22 April 2023
At the start of this blogging adventure, I mentioned sharing photography. I haven’t done much of that lately here as I tend to share just photos I think are good on Instagram and have been sharing way too many crochet projects on Facebook. I have been working on food pictures, but not doing a very good job at it.
Not sure if I’ve mentioned the PowerPoint “scrapbook” I compiled for the first round of chemo. I’d take a shot during the infusion process and then take pictures of where we ate after. Trying to mix things up this time around, I thought I’d take pictures of the food we ordered and describe it. I’ve had to laugh at myself for too many episodes of:
Shrimp Tacos – blackened grilled shrimp, spicy aioli, pico de gallo, lime sour cream, cabbage slaw for Eva (oops – took a bite before remembering to take a picture!)
Shrimp Fajita Wrap – lightly blackened, yellow rice, avocado, corn salsa, roasted pepper and chipotle ranch
(Once again, started eating before the shot – it looks really pretty on the inside with the colorful ingredients! Obsessing over my cracked beer glass that never was replaced. Great food, not so great service this time.)
Sergio’s Hogfish Sandwich – fried hogfish with a jalapeno lime sauce with lettuce, tomato, and red onion on a kaiser roll, side pickle and sweet potato fries.
Yes, once again, I forgot to take pictures before diving into the food! Not going to make it as a restaurant food blogger!
At least it’s provided a few laughs. And, now I’m hungry.
13 April 2023
I’ve been dwelling on a quote from Herminia Ibarra from the London Business School: “We learn who we are in practice, not in theory.” Observing my own practice disconnecting with who I believe I am in theory has been disconcerting lately. I went back to my mission statement, written MANY years ago:
“To each day, live the legacies I will leave by: maintaining my integrity at all times; supporting what I believe through my actions; being present for all who need me; being my true self, understanding and analyzing the perceptions I create, and working to make who I am, who I think I am, and whom others think I am one and the same; and finding good in others, lessons in experiences, and enjoying the journey of life.”
While I certainly haven’t been working at living up to my entire mission lately, I’m glad to report that I have not gone so deep into a rabbit hole of just being a cranky old bitch that I can’t turn crawl back out. Comparing notes with fellow “caregivers” and others who find the world just a little “off” right now help me realize that I’m not as crazy as I think I am (or others are as crazy as I am?).
Now I’m dwelling on St. Augustine’s observation: “This awful catastrophe is not the end but the beginning. History does not end so. It is the way its chapters open.”
Let’s see where that takes me.
10 February 2023
People are fairly predictable. We all need a sense of belonging. As much as I enjoyed poking fun at tourists in my last post, the reality is that they’re just being (annoyingly) human.
Only one in three Floridians is actually a native. A variety of reasons have brought people here. (I’ll stick with modern migration, saving colonialism for a possible future rant.) Many have blended into their new environment. Many more seek to recreate the home that they return to annually or the home they’ve left permanently. They flock together with like-minded and like-rooted folks. This just compounds the bizarre cluster of craziness that makes Florida what it is. (Thanks to Gary Mormino for highlighting this for me – his Dreams in the New Century: Instant Cities, Shattered Hopes, and Florida’s Turning Point offers a great current historical perspective on the state.)
People act with their own frame of reference in mind. I’m here on vacation! (So everyone else much be!) I can afford to own two homes! (Never mind the service workers who have to commute to the islands every day because they can’t afford one place to live here.) I’m on my way to have more fun with all my friends from wherever we’re from! (Excuse me for being in your way.)
I’ll never be a Conch, no matter how long I am a local in The Keys. For years I struggled with the fact that I was never fully embraced by any place I’ve lived after leaving the place I was born. I will ALWAYS be a girl from Indiana Harbor. I will be able to relate to anyone from there, because I’m from there. But, I have no desire to transplant The Harbor everywhere I go. Maybe that’s why I admire those who travel and want to meet new people and see new places for what they are, not what they want them to be.
In his To Belong Or Not To Belong, Ricardo Gonzalez notes, “The very people who, before, were seeking inclusion, historically tend to become exclusive.” On that note, grow where you’re planted or transplanted without becoming a weed or invasive species.
2 February 2023
Six more weeks of tourists. Gotta love South Florida weather forecasts. This morning’s spin on Groundhog Day fit right in with what I had planned to write about next.
I have embraced the crankiness of locals. The relative calm of uncrowded roads and stores starts to become disrupted a little around Thanksgiving and Hell Week hits with Christmas/New Year. Hurricane season starts looking inviting around now. It’s not so much the fact that people like coming here. That’s how I ended up choosing to live here (because of the weather, certainly not the crazy shit politics of greater Florida). Tourism does fuel the economy of the area. It’s just that a lot of the people who invade this time of year act like jerks.
Now I get why, at one time, bumper stickers with “Welcome to Florida, Now Go Home” and, “If It’s Snowbird Season, Why Can’t We Kill Them” were popular at one time. It’s not that we’re mean people, it’s that:
- You think it’s cool to be loud everywhere. This includes encouraging your grandchild to loudly fake sneeze over and over again at the condo pool. Great, you’re here from Canada and they’re visiting you from who knows where. It’s not cute. It’s annoying.
- You act like a stranded baby seal on an ice floe in the grocery store. You are in America. The aisles are labeled. Yeah, maybe you’re mesmerized by the additional Goya food products or local beers that you don’t have in Oshkosh. Find your food and get out of my way.
- You need to socialize with someone you haven’t seen since last year, someone you just met when out drinking last night, or just someone who will listen to you in produce, in front of the meat counter, in frozen foods, or wherever the hell I need to get to at the moment. I don’t care what kind of amazing store you were in in Arizona where you could get a haircut, buy flowers, and grocery shop (an actual conversation between two old guys blocking not only produce, but one frozen food section at Publix this past week). Thanks for eventually moving far enough apart to let at least one cart through.
- You have no driving skills. Come on. There’s not even any ice here. The speed limit is 45 mph in most places for a reason. People like you. There’s one road going in and one going out. It’s one lane in most places. Don’t hesitate until the last second and then pull out in front of me. And then not even pick up the pace. Worse yet, go ahead and pass me and speed. Chances are you’ll get pulled over and get a ticket. And, yes, I will smile.
I could probably go on, but I won’t. I do try to be nice. I wore my “Be Kind” tie dye shirt on one of my last grocery visits to try to help my attitude. It didn’t work. All it did was make others think I was a tourist, too.
23 January 2023
It’s been a while. Honestly, I was ready to post that I was shutting down the site and moving on to other pursuits. While I’ve written a lot in my head, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably a really good thing none of it ended up on paper.
Writing memoirs about how screwed up your family / life / job / fill in the blank is has definitely become a thing lately. After reading a few, I thought, how cathartic would that be! In reality, it’s more like, you don’t get it because you weren’t there and, if you were, you probably have a totally different perspective on how things went down. I think the appeal of reading about others’ issues is highlighted by Tolstoy’s observation about families, “All happy families resemble one another, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” People from happy families read memoirs and think, “Oh my, I can’t believe that could happen to someone.” Some of us read and think, “Yeah. I get it. Here’s my version.”
Even putting a humorous spin on life crap sometimes isn’t worth it. Once it’s out, in writing, you can’t take it back. This meme kind of shut down any thoughts of posting a lot of what was in my head:
13 December 2022
If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve already seen the original tree picture. Here’s one with some added holiday touches:
And, the Chemo Tree song:
Oh chemo tree, oh chemo tree
Encircled with ID bracelets
Oh chemo tree, oh chemo tree
Encircled with ID bracelets
Boughs so empty in past summer time
Quickly filling up since that time
Oh chemo tree, oh chemo tree
Encircled with ID bracelets
It’s been real rough
But you are tough
Good health will come
When you’re all done
Oh chemo tree, oh chemo tree
Encircled with ID bracelets
Oh chemo tree, oh chemo tree
Encircled with ID bracelets
Treatment end is near
Oh chemo tree, oh chemo tree
Encircled with ID bracelets
On Baptist Health
On awesome oncology care teams
The Miami Cancer Institute team at Mariners Hospital really got a big kick out of the tree picture and song.
21 November 2022
The end of November brings the end of hurricane season. (Although I just learned there’s still a 3% chance of storms after…) Rainy season was dry and windy. Now dry season is rainy and windy. It’s not a blizzard, so I’ll take a rainy 76 degree day in November without complaining.
Dreary weather is just making for a good excuse to keep doing what has kept me from writing. Creative juices have been flowing into crocheting every version of cute amigurumi animals I can find patterns for. And, writing about endless hours in medical settings and dealing with chemo-related health issues isn’t all that exciting. While my husband does admit that I’m obsessed with crocheting, he admits not all obsessions are bad. Translate that to, “I’m glad you have something you like to do while I sleep a lot because I feel like shit most of the time.”
November brought a subdued celebration of 30 years of marriage. How does that much time pass so quickly? Hoping that 31 is celebrated with a little more healthy energy!
Thanksgiving brings being thankful for things I never expected. I get a kick out of finding gifts that are unique and special surprises. (It’s that Individualization theme in full throttle!) Wanting to thank the great oncology team at Mariners Hospital, I chose to go with a sweet treat. Going with one of the best things to come out of Fort Wayne Indiana did not disappoint. I think I’ve created some chocolate addicts thanks to a DeBrand’s delivery. Haven’t found a match for them yet.
I think Individualization is getting me through a lot lately. Some of the animal creations are being gifted. Looking forward to seeing how a whiskey Advent calendar works out (I’m surprised a certain someone hasn’t broken into it yet). And, once the “chemo tree” makes its holiday debut, I’ll share a pic with the accompanying parody of “Oh Christmas Tree.”
5 October 2022
What initially prompted this post is a follow up to the burning question about the “unhappy” oncology nurse mentioned in my previous post. Well, the answer is, not having to poke a patient who has bad veins must be a relief. The nurse in question has been chatty and happy ever since she hasn’t had to make my husband squirm with multiple needle sticks. This experience and our experience during the latest tropical storm have given me hope that people are kind in general.
We were incredibly lucky not to be in Ian’s direct path. Seeing the destruction left behind not so far from us is heartbreaking and terrifying. It could just have easily been us and one day might be. We did have storm surge and neighbors jumped in to help move boats (like ours) to safer spots in our channel marina or to spider them in the center of the channel. (I won’t go off on a rant about continuing to own a boat that “someone” doesn’t have the energy to care for or enjoy right now. Unfortunately, we are not Amal and George Clooney [referencing how they never argue] and tropical storms can bring out the worst in some of our attitudes. OK, mine.) The “men,” as our downstairs neighbor calls them, jumped right in. Slightly antiquated thinking, but I wouldn’t have been much help anyway. I think they get a kick out of doing stuff like this. One guy jumped into the channel with a rope in his mouth and swam over to the other side to tie the boat off to a tree. I commended him on his effort.
Of course, just when I find some hope, I experience jerks. Hoping to enjoy yet another quiet late lunch after the last infusion appointment, we decided on a little spot we hadn’t frequented in a while. There were a couple of people at the bar and one couple at a table. Time to enjoy a nice view and great food! Unfortunately, that wouldn’t last. A couple of women and their dog arrived shortly after. Everything was fine until the dog decided to start yapping at the resident cat. That stopped only to have one of the women make a very loud speaker phone call to another woman who started ranting about how the country has gone to hell because of all the illegals who don’t understand our values and the days of baseball, apple pie and America are over. She’s ready for the revolution. Trying to keep up (poorly), the chick at the table agrees loudly and starts talking about that show where they ask people on the street questions and they’re all so stupid. I’m thinking to myself, aren’t those usually Americans? Luckily their food came – food delivered by a dude I’m sure isn’t from here and cooked by one who I’m pretty sure isn’t from here.
They were quiet for a while. When the waiter asked how the food was, the loud chick said the nachos were a little soggy, but, you know, when you’re hungry… He made the mistake of laughing; it just made her think she was SO funny she had to repeat it. He offered to bring them something else and, not surprisingly, they took him up on it. As much as I wanted to make some parting comment, I didn’t. I tried not taking too much satisfaction in imagining why the nachos might be soggy knowing full well that even the kitchen staff would have heard the bigoted commentary coming from that table.
Still holding out hope for humanity.
10 September 2022
So, I guess my commentary has been a little less than uplifting lately. I did look for ways to put a funny spin on a few things, but it just wasn’t happening. There have been some positive little pieces along this latest journey, so I’ll try to highlight those.
It has been nice meeting a wide variety of professionals from diverse backgrounds at Miami Cancer Institute and at their satellite center at Mariners Hospital in Tavernier. These professionals take pride in their work and have a true sense of service. There’s only been one person I’ve encountered who doesn’t seem to either like her job, may be going through something in her own life, or just finds my husband to be a “difficult patient.” (After swearing he’d never get a port put in, it’s obvious that his veins are not going to be cooperating, so one is going in on Thursday. Friday will be the test of the previous theory number three on the unhappy nurse.)
The main MCI location instituted an Arts in Medicine program in 2021. Professional musicians perform in various areas. There are art therapy programs. It’s all very cool. It also feels like musicians on the Titanic, depending on your mood. I chatted with one of the musicians in an elevator the other day. She helped normalize some of the feelings we were having. Sometimes, patients find performances soothing; sometimes patients wave her away. Three weeks ago (Round 1 Week 1), Glenn’s initial infusion had to take place in Miami. After getting up for a restroom break, on my return I got “stuck” behind a singing troupe working their way around the 50 or so infusion rooms. It seemed rude to cut in front of them. (What’s proper protocol for maneuvering around singers in a tight space anyway?) So, I just kind of hung out until they turned the corner. No instrumentals or singing at Mariners, but their TVs work a little better.
After Round 1 Week 2 started shorter (around 3 hours versus 6 hours) infusions, we started what we hope will continue to be a tradition of going out after treatment. With an added boost of energy thanks to steroids in the infusion cocktail, why not? We even stuck to it when Round 1 Week 3 was a suck fail due to stick issues and someone saying the words “chest pain,” which is an immediate ticket to the ER. After the afternoon in the ER with two IV lines and numerous more sticks, no heart attack, and signing off on refusal to spend the night for observation, we went out. And, with Round 1 Week 3 rescheduled for Friday, we “had to” go out again. (This wouldn’t be so unusual for most people, but we really haven’t been ones to go out much. I’m weird and like to cook.)
I’m getting even more reading done. Not that it had been on my list, but I decided to read “The Satanic Verses” after Rushdie got attacked. (The guy might need help paying his medical bills – thought I’d help.) It won’t be on my list of favorite books of all time (sorry, Salman!), but at least I (kind of) get what the big deal about it was.
I’m also working on more crocheting – a worthy of wearing in public cap this time. If you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw the “OK, it’s been a while, you can wear this one at home version.” Had to do something with the orange yarn I bought when I was going to make amigurumi goldfish and gave up. (I have some left – I will attempt again!) Good Tennessee Vols color to celebrate Glenn’s postdoc school.
I’m (maybe…) developing more patience. I’m still hopeful that recycling what we can is helpful, even while trying not to think about how much medical waste is generated by millions of procedures every day. And, I’m hopeful that this post was a little more entertaining than the past few!
6 September 2022
My father would have been 102 years old today. It’s been almost 19 years since he died. Assuming I live as long as he did, it will be another 23 years before I get to that age. So much happened in the world over his lifetime. So much happened in my own life since his passing. So much doesn’t seem so long yet, lately, so little seems like an eternity.
Longing for time to do nothing – which really means doing nothing and not thinking about all the things you should be doing – can be a huge disappointment when it actually becomes a reality. It all depends on how you look at it. Watching others trying to cram in every moment of fun into a long weekend before having to drag themselves back to work just seems like a sad, mad dash to stretch time. Then again, watching the drip, drip, drip of toxic chemicals each week and trying to predict what discomfort they will bring to someone makes a few hours drag into an eternity.
What will 12 cycles of 28 days seem like a year from now, 20 years from now? A quick blip on a grander timescale or an eternity?
11 August 2022
When in doubt, don’t do anything. Good advice for uncertain times. That’s where I find myself.
After a week of dealing with appliance FUBAR, it’s obvious that some major purchases are burdened by a lack of communication between sales, contracted delivery and removal of old appliances, and all levels in between. And, some independent contractors are so much about over promising and underdelivering, I have a lot of doubt regrading anything being done right to serve my needs. Two refrigerator purchases and cancellations due to a lot of unnecessary miscommunication seems like overkill. So, I’m not doing anything.
While wondering what future my experiences are preparing me for, I’m at a loss as to whether I will be in solitary confinement, a reclusive monastery, or just searching for some human connection. So, I’m not doing anything. Should I look for some relevance in a useful job, or should I wait to see what twelve months of chemo / immunotherapy will demand of my time as caregiver? So, I’m not doing anything.
I imagined a whole lot of not doing anything, but I’m not sure it was this type of not doing anything I was anticipating. Or, maybe I did.
18 July 2022
It’s been hard not to just go off on a rant over the past few weeks. Forcing myself to be hopeful in light of the current state of politics, economics, the environment, and extremism has been a chore. It took me most of “The Book of Hope” by Goodall and Abrams to break through a whole lot of built-up cynicism and growing hopelessness. What finally nudged me back, if only just a little, was a quote from Einstein on page 205. “The harmony of natural law…reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”
That was followed closely by this week’s Tiny Thought from Farnam Street, “The source of problems is blindspots. There is something hidden from us that, if we knew, would change how we thought and acted. One of the best ways to reveal blindspots is simply to lengthen your time horizon. A lot of good advice simply boils down to thinking longer term.”
Most of our personal and societal problems stem from not thinking long term. We demand immediate fixes and then can’t understand how we didn’t anticipate all the unintended consequences that come after. We attempt to disrupt the harmony of natural law and are surprised with Mother Nature slaps us in the face.
So, if perpetuating hopefulness requires action, at least in my interpretation of Goodall’s explanation of hope, and action perpetuates hope, a focus on long term thinking is the key. What positive change do I (we) want and what am I (we) going to do to get there? Most importantly, does that want reflect the harmony of natural law, of a superior intelligence, and not the simple thinking and acting of human beings?
22 June 2022
This is the anniversary of my arriving in and permanently moving to Key Largo. The year has been like what I thought it would be and, in many ways, not at all like I thought it would be. Pretty much life continued.
Probably my biggest concern when I first arrived was finances. Even with my husband’s very nice retirement income, we were going down to less than half the income we had before I left work. I would be waiting at least six months before I received any of my Indiana retirement. Always cognizant of money coming in and going out (I do the bill paying), I was just a tad freaked out. I started paying attention to how much things cost more than I ever did. One piece of advice – never calculate the cost of a square of toilet paper. It’s just not worth it. Lesson – it is amazing what you really can do without. This includes over half a wardrobe, lots of furniture, and general stuff that we had no room for – less can be more.
If I’m tallying things and events, we’ve gone to 44 appointments diagnostics /procedures for my husband over the year. I’m reading my 51st book. I’ve written 13 recommendations for colleagues. I’ve done four Early Learning Review visits for Cognia – two of those as leads. I’ve maintained a 278 day learning streak studying Spanish on Duolingo. Even though I hated it at first, I do Wordle and Scholardle daily as another “brain exercise.” If I don’t do my morning one mile walk, I find that I’m a real bitch by the end of the day. I do need to get back to incorporating yoga and weights on days I don’t walk.
Walking is one of those grooves I was surprised I stuck with. Of course, it’s not like I have the excuse of it being “too cold” in the winter. More like mosquitoes during rainy season… Walking, reading the Miami Herald online, breakfast, and some brain work are the norm most days. I can actually watch CBS Mornings and The View most days, something I enjoyed on days off from work. All the “boring” day to day stuff is still there too – laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping.
I was in one of my funks about “the mundane” the other day. It’s like I was bummed because retirement isn’t one gigantic party or something. When you’re working, you spend time thinking about all the things you’ll do when you’re not. So why was I turning retirement into a job by being pissed off that I wasn’t constantly doing all this FUN stuff? As is usually the case, the universe gave me a slap upside the head with some quotes I came across:
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon
From Laurie Santos, Yale happiness professor, “We can become much happier if we work towards it, but often the conception we have of how to do that isn’t right. That means we go about it wrong, and that can be problematic in and of itself, in part because you’re like, ‘I’m seeking happiness, I’m seeking happiness,’ and that makes you not present. It might make you a little selfish.”
So…back to being present and enjoying things as they come: tending to plants in the terrace “garden,” enjoying the occasional leisurely boat ride, trying yet another new recipe, catching up with friends, and so many more simple things – all the “little” things that make life special.
I know I will continue to struggle with “being relevant.” I thought I would be volunteering with some organization helping sea creatures. I thought I would be seriously building up a paid client base for coaching. The regular, consistent time commitment both would take is just not something I’m ready for just now. I started following local school district board meetings and just got frustrated with some of the things I was seeing. I ran for our condo board, but all the incumbent members were re-elected. When a Cognia representative encouraged me to get certified to lead Early Learning accreditation visits, I gave it a shot. It gives me a chance to pick and choose when I work and it makes me feel relevant. Good fix for now. I was also invited to apply for a part time regional position with Cognia. Of course, this would mean more of a regular time commitment. I found out yesterday that I wasn’t chosen and, despite a momentary disappointment, I was relieved. I think the universe just validated I’m on the right track.
5 June 2022
One of the best growth experiences in my life was getting trained to be a Gallup Strengths Coach. I’m excited to attend the Gallup at Work Summit this week. It’s virtual for the third year in a row, making it very affordable to take some time to be inspired at home.
While I imagined doing some professional coaching by now, I’ve enjoyed doing more informal coaching as opportunities have come up. The skill set has certainly been useful in my work with schools through Cognia. And, in working on being the best me I can be, a little self-coaching goes a long way.
Gallup recently shared a compilation of all 34 themes with quotes matched with them. My top 5 – Learner, Responsibility, Input, Relator, and Individualization – are highlighted here:
I’m going to go back and add my 6 – 10 for a better visual of my top themes with my supporting themes. Hoping to pick up some new ideas this week, too!
26 May 2022
It’s a coincidence that I’m reading Martha Beck’s The Way of Integrity when I come across a letter from March of 2009. Because of the book, I’m compelled to write about it.
The past year has been about downsizing. Certain items just weren’t going to make the move to a smaller place. Other items, tucked away and not taking up much space, could wait. I wasn’t looking for the letter or even planning on going through the entire accordion file – just weeding through old medical documentation that might be relevant for my new local physician. But, there it was. I know why I kept it. I kept it as proof that my mother was batshit crazy.
The letter was sent from the third address my mother had lived at since my parents moved to be closer to me. I would move her three more times before she would have her massive stroke and have to be moved into a nursing facility. Once again (in multiple colors, full of stickers, writing in the margins (a jumble of mostly Polish and some English), and numerous newspaper clippings of senior living locations) I read plea that she had to move again and that this was going to be the last time before she dies. She was being spied on by the complex administration. They were stealing from her. She wanted to move back to the first place she lived with my father before he died because it wasn’t that bad and they didn’t steal as much as they did in this new expensive place she was living. (And, yes, I would have to also hear this numerous times. I guess the letter made it “official.”) As usual, I had to make this happen because I owed her for being the wonderful mother she was.
That’s what I’ve always done. I take care of things. Never mind that there was no evidence that any spying, stealing, or other crazy things were happening. She told every place she left that I was making her move. It’s amazing how many of my triggers are associated with her. People blaming me for their actions, people telling me I “need to” do something, and people telling me I owe them because they did something for me… I should just let some of this resentment go. She can’t tell me what I need to do any more; she’s nonverbal now. She can’t write me letters any more; she can only copy words. All my seriously dysfunctional family experiences are in the past but, they made me who I am and, I’m good with who I am. Maybe I just needed that reminder.
15 May 2022
Sunday mornings I treat myself to grapefruit juice mimosas as I read the Miami Herald after my walk. This morning’s walk was cut short because I pulled something in my back yesterday – probably while tossing a week’s worth of laundry into the wash and yanking it out of the drier. Or, I’m just old. The short walk happened because the recycling wasn’t getting to the bins if I didn’t take it.
Quite the contrast from last Sunday when we were in northern Indiana / southern Michigan to check in with the parental units… Just for fun, my husband suggested we stay at Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park instead of the Holiday Inn Express near the toll road. It would be a bit of a longer drive, but it might be pretty. And, come to find out, the inn puts on quite the Mother’s Day brunch, so we planned on that for his parents. Around 1 am on Sunday, we realize there’s no water pressure. At 6 am, the situation hasn’t changed and, realizing that all I’m going to think about is not being able to flush the toilet, I throw on some sweats and haul my behind to the front desk. Water main break and possibly no water until Tuesday. Great. Nothing like packing up all your stuff to find another place to stay for three more days with someone who is rarely coherent before 11 am.
Morning hike in the woods ruined. Mother’s Day brunch ruined. Trying to call Mom and Dad at 6:30 am before they go to breakfast so they can tell them they’ll be eating lunch there amounts to the usual confusion whenever I call versus their son. (He’s still trying to connect to wifi at that moment.) Moving to the Holiday Inn Express in motion. Positive – I run into a former East Allen County Schools colleague in the lobby as we finish with our “eviction.”
Not unexpectedly, we have to wait on a room. At one point, I think a kid in the parking lot thought we were dead in our car. I did shut my eyes for a moment and Glenn was snoring asleep on the passenger side. Stupid kid was shaking the small blooming trees to make it “snow.” I don’t care if he was traumatized.
Hours later, showered and feeling human, we regroup to try to save Mother’s Day. Maybe, if we go early enough, we can get into Bill’s Steak House in Bronson. Miracles happen. We get a table right away and have some great food. I’m enjoying the start of my second mimosa (made with prosecco because they didn’t have champagne – not bad), paying the bill, when Mom says she doesn’t feel well. Like, I’ve got to go to the restroom, get some air, what kind of not well? She’s scooting out of the booth and almost falls over. Dad has a hard enough time standing and walking and he’s trying to hold her up. Between all of us and the amazing restaurant staff, we get her into the outer waiting area. She’s out of it, barely able to sit up, and mumbling about trying to stay alive until we visited. Someone who has announced herself as a nurse asks to pray over her as we ask for a call to 911 which Dad is protesting.
So, Mom goes off to Parkview LaGrange via ambulance and we follow (and beat them) with Dad crying in the back seat. About six hours later, we’re taking a rehydrated Mom and Dad to their place. Positive – (besides Mom being OK) I ran into a few people I now from LaGrange in the ER.
Luckily, the rest of the trip was a little less weird. Checked in with my mother who I’m pretty sure doesn’t know who I am. They love her at Life Care even though she does things like stealing knives and cutting up her clothes. At least she’s not stabbing staff or her roommate, I guess.
It’s good to be back home.
27 April 2022
The pressure to get things done, to see results, drives me a little too much, even in retirement. Because of this, not having the inspiration to blog about anything lately has led to needless frustration, guilt, and excuse making. While I have been doing some professional writing as part of school reviews the past two months and have been invited to do some other writing, not “tending” to my blog was just bugging me. Even the “green” #WordPrompt for the month wasn’t inspiring great thoughts.
Well, of course it wasn’t. Green means “go,” right? I look across the room at my phone charger – the green light tells me my phone’s ready to go. The same is true when I’m driving my car or crossing the street. Green embodies energy – even with negative things like being “green with envy” and overspending with my “greenbacks.” I want the plants on my terrace to grow lusher and greener. Grow, grow, go, go.
Today, thanks to an avocado seed, I learned that, sometimes, maybe, green can mean “stop and then go slow.” There were originally two seeds and I was pretty much ready to give up on the second one. Ever since I was a kid, the potential of growing an avocado tree was always a fun challenge. At one time, my mother managed to get a nice sized tree out of one of our experiments. Most of the time, however, the seed was dumped because of its perceived lack of potential.
Weeks have gone by. Seed two has a nice root (yay!) and what’s looking like the start of a shoot tucked inside the cracked seed. Not much else happening. Based on most of the stuff out there, more things should be happening by now. So I did more searching, and found a video with an Australian dude talking about how one of his seeds took eleven months to sprout. Eleven frickin’ months!?! Of course, my first reaction was horror in how many potential avocado tree lives I may have cut short.
Then, I looked at my little seed. Still creamy looking with a hint of green. OK, not giving up on it just yet. Then, I looked at myself and thought, sometimes words sprout when they’re ready. Sometimes, green means stop and then go slow.
13 March 2022
Maybe living on an island has made me contemplate bridges more. The only way to get to the mainland is via a bridge. The only way to explore the rest of our tropical archipelago is via numerous bridges. And, meandering along waterways, you have to know if your boat will fit under some of those bridges.
Some bridges take you there and bring you back. Some metaphorical bridges seem to be one-way. Crossing the bridge to retirement feels very one-way right now. Even some gig work coming up isn’t the daily grind. The bridge is still there, so trotting back across it wouldn’t be impossible. The bridges of time are a bit more problematic.
Moving through life doesn’t offer many do-overs. Infancy to youth, youth to adulthood, adulthood to old age, and then it ends. It starts getting complicated and scary when you reach a point where family and friends start taking those bridge exits. One day you’re just moving along together on that same road and the next thing you know, there’s one less traveler moving along with you. Where do those bridges go? When’s your exit bridge coming up? These are certainly questions that can consume way too much precious time while you still have time.
Focusing on bridges that go back and forth – existing connections between friends and family or building new bridges connecting strangers and communities seems to be a better use of time. You just never know what joy can come from crossing a bridge.
27 February 2022
“I don’t know who to shoot – they all look like us.” Last night’s news shared these words coming from a Russian soldier. How awful is this is so many ways?
On the one hand, here are people who share Slavic ethnicity, killing each other because a dictator told them to and forced the other side to defend themselves. On the other hand, how horrible is it to find it easy to shoot the enemy when they don’t look like us? In either case, the default is to kill.
In a bit of a gender spat, when I questioned why men always default to war and killing, I was challenged with, “Do you have a better answer?” I guess consciously choosing not to default to that isn’t an option.
22 February 2022
After reading a few biographies and visiting with family and friends that we haven’t seen for a while, I find the practice that Gates offers at the end of Chapter 5 compelling.
Three ways to practice compassion and loving kindness:
- Compassion: Sit quietly and review your life in ten-year increments, starting from when you were a child. Let a difficult or unskillful moment come to you. Feel how it felt to be in your body at that time. To see the world through your eyes as you were then. Then forgive yourself for being imperfect – for making mistakes – and for being a learner in this lifetime. Offer yourself forgiveness at least three times, then move on to the next decade of your life and repeat the process. Practice this as often as you need to, to become free.
- Loving-kindness: The phrases are “May you be safe,” “May you be healthy,” “May you be happy,” and “May you be at ease in your community.” The practice is to spend time offering yourself these phrases, then a benefactor, then a neutral person, then a difficult one. When you are done, sit quietly for a while and feel into the energetic resonance of loving-kindness humming through your body and mind.
- Use an abbreviated version of these practices and phrases throughout your day whenever you feel yourself contracting into negativity or expanding into the urge to pour love into the world. (pp. 238-239)
Reading Tony Dokoupil’s memories in “The Last Pirate: A Father, His Son, and The Golden Age of Marijuana” and, shortly after, David Maraniss’, “When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi,” I was taken back to some of my memories of my father. While the immigrant steelworker was neither a drug lord nor a football coach, some of the themes reflected on fathering revealed in both of these books were painfully familiar.
We visited with my husband’s cousin last week. We had not seen her, her husband, her and children in over twenty years, but it’s amazing how family memories and stories close those gaps. Their one son was visiting the area with them – now a successful entrepreneur, he was about eleven years old when I first met him. Did any of us know then, where we would be now?
And, yesterday, I had a chance to chat up some lovely girls – twelve, five, and three – while their mother caught up with her former medical school professor. Lots of conversations floating around that lunch table! Don’t ask a five year old what they think “old” is. I haven’t tried Gates’ “Compassion” exercise yet, but I think my five year old self would have answered the same way.
8 February 2022
The photo in my last post was a good representation of my brain state that day. Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemies. It’s like the story about the cheese sandwich. Two co-workers started eating lunch together daily. Each day one of the workers looks into his lunch bag and sighs. It’s another cheese sandwich. He complains that he hates cheese sandwiches – they’re dry and boring. This goes on for days until the other worker gathers up the courage to say, “Why don’t you just tell your wife not to make you cheese sandwiches every day?” The other replies, “I don’t have a wife.” Perplexed, the other asks, “Well, who makes your sandwiches?” The unhappy cheese sandwich eater says, “I do.” (Thanks to James Martin for this gem!)
So here I was, caught in a fog of overthinking, choking on a cheese sandwich, and not taking time to stop and just breathe and feel. It’s amazing what taking the time to look back at my Strengths Themes to see how I wasn’t “feeding” myself did to lift the fog and bring insight into what kind of “sandwich” I really wanted to have.
My top theme, Learner, wasn’t getting fresh exposure to new things and new experiences. I realized that all the reading I was enjoying was maybe masking a little frustration in my Responsibility theme. I felt like I was bringing dependability and loyalty to others, but I wasn’t filling the theme’s need of having the freedom to take on ownership. I could look at all my other top ten themes and see that I was stuck in what I was bringing, but not so much on what I was needing. So, I fed Learner by switching things up and diving into the Gallup Strengths Coaches Learning Series sessions which, as always, brought insight into how to work with others and ourselves. Not surprisingly, one gem shared related to conflict was, “Change is always preceded by awareness.” We easily forget that sometimes that awareness has to be our own.
6 February 2022
Gates speaks of mindfulness:
Stop and move from thinking to feeling for a few breaths throughout the day. Keep coming back to your body and your breath until it becomes part of how you enjoy life. Then do what you enjoy. (p. 189, Meditations on Intention and Being)
27 January 2022
I am not a patient person. As much as I enjoy a routine, I occasionally find tedium nerve-racking. Waiting for someone to heal, especially when that someone seems to be in no hurry to do so, annoys me. Of course, this is the completely wrong mindset to have when trying to support someone who has a collection of health issues with few answers as to why. Even though I knew this before reading “Gut feelings – disorders of gut-brain interaction and the patient-doctor relationship: A guide for patients and doctors,” it certainly hit home. (I forgot to mention this book in my latest reading list because I’ve lent it to a certain someone in hopes that it might trigger some self-assessment. It’s still waiting for him to open it.)
Even dealing with something as “simple” as cataract surgery has extended into a multi-week prolonged vision clearing journey. Apparently, not everyone has clear vision right away. It can take weeks. I know I can’t will or pray issues away for anyone, but I wish the universe would cut this guy a break. To be honest, I realize that I’m wishing the universe would cut me a break. It did (a little), by leading me to (yes, another book!) that I’m glad I chose to read last week. “Between heaven and mirth: Why joy, humor, and laughter are at the heart of the spiritual life” by my favorite Jesuit, James Martin. It kept me chuckling while waiting as my husband when through yet another procedure.
Finding humor in my impatience invites the universe to cut me a break. Humor can connect you to God. When I’ve opened myself to how ridiculous I am sometimes, I’ve always been rewarded by God’s sense of humor. How else do you explain leaving the ophthalmologist with stronger steroidal eyedrops (along with lots of encouragement) just to turn on the radio to hear “I can see for miles”?
13 January 2022
I am always amazed at how things seem to fall into place. The goal of this post was to share what I’ve been reading over the past few months. I had shared from Rolf Gates’ writing (and promised more), so I took a look at what the next chapter summarized. It was
Three Ways to Embrace the Spirit of Practice –
Make lists of:
- The virtues you wish to express with your practice.
- The virtues you wish to express with your life.
- The role models who have embodied those virtues for you.
Reflect on these lists often. (p. 149)
I have kept annual lists of my readings ever since it was a professional development log requirement in the school district I worked at prior to my final one. While many administrators disliked the “busy work” of doing this, I enjoyed looking back on the learning I did in the previous year. I continued the practice in my new district even though I knew my superintendent and then my school board really didn’t care that I did it. I did it for me. Now, I think I want to do it to share with others. Some of the most enjoyable readings have been ones recommended to me by friends.
In reverse order:
Reading now – Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown. She is a master of telling it like it is when it comes to human emotions. Great insight. I now have words to describe some things I’ve done and why I did them.
Breathe by Joyce Carol Oates. Parts of this novel were just a bit too horrific for me. If nothing else, I learned how I hope I don’t deal with the anguish of the death of a loved one.
Blood and Steel: Ryan White, the AIDS Crisis and Deindustrialization in Kokomo, Indiana by Ruth D. Reichard. Recommended by a friend, this was a hard read. The ugliness of people, driven by fear and greed, was at the forefront of intertwined stories of events in Indiana and the country in the 1980s. Not so different now.
Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart. At first, I wasn’t liking what seemed like a multicultural rip-off of “The Big Chill,” but I grew to love the characters and did cry like a baby at times.
State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny. I was pleasantly surprised by the page turning excitement of this novel and little frightened by the real non-fiction that I know was woven into it.
The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue. A creepy little mystery set in an Irish Catholic girls’ academy…
Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen. My goal is to read all of Hiaasen’s novels. I’m reading them all out of order, but his humor and attention to all things Florida, driven detectives, bumbling and greedy criminals, sexy chicks, and caricatures of people in general are SO enjoyable. The filming of an Apple TV series based on the novel will start next month in The Keys. It was hard not picturing Vince Vaughn as Andrew Yancy while reading this!
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. I should send Governor DeSantis a copy to read. He’d burn it, I’m sure. Everyone needs to know the full history of our country. Not so we hate it – so we never repeat past injustices.
Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach. I love her writing style. After enjoying Stiff (all about dead bodies) a number of years ago (recommended by someone during a counselor interview!), I knew I’d enjoy her take on true stories of animals behaving badly. Fun and enlightening.
The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. OK, Oprah said, but almost 800 pages?! OMG – one of the best books I’ve ever read. Take true history, family history, mix a little of the new “Wonder Years,” and some of “Our Kind of People” and that kind of gives you an idea of what you’re getting here. I did not want it to end. The last book that made me feel that way was Where the Crawdads Sing.
Florida by Lauren Groff. This collection of short stories was refreshing after her newest novel (earlier read, see below). I like her writing style most of the time. I read Fates and Furies (because Barack Obama said he liked it) a few years ago, but didn’t really remember it.
Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen. Love his stuff. Always good twists and turns. Almost made me feel guilty for moving here – the damned tourists just ruin everything.
How Humans Learn by Joshua R. Eyler. On my stack for a while – this was on effective college teaching. Amazing – adults and kids learn similarly.
Dew of Death by Joel A. Vilensky. On my stack for too many years. It’s the story of lewisite and gas weapons of mass destruction that started back in World War I. Quite the work by a former boss of mine.
Born to Build by Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Badal. Another in Gallup’s series of putting your best self forward and maximizing your Strengths. This focuses on entrepreneurship. I was frustrated with lack of consistency between my two Builder Profile 10 assessment results, so I didn’t give this book as much focus as I probably should have. I may revisit it later.
Counseling Suicidal People by Paul G. Quinnett. This was part of my QPR training supplemental pack and also on my stack for reading. Quinnett has brought so much hope to those who consider suicide as an option.
The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk. Recommended by a friend. It’s a philosophical fantasy that seems all too real in our current global state. It’s hard to believe it was published in 1993. A very interesting story of culture clashes and a fight for survival…
The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton. This was mentioned by a local morning news anchor and I’m glad I checked it out! Lives are intertwined in 1935 in a story combining Flagler’s Overseas Railroad, the fallout of the Cuban Revolution, and a hurricane.
Matrix by Lauren Groff. I both liked and disliked this piece of semi-historical fiction. I appreciated Groff’s research into the story. I like her writing in general. But, through the whole thing I felt like I did during a visit with a friend many years ago. One person reading this will get this. “I just can’t see you becoming a nun.”
So you want to talk about race by Ijeoma Oluo. I think I mentioned this book in an early blog. Another must read – a good in your face, this is how it is from someone who has lived it.
The Social Capital Quotient by Augustine Emuwa and Justine Gonzalez. This was another earlier mention. Anything Justine touches is golden – she’s building leaders up all over the world.
The Anatomy of Peace from The Arbinger Institute. I’m not a huge fan of the presentation style, but the lessons on what drive and perpetuate conflict are on point.
Wellbeing at Work by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter. Mentioned before. I am enjoying Gallup’s recent focus on wellbeing. The highlight of this book for me was the breakdown of each of the factors for each of the 34 themes.
Unwritten: The Story of a Living System by Lori L. Desautels and Michael McKnight. Lori is one of my heroes. The work she has done on neuroscience and the importance of relationships has revolutionized education.
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Also mentioned and quoted previously – a classic.
Escaping the Road to Nowhere by Jamelle Godlewski. Another one that was on my stack to read. Kudos to Jamelle for opening herself up to tell her story. She has helped so many in LaGrange and beyond. And, she can sometimes get my mother to stay for bible study when she volunteers at Life Care Center of LaGrange.
The Equity & Social Justice Education by Baruti K. Kafele. I loved how Kafele framed his message by using 50 critical questions we should ask ourselves as educators on how to improve opportunities and outcomes for Black students.
Vital Friends by Tom Rath. This was recommended by some fellow Gallup Coaches a while ago and it was one of my first retirement reads. Rath does a great job explaining why we need a variety of different supports through different friendships. I won’t lie, I haven’t done the assessment yet. I was still missing work friends terribly when I read it and didn’t want to focus on that.
Wow! This ended up a lot longer than I expected. If you find something you enjoy reading because of it, great! If I bored you, my apologies! Back to my book…
8 January 2022
Epiphany will never be the same for me. The Twelfth Day of Christmas, Three Kings Day, used to be the target date for putting away the holiday decorations and blessing the new year. Because of events on January 6, 2021, it will always now be the day this country crossed a line. Pushed over an invisible line of civility, sanity, and decorum, we became an even more fractured multitude of those who believe that the only way to get your way is to take it by force and those who are in complete shock that something like this could even happen. There can be no middle. Unless there is a concerted effort by those blinded by shock and those who believe “this too shall pass,” it won’t.
David McGrath, in a recent Chicago Tribune piece, “My resolution for 2022: Challenge the American obstinocracy with intelligence,” is committing to challenge “fire” with “judo.” We know that the underlying anger leading to those events last year was based on fear. Those who are angry about elections being stolen fear those who are becoming a more active part of democracy. Those who are angry about what might be scarring and scaring their children in schools fear that, if we learn about past injustices, we just might want to change the world.
Fear gains power through anger when it is fueled by hate. Hate gives violence legitimacy when the enemy is “the other.” The epiphany of what we saw is that the mentality of colonialists who trampled across the New World percolated to the surface that day. Kill what gets in the way of what you want. Convert those who don’t believe as you do. If they refuse, kill them, too. And, it’s all good, because you are doing it for the glory of your race, to bring back the greatness that has been lost.
Which “fear” will win in the end? I’m hopeful it’s the fear of hate that will be driven by intelligence.
31 December 2021
I told myself that, if I didn’t write anything before then, I would do a post when I received my first retirement payment. That happened. So, what has mentally been kind of a six month “vacation,” has turned into “official” retirement. Not sure what I expected to feel other than maybe a little less worry about finances in general. No complaints on the last day of 2021.
The start of 2022 brings a welcome end to “the holidays” – unlike most people, the frenzy of the “happiest time of year” does not make me jiggle with joy. Dealing with life stuff is so much easier without the unrealistic expectations of constant happiness just because the calendar says so. I’d much rather experience planned and unplanned moments of happiness and joy throughout the year instead of gambling on the chance that a couple of weeks in winter will miraculously grant that to me.
Apologies to those reading this who are feeling down because holiday time does that for you and it is coming to a close. Trust me, I get it. Wishing us all regular bouts of joy throughout 2022!
12 December 2021
As a new transplant to The Keys, I’ve had friends ask about weather and seasons and what our new world is like. We had a wonderful time hosting some friends who were visiting the area this past week and this prompted me to finally put together a tongue in cheek “transplant” reflection on weather with some real stats. Of course, we haven’t been here an entire year yet, but we certainly visited a lot at various times as we prepared to move here.
I’m sure I’ll be adding to this as time goes on, but it certainly highlights this transplant’s reality so far!
2 December 2021
Early in 2021, I started thinking about a milestone birthday coming up in November. Even though the big 6-0 was going to land on my favorite of all holidays, Thanksgiving, this was the first decade that was giving me some pause. I projected my thoughts to that day and decided that, if I didn’t draw attention to it, it wouldn’t be so bad. So, I removed the date from my Facebook profile and forgot all about it.
As Thanksgiving approached, I was happy we would be in our new home after a pre-holiday visit to family. The turducken was in the freezer, I had a couple of new recipes I wanted to try (buttery pull apart rolls and a Basque cheesecake), and I was looking forward to a cozy dinner for two and not really dreading the whole birthday thing.
November 25th arrived and I had some nice early email wishes from a handful of friends, a Facebook post from one, and a couple of cards from my husband. The clock hit 9:27 am (the time of my birth) and moved on without incident. And then, it was quiet. Well, it is Thanksgiving, I thought to myself. No one’s going to be on Facebook to notice that it’s my birthday.
By midday, I was a bit irritated. No one? Come on! Even I send birthday wishes to people I barely know when their day pops up. (Unless, of course, their posts have pissed me off of late. Rarely, but sometimes, I pass.) How could I have offended every one of my Facebook friends?
Then, I remembered my not wanting the attention I now craved. I did have to laugh at myself once I did verify that I actually did remove the big DOB from my profile. It’s back. Maybe I’ll want some attention for the big 6-1.
22 November 2021
We took a very quick, early Thanksgiving trip north to visit family and connect with a few friends. As unwelcome as the experience of snow was, it reminded us why we moved to Key Largo.
Back home and back into our routine, Saturday was cleaning day. (SO exciting, I know!) I was done with my chores and doing something in another room when I heard a panicked, “Oh my god, oh my god!” coming from the living room. Of course, my first thought was, “Shit, he’s having a heart attack!” only to find my husband looking strangely catlike, grabbing for a tiny gecko scurrying around on the floor. He made the first predator error – grabbing the tiny lizard’s tail. It detached quickly. Surprisingly, he managed to scoop the gecko up and I assisted by opening the door to the terrace.
We watched the motionless gecko on the terrace floor. Amazingly, the detached tail was twitching furiously and did so for another minute or so. After a sigh and, “I think I killed him,” the tiny, tailless lizard scurried away.
We’re still trying to figure out how and when he got in. I wonder which of us will be the the next to lift up the floor lamp that seems to be a good gecko hiding place. Lizard in the house – definitely better than snow.
11 November 2021
There’s just something about time change that triggers heightened emotions for me. I thought it would be different moving to a place where there’s less of a disruption in daylight patterns, but I guess not. Everything feels more intense, but it’s comforting to know that, once the winter solstice passes, everything will seem a little more even keel.
There’s been a lot written on emotional regulation thanks to the pandemic adding another layer to our collective emotional instability. An article I read this morning introduced me to Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions:
I imagined spinning it to see where it might land.
I knew that it is easier to get sucked into negativity than positivity, but the article made me realize why. There are more negative emotions than there are positive ones. It’s a basic evolutionary matter of survival. And, the more we fight those natural survival mechanisms, the more miserable we can become.
We can all benefit from taking a moment to analyze the why behind what we are feeling, especially if it’s the strongest of all of the emotions – fear. I believe that fear is driving most of our angst now. Fear of a very a uncomfortable death thanks to the pandemic, fear of disrupted social institutions (no matter which “side” you associate with), fear of an unstable economy, fear of the unknown. And, sometimes, just fear of the dark.
2 November 2021
I had promised more from Gates, so this is from his second chapter. Three ways to practice nonviolence:
- Practice self-care like everything else depends on it.
- Make a commitment to do no harm.
- Practice kindness, honesty, and generosity all of the time, everywhere, in every circumstance.
Not exactly what you might have expected, right? Yet, if we don’t care for ourselves first, how can we truly care for others? I struggled for many years with the concept of “love others as you love yourself.” I loved others, or so I thought, but I hated myself. Unless we love ourselves, with all our imperfections, we can never truly love others.
As for imperfections, I’ve been working on this blog thing. I wanted the blog page to be a running record of posts, but to do that AND let any of you wanting to read my ramblings know that I’ve rambled, I have to do separate posts. So, I’m going to post and paste my posts onto the blog page. Let’s see how this goes…
25 October 2021
Today’s daily inspiration quote made me reflect on a recent experience. The quote was from Thoreau, “That virtue that we appreciate is as much ours as another’s. We see only so much as we possess.” We see our world through our own lens and really don’t think about it much until we face another reality.
Especially on weekends, a walk to the gazebo in our condo complex gives a view of families gathered for Sunday picnics, swimming, fishing, or just chilling out at the town park next door. It takes me back to summer family Sundays as a kid. Simple picnic in a park. Food packed in a cooler. Folding lawn chairs. A simple, blue collar, lower middle class good time. Despite my background, I’m sure some of those folks looking in our direction, don’t see me that way. I may be seen as some “rich” person living “over there on the other side of the fence.” Don’t get me wrong, there’s some serious money living here among us, but it’s all relative.
Last week, I had a chance to experience Ocean Reef. We’ve been looking for a new boat. Our little aluminum fishing boat isn’t exactly suited for Keys salt water and is a bit too small to safely get to reefs where we’d like to snorkel. One potential boat dealer happened to be in Ocean Reef.
After being grilled by the friendly officer at the gate that provides the only road access in and out of the complex, a call to the Marine Max office confirmed that we, indeed, had communicated that we’d drive up. No, we weren’t terrorists or petty thieves who wanted to prey on the millionaires and billionaires living there. Seriously.
Seriously? This place has two golf courses, a hospital, an airport, stores, restaurants, a K-8 school, huge homes, and plenty of docking for yachts. The super rich zip around on golf carts. All business transactions are made with your member number. While we were greeted warmly at the showroom and encouraged to do business with them, I could not imagine an ongoing relationship with this space. The nice sales guy (regular guy like us), shared a story about the Whaler we were looking at as a sample of the model we were interested in. It had been a birthday gift to a 15 year old resident. Apparently, the young man threw a hissy fit because he was expecting a bigger boat. His mother was not very pleased that he didn’t appreciate her little token of affection.
I don’t regret our little visit to look over the side of a much larger fence. Happy to stick with my little world. It’s all relative.
12 October 2021
Ever get the feeling you’re being watched while you work on something?
So glad the camera was sitting right next to me at the time!
9 October 2021
I have to admit, I approached my recent outreach with a lot of trepidation. How quickly we become sensitive! It’s only been a few months since I left a position that was rife with people criticizing my work (usually for ignorant reasons – I can say that now!) and here I was, terrified that someone might suggest my writing was stupid. Of course, this work is a little more intimate than making decisions running a school corporation. Or is it?
I appreciate the feedback that has come in so far – either in the survey link or through email. My biggest surprise was that most of those responding liked the eclectic mix of topics. I was also surprised that no one said, “Why does it say “Subcrib” on this page?” It was making me crazy, thinking it was an unalterable part of the template. Go figure – sometimes you can fix things if you just try.
6 October 2021
I’ve kept this site relatively “secret” until now. A few friends had access to it. I think a few people might have stumbled upon it to look. While it’s been a bit therapeutic to put words to paper, I’ve realized that writing just for me isn’t enough. That’s probably why I never journaled much. When I used to write my “Friday Thoughts,” what I enjoyed most was when my words resonated with someone – even just one someone. So, it’s time to broaden my exposure. I’ll be sending out the survey attached here to a number of my contacts:
If you’re seeing it here, feel free to comment!
22 September 2021
On this first day of Fall in a place that doesn’t experience seasons like I’ve been used to until this point in my life, I don’t want to dwell on things that weigh my mind down. I haven’t mentioned food recently! Not too long ago, I had some success trying some new recipes.
After looking to purchase some form of fish sausage (just because) and not finding anything, I tried making some. I didn’t want to use a casing or just make patties to fry. I did a bit of a spin on a recipe I found. Using some leftover chucks of mahi, I ground it up with some butter and a mixture of spices, rolled it into tubes, and then rolled the tubes up tightly in plastic wrap tied off on each end with string. After a 20 minute boil, I had some pretty decent fish sausages to add to sauteed peppers and onions.
I don’t know if koftas are the current rage everywhere, but after seeing them featured in a variety of venues, I figured I’d finally try to make some deliciously seasoned lamb on a stick. I decided not to do a grilled version but failed to make what would have been a crucial modification. Good to know the smoke detector works.
Finally, I don’t know about most people, but when we buy those cheese or peanut butter crackers for travel snacks, the leftover packets end up in the pantry when we get back home. I wondered what kind of breading crumbs ground up cheese and wheat crackers would make. Pretty awesome on some chicken breasts…
I feel happy just writing all of that. Deep thoughts later.
16 September 2021
At the end of each chapter, Gains gives suggestions on ways to practice each theme he presents. On Effortlessness (p. 47):
- Choose faith over fear. In practice and in everyday life, allow your choices and your actions to flow from faith.
- Act in the service of what you are for rather than what you are against. Embrace what you are for and allow others the freedom to choose what they are for.
- Do nothing and be nothing: this is how we learn what to do and be with love. Sit quietly doing nothing and being nothing daily.
It all seems pretty easy until 2.5. I struggle with the current state of the world, specifically that of the United (un-united) States. Maybe striving for a state of effortlessness is something we can all work on…
10 September 2021
Today’s quote sums up my doing a lot of mirror adjusting lately. Watching rain drip outside my window and listening to some thunder is calming at the moment. I’ve had many words to write in the past weeks, but most would have just been angry as my mirror faced the past as well as facing a future I’m not ready to deal with yet.
I decided to read Gates’ “Meditations on Intention and Being” as an ongoing series of collected thoughts instead of using it as a daily reflection. I don’t think he would have minded that approach, especially since it did bring me to making myself come back to the present to recenter my thoughts and my intentions. I plan to share some of his wisdom in coming posts.
3 September 2021
Another one of those quote moments that comes at the right time. In any time of transition, what lies ahead may be exciting or terrifying. We control which it is.
2 September 2021
I found this yesterday:
Whatever prompted writing it before, seems familiar now.
26 August 2021
Something prompted me to document my daily assessment of the decomposing iguana yesterday. With heavy rains and winds yesterday afternoon and last night, it was washed off its coral rock resting place. Glad I have more than a mental picture left.
25 August 2021
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. W. B. Yeats’, “The Second Coming,” quote introduces Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and one of my latest reads. This classic and beloved African novel is a story of a man’s fall from grace intertwined with a story about a clash of cultures. It highlights the fragility of us all as humans – especially when we yearn for recognition, to be acknowledged as someone special. It highlights the arrogance of humans – especially when we see ourselves as recognized, as superior over others.
On a much lighter note, it compelled me to make fu fu. You can read about yams being pounded and then turned into a bread for sopping up soups only so much before you have to try it. (Or maybe that’s just me…) I didn’t pound any yams, but I did get pounded yam “flour” and made fu fu. It went quite well with my homemade fish chowder.
19 August 2021
Working on just being today…
12 August 2021
I know, yesterday was the one week point and I didn’t share my joy of the yumminess off what I call “salmon candy” every time I take that first bite. It turned out great. I’m considering adding red pepper flakes to the sugar cure next time to see if it brings some heat.
Pondering the food preservation “magic” of a chemical cure like the salt and then sugar combination of making gravlax was an interesting opposite to a process I’ve been observing over the past month or so on my daily walk. I contemplated documenting it with a daily photo, but chose not to. I may capture what I wish the “final” product will be in the future.
The process has been the opposite of preservation. It’s rare that you get to see the decomposition of an animal, but due to its location on a rock below a boardwalk, a dead iguana has remained undisturbed. The initial smell, bloat, and swarms of files prompted just a quick look before moving on. With time, the body has become a dessicated, leathery collection of skin. Most recently, a beautiful spinal column has been partially exposed. The “ugliness” of the initial decomposition process continues to reveal what we all know lies underneath. I’m hoping it remains in place long enough for the entire skeleton to reveal itself.
4 August 2021
OK, 24 hours later, the salmon comes out of the fridge! The next steps are easy. Unwrap the fish and brush off all the salt cure and give it a good rinse with cold water. Place the fish on new plastic wrap and cover with with sugar. (I use enough for a nice layer of coating.) Press the sugar in well and wrap the fish up tightly. Now the hard part – refrigerate for a week before serving. It’s worth the wait! Looking forward to tasting the version with the pepper flake cure!
3 August 2021
I haven’t written anything about food yet and today’s a great day to mention my new spin on gravlax. Being close to Key Largo Fisheries has already spoiled us. Don’t think fishing is going to be on our list of activities when “fishing” with our cooler is going to be so easy! Along with awesome fresh local fish, KLF sells salmon from the Farro Islands. Using some of yesterday’s “catch” for gravlax originally based on a Recipezaar recipe from 2004.
Starting with a nice approximately one pound piece of salmon, I mixed together a cup of kosher salt, a good sprinkle of dried dill, a good sprinkle of red pepper flakes (I suggestion I spied online yesterday), a couple of tablespoons of Key Lime juice, and a splash of Absolut Peppar vodka. With the salmon skin side down on plastic wrap, the well mixed combination gets packed on top. Wrapped tightly, placed in a plastic zip bag, it’s in the fridge, skin side up, and pressed down with a grill press. Let’s give it 24 hours to see what’s next!
30 July 2021
29 July 2021
Change can be hard. In gaining something new, inevitably something gets lost in the process. This isn’t necessarily bad, but loss usually brings some form of sadness in the process.
There have been mornings when I’ve thought, “I need to write something. Just do it.” I had nothing profound to say – nothing that would help me, nothing that would help someone else going through changes, so I kept words in my head. Surprisingly, I’ve been pretty dedicated to walking first thing in the morning. It’s gotten to the point where it doesn’t feel good if I don’t. This is a pleasant surprise. I don’t think that, without a change in location, this would have happened.
I’ve started to look at things in a comparative way. No alarm at 5 am lets me wake up when my internal alarm goes off. Not having a great time with work friends during the day has opened up time with someone I love dearly. While the new time together all day long has posed some challenges, it was the planned next step in our relationship.
Not having lots of time to read previously, I can now dive into the stack of reading that had been waiting for me. Finishing President Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land” gave me a greater perspective on Timothy Snyder’s recent New York Times piece, “The War on History Is a War on Democracy.” His quote, “History is not therapy, and discomfort is part of growing up,” has stuck with me. After reading “The Social Capital Quotient” by Emuwa and Gonzalez, I was moved to share a copy with a mentee who is beginning a new leadership role. Harvard Business Review’s Emotional Intelligence Series piece on Empathy brought some unique insights into the many facets of that attribute. Ijeoma Oluo’s “So you want to talk about race” was a profound, in your face, tutorial on the realities of living in a white supremacist society. And, now I’m on to Clifton and Harter’s “Wellbeing at Work” while working through Gates’ “Meditations on Intention and Being” daily reflections. Not too bad for a month’s reading. Oh, and I finally had a chance to watch “Hamilton.”
Although I’m still struggling with feeling like I don’t have a “purpose,” I am embracing the time to do things I’ve wanted the time to do. Yes, for those who know me, I already have a list of possible volunteer opportunities along with potential paid opportunities. But, for now, I’m going to stick with the plan to just be.
4 July 2021
When I was at a loss for my weekly “words of wisdom” for staff, I would inevitably come across something I needed to hear. As I opened email this morning, grumbling internally about the new pace I am struggling with, today’s Inspiring Quote set me straight.
So, I will savor the holiday and remind myself to savor each day, not rushing to get the next thing done.
30 June 2021
Not feeling my #10 Strengths theme, Adaptability, the past few days. Fighting going with the flow, craving structure, and certainly not being good at honest conversation about setting some mutual ground rules. Definitely an area of growth!
28 June 2021
One week ago, I started my journey south. After arriving late Tuesday afternoon, it’s been a week of unpacking. Unpacking stuff. Unpacking memories. Unpacking old ways of doing things. This morning started with what I hope will become a new ritual – a morning walk followed by some writing. With views like this, I may not need much motivation.
25 April 2021
After very slowly revisiting my work, I had a spark of inspiration this morning. As I often mention in my weekly “Friday thoughts” to our corporation staff, I tend to share things I needed to hear. Today, that was reading Leslie K. John’s piece, “Savvy Self-Promotion. The delicate art, and science, of bragging” in the May-June 2021 Harvard Business Review. What a great nudge to finish up my profile information and hit “launch.” If I’m going to try to encourage others to be vulnerable and embrace the journey of self-betterment, it’s time to model that myself.
8 April 2021
This is the beginning of something new. It may be a little while before I put more thoughts on this page, but this marks the birth of this new blog!