Awakening in the Nuclear Era

 

Image from Today

 

Yesterday morning, I went to yoga. Afterwards, I stopped at Wal-Mart to grab a couple of pairs of new jeans, then went home and had a bowl of clam chowder for lunch. Afterwards, Oakley and I went shopping for his food for the week or so, then we took a ride on the back roads winding through the currently bare farmland under the crystal blue sky. We tried to walk, but there was just enough wind to make the elements uncomfortable. On the way home, Oakley and I made a stop at a drive through for coffee (me) and an ice water (for him).

A gloriously ordinary Saturday.

As we drove around, I bounced back and forth between WCPT (progressive talk) running the highlights of the past week and a couple of music stations. Once home, we tuned into “America’s Test Kitchen” as we usually do on Saturday. I didn’t hear about this false alarm until fairly late in the day.

My stomach lurched in a way it hadn’t since I was in high school and college. I came of age during the Reagan years with the whisper of the siren lurking in the back ground, wondering daily if today would be the day that the final war started. The better part of those years were spent wondering if I was going to live long enough to graduate and why bother with school work if in the end we were going to to be vaporized into oblivion.

At the time, an insidious group called Young Life, one aimed at “saving” teenagers (it’s Campus Crusade for Christ Junior) began infiltrating my high school with messages about the end of days and the Rapture and Aramgeddon.

Between their interpretations of a book I had little use for and living with an alcoholic WWII veteran parent long steeped in USA right or wrong, my anxiety ratcheted up to a level where I was frozen in real time. I stopped doing anything of real substance, mostly spent as much time in my room as I could dreaming of better days, if possible.

Somehow I still pulled off a high enough GPA to get accepted into college and enough financial aid to do so.

Maybe I was supposed to live.

I started planning; I started dreaming of a future for myself. Granted it was the one that young women in the 1980s were supposed to have, but it was a dream, anyway. I wanted a stable home, a family, and all the rest of the things that I was brainwashed into thinking would make me happy.

Things between the US and the then USSR sort of relaxed until my junior year in college.  Events included a passenger airliner shot down for crossing into USSR air space. That was followed by a lot of saber rattling between Washington and Moscow.

Maybe not.

I shut down again. Would I not live to get out of college? What was the point?

In desperation I ended up engaged to an Air Force NCO who ended up being a dumpster fire of a partner.* He didn’t help at all by going into details on what would happen if we did get nuked ; he subscribe to end of the world cult thinking; he played head and heart games on a daily basis including the ever popular “if you loved me you would______” (insert soul destroying action here) while I searched for jobs near the bases he was likely to be transferred to for his last posting.

Suddenly, the tensions relaxed again between Ron and Yuri. Sergeant Dumpster Fire dumped me after demanding that I marry him within 48 hours  or our love was going to die (thanks to the Mystery that it did). Eventually the job, the home, et al  fell into place of their own accord.

For a long time, the threat of nuclear war was a non-issue, but now with the Dotard in Chief playing “mine is bigger than yours” with the not-the-most-stable-meal-on-the-shelf Dear Leader coupled with a vice president who subscribes to the zombie death cult interpretation of Christianity and would love to have himself and his fellows raptured away before the bombs drop, it’s been thrust to the forefront.

Again.

My prayer is that the “football,” the briefcase with the codes, gets kept very far away from the Oval Office until we can get someone more stable and wise in there. My hope is that Congress gets overturned this fall–if we live that long.

In the meantime in addition to letting Senators Duckworth and Durbin know my thoughts while working to get Rep. Hultgren out of office, I will get involved with peace groups as best I can from here in the hinterlands.

As all this shakes out, I will do yoga, enjoy my new jeans, and walk Oakley.

 

*To my family and friends who read this: I lack the words to convey the regret that I feel for the pain and grief I caused you by letting myself get manipulated into this relationship. “I’m sorry” doesn’t begin to cover the regret and remorse. I don’t know if I can ever really forgive myself, either, for the part of my life wasted on this person or for the damage done to other relationships.

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The Peace in the Pose

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My arms started to wobble as I held in plank.

Calls at 9:30 bode unwell any day, but especially on a Friday night. 

The teacher made some adjustments, guiding my arms and feet with touches about the weight of a nickel.

It was Eldest Sister on Hubby’s side. Are you coming to Arizona? No; why? Second Sister had to have colon cancer surgery.

“Find the peace in the pose,” said my teacher.

“Oh, no. How is she?” 

Once aligned, my body, although surprised, settled into position. One, two, there breaths. Lower to the bamboo floor, lying parallel to the spaces between the boards.

Something had gone horribly wrong. Sepsis developed. A respirator breathed for Second, breathed while the life-giving fluids and antibiotics dripped into her veins in a fight against the infection. 

Push up to baby cobra, then step back into downward dog. Balance on hands and feet, butt towards the ceiling, thighs pointing to the back wall. Look down. Amazed that I tracked Oakley’s fur onto the mat.

The teacher made some feathery adjustments. Again, my body settled into position. The muscles engaged while staying relaxed. My brain appreciated the fresh blood flowing into it. “Find the peace in the pose,” she reminded me again.

Another call. Second Sister had been taken off the respirator, but was unresponsive. The doctor remained unhelpful. One day, acting as if she’ll get better; might take a year, but she’ll get better. Next day, asking if they’d thought about funeral arrangements. 

Walk hands back to my feet. Dear Mystery, do I need a pedicure.

Hubby went to Michigan to work on his mom’s house. Dropped by to see Eldest and her husband. Eldest Brother in law had been living with stage four lung cancer for eighteen months. The most recent check up showed that the cancer had jumped the chemo fence and started taking up camp in other parts of his body. Try something different? Or put the emphasis on comfort for whatever time is left? They will look at options with the care team. We wait. 

Bless my sturdy, stalwart feet. Stand up in tadasana, mountain pose, thighs inwardly rotated, hands in prayer position at heart center. A few more stretches to mobilize the hips, then hug knees to chest, exhale into savasana to close out the class.

Roll onto my side. “Take just another moment to thank your body.” I did. Deep, sincere thanks that she hasn’t retaliated for all the unwise food choices and spotty exercise by giving me cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.

There hadn’t been any word from Detroit or Arizona, but that meant nothing. We wait. 

Teacher and I parted for the evening with a hug. I stepped out into late summer twilight, looking at the gold-tinted pouring over the houses and trees on the west side of her cul-de-sac.

Sadness, yes. Nothing to be done except wait, and pray, and go about our life in the meantime as we wait the long wait to see how these stories play out. But somehow in the middle of the chaos and sorrow, there would be an island of peace.

 

 

Back to the Mat

 

 

About three weeks ago, I weighed myself. I weighed my self and oh, holy crap, was that a number I hope never to see again. As soon as I finished cursing myself, my menopausal process, and all the sorrows that had unfolded between the last time I was at a healthy weight (Orion’s crossing; hormones or lack thereof; stress from Hubby’s mom’s passage; stress from Hubby working at home before he retired; genetics; colorful and interesting family issues) and that moment.

And then I started troubleshooting. What was different then:

  • I followed a low-glycemic diet (a/k/a smart carb, low GI, South Beach).
  • I was younger and had something that vaguely resembled a metabolism.
  • I was a lot more active. Oakley likes his walks and playing at day care, but he is not the hiker Orion was. It wasn’t uncommon for Orion to drag me around the four-mile trail system at the nearby state park, then be ready for another walk in the evening.
  • On top of that, I went to yoga and dance classes.
  • I tracked my food intake and weighed myself very week or so.

So back to low-GI eating and increasing activity. More importantly,  tracking it. I found a free app called FatSecret (godawful name for a very useful tool) through a friend whose dietitian recommended it. Not only can a user keep an eye on carbs, calories, and fat, but it sends an email every two weeks to remind you to weigh yourself. The low-GI plan is flexible enough that the journey to a healthy weight may have a few pit stops for cookies or ice cream here and there. Not many. But a few.  I lost seven pounds in the last couple of weeks. You will sleep better not knowing how much more I have to go, but at least the numbers are going in the right direction. This will be slow, but I will get there.

With nutrition squared off, the next challenge was exercise. I started taking yoga again. I found a small studio near my home with small classes (three of us, usually). The instructor is about my age.  She understands how to move a body that survived the battles of daily life. Today, savasana (a/k/a corpse pose); tomorrow the headstands. Or maybe next week. We’ll do it when we do it. No hurry in the meantime.

Much of it felt good, right, and lead to better sleep. Some of it lead my body to express its displeasure about not moving consistently the last few years. The extra magnesium and Advil negotiate the truce between mind and back, hamstrings, and rear end.

In addition to the gentle but through workout, yoga helps to balance the endocrine system and to relieve stress while making you aware of your body’s wants and needs for movement as well as sustenance. Sometimes it’s as simple as a glass of water or changing to a more comfortable position.

And sometimes a person really does need a bit of chocolate. Not often, but sometimes you just do,

Recovery from The Great Iced Tea Disaster of 2016 and Other Notes For a Monday

I had to take my MacBook Pro to the shop last week to rectify a situation that I created last summer. It wasn’t pretty, but it could have been exponentially worse than it was. Parts and labor came in at two-thirds less than the original quote.

Let’s rewind to last August. I had a big Mason jar of tea in the fridge, a reward for a hot walk with Oakley. I put it on a coaster on an end flap of a cover that I had draped over the sofa arm. When I sat down with my laptop on my lap, the flap moved, flipping the tea onto the computer. With a bloodcurdling shriek, I dried it off with a towel, then ran upstairs to get my hair dryer. I put the laptop back on the desk and positioned the dryer to focus a concentrated air stream onto the key board. Then I mopped up the sofa, the rug, and myself.

It would have worked, but in my distress, I neglected to check the temperature setting.  The up-down-left-right and shift keys had curled like bacon in a hot frying pan.

When the dry heaves stopped, I just left the laptop alone, choosing to let nature take its course. I used a lot of Rescue Remedy the rest of the morning.

Of course Hubby came in that afternoon. He’d had another round of disasters with repairs and renovations. I didn’t say anything, not wanting to listen to him hyperventilate about the incident (he takes care of most things technical) and because he was of good cheer. He crashed on the love seat, Oakley also crashed next to him. Did I want to disturb that? Hell, no. I poured a glass of rose, spiked it with Rescue Remedy, and told The Mystery to send more of the peace, please.

I needed to take it in. I just couldn’t. The combination of distance and parking (our nearest Mac store is in an otherwise lovely suburb that involves picking and dodging through traffic some 45 minutes east of here only to end up in the third circle of parking hell), embarrassment and self loathing (really, am I ever going to be grown up enough to use tools properly?), and terror of the repair bill played factors in the procrastination.

Fast forward to a little over a week ago. I’d been able to work around the melted keys, but the battery wasn’t charging, and the laptop shut itself down  when there was an interruption to the power supply.  Hubby, to his credit, didn’t judge. “Shit happens,” he said as he set up the appointment to drop it off for repairs.

It was just the battery, not the motherboard. The problem is that MacBook Pros have their batteries glued to the top panel (with the keyboard), so the whole top had to be replaced. Very well. See you in three to five days.

The call came. I had my laptop back, and all was again well with the world, or at least my little corner of it.

Next purchase will be a water bottle for making iced tea. One with a pull top or spout to mitigate the odds of future damage.

On we go into spring. The scent of new grass gently floats through the air. It’s good to hear the birds again.

I signed up for a yoga class. That starts tomorrow. Been ages since I took one. I don’t have the discipline to keep at it on my own.

So we begin again.

 

 

The Challenging Yoga of Dog Cuddling

This morning, Oakley hopped up on the sofa next to me and wrapped his left paw around my right arm. I had just enough wiggle room to reach up and scratch his ear. Then I reached over to scratch his right ear with my left hand, and he wrapped his right paw around my left wrist, pinning me down and pulling me over to him so my cheek rested on top of his head.

Deciding that he was comfortable, he fell asleep. Luckily for me, it was just a micro-nap. Any longer in that half-sitting-half-lying-down-elbow-balance would have caused me to freeze.

Refreshed, he was ready for his morning walk and kindly let me up so we could proceed.