Hidden Treasures in Trinity County

onemaple2You can stack our summer up into a pile of swim meets, swim practices, and community service shift taxi rides that looks like a wobbly Jenga tower about to crash. We’re nearing the top of that tower as July wraps up. Swim meets are a Friday through Sunday commitment and often require an overnight stay or two in a half-star hotel that you’ll want to be sure to bed-check before you bring your bags in. You know the type. The ones where they still ask you if you’d like smoking or non-smoking. There will be no chocolate on your pillow.

Nevertheless, we’ve learned to become fond of these weekends as this is our sixth year shoving duffels full of swim swag and dragging coolers and fold-up chairs to towns with no chain stores. The weekends are fun and exhausting for both swimmers and swim families. It’s often over 100 degrees and direct sun is simply unavoidable at times. You’re like a human see-saw. There’s getting up to watch your favorite swimmers, the anticipation, the excitement, the finish–and this happens over and over and over. There’s the smell of the grill barbecuing burgers mixed with sunscreen that’s oddly intoxicating, a smell you never quite get out of your skin the entire weekend. There are conversation with families who’ve become–well, like family. Today a 17 year-old swimmer sat down and said, “I like swimming because we’re a family. We help each other be better students and athletes.”

It’s true. And just like Mike and I have instituted our date nights into our family life for the past 15 years, it’s awesome when we can pull these off at these weekends. This weekend we were able to do just that. But our normal date night is dinner and a movie. No movie theaters in the town of Weaverville. What should we do? A hike? Hot and tired. A drive to the coast? Two hours away. Weaverville is so small they don’t even have a 101 Things to Do Guide and Yelp…well, you try it. When we asked the front clerk if there was anything we should do before we left her town, she said, “Nope.”

On the way in, though, we had passed a winery sign. We’re not ones to just let wineries in odd places go unexplored. So after finally tracking it down, I called up One Maple Winery in Lewiston. A man answered and said they’d be open for a few hours. We headed seven miles east to Lewiston.

When we arrived, we were surprised by the maturity of the vines in the vineyard. This had been here awhile. Why hadn’t we heard of it? We wandered in and the guy in charge was chatting with some friends. We looked around the cute gift shop filled with raw honey (a 4H project, the label said), interesting cheeses, chocolate, and the normal wine swag with some very cool local pottery products from the coast.

Ernie eventually greeted us. Turns out he was the owner, winemaker, pourer, and entertainer extraordinaire. As he poured, and we tasted we were very impressed and surprised to discover such tasty wines in the outskirts of Weaverville. We were also surprised to learn that Ernie had grown up in the same neighborhood we had lived in for nearly two decades in Southern California (Torrance/Redondo Beach area.) These synchronicities make me smile every time.

We decided to soak in the peaceful grounds. The tasting rooms sits on a creek and the garden is full of beautiful apple trees, Hollyhocks, and a piano Ernie couldn’t part with so turned into a water feature. The piece de resistance is a welded sheet of copper with a maple leaf cut into it that shifts as the sun shines through it.

onemaple4We took a bottle of chilled Chardonnay out on the patio and were immediately struck by the peaceful setting. So was Rosie the dog. Laying flat on her back spread eagle, Rosie sprawled in the grass under the shade tree completely content in the moment. We sat, debriefed the day, discussed whether life is fate or free will–or a combination of both–and why. (What? Doesn’t everybody get into that over smoked gouda, ritz crackers–compliments of Ernie–and a nice, dry Chard?)

As the dinner hour approached, we worked our way back in to settle the tab with Ernie (worth noting, locals–HIGHLY REASONABLE!) and asked him about dinner places we might not be aware of. He had a tip, as often locals do in these venues. The Lewiston Hotel. He’d heard good things. He scratched us out a not-to-size, unlabeled map and off we headed to the old hotel.

When we arrived, the front looked like a facade at Frontierland in Disneyland. Inside looked like more of the same. Moose heads on the wall (Country Bear Jamboree, may it rest in peace.) Antiques, like wall phones. Cow skulls. You get the picture.dinner3

What makes this such a gem, though, is it’s real. You can feel the vibe of the old gold rush era. If you had one of those EMF meters they use to find past residents, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be disappointed.

Neither were we. This little gem was simply amazing.

dinner1It’s not a menu you want to go in and tamper with. It’s one of the few places I didn’t ask for any modifications. I was thankful I didn’t. One dish that jumped out at us was also an usual pick (I usually steer clear of calorie-laden starters) but so worth it. Maria, one half of the new young couple that brought the place, was our server and told us Joe had picked the wild blackberries “in a bucket down the street on the bridge.” This phyllo dough melted brie was quite possibly the best I’ve ever had and over the course of my 50 years, I’ve sampled my share. It really was incredible.

Discovering these little gems in the middle of Trinity County was unexpected. We may not have been pioneers digging for gold, but in our own ways we felt like explorers on an adventure who had definitely struck it rich.

One Maple Winery – Old Lewiston Rd, Lewiston, CA 96052
(530) 778-0716    Ask for Ernie Bell. Tell him his Torrance friends who lived where the drive-in used to be sent you. (By the way, he’s won awards all over the world for his wine! He won’t mention it, but you’ll see on the back wall.)

Lewiston Hotel on the Trinity River - 125 Deadwood Road, Lewiston, CA  (530) 778-3823. The brie is a must and the chicken parmigiana is outstanding, as well as the rosemary chicken breast.

 

Posted in travel, wine and food | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dreams

dreamsI don’t get pedantic about much, but realizing the importance of the tool we call dreams is one of those things I do. Dreams are the nav system for waking life. Just as I wouldn’t head out on a trip without programming my car’s GPS, I don’t dive into the labyrinth of daily life without looking at my dream signs.

I realize Western culture tends to throw dreams into the basket of airy-fairy extras better done without. Hell, the priority is sleep, and there’s a whole lot of insomnia going on out there. So I know I stand in a relatively small group of modern Westerners that value dream intel. Indeed, they would collectively roll their eyes at me for calling it such.

But my sense is that’s changing. Next month, I’m attending “dream school” at the Pacifica Institute of Santa Barbara. I’m eager to surround myself with others who’d give dreams the time of day and study that material. I’m 99% sure I’ll get the same response from my fellow dreamers about the shifting climate in Western culture at large.

Call it an unsettled collective consciousness with the way the world’s events are clashing into each other. Call it a general dissatisfaction with the long list of to do items. Call it an overall evolutionary awareness that we each have a purpose much larger than dropping off drycleaning and schlepping oversize items from Costco.

Whatever it is, I feel it. And in my head, I can’t help but think all those others that understood dream importance can’t be out in left field. Take Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Freud pitched in the idea of “day residue” and Jung, lucid dreaming. Both spent much of their life studying dream phenomena.

Long before them, ancient cultures looked to the night for daily navigation. Some cultures saw dreams as messages from gods, while others saw dreams as warnings. Still others used dreams to choose their leaders or tribe destinations and other to cure illnesses. Many an inventor or writer have been tipped off to solutions in their sleep.

The Babylonians believed when dreams were good, they were from the gods.  However when one had nightmares or bad dreams then these were generally interpreted as demonic. The Romans took dreams more seriously.  Dreams were discussed in the senate and were regarded as messages from the gods.  The dreams were then interpreted and used as guides as to how the state proceeds with certain laws, actions and even war.

The Greeks took it farther still. They would purify themselves for two days before sleeping in temples in order to receive messages from the gods.  They would fast, abstain from sex and eat no meat or fowl.  The potential dreamer would then sleep in the temple of the god which he wished to bring forth.  The Greeks believed that Hypnos would then send his son Morpheus to warn or give prophecies to those who slept at his temples. (Behold, the linguistic predecessor to hypnosis.)

The Hebrews, who were monotheistic, believed that it was God who spoke to them. Many a Biblical character used dreams to guide them and rally the Jews.  These dreams produced prophecy that had a great impact on the Hebrew religion and culture.

Dream interpretation during ancient times was centered on the gods and omens.  This is because man even during his infancy, sought to better himself and sought guidance from higher powers.  The same is still true in our modern world.  Dreams are thought of by some people as signs, communications from our subconscious mind or even our “inner selves” seeking attention.  Man’s fascinations with dreams are still on going even with the varied explanations and studies as to why we dream in the first place.

Many Native American tribes hold dreams sacreds and some lump dreams into the “vision” category. You’d be hard-pressed to find a tribe which discounted the importance of dreams, in spite of the fact that dream material is used differently amongst them.

And then we step back in today. I see so many products for sleep and hear so many people crossing all demographics lamenting their inability to sleep. Forget dream. They can’t even turn off the feed that runs through their brains. (The topic of a whole different blog.)

But here’s what I know: when you pay attention to your dreams, and make an effort to work with the material, they become a responsive lover you can’t live without.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Broken Toe: The Sequel

parade2Just when you thought you’d had enough of last week’s breaking-bad summer saga…

After I broke my toe, we headed to LA on a July 4th getaway. There were 4 of us so we drove. (Not by camel, by the way, they come in later.) For perspective, our drive was about 9 hours in the car without traffic and 12 (as we experienced coming back) with traffic. Lots of time for toe swelling.

I was determined not to let this itsy bitsy digit bully me. I mustered my mental power. It seemed silly for a toe to slow down the rest of me. I tried to keep it elevated on the dashboard in the pretzel position (tweaking my knee in the process) so I wouldn’t smash the teen in back of me.

When we arrived at Cousin Sharon’s house in LA, I discovered the next morning we’d be walking about five blocks to the infamous Pacific Palisades parade fully decked with its camels and skydivers…and two bands all the way from Minnesota oddly enough. I knew I could make it there eventually, but could potentially miss the parade due to my slow gait. Sharon had a wheelchair we could use. (She’s so handy.) I had no ego issues. It seemed like a good solution.

The next day off we went to the parade, me in the wheelchair, my husband pushing. He was a great pusher especially considering the very non-ADA friendly Palisades sidewalks. They were not easy to navigate. Feeling dependent on Independence Day was not lost on me, but something even bigger happened. A revelation. While in said chair, I noticed people passing avert their eyes–heads, actually. Now this isn’t entirely unusual in LA. (It’s like some of the people think you’ll get a piece of their soul if they look at you in the eyes.) But in this case, people actually seemed to intentionally look the other way with their whole heads.

That dynamic didn’t even occur to me until I sat in that chair. And then I started thinking: do I do that? When people go by in wheelchairs, do I pretend to see a really interesting bird across the street up on a roof instead of making a human connection? I hope not. I’ll have to make an all out effort to NOT do that because I saw how shallow it was from my spot in the rolling chair.

That evening we went out with friends to the very delicious Tar & Roses in Santa Monica. Awesome place and so fun to sit with our friends on the back patio as many small plates dropped in, dishes like fiddle ferns, inked linguine, bruschetta, roasted peppers with bonita chips dancing on top–you get the idea.  These were all back-up dancers to the main act, a scored snapper that appeared on a pedestal. Behold. The snapper at Tar & Roses…tar&roses

Between all that, pink bubbly rose and a few bottles of Nebiolo, I’d completely forgotten about my toe. That amnesia continued through our after-dinner drinks and dancing, although I did manage to have the mind presence to lift my toe up during the dancing part. I would suggest NOT doing that unless you want to mess up your knee and get blisters on your feet. In this case, though, those 3 hours of dancing were TOTALLY worth it.

When we got back to reality the next week, I headed out to the accupuncturist in hopes that he may be able to bring the swelling in my knee down. (I’d been icing it at the advice of the chiropractor.) NO ICE, he said. The Chinese have studied ice vs. heat for thousands of years and have found, by watching nature, that heat heals and ice makes problems worse. He put the needles in, stuck me under a heat lamp, and voila: just like new in 30 minutes! He then loaded me down with some Chinese herbs and topicals that seemed to help because today I’m back on the treadmill, in the pool, and in the weight room.

I’m not picking sides on ice vs. heat for everybody. What I think, though, is each injury gifts us the opportunity to try different healing philosophies, using our bodies as a lab. If one system isn’t working, why not try another? And if a little dancing along the way makes it worse, oh well. It’s totally worth it.

 

Posted in conscious living, creativity, habits, health, healthy living, holidays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

How Relaxing Too Much Got Me in Trouble (Summer Vacation Saga #124)

overflowIt all started when I decided to take a shower-bath because I didn’t really want to watch “Jack Reacher” for the second time. I didn’t really want to put a damper on the picks of the posse happening in the livingroom, so I decided I would sneak away to my happy place in the bathroom.

Said “shower-bath” involves re-creating a tropical rainforest Four Seasons style. I light coconut candles, turn off the lights, use a nice tropical sugar scrub, and fill the bath tub with water and Lavender salts. I play music, and sometimes my dog joins me and lies right up against the tub (no, not in it.)

On this occasion, she didn’t. That’s relevant later. As I soaked up my sensorial paradise, I felt my shoulders drop and neck muscles sigh. That’s the last thing I remember before hearing my son say, “Mom, you’re making the carpet squishy.”

“Hunh? Oh. Okay,” I manage between fade outs. Teens.

The next thing I knew my husband was pounding on the door. “YOU NEED TO GET OUT! You’ve been in here for two hours. Water IS EVERYWHERE.”

Two hours? How was the water still hot? Disoriented and fairly certain he was exaggerating, I stepped out into a shallow lake. This is where if my dog would have been laying nearby, she would have (a) soaked up the excess water happily and (b) nudged me Lassie-style in a rescue scenario worthy of TNT reruns.

As those two things did not happen, the small pond had dispersed (as ponds with weak borders will) under the cabinets and into both rooms that back up to the bathroom. The hallway squished. My relaxing bath was sucked up into the carpet sucker which my husband used to suck up 13 gallons of water. (He’s a much better carpet sucker than I am.)

As you may imagine, we needed back up. Our carpet cleaners came the next day, looked at each other and said, “This is going to be too much for us.”

Only at this point did it really sink in how bad this was. Embarrassed, I called Service Pro who responded right away with big fans and non-judgement. I appreciated both. My husband disassembled the bed in the backroom (here you must know we’re 2 pink flamingos away from redneck using a waterbed frame circa 70s with a California King mattress hailing from the same era plopped inside). This was no easy task to disassemble the very heavy solid oak frame. Pieces were everywhere throughout the house.

With everything set in place, we headed out of town for a swim meet,  relieved we wouldn’t be listening to the piercing hum of dryer fans accompanied by the squealing sucking sound of the dehumidifier put in place to balance this ecosystem somehow. We were, however, slightly concerned something could malfunction and nobody would be there to put the flames out.

Sure enough, when we returned, the dehumidifier had reversed somehow and water was now spewing out instead of sucking into the sink. “Cody? Ummmm. We’ve got an issue.” Cody’s response was not comforting. “Shoot. I hope there’s not more damage there then there was before.”

Yeah, us, too. Cody came out on a Sunday, fixed her up, and took the weeping dehumidifer away leaving a trail of tears down the driveway. Poor thing. She tried. But because she’d malfunctioned, when we returned from our meet the house felt like the Sahara in a summer wind storm. (Did I mention the breaker keeps flipping in the 100+ heat?) It fast became clear why dehumidifers are an important player in water damage scenarios.

Back to the waterbed frame. A few days later, I was rounding the corner to go tell my son good night and forgot to account for the old bed frame pieces still in the hallway. BAM! I broke my toe. Yep. Right in half.

So, in the words of my German son who put it so logically, the moral is this: if you don’t want to break your toe, don’t fall asleep in the bathtub.

And that’s the story about how relaxing too much got me in trouble.

Posted in health, humor, relaxation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wishes

wishI was walking through the forest today and saw this big wish maker. The forest, with its light and its magical sounds and smells, holds up a symbol of hope as if to say, “Here. Just blow”

It reminded me about when I was small. I had such certainty then about wishes I made while blowing Dandelion fluff into the wind. I knew, if every last white piece let go, I would without question get my wish.

As I’ve grown, I’ve learned that it’s in the intention more than the blowing. But the handshake with nature seals the deal. It can also clarify the wish. Just being amongst the ferns reminds me no problem is too big and no “next” moment is so important that the current one can’t be enjoyed.

fernsAs I walked by ferns, I thought about how delicate and yet how sturdy they are. It’s a good way to be, I suppose. Graceful and resilient. As I stared up at the tall evergreens reaching for the sky, I thought about that was also a great example of how to be in the world: grounded, rooted in the earth, yet reaching for the sky more and more each day.

And so back to the wish. I think about what wish I would make if I could definitely have it. No sooner do I think that than I remember that I can. I just need to clearly set my intention. And when I say clearly, I mean decide specifically and exactly what I want. I need to decide with the equal fervor I would need to blow off every wisp of Dandelion fluff.

That way, the Universe can see the wisps floating by and respond accordingly.

Posted in conscious living, healthy living, hiking, hope, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Onion and Other Reflections on Marriage

jamieandmikeweddingIf you’ve been following me for over a year, you’ve seen this shot before.  If you follow me another year, you’ll probably see it again.

That’s because it captures the beauty of the day Mike and I chose to marry 17 years ago yesterday. I love the composition, the feel, the memory, and the moment this photo generates. When I look at it, all those sensations wash over me. It’s symbolic.

Marriage is not a throw-pillow saying: Today I marry my best friend… There is that, of course, but it’s so much more layered than that.  I feel like throw-pillow sayings just simplify something far more complex and dilute the truth in the process. Next to parenting, marriage is, perhaps, the relationship in our lives that most expands us, contracts us, and helps us to evolve. It makes us examine our own strengths and shortcomings, often more than we like. Sometimes, uncomfortably so. Sometimes, exhilaratingly so.

How to mark the occasion, then? That commemoration changes, too. I spend time each year thinking how to honor that. This year, I signed up for a painting class which is something I’ve been talking about doing forever. I let my intuition guide my choice and it lead me to paint a Buddha looking into the sunset to mark our 17th anniversary. I tried not to right-brain it, but that’s hard for me. (Sunset? Really? Sounds cryptic.) But if you look at the photo above, it too, was at sunset. Sunsets mark the end of one cycle and the anticipation of a fresh one waiting on the other side. That explains sunsets. But why Buddha?

We had a Buddha painting when we moved from Torrance (though not a sunset Buddha), and we probably still have it somewhere, but Mike has been unable to track it down after looking for it. His dad was gifted that when he was bank president by some famous Japanese painter. Mike’s Jewish, and I had a Christian upbringing, so where would Buddha fit in? As our relationship matured, I feel Buddha fits in perfectly. Perhaps this was why I chose that image. I’m not entirely sure. I just knew it was the right image to mark our 17.

While at the paint class with 92 year old, Goldie, and a number of other ladies significantly my seniors, I created my first acrylic. I told them what I was doing. This lead to a conversation about marriage in general. The instructor, Sandi, said she’d been married for 47 years. She said a man in another class had been married 62 years.

Sixty-two years? Sandi went on to say that the man said marriage is like an onion. You go through layers–Shrek-style, I guess. Just when you think it stinks, a layer peels away and you see something fresh and new. Stitch that on a throw pillow.

But it felt more true to me. Not that I think my marriage stinks, mind you. But getting along in the face of many changes isn’t always a walk in the park. At the same time, there’s nothing better than sharing such a strong connection in the face of life’s many changes. Both are true. Marriage is a process and it takes active participation from both partners. It also takes hutzpah. And patience. And obviously love.

Then there’s flexibility, trust, appreciation, and a regular practice of gratitude. For me, it feels so much better to spend time thinking about what I appreciate about my mate instead of what bugs me. I don’t always succeed but when I do, I’m happier in that place. I think it every day. I say it far less often. I will work on that.

So how to make a marriage strong and create that “We” space in the face of all the other items on our lists? Mike and I are firm believers in weekly date nights. Each couple defines these differently and there is no ego on the hierarchy of what’s done. For us, dinner and a movie is what we’ve been doing for 16 years. It works for us. Maybe, it’s a trip to Starbucks. Or dancing. Or a hike up a rock cliff. The point is just to have that one-on-one time to share space and face while doing something we both enjoy together.

Marriages comes in all shapes and sizes. Mike and I had an interesting talk with a 16 year old from Pakistan on this topic last month. He said in his country, a mate is still chosen for him by his family. When we asked how he feels about that his response was telling and mature beyond his years: “I can choose to be happy in any situation. I will make it work in a good way when the time is right. I trust my mother to make a good choice.”

Wow. As a mother, that’s a lot of pressure. But don’t you love that attitude? I can choose to be happy no matter what. Of course, there are exceptions to this and I lived one of those exceptions in my first not-so-happy marriage. It’s really difficult to choose to be happy in the hotbed of abuse. Attitude is key, but in this scenario, that’s just not realistic.

I think the truth sits somewhere in the middle.

In a world where many argue monogamy goes against human nature, I find 62 years an incredible length of time to be with one person . That’s 12 years longer than I’ve been alive! I remember asking Mike’s dad what the secret to a long marriage is because I’ve always admired it and I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember his answer.

I do remember he never missed an occasion to send flowers. I do remember the way he carried an emory board for Mike’s mom in case she broke a nail. I do remember the smile he gave when he said, “Seems like just yesterday.” I knew he meant that.

That, to me, said everything. It’s about anticipating your partner’s needs before they do. It’s about tuning in, connection, fine-tuning. It’s about paying attention to growing individually and together simultaneously. It’s about admiring the gifts your partner gives you daily as they shift and change layer after layer. It’s about putting up with the stinky layers.

To my partner: thank you for anticipating and letting me learn to anticipate. Thank you for teaching me that each day is a blessing, each moment a gift. You’ve taught me more about what it means to be humble and present than anybody I’ve ever met. Thank you for knowing the perfect balance between sharing space with me and giving me my space. Thank you for reading my blogs–all of them. I think of you when I write them. Thank you for all your gifts I recognize, but don’t verbalize. I want you to know I see them in every moment. Te amo, mi amor.

62 years? Seems like a breeze.

 

Posted in healthy living, relationships | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Seeking the Moment

lilypondWhen we lived in Southern California, we had a beautiful garden. It was terraced on a hill with a waterfall which came crashing down over rocks into a natural lily pond. There were fish in the pond that raccoons would sneak in at night and eat. Eventually we just stocked it with free skeeter eaters compliments of the city of Torrance. Thanks, Torrance.

In this garden, there were many sitty places. Benches under arches filled with sweet-scented jasmine.  A hammock under the Jacaranda with cool, green grass below it speckled with lavender flowers. Companion loungers under the amazing willow we planted as a nursery reject. The tendrils of Willow would tickle you when you reclined below her shade. Eventually, she grew to be over 30 feet tall in 15 years and forced us to trim her every year. Sometimes, twice.

I remember my dad taking all those Moment Spots in during one visit and saying, “Something tells me you never sit in those.”

“Never” was an overstatement, but he had captured the essence of something I struggle with–being in the moment I’m in without thinking about the one before or the one that comes next. If I’ve had a lifelong goal, mastering this would be it.

Yet, many of the things I do require just the opposite: parenting, writing, coaching, teaching–these all require thought. Our culture rewards that thought, doesn’t it? Look around and observe. Listen to the conversations you encounter each today. They don’t start with, “What an amazing moment this is. The air feels magical against my skin. I’m connecting with you and you and sharing space.” Could you imagine? Much more frequently, it’s…

Person 1: How’s it going?

Person 2: Great. And you?

Person 1: That’s good.

Person 2: Yeah. Sooooooo….

If you’re talking to teens, it’s almost mandatory you throw in the word “tired” somewhere. They use that word to describe just about every emotion available they don’t want to talk about with old people.

I use meditation twice a day to practice this. I admire people who excel at it like my husband and my youngest son and try to learn from them. I try and sit and balance the doing with the doing nothing.

I’m not there yet. Not even close.

 

 

Posted in conscious living, creativity, healthy living, meditation, spiritual, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Ode to David (aka Saying See You Later)

wvhsThis weekend saw the end of an era for our family. For the past ten months, David’s been living with us and now he’s not. David is our German son/brother. We feel his absence.

We hadn’t planned on having a foreign exchange student. Sometimes just getting through life as we know it seems tough schedule-wise, let alone adding an unknown variable. The decision wasn’t easy and not one we’d have thought up on our own.

It started when a local family approached us and told us that David would have to change schools if he didn’t find a family to live with. Our son had already observed him as a “nice kid” and reported back. “Pleeeassse, can we keep him??”

The obvious end to that story is we agreed to have him come live with us. We knew there’d be change. It’s a long commitment. We knew there’d be expenses, more towels to wash, more teenagers in the house.

Then there was the part we didn’t know. What if he didn’t fit in? We’d seen families that’d happened to once we started researching the subject. It wasn’t pretty. What if he and Jordan clashed? What if he was unhappy?

None of those things happened. He slipped in like he’d lived here forever.

What we didn’t factor in was how much joy it would bring to have David with us for the past 10 months. We didn’t consider how attached we’d become to him. We’d didn’t anticipate I’d have to take a trip to Rite Aid on the morning he drove out of the driveway with his family to buy extra Kleenex to dry our tears. That part was a surprise.

This was true for all of us, but especially our son who would miss his German brother terribly. Watching him process this hurts my stomach. When you have kids, you feel their pain so much more intensely than you feel your own. There is no way around that pain that feels healthy to me. You just have to feel it and get the three pack of Kleenex if need be.

Still, there is a choice on the other side of Loss-city and this is the one I choose. Once the tears have been dried, I choose to make my take-aways the magic moments filled with belly laughter at the dinner table; Davidisms–like his love for the fuzzy toilet seat covers and peanut butter pancakes; music and singing…Do you want to build a snowman? It doesn’t have to be a snowman.

Thank you, German son, for sharing part of you with us. This is only the unique beginning of a special relationship. We love you and you will forever be in our hearts as family. We can’t wait to see you on Skype and next year in Germany.

Not goodbye. We will–for sure–see you later.

Posted in friends, healthy living, Inspiration, relationships | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

The Blue Face Sydrome

bluefaceI had this conversation with a woman this weekend who is healthcare writer. She had gone to a conference where they had a breakout session on health apps.

I’d been thinking recently about the intersection of health and technology. It’s a double-edged sword from where I stand (because it burns more calories than sitting.)

Think about apps. There are apps to tell you how to eat, how to read labels on food, how to exercise, how to meditate, how to train for a marathon and according to my new writer friend, how to determine whether or not you have an ear infection. Yep. There’s an app for that.

But when I see both blue-faced kids, teens, and adults who prefer to absorb themselves in the online world with virtual friends instead of hanging out with the live people, I wonder if there’s a cost to that. Or take me, for example. I’m sitting here typing this while sitting in the living room watching “Believe” while one son sits on the couch watching tv, one hides in his room watching YouTube videos, and my husband whips up the tv watcher a late night mac & cheese snack. In this scenario, I’m the blue-face absorbed in my own internal dialogue.

The app makers have learned how to make software people crave. The game of the day the kids love is “Clash of the Clans.” Before that it was “Flappy Bird.” That one hit people so severely the creator is going to put a warning on it when he releases it again. http://www.idownloadblog.com/2014/03/19/flappy-bird-hit-game-dev/ I never got past 7 so I didn’t have that much invested, but even that made me a little twitchy.

It’s clear, though, that between social media, games, and (eh-hem) writing, technology can take us into a playground that’s not entirely healthy. Recently, I’ve been writing about 3 hours a day and have subsequently had to increase my trips to the chiropractor because of my neck angle staring at the screen. But I love it, so I do it. I try to balance it with regular breaks–a walk with my husband and dog, a sit in the hot tub, some cross trainer time. It takes focus and conscious un-bluefacing.

Like everything else, we need to find a balance.

 

Posted in habits, health, healthy living, Inspiration, relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

UCSB: How Many More?

ucsbSince yesterday, the tragedy that happened at the gorgeous campus of higher learning has been haunting me. As I type that line, I remember not so many years ago typing a similar line about Connecticut, and Colorado before that. Each time a story is released like this, I watch the collective consciousness scratch its head and try to point to the specifics.

Hunh? Says he had several psychologists. Says he submitted a 141 page manifesto to the media. Says his mom warned the police after a highly disturbing YouTube video.

As if that’s the problem. This SO isn’t the point.

I vented to my friend Lois. She’d recently read my first novel called First Break which tells the story of a 17 year old going to college and finding herself in the middle of a psychotic break. The reaction to the publishing of that novel has been interesting, to be sure. The typical response is, “There’s no clear cut genre for a 17 year old going to a college campus.” I often wonder if that’s really it. If it is really it, it’s the lamest thing I’ve ever heard.

The resistence of the gatekeepers is undisputed. What I wonder is if the gatekeepers understand that by the fear that they let govern their decisions, they’re perpetuating these tragedies. Not the gun people. Not the knife people. Not the video game people. The people with dirty hands in this playground are the people who can educate and stop stigmatizing  mental health issues but don’t because they’re afraid.

And this extends to the schools. Look at this article in the New York Times my friend Lois shot over while I was lamenting the UCSB tragedy. Two Michigan teens from a “progressive school” can’t even start a dialogue about their own mental health experiences. The school principal is afraid they’ll give mental illness to everyone on campus. It’ll be anarchy. Contagion. (Note to the principal: 1 out of 4–probably more–have mental health issues. It’s already spread!)

Really? You’re going to put a gag order on teens who are brave enough to say this is what I have and I’m dealing with it? Do you think that’s helping in either an individual or a global way? As an educator, what’s the lesson here? So disappointing.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/22/opinion/depressed-but-not-ashamed.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1

The adults, at least in the United States, have failed these kids and transitional youth. These young people didn’t ask to be dealt the hand they’re dealt. Besides, the issue isn’t “where’d they get it?” The issue is we can see it’s happening and we need to change the systems we use to deal with it. It’s a national tragedy that the Twin Tower 2 in LA (prison) is the largest mental health institution in the country. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

On Thursday this week, I’ll be standing up at an MHSA meeting giving my point of view on how the millionaire tax monies pointed towards addressing mental health issues in California should be spent. Do you know how long this has been going on? The first MHSA meeting I went to was 12 years ago. See, the thing is even when mental health groups have money, they fight about how to use it which locks it up. Meanwhile, kids age out of resources and enter into adulthood with a brain that’s misfiring so badly they aren’t even aware of it.  We all pay the price. We see it on the streets in homelessness, drug addiction, suicide, mass murder–you name it.

I’ve lost faith in the adults, but I have so much faith in the teens of today. I have faith that they are going to change these systems, either the hard way or the easier way. I’m hoping, for the sake of preventing future tragedies like UCSB, the gatekeepers (I’m talking to you, Michigan, and those who behave like you) will face their personal fears and let the conversation begin instead of sticking it in a dark closet where it will fester and explode yet again.

 

Posted in early onset bipolar disorder, facing your fears, healthy living, mental health, mental health and children, parenting, pharmaceutical, psychiatric, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments