Friday, May 28, 2010


Whether or not I agree with the leaders that lead us into conflict, by action or reaction, I do believe that on Memorial Day, it is my duty as a citizen of my country to take time and reflect on those men and women who willingly gave up their lives for this country, this flawed yet oh so beautiful country.  Freedom is something we take for granted, and it's because of the brave souls in the military that we are able to do so. 

I whisper to you, Thank you.  Thank you so very much.


(Photo credit not given, because none available)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Restricted freedom

Tuesday was a banner day.  My cast is now off and my stitches are out.  Hooray for being able to wash my stinky leg that hadn't seen any soap or water for 15 days!  My doctor said the surgery went well and then he flipped open his chart to show me the x-rays that were taken during surgery.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but knowing you have two screws in your ankle and actually seeing them are two distinctly different things.  For one, I didn't realize the screws were actual screws.  Yet, there they were, two long screws screwed right into the lower part of my fibula. When I looked at the x-ray, my first thought was I have been assembled.  I felt like an IKEA human.  My second thought was one of gratitude for this bit of modern medicine that allows such IKEA-like fortification. 

You know how progress comes in steps?  I'm off crutches now, so that's progress.  But, I will be wearing an aircast for the next four to eight weeks.  I can remove it to shower and to sleep.


I embrace this robotic looking boot that comes with the ability to shower.  And I certainly am happy to be able to move about without crutches.  I'm also grateful for the freedom this boot allows me, because with it came permission to drive.  Something that did not accompany the cast. 

Still, the boot is a four to eight week reminder that I am not allowed to wear these Ralph Lauren lovelies, which were featured in a full spread ad in the Sunday New York Times, and which I discovered when I finished the paper last night.


My heart leapt when I saw them, then sunk with a thud when I remembered the aircast.  And then my toes wiggled with joy at the thought of all the money I'll be saving by not buying shoes in the near future! 

Not everyone needs to break an ankle in order to cease buying shoes, but not everyone has such the habit as mine. There's a silver lining in every situation; you just have to find it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sweet days of Summer, the Jasmine's in bloom

Even though I am still in a cast and having a cast around my leg in the 90-degree month of May is akin to a woolen kneesock in August, and even though I have not been able to stand up and take a shower for two weeks, and I am sure that beneath that cast is some nastiness that needs to be washed away, and even though I am homesick for my house but cannot return to my home for good until the end of the first week of June, when the painters will be finished but when I'll be out of town anyway, I still find that I am happy and really have nothing at all to complain about.  Why?  Because this friend of mine, she goes where I go.  And with her by my side, I am always home.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

The benefits of boredom

When you are recovering from a surgery that leaves you without permission to drive, unable to live in your own house, and unable to walk without the assistance of crutches, guess what happens?  You spend a lot of time trying to combat the boredom that seeps into every bit of your being.  Which means, aside from the friend here and there who is willing to pick you up and drive you where you need or want to go, you are left to your own devices for entertainment.  TV, the internet, books and magazines.

How that has translated for me is the discovery of new things, new ideas, new thoughts.  And that's what I want to share with you today.

Surely a name we are all familiar with is J.K. Rowling.  She of the enormous imagination that produced the world of Harry Potter.  I admit, I haven't read one book of hers.  I tried once, but the world of magical wizards has no hold on my attention span, no matter how hard I wanted to join the team.  But I have read stories about her, about her struggles, about her tenacity, and I hold her in very high esteem.  As a single mother, as a provider to her family, as posessor of an awesome imagination, as a writer. 

In 2008, Ms. Rowling gave the commencement address to the graduation class of Harvard University.  While cruising around the internet the other day, I stumbled upon that speech and listened to it in its entirety.  Who knew she was such a great speaker as well?  More importantly though, I was moved by her wit and her knowledge, her insight and compassion.  The title of her speech?  The Fringe Benefits of Failure.  Can you imagine the Chancellor's thoughts on reading that title?  The commencement speech at gradution will address failure as a benefit?

The first words of hers that really grabbed me were those in this nugget of advice:  There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.  Without stringing the words together in the same glorious manner, to my core and ever since I was old enough to take the wheel, I have believed this to be true.  Me not being J.K. Rowling, I would have simply said, Don't blame your parents for the decisions you make.

On failure, Ms. Rowling said that we all must decide for ourselves what failure is but to beware the world's set of criteria, and not fall for it.  She explains that by any measure, after only seven years from her own graduation day, she had failed in marriage, had no job, was a single parent and was as poor as it is possible to be without being homeless.  By her own definition, she was the biggest failure she knew.

But... BUT!  She then introduced the benefits of failure.  She says of the time that failing allowed her to stop pretending to herself that she was anything other than what she was, and failing at other things allowed her to redirect her energy into the only work that mattered to her.  Says she, Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive... And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

Isn't that fantastic?  The liberation, the benefits of her failure?  Her telling of her experience gives proof to the cliches.  We can emerge stronger and wiser from our setbacks; if anything they tell us that we are able to survive.  The truth is, we only get to know the strength of our lives, of our relationships, through being tested.  Not every test comes with a grade; some come with lessons that launch us forward to a better way, a better life. 

Whie I'm still not going to read the Harry Potter books, a J.K. Rowling fan I am!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A little something called nice

On Monday a very nice surgeon cut into my ankle, shaved a portion of my fibula, put two pins in the bone, sewed me up and wrapped my lower leg in a comfy if not inflexible cast.  I needed this surgery and was paying him to do this (or, my health insurance was) and I was asleep at the time, otherwise, you know, I might not think him so nice.

My surgery took place at Methodist Hospital, where apparently a prerequesite for working there is that you be nice, very nice. Nice in personality and demeanor, nice in smile and nice in touch, nice in tone of voice and nice in gentle humor.  Where in the world did all these nice people come from and how in the heck did they all manage to convene in the same place at the same time?  I have no idea but on Monday, that question was very much at the front of my mind. 

From the minute I arrived at Methodist, the experience was so foreign that I thought I was high or being Punkd.  Mr. Valet Man?  Good morning!  I hope you have a great day. It was five minutes before seven in the morning and this guy was all smiles and this way to the elevator.  The woman who signed me in at the surgery center?  She had a beautiful smile and didn't hesitate to share it. Her face was kind, her voice warm and her sense of humor reassuring.  And was she ever helpful.  I know it's her job to be helpful, to explain to me and to my friend what was going to take place over the course of the morning, what my friend could expect as far as wait time, whether the surgeon would come speak to her after the surgery, but it's the way that she did so, with a smile on her face and shine in her eyes.  She explained to my friend the best time to get coffee or a meal, and gave her directions to the best spot to do so. And all the while, she was so friendly, it was as if she were inviting us to make ourselves at home in her living room while she made us some fresh lemonade.  A gracious hostess, that's what she was.

She was so nice in fact that I refrained from killing her when she told me that the surgeon would come out and talk to my daughter while I was in recovery.  My daughter? 

When she walked me and my not-daughter-but-friend to the pre-surgery area, another woman was there to greet us.  She too explained what was going to happen from that point forward, and then asked me things like, Do you have any questions? or Do you need to use the restroom?  She looked at my not-friend-but-daughter and asked her if she's like some coffee.  After I changed into my gown, she took my vital signs, someone else showed up, smiled and gently put EKG monitors on my back, and someone showed up, smiled, and put a cuff on the leg not having surgery.  Still someone else showed up to put my IV in, and when I tensed up and she had to try another time, she apologized to me.  She patted my arm, told me to breathe, apologized again.  My not-daughter-but-friend put her fingers through my hair, also told me to breathe, and before I knew it, the IV was in, painlessly.  The nurse apologized again as she was leaving.  My not-daughter-but-friend and I looked at each other, eyes wide and shaking our heads, What IS it with these people?  They are SO nice.

There was more niceness, the anesthesiologist, the operating room nurse, the surgeon, all came to speak with me, asked questions, answered questions, joked around a bit, and then right at the scheduled time, they wheeled me into the operating room and before I knew it I was told that I'm being given a sedative and well, I remember feeling extremely relaxed and then... nothing.

The anesthesia recovery took longer than expected because there's something in me that doesn't make that ride a smooth one, something that makes me feel small and confused.  Luckily, Jackie was my nurse and during the three hourse we spent together, she was so lovely and caring that I'm surprised I didn't ask her to marry me.  Jackie's voice was tender as she gently coaxed me from that dark side of anesthesia, gently spoke to me to awaken me.  She asked about the pain, I told her about the pain, OH MY GOSH, THE PAIN.  She put a shot of something in the IV tube and goodnight.  This went on for a while.  Ice Chips?  Jackie spoon fed them to me, moving one hand through my hair to keep me in a calm state.  You're doing just fine, baby, I'm taking care of you. You just rest.  Another shot in the IV.  Sleep.  I asked about my not-daughter-but-friend and before I knew it, there she was.  She and Jackie chatting away like two old friends.  A woman showed up and gave my not-daughter-but-friend a list of instructions and some prescriptions.  Do you want me to go have them filled for you here?  I'd be happy to do that.  We said yes and then thought maybe that was a bad idea.  This was going to take forever.  In ten minutes, she was back.  All smiles and more of that niceness.  Jackie called for valet, I was wheeled to the elevators and when the doors opened on the ground floor, there was my car, passenger side door open, Mr. Valet Man all smiles and hope you feel better real soon.

Is there such thing as a five star surgery center?  Is there something similar to a Zagat or Michelin guide out there that rates surgery centers?  I'm not sure but I do know that I am mailing a revised version of this post to the center and to my surgeon.  The experience was that good, the people that nice.  Was it Methodist Hospital or The Inn & Spa at Methodist?  Did I go in for surgery or a completly self-indulgent spa treatment?  I'm not sure, not at all sure.

Monday, May 10, 2010


The colors I chose for the inside of my house are Kestrel White and Sanderling.  Sanderling?  That's a bird, but to me it's now a color. Kestrel?  Also a bird. Also a color, though not sure where the white comes from.  I think it's safe to say that I prefer winged tones


Having the interior of my house painted is a big undertaking, huge really, enormous.  Everything has to come off the walls, every fragile thing has to be removed from the shelves, the buffet, the china cabinet, the drop-leaf tables in the entryway and hallway.  All the vases, all the books, the silver framed photos of famiy on the night stands. All of that has to be boxed and all of those boxes have to go somewhere, somewhere out of the way.  Boxes and boxes of  the carefully wrapped treasures, paintings and photographs of my life are now stacked one upon another in a dark storage unit in a building sitting on the frontage road of an Interstate stretching from Florida to California. Cars and trucks pass by and on immune to the building, to that dark stall filled floor to ceiling with pieces of my life.

Wrapping and taping, watching my walls go bare, drab, revealing the dirty ghost of something that once hung there... packing and marking and crying.  Crying?  Yes, crying.  This is the beginning of a change I seek, want, yet fear a little bit. Every thing is apart and that foolish sense of control, it too is gone. Even when I know that control is never mine, but His.  I feel insecure with the changes but laugh at the idea that I have control or that it could be taken from me through shifting my belongings from one place to another.

This is the beginning of a change that will take time, will move me from here to an apartment, to the curb as I watch shovels dig and walls rise.  This is a time of working towards a goal, a happy and grand idea, and yet discomfort takes residence. 


I feel like this, this picture of Cheyenne running up the stairs.  The stairs and her movement are blurred.  You know where she's going, and so do I.  So does she.  Still, one of her feet is off the ground and the other three are on different steps.  If she stopped right there, as is, she would tumble.  Her forward movement is all that keeps her safe, is critical to her goal of reaching the top of the stairs.  That's life.  Onward, moving, different steps in the climbing, counting on the movement connecting to the destination.  Even if we lose sight of it, while moving moving moving towards our goal, we know when we are on the right path, we know that only when we are moving do we have true balance.

This morning, I will have surgery on my broken fibula.  It's not major surgery, but it is surgery.  And this surgery will put me out of my house for three weeks, conveniently while it's being painted, and in the homes of good friends who have offered to take care of me, to take care of Cheyenne.  It puts me on crutches for four weeks and unable to drive for two.  Inconvenience, that is all, because it will ultimately provide support to my ankle and allow me to heal, to walk, to run.  How often we take for granted the ability to move freely through our days, to walk, to run at will.  This surgery reminds me to be thankful for what I've taken for granted in the past.

So much change at once -- change in body and home -- makes me a bit nervous, a bit undone, even when the majority of it is by choice. This morning I remember my father's words Be brave and I take a deep breath, look out on this path before me and say I will be brave, I will be okay.  Today is his birthday.  Today, I remember his kind voice and I take his sage advice.  Today, I bravely step out to change.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Tickle toes

This little piggy went to market

Her finger wiggling my toe, a smile on my face

This little piggy stayed home

A giggle is born

This little piggy had roast beef

A squeel forms

This little piggy had none

A pause in anticipation

And this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home

Full out laughter and wiggling as her loving fingers traveled from my feet and up my legs to my tummy for a big out loud tickle. 

My mother and I shared many moments like this one in our life together, silly time.  We didn't stop the nursery rhyme game as I grew up, although we played less regularly.  It's that memory of all those tickle times with her that I unfold in my heart today.

Today is her birthday.  Today, I am remembering the laughter we shared together.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Your time is now

Do you know Katherine Center?  If not, check out her website.  She's a force of talent and inspiration.  She recently made a video for the Texas Conference for Women, Massachusetts Conference for Women, and Pennsylvania Governor’s Conference for Women.  Check it out.  You'll find a little surprise in there.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Memories and fantasies

As I sit here on my couch with my right ankle beneath a bag of frozen peas and atop a pillow which is atop the coffee table, my thoughts turn to what I miss, what I fear is forever gone from my life.

Like these, for instance:

And this brown buckled baby:

And, seriously, I would like to walk into my closet every morning and see these, because they belong in my life!
This shoe? This was designed to wrap around my foot:

And if I could have a pair of these, I'd wear them every day with my faded jeans and happy toes.
But let's not forget what got me into this problem in the first place:

Aren't they lovely?  Lovely like the poison Juliet drank, that's how lovely they are.  With all that said, please hang your head in sadness and sympathy when I show you what surely I'll be wearing from now on:
You are sad for me, aren't you?  Yeah, I thought so.  Thanks, I'm sad for me too. 

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Tumbalina takes a fall

I have such a love for ridiculous shoes, for shoes that are too platform, too wedge, shoes that reach too far into the too much.  I have a closet full of shoes that fit into this category.  I love to wear them with jeans, with skirts, with shorts.  I love to wear them in the car and I love to wear them on a plane.  I love to wear them when I'm in and I love to wear them when I'm out.  I remove them to sleep or bathe, that's pretty much it.

There's one little problem with this love affair:  I am not one who posesses coordination.

So, when you take something like these:

and you combine them with my flawed ability to maintain balance, and then toss in an inclined driveway, you get the makings for disaster.  The other day, that's just what I got. 

What happened was something like this:

Only, my ankle went the other way, outward. And I didn't remain standing.  And my legs aren't that long or pretty, especially not my knees.  Otherwise, that's a darn good representation.  At least you get the idea.

My fibula bone, the one I broke in November, sliding off a pair of flat flip-flops at the bottom of my stairs? Well, it re-broke, but worse than the first break. 

My mother used to tell me that I aways move two steps ahead of myself.  True words, those.

Surgery is May 10th.

There's a lesson here, and it's about shoes.  Whether flat or platform, I am incapable of safely wearing them. 

Or, perhaps I should slow two steps down?