October 12th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

I miss dirt. On the boat, I tend to three small potted plants – aloe, basil and parsley. We have a composting toilet, and we separate our kitchen scraps for release to the wild. Its not that I have left the nutrient cycle, its that I miss dirt.

To remedy this, I subscribed to a website called Workaway.com, and began to search for opportunities to work on land. There are a lot of interesting projects out there, many DIYers in need of energetic hands.

My first pick was a APROVACA, a conservation project devoted to the protection and propagation of orchids in Panama. The facility is located in the Valle of Antón, in Cocle province. This valley is an ancient crater with rich soils, diverse agriculture, and fancy estates competing for land use.

They assigned me to the garden of medicinal plants, to clear it of weeds and start making some general order. In exchange, I was housed in their hostel on-site, treated to daily serenades by the frog chorus and fantastic downpours each afternoon onto the tin roofs of the orchid center, and invited to share lunch each day with the group of socios that work with the orchids.

The time was restorative, not just to work in the dirt, but to work with the rest of the group. Even though I wasn’t able to commit to a very long stay, the socios were nonetheless generous with their time, and I could not help but learn constantly. Just being in this space and exploring its nooks and crannies was like medicine. Pura vida.

this is where it hurts

November 3rd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

This morning I thought I was going to finally sift a rational diagnosis from the pile of symptoms that have dogged me for the past few years. I have been in this spot before, a half dozen times now – thisclose. Sitting in the waiting room, with my fattening medical file, waiting for my turn and reviewing in my mind how I can most efficiently and clearly recap everything I know about my own body.

An hour later I was in tears. Fat crocodile tears that dropped onto my shirt, leaving big splashes. Concerned looks from the office staff. Tissues offered and apologies applied.

I’m tired of this malarkey, and I’m sad for all the other people in the waiting rooms too. I often check with my husband to tell me if I’m being mean to office staff, but sometimes politeness is trumped by a need to make myself heard. I rely on him to not let me become too much of a jerk.

I’m tired. Of mishaps, mixups and filing errors. I’m tired of no eye contact and a laissez faire exam room policy. I’m tired of being handled as a suspicious person for speaking the word “chronic” next to the word “pain”. I’m tired of full spectrum drug tests without consent. I’m tired of mansplaining. I’m tired of making myself small so as not to offend. I’m tired of waiting my turn while the drug rep finishes their meeting. I’m tired of the money falling from my pockets.

I’m tired of knowing, KNOWING, from my own Dad and brother and my old PCP, Dr. Patel, what its like to have a doctor collaborate with you, and knowing – KNOWING! – that type of care doesn’t exist for so many people. Including me, today.

Yes, I checked about the Mayo Clinic, and no, they do not accept my insurance.

[sad-face emoji] <- too tired to insert

consuming and producing reality

September 9th, 2015 § 4 comments § permalink

Yesterday I caught a radio interview with former Marketplace host Tess Vigeland on Leap, her book about “leaving a job with no Plan B.” My heart swelled with camaraderie as she unfolded her story of jettisoning a perfectly good career for the unknown and starting over as a grown–ass woman.

My identification was absolute while she described the layers of realization that led up to making a radical life change, the elation and freedom immediately following that change, and the industrious repurposing of skills for new and nimble contract work.

The beaming smile cracked a bit, however, as she delved into the unanticipated sense of purposelessness that accompanied long-coveted downtime between jobs, and then the unavoidable identity crisis when it sinks in that you have voluntarily rescinded hard-earned expert status in your field.

I forget how the interview ended. Something about financial planning.

My loss of social capital is not something I ever wanted to fess up to. I feel it is impolite to mention my fragile ego on Facebook. According to Instagram, my life after leaving New York is full of only the greenest pastures.

Lately I have become a big fan of yogis on social media. There are a few that really knock my socks off with their hollowback forearm stands, but truly my current tip-top favorites are: a formerly obese girl who is saving up for skin reduction surgery, a muslim girl who practices in athletic hijab, and a mother of five with a colostomy bag.

How I produce social media and how I consume it are completely at odds. I produce a highlights reel of my best moves, my tastiest meals, and the cleanest vistas. But what I seek out for fuel are the works-in-process – the half done art projects and the dramatic relationship updates. I want to know if and how the scars are healing.

Recently, I have been making stop-time videos of my home yoga practice. After two years of undiagnosable and shapeshifting pain, this fledgling home practice has become an essential compliment to the injections, pills, and herb-filled hot soaks that beat back at locking, chronic pain. I now see food itself as medicine, and know that stress is a luxury for the well. I do the videos because they help me correct my form.

This would be a great space to engage a social network. There are people all over the world doing some version of the same thing – a sangha right there in the inter-ether.  Yet I have only been willing to share 15-second snippets that star me as a casual-if-mediocre yogi, lazing about on my floor.

In reality, it’s a rather big part of my day, and it happens in the middle of a chaotic and messy room, with new additions, subtractions and distractions all the time. For the record, and in the interest of full disclosure, I will include here one morning’s full clip, edited only to include explanatory text:

So, back to Tess and the leap…I am feeling more responsible for full disclosure out here. I didn’t just sail off into the sunset like I would like some to think. As Liz Lemon would say, “Arrrgh…things! Are! Happening!”

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