Thursday, March 31, 2011

After a Long Sleep

the flowers have come again.

My beautiful lilacs have bloomed. I'm not sure if I love them so much because their time here is so fleeting, because their scent and color is so beautiful, or if it's because they don't really belong in temperate California. They remind me that some of the most beautiful things need harsh conditions to exist.

This came at a particularly important time.  I need to remember that these harsh conditions in life might yield beautiful blooms.

Ana├»s Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Making it.

Some days, there's not much sun to be seen.  The rain beats the windows, the wind howls, and staying in bed feels like a survival tactic.

On days like these, especially when the storm is just as much internal as it is external, it's important to try to do what you can to lighten the mood.

One method I employ is to make something.  Even if it's just coffee and toast, it's a way to lift the gloom.

There was some whole wheat dried cherry toast with honey peanut butter on the plate, but I ate it before I got the idea for this post.  Perhaps I should make more.

I still have some of the coffee though. Caramel. Decaf, since I work tonight, and some more sleep is on the agenda for today.

When I go back to sleep, I hope I dream of strawberries.  I'm allergic to them, and despite two antihistamines, my mouth still got sore and swollen after I ate two of them last night.  We got a beautiful batch of huge strawberries at Costco, and we dipped them in dark chocolate for our mother's 70th birthday party last night. The reaction was worth it.
This is the very beautiful "before" picture. The afters never got a photo opportunity. They just got eaten.

We are all just getting along, making it as best as we can. I hope that when you get the opportunity, you make a little something nice for yourself.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Make Time for a Manifesto

DISCLAIMER: please DO NOT take over a bank, or any public place, nor commit an act of violence in the course of your Manifesto. Thank you.

I was really looking forward to writing this post, thinking that I was in possession of a really original idea: everyone should write a manifesto. Except then I was going through my Twitter Feed, and I came across this article posted on The article summary reads "Manifestos are a powerful catalyst. By publicly stating your views and intentions, you create a pact for taking action. (Movements from the American Revolution to Dogme 95 film to the Firefox web browser were all launched by manifestos.) If you want to change the world, even in just a small way, creating a personal or business manifesto is a great place to start."

Well shoot. That's pretty much what I was going to say!  While I do not ever recommend getting into a 6 hour stand off with the police to get your message out (and interrupting my wedding planning with the caterer -- lucky for HIM I wasn't armed! (kidding!)), I do think that we could all benefit from distilling or hopes, dreams, and ideals into a statement strong enough to build a life on. (Not including prison time.)

What do I care enough about to publicly proclaim? Is my love for my family, for animals, for my friends enough? It loses something in print. What about my dedication to school, and my dreams for my future? Hmmm. I'm not sure there's anything revolutionary in all of that. 

It seems, then that I am with the majority of society, drifting along in my happy, not- very-exciting-life.  To change the world, even just my own world, it looks like I have some work to do.  I need to chase down my passions, to get excited about something -- anything -- in a way that will shape and create a dynamic future.  The world deserves that level of excitement and innovation.

Tell me, how are you going to change the world? What will you write in your manifesto?

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I am worried. I try not to be, but there it is, rolling around in the pit of my stomach.  It tickles at me like an urge to sneeze that never comes.  I dream stressfully, sleep fitfully, and 

 none of this helps to alleviate the worrying at all.

This is why I pursue a happier outlook; I want to prescribe myself a better attitude that will eliminate the unhealthy one.  Sometimes, though, the worry wins, and I need to be even more aggressive in my self-treatment.

I know why I worry: Japan has been shaken literally to its core, with mayhem and terror at every turn. The TV is full of more and more dispiriting statistics and even worse images. My prayers and my donations just don’t seem adequate in the face of that kind of destruction and misery. On my own homefront, as a student, there are always money issues to fret over. Add in a wedding, animals to care for and a kid getting ready (or is he?) to go to college, and there is plenty of fodder to feed anxiety. Knowing the causes does not always equal relief.

I’m actually hoping that bacteria can be the correct teacher for me, as I look to learn how to alleviate my anxiety.  That’s correct: bacteria. Specifically, the kind that habituate your gut. Bacteria got a recent publicity boost when some clever marketer began advertising them as “probiotics,” but make no mistake about it, it’s bacteria, plain and simple. The bacteria that live in the intestines are vital to human life. They metabolize all manner of substances; without them, blood would not clot, we could not metabolize carbohydrates properly, and on and on.  Microbiologists call these friendly bugs “flora,” which again is a much nicer spin. In the body’s census, bacteria in combination with yeast and assorted microorganisms add up to about 750 trillion, more than there are human cells in your body. 

How can bacteria be my teacher? Competitive advantage. No organism, in my opinion, does it better than bacteria. One of the ways that bacteria keeps the bad bugs from getting too cozy in the body is by making sure that the majority of existing resources are not available to an invading microbe.  Without resources needed to reproduce and thrive, a good deal of infectious bacteria simply dies without the host even knowing that it’s there.  It’s a crucial safety net in the body, and it’s not a bad metaphor for life, either.

I figure that the more I can make room for optimism, and the better able optimism is to take root, the less worry will be to flourish when it shows up.  I need to make sure that a healthy outlook gets the majority of my resources, if I want worry to wither.  In life, as in the body, the winner takes all, and I need to be sure that I am nourishing the correct emotion.

Happiness thrives on good works, service to others, self care, sound sleep and nourishing food. Worry expands in the presence of fatigue, over-scheduling, too much TV, and unhealthy or sporadic meals. Optimism is a consistently joyful practice, where worry is often synonymous with wallowing in sadness and defeatism. 

Gandhi said, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.” One needs to look no further than a rumbling tummy for a positive example.  In the end, it is what we feed that makes all the difference.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When Clouds Gather

The problem with choosing optimism is that very often, you are presented with a great deal of evidence that says you are wrong to do so.  The sun hides behind the clouds.  The dam breaks and there are floods.  The car doesn’t start.

Then what?

Part of what this space is supposed to be about is the then what. I can’t pretend that I know, but I can assert that I am trying my best to figure it out.  If there’s no sunshine, I must light my own way.

Today is a very cloudy day.  In the midst of wedding planning, with all its really frustrating joyful details, we hit a hitch. No, actually, we got taken out by a rubber band. A fancy one, an elastic, if you will. In our cat Wally’s small intestine, right after he had cheerfully and criminally dug it out of my bedside drawer and eaten it. Eaten them, actually. Somewhere between two or three of them.  Wally is not doing his part to help our local economy; in fact, he has put two people at least out of work on our wedding, at least. The vet bill is quite sizable, as surgery was indicated, and so we have had to make some hard decisions about what we will be able to keep in our wedding, and what we won’t.

In a couple of hours, I will get to pick Wally up from the vet. As sad as I am about the wedding things that have had to go, I am pretty sure that his motorboat purr will be enough for a smile. That’s good enough sunshine for today.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

By Way of Introduction


It seems like any conversation, which I hope this space will be, should start with at least a salutation.  Next, perhaps, an explanation. Who am I, and what do I aim to talk about?

I am a dreamer, a seeker, and a follower of light.  Yet my work, my life, often leads me into dark places.  I work in a county emergency room, while I go to school to study medicine, and I get a regular dose of the tragedy that can be the human condition.  My soon-to-be-husband is a policeman, now a detective, and his work too is often sad and depressing.  If we wanted to, we could easily wallow in all of that. Our dinner conversations can be quite morbid.

But we don't.  We are believers, despite all evidence to the contrary, that life, and people, are essentially good.  Although our work requires that we are true and accurate reporters of what we see, and while we certainly are, we personally have made it our directive to see it all, not to miss the good that is often overshadowed, and overlooked.

It's there. That's what I want to to say the most. Yes, people do terrible things: they drive cars under the influence, and they crash. They hurt the people the love.  But intermixed in all that tragedy, there are shining moments.  I have seen complete strangers offer each other selfless love.  I have seen ordinary people rise to the occasion with such grace that it is breathtaking. 

I'd like a place to talk about that. I'd like to report on those moments. For all the darkness, there are pockets of grace to be found, and I'll bring them here. Will you join me?