I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 15, 2015

It's been a very full week

Me, Norma Jean, Zen and Icarus, taken by Peter
I arrived home late Wednesday after 15 hours of travel. It's always much longer when you have to take two planes, and I flew from Tampa to Minneapolis and from there to Seattle. Then a two-hour wait to catch the two-and-a-half hour shuttle to Bellingham. I was tired, but it was so nice to be in my own home with Smart Guy. He enjoyed his alone time; I knew he would, and I loved being with my Florida family. When I would doze off during my travel home, any woman's voice I heard sounded like Norma Jean to me. I miss her already.

We grew up together and even though as adults we have had long decades apart, she's my soul mate. She and I share memories that nobody else who is still alive shares; even though I have my other sisters and my brother, they are all much younger and weren't around when we were little. It always amazes me, though, how different our memories can be of the same time in our lives. As an extrovert (me) and an introvert (her), we see the world through very different lenses. And I am more than two years older as well. Still, she complements me and I feel complete when I'm with her.

We are both active people and have been for many years. Decades ago, when I would visit her, we would go for a run together with her dog Freckles. She'd take me on her usual runs, and when we visited our parents, we'd go out for a run in the Texas countryside. As the years have passed, we have both been forced to give up running, but we still walk together whenever we're together. This past week we walked around her retirement community, but mostly we swam at her local YMCA early in the morning, as soon as the pool opened. Once we got ready to swim, we stood inside the locker room and waited for the lifeguard to open the door. There were usually a few other regulars there, too, waiting. All older women who swim for fitness.

I suffer from ear wax buildup and when I swim, I try everything I can to keep the water out of my ears, so I wear ear plugs and a bathing cap, and it takes me a little longer to get ready, but it still didn't work: I got water in my right ear on the second day of swimming, and suddenly sounds dimmed and no matter what I tried, I couldn't clear my ear. This happened last time I visited, too, and I intended to bring my arsenal of tricks from home, but I forgot. I called my doctor's office to make an appointment to get my ears cleaned out, but I didn't want to miss my Thursday hike, so it had to happen this past Friday. It did, but I was moderately successful in the shower using my Rhino ear washer to remove the wax well enough that I could hear out of that ear again. After my doctor's appointment where her assistant used the same exact tool, I was really astonished at how much better I could hear. In fact, loud sounds startled me until I got used to my restored hearing. What a relief!

Yesterday morning I joined my walking group at Lake Padden for two loops around the lake (5.25 miles) in the rain. What a hardy group we are: ten of us showed up in our rain gear and gamely set out in less-than-perfect weather. In this part of the country, you take what you get and keep on walking. I was pleased that my new rain jacket works well, and before we had finished the first loop, the rain had diminished to practically nothing and I was able to tie it around my waist.

One of the ladies who lives nearby invited us over after the walk for coffee and scones. She lives in a lovely home just a few minutes walk away, so we headed over there instead of a coffee shop for a visit. She has a "mud room" right inside her front door, so we removed our shoes and slipped on some warm furry slippers that she keeps right there. She raised her kids in this home and told us how much the lake figured into their lives throughout the years. It reminded me of my parents' home in Lake Worth, where my younger siblings grew up, right on the lake, and what a big part of their lives it was. I was already grown and gone but visited there and was a little envious. When I was growing up we moved often and never had a permanent home.

By the time I returned home yesterday, the rain had started up again, so I was happy that I had gotten my exercise in the period between storms. Our hiking group was all ready to hike in the rain on Thursday, but during the six hours we were out, we only experienced the fierce wind that preceded it. The rain came later and hasn't really stopped yet. I see that one of our local rivers has reached flood stage, but it appears to have crested and with the rain winding down for a couple of days at least, it shouldn't be much of a problem.

Along with the rest of the world, I was glued to the television set on Friday evening watching the horror that unfolded in Paris. It was so unbelievable and horrible that I couldn't take it in. It's only Sunday and I'm still in shock: 129 dead and 99 critically injured. Coordinated attacks that were obviously designed to do exactly that: shock and terrorize Paris and the rest of the world too. My eyes fill with tears and my heart constricts when I think of it. People from fifteen countries were killed, and most of them young people who were enjoying themselves on a warm November night. I am heartbroken, because I don't know how we will be able to do anything. Martin Luther King once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." How does one find anything to love in this nightmare?

I'm afraid that I will simply turn my head away and distract myself from it, because I don't know anything else to do. I know my country's actions are not blameless: drone strikes that kill innocent people, money and weapons sent to God knows where. I vote for those I think can make a difference, but I don't know what else I can do. I give money to organizations that promote peace, and I selfishly hope that I and my loved ones will escape the wrath of the perpetrators. And I try, really try, not to allow hatred and revenge to enter my heart. That's all I know how to do.

Monday I have my first interview to become an EOL (End of Life) facilitator. If they decide I am a good fit, I'll begin the serious training to be able to help others make their own EOL choices. I was so impressed with the help we received when making these decisions ourselves with the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement End of Life choices. Death comes to all of us, and now that my own documents have been notarized and filed with the hospital, and those who will make decisions for me if I am unable to do so myself have been identified, I'm relieved. Now I'm hoping I can do the same for others.

Well, this post didn't end up being very uplifting, but times are dark and uncertain right now, so I guess it's appropriate. I know that war and strife are part of life, and that I won't be seeing peace and harmony across the world during my lifetime, but I am hopeful that each of us individually can make a difference in our own lives. I cherish my blogging family, my physical family and friends, and I wish every one of us will enjoy some love and harmony this week. I wish you peace.


Linda Reeder said...

What a dark and dreary weekend it has been so far. As I look outside now I see that the rain has let up. Maybe we'll get a respite. I would like to get out for a walk without rain. We spent three hours standing in the rain yesterday at two kid's soccer matches, but no walking. My old Gore Tex jacket doesn't keep out the rain for long, and my boots are not meant for walking. I don't want to set out on an exercise walk in my plastic tent of a poncho.
The terrorist events in Paris are very disturbing, and because we can identify with their culture, it hits home for us. Unfortunately terrible mass killings occurred in Beirut and Syria this week too and we just shrug them off now. I listened to most of the Democratic Debate last night, and along with the recent Republican Debate, I see that no one really has THE answer as to what to do about the Middle East. I do see from Facebook comments that xenophobia will be running rampant again. There is great fear about allowing Syrian refugees into our country.
But maybe the sun will come out tomorrow, we'll turn our attention away from horror and go on with our lives and forget about it all, until the next event. And what else can or should we do?

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem with my left ear. When I answered the telephone, I heard muffled speech with my left ear and thought I was going deaf. I went to the doctor, thinking I needed a hearing aid. To my surprise, it was wax. So now, I always have my ears checked for wax every time I see the doctor.

amanda said...

I was out for dinner with Mitch and our new teenager Johnathan(today the twins turn 18, new "adult" children) .. when the news came up on the screens around us Friday night. So horrific and sad. All the more reason to be grateful for time with sisters, friends, walks in fresh air, coffee and scones, the harmony and peace in our daily lives.
Sending hugs to you, DJan.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Drones are safer than boots on the ground...but then it would be nice if we were not involved at all. The French and their way of life has been changing...soon no one will feel safe there, and that is sad. That said Gun Laws are very strict in France...so criminals and terrorists have guns and your normal little old lady gets fed up with the yearly paperwork for a permit to carry. It is hard to make sense of it all.

When refugee groups from Syria are all men should be be suspicious? The refugees concern me...some may be okay. I guess I am a cynic.

Glad you got relief from the water in your ear. I hope you have a very nice week!

Linda Myers said...

I was getting a manicure when I first heard about Paris. So blessed, I am, to have a frivolous activity on my schedule occasionally.

I'm not a hater, and I'm not afraid of very much. I wonder how hate and fear come to be lodged in the souls of humans. I feel such compassion for those whose lives are affected by either.

Every time I travel my belief is reinforced that we are all in this life together. For better or for worse. I continue to keep my eyes open for ways to inject love into the world around me.

Today, my thoughts are with the people of Paris.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you.
I try hard not to hate. I ache with and for those who have lost people in this latest round of atrocities. And wonder why Paris has received so much more publicity and sympathy than the latest round of bombing in Beirut. Lives were lost in both. Lives were changed in both. And the grief felt by those who have lost loved ones is the same...
I so hope that we find a solution. That we find peace.

The Broad said...

Your post is very moving DJan. First about your sister and that special closeness you have. I am also very fortunate to have a sister who is very close to me in age and we share the same kinds of memories as you and your sister. I, too, live very far away, but still we are still bound by that same history and unique understanding that comes when you have a very close sibling.

Having a house in France my husband and I feel especially sad and moved by the events in Paris. But it is important to remember how many parts of the world are torn apart by violence and hatred. There have been some attempts in the press to point the finger at the influx refugees but as someone posted on Facebook it is important to remember that these refugees are fleeing these same people who are responsible for the atrocities in Paris...

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

A beautiful and moving post about your friendship with your sister. It's still difficult to take in the horrifying events in Paris.

Rian said...

"How does one find anything to love in this nightmare?" DJan, since hate and fear are so tightly connected (and seem to be the goal of Terrorists), perhaps all we can do is *not let either overtake us*.

So glad you are home safe and had a wonderful visit. Am very interested in hearing more about the EOL facilitator. Plan to check out the site you highlighted.

Tabor said...

Your EOL will make a difference and that is as much as you can do for now. You will touch lives of those who live on and mourn the death of a love one and that is the most that you can do. I love your energetic healthy attitude and do wish I lived in your area for you to pound on the door and get me moving!!

Meryl Baer said...

You covered a lot of territory. When my sons, hub and I discuss an event from years ago, it is amazing the different memories. Four people, four stories that sometimes intersect minimally...It is sad to realize we will probably not be a country and a world at peace within our lifetime. As you suggest, we cannot save the world, but can make a different within our own worlds - home, family, community.

The Furry Gnome said...

Glad you got home safe and had a good week with your sister. Very sad about paris.

Red said...

The events in Paris worry all of us. These people are irrational and we don't understand what they do or why. You have the right idea to learn not to hate. There are many positives in the world but sometimes it's hard to see them. Have a great week.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I am glad you are back home safe and sound and had a fine visit with your sister. I am also glad that you wrote about your feelings last Friday evening and over the weekend about the Paris attacks. I am so with you about being torn up about this but not having any hope that I could do anything that would help the situation. I loved the quote by Martin Luther King. And I agree again ... how do we find love in any of that terrorism? I liked Red's comment above about there are many positives in the world but sometimes it's hard to see them. I guess I will just try harder to find and focus on the positives. Thank you for another fine post and have a great week ahead.

Barb said...

You had a busy, wet week! I'm wondering if you could just get up from that knee bend pose in the photo or if you had push with your hands to save the knees (I'm definitely a hand-pusher.) Have you tried Similasans Ear Wax Relief when you swim? Bob's ears sometimes clog and that helps him. He squirts it in, keeps it there briefly with a cotton ball, and then rinses in the shower. Happy Thanksgiving to you. I wish for peace, too.

Glenda Beall said...

Like you, I have a dear close friend in my sister, Gay. I am happy we now live close enough to see each other often. I will spend Thanksgiving with her.
I wish everyone would read Vagabond's blog about the Paris killings. It is touching and makes me think we can't turn out backs on refugees who are running from the terror they have to live every day. We have had more internal deaths from people living in America in the past few years than from anyone outside. She says it much better.
Glad you are home and that you had a great visit with your sister.