Too Bad to be True

I read that on someone’s blog.  I am sorry I don’t recall whose it was.

I am deeply sorry that such an expression is needed to explain the events in Charlottesville, VA, over the past weekend.

I am appalled beyond comprehension that white supremacists and other hate groups are crawling out of the woodwork.  That they are doing so and siting the green light from the President leaves me broken hearted.

Our country has a metastatic cancer.

I am ashamed of the state of my country.

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Theater

I had the opportunity to see the Peterborough Players present “The Producers,” a musical by Mel Brooks.  It was absolutely wonderful, so well done.  It’s been a while since I have been to a play although it is something I thoroughly enjoy.

“The Producers” was almost three hours long, but it was so fast paced and entertaining one hardly noticed.  The singing was impressive and the dancing was incredible.  If there was a misstep, I certainly didn’t notice.  The costumes were perfect.  It was funny and just slightly risqué.   It was far from politically correct, but I laughed through the whole thing.

The movie came out in 1967 or 68 and then was redone in 2005.  I didn’t see either movie but the immediacy of watching this on stage (we were in the middle of the fifth row) was a treat for me.

Trailer for the 2005 movie is here.

Lyme Disease

From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention site:

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosedbased on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks.  Laboratory testing is helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to preventLyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tickborne diseases as well.

Here is a list of the early signs of Lyme disease (Again, from CDC):

Early Signs and Symptoms (3 to 30 days after tick bite)

  • Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
  • Erythema migrans (EM) rash:
    • Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
    • Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days (average is about 7 days)
    • Expands gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more (30 cm) across
    • May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
    • Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or “bull’s-eye” appearance
    • May appear on any area of the body

These are the symptoms I had.  I thought I had the flu until I noticed the rash.  I am glad I did get that rash because I had no memory of being bitten,  The rash got me to the urgent care  — in truth, not because I was so worried about Lyme disease so much as I imagined the tick having burrowed under my skin, which freaked me out.  My symptoms and the rash were enough to prompt the doctor to put me right on a course of doxycycline hyclate.

I am grateful that I did get prompt treatment.

These are symptoms I did not have and don’t expect to have (but I won’t be complacent about it) due to prompt treatment:

Later Signs and Symptoms (days to months after tick bite)

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
  • Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)
  • Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
  • Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis)
  • Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Nerve pain
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Problems with short-term memory

It’s nasty and a growing problem here in Vermont.

Thanks Global Warming. (That’s one theory as to why the tick population has exploded here.)

 

Lessons on Being Unwell, 2

I finally made the decision to seek out a naturopathic physician in the area to help me deal with GERD.  But the day I made that appointment, oops.  I cam down with the “flu.”

Lesson #2: Never take your health and wellness for granted.

Oh, yes.  I do all the right things.  I exercise, I eat right, I have a social network.  I can be energetic but I can also relax.  I attend to my spiritual needs.  I meditate! I am, let’s face it, freaking invincible!  Until all of a sudden I am body slammed into bed with a fatigue so crushing I really don’t understand what hit me.  I was feverish and then chilled to the core.  I ached.  It felt like the flu,  What can you do about that but drink water and rest, wait it out?  Except after four days, I happened to notice what at first looked like a bad bruise, although it didn’t hurt, on my back.  It grew throughout the day.

I’ll skip all the details and get to the point.  I have Lyme disease from a tick bite I don’t remember getting.  But there have been warnings about the number of ticks and the incidence of Lyme disease having exploded in this area all summer long.

Ironic note: I lived for years next to a several acres field of tall grasses where deer often passed through.  I am sure it was loaded with ticks.  I had a garden where I spent lots of time all summers.  I move into a condo in town where I have no garden to tend and my walks are on paved sidewalks and wham!  Really, take nothing for granted.

to be continued . . .

 

Lion

I noticed that the movie Lion had been added to the Netflix line up.  I added it to my list and watched it Friday night.

I remember hearing about it. I knew it was about a boy who was adopted by a couple in Australia and who tries to find his birth family as an adult, but I had forgotten it was based on a true story.

I really enjoyed the movie.  It made me cry.  But while the tears were not in my eyes, Dev Patel is not at all hard to watch and the little boy who played the main character, Saroo, as a five year old was adorable.

A trailer can be seen here.

Poetry in the Garden

I contribute each year to Sundog Poetry because a.) I love to read and to write poetry,  b.) I am a nurturer by nature, and c.) this is an organization that is spearheaded by two women I treasure as friends.

Every summer there is a garden party/reception for those who support the efforts of this organization to bring poetry and poets to Vermont and beyond.  It is hosted at the home of Mary Jane Dickerson, whom I consider my mentor in poetry writing.

She is a poet and also gardener.  Hers gardens are actually a kind of poetry to my eye.

There are a number of people from my old town, where I had a large yard and where I was able to do some gardening, who have complimented my attentions to yard work.  I was neat, but I was not a gardener.  Not like this.

 

Getting Grounded

My college major was in speech and language pathology.  In voice science classes, I was always the bad example.  The professor was always telling me to breathe deeply with my diaphragm, to relax my muscles, to relax.  She often included a guided relaxation exercise which I now recognize as very similar to yoga class’ savasana  and guided meditation.

Did it work?  I learned to give the appearance of calm, but in truth, let’s just say I am still a work in progress.

In retirement — my children grown and independent, no daily commitments dictated by anyone but myself, and a comfortable life style — why would I feel anything but blissful equanimity?

HA!

Those early relaxation experiences did lead to a life long interest in yoga and meditation though.  Now that I am retired and on my own, I have time to indulge those interests.  So I am starting to notice more when I need to deepen my breath, to slow down and smell the roses, to be mindful.  Still a work in progress.

Recently I visited an intuitive healer who told me I was not grounded — as though I were floating above the ground.  Not so surprising since I think the transition back to Vermont life was bumpy this year.  I was feeling unsettled and a bit lost/lonely — cranky and out of sorts, free floating anxiety.  It really did seem as though my internal organs were rising out of position — acid reflux, shallow breathing, fatigue for no good reason.

Well, I am working on my root chakra*:

  1. Sit with feet flat on floor, notice the support of the chair seat and back, cross arms over chest and tap shoulder (first one then the other).  This is supposed to calm the nerves.
  2.  Yoga mountain pose
    • Stand up straight, with your feet together.
    • Spread your toes wide and grip the ground.
    • Roll your inner thighs back and draw the tailbone down.
    • Move your chin down and draw your shoulder blades together, place arms at your sides with hands facing outward.
    • Focus on the feeling of your feet rooting into the earth. Feel every inch of your foot: your toes and arches. Notice how the ground is solid and supportive.
    • Send the breath downward; your energy moves down the body into your deeply rooted feet. Now you might start to feel “grounded.”

    When we do this, even if only for a moment, we’re paying attention to the energy in the lower extremities instead of the head. We can rest the energy of the mind.

  3. Using ginger and eating other root vegetables.
  4. Using essential oil of cedar wood in my infuser.

*I think the whole notion of chakras make a convincing metaphor for healthy living. And none of efforts have any side effects beyond making me feel better.

Mind-Body Connection

 

Not that anyone needs to know this, but I have been suffering for a while now from persistent acid reflux.

I reached the point of popping antacids like tic-tacs. I have been up in the middle of the night with a gut on fire. Cutting out the known triggers — citrus, tomatoes, chocolate, wine, coffee — has not had a beneficial effect. Not to mention that cutting out those known triggers makes one wonder is life worth living?

It’s been going on for months now. I have thought about making an appointment with my doctor but then I play out that scenario in my head. A subscription for some more powerful antacid. Obnoxious tests involving chalky cocktails to find out that nothing conclusive can be found. Come back in four to six months. Not interested.

A friend told me that GERD is an auto-immune disorder and recommends a gut repairing protocol and adoption of a paleo diet. She is big time into that. Again, I ask is such a life worth living? I am willing to make life style changes and do a cleanse, but the caveman thing as a way of living is not interesting to me either.

Neither approach was interesting to me because I did not feel they addressed what is really going on for me. But I could not quite put my finger on exactly what is going on. My intuition is alive and kicking but not always so specific in its message.

So I went to see an intuitive healer who has helped me in the past. She reset energy centers using Jin Shin Shytsu and gave me grounding and deep breathing exercises to continue as follow-up.

Her diagnosis in a nutshell:

I suffer from Trump angst myself and have absorbed the angst of people around me. I should have known that myself. The problem started last November and has gotten steadily worse.

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This morning I watched the video of “the leader of the free world” push and shove his way to the front of a NATO photo opportunity. He is an embarrassment and he makes it most difficult to include him in a meditation on loving kindness. I guess I was being pretty dense not to remember that mental anguish can affect the body.

But I will continue to wish him happiness, healing, and peace. He is badly broken. I figure we need to hope for an end to the suffering of such broken people. Maybe then they will not feel the need to make everyone else suffer along with them.

Loving Kindness

I practiced meditation with a group over the past several months.  We usually sat for meditation, did some Qigong exercises, had a discussion of some aspect of the Buddha’s teachings, and concluded with a meditation on loving kindness.

I found this expanded version of the loving kindness:

In order that I may be skilled in discerning what is good, in order that I may understand the path to peace,

Let me be able, upright, and straightforward, of good speech, gentle, and free from pride;

Let me be contented, easily satisfied, having few duties, living simply, of controlled senses, prudent, without pride and without attachment to nation, race, or other groups.

Let me not do the slightest thing for which the wise might rebuke me. Instead let me think:

“May all beings be well and safe, may they be at ease.

Whatever living beings there may be, whether moving or standing still, without exception, whether large, great, middling, or small, whether tiny or substantial,

Whether seen or unseen, whether living near or far,

Born or unborn; may all beings be happy.

Let none deceive or despise another anywhere. Let none wish harm to another, in anger or in hate.”

Just as a mother would guard her child, her only child, with her own life, even so let me cultivate a boundless mind for all beings in the world.

Let me cultivate a boundless love for all beings in the world, above, below, and across, unhindered, without ill will or enmity.

Standing, walking, seated, or lying down, free from torpor, let me as far as possible fix my attention on this recollection. This, they say, is the divine life right here.

Translated and adapted by Bodhipaksa from the Pali Metta Sutta.

Just thinking it would be nice for the entire world to get on board…

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Controversy of Conscience

I belong to a Unitarian-Universalist Congregation where I attend during my winter stay in Florida.  Recently the annual meeting of the congregation was held and ratification of the following declaration was on the agenda.  The declaration was sent by the U-U Association, the central organization of the U-U churches throughout the country.

Declaration of Conscience

At this extraordinary time in our nation’s history, we are called to affirm our profound commitment to the fundamental principles of justice, equity and compassion, to truth and core values of American society.

In the face of looming threats to immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and the LGBTQ community and the rise of hate speech, harassment and hate crimes, we affirm our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

In opposition to any steps to undermine the right of every citizen to vote or to turn back advances in access to health care and reproductive rights, we affirm our commitment to justice and compassion in human relations.

And against actions to weaken or eliminate initiatives to address the threat of climate change – actions that would threaten not only our country but the entire planet – we affirm our unyielding commitment to protect the interdependent web of all existence.

We will oppose any and all unjust government actions to deport, register, discriminate, or despoil.

As people of conscience, we declare our commitment to translate our values into action as we stand on the side of love with the most vulnerable among us.

We welcome and invite all to join in this commitment for justice.
The time is now.

Not many among us were opposed to the words, although one person was distressed that the document took a negative stance — opposing rather than affirming.  I understand that, but it does not seem important enough an issue to send it back to committee for deliberation and rewriting.

Some objected to the political/partisan nature of the document. I suppose that is fair as well.  However, I would have to say I would favor actions to affirm the worth and dignity of all, to maintain equity in human rights, to protect the environment under any political climate.  Those are things I believe in.  My efforts may be different in religious community versus political activities, but believing in those principles are part of my being in this world.

There were a number of people who felt they could sign as individuals, but who were opposed to ratifying the declaration as a congregation.  Some felt very strongly that congregational ratification (by majority vote) was forcing them as individuals to sign something they were not comfortable signing.  I have to respect those strong feelings although I really don’t understand the reasoning behind them.

Democracy is messy.

The Declaration of Conscience was ratified.