Tag Archives: fear

Strength, Balance, A Rock

You live a healthy life and hope you are doing the best that you can. There’s always room for self-improvement, and you make a promise to get better with each day. You go to Western doctors, you practice Eastern medicine. You eat kale and consider going gluten-free. You meditate, swim, do yoga.

And then the call comes, the one from the nurse at the radiology lab telling you the mammogram was indeterminate, that your left breast needs to be rescreened. In that moment you are stirred awake as if you were asleep, your eyes are wide open.

fullsizeoutput_1bddI wonder about the medical assistant (or nurse) on the other end of the phone. Who they are, how they do it every day. How they process the information and manage to inform all those patients on the brink of uncertainty.

I try not to think about (aka Google search) what it may or may not mean to have an indeterminate screening. And instead, I call the health insurance hotline to confirm coverage benefits.

My internist leaves a voicemail reassuring me that initial screenings like this are common in women over 40. Breast nodules are not necessarily an indicator of cancer. She notes that the nodules could be fatty tissue or a cyst that requires drainage. It also could be nothing and that it was better for me to wait for results from the next screening before getting ahead of myself.

I take a deep breath, try to calm my mind. The fear of the unknown can be exhausting. I reschedule my afternoon so that I can take a nap.

Finn comes in from outside as if he knows that I need him nearby. We cuddle side by side and drift into our dreams.


unrequited undertow

swimming the action of propelling oneself in water by natural means using arms and legs, can also be used abstractly as both a negative representation of a sensation, where one is floating or reeling and a positive one where one proves to not go under and surmounts difficulties in their path. a lot of meaning for one word isn’t it?

swimming, i’ve been in and around water since I was a child. the ocean and its surroundings a part of almost every childhood memory. in each memory there is sun, sea, sand. the sun’s appearance dictating a Saturday beach outing where we would pile into the dusty green Datsun and drive east toward Rockaway. On longer weekends we headed west toward the Jersey shore. And during the weeks of summer vacation, my mom and I would travel by subway to Coney Island or by bus to where the end of Oriental Boulevard meets the sea.

Rocky shoreline of Orient Point, LI

It was the draw not only of the sun on the sea but the sun and the sand, and depending on what shoreline we found ourselves, each experience of the sand beneath my feet, defined by its texture, shape and size was like time traveling. From the bay shores of Coney Island to beginnings of the ocean near Riis. The eastern shores of Long Island where the granules near Montauk Point are slightly larger and mixed with ground seashells to the north shores of Orient Point dotted with shiny smooth stones that glimmer like black and silver diamonds on the horizon, to the white shores of the lido in Sicily where the best swimming holes to be found are nowhere near sand.

swimming, if one were to ask me I would undoubtedly claim to have been swimming since the very first moment my feet touched sand all those years ago. And that would be a half-truth.

At a young age, my Mom and Dad dutifully taught me how to swim in a seaside kind of way. They introduced the ebb and flow of the sea gradually, first building sandcastles and moats, then splashing in caches of water near the surf, slowly leading me closer and closer to the frothy water’s edge. With each visit to the beach we ventured a little further, and one day I learned to float, the next time the doggy paddle. I can still see their young faces full of pride, laughing. As I got older they flanked me on either side holding my hands, as we jumped over the crashing waves, eventually finding a spot where we cleared the sea floor enough to sail with the breaking waves body surfing along the surface. In this homegrown adventure I learned to swim.

And then one day years later on the beaches of Cancun, I unlearned how to swim.

It was a gorgeous day, my friend and I were staying at the Krystal Palace and after a day of touring the ruins made our way to the hotel’s private beach just steps away from the infinity pool. The sea was translucent and turquoise, the sky above us clear with rolling puffy clouds way, way off in the distance. The water refreshing and cool in the Mexican heat, there was no incentive to leave the water and so I lingered. Nearby a few other beachgoers were looking out onto the horizon, it seems they had spotted something unfamiliar. Upon looking over I saw it too, a cloud far off in the distance with what seemed to be a tornado like spout touching the ocean.

Example of water spout (c)http://myturksandcaicosblog.com

These funnel, or water spouts, as they are traditionally called, can induce storm like conditions and its advisable to not be in the water when first sighted as they can move swiftly. Completely unaware, I continued to tread water and swim, watching the water spout casually from my location, and was quite taken by surprise when the undertow shifted. Caught in a tumbling wave like a rag doll, I lost all sense of gravity, and emerged disoriented and shaken with sand burns on my skin, a torn bathing suit and a heap of sand in my hair.  I left that beach seemingly unscathed only to find myself weary of any undertow or swirling current. Since that day I rarely venture beyond my comfort zone, preferring my feet to touch the sea floor regardless of what beach I may be on from the frothy surf waters at Ditch Plains to the mild green seas of Antigua, Barbuda, Aruba and Puerto Rico.  This unrequited fear of the undertow has put a damper on any ocean side endeavors.

I finally decided enough was enough, a fear of the ocean is just not feasible for someone who loves the beach. There are so many things l want to do that involve the sea, like surfing and kayaking and even in my wildest fantasies I dream of selling off all my worldly possessions and buying my own private island.  I can’t do any of that if I’m too afraid to swim! And so I’ve enrolled myself in a crash splash course at the Y, a swimming boot camp if you will that  meets (1) hour a day, 4 days a week for a month straight. The instructors test you on your ability and place you in a group of students with similar swimming strengths. Then they teach you the basics starting with the swimmer’s form, or streamline position, and begin introducing you to each individual stroke, i.e., backstroke, freestyle, butterfly, et cetera.

Classes started last week, and I’m happy to say that I survived basic training. It takes some getting used to wearing a swim cap and goggles but it certainly makes for quicker, less invasive swimming. I would say the breath has been the hardest adjustment and a complete 180 after a dedicated yoga practice (in through the nose, out through the mouth); it’s no surprise really that I resorted to holding my nose all these years.  I can already feel the benefit in swimming as a form of exercise, and as one friend mentioned it’s the one sport where you use your entire body. My upper body feels more awake and open, and even though my muscles are sore from under usage, I’ve never felt healthier. I’ve also noticed a change in my diet where I crave protein-rich foods more than sugar/salt/starch.  And last but not least is the added benefit of sleep. After a full day at work, I swim vigorously for an hour, shower than relax in the sauna for a few minutes before heading home for a long uninterrupted slumber. A full night’s sleep is anyone’s dream.


here is now

she’s a longtime friend.
who’ll be there in a heartbeat,
once she gets the call.

your long-lost sister
full of advice and laughter:
who knows you so well.

once upon a face
when we met, before email:
voices on the phone

two lives connecting
old-fashioned, memories shared:
practical magic.

navigation: on,
the highway is still open.
despite the distance

you’re still thick as thieves.
you can’t imagine a time
when you may not be.

life, flash in the pan.
Hiroshima strikes, one word:
the world’s upside down.

shoulder wet with tears
she hides her own as you cry
and hugs you tighter.

what was it we said?
we will be invincible,
and forever young.


strong enough

this monotonous life:
i thought I would be the one
traveling the world.

one city a year,
in and out of love, never
living in the past.

these past twenty years
all spent in one place. I had
dreams of city lofts,

houses by the beach.
weddings, children, holding hands
skipping far away.

hopeful, open to
repotting my roots. And yet
they’re tangled right here.

i’m still young enough
to change my mind, pick up, leave…
if only i could

will myself to go
move onto the next chapter
before its too late,

what have I to show?
gone in the blink of an eye,
time waits for no one.

lingering self-doubt
swims in shallow pools of woe.
my heart is racing–

how have i stayed here?
it starts: the panic attack,
thoughts hazy, unclear.

why didn’t i take flight?
am i self-sabotaging
who i’m meant to be?

this dark blue mood
troubled tributary
hope it passes soon.


Tell me

What makes someone turn
their head in my direction?
Is it tangible:

the swing in my step,
the sun kissed tan of my legs,
or maybe, they caught

the shake of my head,
me laughing at a puppy:
that child within me.

I am all woman:
confident and insecure,
brave and yet frightened

Sexy innocent
bold mysterious, humble
with so much at stake,

how am I to know
what my future wisdom wants.
Soon it will call me

from an undefined
place, and I will contemplate
if I need to know

where my will takes me,
the decisions I will make,
if i will be here,

in the in between.
Will love find its way to me
before I grow old,

will I be alone
a lone, world traveler?
Should I, shouldn’t I.

My middle self thinks
’tis better to be surprised
than filled with regret.

buried underneath
my questions remain unknown
and so I go on.


repercussions

numb, stoic, empty
that’s how i feel. lost, confused
trying to make sense

of overwhelming
every day chaos times two.
foolish, i believed

caring for my mom
would prepare me for right now.
impossibly not.

back then dad and i
had to learn to be close, friends.
i didn’t count on that

dynamic changing
so drastically where it hurts
my heart so deeply.


the incentive is you

This weekend was a wash, I worked later than planned on Friday night. That over exhaustion plus the dread of the blizzard that wasn’t, left little incentive to wake up early on Saturday. Tigger was in agreement, as he let me be for hours until Dad’s shoveling scraped my eyes awake. All in all I felt as if I lost another day.

Work has been busy, with a capital B. For the most part I feel as if everyone (save a few but I’ll leave those observations to myself) is on the same wavelength. We’re in start-up mode, with leaner teams and mountains of work.  The day is like water, a real time suck. In the past, I don’t think I ever felt it before, but I had a slight epiphany and in that revelation realized to some degree I’ve lost days. Days. Not minutes or hours, full on days!

time for a change

Last week I started to break free and leave early for “fun” events–dinner with dad/friends, writing groups, getting home early to read–in those few hours alone I was able to detox just enough to re-embrace life. Realistically it shouldn’t be that hard to do (winter cold as an obstacle notwithstanding). I used to engage all the time and at one point I averaged 2 concerts a week! But like any new activity or habit one reintroduces into life, it takes dedication and personal commitment to be successful.

This morning I had a conversation with a guy friend of mine, a new friend just getting to know my idiosyncrasies and flaws.  He asked me how I was and in giving him the update I mentioned how I needed to balance my work life, how it would be ideal to have an incentive to leave the office on time. He laughed, nearly guffawing on the phone (and I’m pretty sure he cursed in that supposed cough). Then soon after taking a deep breath, he told me that my incentive had to be me, that the desire to live a better life should be enough to get me out of the four walls of the office, and back into the world.

I think in most cases it’s about being brave, brave enough to keep the promises you make to yourself. Challenging yourself to follow your gut to make the call that changes your life. It’s about flipping perception to try something new, and that first step is always the hardest.

Food for Thought

What do You Want to do in 2010?

100 Ways to Change Your Life

Embark on your Living Revolution

Sometimes, Change Happens at Home

Confidence is the Key