it float up into the stratosphere to pop and scatter into the basic elements of life. Woo-woo, whatever, it was a good image. I went through a LOT of balloons. 

Next was to imagine ourselves at the end of this new year having successfully completed a goal, intensely feeling that moment. I set the first goal that came to mind and held a published book in my hands. The positive emotions were heady. Quick, the guide said, pick an image that coincided with those emotions. I saw this:


Finally, we were supposed to make the image and carry it around in our pocket all year as a dedication to the goal. I went to our basement and found a deck that had some cards already missing, but the ace of spades was missing too. Why did we even have this deck? I threw it out. Then found a new deck that I didn't like the colors as much and found the ace of spades to use as my pocket friend. I think I had it four days before losing it on errands. If you find it at the Co-op, keep it for good luck, ok?

Alas, I'd have to ruin another deck of cards to keep up my image mantra thing. Can't do it. Too much of a gamer. I wish my mind had chosen a cup of steaming tea as the image, then I could just make it come true everyday. A Tulsi-Rose from Underground Alchemy was perfect during our frigid days (and more to come.) I'll keep sipping as my back-up. Tea. Ahh... What was I saying? 

Life of Brian, Teen Pregnancy, Sicilian Ghost, Sensory Homunculus, losing my Ace of Spades. In 2018 I shall embrace my more healthy well-rounded emotions while still enjoying my tea. And reading books. And playing Mad-Libs. An awesome friend and I do Mad-Libs through texting, and then meet up and read them out loud together for good laughs. I've actually been doing this while writing the post. We both needed an adjective. I typed "caffeinated", and she offered, "pumped-up." A fine way to begin the new year.






Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.  



Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017: The Year You Learned to Let Go, Cuss, and Add Heavy Cream to Your Tea

Under my desk calendar was a letter addressed, "To Rebecca of 2017." It was written by me at the end of 2016. I wasn't sure what to expect because I don't have a very good memory anymore; one of the symptoms of Cushing's is mental problems (both the cognitive and emotional.) But my feeling of what January of 2017 was like was of a cloud of despair. This was before my diagnosis and subsequent surgery, so I was on a slow, depressing road to death. (I'm not kidding around.) Imagine my surprise to read the letter and find a tone of upbeat recollections, a touch of concern here and there, and a cheerful optimism for the future. Was I fucking delusional? Apparently, I was. And perhaps that was the only way I was able to keep going. I will retype some of my letter to give you a taste of it, and my current update on the past year (sans details that would invade others' privacy.)

"I can't wait for my foot to heal. I miss walking."
 You miss walking? Me too. You get another six months with the stupid boot on. Then you get a few months to slowly learn to walk again, then surgery, slowly get strength to walk again, and now sub-zero temperatures. You will curse a lot in 2017.

"...met with an endocrinologist for the first time...and the thyroid medicine has really helped, but I'm not feeling totally better yet. Maybe I will ask the doctor to increase it?..this latest diet is hard but hopefully will help...sleeping is still not good, but the allergy sprays are working..."
Alright, let's just get this part of 2017 on the table: No chica, he won't increase your thyroid meds because that's not the main problem and that endocinologist is an idiot, no diet is going to work and that latest one sets you on a tailspin of depression that your husband worries so much for your mental health, you will continue to wake up every hour of the night making your body degrade in front of your eyes and you question your existence every 3am, and the allergy sprays are helping you breathe, but are also the reason your feet are not healing and contributing to your real problem: You Have Cushing's Syndrome Caused By A Tumor On Your Left Adrenal Gland. You find this out late Spring, finally realizing all your problems were related, curable, and NOT YOUR FAULT.  After finding this out, you add heavy cream to your tea and enjoy it immensely.

"...maybe Trump won't be as bad as everyone expects?"
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Oh, oh, I think that's the funniest part of this letter! Hahahahahaha!

"...is looking for a new job. I'm so curious to what comes next!"
Curious? Interesting word, Pollyanna. Although your husband found a good part-time job, time is running out and nothing is happening. Yes, you have become more open to possibilities, and yes, you have become more accepting of uncertainty, but let's be honest now: "Curious" has become "worried."

"...looking forward to geeky cons, they're so much fun!"
No you're not. Who are you trying to kid here? You wish you were looking forward to them, but you really just want to curl up in a ball in the corner of the couch and never leave the house. Here's the low-down for cons in 2017:

You attend Arisia with your son, and afterwards realize there was no fucking way you could have survived without his help. You can barely function. You only keep going because he is with you and you want him to be happy. It's a fantastic convention, and in your haze of physical problems and depression, you manage to find the highlights (Stephanie Law, Deadpool, Kittens of Doom), but I wouldn't call that "so much fun!" 

And PAX East? You are looking forward to going away for the weekend to run away from life, from the unending problems, from the increasingly concerned looks and conversations from family and friends about your health and your husband's job search, and if you are truly honest with yourself, it is a chance to sit alone and despair. You aren't even sure you will go to the convention, maybe just stay in your hotel room for the weekend. But then a couple days beforehand, your friend finds out you are going because you are on a GeekMom panel (which you are getting anxious about because you can't think straight and are so afraid of sounding like a fool) and he's there for work and won't it be great to hang out ALL WEEKEND?! No, you think. No. I don't want to pretend everything is fine. I don't want to put on my happy face. You are really sick of your happy face. But you lie and say "Great!" Then as you walk across that long bridge to the convention center in the snow, alone and cold and slow with a walking cast, you decide you will not put on a happy face. Your friend can hang out with you or decide to leave, but you are done pretending. He meets you inside the con and is happy to see you. You complain, you are sad, you play poorly at games because you can't concentrate. He asks if he can stay at your hotel because it's easier than driving all the way back to his house. You do not smile or act excited. You tell him you don't sleep well. He doesn't care. He helps you walk across the bridge and get back to the hotel when you are too tired to read the signs and slip on ice with that damn boot. In the room, he listens to you talk about life and crap. You listen to him talk about life and crap. He goes to sleep. You wake up many times. Because he is there, you don't cry. The next day at the con you both attend a panel about chickens. You both find this highly amusing. You meet GeekMoms and are embarrassed by what you look like and know you sound stupid, but they are very nice and seem even cooler than you imagined online. Your friend gives you big hugs when you leave and hopes you feel better soon. You go home and complain that you didn't get a weekend all alone. In retrospect, you realize God had sent an angel to make sure you didn't.

And all you will remember of ConnectiCon 2017 is how cute your friend's daughter is. Damn, you wish you lived closer.

"...I hope we have more games. That's fun!"
Can you stop with the exclamation points? Seriously. You sound like a third grader talking about the zoo. But yeah, the RPGs with friends were fun in 2016, but didn't continue with that group. Instead you, hubby, son, and two other friends start a new campaign. And it is one of the highlights of the year. Spending time as a family, sharing a meal and game with lovely, funny people, and most importantly, your husband spending hours of free time planning the campaign. He even admitted it was great to focus on something other than looking for a new job or my health problems. Go elf mages, go.

"...sad about my Dad." 
Yeah, I know. But guess what? Oh, Rebecca of 2016, you are not going to believe what happens in 2017. Your dad becomes a superhero. He's the one that starts the chain of events that leads you to diagnosis and surgery and recovery. He is with you every step of the way. Oh, resigned Rebecca of 2016, I won't spoil the future of 2017 with your dad because that relationship is the best part of your year.

"Family vacation was nice. I love the Olympics!"
What rose-colored glasses are you desperately holding to your face? I won't go into detail here, but even I remember the family issues during the 2016 vacation. Though the ocean was lovely on your broken feet. In 2017 you get to be in the ocean again at the Hidalgo family reunion. It's both healing and very difficult. You love your family, but could barely get the energy to be "normal." And yes, I still love the Olympics. Winter in Korea 2018! Wooooo!!! (Not enough exclamation points for that!)

"...I think the meditation is helping with panic attacks."
It certainly does. Remember in years past when it was multiple times a day? In the beginning half of 2017 you are down to a couple a week. Once the diagnosis is given, they mostly go away. Since the surgery in October you haven't had any huge attacks at all. (Yeah, some anxiety, but life is life, and you're no zen master.) Coincidentally, the intense, daily heartburn also goes away. Maybe not coincidence.

"...and the kids are doing fine. Hope that continues."
It does. God is good. You did alright, mama.

"...some other things I did this year..."
For 2017, it's what you didn't do that's life changing. Sweetheart, you learned to let go. Perhaps for other people, they wouldn't have to have two broken feet, intense body pain, crushing depression, anxiety attacks, debilitating allergies, lack of sleep, etc, etc, to get them to slow down. For you, The Little Engine That Could needed to become Ferdinand. You give up TeaPunk Tales, all other creative writing projects, change to Occasional Contributor on GeekMom, no more cooking classes, quit the co-op committee, relinquish being secretary of the Creation Care Team, quit teaching choirs at Consortium, quit teaching preschool music classes, do not sign up to teach at HENAA for 2018, sing only occasionally at church, and embrace Yin Yoga.

As you slowly let go of what defines your life, you also let go of trying to control it. Since you were a little girl, you demanded, "I do myself!" This may have helped as a young mom, but no longer serves you. 2017 was the year you let other people help you. The last remnants of your ego sail off to Hawaii with the confession of you-will-know-who, leaving you on the shores of WTF? where you stuff the last of your pride into a bottle and toss that as well. You accept every crate of rum from passing ships with no promise of return payment. They all seem fine with this. In fact, many want to get drunk with you on your shores, singing and carousing loudly in defiance of the crap that comes with life.

To Rebecca of 2018: I have no clue what happens next. All the Rebecca's of the past hope you learn from their mistakes, let go of their regrets, and enjoy the waves.






Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.





Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Crap Theory (with Chai Sisu)

There have been many attempts to describe to "regular folk" the challenges of those of us who have chronic illness. The Spoon Theory is a good one. The Matchstick Theory is a little more apt. But I'll attempt my own called, The Crap Theory. This is less about choices of energy and just...about what it's like to always feel like crap.

You wake up feeling like crap. You slept crappy. There have been days when you don't get out of bed, but over the years you realize it doesn't make you feel less crappy physically, and mentally it makes it worse, so you get up. It's slow.

You move your body. It hurts. It's frustrating. But you do it anyway because overtime the crappiness will increase if you don't.

You meditate. You still feel like crap, but you're ok with it. Mostly. Not really. But you want to be ok with it. You also want to be a superhero.

You get ready for the day and interact with people who love you. You want to tell them all the ways you feel like crap, but they already know this. They know it so very well, that you decide to spare them the details and talk about other things instead: the upcoming cold snap, car coordination, we need more eggs, and you reluctantly watch a "really short!" video with your kid. You laugh. For a moment you forget about feeling crappy. Or maybe the caffeine is kicking in.

Your body tells you its time for a rest because you feel like crap, but seriously, you just got up, so you push yourself. You have realized over the years that mentally it's better for you to do things even if you feel like crap. So you do things. It's slow. Sometimes it's painful when it wasn't just the day before. Sometimes you can't do certain things at all. You often cry. You remember that you forgot something important. Crap.

You rest. There are no questions about this. There are no others options.

Eventually, you get yourself moving again with whatever works. You may feel like crap, but you make a damn good cup of tea.

You do more things. You interact with people. You feel like crap so you are impatient, inconsistent, and moody. Over the years people distanced themselves from you. You understand, but it still hurts. Then a friend sends you a Loki gif and the crappiness is alleviated by his glorious purpose.

Today you can eat. Sometimes the crappiness keeps you from this, but not today. This makes it a good day.

Today music sounds right (sometimes it doesn't), and it doesn't hurt your head (sometimes it does) so you play some while cooking. You move a little. To anyone else, this is not dancing, but in your mind you are a hoochie mama.

You rest. You are annoyed. Did I mention you feel like crap? You look at your to-do list and cross out things, not because you got them done but because they never will. You feel guilty as someone else cleans up after you.

You lose yourself to fiction. Depending on how crappy you feel, the format changes. Today, it's a book. Seriously, the girl should pick the 600 year-old ghoul over the wishy-washy werewolf. You come back to yourself and remember you feel like crap.

You are the first to get ready for bed. You stand by the bed and stare at your pillow and the litany of exactly how crappy you feel and how this may be FOREVER starts to unravel your soul. But there is a spark inside of you that crap can't touch. It knits you back together again. That meditation breathing comes in handy.

You get in bed and tell God you feel like crap because if you have to live with it everyday, then He can hear about it everyday. He tightens the strings on your soul. You pray for other people and feel perspective. The person you love comes in and kisses you goodnight. You cry a little. You remember the good parts of the day. You feel like crap, but close your eyes and hope for the best.

You open them again remembering something important you forgot, again. Crap.






Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Body, Mind, and Spirit Discuss Over Tea: A One-Act Play

INT. Small, dark bedroom. A large form is under the blankets of the bed, covers drawn over its head. There is a  knock. The form does not move. Another knock. No response
       
                                                         SPIRIT                                                                                                                                                  (A small child's voice behind the door.)
                                                       Body? We're coming in.

No response from the form on the bed. The door opens and SPIRIT runs in. She is a five year old girl with a glowing, light-brown complexion, sparkling eyes, and a halo of dark curls. She is swathed in a bright blue sari with shining silver thread. She jumps on the bed.

                                                            SPIRIT
                                                    Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up!

While Spirit hops up and down on the bed, MIND leans on the door frame. He is a thin, androgynous-looking young man with a blond ponytail and fitted clothing. He is trying to look casual, but is really on the door frame for support. 

                                                              MIND
                                                    Don't you have to go to the bathroom or something?

There is a GRUNT from the form and the covers are pushed off slowly. Spirit hops off the bed and grabs the hand of BODY. Body is a large, hulking ogre lady wearing pink, snuggly pajamas. She has a pleasant face that is very sad. Body lets Spirit pull her up off the bed.

                                                             BODY
                                                     I don't feel good.

She cries. Mind and Spirit hold her up and they shuffle out of the bedroom.

INT. A small, old kitchen with herbs hanging up everywhere, and a big stove with several pots lightly bubbling. BODY, MIND, and SPIRIT enter and sit at a sturdy wooden table. 

                                                                BODY
                                                       I want ice-cream.
                                                 
                                                               MIND
                                                       No.
                                   
                                                                SPIRIT
                                                       I want ice-cream.
     
                                                                 MIND
                                                        With all the stomach problems, I really
                                                       don't think dairy and sugar are going to help us.

                                                                BODY
                                                        I don't care.

     Mind sighs and turns to Spirit who is smiling expectantly.

                                                                MIND
                                                       What are you really looking for?

                                                                 SPIRIT
                                                        Comfort. (Pause) I'll make tea!

                                                                 BODY
                                                        I don't want tea.

Mind and Spirit GASP. Then body smiles a little.

                                                                 BODY
                                                          Kidding.

Spirit jumps up to make a pot of tea. She pulls a stool around with her to reach any high places, and HUMS a pretty tune.

Mind pulls out a laptop from a nearby cabinet and opens it on the table. 

Body puts her head in her hands.

                                                                  MIND
                                                         Ok. Let's recap the week and plan. How are you feeling?

                                                                   BODY (looks up)
                                                            Like a forgotten Christmas package in the back
                                                            of the mail truck being banged around.

   Mind starts typing.

                                                                     MIND
                                                             Excellent description. I should use that in a
                                                            story someday. But can you be more specific?

                                                                     BODY
                                                             Stiff and sore muscles when I use them,
                                                             sometimes painful. Joints are painful.
                                                              Head is tense. Right foot swollen
                                                             and hurts.

                                                                     MIND
                                                              We need to call the doctor about that one.

                                                                     SPIRIT
                                                              I don't like talking on the phone!

                                                                     MIND and BODY
                                                              We know.

Spirit pours hot water into a teapot and brings it over with three cups. She plops happily into her seat and blows on her tea. Body picks up a cup and enjoys the warmth. Mind absently takes a cup and sips while still typing with one hand.

                                                                       BODY
                                                             Still can't breathe well so not sleeping.

                                                                       MIND
                                                             We have allergy shots tomorrow.

                                                                       SPIRIT
                                                             The ladies there are very nice, but the
                                                              needle always hurts so much.

Mind pats Spirit on the head.

                                                                       BODY
                                                             Extra sensitivity, numbness and swelling.
                                                             But the biggest one is my digestive system.

                                                                        SPIRIT
                                                             But the nausea is gone, right?

Body nods and Spirit gives her a hug, her tiny arms barely going around the large being. 

                                                                        MIND
                                                              But the diarrhea is troublesome.

                                                                        BODY
                                                              Yeah, I'm losing weight but not in a healthy way.

Mind suddenly lays his head on the table. Spirit comes over and pats his head.

                                                                        SPIRIT
                                                               Why don't we take a break?

                                                                        BODY
                                                                Sounds good to me.

                                                                         MIND
                                                                       (muffled)
                                                                 We only just got up.

                                                                         SPIRIT
                                                                 How about we play a song on the piano?

                                                                           BODY
                                                                 I'm too tired.

    MIND picks up his head and takes a deep breath.

                                                                            MIND
                                                                 Let's decide on what we need to do today-

                                                                          SPIRIT
                                                                 We don't need to do anything. We are being
                                                                taken care of by people who love us.

                                                                           MIND
                                                                  What we want to accomplish. Then
                                                                 play the piano, then rest, and then
                                                                 do something on the list. Ok?

                                                                           BODY
                                                                   A very short list.

                                                                             SPIRIT
                                                                    Let's play Christmas songs!

  Starts typing.

                                                                            MIND
                                                                   I have a plan if we have digestive problems
                                                                   again. We are on day three of nothing major.

                                                                            SPIRIT
                                                                    Maybe it's all done? Yay!

                                                                             BODY
                                                                   It won't last. It's because we increased the
                                                                    medication from being so sick. Once we
                                                                   start decreasing, it will be back to living in the bathroom.

Mind puts a hand on Body's shoulder.

                                                                                MIND
                                                                    I have a new plan that doesn't involve more
                                                                    or different drugs. And if that doesn't work,
                                                                    I'll call a doctor and ask for advice. Don't worry,
                                                                    I'm not giving up.

                                                                                SPIRIT
                                                                      I'm proud of you!

                                                                                BODY
                                                                      I want chocolate. Do we have any?

Spirit jumps up and grabs a box from a countertop.

                                                                                SPIRIT
                                                                      A friend mailed it to us because she
                                                                     loves us. Yay!

They all take a piece and enjoy it with the tea. Mind types.

                                                                                 MIND
                                                                      Ok. How's this. We call the foot doctor-

                                                                                  SPIRIT
                                                                     I hate making phone calls.

                                                                                   MIND and BODY
                                                                     We know.

                                                                              MIND
                                                                     So we call the doctor. And then play
                                                                    the piano.

    Spirit takes another chocolate.

                                                                     BODY
                                                              And then rest?

                                                                      MIND
                                                              Then rest. Then...mop? We have guests Friday.

                                                                      BODY
                                                              I don't know if I can do that much.

                                                                      SPIRIT
                                                               We can put on disco!

                                                                      MIND
                                                                 And if we do a little at a time,
                                                                it will get done. We can read
                                                               a chapter of our book, mop a room,
                                                              read a chapter...

                                                                       BODY
                                                                Ok.

                                                                        MIND
                                                              And then we are planning on going to
                                                             choir practice tonight.

                                                                        BODY
                                                               I don't know if I can handle that.

                                                                         MIND
                                                               It's hard for me too, but we want to sing at
                                                             Christmas mass, so we have to go.

                                                                          SPIRIT
                                                              I get really overwhelmed too,
                                                               but everyone is so nice, and the music is so pretty.

                                                                          MIND
                                                                 Let's do it!

           They all high-five.

                                                                            SPIRIT
                                                                 On to our day! Piano!

                                                                            MIND
                                                                  Call the doctor first.
 
                                                                             SPIRIT
                                                                   Shoot.

They all get up.

                                                                              BODY
                                                                   I don't feel good.

They all walk out, Mind and Spirit helping Body the whole way.






Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand. 
                                                               
                                                                               
                           



                                                                               

                         

   



                                                           
                                                           



Friday, December 15, 2017

Dear Life: You Suck. (With A Side of Nettle.)

Dear Life:

You suck. I sit here sipping nettle tea because I was advised it would keep me alive when I can't eat much, which has been the case for several weeks now due to digestive distress. I suppose I should be grateful to you for the existence of nettle, but since the advice came from my daughter who is a recovering anorexic, I mostly want to punch you in the face.

I am lodging an official complaint. As you know, I was a teenage mother. This subjected me to negative societal judgment in the form of blatant insults to backhanded compliments about my age for YEARS. One of the ways I kept my dignity intact was with my Future Vanity Revenge Fantasy (say that three times fast.) So when a visiting "friend" pointedly praised my pregnant sister (married, in her late 20's) for having children the "right" way, I didn't spill my homemade soup that she was enjoying onto her lap, instead I pictured the future: a college visit with my grown children, and I, glowing in the sunshine, still young and fucking hot.

Alas, my children are currently both in college and I am decidedly un-hot...post-hot? "Not hot" just sounds weird. Anyway, while they were in high-school, I developed Cushing's, which, as I'm sure you're aware, strips the sufferer of any type of vanity, ego, or pride in appearance. Thus, my complaint.

I demand recompense immediately. Some examples would be the invention of gluten-free baklava, a chance encounter with Hugh Jackman wherin he declares his endless devotion to me, or perhaps the emergence of latent magical powers. Any or all of these would be sufficient.

Sincerely sticking up my middle finger,
Becca






Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tulsi and Life's Purpose

I have received many thoughtful get-well gifts this past fall. One of my music students gave me a Tulsi tea that is so subtle and perfect right now. Tulsi is also called "Holy Basil" and an herb my daughter once grew in our backyard. I'm having trouble drinking and eating much and this particular variety of Tulsi from DiviniTea called "Soul" is all I want.

A particular story from a magazine keeps looping through my thoughts. I honestly can't remember what the article was about, but the woman writing it told a story about a friend of hers, and that story has stuck. Here it is:

A man she knows was an amazing athlete. Then he had a terrible accident and became paraplegic. After years of determination he became an athlete again. And then had yet another accident and became quadriplegic. At this point he had some dark times, but he came out of it with a profound realization that his true purpose in life was to love everyone. 

In light of my recent struggles and personal insights, I wondered about how it took this man becoming a quadriplegic to find his calling in life. And then I wondered if what he realized was true for all of us. What if our only purpose in life was to love one another, and what if I fully lived that truth without having to go through a terrible tragedy?

Now this isn't an explanation for "why bad things happen to good people". I firmly believe that life is unfair and we will never, never, never, never understand why. I also believe that humans are propelled to make sense out of everything, and when something bad happens, we will replay it over and over trying to find patterns and fit it into a neat view of the world. Did you know that earworms (when a song gets stuck in your head) are caused by not knowing the full song perfectly? And if you can get through the entire earworm from start to finish in your mind, it usually goes away? Unfortunately, bad events often don't have a logical, linear trajectory that led to your pain, and there is no satisfactory ending. The other way to get rid of an earworm is to start singing a new song.

What if loving everyone was my only job in life? What if all this searching for meaning and purpose in work was missing the point? What if I embraced that physically poor man's epiphany for myself? What if every interaction with everyone I meet was about loving them? What if they are mean?

Anyway, I've been trying to do this for the past few weeks. When I remember, it's quite relaxing. If my real job is to love everyone, than my other jobs are just side-hustles. That took the worry out of much of my constant, "now that my children are grown, what is my life's purpose?!" thoughts. While in a crowd, it makes me listen and notice more. When with people I already love, I am filled with gratitude, compassion, and for some reason, amusement. 

I wonder if maybe the man got into those accidents specifically to tell his story to that woman who then wrote about it in a magazine which I read so I could then share my take on it here so that someone might read it and...what? I don't know. But that kind of thinking will keep spiraling with no final cadence. Instead, I will compose my thoughts into a simple and beautiful melody of love.






Rise untethered.
Move with intention.
Be grand.