the unrevealed . . .

Why won’t I show my face?

Who I am in this blog is the unadulterated, unretouched, unresolved ME.  Elsewhere on the Internet, the professional person I become when I go to work can be found (and seen).

Isn’t it interesting that I feel comfortable showing that particular persona to the world, but am not willing to unmask the fully dimensional human being of whom that persona is but a part?

(semi-rhetorical question)

I’m in a meander-y musing mood this evening.  What I was originally thinking of writing about is how so many people I know in my approximate age group (early-ish to mid- to later 50s) seem to be grappling with the Meaning Question.  It’s kind of that mortality/the clock is ticking/what have I actually done with my life so far thing, and if I got smacked by a semi-truck tomorrow, would I have been satisfied that I gave it a good go, did the things I cared most about, loved people the best way I knew how, and found some sense of purpose and fulfillment.  It’s that thing.

If I had to answer that question tonight, I think I could say I’m honestly working on it, but I need a little more time, y’know?  So, like, I might want to negotiate a little (okay, STALL, put it off, ask if I could get back to it in ten or twenty or thirty years).  But at least I feel that I’m moving in the right direction.  Which is why I keep doing certain things that seem to play a critical part in that process, such as:

1.  process painting . . . it’s not about making “art,” it’s about standing in front of a big blank sheet of paper, armed with the necessary tools, and waiting for direction from whatever you wanta call it–the right brain, the unconscious, the soul . . .

2.  writing . . . even if it’s just dashing off a blog post once or twice a week . . . maintaining that ephemeral connection with people who happen to read what I’ve written, like you . . .

3.  listening to music that has woven itself inextricably into my life, and by extension, my heart, my soul . . . (all roads seem to keep returning there) . . . and for those of you who have read more than a handful of my posts know, there is one contemporary musician above all others who seems to make it all come together in a way that I am woefully incapable of explaining . . . and his name is Mark Knopfler . . .

4. focusing more time and energy on my friendships with women, and in particular, being part of a group of creative women who are sailing in the same familiar waters . . . and who share my desire to build rich, honest, and complex relationships that support ourselves and each other . . .

5.  coming back to meditation, again and again and again . . . fully committing to this healing practice that brings me the great gifts of radical acceptance and equanimity . . .

These things help me stay balanced (along with getting enough sleep, which remains a challenge) . . .

Speaking of which . . .

G’night all.

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Wherein our protagonist contemplates her emotional universe . . .

I’ve been painting today.  Oh frabjous joy!  I finished the one that had been haunting my easel for the last several months, then started another one that I quickly came to loathe.  I took it down because it annoyed me, and I can already hear my internal creative mentor tsk-tsking me in my head.  She’s like an attachment to my superego.  I succumbed to the inner critic, I wanted something bold and audacious and ended up with a giant page of fireworks turning into flowers or flowers turning into fireworks, or possibly neither.  It wasn’t going anywhere; it had all the psychic energy of a bouquet of turds.

Now what?

Start another painting?  Like I have a choice.  Gotta kill to get crimson on this palette knife.  Etc.  Yes, I’ve been listening to Knopfler again.  I seem to be traveling in an endless loop between Get Lucky, Kill to Get Crimson, and Sailing to Philadelphia. The only non-Knopfler album I’ve been listening to lately is The Swell Season’s Strict Joy.  Just turned that on again.  Can’t not love that crazy Irishman, Glen Hansard.  It’s the intensity thing; gets me every time.  Also used to get me into a lot of trouble.  I shan’t elaborate here, either.

Some other braver time, thinks I.






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EPIPHANEIA REDUX

So.

Where to begin?

I had one of those rare brain-flipping-over-in-the-brainpan experiences earlier this week, when a dear friend offered me a rare and stunning perspective on my current existential dilemma(s).  Because I have not fully absorbed it yet, I am hesitant to say more, except, perhaps, this:

1.  At 52 years of age, I have not yet taken–or made–my place in the world.  (Being married and having a reasonably satisfying career are only fractions of that equation.)

2.  A result of #1 is that I have been living around the edges of my true self (I know that sounds hokey, but it is what it is, man), not admitting to myself that the essential me has a much bigger voice and a lot more to say than this shadow-puppet I have devolved into over the last several decades.

3.  A big part of the essential me was once “out there,” and although she was long ago relegated to a minor role (sweeping the floors backstage), she hasn’t disappeared altogether.  She was a brash, bold, occasionally fearless 16-year-old who dared to flout the conventions and expectations of family and society (her tribe at school was disdainfully annointed “the Radicals” by their straight-arrow classmates).  And she may have been silent for a long time, but maybe that’s because she’s been waiting . . .

She’s the one who on senior “ditch day” in high school took off with a few other friends to the lake and sunbathed topless in full view of other visitors who were aghast at their shamelessness.  She’s the one who started a strawberry mud fight in the back yard of her first boyfriend’s family’s swanky home, earning his parents’ enduring disgust and loathing.  She’s the one who dropped acid for the first time with her two best friends on a school night, and showed up at school early the next morning, still tripping out and not giving a damn who knew.  She’s the one who wrote notebooks and notebooks full of raw, angst-ridden poetry, who took huge emotional risks by telling people how she really felt about everything and everyone.  She was a wild and defiant child who fantasized about growing up to write for Rolling Stone and/or front a rock band, and/or be an artist, and/or run for political office . . .

That’s who she was.

And now I’ve got to get her back.

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EXISTENTIALEMMA

I really want to pay attention to everything that’s going on right now. For example, the cat is snoozing between the pillars above the built-in cabinets, my husband is snoozing in the bedroom, and I’m here at my command post (the southernmost corner of the living room sofa), overhead fans spinning, a pleasant breeze sifting across my face and shoulders.  Got a pile of shirts to iron on the other end of the sofa, which I promised my husband I’d do in exchange for his running the day’s errands for the cat (food and litter), for me (sherbet–I’m roiling in guilt over the pint of  strawberry Haagen-Dasz I killed between last night and this afternoon), and for him (hardware store stuff).

Though I seem to have eliminated my recent viral visitation, I’m still not feeling entirely up to snuff.  And I am forced to confess that getting on the scale again this morning to see that I had dropped another pound scared me more than just a little bit.  I’ve been rather unruffled by this weight loss thing up until the last week or so, when I dropped 4 pounds below the weight I got to 16 years ago, just before I found out I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  In fact, the last time I weighed 110, I was probably in junior high.  This coupled with the fact that I began slowly gaining a bit of weight toward the end of my forties and after I turned fifty–which is predictable for a woman who is post-menopausal–and struggled mightily to get rid of it with limited success, leads me to the conclusion that something is definitely amiss with my health these days.  So, yeah, scary.

And although I’m a bit of a hypochondriac (cancer’ll do that to you), it is hard for me to not think about whether I’m going to have to gear myself up again for a major battle.  Against what, I have no idea.  But something.

Still in the grand scheme of things, I’ve always only got just this moment to live, like everyone else.  The only things that really matter are that I remember it, take it all in, every tiny mundane last detail of it, and be vigilant about letting the people I love know that I love them.  And sometimes write about it.

Cheers . . .

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WIRED, LIVE, AND GUILTY . . .

Hey there, boys and girls!  I’m broadcasting live from a 24-hour Holter monitor, my close and constant companion since 9:45 A.M. today until the same time tomorrow.  Near at hand is my handy dandy 24-hour Holter monitor diary, where I must record all symptoms of interest (e.g., shortness of breath [SOB for short], dizziness, heart palpitations, tachycardia, etc.) that occur during this period of time.  Naturally, since I was holstered up with my Holter, I’ve noticed minimal symptoms, which leads me to believe that my heart is playing that old car-at-the-mechanic trick (it runs fine, doesn’t act up for the mechanic, s/he can find nothing wrong).  But I’ve got this evening, the whole night, and the early morning to go.  Surely I’ll see some action eventually . . .  

Different day, different diagnosis

The monitor has come and gone–no idea as to when I’ll hear about the results. However, I did manage to contract some type of virus the day I got Captain Holter which has kept me housebound for the last 2 days.  Nothing dramatic, just a headache, abdominal cramps, a bit of nausea and achiness.

So what do I for entertainment between now and my next visit to Kaiser’s cardiology department?  Hmmmmm . . . I dunno . . . nothing comes immediately to mind . . . wait, WAIT, I’VE GOT IT!!!  HOW ABOUT A COLONOSCOPY?!

Okay, so it was already scheduled.  The fun begins next Wednesday afternoon (the drinking of the gallon of ick), and ends at 7:00 A.M. (PST) Thursday morning.  Don’t worry, I will not regale you with any of the details.

The crappy thing is how much work I’ve been missing lately with all of these medical appointments.  This is one of those times when being self-employed gets a little stressful, what with no steady stream of income when one is indisposed to do one’s job.  Plus business has slowed down considerably over the last month or two. But I knew what I was signing on for, so no further self-indulgent woe-is-me (for this post, at least).

So do I have anything remotely interesting to say, or what?  Ahhhhh, lessee . . . maybe I should start a list of things I’ve been feeling guilty about lately.  Here goes:

1.  I haven’t been practicing mindfulness OR meditation on a daily basis for the last couple of weeks;

2.  I have done minimal housework (it would take industrial machinery to make even a dent at this point);

3.  I haven’t been exercising regularly for way longer than I should, especially with the whole high cholesterol biz;

4.  I should be more worried about the fact that I’ve lost 20 lbs. over the last three months without trying much (other than my intentional diet change eliminating as much sugar- and/or trans-fatty foods as possible–except for the last month–and I’ll explain in a sec);

5.  I have been secretly thrilled that I’ve dropped two sizes and my previously most sausage-casing-like jeans are now a bit baggy on me, even after they’ve just come out of the dryer;

6.   I’ve done absolutely nothing with the front yard this year (actually, other than annual autumn bulb-plantings, the last five–or is that nine?– years);

7.  My cat has the worst halitosis of any feline I’ve ever met, and I have not taken her in to the vet to be vetted;

8.  Although I really have everything I need, I continue to window-Internet-shop, sometimes obsessively, for things like the perfect-pair-of-cute-yet-casual-work-to-weekend sandals;

9.  In the battle between heart health vs. wasting away, I have been indulging in highly sugar- and cholesterol-laden foods (think strawberry Haagen-Dasz, brownies with ice cream, etc.);

10.  At one point I justified the above-mentioned eating habits based on one of my post-gum-surgery rules (still) of soft and semi-soft foods (how much frickin’ soup, yogurt, and applesauce can you eat for three months?!?!);

11.   I haven’t done any painting (intuitive or otherwise) for at least three months.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Because I’m still Lazy Couch Recovering Virus Queen, it’s time for a movie break. Been on a Hugh Grant kick recently, dunno why . . . must be my weakness for horsey-faced Englishmen . . .

So ta and ta until next time.

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. . . ECHO(CARDIOGRAM)S OF MORTALITY . . .

Chapter 3.75

So I’ve been on this mission-quest-thing to find out what’s going on with my shortness of breath since early this year.  The going has been slow, a bit of a slog, actually.  I acquired an oncologist to see whether my ages-ago cancer (or some new version) might be back.  I’ve had an echocardiogram, a pulmonary function test, both with normal results.  Yesterday I went in for a treadmill test.  However, as my nurse was taking preliminary blood pressure readings (lying down, standing up), she discovered that I had orthostatic (postural) hypotension.  In plain English, this means that when I get up from either a lying or sitting position, my blood pressure plummets, and my heart starts working like crazy to bring it back to normal, resulting in a racing pulse, shortness of breath, and dizziness.

Another nurse who was brought in to check my readings a second time left to consult with a cardiologist, who–as she suspected–recommended not doing the treadmill test after all. Instead, I’m going back next week to get a Holter monitor which I’ll wear for 24 hours (while keeping a written record of my shortness of breath, lightheadedness, etc.) to gather data on what the heck my heart is doing.

At first I was relieved that I didn’t have high blood pressure, and thought that postural hypotension was probably not such a big deal.  Then–why do I do this?–I went online and starting researching causes of this condition.  Ulp.  There are a few, and they sound a bit–forgive me for this–disheartening. (Sorry.)

HOWEVER, if I switch over to my Life is an Adventure mode (which really came in handy when I found out I had cancer), I believe I can face whatever the hell it is with … ummm … equanimity? It’s a question because this is another in a series of life challenges that at this point remains mysterious.  On the other hand, I’ve gotten through cancer, so I figure I can get through just about anything.  Yes, I’m giving myself a pep talk.  I’ve gotta.  What are the other options?

So I’m gonna keep meditating, going to work, writing, drawing, painting, walking, kitty-snoogling, and everything else I’ve always done.  I’ll deal with whatever “it” is when I get there. Meanwhile, the road rolls itself out before me, same as it ever has.  And that’s a good thing.

over’n’out.

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MAY ALL BEINGS BE AT PEACE

Sunday night.  Cat’s curled up on the chair behind my left shoulder.  I can see the waxing moon through the blind slats of the window nearby.  It’s late May, and Spring, despite its best efforts, is yet to have fully sprung in this semi-desert.  Twenty-eight years ago this coming Saturday I got married on my ex-in-laws’ lush and expansive back lawn, where the afternoon high was 101°.  That evening we danced, crazed and barefoot on the brick patio until the soles of our feet were bruised.

My husband likes to say that our unusually cool spring this year is due to “Al Gore’s giant head blocking out the sun.”  (Nothing personal, Al.  We like you.  We really do.)  But you have to admit, the guy’s got a noggin the size of a small planet, or at least an asteroid. 

I can hear the refrigerator humming in the kitchen, the clock tock-ing in the dining room, an across-the-street neighbor’s basso profundo dog woofing at the stars.  Ahhh, and of course the trains.  “De tlains, de tlains!” (No offense to Hervè Villechaize.) 

I’m tired of playing with my iPhone, of reading about body dysmorphic disorder, of writing progress notes.  I’m tired of these annoying sutures in my gums.  Of being busy.

But I’m grateful to be here tonight in the cat-ravaged overstuffed chair, the selfsame ravager now gracefully bathing herself.  My woolly socks and polarfleece jacket are keeping me warm on this fine spring evening.  I’m grateful for our little house that’s the right size for two smallish people and a cat, and my husband sitting at his computer in the next room, editing photographs.  I’m grateful for right here, right now.  For this postage-stamp-sized island of peace. 

Hoping the same for you, whoever you are. 

G’night.

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