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, September 1, 2019

Slow but sure

Snail making its way to somewhere else
The other day we had a light, cleansing rain shower. It always brings out these little snails, who then show themselves on the sidewalk where people walk, right there in harm's way. I took this little guy off the concrete and placed him carefully on the dirt and watched as he inched back out to inspect his new surroundings. These tiny little creatures are much easier for me to enjoy than their close relations, the slugs. I've never thought of slugs as cute, but I think this fella is rather fetching. He also reminded me of a message about perseverance.
Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourself a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. —Helen Keller
If you want to be inspired, read Helen Keller's life story on Wikipedia here, or get a copy of her autobiography, The Story of My Life. Even though she was blind and deaf from the age of 19 months, she wrote 12 books during her lifetime and graduated from Radcliffe College as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After reading that Wikipedia entry, I went to my local library's website to put a hold on her autobiography. I look forward to the inspiration I know I will find in her book.

Being one of those people who always seems to have at least two books going at the same time, I'm finishing up one that I have been reading on my Kindle at night when I climb into bed, Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life. This book follows 824 subjects from their teens into old age. I will be sorry when I've finished, because it's been an interesting read, learning about what makes some people happy and productive during their lives, and others just plain miserable most of the time. One of the most important aspects of a happy life is beyond our control: being well loved when we are infants and young children. I was very lucky to have been so loved and so cherished.

I thought I was the center of the universe until my sister Norma Jean was born when I was two-and-a-half years old. I resented that little interloper, but then we ended up growing close and were inseparable as we made our way through our childhood. I have plenty of pictures of the two of us, and the memories I cherish of our time together, as we grew from young children to the septuagenarians we are today. We still talk twice monthly on FaceTime, which I think I need more than she does, but she tolerates me and is always available. She has been my guidepost throughout life.

There is a certain rivalry or competition between us, though, at least from my side. I always try to keep up with her activities and match them in my own way, and we both are avid readers and share with each other our latest finds. We don't enjoy the same books, however; it's been interesting to learn what each of us prefers. We both are fond of books about animals, but I love science fiction and she prefers mysteries. We are also both physically quite active.

Earlier this year, she had a routine colonoscopy, which was completely normal, no polyps, no nothing. Since I had been having some problems with constipation, I asked my doctor to schedule one for me, since I had not had one in a decade and a half. I fully expected nothing out of the ordinary; I remembered that the one I had in Colorado was normal, except I have a memory of the doctor telling me that I had some serious discomfort during it and that I was given a higher dose of sedative. When I had my own recent colonoscopy last week, I was surprised to find that I not only had polyps (all rather small, but still), but that I also have what is referred to as a "tortuous colon." Apparently this is rather rare, and one of my commenters asked if this means I can say I have "knots in my stomach." I smiled at that, because my research about this condition has taught me that it puts me at a higher risk for bowel obstruction and also suggests that it is probably the reason for my chronic constipation.

I had been a little depressed over it all, but until last night, I couldn't put my finger on the reason for it. It occurred to me that in my competition with my sister, I fully expected to be completely "pink and pretty" inside there, and I'm not. Once I receive the (hopefully good) pathology report from the doctor, I will breathe a sigh of relief, but I will still be a little sorry that my insides are not perfect. I keep forgetting to be grateful for all that is wonderful in my life and not holding on to what I have decided should be different.

And what do I have to be grateful for? Just innumerable wonders and delights. My knee, which has been giving me trouble, is getting better, albeit slowly. My friends are numerous and my dear partner with whom I share my life continues to give me lots of reasons for happiness. I guess one of my biggest problems these days is that I continue to push myself too hard, too fast, wanting to return to my usual activities before I'm actually ready to do so. And then being upset when I get injured again.

That cute little snail has a lesson for me: slow but sure is the ticket, not going into denial about what is really happening to me. I'm reminded that Denial is a river in Egypt (ha ha) and not a good coping strategy. Yes, I'm learning the lesson of patience, and perhaps that is a good thing for one who has never really learned it before. I've lived a good long time but have much to learn.

Well, one thing I've learned is that I truly enjoy my daily routine, and soon I will be able to return to it. My gym has been closed this last week and will open again after tomorrow's holiday, and my classes at the Y will also return to normal. I've missed them but my newfound yoga activities have taken up much of the slack.

Yes, I have successfully found more joy and happiness than I had before I began this post. That's one of the reasons I do this activity every Sunday morning. On top of all that, I've got other readers who tell me they look forward to my ruminations. Sometimes the magic works. With that, and one more swallow from my now-empty teacup, I'll begin the rest of my Sunday. I do so hope that you will find yourself in tune with your surroundings on this wonderful first day of September. Be well until we meet again next week, dear friends.


gigihawaii said...

It is good that you have a close friendship with your sister. It is also therapeutic to write about your feelings. Have a good week.

Arkansas Patti said...

I told you I have the same kinky colon but have been lucky to have kept everything moving along smoothly with fiber and my daily prune, an oatmeal cookie with lunch and supper. Works like magic.
You and your sister are like my brother and I. I spoiled his world but he has forgiven me and we are quite close these days.

Frank said...

I enjoyed reading about your relationship with you sister. I had a brother who was 2 yrs younger than I. I don't remember him being born. He was always there. We were like twins. I loved him so much. Then when we were nearly grown I realized that he was smarter than I. He was more liked and had more friends. He was clear minded and knew what he wanted and wanted to do. He never second guessed himself and I do. I found myself following him and learning from him. I think, and I hope he learned from me. Later in life I loved to visit him
except I always went home feeling jealous of him and how happy he was. And then he died of leukemia. He was he better man and he died. I so look forward to seeing him in heaven.

Glenda Beall said...

Like you, I love my little sister so much. I have never been jealous of her, but I hated it that she had dates on Saturday night when I often sat at home. I, too, need to take lessons from your snail. I push myself too hard. Now I will be going back to physical therapy. Time flies so quickly and I am afraid I will not get to do all I want to do in my life. Crazy, I guess. Have a great week.

Marie Smith said...

You have a great relationship with your sister. I have always wanted a sister but I would never part with the brother I have. He’s great too.

Elephant's Child said...

I most definitely look forward to your weekly ruminations. Honesty and often hard-learned wisdom never, ever go astray.
Enjoy your week to the max.
No sisters for me, but one of the reasons I enjoy the blogosphere so much is that I feel I have found 'sisters under the skin'. Present company included.

Gigi said...

I'm sorry your insides aren't as pretty and pink as you imagined - but I'm glad you had the colonoscopy to find and remove those polyps.

I envy your relationship with your sibling - I always wanted a sister but have a brother and we do not get along very well unfortunately.

It's always a great reminder to look for the things to be grateful. I, for one, am grateful to find your post every Sunday. Have a great week!

Red said...

Well, you know what they say, "No two people are the same." so just think of the differences in colons. Everybody is different inside. Now we can't see inside so you can have as pink a colon as you want! As for constipation that's another issue. Drink lots. then there are some cool thinks that work but are not harsh in any way.

Linda Reeder said...

It's now late afternoon on September 2nd as I finally get around to reading your Sunday morning post. Yesterday, Sunday, we had our Phosie-Gertie picnic, and today, after a slow start, kind of snail-like, there has been one little task after another to deal with.

I have two sisters. My older sister and I don't feel much competition, but my younger sister seems to feel it strongly with me. I wish she didn't. I also wish she wasn't a Trump supporter, though, too, and with these factors in the relationship, I have to work hard to keep it on an even keel. But we are family and we work it out.

The good thing about your colonoscopy results is that whatever the findings, you and your medical providers will be aware and on top of it. I am awaiting my next echo cardiogram in a few weeks to see if I am due for a valve job yet. It's on my mind as I find myself getting tired fast when walking up hill. Ageing does have it's consequences.

William Kendall said...

Wisely said.

It is good that you have a sister you can count on. I can't trust either of mine.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Well you will be all pink and pretty after they removed those polyps:) You get a fresh start!
I hope your reports all come back okay. Be good to yourself and take it easy a couple more days...like the snail:)

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I love that you will try to slow down a bit. Repair of cells needs rest. No need to worry about the colon. I believe that outcome will be fine. Do you use MSM and vitamin C? Both are great for our senior tissue and cellular strength. I hope your week goes well.
I have been a follower of Helen Keller for a very long time. Buddy helped me see that people with disabilities can achieve goals if given the right tools. My hubby helped set up independent living apartments for some deaf blind adults here in Toronto. It is a Cheshire Home as the concept came from the UK. We learned so much about the way these people are able to live with some assistance.

Rhapsody Phoenix said...

Its been a while since ive visited. I hope you are well and in good health.
Siblings ...really interesting.
I am the last of 3 and remember my brother resented me. It is a feeling that has never really gone away. I've just learned to accept as i cannot change that which i have no control over.

take care.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I'm one of the readers who so enjoys your philosophical musings. You leave me--always--considering my own life and all for which I am grateful. You know, I'm several years older than you, and I am a really slow learner. that is, I resist often what my body is trying to tell me about again. But slowly, slowly, I, too, am learning patience. More importantly, I am learning to love all that my body has been for me and what is it now. I've begun to cherish this aging body and want to grow in it. Peace.