Sunday, June 19, 2016

Tribe



Many people are commenting on the book - I found it fascinating and resonated truth I have witnessed.
Sebastian Junger   - thank you.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

review

Last night I read the book When Breath Becomes Air
I had heard a little about it prior to publishing and then learned it had become a NYT Non Fiction Best Seller

I feel like reading this book was like walking through an impact area.

Paul Kalanithi's words in this book took my breath away.
I am amazed at the life intersections the author and I have.
No, I did not go to Ivy League School and study science but I have interacted with death, grief, and life.  Well, we all have, really.

I loved the way he described his need for education and the question to find out the "why". The dilemma of loving literature and the love and respect he had for science and education.

I wept when he recalled treating an alcoholic patient and the process of his  body shutting down and blood not filtering oxygen.
I immediately had a flash back of Tony which led me to deep sobbing.
The kind that makes others shutter to include myself.
It is just a mere three sentences in this book - but they stopped me in my tracks.
*
Over the last three weeks I have been dreaming about him a lot.
Maybe as a result of some pending changes.
Maybe he is trying to tell me something or approve or nudge me to see what I might not be seeing.
*
The reasoning that the author becomes a neurosurgeon blows me away. He makes a  decision and then he went for it.
The way he explains his craft and the language of the surgical procedures, I am drawn into.
I want to ask him questions that a seven year old girl did not know to ask.
I started to think about my dad's brain cancer. Honestly, I do not remember too much about it, besides that it changed my mom and brother's life forever.
And obviously cut my dad's life short at 36.


I have no one to ask.
How did my dad find out that he even had brain cancer?  Did he experience headaches, vision, loss of balance - what changed?
Was he weak - did he loose weight? What were the indicators? Why? How?
What did they think he had when they went in to the hospital? - I am sure oncology was not their first stop.
Did they contribute it to the environmental effects of living near a Nuclear Power Plant?
Then after his diagnosis, what did they actually do from neuroscience perspective to treat him?
Kalanithi talks about gently and strategically carving our tumors from patients brains and then placing the tumors in trays.
It became his art.
He owned it.
Did a physician remove the tumors from dad's head and place them in trays?
Had the cancer spread to other parts of his body?
I know he did chemo and radiation - he lost his hair and had a significant horseshoe shaped scar.
Honestly, I was afraid.
But what were they really doing in 1977 from a treatment perspective?  I am not ungrateful, just curious.
I remember my mom said they did some type of experimental treatment with peach pits.
But I was seven, did I imagine that or did we discuss it?

I do remember when we moved to Baycrest - it must have been around the fourth grade - I found a National Geographic magazine that a had a picture of a man in an operating room that I thought was my dad. I showed my mom and we never spoke about it again. (that is how grief was handled - I colored and sent a  thank you note to  the nice men at Allore Funeral Home and went back to school) As an adult, I realize my mom's cross country road trip the summer of 1978 was the way she handled/processed grief.

As an adult I tried to relocate that issue because I wanted to look at it again, I never found it.
Maybe I will take a trip to the library and canvas through National Geographic 1978-1981 and hunt for it again.
Or maybe they are online now.
At one point my mom may have kept a journal. I should have asked for it, I can vaguely remember her handwriting on a yellow legal pad. But I  have no idea the words.

I grieve with Kalanithi when he shares of a close doctor friend that succumbs to suicide.
I think of two people from the Army and so many more service members that choose the same way out.   The Profession of Arms can be too much weight for some to carry.

And then...  you read he is diagnosed with lung cancer.
Honestly, when I had read the review of the book I did not know about the lung part of the cancer and it rocked me when I discovered it.
At the age of 55 my mom got lung cancer and she held on to almost 57. December 14, 1941- October 10, 1998.
I was one of the people he described in the book - We were going to fight it and we were going to win. We were cancer fighters.
I researched, I prayed, I changed diets, I bought Indian Herbs and teas and freaked the fuck out.
After chemo and radiation (my mom's only tattoo) -  I thought she was good.
And then it happened. I cannot tell you how this changed everything. It sent the closest people in life into a tailspin.
You see I had read all of the hospice books and I read about death and dying and none of that mattered. I was not prepared
I was broken. And everything began to crack with it.
I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

I am firm believer if my mom would have not died, Tony would not have not drank himself to death. That is straight up optimism and the power of the presence of my mom. We cannot rewrite life and yes everything happens for a reason.

Cancer popped back up in my life at the beginning of this year when in one week I knew of four people taking aggressive cancer treatments. Consuming straight up liquid poison; fighting for more life.
Some of them are still fighting and one dear friend is now resting just around the corner from Tony at Fort Logan National Cemetery.
And then I had my first ever biopsy  that came back all clear but took me four weeks to wait for an appointment and another week for the results. I silently rehearsed the words I had planned to use, I will save them for another time.

Then Pino died - when I called the florist I could barely speak coherently to order yellow roses and get out  words "Until Valhalla" - WTF.

I guess the "C" word probably chases all of us in some way. Or atleast in my family.
Death certainly does.


So, there you have it.
I feel empowered to keep volunteering and face grief head on.
Death has closed chapters and opened new one's for me.
Maybe that is why I love TAPS  and the mission.

I cannot thank Paul Kalanithi enough for writing this book and his wife Lucy  for making sure it was published.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The mat

Deja Vu on the mat.
It happens.
It happens a lot.
Last night during Yin - my face is was flat on the mat and I thought..oh my. in a few short months I am going to be doing yoga with a few people I was doing yoga with  in 2009. And in similar circumstances.
This is 2016.  That was 2009.
By the time it is all said and over  - that gap is seven years.
It can't be right.
And then thinking of all things that have changed and why.
It can't be right.

During Shavasana I quickly day dreamed I was smashed between two armored vehicles.

Who knows why.  Obviously, I have been rewriting my will to serve a specific purpose for the next 18 months -  that's why

SO, I will go back tonight to find the mat again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Often I am mesmerized by the written word of others.
Once again another OIF vet finds my hidden voice.
I loved and recognized the language in this book and did not want it to end.



Matthew Gallagher OIF Veteran nails it.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016


Tonight I had an Epiphany.

Small but important.

For about the last five years I see deer. 

I find them or they find me.

They meet me in parking lots when I have to attend important meetings.

They have guided to locations that I have never been.

I used to see them at work all the time and they would meet me in Ute Valley Park.

They have stood under street lights in the fog for me. Small fawns have stood beside roadsides and mommas have brought their babies to my proximity.

You may say, you live in Colorado –Deer live there by the herds. No, this is different.

 

Last Sunday I moved into my new temporary place in New Mexico. I have not spotted too many deer here but  for the last three days I have had bunny visitors. When I have my morning coffee they wake up early and visit. Last night when I pulled into the driveway one was waiting for my dead center welcoming me back.  NM has a lot of bunnies but they seem to be meeting me on trails and now in my own backyard.

 

 

Coincidence? Probably not.

Whomever or whatever is sending me the bunnies, thank you. I feel it. 


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Constitutional and self defense rights of everyone, particularly women

Big Guy

The place I am currently staying is owned by a Czech man.
Occasionally, we have a slight communication gap but not much.
Yesterday, I texted him.

“Look at this big guy I found on the balcony this morning. Does he belong to you”

OK – Big Guy = Fat Barn Cat


He called me right away worried that someone was on the deck and that no one should be out there.

I asked if he had looked at the picture of the cat and he said no…
 I told him I was visited by a barn cat.

And then we each nervously laughed and wished each other a good day…

                                                                     
#LittleMoments

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why I Ruck?

Why I Ruck?
A few years ago I heard a few people talk about GORUCK events. I tucked the idea away in my head and left it there for a bit. In November 2013 I signed up for my first event that would take place in Santa Fe, NM in January 2014.  After examining the different levels of events I signed up for the Light.  I knew there was no way in heck I would be able to do a challenge. The week before my scheduled event I received an email from the GORUCK HQ telling me that that the Light was being cancelled and that my credit could be transferred to another event. The Santa Fe Challenge had not been cancelled. The gentleman on the phone said that if I could do a light there is no reason why I could not do a challenge, it is the same principles just a little longer. I fell for it and signed up. I had no idea what to really expect and I packed and prepared. I drove up a little early and had lunch with one my favorite people in the worked. I took this as sign of good luck and world’s aligning as our inability to see each other in person is maddening. Hours later I found myself in the middle of the Santa Fe square at 9pm with a dozen other weirdo’s many have having the same skeptical look in their eyes. Bear crawls, crab walks, Red Solo cup relay races, burpee’s, and squats. This is what they call the welcome party. Depending which cadre does the welcoming – they are all a little different.   I had heard about Cadre Joel through mutual friends and just hoped if I could make it through the damn welcoming party; I could make it through the remaining 11 hours.  Although my equipment did not fail, I definitely had the wrong equipment.  I had an awesome Marmot bag that was just a little too big and I could not cinch it up tight enough. Imagine the bag sliding dramatically left or right the entire night as you are carrying heavy crap, crawling, and attempting to do the perfect monkey f$%ker.  Within an hour or so we became a team. It was like science class when you studied the transformation of the cocoon to the butterfly. Ok maybe not that eloquent or magically but it was transformation. We learned a lot and I discovered that I love a challenge and it is even sweeter when you can accomplish it as a team.
These events test me every single time. Sometimes I feel I am too old to be out there. I am almost 45.  Or that my upper body strength is not nearly competitive enough for this group.  Or I just go with the idea I have no business being out there to begin with. I am not a cross fitter and no I do not really lift or squat.
I am proud that we pay attention to details and teach others respect. The American Flag is at the front of the team and out of honor and respect, we never let the flag touch the ground. Believe me, I have witnessed the catastrophic event happen – paying for it in kind is never good.
I am often asked why I do it – well because I can and because I need to be challenged. There is an enormous amount of goodness that come from taking 15-20 complete strangers – accomplishing tasks, encouraging and becoming better Americans. We need more of this actually.  That is why I ruck.