Weird Hours

My hours are weird.  For the past 5 years I’ve fluctuated on and off with insomnia.  Recently, I’ve been crazily getting a second wind at about 9pm, and I cycle through till around 2:30 or 3:00am.  These second winds are fully loaded, as if I’ve buzzed myself out with coffee.  Sometimes I can stay awake till 5am, get about two and a half hours sleep, cycle through the day, and then I’m up till the next morning at 5am!  It’s nuts!

I remember when I was young, I had to have been about 10, I was told by a tiny little old man outside my local Thrifty (god I loved that Thrifty), that the older you get the less sleep you need.  He went on to tell me that it was “because just because, that’s what happens when you get old”.  Years later, my landlady told me the same thing (and don’t quote me, but I am sure of it that she’s still alive and frisky as can be, and she should already be about 95!)  For some reason this information stuck with me all these years.  Isn’t it weird when you recognize your 

So what does this all mean?  Are my hours weird because I’m old?  Are they weird because I’m stressed?  Maybe they’re just weird because I’m weird.  Whatever the case, I am so totally done with this nonsense.   I need this all to change somehow.  This is my dilemma.  

Although I’m pretty sure I’ve tried everything, including meditation (sore subject), there is one thing I haven’t tried.  Exercise!  Duh, right?  But it’s not that easy, and that is an entirely new blog deserving it’s own post.

Anyway, exercise probably is closer to the answer than just being swallowed up by sloth’ism, so I am willing myself to get back to running this Monday.  I know I’m gonna hurt for a minute, but the health benefits alone….well, it’s a no brainer.  Even if I still have weird hours, exercise will in fact help me in other ways, Right?  So it’s done then.  I’ve willed myself.  I’d better not let myself down.  So done with that too!

 

Is There a Bondage in Christianity?

I’m a Christian.  I believe there is a God and a Jesus.  I believe there were disciples, a burning bush, 10 commandments, an ark, people turned into stone, giants, talking snakes, blah blah blah, but I am really struggling with a subject that I find hard to approach some of my Christian friends about for fear they will think I’m falling off the Jesus wagon, which I’m not, but sometimes a not so open mind will see it that way.

The subject is “meditation” and by meditation I don’t mean meditating with “The Word” as so many of my Christian friends and pastors have guided me to do when I’m struggling.  No.  I mean plain old fashion buddhist style, om mantra’ing, sitting crossed legged on the floor and imagining the color of my chakra meditation.  Are you getting a pretty good visual of that description?  Now imagine the smell of incense and that visual will be complete.

I struggle with it because I have been told, repeatedly, that this is not of God and that it’s evil and wrong and oh boy I’m gonna go to hell if I even considered doing such a thing, but in all honesty and from the bottom of my heart, I just ain’t feeling the evil in it.

Now hear me out before condemning me to hell.  I should probably start by giving you a brief history of where I’m coming from and why I’m even seeking meditation.  You see, lately I have been so overwhelmingly stressed that I literally can feel my blood pressure rising to an unhealthy level.  My ears ring, then my head buzzes, then something sounds like it’s snapping (more like a boinging sound) in my head, and then I get confused.  Sometimes my speech slows down.  I’ve never really looked up the symptoms of high blood pressure, just the effects, so I could, for all I know, not even be experiencing a blood pressure thing.  Could just be an adrenaline rush.  Either way, it freaks me out and I know it can’t be healthy, so I’ve been trying to discover ways to de-stress, decompress, chillax.  Basically, I need to just mellow out, and aside from praying, which is wonderful don’t get me wrong, I’ve looked into other ways, other more worldy ways if you will, like yoga, changing my diet, drinking less coffee, drinking more vodka, picking my battles, I even listened to hours of Tony Robbins, but none of these things seem to be doing the trick, although Tony Robbins does suggest a sort of ritual where you repeat certain things, like changes you’d like to make in yourself, or things you are thankful for before you jump out of bed which, to me, I look at the same way I look at how some people do their “things I’m grateful for” countdown to the Thanksgiving holiday, usually done of facebook or another type of social media we use so everyone can see it.  I truly believe counting one’s blessings is healthy and healing.  It changes one’s perspective and can make a horrible moment less impactful because, I mean, who are we kidding?  It could always be worse, right?

Now, let’s go back to how Tony Robbins asks that we repeat things.  Repeat.  Hmm…..  This could sound a little bit like a sort of chant.  Have you ever, as a child, swore a monster was coming out of your closet to kill you and you’d repeat over and over again something like, “Monsters aren’t real!  Monsters aren’t real!”?  Wasn’t that, in a weird way, kind of comforting at the time?  Or how about when you have the flu? Have you ever moaned through the pain?  I have, and it always helps.  Always!  Sometimes I rock back and forth and moan at the same time.  Come to think of it, that got me through a stomach ache just yesterday.  Sounds strange to some, but I know I’m not alone on this, right?  Be honest.

Now, let’s go back to this post about meditation and how my brain works.  Thinking about the comfort of a moan led me to research the benefits of them.  Moaning takes my focus off of my pain. This could actually be healing.  Then I researched the various practices of self healing.  I’ve heard of people who swear their positive thoughts actually healed them of cancer.  The more I thought about that the more I believed in the power of self healing.  Researching self healing led me to meditation and mantras.  Also, there are these things called “Chakras” that are believed to be specific areas in our bodies that can be centers for healing or poisoning us physically and or mentally.  They are thought to be seven energy centers that serve as junction points between the body and consciousness.  Chakras fascinate me and I’m still researching them, but I hope to someday be very educated about them for personal use.

Now, even though I was raised to believe anything other than that meditation is pure evil, my curiosity got the better of me. Don’t get me wrong.  I did a LOT of soul searching and praying about it first but eventually I decided to just take the plunge.  I also reasoned that medicine was once thought to be the practice of magic, and I have friends who swear their oxycodones are pretty magical, but in all seriousness, we now know better and some of us know we’re alive and well because of it.  I think we all know better now because at some point in time more of us were willing to be open minded, and who’s to say this can’t be said for meditation as well?

In my research, I learned mantras are an ancient and sacred Hindu practice of Sanskrit recitations.  To my understanding, Sanskrit recitation is the act of repeating an audial sound, like the sound om or aum.   One can insert and repeat (or chant) a phrase, a prayer, or just a word as well.  It can be spoken or sung.  The sound of om is believed to actually mean God, so before and after a chant one says, “Om”.

Okay, here is where things can get uncomfortable for a Christian.  Some religions aren’t chanting to the same God I believe in.  Some beliefs have various gods.  Though there are, for the lack of a better word, pre-set mantras, this isn’t to say those mantras are the only ones to use.  I, for one, will not pray to another god.  If I did I would be buying myself a ticket to hell.  That’s biblical and I ain’t gonna test that, period.  However, why can’t I pray to my god in the form of a mantra?  Ah.  See where I’m going on this?

For example, I can om and direct that om to my god, then I can pray melodically in the form of a chant.  Wait a minute!  Don’t Roman Catholics do this?  Ever heard of Gregorian Chants?  Gregorian chanting is thought to be a form of worship.  I do believe the pope still uses this practice to this very day.  I sing worship songs at church.  So why can’t my melodic prayer chants be considered a form of worship?  I’ll tell you why.  Because most Christians I know don’t educate themselves past what they hear in a church service or what they read in the bible or, like myself, they just go with what they were taught to believe growing up without asking questions.

The bible is a guide that doesn’t include all historic practices of worship to God, if it did it would be huge and would take for-ev-er to read through, but more importantly, if it did we would all learn a thing or two about the various forms of worship.  To me, there is a gray area because of this.  I don’t like gray areas because they make me search for answers, and I don’t trust anyone to answer those questions because I don’t believe they know all the facts, because they’re human with room for error, thus my struggle.

Am I wrong to go deeper than just prayer and bible reading for self healing?  Even worse, am I wrong to believe that the ways some other religions worship could be beneficial to myself?  It feels very much to me like a form of bondage.  Why is it that I can openly admit to a fellow Christian to drinking a glass of wine for relaxation but not trust them to understand the benefit of Sanskrit recitations without condemning me to hell?  How can we evolve as Christians with such short sightedness and with such closed minds?

So, yesterday I decided to sit down and practice what I had learned about meditation while focusing on a specific Chakra.  This included listening to various types of instruments.  I discovered in my research that the note C is specific to healing the first Chakra, also known as the Root Chakra.  I specified this one because it relates to our most basic survival needs and our sense of belonging, whether to our family or a larger group. When this chakra is clear and energy flows through it freely, we feel secure and confident that we can easily fulfill our needs.  Fulfilling my need to seek self healing was my goal so I went with it.  Blockage in this area can cause us to feel anxious and worried, a perfect example of my everyday being.  Also, it’s believed to be located at the base of the spine.  I have a bad lower back.  Could this be a coincidence?

During meditation I concentrated on opening up my mind to a power of self, the power of peace, and the power of good health with God as my focus, but also with me as having the power to have the ability to be empowered.  I struggled through what my Christian friends would think of me if they knew what I was doing.  For the first few minutes I was overwhelmed with guilt, but each minute thereafter I became more and more calm.  Why worry about what anyone thinks of me?  God knows what I’m thinking and what I’m doing.  I believe that is all that matters in the end, unless one of my friends is going to be standing at the pearly gates to speak on my behalf when my time comes, and trust and believe I know a few pompous and judgmental Christians who act as if that is even remotely possible.

After meditating I felt like a million bucks.  I was so strangely calm my son even commented on it.  I was energized and in a great mood, and believe it or not, my back pain was almost nonexistent.  I truly believe all this was because I trusted meditation would help me and because I worked on opening up that chakra.

Later, I thought about all of the guilt I initially had going into my first serious meditation session and it really bothered me that I carried such a heavy load based on the ignorance of other people.  It felt very much like bondage and bondage is as bad as stress.  It holds us back from being able to see past the trees in the forest, and from seeing a light at the end of a tunnel.  It keeps us constrained to the past.  It imprisons us.  Who wants that for themselves?

I have much more learning to do with regard to meditation and chakras but as it stands I believe in the benefits of keeping my mind open and learning about these things.  I’m still a Christian, and being a Christian means using the brain God gave me to seek answers and gain wisdom.  I’d like to hear someone elses take on the matter.  Feel free to comment.

Tree Trimming

Love, so fickle and angry

So delicate a reflection of

The soul

Love, the mere act

To love with a fierceness

So unlike that of my emotions

Love, the necessary element

Missing from many

Yet with so many holding on

To give theirs to someone worthy

Love, if it will come to me

Will be kept warm

Will be kept safe and protected

From the monsters

That hide under the bed

The C Word (part 2)

Last month I had blogged about the discovery of a precancerous lesion in my breast. Because of my sudden lack of health insurance my doctor directed me to a place in Pasadena called Community Health Alliance of Pasadena (also known as CHAP), which is a free clinic that was created by members of the community who realized there were a lot of adults and children who found themselves suddenly uninsured and weren’t getting adequate health care/services for their illness, pregnancy, dental problems, etc., because there weren’t enough facilities that offered said services. I would recommend it to anyone who is lacking health insurance as it’s serving its purpose and doing it well.

The registration process to receive care from CHAP required me to bring in a picture ID, proof of address and, in my case, medical records and my pathology and ultrasound report. I needed to fill out some paperwork and after they looked everything over they accepted me into the program. The benefit of having somewhere to go if I need antibiotics, have a toothache, or if I just don’t feel good far outweigh my initial reaction to turn up my nose to a free clinic. Honestly, I am grateful to have somewhere to go, but knowing I have something more serious than a cold and I am putting my life in the hands of physician assistants makes me a little nervous as well as my experience of free clinics have left little to be desired, have been mostly over crowded, dirty, and the wait to be seen can reach 3 hours, so when I walked into CHAP and noticed none of those things, and I got efficient and extremely awesome care from everyone I made contact with, I was beyond relieved. I like to think God has his hands in every aspect of my life, including reminding me that a closed mind is not a good thing to have. In this instance He did just that as well as reestablishing my faith in the human race. Hey, I’m a Christian, not God, and I have many MANY issues that need to be dealt with.

Getting back to the issue at hand, I was accepted and I saw a physician’s assistant who listened patiently while I told her about my diagnoses. She looked over the records I provided and, without batting an eye, she told me she was going to help me get my surgery. Her only concern was the location that would be providing the surgery, which happens to be County USC Medical Center Hospital, a place riddled with mess-ups, malpractice, and unexplained deaths. Now, it was not me giving her the look of well deserved fear when she mentioned the location, it was her giving me an apologetic look, along with her apologies. It’s the only place she can send me, she says, unless another place she knows of takes heart of my situation and offers to help me with a better known facility. Right now I wait word from the other place, which reminds me I need to call her as she wanted me to do a 2 week followup appointment and it’s now going on 3 weeks. Argh, my brain!

So that is where everything sits at the moment. I have faith it will all work out, and I will continue to keep y’all informed as I go through this journey. Thanks for reading.

The C word

Just over a month ago I noticed a lump in my right breast that hurt to touch, some mornings the pain would wake me from my sleep. I decided to see my doctor about it and she directed me to the Hill Breast Center in Pasadena for a mammogram. I had to call in advance to schedule an appointment and while I was doing that the scheduler noticed my doctor’s order was only for a unilateral exam. This was true since my lump is in only one breast, but the scheduler pointed out that since I had missed my regular annual exam she was changing the order to a bilateral exam, lucky for me as y’all will soon find out.

Mammogram day I took my boyfriend with me. He wanted to be there because he was concerned but I think I took him more for emotional support than anything. It was routine pretty much. They did the mammogram and, because I had an obvious lump, they did an ultrasound. I’ve had lumps that needed ultrasounds before but because this one hurt I was concerned. Checking my right breast they found that the lump there was just a fibroid and nothing to worry about. They called it Fibrocystic Breast Condition, which is common in women my age and thankfully they’re almost always benign. That was great news and I was relieved. I asked to see it (I’m weird like that) and the technician humored me. Yes it was what I’ve seen before. It looked like another one I had the year before so I was breathing a sigh of relief, but then they told me they needed to ultrasound my left breast as well. I didn’t have any issues with my left breast so I questioned the necessity of the ultrasound and that was when the technician told me about my mammogram. She said they found a couple of small lesions in that breast and they concerned the doctor so they wanted a better look. Great.

The ultrasound on my left breast seemed to take forever. I’d say it was somewhere around 30 or 40 minutes, whereas the right breast ultrasound only took 7-8 minutes. Saying I was getting nervous is an understatement. I asked to see this one since it was starting to freak me out and this time the technician wasn’t as quick to humor me. She was completely focused on one particular area and my request seemed to fall on deaf ears. Finally she finished and told me she was going to show the doctor my ultrasound and she’d be back in a few minutes. Five minutes went by, then eight, then ten. I counted the tiles on the ceiling, got off the table and sat on the chair. I was getting pretty restless when the door popped open and the doctor came in. She walked right up to me and grabbed both my hands. Oh crap, I thought to myself. Something isn’t right.

The doctor looked me in the eyes and told me that there were some lesions they checked out that looked questionable and they wanted a biopsy on one in particular. Biopsy. I don’t like that word. I liked it even worse because of the way things were going down in that there room. I’ve never seen the doctor after having an ultrasound. All my cysts have been benign and they’re so obvious most of the time the doctor doesn’t even bat an eye, but this time having her there, holding my hands. Well, it scared me. That’s the truth.

The doctor asked me if I wanted to do the biopsy right then and there or if I wanted to wait for the next day. Heck, I was already half dressed and there. I told her let’s do it now and get it over with. She was happy I made that decision and made a mad dash out to grab her torture tools. Meanwhile the technician offered me some water. I think she could tell my mouth was dry. I’m sure she’s seen her share of these moments and she was just the perfect woman for this job as she was extremely gentle and caring.

The doc came in with her tools. She showed me two needles. One for a numbing shot and the other, the big ginormous needle, was my biopsy needle. It was huge and intimidating so I tried to ignore it. They did the biopsy while using the ultrasound machine so the doctor could see where she was going, this was when I finally got to see. In all of my years of having cysts and ultrasounds I’ve never seen one that looked like this. It reminded me of a crater on the moon but it was a protrusion and not a hole, and it wasn’t very “nice” looking. It was kinda scary looking to be perfectly honest.

She took 5 samples of it to biopsy and when she was done she injected a little thing she called a flag (it was more like a tiny chip) next to the cyst for “future” studies of this damn thing. I was sent for another mammogram, which by this time I was so hungry I asked if I really needed to be there for the results of that one. They told me they’d either call me the next day or I could call them after 3 for the results and I was told I could leave and leave I did. What an emotional and crappy day that was.

The next day I didn’t hear anything so I called them myself. I got the results, the tissue they took was benign but the cyst they discovered was pre-cancerous, known to turn into cancer and I need it yanked out. I asked if I could keep it in and the doc told me no, it needs to come out, plain and simple.

Three days before my scheduled appointment to see the surgeon I received my court signed documents telling me I was officially divorced. My insurance was cool up to that point. After the divorce was official my insurance went out the window. Trying to not freak out, since I now have this growth that needs to be removed and I will no longer be able to rely on my insurance to cover the cost, I looked into Cobra. I’ll receive some information for that in the mail any day now…unfortunately I won’t be able to afford it. My trust in God is being tested.

My regular doctor called to see what was going on with my surgery and I let her know my insurance information. Her assistant referred me to a place in Pasadena called The CHAP clinic, she also forwarded my plight to an on-sight social worker who, just today, emailed me some numbers to call for some sort of assistance. That everyone is scrambling to help me get this taken out has made me realize the seriousness of this, but what got me the most was what the social worker said in his voice message to me. “I’m going to email you some information for financial assistance for your cancer treatment”. Okay, he used the C word. Was it a fluke? Does he know something I don’t?

For what it’s worth, the stress level this is giving me isn’t helping me at all. I have friends who have cancer, have had cancer, have had cancer scares. My most valuable resource are those who are currently fighting it off. Their grace throughout all of it makes them my heroes. I may be looking fate right in the eyeballs, or I may not be. It’s a matter of time before I know exactly what I’m dealing with. Until then all I can do is trust that my God’s got this. And to be clear, if it’s cancer that takes my life it’s not because God didn’t answer my prayers, it will just be that cancer was my destiny.

Randy has been my rock through all of this. He’s positive and he’s willing to do whatever he can to see me through it regardless what it turns out to be. I love that he cares so much and I am beyond blessed to have him in my life.

I will be making a few calls this week to see what my options are as far as getting this yuck taken out and I’m going to try to maintain an ongoing blog about it, the steps I’ll be taking for assistance, the people put into place that will help me along the way, my surgery, the followups and the final diagnosis once the entire thing has been biopsied. This will be for anyone who may find themselves put in a similar situation. Perhaps it can help them. Knowing your options is always a good thing, right?

Now I find myself thinking of the doughnut I want to inhale and the nap I want to take with my honey. Thanks for reading my blog and may the rest of your weekend be as awesome as life itself.

The Constant Let Down

Monday evening I came home from the beach with Randy to find my mother on the porch-steps of our neighbor (not a very friendly fellow) asking for his assistance calling someone. Evidently, she was freaking out because I wasn’t home (I’d been away for over 24 hours), and even though my son told her where I was and that I was fine my mom still freaked because that’s what she is…..a freak. At this age I can understand her having a bit of forgetfulness and anxiety, but when it’s on a constant basis (daily) it starts to become a bit much for me. It’s frustrating to say the least. But this is not what the discussion of today is. Today I wanted to talk about our spoken words to our children and how they can hurt.

I managed to wait patiently for her to come back into my apartment and approached her about what exactly it was she was trying to do with my neighbor when she got close to me, made a scratching motion towards my face and said, “What is that? Let me scratch that off. You’re too dark. It doesn’t look good.”

Normally this would not have an impact on most 45 year old daughters of mothers who are becoming senile by the day, however this isn’t the first opportunity she’s had to throw insults my way about my coloring (mind you I’m almost the same hue as she with a bit more emphasis on the dark side because of my maternal great-grandmother’s Yaqui bloodline when I tan), no, in fact she’s made comments about my skin color for as long as I can remember, but never has she sneered like she did Monday, with her nails imitating a scratching motion towards my face, and never before did her comments feel as if they ripped my soul to shreds and made me feel so damn ugly.

I told her that this is who I am, I am dark, not light. I think I rose my voice a bit, and I know it was shaking as I was hurt to my core. It still hurts 3 days later, shoot. I looked at Randy and I’m sure I looked hurt or he just reads me well, and he walked up to me, told me he thinks I’m beautiful and gave me a hug. That was very nice and it almost did what it was supposed to do, help me get over the hurt, but damn if I couldn’t shake my mom’s hurtful insult and I went to the bathroom and cried. This got me thinking…

I wondered how often and to what extent, if any, of damage I have ever done to any of my children with my words. My idea of a parent is that they’re supposed to hold up their children’s confidence with kind and positive words, pointing out the good in them, keeping them feeling safe and unified in the family. Insults should be kept at a non-existent level, in other words, they should just not be said, and if there are issues or conflicts these should be dealt with in an open and honest dialog. Of course, this is my opinion and my children and my relationship hasn’t been perfect, but I know I’d never make reference to any of their skin tone (something they can’t change unless they’re Michael Jackson haha) unless I was pointing out how porcelain-like and perfect it is. Why my mother feels the need to constantly badger me about my skin tone is beyond me. Why she can’t get it through her head that her insults have done a ton of damage to my ego since I was a child is beyond me. Do I need to be tougher? Yes, unfortunately. Why I need to be tough in order to handle my own mother’s insults is wrong and should never be necessary but it is. What a crock of crap to have to deal with.

Now I’m off to cut the mean woman’s toenails because I’m a loving stupid daughter. I hope all who read this, all you parents out there, stop and think about the words you’re tossing at your children and remember that they have feelings and mean words hurt.

Rotting

A few months ago (6 months to be exact), as I walked into the kitchen, I discovered I had some fruit flies hovering like miniature vultures around my fruit bowl. Apparently my fruit was going bad, and it was an ample amount too. Discovering rotting fruit really really irritates me. I tend to buy a lot of fruit and vegetables. Sometimes I buy too much. I do this without even knowing it. I’ve thrown out more rotten fruit and veggies in the past year than I can count. Seriously, I think I have a problem. Perhaps I need rehab.

Nevertheless, as I was throwing some of the fruit in the trash, I discovered a banana that was mushy but not quite “bad”. I mean, there wasn’t mold growing out of it or anything. Yeah, there were little fruit gnats flying around it, but it still maintained it’s normal color, so I offered it to my son. He wanted no part of it and asked if I was trying to poison him. Remind me again why we have children if it’s not to ultimately end our lives in a mental hospital.

I told him I wasn’t trying to poison him and I explained that it wasn’t rotten, no no, it was just very very ripe, and good for him, after all humans need a good supply of potassium in their bodies on a daily basis, and the best banana is a brown banana….why doesn’t he know this already? He told me if it was that good for a body then perhaps I should eat it myself. “I, um…well I don’t want to eat it because it’s too mushy for my liking”, I told him. He countered with the same reason for not wanting it himself. Ugh. Then a really cool idea entered my head. Normally when I have a really cool idea it involves cooking or baking, and that’s exactly where I was going with this idea. Frozen banana-strawberry slushies was what I was thinking, so I threw it into the freezer. Frozen banana-strawberry slushies sounds good, right? Not only did it sound good but I was able to save a piece of fruit from the trash, I was being frugal, a good trait so I hear. Well…

I’m sure it would have been delicious within a reasonable amount of time, but three months later (last week) I found it in my freezer as hard as a rock. The skin looked as if it was crystallized. There was no way we could use that thing so I threw it in the trash and realized I had not saved it after all. It ended up in the exact place I tried in vain to keep it from. There’s a learning lesson somewhere in all of this and I think I know what it is. I will never freeze a banana.

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