Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Traveling Lightly

     I love the ongoing challenge between the airlines and passengers over baggage. The airlines charge for checked luggage, so folks stuff everything into carry-on bags. Now some airlines are charging for overhead bin space, so under-the-seat bags are becoming the rage. While I absolutely can afford it, it irritates me to no end to pay baggage fees on top of the steep ticket prices. So I am now the proud owner of a pretty-damn-small under-the-seat bag. As you can see from the photos, it is just a bit bigger than a standard-size binder.
     I am leaving on a 10-day trip later this week. I am employing several strategies to pack this small bag. My husband packs for the Bike Across Kansas each year and gave me this helpful tip... put clothes in a zip-lock bag, sit on it and seal it. Voila, vacuum-packed! Fortunately, I don't need fancy clothes, so shorts and t-shirts will satisfy my needs throughout, along with one pair of good walking shoes. I learned that the hotel we are staying at midway through the trip has laundry facilities, which I will use. I don't need much jewelry or a lot of make-up or hair products. Those that I do bring are quite small. I'm also very healthy, so I don't have any drugs or medical equipment to carry. I'm very low-maintenance.

     I will be reporting on my trip here on the blog. I have a bucket-list mission to see a baseball game in every major league ballpark. As of right now, it's 13 down, 17 to go. My upcoming trip is devoted to this mission. It's a died-and-gone-to-heaven tour. I fly into Baltimore, where I've given myself an extra day to explore on my own. Once I join the group for the bus tour, we begin with a game and tour at Camden Yards. Then we go on to Philadelphia for a Phillies game. The next move is to New York City for two days to see both the Mets and Yankees, along with some free time in NYC. My two NYC tourist goals are the 911 Memorial and McSorley's Old Ale House. The "icing on the cake" of this trip is a day at Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame. We finish up in Boston where we get both a game and a tour at Fenway, plus I'm staying an extra day to explore Boston on my own. This will add four more stadiums to my bucket list, as I had previously been to a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park.
     I am going solo on this trip. I don't know anyone who is as nuts about baseball as I am, nor willing to spend that kind of money for baseball, baseball and more baseball. The advantages of this group trip are many. Transportation in unfamiliar cities is taken care of. We have great seats and nice hotels that I probably would not have treated myself to had I planned it myself, which would have taken an extraordinary amount of my time. There will be lots of ground covered with no driving by me! The tour company (Triple Crown Travel) can take advantage of group rates and packages. I have traveled many times in my life on group tours, and I love meeting new folks, which on this tour will be extra-fun because we will all be baseball nuts. However, being the introvert that I am, I will be very happy to retreat each night to a hotel room all to myself. Can you tell I am excited?!?!?!
     More fun to come...

Friday, July 13, 2018

My Hip is in my Head.

     I have been living with a sore, tight and achy left hip for at least five years. While something in me knew it is probably arthritis, I have resisted that label since the hip is the only place on my body where I experience any sort of discomfort. I am a firm believer in our body's ability to heal itself, so I believed that my body would eventually do just that. Along the way, I've done various things to support the healing, such as regular chiropractic, massage and yoga. MELT Method techniques have been particularly helpful in enabling me to stay active and keep the ache at a tolerable level with very little need to take pain relievers of any sort.
     Investigation of another possible healing modality (prolotherapy--look it up) led my new doctor (previous doc retired) to require x-rays of the hip to see what is truly going on in that joint. I will congratulate him on his bravery, for he is the one who finally pronounced to me that it is arthritis with bone-on-bone contact in the joint. Did I mention that I hate being medically labeled? I swear my hip has become more achy since that pronouncement.
     My doctor said, "You can have that joint replaced. It is just a matter of when you decide that it is affecting your quality of life." So now, my hip is in my head.
     First of all, I am frustrated that I was not able to heal myself. Not that I've ever had that miraculous ability! I know I can't convince myself that I can re-form the bone and rebuild the joint tissue. Where is Jesus when I need him? I do believe that someday humans will be able to heal themselves, but we just aren't that evolved yet. I fully realize that this is a dumb reason to be annoyed with myself.
     Next, in my mind, arthritis equals old. I'm not old in my head, so it aggravates me to be old in my body. Since I am so generally healthy, I like to think that I am immune to illness and declining with age. So a likely hip replacement is a wake-up call that the more years I spend on the planet, the more I may run into assorted health challenges. I am grateful that this one is rather easily fixed.
     The pros for having the hip replaced are many:

-I'm weary of the nearly constant ache that often interferes with sleep
-The arthritis and bone-on-bone contact are not going to improve
-I'm limping
-I don't want to mess up other parts of my body by continuing to compensate for this hip issue
-I want to be able to walk long distances comfortably on my many upcoming travels
-I can get this one and only thing fixed and then I'm good to go for a long time (I hope!)
-I do not like feeling handicapped or saying "I can't...." because I am hurting
-It is making it harder for me to do and teach yoga and to walk for more than a couple miles
-Maybe the surgeon can fix the life-long discrepancy in the length of my legs
-I have a good window of time in the fall to get it done.

     The cons are just big scary monsters in my head:
-I might die on the operating table
-I'll go nuts if I can't swim for several weeks
-What if it doesn't "work" and I'm still in pain
-They cut off the top of the leg bone--YUCK! (Though I am going to ask if I can have it as a souvenir)
-I know someone who went in for a "simple knee replacement" and had so many complications that he ended up many months later with a leg amputation

     Clearly, I can scare the sense out of myself if I'm not mindful of my thoughts! I know several folks who have had successful hip replacements and they are ready and willing to support me. There are good surgeons locally in Wichita that have plenty of experience with the procedure. I am very motivated, especially by my desire to travel, to recover well and quickly. Ultimately this will be just a small "blip in the action" which is my life.
      Now that I have mentally "opened the door" to the hip replacement option, I know that the knowledge, support and resources to make it happen are coming to me. I can hardly wait to hear myself say, "I'm so glad I did it!" 
      Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The PERFECT Ending

     Yesterday was likely my last visit to Wrigley Field for a CUBS game. A Cubs game at Wrigley is truly heaven on earth for me. I love baseball, the Cubs, Wrigley, Wrigleyville--I know writing this will bring me to tears, this experience has such a huge place in my heart.
     I say my "last visit" because my friend who lives in Chicago and spoils me wonderfully with so much tourist fun is moving away, and I probably won't make the effort on my own to get to a game. I'm not "shutting the door," but it was important for my experience yesterday to recognize that it may be the last time I am there.
     While my friend went elsewhere to take care of some moving business, I stepped off the train at Addison and headed toward Wrigley. I did some requisite browsing in the souvenir shops. I know that it is not possible for me to be surrounded by too much Cubs paraphernalia. I discovered a mighty-fine Cubs golf bag, and posted a hinting suggestion with photo on Facebook.
     I've been consciously trying to open up more and talk with folks I don't know. So I did that in the Cubs store, striking up a conversation with a woman working there. It was lovely. It turns out that she also is a tax preparer (what are the chances?!?!?!), then she works in the Cubs store during baseball season. So like me, she is wildly excited on Opening Day, because it means the end of tax season is oh-so-close. She talked of how she loves working in the store because shoppers are so enthusiastic and excited to be attending a game at Wrigley Field.
     Pre-game ritual involves at least one beer at the Cubbie Bear bar directly opposite the Wrigley marquee. Temps were in the high-90s, demanding cool refreshment, so that was the next stop. While there, I also achieved one of my Chicago-weekend food goals--the real thing--a Chicago Dog. My friend joined me and around 3:00, and we headed across the street for the 4:05 game vs the Minnesota Twins.
     I used the pre-game time inside the stadium to roam, take photos, and just soak up the place and feel how much I love it and love being there. As I was roaming, I noticed a couple guys talking with an usher about his 2016 World Series ring. Since the Cubs had not won a World Series since 1908, the Cubs organization gave out 1,908 rings following the 2016 championship, so the usher said "everyone got one." How cool is that!!! There are three levels of "fanciness" to the rings, from the players diamond-and-jewel-encrusted ones to very plain. The one in the photo below is the mid-level one, on MY hand!!!

     Mercifully our seats were in the shade, down the left-field side just past third base. It was gross hot and muggy. I kept telling myself that all this sweating was worth it. I told my friend that my ultimate goal of the day was to be singing "Go, Cubs, Go" at the top of my lungs, because that means the Cubs won the game.
     It was my idea of a perfect game. The Cubs were down 5-2 and came back to win 10-6. The Cubs hit four home runs, including a grand slam by Addison Russell. There were errors overcome and great defensive plays made. And I got to sing, the perfect ending to a great Wrigley experience I shall hold in my heart always.
     There IS crying in baseball,

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Stuff We Don't Want to Think About, But We Do

     I had a discussion yesterday with someone slightly older than my 62 years who is very near and dear to my heart. Both of us are noticing some physical symptoms of aging, experiencing folks near to us either very ill or passing, considering the prospect of our own passing, and thus, pondering what sort of life and legacy we'll be leaving behind.
     While these are natural thoughts relative to a limited earthly life, we don't want to dwell on them to the point of immobilized obsession. And we don't. I believe it is completely natural to wonder about what happens when we transition, and what it will be like for those we leave among the living. But then we go on about our daily business. Two beliefs relative to all this are very comforting to me.
     The first belief is that "we never get it done." We come into physical form to create. The very essence of our beings is to create. And no matter how much we do create, there is always a desire for more. This is not greediness. It is our spiritual nature demanding expression throughout our lifetimes, no matter how long they may be. On a comical note, this means to me that it doesn't matter if I die with my house not being clean, which will very likely be the case!
    The second belief is that "one cannot un-know anything." Once we know or experience something, we can't wipe it away. The joy in this to me is that our consciousness retains all we have learned and experienced even after we leave physical form, and all that wisdom is there for us, should we choose to take on another physical form. I think that's how human consciousness continues to move beyond horrors like slavery and keep inventing amazing things.
     I close with the poem "funeral" by rupi kaur:
when i go from this place
dress the porch with garlands
as you would for a wedding my dear
pull the people from their homes
and dance in the streets
when death arrives
like a bride at the aisle
send me off in my brightest clothing
serve ice cream with rose petals to our guests
there's no reason to cry my dear
i have waited my whole life
for such a beauty to take
my breath away
when i go
let it be a celebration
for i have been here
i have lived
i have won at this game call life
Still winning,

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Free Will and Self-Interest

     I listen regularly to the wisdom of Abraham-Hicks, a source of wisdom from our Higher Selves, Spirit, the Other Side, whatever one cares to call it. I always come away from a listening session feeling more loved. One of the things that has stuck with me long-term is Abraham's emphatic statement: "No one came here to be the keeper of you, and you did not come here to be the keeper of anyone else." It's a somewhat polite way of saying, "Mind your own business."
     Because we have free will (the fundamental basis of existence on this planet), and because we came here to expand our consciousness in myriad ways, we are most definitely creatures of self-interest. Few folks want to flat-out own that. God forbid we should be called "selfish." But according to Abraham, all that matters is that we feel good, thereby keeping our energetic vibration high, which attracts good to us (think the Beach Boys song, "Good Vibrations"). Folks who label someone as "selfish" are simply indicating that the labeled person is not behaving in a way that makes the labeler feel good. Look at your own life--your actions are done because they make you feel good in some way (even do-gooder acts) or you don't continue doing them.
     It's when we are asking someone else to be or behave differently so that we can feel better that we give up our personal power. It is impossible to change others or circumstances. Our only empowered choice is to work within ourselves to feel good, no matter what is swirling around us. Human behavior has been and always will be based on self-interest. May we be most interested in feeling good, being intimately in touch with our divine nature, aligned with Spirit. If this were the case with each one of us on the planet, there would be no wars, violence, sickness, etc. I'd say that makes self-interest look pretty damn good.
     Note that this is a "note to self." 🙂

Sunday, June 3, 2018

An Opportunity to Appreciate a Friend

Tonight we give thanks for the great gift of friendship and in particular for my dear friend, _______________. Thank you for the circumstances that brought us together and have bound us into the sacred bundle of life. Thank you also for the gifts of our friendship: for knowledge that comforts, for words that encourage, for insight that blesses, for all the experiences shared, for the sweet bliss of deeply knowing each other in so many ways; for history and a hope of the future, for conversation and laughter, for silence, for bearing each other's witness truly, for holding each other safe in our hearts with great love and tenderness.   
     --by Daphne Rose Kingma, in "A Grateful Heart"

Make a list of all the possibilities for filling in that blank, and don't forget family members. My list includes "D, D, E, A, C, B, M, J, A, S, D, K, C, L" and many more. It's a good day to be grateful for the love in our lives!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Mumma's Wisdom

     This is lessons from mumma included in the book by rupi kaur titled "the sun and her flowers."

when it came to listening
my mother taught me silence
if you are drowning their voice with yours
how will you hear them she asked

when it came to speaking
she said do it with commitment
every word you say
is your own responsibility

when it came to being
she said be tender and tough at once
you need to be vulnerable to live fully
but rough enough to survive it all

when it came to choosing
she asked me to be thankful
for the choices i had that
she never had the privilege of making

     So very thankful,