Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Five years since my surgery

What I wrote on my Facebook status on Sunday, November 25, 2018, and wanted to share here as well:

It’s now been five years. On November 25, 2013, I had open abdominal surgery for what turned out to be a borderline ovarian tumor. At a doctor’s appointment less than two weeks earlier, my doctor had expedited my surgery and told me that the tumor on my right ovary had grown and that it was either cancerous or borderline.

For me, this date is a marker of not only the surgery but also of change. I consider the surgery and the events surrounding it to be a turning point in my life. It’s been a very full five years. If you had told me in October 2013 where I would be now, I may not have believed you. Post-surgery, as I found emotional and physical healing, I left dreams behind and gradually accepted that what I wanted – and needed – was changing. I walked through a deep depression and made it out the other side. I discovered Nia. I found out I had sensory processing disorder, and it was a revelation that changed the way I see myself and my experience of the world. My love and I renewed our relationship and became closer than ever.
…and much more.

I don’t really believe that everything happens for a reason. Some things in life just happen. I do know that I am grateful for what I have now.

My surgery story, parts I and II.

Poem from one year after surgery.

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Election Day 2018 Links! Get out and vote!

Attention voters in the United States:

If you have done early voting or turned in your ballot for the midterm election, great! Go you!

If you are registered to vote (or are in a state where you can register on the day of), go vote on Tuesday, November 6, 2018!

States where you can register to vote on Election Day (list from here): California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Washington D.C. If you are in North Dakota, you can go to a polling place with a valid I.D. and vote.

Wherever you live, you can find your assigned polling place here.

Need a ride? Or are you available to give someone a ride? Go to carpoolvote.com and request a ride or offer one here.

Uber and Lyft are offering discounted rides to the polls with the promo code available on the apps on Election Day. They are also offering free rides to the polls in underserved communities. More information here.  (The link also includes information about bike sharing, scooter sharing, and free public transportation in select cities).

Need time off from work to vote? Here is information on different state’s laws on time off from work and voting.

Important to know: You need to be in line to vote before polls close. If you are in line at closing time, the polling place must stay open to allow you to vote.

The Election Protection Hotline can help people who have been turned away from the polls. If you or someone you know has this happen, call 866-OUR-VOTE. More resources that might be helpful are in this article by The New York Times (scroll down towards the bottom of the page for information about day-of tips and resources).

Once the polls are closed and the results are in, Ballotpedia is tracking the results from the major races in each state.

Some late-night and talk show hosts are hosting election day live specials.

From Bustle: 7 Ways to watch the election results roll in.

Nia Blue Belt Insights: My relationship with FloorPlay.

I started writing a post that summarizes my experience at my Blue Belt training. And in truth, it didn’t really touch it. I can use adjectives like amazing, life-changing, but that doesn’t really give you a picture of how it touched me.

Over three weeks later, I am continuing to integrate the material. I imagine I will be integrating for quite some time. The Blue Belt training, the second belt level of Nia training, focuses on communication, relationships, and intimacy. I just opened the PDF version of the Blue Belt Learn book on my iPad and turned to the first principle: the Joy of Being in Relationship With — with another, life-force energy, etc. So in honor of that, I’m going to create separate posts about how my relationship with my Nia practice, myself, life, other people, is shifting in response to my experience at my Blue Belt training.

I’m beginning with FloorPlay, which is both a Nia practice and a Blue Belt principle.

My relationship with: FloorPlay

I am predisposed to like being on the floor. I don’t remember a time when plopping down on the floor didn’t feel like the most natural thing in the world. In the living room, I am generally more likely to sit down on the floor against a couch than sit on the couch. It is fairly easy for me to get up and down from the floor. So, generally, I like being on floors and I appreciated that moving and playing on the floor was part of Nia.

And yet..sometimes FloorPlay in Nia felt muted to me, like an obligatory extension of cooling down and yet not quite a cycle unto itself. FloorPlay is the sixth of seven cycles in a Nia class. So coming down to the floor is often an expected part of any routine. I understood that it was supposed to have a conditioning element, but how often did it really feel like it? I liked being on the floor and moving there, but I sometimes felt like something was missing.

NiaStudio floor

The studio at Nia Headquarters

After spending most of a morning on the floor during the training, I gained more of a felt sense of FloorPlay conceptually and as an embodied experience. We spent time on the floor concentrating on areas of our bodies we wanted to self-heal. We played with conditioning and experimented with how it felt to exercise versus move. Moving is easier, smoother, less forceful, more flowing, more energy-centered. I realized that I could do the same action, like crunches, from an exercise approach and a movement approach and I would feel and experience it differently.

I gained a deeper embodied experience of what it meant to play on the floor. I had moments where I felt giddy in the revelation and expression of play. I can gain a similar feeling I had as a child rolling down hills at a park as I play and move on the floor.

Now, after the training, I crave more quality FloorPlay time. I want to intentionally spend time on the floor, not just as a part of a routine, but a practice of conditioning, self-healing, and play.  I look forward to what this practice will teach me, how it will add to my experience of my body, myself, and Nia.

I am now the proud owner of Nia kneepads to help support my body with this practice.

kneepads

Kneepads!

After that morning’s FloorPlay session, I was texting my husband about it. He said, “I’m glad you’re such good friends with the floor.” I said, “I could be even better friends with the floor.”

While in Portland, I…

On August 17, I caught a flight to Portland, Oregon. Here are a few of the things I did while there:

Satisfied childhood nostalgia:  My mom moved to the greater Portland area when I was eight years old. I finished up my second grade year in New Mexico and joined her that summer. I lived there for a year, and then returned to New Mexico to live with my dad. My mom lived there for two more years (three in all), and I spent my breaks from school with her. So I have some attachment from my childhood to that area. I have only been there a few times as a teenager and young adult, so it was nice to go back there and experience it.

In this category:

Went to the Saturday Market.

My mom and I used to go when I was younger. I remember it being much smaller. Well, it probably was, but so was I. Still, some of the booths looked familiar. I browsed, got a cool piece of decor for our condo, and grabbed lunch. It was also great to near the Willamette River again.

Went to Powell’s Books, aka the best bookstore in the world. And perhaps one of the more overwhelming ones if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Or most magical. Or a combination. Aside from the online catalog where I could easily find out if they had a book and where to find it, it pretty much looks like I remember it. Last time I was there: around sixteen years ago. First time I was there: age 8.

Also in that category that I did not get to this time: the Rose Garden in Washington Park. Perhaps next time.

Did some quintessential Portland things:

Some of this happened incidentally through walking around and experiencing the city. For example, watching two men play a life-sized chess game in the park, overhearing some of the summer concert series, people-watching at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Washington Park station

The MAX train coming in at Washington Park Station

I took the MAX light-rail train daily, which dropped me off right across the street from my destination. Accessible public transportation rocks.

Grabbed dinner at a food truck. There’s a whole block in Downtown Portland that has a variety of choices. I did this twice and had delicious Thai food.

Had a lavender donut. And a lavender chai. Although my favorite was the house chai (no lavender, nice spice) at Case Study Coffee Roasters.

There are so many places to go in Portland: restaurants, museums, gardens, and so much more. The extra that I did get to see and experience, I did in my spare time. But I wasn’t really there as a tourist. I didn’t have a lot of extra time to explore.

Why was I in Portland, Oregon, for a week? I was taking my Nia Blue Belt training at NiaStudio at Nia Headquarters. It was an amazing experience. Perhaps more on that later in a separate post.

Nia international headquarters

It was also freeing to return to Portland on my own for the first time as an adult. It was wonderful to fulfill some nostalgic longings and to experience a place I once thought of as home through new eyes.

The comfort of home.

I started writing this over a month ago. We’ve now been living in our new place for about six weeks.

These days, I tend to sleep through most of the night. Most mornings, I’ve been waking up for the first time at 5:30 or 6:30 a.m.

I grew up having terrible insomnia. While I’ve developed better sleep patterns throughout the years, sleeping through the night is new to me.

Do I feel more rested? Hard to say. Sometimes I feel more stiff. I sometimes wake up feeling heavy. With the transition to moving to a new place, my nervous system is still in adjustment mode. Yes, the place is better. It’s quieter. And it’s different.

morning light

Morning light coming in through the shutters, 6:40 a.m.

I joked to my husband as we headed to get groceries early on a Sunday morning, “We moved and we completely changed our lives.” I was being light-hearted, but we’ve been doing things differently; our routines are changing. Our bedroom porch door faces east, so even with the shutters down, the summer morning light often wakes us up.

So we’ve been getting up earlier. We even got up this past Saturday to go for a morning hike before it got too hot.

Our apartment where we moved from was on a major street. The sound of traffic was so persistent that the noise mostly became part of everyday life. It was also the source of stress. And that’s not counting the other stressors we experienced there, including burglary, car theft (it was recovered the same day), a SWAT standoff on the other side of our building that prevented us from leaving by car for several hours, and more.

When I put it like that, it makes the place sound awful. But mostly, on a day-to-day basis, it wasn’t bad. And perhaps I am minimizing it. I was really done with living there. Since we didn’t want to break the lease, we made do. There were things I enjoyed: I enjoyed taking walks to the nearby park or chatting with our neighbors. My husband appreciated the convenience of the 5-7 minute drive to work.

And…we only moved a mile west. We still live close to his work. That park is still in walking distance, albeit a little farther away. Instead of living on a busy 6-lane street, we are tucked away in a condo complex in a neighborhood, about two or three blocks in either direction from busy streets. While I can look to the northeast and see the Dunkin’ Donuts sign that borders on a major road, I can also look across the street and just see apartments and trees. It is much, much better to live here now.

This monsoon season has brought a few intense wind and thunderstorms. We can stand and watch them from our porch.

Our office had enough space for our new futon couch, so it can double as a guest room. In the living room, I have enough dance space that I can turn completely in both directions without running into anything. In our old apartment, I could only turn in one direction freely.

Some days, I literally hug the walls. Walls that we chose the colors for, and, with the generous help of my mother-in-law, painted.

There are some inconveniences to new home ownership. Getting appliances with the condo, but discovering that not all of them work, and having to replace or repair them. The incessant ads in the mail for this and that coverage or service that we may or may not need. And so on.

And then there is also the quiet. The quiet I longed for, the quiet that because my first priority when we started seriously looking for places. There is the increased amount of space, the freedom to move from room to room. And there is the greater sense and comfort of home.

The week without a smartphone, part 2.

Read part 1 here.

My phone was still utterly and completely dead after we took it out of the rice and charged it on that Sunday. No amount of coaxing would bring it back to life.

We decided to order me a refurbished phone. But in the meantime, I was still phoneless.

While I had access to internet at our new place, where we moved into that Saturday, I did not have access to a phone in the following situations:

•  Waiting for the cleaning people to arrive at our apartment for a move-out cleaning. If there were any scheduling issues or changes, I wouldn’t know about them unless my husband drove back to tell me about them. In the end, it all went smoothly.

•  Using maps for directions as I drove to a new medical specialist’s office. I looked up directions beforehand and wrote a note to myself about which street to turn onto. Luckily, it turned out to be fairly easy to find.

•  Receiving e-mail notifications from my clients about possible new transcripts to proofread while I was away from home. I have notifications set on my phone so I can respond to them soon after I receive their message, no matter where I am at the time. Sometimes not responding immediately (especially if it’s a new client) can mean losing out on a job. While this could have been an issue at another time, it wasn’t this particular week.

•  Driving anywhere in my car. Now, I didn’t actually need my phone for this purpose, but I realized that I feel more secure having my phone with me in case my car suddenly broke down, etc.

•  Double-checking digital coupons in the grocery store. I often use the store’s app to reference these when we shop. Instead, I had to go off our list and what I remembered.

Despite some minor inconveniences, I also felt relieved and more free without my phone. When we went out to eat, I didn’t have a phone to distract me while we waited for our order. During meals in and outside our home, my husband and I make more eye contact and connected more with each other. When I didn’t have a phone that I could get out, he used his less.

For the past while, I’ve been receiving what I assume are spam phone calls. They rarely leave messages. When they do, it’s usually pitching a business loan or something along those lines. I didn’t miss the buzzing of my phone, only to discover it wasn’t a phone call I wanted to take anyway.

Without a smartphone, I didn’t have much inclination to check my e-mail or look at my Facebook feed or browse Yelp. When waiting for my husband to return the moving truck on Saturday, I sat in my car and just listened to a CD. With more of my attention focused on the music, the lyrics seemed crisper and clearer than ever before.

That is one thing to say about smartphones: they’re not terribly helpful for mindfulness. Aside from mindfulness or meditation apps, many of the functions often pull me out of the present moment.

My new phone arrived on Thursday, and we got service on it on Friday. It’s nice to know that I can now reach people and people can reach me if needed.

There was also a certain freedom to having space where I was away from internet and a phone, unreachable. I felt more present with myself than I usually am.

So now that we’re settling in our new place and I have a new phone, I am trying a new thing: to charge and keep my phone in a different room at night.

I also want to be more conscious of how I use my phone in general. It’s just not necessary to be connected all the time.

Not having a smartphone for a week was a good reminder for me to look up, to look around, to keep my phone out of view (or even out of reach) when I want to be present and connect more with myself and the people around me. Yes, it’s convenient to have a smartphone. But there’s so much more to life than having access to phone calls, messages, and the internet at all times.

The week without a smartphone, part 1.

I wrote this last Friday, June 22, 2018.

I’m at the apartment. We officially move tomorrow, so I am taking care of the odds and ends.

We turned in our modem for our apartment and exchanged it for one for the condo, our new home. My computer has no wireless connection here.

My phone is out of service, at least for the time being, because my water bottle leaked in my purse this morning. It is currently sitting in a bag of rice for the next two days or so.

I am disconnected from the internet entirely. I am out of contact, out of reach.

On one hand, it’s nice. There’s a certain quiet I feel when I don’t have internet access. It’s like I’ve shut off all outside voices, ones that are often incessantly on even when I’m physically alone – unless I choose to unplug.

This feeling of quiet definitely helps me regulate after being overstimulated by the morning’s events of taking stuff over to the condo, discovering my phone wouldn’t work, and the stress of moving in general. It’s a lot to take in. I really don’t need to add any more outside stimulation.

I don’t currently have any transcripts to proofread. I have an out-of-office reply on my business e-mail for the next two days.

Other than missing the ability to communicate with my spouse, I really don’t need to be connected. I can pack, clean, do laundry, read, do Nia – all without an internet connection.

Yes, there were days before smartphones, and the time before that I would text. But really, the last time I didn’t have access to instant phone communication of some sort (aside from a few camping trip) was before I graduated from college, before I got my first cell phone in 2005. Compared with many of my college classmates, I was a late cell phone adopter. I remember my ex complaining that she couldn’t reach me easily, that it was annoying and inconvenient to have to leave a message on my landline voicemail and wait until I returned to my dorm room to get the message. I remember the freedom of traveling abroad and being connected only when I went to an internet café or library.

On the other hand, I found myself almost immediately wanting to reach for my phone, to check something, to check anything. Messages? Social media? E-mail? Yelp? Sometimes it actually doesn’t seem to matter what as long as it’s there. Maybe that’s the addictive nature of social media and technology: once you have access, it’s hard to consciously choose to stop. Yes, there are definitely things that I need to check on and keep up with. But how many e-mails do I actually get that are relevant each day? A few. How many times do I need to check social media? Maybe once or twice, maybe more if I’m looking for an answer to a question in one of my proofreading groups. How many times do I need to check the news to stay informed? Maybe twice a day or so, although there’s part of me that balks at that. I don’t need to be informed all the time, but I like to know what’s going on.

I do feel cut off. And it’s nice and freeing and it’s a bit disorienting.

The daily news cycle lately has been even more distressing. While I think it’s important for me to know what’s going on locally, nationally, globally, I don’t think keeping up on every detail constantly is necessarily healthy. I end up feeling distressed, frustrated, somewhat hopeless. More information on how to donate or help in some way adds some purpose and relief. But it’s important to be mindful of how much information to take in, what to do with it, and when to take a break.

I am relieved that I can shut it off for a little bit. Yes, I could go to the condo or Starbucks if I needed to get access to the internet. But I have things to do here.  And I definitely need the time to just be here and do what I need to do. There are certainly fewer distractions this way.

And this is a good reminder that I can consciously choose to step away, to disconnect, and unplug. The internet, with all its benefits and disadvantages, will be there when I need it. For now, I’m enjoying the quiet.