Rediscovering my world

The heat in eastern Pennsylvania feels almost like East Africa today— temperatures in the low 90s and humidity at 50%. The humidity in Djibouti would be a lot higher.

I spent much of the weekend cuddled up with Hulu between household chores. It’s the only reasonable way to be productive in this heat.

Yesterday, I took two short walks of about a mile plus each and I third that almost got to two miles.

In that process, I found myself noting subtle beauty in my own neighborhood—where I have lived for 17.5 years.

My friend, the one who launched the El Camino virtual pilgrimage, commented that she loves the idea of rediscovering our own worlds.

A shady quiet moment

Somehow, I thought of things differently. Like this medical office that I have walked by just about daily— it looks like something from the Mediterranean coast. The pink color, the grapes on the iron work, the ornate grate on the side…

And then I cut through an old parking lot. It used to be a gated lot and the old equipment stands rusty and sad at the entrance.

And as I approached the final block, the trees and the flowers made the neighborhood look so vibrant. (The same block where I fell and smashed my chin. which led to a lot of dental problems.)

But yes, it’s so hot you drop as soon as you walk out the door. It’s hard to sleep without air conditioning.

But there is beauty.

Body Privilege

Last week, I wrote my piece “A Somber Thought” randomly as a reflection.

Last night, I reworked it and submitted it to The Mighty.com, a social media site for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

They published it instantly, despite having accepted an earlier piece that may have “died on the vine.” The earlier piece was on what to expect at your next doctor’s visit during Covid.

The current piece on the Mighty has been shared to Yahoo News and Zenith News.

Body reliability is a type of privilege. One you don’t appreciate unless you have yours taken aware or you never had it.

The original post on my blog is here: Disability and Reliability.

The Mighty post is here: Let’s talk about body privilege .

Ask the Yahoo post is here: Yahoo: Let’s Talk about Body Privilege

Monday gratitude

Today I am grateful for:

  1. My local school district providing grab and go lunches for our kids in urban food deserts or in families facing unemployment during this pandemic.
Sample Grab and Go Meal

2. Living in a neighborhood where my neighbors and/or their dogs love to take random walks.

3. The view from my parents’ deck in the Pocono Mountains. Nothing like an after dinner coffee with your dad, admiring the horizon.

Happy Monday!

My Sunday Morning Pilgrimage Moment

Pilgrimages are for the humble, the weak, the seeking and the hurting.

Pilgrimages are often undertaken by the rich and/or the spiritually shallow, often to gain stature.

My morning started in my backyard with my mother, who has always been far more talented and motivated in terms of gardening. She did a little bit of my weeding— I believe that’s part of her “love language” to help me with my household chores.

After she left, I finished hanging the sheets on the clothesline and did some more weeding.

In those moments, I spent a lot of time reflecting. And I thought about the relationships I have been strengthening lately and the virtual pilgrimage via the El Camino that I have joined with friends on Facebook.

And I thought about how you have to have a strong sense of purpose and determination to take a pilgrimage — I know often religious commitment sparks such a journey but it often intersects with a need for healing, either spiritual or physical.

And the sense of facing challenge and achieving a difficult goal is part of the sense of success.

Then my neighbor (Sobaka’s Mom) said she was going for a walk at one of my favorite parks. I asked if she wanted company and she said sure. That she didn’t really want to go alone.

Of course, before I could go, I had to set Nala up with her puzzle of the day— Video of Today’s puzzle

We walked 5 miles. We talked about a little bit of everything. She’s a strong and plucky woman, and I enjoy her company.

A Place to Ponder

For Fausta

Right now, I am in a mindset of hope and facing “a clean slate.” I am part of a Facebook group doing a virtual El Camino pilgrimage this summer and I find the timing of life to be at my speed right now.

My friend Fausta, also on the pilgrimage, posted about having a place to ponder. As a life coach, she’s name her business “Fausta’s Place to Ponder.” She encouraged all of us to think about and share our individual places.

Here is her original post: Fausta’s Place to Ponder

I immediately wanted to join the discussion but I needed to reflect upon my “place.”

I realized that I have several.

My morning spot is my enclosed sun porch.

I love to gaze at the roses and use them to center myself and focus my thoughts. Two months ago the entire bush was covered with massive blooms, which of course, faded. So I trimmed them. And now I see these long, hearty stalks (an amazing amount of new growth) about you bless us with new flowers.

Life is much the same— we bloom, we sometimes get chopped, but we come back.

But I also like to ponder in my bedroom with my birds, often in the evening after a long day.

But I also love to ponder on road trips, solitary drives. These are the times when I often face my own versions of hard truth and decide on life change.

Somber thoughts on disability and reliability

So I had a somber thought this morning about disability…

How does disability color our view of the world, security and life?

Over the weekend, my daughter and I went to visit my dad, while my neighbor shopped at my step-mom’s store (The Flag Store, Rt 209, Sciota). My daughter and Dad were spying on me from the security camera.

“You know, Mom,” the teenager said, “Your CP is a lot more noticeable on video. Because when you look at you when you are with you, it’s just that you walk a little funky. But looking from the camera it’s obvious that bodies shouldn’t do that.”

My initial thought was relief because I thought everyone saw me as I appear on video.

It’s the whole reason I refused to allow anyone to video my wedding.

And smart phones weren’t a thing back then.

So today— while pondering recent stresses in my life— I had a sober thought.

Does disability teach you to rely on others and therefore make it easier to ask for help?

That’s how I see my friend, Nan. She’s been blind since birth. She never had children. She’s outlived her whole family. Yet, she has this amazing network of friends who are also helpers. And we all love her sense of humor, her adventurous spirit and of course her practical approach to everything.

But for me, disability has intensified my insecurities to the point where I think no one, and nothing, is reliable. I know there are a lot of other factors that contribute to that in my mind, but I wonder if my disability “tightens the screws.”

Because I can’t even rely on my body.

Will it be an easy walking day? Will I trip and fall? Will my S1 joint protest? Will aches and pains plague me? (Or will my allergies make me nuts as if I don’t have enough health issues?)

Just a somber thought.

The Rocking Chair

When I was a girl, our house had a fairly plain rocking chair in the living room.

As a girl, I never really thought about it.

And then, when I got pregnant with the now teenager, my friend gave me a rocking chair that was the same basic rocking chair.

I was tickled.

My mother-in-law made cushions for it to match the enchanted forest-themed nursery. (The teenager has never painted over the mural.)

Gradually, when breastfeeding and rocking a grumpy baby was no longer a thing, the rocking chair went down stairs.

The cats like it.

And as the house seems to get smaller, now the chair is on the enclosed sun porch.

Do you know how hairy this chair gets with four cats?

I finally realized today that I could remove the cushions, not just vacuum them. After all, my mother-in-law made the cushions so we could be comfortable with the baby.

The baby just turned 16.

I removed the cushions. I’ll wash the covers and maybe I’ll put them back, maybe I won’t.

How many of us cling to habits or things because we just haven’t realized that we don’t need them or that they don’t serve a purpose?

The rocking chair looks good bare. More appropriate for the porch.

Sometimes we need to stop for a minute and learn to recognize when we are functioning on auto-pilot and not in response to our current environment or situation.

Sunday morning solace

Later, I will do my review of the June 2020 Ipsy Glam bag. Probably today. No promises.

(But if you’re really into cosmetics and need to see an unboxing— here’s the YouTube video: June 2020 Glam Bag unboxing)

Because it’s Sunday. Sunday should be about family, pets, lovers or your religion. Wherever you find your peace and your wholeness.

With life bringing most people new challenges in 2020, and my life was no exception even before the Coronavirus pandemic (which is another discussion) and the much-needed societal realization that we have some major institutionalized issues in this country regarding race and other types of minorities.

But fear, and hope, and pluck, are all great equalizers. When emotions rise, it can lead to change and fight and passion.

I let the parakeets free fly this morning, which means Nala, my cockatoo, wanted yo stay with them and harass them and steal their food. (I think she has a chip on her shoulder that they can fly and she can’t.)

Opie, our three-legged cancer surviving cat, got out yesterday and returned for breakfast today.

I’m sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee and some of the edible cookie dough my teenager daughter made yesterday. All four cats swirling around me.

It’s Flag Day, so I should raise Old Glory, but I’m too short to reach our flag post.

And I’m about to do my morning journal entry, hang the laundry on the clothesline and read some of The Fault in Our Stars. It’s the teenager’s favorite book and “the only book school couldn’t ruin.”

Why do Sundays end with stress? If Mondays bring so much anxiety, isn’t it a sign our outdated work system is killing us?

Wondering… wondering…

How can we survive better?

Friday morning musings

Once I finish this, I will be logging into work. I don’t expect it to be an easy day, but I expect it to be decent. And it’s Friday. I have a meeting tonight with… let’s just say a freelance “client” about some editing I am doing on a key project. A good project. A project that could have a positive impact on my community.

I know my posts lately have been lists and animal updates. I’ve been musing a lot about what parts of life really bring personal contentment— and how that has to mesh with corporate America’s expectation that we are the worker bees. We are judged by our productivity, which is defined not by the benefit to the greater good but as money pocketed by those fortunate enough to stand among the elite.

Coupled with these thoughts of critical theory against the capitalistic machine, I find myself musing over pleasure versus good and its contribution to wellness. Let me explain, if I can.

Yesterday, I had some work stress that I had anticipated. So I ordered a pizza to provide some feel-good endorphins to keep my focus away from the computer screen and the universe that exists there now. I had dressed for the office, thinking that would give me confidence in this stressful time.

Dressing up at the home office

It worked— but I was so cold I soon had to change.

By the end of the day, ALL of the food choices I had made had no real nutritional value.

  • Breakfast: coffee and chocolate chip muffin
  • Lunch: half a Little Caesars Pepperoni Cheeser Cheeser and Coke Zero
  • Dinner: regular size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a Yuengling
Yes, I’m wearing footy pajamas in May

And now my weight is up. I’m about five pounds above my ideal weight now. But I look in the mirror and I see me. I don’t see five extra pounds.

They don’t lessen who I am.

But if I allow the cycle to continue, the pattern will negatively impact my health. So I need to chose.

Meanwhile today is warmer, but cloudy. I put on one of my favorite summer dresses and a cute cropped quasi-sweatshirt. I finished up the half and half so no more hot coffee. It’s free donut Friday at Dunkin if I leave the house. And the teenager has a fundraiser due today.

We need to clean this weekend, and the kittens gutted my one shelf in my closet (but they are so cute and give good cuddles so all is forgiven).

Maybe I have given you something to ponder. Happy Friday.

The cockatoo fell down the stairs

Mondays are hard for most people. But they are especially hard for my four-year-old Goffins cockatoo, Nala.

I get it. My weekend routine is laid back and includes lots of periodic cuddles and the occasional pizza picnic on my bed, whereas Mondays involve her being ignored while I work.

The Monday through Friday routine used to be— before the Coronavirus pandemic— about 30 minutes of early morning cuddles, some free roaming time while I got dressed, then back in her cage to watch (listen to) Sesame Street until Hulu decided no one was watching.

I think that’s when she would take an afternoon nap, based on her behavior I see when I’m home.

Around 3 p.m. my teen daughter would come home and open her cage door so she could roam until I got home around 5. Then I’d cuddle her for about 30 minutes and bring her down to the kitchen while I cooked.

Then she came back up to my room and around 8, I returned to cuddle her, and watch some TV on my iPad in my room since she refuses to go to sleep without a person in the room.

I have only had Nala four months. And I don’t have experience with parrots/large birds. I barely have experience with budgies.

When I first brought her home, she plucked often. Of course the change was upsetting. She settled in and used plucking primarily as a way to get attention or express that she was overstimulated.

But on Mondays, she would strip her belly or legs and be standing in a pile of feathers. Luckily our routine has minimized that.

Now she occasionally plucks a feather— but it’s often a wing feather and she makes herself bleed. She did this yesterday and I blame myself. It was Monday. It’s a cold May, and I couldn’t get warm so I was in and out of the bedroom all day trying to find someplace to work.

Every time I tried to work with her on my shoulder, she would bite my ear (telling me that she knew I was distracted and not focused on her) so I would force her back to the “bird playground.”

And after work I rushed right out to go grocery shopping.

But like a good bird mom, I came home and rushed up the stairs to cuddle my Nala. My neighbor texted and wanted to go for a walk.

So, with Nala literally yelling at me, I went for a walk and picked up a pizza. (The new Pepperoni Cheeser! Cheeser! from Little Caesars). I thought I would apologize with a pizza picnic.

Nala had plucked a wing feather and was covered in blood. We had our pizza and I brought her down to her shower perch and gently bathed her. She seemed to enjoy that. Or maybe she recognized my remorse.

We then watched TV but she refused to cuddle. She would only sit on my shoulder and chatter. Literally giving me an earful.

So today I brought her with me to go make coffee. She loves coffee and is fascinated by the coffee machine.

As we were going downstairs, I don’t know if she lost her footing, or if my balance was off, or if something scared her… but she fell down the stairs.

I felt awful. But all Nala cared about was her morning coffee. She seems fine and is stealing the budgies food as we speak. But it’s sometimes very humbling to live with a bird.