There she was, that beauty of a black Royal, sitting there, dusty, keys barely visible.
Forty Dollars, the price tag said as it was marked down to it’s final lowest price at the consignment store I visit with my aunt when she treks down from Boston.
I quietly walked up to the black metal machine weighing in at what seemed like twenty pounds and placed my finger on a random key, maybe it was the H or the G or the A, irrelevant now. Click, like the sound of the hard snap of the tip of my tongue up against the roof of my mouth, I was brought back to a familiar time, but one I couldn’t quite recall just yet.
firmly pressed my fingers on the keys with a much stronger touch than the
laptop keyboard my fingers have grown accustomed to. I waited to hear the
“ding,” hoping the warning bell to pay attention to my word choice of how many
letters I have left still worked on this old beauty of a machine.
was not disappointed.
And just like that I was brought back to my grandmother’s bedroom where she had
always kept her typewriter for correspondence, recipes and anything else she
needed to legibly communicate what her messy handwriting could not.
aunt, who was shopping with me that day, confirmed what I couldn’t place at
Yes Alayne, dear, this was indeed the same type of typewriter Grandma had.
some reason, at that exact moment, I felt a strange calling to rescue what I now
fondly call, Dear Old Gal. And just
like that, I became a collector of typewriters.
It is hard to believe that was a little over a year ago, but in one year’s time I have amassed thirty typewriters. YES- 30. I realize to the average person, this may seem excessive, but it occurred to me shortly after that first purchase of this 1940’s Royal, these gems are not being made anymore. Typewriters from the twentieth century, pre-electric, are the end of an era. They are glorious pieces of machinery all needing each part to make them their beautiful whole. The mechanisms are visible to the eye for the most part and their simplicity is a thing of the past. Our children and their children will only get to see them at museums and antique stores.
I am in love with the notion of using a typewriter. My heart is full when I open one from their portable case and set it up on my front porch to make my thoughts appear, mistakes and all, on the white paper I have rolled in. I am elated when I watch a child instinctively drawn to the keys and smile ear to ear realizing that they can create words that will not allow deletion. I am in my happy place when they ask, “Where is the exclamation point? (you have to make it with a period, backspace, apostrophe) Or the number 1?(it is the capital L) How do I erase a mistake? (you don’t) What is the ding for?”
My heart is in pure heaven when I can send a typed note on specialty 100% cotton paper I found from Germany to say thank you to someone who least expects to receive a typewritten note. Or to send my condolences to someone who has lost a loved one. Or just because.
There is something about typing. I can’t explain the feeling so instead of doing so, I do events and open my doors to let people in to feel what I mean. More than even the actual action of typing, typewriters invoke story after story from people every time they see one and even more when they hear one.
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, all flavors. This is beauty to me. Sharing something from the past with people to engage and connect. In our new face down in the phone paradigms we seem to find ourselves in and our children in, I am finding it harder and harder to escape from this technology that has made us all think of as connection. What I have learned is that it is the exact opposite.
So I offer a new way to disconnect. This is why I type. Typewritingisbeauty. Enjoy them; they love their salvation.
join me on Saturday September 14th for The State Street Fair in
Bristol, RI. I will be there with the typewriters. Stop by and type something,
bring the kids, bring your smiles.
I am getting closer to my mid-fifties by the minute and I thought it would be fun to start a #lovelybadass manifesto. I want more loving and kind manifestos in this wacky world of hate and violence I have found myself in. If you want to add anything, send along, maybe we will end up with something so powerful we will rule the world with our badass goodness. I would like to add that my heroine, Doreen Wiggins, the loveliest bad ass ass I know is the one who bestowed this phrase upon me. THANK YOU D.
I will as often as possible lean into the good parts of myself. My shape, my skin, my wrinkles and age spots, right down to the hairs sprouting from every orifice EXCEPT my brows and eyelashes, the only hairs sprouting there are the grey wiry ones.
I will drink the fucking glass of wine or two or three or the whole damn bottle and enjoy it. I will cease and desist the perpetual blithering that happens before and after said glass of wine and just enjoy the need for some release.
I will as often as possible commit to loving my health by nurturing it with goodness. Good food, good thoughts, and good silence. And when I don’t do this perfectly as I know this is absolutely impossible to keep up, I will have a blast taking the deep dive down the rabbit hole and trusting that maybe this is just what my body and mind needs at the time.
I will continue to celebrate my life the way I want despite what every blog post screams at me from my unsolicited algorithms telling the algorithms to spew back on a daily basis. 10 WAYS TO SAVE MORE MONEY, 7 WAYS TO GET FIT IN 7 DAYS, 8 STEPS TO BE A HEALTHIER YOU can go fuck themselves. I going forward and sometimes backwards will make my own lists and follow them the way I want.
I will buy more typewriters with abandon no matter how crazy it is, I will celebrate my own crazy and people can come for the wild ride or not.
I will live and over commit to everything and either make it all happen or none of it because life feels urgent and messy and glorious to be in the muck. I will celebrate that this is just who I am no matter how many times I hear words like, Slow down, just say no and all of the other rules and regs from outside forces.
I will continue to have a love hate relationship with technology knowing that like football, I will never understand it because I don’t want to. THAT SIMPLE.
I will continue to surround myself with only people, places and things that bring me joy. This is something I have complete control over and I will move into my mid fifties knowing it is my right to choose each time, every time.
I will look affectionately at every tight assed gorgeous twenty year old who has the confidence of a young #lovelybadass. I will smile at them and not wish their age on anyone because no matter how tight their ass is in a thong at the beach, no matter how smooth their youthful glowing skin is, if they are lucky to make it to my age and beyond, they too will be me on the beach looking at them. Admiration is a lovely gesture and I bestow it on them with happiness thinking also, this too will pass.
I will smile at everyone. Strangers and babies and dogs. Even if I don’t get a smile in return. Even if they are not smiling at me first. I will do this because I enjoy smiling at people.
I will cut flowers and give them to random people because I have a killer garden and why not share some of it with strangers and friends. Like a thank you note, flowers spread love.
I will come up with a billion ideas and likely only execute less than 1% of them. This is just how my brain works. I accept this despite how many of my friends likely roll their eyes every time I share a new idea.
I will talk to anyone and everyone, who wants me to, about my mastectomy, my breast implants from my mastectomy, and all of the boob conversation that happens. Because what lies in front of me in the mirror every day is my luck that it was caught early, that I have a sense of perpetual urgency to live with wild abandon that at times gets me in trouble, and an upright and almost perfect set of tatas that deserves low cut dresses. (Thank you Dr. Michaud).
I will always work out. Of all the healthy lifestyle choices I make, exercising is the most important for my mental health and my physical health. And if I don’t get to the gym, I will go outside and walk even if it is around the block. Nature is youth and happiness serum. No question it is what has rebounded my body into the speedy recovery from three breast cancer surgeries, surgical menopause and crazy brain.
I will blow off working out too.
While I am working out with loud music and my lovely trainer telling me to squat and then jump to a burpee and do a bicep curl like this is something normal, I will stop critiquing my hips and my flabby arms as I do this with the mirror staring me back. I will blame my flabby arms on breast cancer surgery. Why not? Free pass, right?
I will offer with wild and joyous abandon my help to anyone starting their own businesses. Pay it forward helps propel success. Success helps people pay it forward. Simple pleasures.
I will continue to say the word, fuck, because there is nothing like this word to get a point across. And there is nothing like fucking. And yes I will say this too.
I will say I love you to friends and family often. Maybe too much. Why not? I will continue to work on my five favorite relationship words, THE FIVE A’S from the incredible David Richo, who wrote a book that could easily be the only wedding gift for a new couple or anyone for that matter. This book changed my life, How to Be An Adult in a Relationship. ATTENTION. ACCEPTANCE. APPRECIATION. AFFECTION. ALLOWING.
If I start to go negative about something, I will do my best to change the conversation to gratitude. It never fails me. Not always easy when my brain starts spinning into the oblivion of negative thinking, but when I remember to go to what I am grateful for there is an immediate shift. EVERY TIME.
I will speak my mind when I see both subtle and loud patriarchy. It is the silent killer of feminine energy and I will no longer be silent.
I will say the words vaginal dryness.
I will continue to connect with people and create connections. Supportive, kind connection is what gives me pleasure and I want pleasure.
I will try my hardest to rest, to read in the middle of a day even when there is so much on my to do list it is making my head spin. I will stop. I will stop. I will stop. Clearly, this is not easy.
I will type on my typewriter collection and, snail mail, send more thank you notes I will do this often because typing on a real old school typewriter and writing with an actual pen and paper gives me a sense of calmness, it is almost like meditation. And it is sending kindness and light through the real air waves. No social media can ever replace receiving a real typewritten or hand written thank you note.
I am sure I will think of many more once I hit the send and publish button. Manifestos, when used for goodness, are like this; they invoke more goodness. We need more goodness. We need more kindness. We need more connection. And goodness knows we need more women speaking their truths ALOUD AND LOUD.
I will not talk about food and the consumption of it as good or bad. I’ve been good will no longer exist as a description of my previous day’s history.
I will offer help if I see a stranger struggling with putting groceries in the car. They can say no, but I will offer to help.
I will eat the mother fucking ice cream whenever I want. And if Ben and Jerry’s continues to call their pints, three servings, I will start a boycott because it is not normal to think that a pint should not be eaten in at the most 2 sittings, (ie within an hour of each other)
I will continue to bang and bop my head when Robert Plant sings, “When the juice runs down my leg” Or when ACDC screams some misogynist song realizing completely that this goes against everything I have ever fought for because the beat and the headbanging sounds and the singing at the top of my lungs overrules every modern era #metoo movement. I grew up in the most misogynistic era listening to ads that say things like “boys don’t make passes at girls that wear glasses.” I am confident in my ability to separate. So: For those about to rock, we salute you.
I love not having to ever wear a bra again. #Goreconstructionafteramastectomygo
Ditto for never having to buy tampons or maxi pads again where I had previously never considered that the tax that has been charged on these as a luxury item shocks me more that I never questioned it all of those years. I shudder to think about how much that adds up to. Shameful. Misogynistic. Way more than ACDC if you ask me.
When I was first married, my in laws, my husband at the time, and I decided to head down to New Jersey to Six Flags on a family trip. This was one of those old fashioned trips- close enough to home, but just enough to need an overnight, stopping for pee breaks and lunch along the way as we made our way towards an adventure.
The thought of going to any amusement park these days makes my skin crawl, but in my late twenties, this was an exciting trip that I looked forward to. This was in the land of BEFORE. Before we had our son, before my brother was diagnosed with cancer, before my father died. Life was that time ahead, in front; AFTER hadn’t happened yet.
When we got to the park, it went as planned. Roller coaster after roller coaster, screaming and more screaming. There was a distinct moment on the Batman roller coaster as I found myself upside down in a spiral twist when I realized what an incredible stress reliever roller coasters were. Screaming at the top of my lungs with the noise and the sounds of the whooshing, staring at the feet of my fellow passengers and thinking, This is way better than therapy.
Children have it made. When they need to express themselves they have an unwritten permission slip to scream, shout and stomp their feet. Unless one wants to end up in a mental institution, adulthood eliminates this from our backpack of life tools and at some point in our young lives, we stop the stomping and screaming. We figure out other ways to relieve our frustrations and stress. Sometimes grown up ways, like therapy, yoga or talking about our feelings, sometimes drinking or drugging, but seldom screaming and shouting.
Roller coasters partnered with the age of fifty four are no longer a good match. I could basically vomit looking at a roller coaster. I get dizzy way too easily and unfortunately have to leave the roller coasters to my viewing pleasure if I were to find myself at a theme park. This is highly unlikely and the next time there will be a theme park in my viewfinder, would probably be when I ever have the privilege of a grandchild. Thankfully, this is a long way off. So what is a closet screamer chick to do? Where else could a grown woman stand up and scream her brains out for a few hours of glorious stress relief that no downward dogs and tree poses could ever compete with?
How about an outdoor concert with three thousand people on a lake in the middle of Massachusetts watching a Led Zeppelin tribute band for the second time, GET THE LED OUT? The name alone commands screaming. And screaming we did. In a little town called Webster lies a campground with a lake and an outdoor concert venue called Indian Ranch. And it was here last night that my friends and I made our second annual pilgrimage to tailgate, to eat grinders and chips, and pump our fists and scream like we were kids again.
My partner, who is seventy two, is not a Led Zeppelin fan. Music shows our age difference for sure. When he was seventeen the top songs were I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles and Hello Dolly by Louis Armstrong. A little different then The Lemon Song and Robert Plant screaming, “When the juice runs down my leg..” When my boyfriend was seventeen I wasn’t even born yet. This cracks me up. But he is a cool cat and has no problem with me calling up my childhood friend, Joe, to be my fake date at the fake Zeppelin concert last night. Get the Led Out is one of my favorite evenings out. It is a blast from the funnest side of my past and I love going to see them.
When Led Zeppelin first hit our ear waves, we were in grammar school so basically, we were raised on Led Zeppelin. Stairway to Heaven came out when we were six and when All My Love came out in 1979, we had just started going to middle school dances. This was definitely the go to song for slow dancing. I know every single word as did every single attendee at the concert last night.
My friend bought us all Led Zeppelin t shirts and we along with the crowd danced and sang and not a single person there was in 2019. We were transported in a magical time machine back to THEN. Then. The times that we can easily say were easier just like our parents and our grandparents say when they reflect back. Looking back is fun because like a bad relationship, it is so easy to have any of the bad magically disappear. The good seems to reengineer and become sensationalized in the reflections and it is a lovely respite from our busy brains.
I looked to my friend, Joe, who I have been friends with since sixth grade and I said, “Everyone here is so old. Is this how we look to everyone here?” The air guitarring and drumming, the pot smoking, legal now, and the rock and roll clothes of yesteryear found their way to every fifty something soul screaming our brains out to lyrics from songs like Dazed and Confused, that would have the metoo movement shudder. “Soul of a woman was created below…” and every sex dripping lyric brought me to my knees (seriously no pun intended), as I danced and sang and rocked out old school with one of my dearest friends by my side.
I can’t speak for every person in attendance last night, but besides the cell phones and their inordinate amount of use, I wouldn’t have been able to tell that is was the year 2019. We were definitely living last night in the past. And it was so fucking fun, I didn’t want it to end. I got my led out, but as my old Led Zeppelin loving boyfriend from yesteryear said last year when I sent him some pictures from the concert, “Alayne, no one ever truly gets the led out.”
After a ridiculously fun night out on the town with live music, lots of dancing and three gigantic scoops of ice cream to top it off, the morning followed. And it wasn’t as fun as the night before because the night before also included wine. Needless to say, “Not Drinking Today,” is taking a brief hiatus. Only for a few weeks, though, as the town I call home is July fourth festive almost 24/7 and wine is once again part of my nightly party.
Part of the morning after of the night before, is the morning bathroom. Without getting too detailed, (even I have my standards), I headed in for a much needed bodily function. On the way, I passed by my phone that I had made a conscious effort to leave face down since I woke up, and unconsciously grabbed it to take in with me. I’m guessing here- for the purpose of multi tasking. I can’t even believe I am saying this aloud. Multi tasking in the bathroom? Have I lost my fucking mind? Part of the routine of a night before is to load up on fat and carbs with a fervor. I hopped on my bike to get to the bagel shop at the speed of light and as I was waiting for my order found myself standing next to a woman also waiting for her order. She had her phone on the counter and was scrolling through messages missing the order taker’s repeat question of “What size did you want your coffee?” I finally answered for her, “Medium,” I stated because my waitressing skills from thirty years ago never seem to disappear.
My answering, “Medium,” caused the distracted woman to actually look up and quickly apologize confirming her request for a medium sized coffee. The young girl getting the coffee for this lady barely looked concerned as I am sure this is a regular occurrence at the counter in the morning with all of the sleepy customers ordering bagels coffee with barely a glance up from their phones for eye contact. Have we all lost our minds?
I recently heard a statistic that people are spending more time on their smartphones than television and this number is supposed to keep rising. Besides phones being phones, phones are now our cameras, video recorders, computers, radios, education, movies and television all wrapped in one small little, carry with us all the time even to the bathroom, package of convenience.
People are looking down at a rate that frightens me. From a physical perspective, our heads are perpetually down without moving our heads up and back for the counter balance of our poor necks, and from an emotional perspective, the lack of eye contact and smiling at one another. We are capturing every waking moment of every waking thing as part of our daily routines that is unprecedented in any human experience we have seen in our lifetimes.
What I notice about my own use is how sidetracked I can become in a nanosecond. I am a typically sidetracked person anyway, so clicking and moving around a screen is probably not helpful to my very sensitive brain. I wonder how much all of this bluescreen is negatively affecting my body. When I pay attention to the way I feel, it is usually a bit fragmented and staticky after a run with the screen for too long. Physically, mentally, spiritually, these elements of who I am, are hyper challenged when I am on the screen too much, not to mention the disconnect I feel in this false sense of connection.
I was at the beach yesterday and watched, between the parade of non stop thong wearing booty, hundreds of young people from middle school to college, looking down at their phones as they walked together. It used to be that we just walked the beach with a Dels Lemonade in one hand and the other hand free. Now every single hand has a phone, mostly iPhones, easily each one a minimum of a thousand dollars.
As I left the beach, I walked by adults on this packed hot pre July 4th weekday also on their phones, reading, texting, scrolling, trolling and some outright personal phone conversations like their beach spot was their own private phone booth. It is not. Everyone can hear the one sided conversations. Everyone can hear the bings, the swirls, the dings, tings, pings and every other distracting and inconsiderate noise polluting sound these tiny three by six inch lifelines make. Without so much of a deeply considered thought, we seem to have adopted these machines as an additional member of our families. Phones have taken the place of our time away to be with our thoughts alone.
Daydreaming used to be this pause in our busy lives. Now I find that when I do give myself over to daydreaming, as a thought enters my mind, instead of allowing it to move around the way day dreaming does so magically, I often interrupt its flow with the need to Google an idea.
Here is an example. I was sitting looking at my garden and watching the birds and bunnies forage for food, peaceful and quiet as I nursed my subtle hangover waiting for the bagel carbs to kick in. A question popped into my head. “If I could make a radical change in my life, what would it be?” The desire to sell everything and have a minimal life is always nagging at me. I like the extremity of this thinking. As I begin to consider the small rv I would need to get, I think about my friend’s little van she just reconstructed with a bed and some shelves and how handy she is. This thought leads me to thinking about if I could possibly figure out how to set up my own little space in a van and that lead me to thinking about where I might find someone who could do this for me. My brain immediately thinks, “Google it, Alayne.” And I have to fight the temptation. But like a pint of ice cream in my freezer, the call to Google beckons and I have to work at resisting. This would have never happened ten years ago. I would have just thought about the idea and let it flow the way ideas are supposed to. Then later, when I made my way to my office, maybe if I remembered, I would look up the how’s on the computer somewhere.
Phones have changed our human condition. Humanity has changed and simple day dreaming has become melded with technology where every click, snap, and search feeds the illustrious algorithms of big tech information about us so they can make our lives “easier.”
“Easier” seems to be the go to tagline to get humans to perform like circus animals. I remember when I was a little girl and TV dinners came out right along the time where kids were getting mini black and white televisions for their rooms and their own phones. Getting my gourmet cooking mother to buy a TV dinner for my brother and me took a lot of convincing. She had her standards, thank goodness, in retrospect. I also remember begging my parents for my own phone. It was a big deal when I got one and my father limited the amount of time I could spend talking on it because back then there was no call waiting in the seventies. If my father tried to call, there would be a busy signal and he would not be able to get through. This would not make my father very happy causing the threat of complete disconnection from my new phone. Leverage was what he had and most times I obliged the rules.
As I watch more and more people, especially our young people, with their heads down in their phones rather than a book, as I think about the future of actual television sets and going to the movies as a possible relic in the future, I feel worried about humanity. Will people actually stop trying to capture every moment when they realize they are actually missing every moment?
Humanity and technology is an awkward dance. Like the invention of the washing machine and dryer to make the washing of clothes much easier, we cannot imagine living without them. We have become dependent on their convenience and the thought of going back to using a washboard and a tub to clean our clothing seems ludicrous to our modern American way of life. This is the same with technology now; there seems to be no going back. Our entire lives are on our phones and I am afraid because of this, we must figure out how to co exist and still have human connection beyond a text.
Human connection feeds my sense of well being. I love a good deep hug, a serious sensual kiss, dinner in the garden, a dance on the front porch, spontaneity. I enjoy a beautiful book from the library trying to give my busy mind over to it on a breezy afternoon without looking at my phone for at least an hour. I am finding more and more that this break from technology must be a new habit I have to work on.
I know I do not need a phone by my side at every waking minute. I have to sometimes force myself to remember this as Apple would not want us to ever be away from our phones. I need to remember to look up, put my head all the way back in the opposite direction that it has has evolved into, downward like the pictures of the evolution of humans over time- head bent forward looking for food.
This time though, instead of feeding us for survival, we are looking for the human connection, but what we seem to have forgotten is that it is right in front of us if we would just remember to look up at the person standing right next to us.
decided to head out for a walk on Friday morning instead of the gym
because I was reminded while reading information by a new practitioner I
just met. She wrote about the equal importance of outdoor fitness-
connecting with nature and your body- along with gym workouts. I know
this to be true because there is nothing like nature to settle my
overactive brain. Working out at the gym does this too, but in a much
harder way. The vigorous pounding and accelerated heart rate, literally,
beats it out of me.
is the opposite; it is settling, calming and acts more like a slow,
steady paddle on a calm morning. It is the yin to my souped up yang.
Souped up yang as my heart lately has been racing, my brain has been in
overdrive and all of this leaves me with feelings of inadequacies and
not good enough thinking that makes me feel super shitty.
it the full moon? (yes), the approaching intensity of the glorious
summer solstice? (yes), is it the fast approaching seventeen year
anniversary of being in business? (I hadn’t thought about that, but
YES). Yes to all because I can feel a big, bad ass shift happening, but I
haven’t figured the ‘it’ out yet. Me and not figuring ‘it’ out is an
awkward dance that creates undo stress. I don’t like not knowing. Which
is exactly why I am here. Not knowing is where I am supposed to be and
this is something I definitely know.
My grandmother would say, “Alayne, sometimes no decision is the best
decision.” I don’t know why this gives me an immediate sense of comfort,
but it does. I bring the need to make decisions on in a way that causes
pressure on this overachieving mind of mine. This is the challenge of a
creative soul, for sure. Always moving and shaking and if things are
not moving and shaking, well, then I must move and shake them.
the counter balance is to cease and desist, not completely, but to use
nature as my guiding light as the opposing force to settle my ass down
in a chair and stare. To walk on a path by the water with no phone and
no companion except my beating heart and my Serena strong legs to propel
me along the beauty I get to call my place on this earth.
first step is usually the one that causes me procrastination for no
apparent reason other than the call of my house. Writing, cooking,
typing, organizing, working, are all little parts of the why I may not
always make time to go for that casual stroll alone, but I did anyway.
I didn’t, I wouldn’t have seen an elegant shimmery white egret fly over
me, full spread wings, headed for his landing pad of the harbor. The
sound of his movement was what caused me to look up and stop in awe to
watch. While I was looking up, I heard the familiar sound of the Osprey
who has the prime real estate address of Poppasquash Rd. in Bristol,
Rhode Island with his family and saw him carrying a fish. What a sight!
Like the sounds of cardinals, I can always recognize the Osprey’s high
pitched whistling sound. This is a rewarding lesson that keeps giving as
their majestic wing span soaring over my house is a sight to behold.
I didn’t take that walk, I wouldn’t have noticed the baby bunnies
foraging for food, looking so vulnerable as they learn the ropes of
finding nourishment. I wouldn’t have had the conversations with my
friend, Greg down at the harbormaster’s office as I passed by on my way
towards the path along the water about the new ferry service from
Bristol to Newport to Providence. I wouldn’t have picked up the schedule
to learn the times that it runs and subsequently made plans yesterday
to head into Providence on the new ferry service. This led me to be part
of the all inclusive and heart warming welcoming to all who come in
peace, Pride Fest. I found my way to a brand new vegan, but you would
never know it, restaurant called Plant City.
my walk, I saw people out doing the same, business owners getting their
storefronts ready for business. I enjoyed the rich aromas of the
glorious seaside town I get to call home and feel and hear my heart
beating because of my pace. I felt the bay air and wind through my hair
and on my skin as I got a nice sweat going from the speed in which I am
privileged to keep my legs moving forward with. My olfactory system
would have not smelled the beginnings of the summer roses opening,
coupled with the aromas of flowers, herbs and freshly cut grass as the
good people of Bristol are in their happy place, getting their homes
ready for July 4th.
wouldn’t have noticed the bird with the bright red breast and the grey
head on the top of the pillar on my front porch after my walk was
complete as I took the time to sit there with a nice cup of coffee. I
had never seen a bird like this and though it pained me to break from my
trance of just simply admiring without having to take a picture, I went
in to my house and got my phone to capture him or her. It wasn’t for
posterity as much as curiosity and being able to remember the
description so I could find out what bird this was. She let me take a
picture almost posing and we had a lovely connection before she flew
brief encounter caused me to open up an Audubon bird book collecting
dust on my shelf that some dear friends of my grandmother had sent as a
gift to my son. I spent a half hour looking for a picture of this bird
to no avail. a few days later, I walked next door to ask my bird loving
friend, Dottie, and she didn’t know either. This caused me to head
yesterday on my quest to find out the name of this bird to a new
favorite spot, The Redwood Library in Newport, RI to look for some bird
books and see if I could get to the bottom of this little sweet bird’s
name. I couldn’t find a picture that fit the exact description, but
while perusing the shelves, I come across a paper thin book of poetry by
Audrey Silcox, a poet who lived from 1890–1944, she died at the age I
am now. This was next to another book by Ruth Whitman called The Testing
of Hannah Senesh. Hannah Senesh was a famous heroine of WWII who was
captured after parachuting into Yugoslavia because an informant turned
her in. She was executed after spending nine months in a concentration
camp at 23 for trying to save her Hungarian Jewish friends and family.
book of poetry captured my attention and I became so ensconced in the
writing that I ended up sitting there for two hours to finish it.
Yesterday at the library was like a live version of internet surfing
except I was sitting in the sunlight at my back in a comfy old dark
green leather chair with the only sounds being the crinkling of the
opening and closing of library books instead of the tapping of the keys
and the bings of text messages at every second.
know that the actual reading of a real book of poetry, a real walk in
the rain on the way home with my umbrella that my partner reminded me to
take and the time it gave me to be myself was significant for my
health. I don’t know the science of why, I am sure there is science, but
I don’t really need this because I go with the feeling. Surfing the
internet vs being in nature gives me two completely different feelings,
the latter always soothes, awakens me from my slumber and calms that
nothing else can compete or compare with.
I didn’t go outside for that forty minute or so walk a few days ago, I
wouldn’t have known what I might have missed, but I didn’t miss anything
because I said yes to me. I walked and glided along and kept the
promise to myself to get outside and enjoy the day. All of this nature
took me on a weekend journey I hadn’t anticipated, but I allowed its
never disappoints and it always rewards me. I don’t know why I would
even procrastinate ever again. Though I didn’t find out the name of the
bird until I texted the picture to my friend, Julie, who knows all
things birds. I realize the irony of this and what humbles me is that,
perhaps, I can allow room for both. Nature and technology. There are
some time saving aspects to the brilliance of the Google search, for
sure. I just have to make sure that I am in the drivers seat instead of
letting it take me for the ride of incredible time wasting- looking
down, missing what’s up.
cardinals were with me on almost the entire walk this past Friday,
egging me on, telling me that this is always the best remedy for a busy
mind. My life and my brain is calmed, my world feels better and I am
ready for my day. All because I did instead of didn’t. And by the way,
the bird according to Julie is a house finch. “Yep, that’s a lovely
little house finch,” she texted back. “They’re beautiful color and have
the best song. They’re common, but really special.” #luckyindeed.
started a second career this past month. Well rather an extension of a
long glorious career in the business of beauty I get to lovingly call my
career. This second endeavor is as a certified business coach for a
company called Strategies. I have written a little about this new
experience and like anything new, it has my attention. This is no small
feat because for the many friends in my inner circle, they could likely
attest to my short attention span. I am filled with one hit wonder ideas
on a daily basis, lucky if one percent of them come to fruition.
I have a small barn in the back of my house, some people call it a she-shed. My ideas usually find their way into the barn as the centerpiece. Learning to make chocolate babka, I now want every person I know to experience the delight of this on their tongues, my co-conspirator in all barn ideas, Morgan, kindly and patiently rolls her eyes — and says, “Are we opening the Babka Barn?” Macaroni and cheese? Yes. The mac and cheese barn.
there is the Breathing Barn because now I am meditating every day so of
course everyone needs to have this experience. Let’s move this to the
barn! I haven’t even mentioned the typewriters, but of course that would
be a perfect fit in the barn along with the writing barn and the art
barn and the visionboard barn. See where I am going? Ideas flow at the
speed of light in this entrepreneurial brain of mine. God forbid I have
an idea and just keep it to myself, taking my own bath in its essence.
Why I need to share every single experience with the world is beyond me,
but I accept it as one of my personal core drivers. And as my
grandfather says often, “Be that as it may.” And so it is. Never ends.
One can see why I need to actively attempt a no plan Thursday. And my
struggle with this idea too is that I want to make it a thing.
I exhaust myself and likely people around me. Who cares though, I seize
time like there isn’t any and it will likely be this way till the day I
am taking this new career path as seriously as most people would when
they start a new job. Reading the company manual from cover to cover,
studying the material I need to inform myself with so I can pass my
knowledge to someone needing to improve their business model and systems
and going on the private Facebook accounts and making my comments to
other like minded business owners. I may be a bit of an out of the box
bohemian when it comes to life, but in working for another company, I
respect their rules and regs and try to follow their suggestions for
full throttle participation. Overachiever? Maybe. But more now that I am
a grown up and much less inclined to do it to impress anyone other than
my own work ethic and joy I get from this new experience of ‘employee.’
It is a major and joyous paradigm shift and frankly one I have the
luxury of really wanting rather than really needing, A nice position to
be in for sure.
learning brings me back, though to the struggle with the overflowing
social media and technology I have had for some time so much so that
I — pre-Strategies- was on my merry way back to real paper address books
and appointment calendars. This went out the window as soon as I had my
first training week since everything is technology. Appointment making,
scheduling, calendars, webinars, training, group texts, group emails-
all technology. So I jumped back in and figured it would be a great
addition to my knowledge base and here I am. If you can’t beat them,
join them, I suppose. Kind of, but with caution and trepidation this
time around. Back on Facebook daily posting questions about business to
the thousands of people who are friends in this private group.
is now a morning habit along with my while the coffee perks meditation
and writing habit and I have surprisingly enjoyed this experience. Maybe
because it has a beginning and an end. I only allow myself about twenty
minutes to post the question and make my comments to others, then I am
off Facebook. I didn’t put it back on my phone and this helps me not
become addicted to checking the replies, likes, stars, hearts and
whatever other symbols Facebook has created to turn humanity into
when I was making my post for the day, I noticed that I had a star next
to my name. I scrolled through the other names and didn’t see any stars
next to anyone else’s names. So I clicked on my name to learn that
Facebook in all of its wisdom declared me “A RISING STAR.” Some
algorithm has decided that my posts and the comments that follow make me
worthy of this new symbol. I wasn’t asked if I wanted this next to my
name, I guess Facebook just assumes that every user wants outward star
recognition. They didn’t seem to think that before their label, I may
have already thought I was a star, they also didn’t think that maybe a
star next to my name would make me think of other stars next to people
that don’t have such a positive vibe, like those yellow stars Jewish
people were forced to wear to identify them. Maybe this is a stretch,
but I have just read Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris after reading The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and yellow stars and labeling are fresh in my mind.
With anti-Semitism on the rise as close as eight miles away in Fall River, Mass the defiling of gravestones with appalling anti-Semitic phrases and symbols, I am thinking that less labeling is probably a better business strategy. Especially for a provocative and bold lovely bad ass Jewish chick like myself. Some people may be rolling their eyes at this assessment of this star next to my name on Facebook, and maybe it is an overreach, but the labeling of people without their consent or choice gives me the willies. Maybe I have watched too much Handmaid’s Tale, or have read too many books to keep what happened to so many Jews, Romas, gay men and women, disabled and anyone else who didn’t look or fit the part declared by a madman. This was less than eighty years ago and there are still people from this time in history who lived through it to talk about it. Less and less which is why I voraciously read and recommend books that take me back there. As sad and painful as it may be from the comfort of my heated house, packed refrigerator, Mercedes in my driveway and safe and comfortable life I lead, I refuse to take this life I lead for granted.
I am struck by the ease of which we have become used to accepting these little types of recognition as normal. And I don’t want to believe that any of these seemingly innocent Facebook recognitions could be laying the groundwork for some sinister plan, but the Holocaust didn’t happen in a blast. It was a slow and steady stream of propaganda and commentary. It was humankind never thinking that a mind could think the way the crazy man with a mustache and hatred in his heart who I refuse to name in my piece today could imagine. Little dribbles of hatred and labeling of anyone who was the OTHER.
Facebook, Apple, Google, and all of the other big techs out there we
have slowly let infiltrate our life, please think about your power and
stop trying to tell me who I am and who I should be by labeling me with a
star. I already know who I am and I have already risen.
If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. -Toni Morrison
“What do you write?” Jodie from
What Cheer Writers Club asked me as she gave me a tour last week of their new
writing space. I was in writing heaven. I had decided to take the “big drive” from
the comfort of my warm fireplace in Newport to Providence for a 10:00 am
writing group I had just joined. It was Superbowl Sunday and I hadn’t planned
on leaving the comfort of the couch until my biological clock woke me up at
five am, as it usually did. What else was I going to do for the day besides sit
on the couch waiting for my beloved home team to appear on the television? I
said goodbye to my man and drove to the city on a bright morning.
Every time I choose yes instead of
no, I am rewarded. This was no exception. I walked up the beautiful old-fashioned
marble staircase last Sunday to a place called WhatCheer. Unbeknownst to me, this
space had just opened to support anyone who has anything to do with writing. I
walked in and my mouth dropped open with joy. Lighting, furniture, beauty
surrounded me at every turn. From the pink and orange chairs, to the electric
tables that rose to meet just the perfect height of whomever was sitting at
them, here was a space designed for perfect writing fitness. Like a boutique
gym, I felt at home immediately and like I wanted to write. This was the magic
of this space. I quickly signed up to be part of this club and went into my new
group, The Providence Writers Group.
Writing groups are a terrific way
to take writing from casual hobby to serious focus. Every writing group is
different, some have facilitators who lead the group with prompts, some are
groups designed for critiquing, and some like this new group offer a blank
silent space to just write among other writers. It may seem to someone reading
this that this is something just as easily done in the comfort of your own
home, but sometimes homes can be distracting, phones buzzing, laundry spinning,
gardening calling. Some people don’t have the quiet space to be able to write,
kids, roommates, televisions from partners, who knows? This is not my issue at
all, if anything I could turn my space into a writing club, it is such a
perfect setting, but there is something about writing on purpose surrounded by
other peers tasked with the same driving force. I have learned that I write
differently in a writing group.
This particular group on this day
did not offer anything except a chance to sit together and write, no reading
our pieces to each other for either positive or constructive feedback, no
prompts, no line leading, just pure focused writing. I have never been in a
group like this and it was interesting. The lack of conversing after didn’t
give us a chance to bond with each other, but I really enjoyed the energy of
simply being in each other’s company quietly sharing our love of writing.
Tapping of our fingers on laptops, pencils scratching across lined paper, pens
gliding in journals, some even writing on their phones, we all approached our
writing tools with a sense of purpose making us all feel like real writers
instead of casual ones.
When Jodie asked me, “What do you
write?” I paused for a moment. She was asking me a serious question that
catapulted me into this world of writers in an actual writing club. I briefly
felt like an imposter on the precipice of being found out. But that only lasted
about one second. I am a writer. I wake up every day at sometimes four am so I
can write. I have just made significant
changes to my entire life so that I can, in fact, write. I have stepped aside
from the day to day operations of running my business and created a new
position for someone to take the helm not to work out more, not to go out to
lunch with more women, but to write. Not just to write, but to edit what I have
already written, to research and make time to discover facts and details for a
historical fiction novel I am serious about.
Serious writing is hard work and in
order to be a serious writer I must take writing seriously. Up until now, I
have been practicing and playing. Writing first drafts and blasting them up on
my website with barely a second glance, not so much as giving them a second
look to repair, or rewrite is only the infancy of the beginning. “You should
write a book,” comments come my way daily and this has fed my need to write
more as well as my ego, but now if this is really true and I have decided that
it is, the real work has begun. Being part of a focused critique group to gain
insight from writing peers and then taking what I need from this and making the
necessary changes is more work than I could have imagined and I have only just
begun. Every writing minute I spend, I am in awe of the books that have not
only been written, but actually published, not only published, but read and not
only read, but admired. I have my work cut out for me, but I cannot imagine
doing anything else right now.
From submitting, repairing, reading
the critiques, deciphering four individuals’ comments and making the changes on
just two chapters has taken me well over ten hours of work. And this is only
the first round. But this does not feel like “work.” It feels like joy. I am in
the midst of pure delicious joy. It is thrilling to appreciate how sloppy I was
in my writing and how cleaning it up respects my work in a way I hadn’t
considered when I was just casually playing.
What do I write? “I am writing a
mastectomy memoir and am dipping my toe into historical fiction for the first
time.” Jodie looked at me and said with kind eyes and a seriousness that made
me feel like I was not an imposter here, someone whose feet belonged on the
floor of this new club, “Ooh that’s brave, I haven’t tried fiction before.” I
am sure Jodie does not know how much that beautiful simple sentence sent a wave
of confidence into my body that helped change my paradigm from casual blogger
to serious writer.
For any person who has read my
writings and offered pearls of compliments along the way, it is because of
this, I have found a writing voice and marched forth. By all means, keep
reading and I am forever grateful to anyone who has shared publicly or
privately a kind word my way. Thank you. See you on the page.
“You know this is elective surgery,” Dr. Hottie said to me over two years ago. I love Dr. M almost as much as I love Dr. W. Almost. But let’s face it, Dr. M. is a male doctor and no matter how progressive, how much of a male feminist he may (or may not) be, he is not sitting in the chair across from me with having to make the painful choice of no breasts or reconstructed ones. He is a man. He is also a plastic surgeon and that alone should create a bias in the arena of female body parts.
Though I appreciated his candor at the time, I had four doors to choose from, two of which did not seem like options at all.
DOOR # 1 Do Nothing and Die at some point.
DOOR #2. Have a single breast mastectomy and wear a prosthetic like my grandmother.
DOOR #3. Have double mastectomy with no reconstruction.
DOOR #4. Have a double mastectomy and have reconstruction, (the “elective” surgery Dr. M. referred to back at paragraph one.)
I am guessing if he were about to face having his penis cut off and having no penis or one put on so that when he looked down at himself in the shower he wouldn’t look so different, maybe he would choose to omit the word “elective.” The word elective should not be a choice word anyway, though I appreciate the intent reminding me that if I really consider this as elective perhaps I may choose to be totally flat chested and remove all traces of the very female part of who I am. Call me vain, I don’t care, as I have said on more than one occassion, I like my breasts, I like the shape, the form, the wonder woman activation that a proud set of pointed boobs give me.
I fully understand what he meant now that I am facing the two year mark and though I am not facing the horror show of what I may find if I typed in bad breast reconstruction in the Google search bar, my experience is much more subtle. Subtle in the way I would imagine that my comments would invoke maybe an eye roll or maybe the thought that wouldn’t be said aloud, It’s all in your head.
In the recommendations of drinking celery juice on a daily basis (SEE IS CELERY JUICE THE NEW KALE? for clarity if you are scratching your head here) I found the medical intuitive, Anthony William. Now before you start to want to punch me for even taking the word of someone who calls himself a Medical Intuitive, hear me out. He was recommended by a really credible and incredible Doctor I know and his advice, though not conventional in the least, has some legs because of his vast success. Believe what you want, but last I checked, the medical community as it relates to credible scientific research doesn’t always get it right. Think DDT, smoking, low fat, eggs, dairy, food pyramid, opiates just to name a few pesky mistakes. I like to think I am open to all possibilities when it comes to health, but more often than not, it is the knowledge of my body as my own personal science experiment that informs me.
And I have not been feeling right. Tightness in my upper body, bloating that has changed my lovely flat stomach into something I no longer recognize, weight gain, intense headaches out of the blue, gas, indigestion, joint ache and a racing heart, a little dizziness, a little nausea, sharp pain like cramps that come out of nowhere on the left side of my fake boob and lastly if this is all not enough, washing machine head on the spin cycle, not symptoms I regularly identify with, well maybe the last one. If I had to draw a figure of myself on paper, I would draw a scarlet red rectangle from my upper chest to my belly button. When I am meditating, the image that continues to appear is the middle of my chest opening up and red cardinals flying out of it. Is this all in my head? And more importantly what are my options, medically? I suppose I could beg for MRIs and body scans and go digging for problems. Who wants to live like that? Not me for sure.
I decided to look up to see if Anthony William had any podcasts and no surprise here, of course he did. Lots of them. And as “luck” would have it, I landed on one called “Breast Implant Illness.” I did hesitate albeit briefly before I hit play, yet being a glutton for punishment, I proceeded. Probably not the best idea because Anthony, who by the way readily admits that the information he is sharing is not even discovered by science yet, and claims he is being informed by Spirit, a guide who speaks to him regularly. Roll your eyes here, I know, but you can also see my predicament of having to bring my new information to any doctor. He said something that struck me though so be patient with me and hopefully keep reading.
When there is a foreign object made out of synthetic material such as silicone, your liver sends out an army of enzymes to see what the hell is going on. The enzymes make their way to the implants and latch on looking to protect and get to the bottom of the enemy invader. Because the silicone is encased in some type of material, (I find it amusing that I don’t know the answer to this off the top of my head), the enzymes stay on the shell and this energy coupled with my body heat over time creates a slow porosity in the impants slowly seeping gasses from the silicone into my unsuspecting body. Now for you scientists out there- I have not a clue if there is any medical evidence out there that supports or denies this, but what I do know is that ever since these new additions have been placed in my upper half, I have had under the radar symptoms hard to put my finger on. Coincidence?
When it comes to history as it relates to science and the female body, I am not overly confident in our past. Though birth control has revolutionized a woman’s control of family planning, why is it that it is one of the top three questions I was asked after we discovered the breast cancer the first time? Women have been short changed in the health research department compared to our male counterparts for sure, yet we are so accepting of the words, They are totally safe, when it comes to the due diligence we think we are giving ourselves by timidly asking the question. When Anthony William said this on his podcast, it struck a chord with me and frankly it kind of makes sense.
Boobs are one of those body parts that seem to get a lot of press. When I did a quick google search the CDC only had leading causes of death since 2014, but the number 1 was heart disease and the number 2 was cancer, not breast cancer, but cancer. That is a lot of cancer. Heart disease isn’t sexy, it doesn’t sell lingerie, it is not as innocent and traditionally female as the color pink. Breast cancer gives permission to let the talk about tits and breasts and tatas and boobs out of the bag. When my son was at La Salle, a Catholic school in Providence RI, the kids were all wearing pink rubber bracelets that said I LOVE BOOBIES. This is the same school that took down the picture of our current Governor Gina Raimondo for allowing Planned Parenthood to support her. Mixed messages? I’d say.
Call me crazy, call me hysterical, call me an alarmist, but there can’t be a coincidence that I am having these subtle symptoms. And that when I bring them up, I feel guilty because frankly I am one of the lucky ones, I chose to have implants and I am alive. I didn’t have chemo, didn’t lose my hair, didn’t really worry about dying unless I had chosen Door #1 at the beginning of this party.
I am not a scientist, I have never done research in my life, the last biology class I took was in high school. I fully realize the frustration that real scientists must have when they read these assumptions by lay people like me, unfounded in their own profession. I also know that by looking up regulatory history of breast implants in the U.S. on go to Google, some worrisome history came up relating to long term studies of silicone implants. More interesting is that the silicone implant doesn’t seem to have been studied for any length of time. When I say length of time, I am speaking what I would consider reasonable, more than ten years surely. This timeline in particular and the panels and votes raise my eyebrows. 2005 wasn’t that long ago. Though the implants were introduced well over 20 years ago, is that really enough time to develop a what if this happens, what could happen in the future? What is in silicone anyway? Who are on these panels anyway? Men, women, doctors, pharmaceutical executives? What informs them? All worriesome.
What shocks me here is I never thought to ask. Perhaps knowing all of this would have made me make a different decision, I will never know. But even when I did ask, these subtle symptoms wouldn’t have been given much credence anyway because first of all, I don’t think many women are as in touch with the way their bodies tick and even if they were, there are so many factors that could explain this away. Menopause, empty nesting, emotional changes due to life events, death, divorce, previous thyroid issues, family history, not enough exercise, too much exercise etc. I could also add here the radiation dose I had from my first surgery, goodness knows what that did to my upper insides. After signing away my life in some hospital document that said that radiation could cause heart lung problems later on in life due to its close proximity, I am sure we can add this to the list as well.
Breast cancer is big business. For profit hospitals, for profit pharma, for profit doctor’s offices, what a woman is willing to do to keep the wo in woman is pretty shocking now that I have made that choice. What defines woman anyway. Breasts are certainly only one part of the recipe, but clearly they have been significant enough to warrant all of this writing. I am not sure where this will all take me and frankly I had never considered the possibility of their voluntary removal until I listened to this podcast. For now, I will continue to write and talk and see who writes and talks back. First step is awareness. And for sure these tatas have done nothing except made me aware.
2005 – April
The FDA held an Advisory Panel meeting to review Allergan’s updated PMA and Mentor’s PMA. In a 5 to 4 vote, the panel did not recommend approval of Allergan’s PMA (due to a concern with one style in the application). In a 7 to 2 vote, the panel recommended approvable with conditions for Mentor’s PMA. The panel recommended that FDA require conditions including a minimum age requirement for augmentation and Post-Approval Studies.
2006 – November
The FDA approved Allergan and Mentor’s PMAs for silicone gel-filled breast implants. This was the first time silicone gel-filled breast implants were available for augmentation, in addition to reconstruction and revision, since the moratorium was established in 1992. As conditions of approval, each manufacturer was required to conduct 6 post-approval studies to further characterize the safety and effectiveness of their silicone gel-filled breast implants and to answer scientific questions that the premarket clinical trials were not designed to answer.
2011 – January
The FDA issued a Safety Communication on anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) in women with breast implants. Based on a review of the scientific literature, the FDA believes that women with breast implants may have a very small but increased risk of developing this disease in the scar capsule adjacent to the implant.
The FDA held an Advisory Panel meeting to discuss and receive recommendations on postmarketing issues related to silicone gel-filled breast implants. Also discussed at this meeting were innovative methodological approaches to postmarket studies regarding silicone gel breast implants, as well as key long-term safety issues associated with silicone gel breast implants in the real-world setting.
“Have you tried celery juice?” my beloved Dr. W. asked me at my regular breast check in this past Monday. “No.” I replied with a straight face. “But funny you should ask, because my new favorite nutritionist Amanda Rigbyjust recommended this to me. Something about cleaning out the liver…” I suppose I should feel grateful that I have a doctor in my direct inner circle who would even know about this. A doctor who would be willing to speak the blasphemy of ….. shhhh, quiet here……functional medicine…. in her office while BIG PHARMA BROTHER looks on waiting like a predator to pounce on every unsuspecting person in America to get them on their plethora of pharmacopia.
I love Dr.W. like a sister and I am so grateful for her brilliance, but also for the kinship we share in trying to navigate through the bullshit of what we really have control over when it comes to recurrences. She has seen it all in the world of female cancer and I trust her completely. That being said, I have to make my own way through the maze and hard work of deciphering what I am willing to commit to when it comes to preventative vs reality. I have done my own research for the past almost thirty years.
I read a book by AnneMarie Colbin called Food and Healing written in 1986 when she was talking about fat and nightshades and the challenges that food brings to our health in both negative and positive ways. This book set me on a path of studying on my own any food modality as it relates to healing the body and for the most part I feel I have been way ahead of most of the doctors and nutritionists I have met since. This may read arrogant after all I have no credibility as far as initials after my name, but what these books have taught me is that we are all are own science experiment. I know my own body like a slick leather glove that fits perfectly.
But celery juice? I get it. I get the need for a healthy gut, for a better liver to increase functionality in our bodies filled with toxins and goodness knows what else. I get the need for the consideration of prevention. Prevention is that pesky word we consider often after the fact. Usually the P word comes in the thousands of articles everyone who thinks they are being helpful sends along with the “FYI” caption. But how much is just out of our control?
I am not the type to put my head in the sand ignoring all of this influx of information coming at me every time I open my computer screen. Sometimes I get sucked into the rabbit hole of over thinking everything that goes into this body of mine. This unnecessary stress is not helpful for sure. It causes lots of guilty feelings everytime I decide that Macaroni and cheese instead of a kale salad is the dinner of choice. And I think often, does it really fucking matter?
Twenty years ago I had the pleasure of meeting a woman, Dr. Pamela Peeke . I had invited her as a guest speaker to an event I planned. At the time, she was doing extensive research on the how the effects of stress in our lives was showing up as the inordinate amounts of illness now part of the human race caused by its regular presence. She planted the seed in my mind about the importance of movement and other stress reducers even more so than food. She has gone on to write books and speak at Ted talks around the globe. In my experience it is stress more than most other factors that create illness. Of course, stress from bad eating is definitely one of the many elements of stress as a whole, but there are so many causes of daily stress I am sure play an even larger part of the puzzle.
Family relationships, financial worries, evolving friendships and catostrophic events all plant their little seedlings along the way sometimes growing ever so slowly or sometimes like dandelion weeds after a four day rainfall. I do believe that learning to settle down, slow down and make peace with your past are all helpful ways in our control to change the growth pattern that has been planted. Meditating, writing, art, creativity, reading, walking, exercising, cooking and not drinking alcohol are definitely the top ways I work on my own stress and past traumatic events. Focusing on these things that bring such joy to my life helps me heal and march forth in ways hard for me to describe. But I do. I march forth.
As I made my way to the second Dr’s appointment of the week to have my plastic surgeon inspect his hard work on my upper half, he reminded me that I am still swollen. It has been almost two years since the first half of my surgery and almost a year and a half since my last one.
“Swollen? Still? Really?” I asked, perplexed. “How could I still be swollen?”
“Totally normal, he replied matter of factly. And you will feel joint pain and tightness too, so don’t be alarmed.” It was here at this very moment that I freed myself from thinking that the mac and cheese from Sunday’s football extravaganza was the root of all evil. I am swollen because I had two of my breasts taken off, fat sucked out of my stomach that I didn’t ask to be sucked out for said breasts, muscle from my back brought to my front to support the fat and allow the new breasts to have a permanant home. Why the hell would I not be so swollen? I was thinking that it was my workouts, my body, my food intake, causing my fingers to be slightly swollen so that some of my favorite rings no longer slide on.
This is the bad part of being a resillient half full kind of chick. I had forgotten about the stress that my body has gone through in the last four years. Four surgeries in four years. And I was one of the lucky ones, I didn’t even have to have chemo. I would say that counts for stress, wouldn’t you? I don’t think buying endless stalks of celery and putting them in my three hundred dollar juicer every morning before I start my day is going to be a game changer for this body. I also don’t know if daily celery juicing is going work the same type of magic as a good deep breath at the mat with myself breathing in light and out darkness. I am willing to try it maybe. No scratch that. I am not juicing celery stalks, fuck that.
The exercise from WordPress asked me to choose a word. There were only six words, but my word stood out like a beam of light.
That is my word.
Choice takes me back to the preverbial forks from my past.
When I could have gone left, or right or forged my own path, maybe backwards or straight or simply staying right in the center and looking ahead.
I remember the only job I left almost before it started as a banquet waitress. It was like the employees gave me a test and said, here, clean this candelabra. It was covered with drips of countless candles from hundreds of events past. One of the senior banquet waitresses, you know the type, been doing it for her whole life, stout, bossy, matter of fact and in love with her role as senior banquet waitress had given the order.
I was about twenty one and had never had to clean a candleabra in my short life so I began chipping away not knowing that if I had simply put it in the freezer, the whole project would have taken less than thirty minutes. But there I stood in my little white button down with the black pants and black shoes chipping endlessly waht seemed like hours and impatiently away.
The whole reason I was even working at this job was because I had been fired from my previous one, the only time I had ever been fired in my life. Because I did something unworthy and embarrassing, because I made a stupid choice to add a ten dollar tip to a bill when a customer failed to acknowledge my brilliance as his waitress. This choice, of course and completely appropriately, prompted an abrubt firing and subsequently found me jobless. This banquet waitressing job was the only employment I could muster up after the foolish choice I had made. To even write this aloud for the world to read makes me cringe at my stupidity, but truth be told, it was a most painful lesson and to write it at least lets the ghost out that has been hiding in my closet for the last thirty years.
I stood there while the seasoned and older workers were likely snickering at my slowness and lack of knowledge about the freezer alternative. All of a sudden as if by magic, this thought occurred to me- I don’t have to do this. I had a choice. At twenty-one, I realized somehow that I had a choice in my happiness. I don’t know where this source of power came from, but gratefully it did. For the rest of my life, though I wasn’t evolved enough to realize this at the time, I would never work at a job unless I totally loved it. This was a deep thought for a young woman who didn’t seem to have many choices in front of her as far as job prospects went. But I did. I looked around at my future colleagues and took my sassy over confident self, walked up to the head banquet waitress and said, “I can’t do this. I am leaving.” With that I flipped my hair and marched out, my choice carried with me for the rest of my employed life.
Now some of you may be thinking, this is so irresponsible. You should finish what you started at least finish the shift. Fuck that. I was beyond miserable, there was no team work, that group was hoping I would fail. I could feel it and what was the point? For some reason, maybe it was my higher power, I was transported to the realization that LIFE WAS SHORT and there was no time for misery. As a result I ended up with a super fun job as a cocktail waitress grateful someone would choose to give me a second chance.
Choice is around us. Maybe this notion of choice is simply whether you think you have one or not. Maybe it is based on where you come from and how you think about the life in front of you. What I do know about this example though is that choosing happiness as my guide whenever possible has never let me down. Even in the bad choices, good has come out of it becasue of the lessons learned. Lessons learned were also choices. Choices because I chose to learn from them rather than repeating the same mistake again.
I know as I write this today that I am speaking from my perch of living in a free country where choice seems like a right. I know that I am not choosing life over death situations simply because I am fortunate in my geography. But for those of us who do have the privilege to live in a free society, looking at your life on a daily basis as one that you get to choose where it heads, can make the difference in the life you lead.
How we choose to look at our lives is surely choice and this quote that I refer to often in my writing sums it up in a neat little package. How do you choose to live? Does it feed you and make you happy? If not, then when?
As you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.