Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Falling Into Grace

I saw my chiropractor Monday morning. I was his first appointment and arrived a few minutes before 8. No one else was in the office but him. As he attached me to the machine that would deliver electrical impulses for the next 10 minutes, he told me, “I took my first fall on my scooter today.”

Because he was standing there and acting normal, I didn’t ask the predictable question:“Are you all right?” Instead I went for what I thought was the witty question: “Are you going to see a chiropractor?”

Actually, I was half serious because when I take a spill – or get rear-ended in my car (I was at his office being treated for whiplash from a recent car accident) – I know that spinal care is in order. But he said, “No, it was just a little fall and I’m all right.”

The scooter took the brunt of the fall and was scratched in several places. The scooter has been his means of transportation to and from work for the past 1,455 miles. “That’s 1,455 miles I didn’t use my car,” he said proudly. And when he fills his scooter’s empty fuel tank, he gets change from a $5 bill.

“What happened?” I asked. He said he was preparing to turn left on a busy street and as he entered the center turn lane, the scooter skidded. He didn’t know why, because the pavement was dry.

“The scooter slid and I went down. I was on the ground beside it, with traffic coming at me,” he said, “so I had to jump up and move! Fortunately, the traffic was at a distance.” He said he allows lots of space when turning left on a highway, and it paid off this morning.

After leaving me in the room with the electrical impulses alternately shocking and relaxing me, the chiropractor went to call his wife. “I fell on the scooter, but I’m OK,” he told her. I could hear him through the closed door, and although I could not hear his wife, I knew exactly what she was feeling. A few years back my husband went down on his motorcycle – and had no idea afterward of what had led up to the spill. After an emergency room visit, he was deemed OK, but that turned out to be his last ride, not so much because he was fearful, but because I was!

When the doctor returned to unplug me, I asked if anyone on the street had checked to see if he was all right. He said a driver stuck his head outside the window and asked.

“I told him I was fine,” he said.

“Well,” I said, “It’s great you were able to jump up and grab your scooter. It’s like once you realized you were going down, you stopped fighting it and fell as lightly as possible. And that probably allowed you to quickly pick yourself up and move out of traffic.”

As I left his office, I thought about how there are many moments in our lives when we slip or jump the track on which we had so carefully aligned ourselves. Sometimes the metaphorical pebble that knocks us off is a biggie: a divorce or loss of job. Sometimes it is small: a rejection slip. Sometimes it is in the middle: a scratched-up scooter and injured pride.

The point is not to freeze ourselves in one place so we avoid the occasional spill, but to relax when we start to tumble, trusting that we will get up again. The point is to fall into grace.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Bread Basket Universal Law

"Let's eat at Emilia's" I said to my husband who was talking on his cellphone. He passed by streetside parking places and pulled into a spot that belonged to "36 Club." So we ate there, instead.
It was a tad more elegant than Taco Bell: The waiter brought us a basket of bread wrapped in a cloth napkin, and although it was white French bread, we both dove in. After my first piece, though, I peeled off the crust of the second, and ate just that -- the crust.
Jeremy looked askance. "Do you know who you remind me of?"
I did. "Your mother," I said, knowing that she preferred the crust to the inside. "But, you like the crust better, too," I pointed out, because he always insists on eating the end pieces of artisan breads and challahs.
"Yeah," he said, "but I eat the inside, too. There's a universal law that says you have to eat the whole thing."
"Wow! I didn't know that," I said, masking my sarcasm as wide-eyed wonder. "Maybe we should post that law on our blog to publicize it better."
So we did.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being

I had an "aha" recently. It has to do with my weight.
I've gained a lot of weight in the last nine years, the last nine years being spent sitting at a desk for eight or more hours a day.
Now I've "rewired."
(Rewired because retired sounds like something you do to a car.)
With my rewirement, I thought the pounds would start dropping off, because I am on the move often during the day. I even have a newborn in my life and carrying her about the house burns calories, doesn't it? The pounds should be dropping like flies.
But, the flies seem to like me.
Four weeks later, I'm still the same weight, even though I'm eating less. At the newspaper where I worked, my colleagues brought cookies and candy and potato chips every night, and I rewarded myself frequently with a mini-Snickers or mesquite-flavored chips or biscotti.
Now my worst temptation is the leftover apple crisp and ice cream I made for guests last Friday night.
It's almost gone.
But, back to the aha ...
First, you have to know, or rather I need to remember, that the extra 30 pounds were added gradually over nine years. That's only 3.3 pounds a year. So if they come off as gradually as they were put on, it will take me nine years to let go of them.
That feels like forever!
So at the beginning of this year, knowing I was rewiring, I started Weight Watchers and took off and kept off eight pounds. But no more. I sabotaged myself, and even knowing this, didn't change my behavior.
Rewiring changed my behavior, though.
There are no colleagues who bring treats into my home.
And caring for my granddaughter changed my behavior.
Still, the pounds have not started to melt.
I realized two weeks ago one reason why: I had reached a point where I didn't believe I would ever be slender again.
My head could not envision me like I was a decade ago.
No wonder nothing was changing.
About this time, the digital scale broke, and I took it as a sign. Stay off the scale until I can see myself light.
I am not losing weight, I am becoming lighter. It is no longer an unbearable thought.
I took a photograph of myself, front and side views, and used a marker pen to black out the excess stomach and back and thigh flesh. Now I have the picture of what I will look like -- I have to squint my eyes, though -- taped to my bathroom mirror.
Finally, I can see myself as the light being that I am.

P.S. About 10 days ago, my husband Jeremy couldn't bear not weighing himself daily. So he plopped a whopping $5.97 down on the old-fashioned kind of scale that has numbers in the window. When I got on it I couldn't see the small lines, but I could tell that I was halfway between two of the large numbers. I was sick, because it meant I had gained three of the pounds back that I'd lost since January. This morning, I wondered if I was any lighter, having had this aha. But this time I went and found my driving eyeglasses before stepping on. It turns out that the large numbers are 20 pounds apart, not 10, and actually, I've lost two pounds in the past month. I am so light now, I am floating.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Eyes Have It

Jeremy did it. Again.

Seven and a half years ago, we invested what was -- for us --- a whopping sum of $4,000 to have his eyes corrected so he could see without glasses or contacts. He'd been wearing heavy-duty glasses since he was a little kid and school chums teased him with the nickname "Four eyes."

So when he passed the half-century mark, we decided enough! His eye doctor had been talking to him about laser surgery for years, and we took the plunge and made the investment, despite other more pressing bills -- or what at the time we thought were other more pressing bills. The surgery came with a lifetime warranty, too, and when he walked out of the Tulsa clinic -- the exact same one where Tiger Woods had his surgery -- he could see far away with one eye and up close and personal with the other. Monovision, it's called, and he'd been practicing in the previous years with contact lenses that did the same thing.

Within 24 hours, we knew that this was the best thing we'd ever spent a lump of money on. It was like a newfound freedom, Jeremy said. I, too, was tickled by how pleased I was that he didn't have to mess with contacts and eyedrops and goggles when he swam. Now I could splash him in the face with reckless abandon. And I did.
That, perhaps, was the only downside, from his perspective.

Fast forward to last week. Jeremy's eye doctor had been telling him that, perhaps, it was time for a tuneup on those eyes -- a procedure called an enhancement. Jeremy's eyes never got very bad, but, well there was this lifetime warranty, so he went in today -- we went in, actually, he and I and our baby granddaughter whom we were babysitting.

Within 50 minutes of arriving, he was walking out with dark glasses wrapped around his head and a sleeping pill dissolving in his stomach, so that he would go home and rest with his eyes closed.

Tomorrow he will open his eyes and perform at an area children's library -- he and I under our act's name of 'Just The Way We Are.' And he will be able to see as well as the 4-month-old who with me watched his eye surgery on a television camera.

It's no big deal, and it's the biggest deal in the world: to be able to see clearly now, the fog is gone ...

My younger brother is about the same age as Jeremy was when he had his first surgery. I hope my brother puts the money down and invests in himself. He still has almost half a lifetime to reap the rewards. It's a no-brainer, as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, August 6, 2007

So she told me she was getting another tattoo ...

No, not another one! Please, daughter. You are so pretty. Your pure, clean God-given skin doesn't need needles drilling black ink into it.
"It's my fourth," she said. "Lauren and I decided we would both get one. It would be a bonding experience."
"Couldn't you both just get drunk together?" I counter. Or run off and join the circus.
But wait. They could become the newest tattoo ladies under the big tent.
And then she dropped the bombshell.
"Well, I'm tattooing your initials on me," she said.
I urged her to go with a design, not letters. I could just see Popeye with "Mom" popping up on his biceps.
"How about a heart? To represent our love," I asked her.
She called a few days later.
"It's done," she said. "It hurt like hell."
She got the initials, but she had them worked so the letters looked like a heart with a small tail. On her ankle.
She cried out so much, the tattoo artist thought she was ... well ... somewhat turned on, shall we say?
When he asked her, she laughed uproariously.
"That took some of the sting away," she told me.
"Now I have more tattoos than my brother."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

March roars in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.
Then the rains come. April showers bring May flowers.
Just in time for Emily who came in April, stayed through May but, in June changed her tune.
We are products of the media.
Yes and no.
The media puts it out there - the axioms, the pronouncements, the right ways to do this and that - but they are full of contradictions. Don't drink, drink wine. Reduce your protein intake. Reduce your carbs. Make peace by going to war.
It's all out there, and we say we are products of the media, but we get to pick which pronouncements we will believe or follow or pass on.
The media is a buffet, nothing more.
We choose the product by what resonates within: fear or love.
You can't make peace by going to war.
You can't make love while you're afraid.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Streaming of Consciousness Part 2

Yes. we didn't grow up in the age of computers like our children. You would think they might enjoy the role of teacher. But, noooo, we had to learn for ourselves. Wait until the next time they ask me for a $ 20.00 loan. But what about the BIG question. Why are we here? Maybe to learn computers

Streaming of consciousness

Jeremy and I today learned what "Radio" in i-Tunes is all about.
It's not like you go take a class in streaming or iPod or any of this hip stuff. If your kids don't teach you, you're out of luck. And kids past the age of 8 ain't interested in teaching their parents. Right, Jeremy?

Friday, March 2, 2007

What IS the question?

My husband, Jeremy, who blogs with me on this site, thinks that the No. 1 existential question people have is "Why are we here?"
I am not so sure. I think it might be more along the lines of "How does this thing called life work?"
So we asked Tracy, the college student who serves us lunch each Sunday at Cable Car Pizza in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
"Tracy," I queried, "What do you think is the most important question people have about life?"
And she said, "Why am I here?"
So, that settles it. Jeremy was right.

I, Peggy, am hoping that we can begin to answer that question, in billions of ways, on our Joys R Us blog. I know, we've named this the Joy-Us blog, because that's what matches our URL: www.

But the working name, I think, will be Joys R Us. That phrase, I think, contains at least a few hundred million of the answers to the existential question, "Why are we here?"

Til next time