I Just Won’t Do It

I won’t eat green eggs and ham. I also won’t eat a goat. I know that makes me a picky eater. However, there are some things I simply will not do, and as you can see, I have provided some simple examples.

I will dance in the rain (with the right person). I will try new experiences and foods. However, like most people, I have limits to what degree of adventure I will experience.

So when Beloved came in with long, dark rectangular items after a trip to the market, I was curious. To be fair, I didn’t think they were food. They looked more like a fuel source to my uneducated eyes. Beloved said they were chicken. Fresh chicken that has been pounded into a paste, seasoned, and then cooked over an open fire.

Beloved put away the rest of his shopping and returned to the unusual chicken presentation. He said they felt like bark, looked a bit like pieces of bark as well. They were dry and slightly crumbly.

Before I knew it, Beloved took a healthy-sized bite out of the meat. Of course, he ran to the think and spat it out right away before getting a huge drink. He proclaimed it too dry and too seasoned for his delicate palate.

Later on, while talking with some locals, we discovered you are supposed to re-hydrate this chicken and put it in a stew or a soup. The problem is, for Beloved, that chicken is now ruined to the point where he cannot see himself trying it in anything. I guess there are things he won’t do as well! How about yourself?

Flipped

I have a friend who believes everything happens for a reason. Everything. If it rains one day and you happen to not be prepared for that so you end up being soaked to the skin, she believes this happens for a reason. Typically something along the lines of: this reminds you how amazing the simple comforts of warmth and dry clothes are, which in turn allows you to appreciate these more.

A few days ago I experienced something that was a first time for me. Not only was it horrific, I couldn’t understand why the outcome went the way it went. Which in turn made me wonder what was the purpose of the experience and the specific outcome. What was I supposed to do with all of this?

But I get a little ahead of myself. Let me back up and explain things a bit better. You see while I was working on a project, I needed to travel to a fairly remote place for research. Nothing odd there. In order to get here I needed to be, I hired a local driver well experienced with the primitive roads and intense conditions. I figured I could use the time to review notes and such.

We started out in full sunshine, a bright, lazy day stretching endlessly ahead I had thought as I pulled out my notes. At some point it started to rain. Pounding, driving rain which made visibility a challenge never mind the ability to maintain control of the vehicle. But somehow we carried on driving forward and I went back to my notes.

Perhaps if I hadn’t been so absorbed in my task, I could have seen what was about to happen before it occurred. But I was too absorbed, so one moment I was reading my notes and the next I realized that we no longer on the road and heading straight for a very deep ditch. At the same time the car could not maintain balance any longer.

It rolled and flipped as we carried onto the ditch, landing back on it’s tires with a few new dents and cracks in places. That was it. And I walked away with a few sore spots, but otherwise fine. The same with my driver.

Some how this seems odds to me, as if I should have been seriously hurt, but I wasn’t. And what does that mean? Did we get lucky? I know the driver was seasoned and didn’t panic etc. Was that what kept me from being hurt or killed? I don’t know.

I don’t recommend having this type of experience to get of your own head, to see the bigger picture. It’s something that still leaves me a bit shaky at times. And for some reason I feel like I need to have this mean something which is a flipped way of thinking for myself too.

Rolling Away From Anger Towards Gratitude And Appreciation

Someone Beloved knows from years ago was recently in the media discussing the importance of enjoying the little things in life while having gratitude for each moment.  We didn’t catch the live segment but a friend from Beloved’s home sent him a link to the recorded discussion.

In between rain storms and my need to rest, Beloved decided to listen to the discussion. He wasn’t expecting anything ground breaking or such from it.  He was just curious, idly so as he out it, because when he knew him, Beloved would not have suspected the boy to grow into a man discussion gratitude or appreciating the little things.  In fact when Beloved knew him best, he was an angry young man who was at war with himself and the rest of the world.

Beloved was curious as to what would bring about such a change, what life experiences had provided him these lessons.  It turns out a horrible car accident initiated the experiences which in turn taught the lessons.

A car accident which resulted in paralysis in basically the blink of an eye.  He indicated in the discussion that a spinal injury can prevent the body from properly regulating temperature.  He said a spinal injury can make you wish you could feel the rain against your legs when a summer squall suddenly popped up.  Being paralysed and dependent upon others helped him to relearn that life is made up of moments of rainbows and gentle breezes, the trick is to enjoy it all as best as you can.

Beloved listened to the discussion a few times and noted whether you are in a wheelchair or suffering from a chronic invisible illness, you tend to savour the good moments more than others would. I suspect it is because you know the dark moments that others can never even fully dream of.  And I know from my experience you don’t have the energy to keep fighting everyone and everything when you have to heal yourself.

A Reminder So We Don’t Go There Again

They told some of us to go to the right, and others from the group were sent to the left. And in the rush to simply get out, and the confusion about what was happening, most of the group compiled with what was being said. The end result was mothers with young children or babies were grouped with the elderly and everyone else, if they appeared to be physically fit, was grouped on the other side of the room.

The man who was standing at the center of the room clapped his hands once and said “see, it is easy when it is confusing. Using confusion, panic and uncertainty will always help you control large groups.” He then asked us to go back to our seats so he could finish telling his story.

Beloved quickly pulled out his phone and typed in a few notes before they dimmed the lights again for the rest of the presentation. And I realized that we had been provided with not just a quick demonstration of what this man had been describing, but also a little view into what we would do in the same set of circumstances. And somehow what you think you would do is not always what you end up doing.

After the presentation we were invited to view pictures that somehow had survived scrapes of books, full books and so on. Most people left shortly after they had entered the room, but Beloved and I stayed, taking time to look at each piece. It wasn’t our first time viewing and hearing stories of those who spent time in the Nazi concentration camps, but it was the first time someone was able to place us into those first moments when the train stopped at the platform and you moved from a dark cattle car into some strange, brightly lit area.

Some people come to these places as a thing to do, or a means of saying they have visited them. For me, it is important that we keep these stories alive least humanity repeats itself. We have a long way to go to get beyond dehumanizing those who we see as “other”. Until we can reach this point, how can we really call ourselves civilized on intelligent?

They’re Just Words Aren’t They?

I have been procrastinating about writing this.  Mostly because I don’t think anyone will read it.  Also because, well, it’s sort of common sense.  But I decided today to take a deep breath and do it because maybe, just maybe, it might not be so common.  Or if I’m really lucky, I might learn from others.

You see as much as I have always loved the written word, or the spoken word for that matter, I’ve never considered the full effect or weight of words.  I’ve never really stopped to consider how the words I use may impact others.  And most importantly I’ve failed to consider the words I use when I think about myself or speaker to myself.

I have told students they have failed he assignment, failing myself to recognize that, most people stop listening after the word fail is said.  I have also failed to consider the emotions behind that word and how a person can internalize that one word and attribute it to his/her perception of self.

Now that I’m on the brink of submitting my own assignment, non-academic at that, I understand for the first time that fruitless feeling some people get.  That sense of overwhelming doubt and fear.  Fear that it won’t be good enough.  Fear of being a failure.  When the reality is I may fail at the assignment, but that does not equate to me being a failure.

Perhaps it is because this assignment is for something non-academic that I feel so uncertain about my work.  Perhaps it is because we have been asked to base this on experiences, which is so much harder to do than research and provide the correct answer.

As I was sharing my doubts and insecurities with a fellow professor she laughed.  It wasn’t in a mean way, but I suppose if I wanted to internalize it that way I could have.  She found my reaction so at odds with the person who walks the lecture halls.  She found my self-doubt to be more humanizing than compassion and empathy.  As she put it, “you are always so confident and sure of things, it’s nice to see you struggle as well”.

And this has me thinking about all those different words we have for things such as failed can be turned into not-yet successful; non-positive results and so on.  Sure these “turns of a phrase” may seem soft to some, but depending upon our personal experiences, we may need these words.  Because whether it’s grades on assignments, performance reviews at work, or comments about us, some of us will internalize these words and use them in self talk.

For a brief moment, as I was preparing this assignments, I could feel my own doubt kick into myself talk.  Things such as, “those who can’t do, teach” and “proof right here that academics can’t cut it in the real world” started to crop up in how I talked to myself.  I was able to recognize that these words were seated in fear.  Fear that I wouldn’t be good enough in this type of work.  Fear that the only place I’d ever be comfortable is an academic setting,

At the same time I reminded myself that no matter what the feedback was on the assignment, the real value was in my own learning.  And you can’t really put a price on this type of learning.  It also has me questioning what I may have said to a student that could have been taken in a way other than what I thought I was saying.

So now I’m combing for other ways to let students know when they haven’t been successful with an assignment or an exam.  Not that I have a lot of students who don’t meet the marks required.  But still.  Because you just never know the full impact of your words or what happens to them in that person’s “world”.

Toe-tally

Toes.  Who knew they were so pivotal in life?  I didn’t, not until I lost mine.  Well okay I didn’t exactly lose them.  Here are still there, attached fur,y to the ends of my feet.  But at the time it seemed like I lost them.

You see in my youth I tried this thing called skiing with a group of people who had done this before.  I on the other hand had not.  Skiing was new to me, so was this awesome thing called a chairlift. Life needs more chairlifts, not because it’s easier to get up the incline, but because of their utter awesomeness!😊

Apparently these people happen to take the whole hill part rather seriously.  I mean it’s called down hill,  the emphasis being on hill.  How hill translates to mountain I’m not sure, but that’s where we ended up.  Which explains the whole chairlift thing.  Oh and the skis?  Rented.  So that takes us up to standing at the top of the world’s largest mountain, on the steepest slope.

Picture this, rented skis that came with poles, what on earth are these things even for? Knees shaking and useless poles abandoned because really other than stabbing implements completely useless to me. Oh and the ritual with wax has been completed and my skis are nice and shiny.  Because that’s what the wax is for isn’t it?

Thankfully I don’t recall the trip down the hill, just the ending which was a bit abrupt.  Which brings us back to the importance of toes.  You see the abrupt ending resulted in some broken toes.  Mine specifically.  And it was then I learned how much I love my toes.

So you’d think that after suffering the horror of toe damage in the past I’d be careful with these precious piggies of mine!  But nope not me.  Maybe it’s blocking out the horror of not being able to walk properly that allowed me to drop a heavy box on my large toe. Which apparently is cracked, not that they do anything for cracks or breaks when it comes to toes!  But it does mean I have some time of creating a new style of walking.

So don’t let the suffering of my toes go in vain friends!  Watch your tootsies!

 

 

Appreciating Lessons Via Lupus

A friend watched the movie Everest recently and said it was a “dumb” movie that as far as she can tell was all about poor planning.  She couldn’t fathom how someone could spend their entire bank account for a dream, a dream that basically was a glorified vacation with some serious physical activity.  Further to that she couldn’t understand how a person could spend all that money for a dream that involved risking one’s life.

now I haven’t seen the movie, but I can understand doing anything within your power to fulfill a dream.  For the dream isn’t just realized by climbing the mountain or attempting the climb.  The dream, at least for me, is what happens after you have reached the point.  I believe it is impossible to remain unchanged and that’s the beauty of trying or reaching out to touch a dream.  You simply cannot be exactly the same because to touch a dream, to attempt to touch it, is a bit of magic.

I will be the first to admit my point of view is a bit different.  It is surely altered to a degree by having a serious, chronic illness that is not totally managed at this stage.  You see friends lupus has taught me a few lessons that I may not have fully grasped otherwise. Lupus has taught me the beauty of a challenge, the beauty of being changed by the challenge.  Sure there are bumps and bruises, but it is a lesson learned through experiences that forges us stronger in some ways.  Perhaps a bit of the shiny outer layers is removed from us, but we are truly richer for the experience.

My friend would counter that no one needs or sees the beauty in an experience that results on death.  But death is just an end that we all face at some point.  And there is a romantic strength in dying doing what you love, or reaching for the stars.  Lupus has made me comfortable with mortality.  And by being comfortable with my own mortality I have come to see the beauty and joy in the everyday simple things.  The songs of the birds early in the morning are ever so sweet to my ears.  I love to watch the clouds dance across the sky on a windy day.  The smell of freshly baked bread is a bit like heaven I suspect.  And the list goes on.

To me, as much as lupus can make life a little harder, it also makes the rewards in life sweeter because you know just how precious it all is.  So lupus taught me that well I may face my time with Everest, I will certain be enjoying every minute of it that I can.