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Dreams

This morning my thoughts are of dreams. I’ve always been a dreamer. I believe our sleeping lives tell us a great deal about our waking time sometimes it’s just difficult to figure out what it all means and what to do with it. As we settle into this time of isolation and slowing of our society, I wonder how our dreams will be? I wonder if the spirits might be heard more clearly as we allow our brains to quiet from the daily noise? I wonder if we’ll understand and listen?

I don’t always remember my dreams, but there are few from these past two weeks that are still floating in my head. In the first I was pregnant. My belly was large and round. I felt its warmth and cradled my about to be born child with love. I woke as the child was being born. The child was a new world. It was a beautiful moment for a forty-eight year old post-menopausal woman who’s never had a biological child. It feels like some directions to me, that I am to give birth to something. I don’t know what but I trust in the beauty and the good.

The second dream made me thankful for being able to awaken. I was in an old house, but it was new to me. I was there with an old friend. We were just moving in. I’d laid on a bed when I felt a weight down on me and couldn’t move. I could hear that Queen song, Under Pressure playing and forcing me down into the mattress. Then I awoke and for just a moment I was stuck there unable to move until I realized again where I was. It wasn’t quite a nightmare. I was able to wake up before it became one. I was somewhere between the old and the new and stuck there.

How are we all now in this place between the old and the new? Are we ready to give birth to a new beginning? What is it that we seek of ourselves and what is it that we seek in the world when this time of isolation is done? How are we preparing?

Dreams well my friends. Our dreams hold a lot of questions and a lot of answers.

How Does This Change Us?

Okay, I took a break again and now it’s time to start writing. I don’t know what to say and can only hope that I find words that can provide help to someone somewhere. This COVID-19 thing is a strange beast. To me in some ways it only feels like a continuance and growth of my past few years here in Morris. While I have found some friends who have made all the difference, I haven’t found my home here. My main community has remained in different places separate from me. So, this is largely just a chance to learn about myself, to figure out some different ways to work, and to work on my own inner challenges in hopes of coming out a stronger and healthier person for whatever my next adventure may be.

The thing that keeps coming to my mind is something that my old friend Walt used to speak about when he was out talking with groups. Walt was a leader in the environmental and social justice movements in the Midwest and beyond. He used to tell people that we didn’t need to worry about saving the earth. The earth she will be okay. The earth she will heal herself. It is us that will die when we can’t breathe the air. It is us who will die when can’t drink the water anymore. It is us who will die when there are no trees, when there is no food to eat. It is us who will die.

Walt told the stories and gave the warnings. This COVID-19 thing seems to be giving the warnings too, giving them loudly and forcefully. I wonder how this changes who we each are individually and collectively? I’ve heard some tales that the shutdowns have already had positive impacts on the environment. I see stories each day of people slowing down and taking the time to take a walk and wave to people they pass, feeling the crushing weight of stress lighten as they stop running from meeting to meeting and task to task.

When this is over will we go back to who we were? Can we go back to who we were? Will we be someone new? Who do we want that someone to be?

Another New Year and Greetings From the Mayo Clinic

Well, a year has gone by and here I sit at the St. Mary’s Hospital campus of the Mayo Clinic reflecting on my goals of the past year and redefining my goals for next year. Here are last year’s goals.

  1. Writing at least 50 blog posts (here’s the 1st one!)
  2. Reading/ listening to 50 books ( I’m starting with “The Education of Will” by Patricia McConnell and “38 Nooses” by Scott W. Berg)
  3. Getting back on track with my healthy eating habits
  4. Running a 10k or 1/2 marathon (I haven’t decided yet, but I know more than 5k and probably not a full)
  5. learn to play guitar
  6. finish at least 3 or 4 knitting projects
  7. Get Buddy started with his therapy dog training
  8. Cutting my screen time significantly, especially facebook time

I met a few of them. I wrote more than 50 blog posts. I did okay with eating healthy most of the year. I went quite a while without lousy pizza and I did some time increasing my fruits and veggies too. I still need some work there, but I count that goal as met. I did finish a few small knitting and crochet projects, baby hats and blankets. I still need to send them off to charities though.

I learned some and had a few setbacks too. I’ve learned that sometimes seizures make it hard to focus on reading and I’ve been reminded that I like returning to the same old books over and over again. I forget stuff or maybe find new things in a second reading and some books are just simply comforting. I didn’t come close on that goal. I wasn’t on track, quite literally, for my running goal and then I blew it completely breaking my ankle in September. I’d like to return though, maybe just to a short race. Buddy still needs to get his good canine before he can do therapy dog training. Both are tough to find in Morris and right now I can’t drive to get training elsewhere. Screen time is still an issue that needs work. I set down the guitar in probably February again, apparently I need inspiration or maybe just a guide.

For this year, I think I want to simplify things just a little and name a few less goals. Maybe some of the others that didn’t happen last year will happen this year, but this is what I want to focus on.

  1. Getting my seizures to stop
  2. Getting to my goal weight
  3. Reading at least 12 books
  4. Cutting my screen time

That’s it. Let’s keep it simple and see where it goes. I wish all those reading this the best in the new year and good luck with your resolutions.

The Gift of Going for a Walk

I’ve disappeared from the blog-o-sphere for past few weeks. In fact, I’ve disappeared from quite a bit of life but with good reason. You see, about three weeks ago I was laying in bed watching Netflix when suddenly I had a broken ankle. Seriously, that is the truth no matter how strange it sounds. It’s not clear how my ankle was broken, but as I was diagnosed with epilepsy about six years ago, there’s a good chance I had a seizure. I don’t have seizures often, maybe two or three a year. Usually they just leave me with a headache and a sore tongue, but this one didn’t give me a headache at all, didn’t really hurt my tongue either, but it impacted me in other ways. That is, of course, if it was a seizure. There’s still the possibility that it was my dog jumping up on the bed and landing on me. My memory suggests that may have been what happened. My dog’s size, about 35 lbs, makes it pretty impressive that he could cause that kind of damage.

It’s been an interesting journey. The injury happened Monday night. When the pain wasn’t gone and there was some swelling, I decided to go into urgent care on Tuesday. The staff were pretty amazed that I was walking on a broken ankle. I was a bit surprised to learn it was actually broken.

They gave me a cool moon boot and crutches and sent me home to rest. I slept for about a week. It is amazing how much energy it takes to heal. That first week really sleeping was almost all I did. By week two the swelling was down enough that it was time for surgery. I thought with just a block of anesthetic behind my knee that I might get to experience the operation in a conscious state. I didn’t. I slept. Then I spent the night in the hospital so they might monitor for seizure activity. There was none. I did learn that I do not like percocet. Heavy duty painkillers are horrible things. I took it once and refused it thereafter. I really didn’t have any significant pain. At that point, I actually couldn’t feel my foot at all yet so it made no sense to me how the hospital staff kept trying to push painkillers that set my motion sickness into high gear. I couldn’t move without feeling nauseous.

After a few more days at home with my foot up I returned to the doctor and got the okay to return to work with my walker. That’s been the true gift. Before this accident I walked to work, and most everywhere else, every day. In my little town of about 5,000 people, I would typically put on one to five miles a day just doing what I needed to do. Right now, walking a block with my walker is significant exercise. My ankle is healing fast and I’m hoping to get back to a more normal routine in the next month or two, but this is where I am right now.

I find myself thinking a lot of some old friends who taught me about accessibility from their wheelchairs. I am especially thinking of Mark. He was a volunteer when I worked for the Grassroots Leadership College. He had severe physical limitations. I remember him apologizing once when he was late for his shift. He told us how when it was raining the bus drivers would often pass him by. They didn’t want to get wet helping him board the bus. That was just one little example of how the world treated his disability. There were too many others. Eventually, he had enough. He rolled himself down to the lake, propelled his body out of his chair, and landed face down in the water and ended his time being discriminated against.

My experience is nothing like his, but it has been a gift to look at accessibility issues and at how I see myself in this world of varying abilities.

First, I kind of have to laugh at myself. I found myself thinking the other day, as I was trying to open a heavy door without losing my balance, “this would really suck if I really had a disability!” Okay, now I am traveling around on eight screws and a plate, using a moon boot and a walker, because of a broken ankle that was quite likely caused by a seizure. Some might say I have a disability. I don’t really identify with that. It doesn’t make much sense to me. So, there is that, the whole question of what is it to have a disability in the first place? Who gets to decide who has a disability? Why do they have that power?

Then, I have to say “god bless the elders who do this in snow or on hills!” I live in Minnesota so I am thankful that my injury didn’t happen just a few weeks later. Did you know that if you hit a crack in the sidewalk your walker might veer off the wrong direction? Or did you realize that walkers really don’t have very good brakes and can start speeding along on even the slightest incline? I have the gift of being an in shape and strong middle aged woman. I can handle these challenges pretty easily. But, it’s tough for me to imagine what it’s like to use a walker if you don’t have the upper body strength or the sense of balance.

I’ve fallen a couple of times since I broke my ankle. I’ve been able to lean into my fall and land gently. Still, I think to myself what more damage could have done to the already broken spot? Or, thinking again of our elders, I wonder about my hips. It seems that for too many the broken hip is the kiss of death. I have two small steps going into my house. Normally, I barely notice them. Now I realize that they could kill someone.

I’m learning the little things about accessibility from a different perspective and it’s good for me, good for us, to know. One of my first lessons was on my first day back to work. I had to go to the HR office to drop off some files about the incident. HR is on the second floor of Behmler Hall. I’ve worked on campus two years, but don’t go to Behmler all that much. I knew there was an elevator, but I wasn’t sure where.

The bus dropped me off not far from the front entries to the building. It was then I really noticed that both of the main entries have stairs. I had to go down the hill alongside the building to come in a back door to find the elevator. Going down the hill I was thanking my lucky stars that there wasn’t any ice yet and wondering how people make that trek in winter. I also thought about how I’ve been on campus for two years and I had to search to find my way. I wondered about people coming to campus for the first time. How can you feel welcomed if you can’t come in the door?

Thinking of doors, I never really realized before how heavy doors can be. I also never really noticed how often there are buttons on exterior doors to open them, but once you’re in a building interior doors often don’t have that access tool. The building that I work in has, what I had always thought were accessible restrooms. They’re big with room to turn a wheelchair, the sink, soap, and hand dryers at good height. I think there’s even a bar to help getting on and off the toilet. But, those doors are heavy as heck when you’re balancing on one leg and using a wheeled device for mobility.

My experience thus far has been a simple one and there hasn’t been much that I can’t find a way around. I have been given the gift of hearing stories though. I know that there are people on campus who’ve not taken on roles that would both benefit them professionally and benefit the campus community because of the challenges of access in some of our campus buildings.

Sometimes people fight for access and sometimes they decide to just take a different route in life because we can’t all be fighters all the time. Sometimes we just need to live.

I encourage my friends to notice the steps, think about the weight of the door, look at where the furniture is placed, acknowledge the shelves and where supplies are kept. Note these things. Decide for yourself what is acceptable and change what is not.

The End of the Challenge

Well, so I will admit that I disappeared for a while. I’ll also admit that wasn’t good. I haven’t been eating like I should. There’s been too much pizza and snack foods and not enough light and healthy vegetables. The result has been an additional 5 lbs.

I can feel it in how I’m breathing. I can feel it in my mood. I am just starting to feel the edge of sadness. I need to get back on track and it’s a tough time to do that. I got offered a new job and I got an interview for another position. So, right now I am finding myself waiting and deciding which of two very different roles might be the right one for me. I am getting to ask myself about my values. I’m getting to ask myself what I need and what I want. I’m in a space of making hard decisions.

I need my health to help and not hinder my ability to make good choices. So, I will keep trying. I will move forward. I have learned from this experience and I will take that learning with me.

There will be more posts to come. I hope you’ll keep reading.

51 Days and I’m Back

Okay, so I disappeared there for eleven days. I went home to Wisconsin for a few days and used the excuse of a vacation to not pay a whole lot of attention to tracking my fruits and veggies. I still ate pretty good for the most part though I did indulge in some sweets and definitely took on some of Wisconsin’s greatest cheese and beer. I would strongly recommend the raspberry tart beer from New Glarus. That’s saying a lot since I’m really not much of a beer fan.

I haven’t gotten back on track fully yet even after a week back in Minnesota. There’s still sugar in my system and I’ve not fully backed away from it. I’m not fully back up to 6-9 cups of fruits and vegetables though I am getting some. I just added in some coconut oil and started a turmeric supplement today. I’m hoping that this stuff will help heal my brain.

I am seeing the need to get away from sugar again and just get back on track. I’ve been feeling grumpy the last few days and need to revive. I am putting lots of work into my next adventure. Sending off my applications and hoping to get back to Wisconsin soon. But, meanwhile this is home and there must be joy here somewhere.

40 Days, Over Halfway There

Okay, I admit it. I didn’t measure my food today. I operated visually. I need to get back to measuring to assure my accuracy.

I don’t think I hit six cups today, but I was close. I started the day with my fruit with almond milk. Had a lunch of pizza and a large salad. Dinner was plenty of refried beans with tomatoes and and some chips. So, not a great health food wonder day, but it wasn’t horrible either. For years my typical days had cereal, grilled cheese, and pasta with sauce from a jar pretty often. Today had some green stuff. Heck, it had multiple colors of fruits and vegetables. I feel okay about that. It was kind of slacker, but kind of good caring too. That’s an okay thing to do.

The Question of the 39th Day

39 days in to this challenge to increase my fruits and vegetables intake and I’m doing well with getting at least six cups a day. Since I added in an effort to increase my water intake a couple weeks ago I’ve been mostly doing better on that too though the last couple days I’ve probably been running a bit dry. I can feel the dull headache now and need to get myself a couple more cups. I’m not doing well on decreasing the number of times I go out for pizza or the amount that I eat. I am going out to other restaurants less though.

That brings me to the question. I’ve been having a tough time at my work for quite a while now, but it ebbs and flows. Recently, it’s been quite frustrating and I’ve found myself feeling my self-confidence ebb away and just generally feeling down. Then, I go out for pizza. I find myself wondering– is it the fact that I am feeling worn, beaten by my workplace, and just down on myself that leads me to eating something that I know isn’t good for me and that doesn’t even taste as good as the many homemade dishes that I can treat myself with or is that I am eating something that doesn’t taste all that good and isn’t good for me that is pushing me into feeling down, worn and beaten? It is that circle, much like the cycle of addiction I suppose. So how do I get out?

Six Weeks and Where Am I At?

Okay, so I disappeared for a few days there. I needed to step away for a bit for my own self care. Work has been a challenge. I love my job and the people I work with are great. Moving from working in grassroots organizations to a liberal arts university in a time that is particularly difficult for small, public, liberal arts universities is tough.

Some days things go well and some days, not so much. There is much more behind that, but as those who work in large hierarchical organizations know, sometimes those stories need to wait. I will say that I was proud of myself this past week on one of those really tough days at work. Instead of diving into depression with sugar and junk food for my lunch, I found a quiet spot outside and rested my spirit with fresh vegetables and hummus and fed myself with positive self talk. That’s a huge step.

From there I just needed a few days to not think too much about my current work and instead once again focus on dreams. There are some possibilities that dreams may come true. I’ve got two interviews coming up in the next week or so with nonprofits focused on healthy eating and growing food. Both are back home in Wisconsin and within any easy travel time to my family. Taking care of myself is a good thing and may just be giving me a path to taking care of my community.

Meanwhile, I’m remaining pretty consistent with about six cups of fruits and vegetables a day. There is much to be proud of.