Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Morning musings

I got up this morning
Puttered around the virtual world
Ate my bran cereal
Took four pills with diet gingerale
Read my morning email, fresh from midnight
And fed the fish

What I didn't do is a lot more
I didn't do yoga
Or take a morning walk in the misty glow
I didn't bake bread
I didn't read poetry or philosophy
I didn't chant or sing or pray
And yet, I decide it is a good start
To another day

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Inner Dialog

I am moved to write this morning. I am not sure why this impulse comes to me so infrequently but I am learning to be more gentle with myself and go with the flow more. I had and still have so many expectations of myself. If I am going to blog, it should be every day. Just another chore to fall by the wayside like daily yoga, daily meditation, daily reading.... I am slowly realizing that this drill sergeant mentality isn't working for me.

So what inspired this post? I was reading blog posts by two fascinating writers, Crap Mariner and Kris Schomaker/Gracie Kendal, both of whom are struggling with their own self judgement. What is amazing to me is that I admire both of them so much, to me they are so successful and accomplished, and yet they struggle just like I do. Their judgments and self-criticisms sound remarkably similar to my own. In fact, my own critical voice uses all their accomplishments (blogging, creative endeavors, virtual fame etc) to point out my lack. But deep down a little voice defends me. Perhaps I have some accomplishments of my own too that I am under-representing in my own mind the way I see them under-representing theirs.

I have been working towards moderating my overly critical self image and high expectations for years with great success or little progress, depending on which part of me is making the assessment. But my recent illness adds a new wrinkle to this. I have had to lower my expectations significantly. In early June, right after it happened, I put most off most of my projects and non-critical decision until August, what I thought would be the magic month when I would be 'back to normal.' With August approaching, I am starting to worry that there will be nothing magic about August and at the same time I have this antsy feeling like I do want to start something. I know that this inspiration is another desperate attempt to do something that I can finally be proud of and that will allow my critical self to accept me. This is a false hope. By design, the inner critic is never pleased and never accepting.

And this is where I start to feel a glimmer of self-satisfaction. I smile. I know this. And if I can create this powerful, unrelenting inner critic, I can also create a faithful, stalwart inner supporter.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A new path...

I am writing in this blog again, after ... so long ... nearly 5 years! Hard to believe. And so much has changed. I won't go into it all. What I want to do is start from here. Start anew. A recent event has had a dramatic effect on my life. A little over 3 weeks ago I had a heart attack due to a dissected right coronary artery. It came completely out of the blue -- spontaneous is the term the doctors use. No trauma, no plaque, no discernible cause. Spontaneous.

The first few days, I felt so fragile and I felt betrayed by my body. How could it do this to me? What will happen next? Every twinge of pain brought panic. I toughed it out. After the first day I stopped asking for anything stronger than Tylenol. I walked up and down the hallway to gain strength and fight boredom. I also felt a huge wave of support and love from friends and family all over the world.

The love and support from friends and family really helped me. Tim visited me each day and would read all the comments and posts to my and his facebook pages. It helped me feel stronger and grateful... it brought me fully back into this world after my short escape (my heart stopped in the ambulance on the way to the hospital).

Now I am feeling more and more like my old self. I am walking further, doing more. I am working part time and feeling less exhausted from work. I even thought that I would like to ride my bike. I have been afraid of biking since I am taking medicine to thin my blood.

My illness has invoked a bit of contemplation in me. Not at first but more recently. One thing I am grateful for is that I have not felt much like a victim. I think about how lucky I was that it happened when it did and where it did so I could get the quick and competent medical help I needed to survive. I was lucky that Tim was around, that he was cool headed and called 911. I am grateful that this event left me with a feeling a gratitude and being blessed.

However, I can't help but to wonder why this happened and if it was a message to me in some way. Yes, I am a believer in messages. Although, whether they originate from God, the Universe, or one's own soul, I am not sure. I do believe they should be listened to. So what message was sent to me? Why my heart?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Birdwatching and the KGB

What do you get when you mix a camera attached to a 400 mm lens, a Russian nuclear power plant, and a small Siberian bird?

A mandatory trip to the local police station in a police car!

My husband, Dima, has a hobby/obsession - photographing birds. And the lenses he uses on his camera are BIG. Even on Long Island he gets second glances and sometimes questions from strangers.

Man: Wow! How far away can things be for you to take a picture of them with that lens?
Dima: Well, I just took a picture of the setting sun.
Vaudevillian drum: Bomp Bomp

(personally I thought this was a little mean and would have given the man the kind of answer he expected but the confused look on the man's face went over my husband's head completely)

Anyway, back to the story.

The main purpose of our trip to Russia was to visit with Dima's elderly parents and his sister. He hadn't seen them for five years. They live in a small town (pop 20,000) about 30 miles from Yekaterinburg, a major city in the Ural mountains of Russia. Dima's hometown, Zarechny, was built specifically to support the nuclear power plant. The river was dammed to create a large lake to be used a sink for the heat generated by the power plant. It is a beautiful town in many ways. There are many trees, tall Siberian pines and beautiful white birches.

There is the huge lake.

These features make a nice place for birding and bird photography and we had planned to do this. We weren't planning on site seeing, we wanted to spend time with family, but as everyone knows, you can't spend every minute of 10 days with family and remain sane. Our morning birding trips gave use fresh air, exercise and some space. Unfortunately they caused some trouble too.

In Russia, most people live in apartment buildings, even in small towns like Zahrechny. Dima's sister's (Olya's) building had about 30 apartments in a 3 story building. Behind every building is a yard of sorts. Behind Olya's building was a sort of weed strewn lot with trees, benches, and playground equipment. It is not clear to me how much of this wildness was due to poverty (no money to pay someone to cut the grass and tend the plantings) and how much due to a preference for more natural settings. Certainly Zarechny is poorer than Moscow but it is more traditional too and is not trying to be a Western city with Western priorities. Anyway, these yards are a good place for birds. On our first day we were birding locally in these connected backyards near Olya's building, me with my 10x binoculars and Dima with his BIG lensed camera. Three men step out of one of the buildings. I know right away something is up. They are all dressed in black suits. They are bulky, tall and strong. (I, at 5'2'', am average height in this town so I think tall people are reserved for special jobs). And they walk with purpose towards us. I don't want any miscommunication or questions so I firmly say 'Hello' to their Russian greeting 'Zdrastuitya'. They keep walking towards Dima. He talks to them. He shows them the pictures he has taken with his digital camera. They speak some more. The men, who I later find out are KGB, or more modernly called FSB agents, walk back to their office in the nearby building. Walking with Dima I learn that they told him he couldn't take pictures outside their office with a 400 mm lens. I was not a little upset by all this but, as Dima pointed out, the good thing is we now know exactly where we could and could not take photographs. Off limits were the FSB building, the nuclear power plant and the dam. The rest was ours, in the translated words of the FSB officer 'It's a free country.'

To be continued......

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Home at last

Due to some red tape and paperwork problems, we had to extend our stay in Russia for one week. I am back now, I am home. I promise descriptions and photos of our trip but for now, after a good night's sleep in my own bed, a cup of coffee and toast at my own table, fixed in my own kitchen, and a perusal of my accumulated mail (including mailing from the three book clubs to which I belong), I feel as if I am in paradise. This is not to say my trip was bad, it was fascinating and filled with time spent with beloved family and friends, but home is home.

The Joy of homeness!
The simple pleasures of sleeping in one's own bed
Of waking and making a pot of coffee
Measuring the ground coffee into the filter
Pouring the water into the machine
Clicking the switch and hearing the homey gurgle
The simple joy of knowing where everything is
Being able to read every word I see
The deep comfort of slipping into everyday routines
Of familiarity
I am home
And it is good
Very good

Friday, August 19, 2005

Russian adventure

I am leaving for Russia tomorrow. I will be back Sept. 6th and will probably be sleeping off the jet lag until at least Sept 7th. I promise at least one blog entry dedicated to the trip.