Thursday, December 2, 2010
For reasons beyond my control, I've been voraciously drawn to reading mysteries lately. I've rekindled my passion for classics featuring my beloved Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple and have increased my thankfulness for the visions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. I've finally taken the advice of numerous friends and have been introduced to books by Daniel Silva and Ken Follett. Most recently, I've fallen in love with the wonderful juxtaposition of the Los Angeles Orthodox Jewish Community featured in the mysteries by Rochelle Krich. Each one of these novels of suspense have taken me out of my own life, and dropped me into a world of clues, lies, deception, secrets and riddles. I've had to face each conundrum and try to puzzle out the answer, along with the detectives. I've delighted in feeling completely overwhelmed by too many possibilities, and then been able to narrow them down to make "probable" from the "improbable". From Victorian drawing rooms to the seedy underside of lower Manhattan, I've relished the final moments of victorious revelation. My love of great literary fiction,whose prose elegantly flows off the tongue to create poetry on every page, has taken a backseat to "The Great Whodunit" lately.
The reason for this is simple: my health has taken a turn for the worse. Not only that, it has been an enormous mystery for my doctors. The type of cancer I had 7 years ago was rare enough then. I was the youngest person to have ever been diagnosed with it. Not only my own doctors, but others my mother consulted with, agreed: it was gone forever. To quote another thriller, "Poltergeist", "It's back...!". My doctors are stumped. Though the type of cancer I have is rare, and does have a 50% recurrence rate within 10 years, most specialists felt that this was not going to be the case for me. After 5 years, I pronounced absolutely "cancer free". To compound this, I began having excruciating nerve pain on one side of my head. It was agonizing, debilitating and completely humiliating. My neurologist is still working various scenarios on this piece, but thankfully, after many days of pain, the right medications are keeping me comfortable from a neurological perspective. How could two rare, complex and peculiar syndromes hit a seemingly healthy, 44 year old non-smoking yoga teacher? Why at the same time? What can be done to help me? These are puzzles we don't have all the answers too.
At the moment, I feel a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. My photo is staring back at me (and my doctors) on the lid. The pieces are shaped strangely. Some are easy to fit into place. Others seem to have no place at all, but because they came in the box, they must certainly fit in somewhere. The clues are there. The information is at hand in my scans, blood work, family history and symptoms. But, how to discern the entire cryptogram remains partially veiled right now. It's as if I'm my own mystery novel...and as much as I'd like to skip to the last page and say "Of course! That's it! How could we not have seen that before?", that's not how life, or medicine, works.
In the meantime, I'm learning to live as a walking cliffhanger. I've learned to clean my house, shop at the market, cook, take my dogs for walks, read, write and even sleep, not knowing what my physical state will be very soon. I am dealing with the ability to pay my bills, to send out holiday cards and to plan special events not even knowing what my future will be when these are all received. I won't lie: it's an awful feeling. I hate every moment of it. The past two months have been the beginning chapters of a mystery novel. I can begin to see the parameters of the quandary, but the more 'clues' I receive, the more confused I (and my caregivers) seem to be.
It's just like that first run I take when I ski in the winter: I know I'll catch myself (at worst, in a baby-like 'snowplow' down the mountain), but there is that moment of panic where my heart beats a thousand times a minute and I find myself thinking "Can I turn back, or can I really do this?". Unfortunately, there is no turning back on this run. I can't take the chair lift down the mountain in the ride of shame. I simply have to point my skis, small as they are, down the hill and trust enough to know that I can conquer this particular slope.
In the meantime, you can spot me in a coffee shop reading novels in which I can discover the end does eventually come, terrible occurrences will happen along the way, but good will triumph in time.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
|Life really is simple. We just insist on making it complicated. ~ Confucius|
- Dropped off the face of the Earth, to find myself in Yogic Purgatory, where nothing but Bikram Yoga is taught, and the only food available is from McDonald's....or
- Have been swallowed by a giant whale, spit out on the shores of Ninevah (or in my personal version, Siberia), and told to teach Yoga to the unruly citizens...or
- Went on a cross country camping trip, hiking the Appalachian Trail (which sounds like paradise to some, but in actuality, is terrifying to me)...or
- Took a vow of silence. Those who know me understand this would have lasted a miraculous 12 minutes and 19 seconds. I've tried.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
You’ll never have a product or price advantage again. They can be easily duplicated, but a strong customer service culture can’t be copied. ~ Jerry Fritz
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
I feel incredibly blessed to have lived at the beach in coastal Maine for the past 19 years. Despite the fact that I spent summers here in Maine growing up, I never thought I'd be a year 'round resident as an adult. I can remember playing on Maine's rocky coast with my cousins from the moment the sun would come up each morning, until long after it had set in the evening. The three of us would play never ending games of tag, we'd build forts using drift wood, we would have contests to see who could find the most sea glass and we would play endless games of "pretend". The beach would be a castle, being attacked by a dragon one moment, and a campground for pirates the next. It would transform into a house, a ship and an airplane within our imaginary world. Maine beaches are, for the most part, not like beaches most people imagine....they're craggy inlets bearing thousands of stones, with tidal pools holding their own miniature ecosystems. They aren't the same sand beaches one would see in California, Florida or Hawaii. They're more rugged, more austere and more remote. They're romantic, ever changing and full of surprises. My own children have found sea whelks, crabs, mussels, clams, rocks from every possible classification, and even bits of Maine life...a lobster buoy that floated away from its mooring, a perfectly polished mother of pearl shell, a bit of old shard pottery. They've watched the progress of a small hermit crab moving out of one shell and into another. The Maine beaches are always filled with the unexpected.
Our neighborhood is fairly new one, by New England standards. Once part of a much larger estate, the lots were subdivided and the ring surrounding our private cove was build slowly over a thirty year period. None of the houses are similar to one another, and each one has its own flavor and style. Over time, the houses have often changed hands and become summer homes for people who want to escape the humidity in Boston, Philadelphia and New York. It's not a 'tight' neighborhood in which everyone knows one another well. People tend to come and go with the seasons and have specific agendas for their homes and their own priorities. As a result, many of us simply aren't familiar with our neighbors. As the only house that currently has children on the street, I have often felt the need to 'shush' my kids when they've played outside, trying to respect the privacy of our retired neighbors. It hasn't always been easy to keep street hockey balls, and various toys, from sailing over the fence line into another yard. I have had to apologize for pink trees, due to my son's paint ball gun. It has been a constant challenge to find the balance between neighborhood peace and allowing my kids to 'be kids'.
The one aspect of neighborhood life in our cove that we all share is a mutual passion for our beach. We all enjoy it, and as it's so often deserted, we tend to feel very protective of our little slice of Maine heaven. Because I walk my dogs on the beach almost every day, I have come to know every boulder, every inlet, every landmark stone and every crevice quite well. I even have come to know where the best rocks for stepping on happen to be, so I don't twist my ankle as I walk. About a year ago, one large boulder, near the edge of the beach began to have mysterious designs on it that changed every few days. One day there might be a heart, created using bits of seaweed and drift wood. The next time I checked, I might have seen "Thanks" designed using mussel shells and tiny pebbles. Using materials found on our beach, I have spied the words "Faith", "Joy", "Hope", "Care" and simply a jolly "Hi!". Now, as I traverse my neighborhood on my daily dog walk, I smile more broadly at each of my neighbors. I can't help but wonder who the artistic communicator is with every "Good morning" I say. Is it the woman whose extraordinary garden has been photographed for many magazines? Is it the cranky gentleman who never smiles or says "hello" back...does he hide a secret soft side? Could it possibly be the elegant, but elderly, southern belle, who takes her constitutional strolls in heels and pearls daily? Since the words of blessing and greeting have begun appearing on the boulder at the beach edge, I've looked at my neighbors in an entirely new light. It has made me more patient, more understanding and more tolerant. I can't help but be fascinated by my speculation. It makes me think more gently of the neighbors who might complain about our dog getting out or our kids laughing outside at the bonfire at 10 PM. I can't help but speculate if the gruff exterior of one of these people hides the soul of a poet.
Yesterday, on Father's Day, I was missing my own father deeply. Though he passed away in 1998, I feel his presence with me. The feeling of mourning hasn't gone away. It's only been channeled into a way that I have learned to live with. It was because of my father, and his own love of Maine, that our family began summering here. Later, despite living in my mother's and my home state of California, we would continue to come to Maine as much as we possibly could. In all fairness, Mom and I weren't thrilled initially, but over time, we began to love Maine for all its beauty and solitude. When my father retired and my parents moved to Maine full time, it was natural for my husband and me to want to settle here too. In the years before my father's death, we had wonderful memories together, as he taught my own children about the magic of the Maine coast. As I was missing him yesterday, I took my German Shepherd for a stroll along the cove he loved so much. I sat down, and letting Mackenzie play in the waves, I looked out over the bay towards the islands we used to visit every summer. I felt closer to my dad that I had in a long time. With every breath in of the salty air, I could feel his spirit merge with my own. And yet, this being Maine, the sky grew black in a matter of moments and the rumble of distant thunder came rolling in over the mountains. I knew it was time to head back up to my house.
But, as I walked past the 'Message Boulder', I realized that it was blank for the first time in weeks. Without a thought of the impending storm, I methodically gathered my materials. Using a bit of crab shell, broken mussels and periwinkles, finding pebbles in an array of colors, as well as some pieces of driftwood and sea glass, I wrote I LOVE YOU DAD on the stone. The raindrops were just beginning to fall I finished up. Snapping the leash back on my dog, she and I raced up the path and down the street to the sanctuary of our house, myself laughing the whole way, and Mackenzie giving her excited Shepherd "Yip".
I can't help but wonder if my father could see my message to him...and if my imaginative word writing neighbor will appreciate my contribution. I can only hope so on both counts.