Sunday, February 4, 2018

Saturday, February 3, 2018

how parenting is like management

You're responsible for everyone and everything.

You know that one person can't do it all herself, so you form support networks and delegate responsibilities to the kids.

You know that a well-organized, well-cared-for crew is both more pleasant and more effective, so you plan ahead to keep things running smoothly.

You're a master of logistics. You can organize a tricky release schedule or a 3-week camping trip for 10. You have a clear sense of the effort required to pull off a venture, and you can scale preparations to both the task and resources available.

You're flexible and think quickly on your feet. Life tosses you a lot of curve balls, and you have the grace and the experience to hit the sweet spot when it does.

You've honed your set of priorities so that you spend your energy on tasks that are worth the effort. You have a good sense of when an  emergent issue needs immediate attention and when it will distract and dissipate energy from more important goals. 

You remain calm and centered even in difficult circumstances.

You know that people aren't difficult on purpose just to annoy you. They are difficult because they need something they're not getting. You have the understanding to cut through the crap to get to the essential issue and the tact to solve the problem so that people feel good about the solution.

Friday, February 2, 2018

was that so hard?

dated 20 July 2017, 2 weeks after breaking that cuboid bone

I'm sitting in the ice asana, with my broken foot semi-propped on two pillows and the other leg arching around the edge of the pillows.

It's a posture that has become second nature in the past two days. Since my misadventure with the garden step, I've spent a lot of time in this chair, ice-pack-wrapped foot hoisted high. 

It's ridiculous, and I often think that I should just take up my bed and walk. My left foot soon clues me in that I can't just walk away from this problem. One minute, I was an ordinary able-bodied human, and the next I was splayed on the concrete with a broken foot.

"It's not bad," the doctor told me when he'd seen the x-rays, "just a bad sprain and an avulsion fracture."

I believed him. Not bad meant that it didn't need surgery or to be casted. A boot and crutches for 6-8 weeks would do the trick.

Yeah, but, not able to walk or carry much of anything for a couple months? The past few days have stretched into eons. So many things I do require two good feet. I never knew how many before I had a foot that couldn't bear weight at all.

Every small task is a challenge requiring careful planning. There's something strangely good about this; it focuses the attention on the present moment.

I was not doing a good job of focusing on the moment or on my body, and so I broke my foot. The broken foot forces me to focus on my body and its every move. A spiritual lesson delivered from foot to brain.

My foot is my teacher. It teaches about balance and vulnerability, synergy and interdependence. It teaches me to be graceful about my awkwardness and sanguine about my instability. It teaches me that ramps are long and crutches wide. It teaches me how to pull my pants up while balancing on my right foot. It teaches me how to ask for and accept help.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

healing view

dated 15 September 2018, 2.5 months after breaking the cuboid bone in my left foot

My foot, which seemed to have been improving, has lagged significantly the past two days. It's been grousing more and capable of less.

In body meditation today, my body informed me that it is fighting a war on two fronts right now. I'm fighting a cold as well as healing my foot. My body is diverting energy from my foot to deal with the virus. 

In healing my foot, there seems to be a regular cycle of pushing it a little, having it seem fine, and then having to scale back for a few days to give the body a chance to do a little remodeling. It feels like healing the foot depends on a little regular motion and weight-bearing to sculpt off the rough bits and show where the foot needs to  bend and bear weight. Take the foot out for a test drive and then tinker with it for a few days.

The last push was hard (full-on walking, on two feet with no crutches for half and then two-thirds my waking hours. This put significant wear and tear on my foot. The subsequent repair-and-revision phase will take a few days.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

haiku retrospective cvi

the thin stream twists
from one teapot to another ~
morning oolong

spent tea leaves ~
the scent of almonds
and cinnamon

17 June 2000

Tuesday, January 30, 2018


the soul of the land
a shroud of grass

In the coastal hills of California, the shades of the grass mark the seasons. During the rainy winters, the hills turn to vivid green velvet. You want to reach out and pet them, to feel their lush texture under your fingers.

As the dry season progresses, the grasses die and are bleached in the sun. The hills turn gray-green, then reddish green, greenish brown, dun, and then through all the shades of gold from bright to so pale it's almost white.

As the grasses die, they reveal the native plants that still hang on despite the invasion of European grasses. Adapted to our long dry season, these plants know how to manage their moisture, biding their time until the greedy grasses lose their grasp.

Monday, January 29, 2018

congress of fears

dated 19 July 2017, two weeks after breaking my cuboid bone

Every night, when I take my weary body to bed, I check in with my foot to see if it's getting everything it needs to heal. The foot aches, tingles, burns, and sends forth shooting pains to let me know how it feels about the current state of affairs.

Soon, other parts of my body clamor for attention. The right leg tells of the extra load it's been carrying. The muscles -- arm, shoulder, back, abdominal -- involved in crutching me around signal their stress. My low back and thigh muscles complain about the contortions that are required to keep the foot safe and happy.

Before I can sleep, I preside over this congress of sad body parts. I listen to their complaints, massage away little pockets of tension, shift around trying to make everyone comfortable. 

Let go, let go, it's okay.

I had some dental work yesterday, getting two teeth filled without an anesthetic. It was fine, a bit uncomfortable but not really painful. On the way home, my son (who had been numbed for his fillings) and I had a spirited discussion about pain relief medication.

I use pain medication conservatively. I'll get numbed for a crown, but not most ordinary fillings. I used opioids post-appendectomy, but not with most injuries. Drugs can mask pain, but pain is INFORMATION. Pain tells us when something is wrong, and it can help us avoid hurting ourselves further.

My son thought my avoidance of pain meds was moral. I specifically unpacked the issue of dental pain meds for him. I don't like the sensation of being numb. Most minor dental work isn't (in my experience) as painful as the shot in the gums to prevent the pain. I sometimes stay numb for 12 hours or more after the procedure. There's often soreness from the shot that lingers for a few days. With all that, I'd rather experience a little discomfort, and even some outright pain, during the procedure than deal with the aftermath of being numbed.

Lying in bed after that discussion, I smiled at my unorthodox methods of pain management. They go back, I realized, to my preparation for natural childbirth. I read so much about working with the birth energy, letting go of fear, and working with the pain instead of resisting it. I learned how to do it, and now here I am, over 18 years after my last childbirth, managing dental procedures and broken bones with the same tools.

I haven't thought much about childbirth tools in decades. I remember reading Grantly Dick Read's Childbirth Without Fear, trying to incorporate its lessons into my very being. 

The chief lesson was that fear makes pain much more intense. If you can meet the pain directly, without fear, you can handle it. You can experience the pain and learn what it has to teach you. You can ask the pain for its messages and incorporate them in your healing process.