No dessert in the desert

Here we are as February is coming to a fast end, two months will soon be over in 2012. I’m going to sound old, heck, I feel old while I’m sitting here hanging in traction but time always marches on, ready or not. It seems I just decided what I was giving up last year for Lent and now I’m in the midst of another. Last year I tried this sort of funky thing where instead of giving up something I told myself I’d do more. I tried to study more, pray more, give more, do more, you get the idea, the things that were difficult I tried more, not less. It sort of fundamentally sounded like it went against the sacrificial aspect of Lent but it truly was supposed to be a penance to do “more of” the things I didn’t like or at least, felt like the things that didn’t like me.

That was too complicated in the end so I’m going traditional this year, I’m just trying to show up for Lent, I’m going to try to remember it’s Lent. When I want to go to the drive thru to pick up something quick and easy to eat I’m going to try to remember I do have food at home and I can eat that when I get there. When I want something I’m going to try to remember my little girl friend in the orphanage in Port-au-Prince that would literally find a crumb on the floor and instead of gobbling it down she would divide by however many others were in the room. A small child and she knew more about sharing and giving of herself than I’ll ever know. This might sound selfish and delusional but traction it seems to me is like Lent, it is about showing up, remembering, completing the task at hand, no room for BS, no forgetting, no I’m too tired, no I don’t feel like it, no, it’s not fair. In addition, Lent is doing what you said you’d do but not making a big deal about it, or as my Mom would say, “no broadcasting it.” There’s no need to go on about saying no thanks to dessert, passing on seconds or giving up the fancy morning coffee. Lent is being out there on your own, no fuss, no frills, no extras, no pity parties, real life stuff, just you and God. AND, the last time I checked there wasn’t any chocolate growing in the desert.

Yep, I’ve not found sacrifice a bowl full of fun but if you stick with it you do find something new. I owe Lent for any ability I have to sit here in traction, the more I grow to understand Lent the easier the traction gig is for me. When it comes down to it really, isn’t it just about taking away life’s distractions and excuses, learning more about your true self, therefore, knowing more about God.

Alix

I’ve been thinking about a person today that went about his life doing what he thought was expected of him. He was the kind of individual who’s always there to help you but you rarely see him, he’s quiet and in the background and seems to prefer it.

He’ll open a door for you and carry your groceries up the steps, before you have a chance to know he’s even there. He’ll make sure everyone is safe and accounted for, he magically appears at your car to carry the heaviest thing and drop it at your door without even knowing you wondered how you would even get it out of the car. He’ll water your plants and clean up the yard, he knows who belongs and who doesn’t.

The world might ignore someone as them, we seem to care about other things. There will always be someone more educated, smarter, with plenty more money, but I dare you to find a harder worker and someone who did their job any better.

The person I’m thinking about is no longer living, he died in the earthquake two years ago in Haiti. Alix was his name and if you haven’t ever known a man like I’ve described then you’re at a great loss. Alix would suddenly make a five gallon jug of water appear at your door early in the morning when you were still sleeping and he somehow remembered that you were running low. He did this all the while he had a large growth on his back the size of a grapefruit that he couldn’t afford to have removed. He’d watch the court-yard at night as everyone slept and somehow managed to work his job all day keeping everything going. Alix also had a family and when he did take a break from work he was there for them, from my understanding that is how he died. He had survived the initial quake but ran home to check on his family and died in the aftermath as a wall collapsed on him. He bled to death in his yard.

The world needs more Alix, a man who would answer the community telephone, track you down, all the while doing his best to try to understand a language he didn’t speak so you could talk to your family you were so missing in the States. I’m sitting here in traction Alix thinking about you and what a wonderful man you were and all these days after your death you are still very much missed.

There should be a Super Bowl for this!

As I sit in traction today listening to all the Super Bowl coverage I’m thinking about how many of the NFL players may have ever been in traction. It’s bad enough with all the scary talk about concussions, what their brains are like down the road, I don’t think they need damaged spinal columns too, no one does. But for a profession that shows their love for one by hitting each other in the head with their helmets it wouldn’t be surprising if they didn’t end up having traction troubles or plenty of other issues.

We as a population make such a big deal out of stuff, it leaves me wondering why all the fuss? Halloween is now practically a National Holiday, I think more adults now dress in costume to celebrate than children, when you drive down the street the morning of St. Patrick’s Day it doesn’t take long before you see folks showing up to the local O’Brien’s bar, no matter what day of the week it falls, no wonder in the middle of winter we go crazy for the Super Bowl. Are we really that bored to go overboard for everything?

How dare I diss such a big day in the sports world, a day where if you’ve never watched a game in your life you are invited to a television party. So I’ve been thinking, if I connect with other folks also doing traction we could have regional matches, who sits up the straightest, for the longest, looks the best in the gizmo, best attitude, that might be tough to judge, but give me some time. Once we get competition categories, we go regional, then the nationals are only a few years a way! Could you imagine what the trophy would look like for a cervical traction competition?! The height of it, we’d have to celebrate height since we are all shrinking! It would have to be light in weight or none of the recipients could carry it out of the ceremony. In fact I think it should be a sit down ceremony. Just wait, gives us another five years and we will be on the airwaves, singing the National Anthem, all strapped in, waiting for the opening whistle to start the annual Traction Games. Us traction folks work hard, we have the potential to become professionals at pain and fortitude. I dare any competition to challenge our dedication, our drive for success is intense, only thing, after a big play, you won’t see any of the competitors hit another in the head for fun.

A Cloudy Day at the Beach

We’ve all experienced that day that we’ve looked forward to for months and it’s not quite what we imagined it would be. It may be the drizzle on the first day of our supposed sunny beach vacation or a stomach bug that keeps us from the party where we’d reconnect with old friends or some other disappointment that at the time seems so “unfair.” Then something rings our bell and we are reminded we live in an unfair world and if someone promised fairness, they lied. My pain has been bad lately and I’m a tired grump. I’m frustrated with thinking about a future without solutions to my spinal issues, where spinal transplants are still something out of the Jetsons and I’m left with a hand shake and “I wish you the best of luck” from yet another Neuro doc.

How funny is it that some days when we remember that cloudy beach day and how unfair we thought it was, how unhappy it made us, how our concerns where nothing more than rooting for a good weather report, how weird is it in hindsight when those days feel so selfish, so silly, so not the point of anything. I get so stuck, so caught up in the one tiny moment that I forget to think about all the moments, in all the places, in all the world. If I had just really looked at that ocean on a rainy day I’d see what a little speck of water I am, and although I believe in the importance of my speck showing up, there are plenty of other specks out there with far worse going on than a disappointment that will all but be forgotten in a week or two. Sometimes I tend to focus so much on the rain I forget to take in the ocean. My pain is as real as the rain and on cloudy days I easily get caught up in the moment, but looking back or borrowing on tomorrow is a waste of time, today is it baby, rain or shine, today is all we have!

Jay Leno tries traction

It’s not the first time this cervical traction device has made the big time. This time Jay Leno tried to entertain his audience with crazy stuff you can really buy on the Internet and of course we made it. The audience laughed hysterically when he strapped him self in and then made a joke of what it would be like if some one walked thru the door while you were sitting there. Hey Jay, attach the gizmo to a closet door, it tends to not have much foot traffic. He looked predictably ridiculous and everyone was surely puzzled why the heck would you do that to yourself. If you have a collapsing neck and numb fingers maybe you’d try it to….I gotta say it is weird to depend so much on something to keep you going that gets an immediate laugh in a comedy routine on television. I consider my self having a decent sense of humor, but this isn’t funny to me, yeah, it looks silly enough but it also represents something so different to me, along with the stupid pain it means literally whether I can function independently.

This is a goofy world sometimes and instead of getting a cheap laugh on Leno(sorry Jay) maybe I could find a reality show that would pay me to be the girl commenting in the corner while sitting in traction. Think about it, people watch Kendra, The Kardashians, goodness sakes, the Jersey Shore, why not, Cervical Traction Girl Goes Crazy! Now, to me, that’s funny.

Appliances with attitude!

Did you ever think about your appliances, large and small, having personalities of their own? I think my washing machine is lazy, the dryer is maniacal, toaster is short-tempered, the refrigerator is loud and never cleans up after itself and please, don’t even ask about the garbage disposal! As far as I know they have not come alive, I’m not Dwight K. Shrute, I don’t believe in robots and zombies taking over the world.

I’m just sitting here in cervical traction and thinking about how each of these household appliances takes an explanation for operating instructions, beyond the manufacturers’ recommendations. The washer seems to have a favorite cycle and if you ask for more than that you risk a Zumba dance recital in the laundry room. The dryer works over time, you have a heck of a time shutting it off, the toaster is feisty, cinnamon toast is beyond its job description, it seems everything has issues.

If I tried a house swap like in the movie, The Holiday between Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet characters I’d have to leave a dozen special directions. (I was always taken out of the moment with that movie because I couldn’t imagine being organized enough to turn my place over to a stranger in 24 hours!) I’ve often thought about renting out my place or letting a friend stay here while I stay with family; come to think about it I’m not sure how much of a headache I’d be leaving them. Maybe I’ve created these problems by not being more pro active with these silly machines. Calling in repair folks or just replacing them at the tenth sign of trouble. Yet somehow I’ve slowly accepted their faults, maybe I like knowing that in order for something to work you have to really “know it” or as my Mother would say, “sweet talk it.” There are people in our lives we have to “sweet talk” every so often and sometimes I have to “sweet talk” my own body to get it to do what I need it to do. In the morning I have to give myself a pep talk, to get these bones moving. I get tired of my body hurting and on a cold morning like this I am very tired of “managing pain” but maybe as a result I give more allowances when it comes to dealing with everything else in life. I realize nothing is perfect and I’ve not seen anything in a long time that even comes close, we all have weaknesses, we all could do a better job, some one is always there to point out another’s faults. Maybe not operating smoothly builds creativity, patience and cooperation in ways we’d never have guessed.

Trying to find the bright side today of waking up with swollen, stiff fingers, this after traction, traction, traction, oh, but I really like my stove!

I’ll take some fettucini with that please!

Oh boy! I thought I was so clever trying to get the grocery shopping over with before the weekend.
It was definitely a good idea, wasn’t too crowded, but when I reached for that jar of alfredo sauce and saw it slip from my fingers I doubted why I ever left the house. I heard the jar hit something but my eyes were closed because I simply couldn’t bear what was going to happen. I heard, “Oh no!” and a couple of “Wows” and I slowly lifted my eyelids and looked down. White sauce every where, including my blue jeans and my black shoes. I’ll save you all the gory details but lets just say a clerk and I really bonded over paper towels and shards of glass.

As I pushed my cart to the parking lot in pouring rain my foot began to feel the delayed reaction of being hit by a jar, my limp was showing it, the woman walking next to me asked if I’d like to share her umbrella. I found myself telling her about how I was hoping the puddles would wash off my shoes. She was so kind, she listened attentively and when I finally got inside my car I thought how sometimes all we need is someone to just listen, even if it’s a total stranger. Dropping a jar on a foot you can’t feel and forgetting your umbrella in a rainstorm all the while feeling sorry for yourself as you imagined the second you got home sitting in traction was pushed aside. One simple act of kindness changed everything.

I’ve been trying to add time to my traction schedule to prevent jars full of alfredo sauce from flying thru the air but sometimes no amount of traction can save me. Life can be hard, but we aren’t alone and we should readily allow ourselves to receive kindness as much as we look to show it to others.

In the mean time have a merry, merry Christmas and know that I’ll be back here in 2012. Until then, I hope you are lifted up by someone just as I was today or better yet, you do the lifting.

Waiting and remembering

As I’m sitting in traction today waiting for the last few minutes to pass I begin to think about how silly it is that I’m impatient with time passing slowly. December 7th, the date that should “live in infamy” has just passed for another year, this year marked 70 years. I heard it mentioned a couple of times on the news but certainly not in any conversations I had with others. I suppose in 70 years September 11th will quietly pass as well. Those that are still alive that lived thru it will never forget, but will future generations remember?

Reading how men tapped on the steel of ships the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor causes my own embarrassment as I wait out a few minutes. Those heroes were among the first to die waiting in sunken ships for help that would arrive too late, or as in the case of the USS Arizona could never arrive. It is unimaginable to me to comprehend the fear and horror of being trapped alive. The sinking of the Arizona killed twenty-three sets of brothers.

This life for unknown reasons will have moments filled with such agony for some and their families and for others, they will gratefully or otherwise never know of anything more inconvenient than a traffic jam. My thoughts and words feel very inadequate today as I remember those that died at Pearl Harbor. Courage, fear, faith, forgiveness, honor, respect, peace, hope……all these words are better understood when we remember.

Traction leftovers

By now most of us living in the US have probably eaten our turkey leftovers. The excitement has worn off, the potatoes have been reheated, the dressing is gone and the turkey, well, we will be ready for some more in about a month. That’s how I’m feeling today about traction, but I had to indulge in a little today and will have to do some more tomorrow…..how to make traction taste new again? I’ve certainly had my fill of traction and the thought of more is not pleasing but I will have to dive in again tomorrow because this neck of my won’t quit its’ ways. I’ve been at this roadblock before and I’ve overcome it so I’ll just have to rely on the things I’ve learned. Unlike the Thanksgiving leftovers, traction is in my house to stay. I’m dealing, that’s why I’m back to typing. Sometimes I can routinely sit here and sometimes I need a little motivation.