Sunday
Mar162014

Sunday Verse

The Bible reading for today - and the accompanying homily from our beloved Fr. Michael - resonated very deeply for me in light of my declaration last weekend about what I was "giving up" for Lent.

Today's gospel reading (Matthew 17:1-9) is about Jesus taking Peter, James and John to the mount with him, allowing them to see his transfiguration into his glory - foretelling his literal appearance after his crucifixion.  This part of Christ's 40 days in the wilderness, sharing this with his disciples and hearing God speak, saying "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased" was a major moment of transformation for Jesus.  His life's ministry would conclude, at least in the mortal sense, less than 40 days after his transfiguration.

Christ's transformation from divine man to divine intercessor would be complete.

And so as I absorbed the words of God & Christ and as I listened to Padre's homily, allowing the words to soak into my very soul, I realized that what I am trying to accomplish for myself this Lent isn't about fasting in the sense that we normally associate with this season.

It is about a literal transformation of myself from the inside. Begun, in truth, with the online class I have been taking for the past several weeks, my Lenten Journey is about continuing to rid myself of the need to be perfect; to accep the truth that perfectionism is a 20-ton shield that I carry around with me.  It is a burden of enormous proportions that has, after over 50 years, started to bend my back to the point of looking at the ground.

I am determined to shed that burden - and the worrying that goes along with it.  Each time I find myself worrying about something that is, in truth, beyond my control or set to occur so far in the future that pretty much anything could change the outcome I begin to anticipate today - I stop myself and pray to God, deeply and fervently.  For his strength, guidance and mercy.  For the courage to give the worry to God - to unburden myself in a way that allows me to just focus on the here-and-now.

Each time I say that prayer, I will now think of the words Christ used on the mount, to reassure his disciples that all was well - "Rise, and do not be afraid."

Indeed.

Saturday
Mar152014

The Weekly Muse

Well - a week since my last post.  This was the week that past in a fog of getting back to normal.  From Monday thru Thursday it was just...work-home.  We both managed to make it thru the entire week unscathed which, at least for me, less than a week after the flu - is nothing but a miracle.

You'll note I left off - Friday.  Yesterday.

We had planned to take Friday and Monday off to go to a friend's house in Vermont this weekend.  But they got nearly 2 feet of snow up there on Thursday night and temps were to be a low of -11 for the weekend. Neither of those facts made us feel really excited about going to Vermont.

So - we took the days off anyway and will do other things.  Like yesterday - journeying to our most beloved city, Boston.

First up - the always fascinating Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. It's been a long year since we were there last and we made the most of our time.  4 hours of wandering, gawking and standing in awe of some of the world's greatest artists - sculpture, paintings, textiles, jewels, glassworks.

Such as the item at left. A new permanent exhibit of exquisite art glass in every color of the rainbow - at least.  I loved the juxtaposition of this vase against the blue sky outside the window. It was a cold and windy day yesterday but beautiful.  Crisp sun and a deeper blue than we have seen in about 5 months. A blue that signals perhaps our winter may be coming to a close soon.

Of course we have more snow coming early next week but...for yesterday the sky was cornflower blue, the clouds were light and white and we were in our favorite place.

The drive up was smooth and peaceful.  With songs such as the above as our soundtrack, The Oracle and I talked about - oh, so many things.  Just the 2 of us, chatting along with the rhythm of the road.  It is a drive we know as well as the skin on the back of our hands - intimately, almost without thought we set cruise-control and then, voila, our favorite stretch of road is underneath us.

Storrow Drive.  It is picturesque, skimming the shoreline of the Charles River.  Tracing the outline of countless pre-war apartment buildings and townhouses.  Each one restored to its early beauty and housing - well, the elite of Boston.  Ownership of these beauties costs in the millions and rental prices for apartments is counted in the thousands per month.

It's a winding short road that always signals that we are in the midst of the outskirts of our childhood backyards; a city rich in history - indeed the birthplace of our nation; the rebellion started there and the evidence is of course everywhere you look.

Walk the streets or drive them - and history is all around you.  I always feel cocooned by it in a way that I don't feel anywhere else; there is something safe about being in Boston.  As if the very spirits of this nation's original rebels follows you wherever you go.

And when you are in the MFA that sense of history and timelessness grows exponentially.

One of their current temporary exhibits is of the Impressionist period - and they are all paintings chosen by the people of Boston thru a voting process last fall.  Which includes the one at left - "The Pink Cloud" by Paul Signac.  One of the very finest examples of Pointillism you'll ever see; each layer of color is applied by a single brush stroke from left to right.  It's beautiful to look at under any circumstances but up close...it's beyond amazing.

I am always amazed at the Impressionists - up close you can barely tell what the painting is but you step back and the glory is revealed.  Which makes me think about the painters themselves - Pissaro, Signac, Cassat, Serrac, Monet and the mighty Van Gogh.

In fact the painting at right - "Houses at Auvers" - was the #1 selection in the Boston voting for the Impressionist exhibit - by Van Gogh.  This is, by far, one of my very favorite pieces in the entire museum.  The intensity of the brushtrokes is intoxicating - you can see Van Gogh's madness settling in on him; the strokes are aggressive and filled with longing and pain.  To gaze on this is to see inside Van Gogh's soul and to feel his emotional state.

Ah well - I could wax on and on about the MFA but it's not the only thing we did yesterday.

We also ate - a gustatory feast in the Italian district, or as it's known the North End.  In the appropriately named "Dolce Vita", where the owner, Franco, greats you with a hug and for the lady, a kiss on the back of the hand.

Swoon.

Where Franco doesn't let everyone look at the menu.  We can't figure out why some customers just get the menu and others, like us, get something off the menu.  This is the 2nd time we've been to Dolce Vita and the 2nd time Franco has had something unique prepared for us.

There is, of course, a cost associated with this special treatment - but it's one we willingly pay.  Last night it was fried calamari - soft rings with a simple, light and very crunchy batter.  Like eating puffed clouds.  Followed by poached haddock with shrimp and scallops in a white wine, lemon butter sauce.  Literally served in its parchment paper cocoon.  It was - sublime.

Followed by decadent desserts and coffees.  Delicioso!

A wander around the North End and then the long and sad drive home.  I never like leaving Boston; I know it's inevitable and I spend each moment there soaking up every molecule of the city that lives in my heart.

Saturday
Mar082014

The Weekly Muse

We are alive.  Still in a fog of strong meds but - alive nonetheless.

The last fever left us mid-day on Thursday.  Which now leaves us feeling worn out and beat up.

For the very first time in my adult life I actually went to the doctor within 24 hours of getting sick.  I usually wait 3-4 days to see what I've got; for some reason I like to torture myself with how much I can stand before I cave.

I know - it's very negative behavior towards myself and is part of the larger problem of my self-hatred. Which we are getting better at dealing with.

Witness me - making an urgent doc appointment less than 24 hours after I started to feel sick; indeed less than 12 hours after my first fever.  And while I did think it was bronchitis and was somewhat unnerved to learn it was the flu I stuck to my position on dealing with the cough. That no matter what was causing it, an asthmatic with the kind of bronchial cough I've had - is very bad news.

 

Which the doctor agreed with so put me on a lovely cough syrup with codeine; so yes, thank you, I've been sleeping...alot.

But he also suggested TamiFlu as a way to reduce the severity of symptoms and possibly cut the illness short by a couple of days.  I've never been able to take it before since I usually wait so long to see the doctor; TamiFlu needs to be administered within 48 hours of your first symptoms - and I'm usually way beyond that. 

Believe me - it does work. In fact it's quite amazing; I went from every pore in my body aching to no aches at all.  I went from expecting 2-3 more days of punishing fevers to 1 1/2 days of mild fevers.  The cough meds are controlling what would normally be a debilitating, rib-cracking experience and in general - just 3 1/2 days since getting sick with the dreaded flu - I feel shaky, tired and worn out but I no longer feel sick.

For anyone with lung problems, recovering from the flu is like walking a tightrope; one wrong move or slight deviation from a plan and you'll tumbling down into hospitalization and facing weeks of recovery.

Of course I also implemented my "asthma sickness protocol" which sees me switch from my daily meds to others that are far more intense and robust.  I am grateful to have all these plans I can put into play on my own and then make the decisions I need to make.

It took 15 years to get to that point; and now I'm finally taking better care of myself overall.

In fact, as we approached the Lenten Season (which we formally entered this past Wednesday and which The Oracle and I, literally, slept thru) I did quite a bit of praying and meditating on what I was going to "give up" for Lent.  It is the big annual question for many Christians and most especially Catholics.  Since we are observing Christ's 40-days in the desert it is assumed we will give up something; to fast from something we enjoy.  Most people do the obvious and give up sweets, or alcohol or some other food items.  I've done that for the past 3 years and while it's a dailly reminder of the sacrifice Our Savior was preparing to make for us - I haven't found that the experience stayed with me beyond Easter.

So this year I wanted to make my Lenten Fast more meaningful to me in a quieter way.  There is something about saying "I gave up chocolate for Lent" that always sounded a little - ego-centric to me.  So this year I decided to do two things for Lent.

One is to work diligently at giving up on worrying.  The Oracle says I'm a championship worrier and that I need to be a Warrior instead.  And you know what - he's right.  I worry about everything; for me it's a 24/7 occupation that takes up far too much of my time and energy.

I worry about things I can control, things I can't and just about all things in between.  I worry about events that are taking place in 5 minutes and in 5 months.  It is - exhausting.

So I'm praying and working on stopping the worry-train from running me over all day, every day.  Some things do need to be worried about - and those will get the proper attention at the appropriate time.  But beyond that - I am trying very hard to just let go.

The other thing I'm working on doing is being kinder to myself.  Since my self-hatred and self-negativity is almost a daily banquet I'm reasoning that giving it up is a fast, of a kind.  But in reverse - I am praying to gorge myself on self-love rather than self-hate. 

Acting on my recent illness so quickly and taking such great care of myself has been my first adventure into treating myself like I treat others - with respect, dignity and a sense of urgency.

And I must confess...it felt really good.

Thursday
Mar062014

24 Months. 104 Weeks.

Two years have passed since one of the greatest minds and warrior spirits I've ever known - slipped the surly bonds of earth.

Two years without the voice of Neptunus Lex to keep us grounded in current events and humor.

My thoughts always turn to his family and I hope they have been able to find some peace in the knowledge that hundreds of people mourn their husband, father and brother - as a brother of the heart.

Lex - as you teach the angels how to fly, know that we your loyal following will never forget you.

 

Wednesday
Mar052014

Eff. Ell. Yew.

It's not bronchitis.  It's not pneumonia.

It is - the F.L.U.

Body aches. Epic headache. Unrelenting fevers. Chills. Oh yeah and a nice bronchial cough to go with it. Strong enough to crack a rib.

So - we are on meds strong enough to euthanize a horse.

We are OK with that.

Night. Night.