Imperfect Vessels

As I have aged, I have become more appreciative of the vessel that is my body.  As time and illness and injury have each taken its toll on my physical vessel, I have come to regard my body as an imperfect, wonderous miracle.   It is with kinder eyes that I see myself now: lumps, bumps, bulges.  I can feel how hard my heart works, scarred though it is, to supply enough oxygen rich blood to get me up a short set of stairs or across the street.   It is an effort.  I notice that.  I appreciate it.  I’m thankful for it.

Conversely, as a young woman, I led a busy and very physical life.  Working.  Raising children.  Engaging in my favorite spiritual  past times:  hiking, swimming, kayaking, walking.  The list goes on and on.  I enjoyed using my body and I demanded a lot of it.  In significant ways, I took my youth, my beauty and my health for granted.  I was far to busy to THINK about it.  When I was still, I was in nature, thinking about oneness and connection.  I felt a great kinship with the land, the sea and the sky.  That meant a lot to me.  But I did not fully appreciate the vessel that allowed me to BE.

I imagine that my son and my husband, both of whom have had to contend with severe physical challenges, have long been more aware of their vessels.  Imperfection, physical imperfection, was and is something that they have to confront in every instance that they live and breathe in this world.  I will venture to say that I bet they never take their bodies for granted.  But those of us with fully functional  bodies usually do.  Until we age or until something goes wrong.

Rumi says there are a hundred ways to kiss the ground.   My way is through clay.  I make clay vessels, one of a kind, unique.  Each is meant to be a meditation on the beauty inherent in imperfection.   Invite me into your story and let me make a vessel in honor of your beauty.

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Memorial Day Week end: First thing, Thank you to our vets

This week end I am especially thankful to our vets.  Our daughter, Emily, is dating a wonderful man, Joe, who will be going on his 8th tour of duty this fall.  He was in college during the time when 9/11 occurred.  Like so many brave young people, he enlisted within a couple of years of graduation.  He now serves as an Army Ranger.  We think the world of him.  I can’t imagine how his parents have endured these many deployments.  I pray that all of the troops come home soon and that we, as a country, stand by our vets and make sure they get all of the services they need.  

Yesterday I listened to Vice President Biden’s courageous words to our Gold Star Families.  He spoke from the heart to these families, first  recounting his despair after his wife and brother were killed in an automobile accident.  Vice President Biden was a young man, newly elected to the senate.  He had young children.  As you can imagine, he was devastated.  He told the families that he knew what it was like to want to commit suicide.  He acknowledged that some in the audience may struggle daily with such feelings.  He talked about the black hole of pain.  And he promised that if they were able to endure, that one day, when these families thought of their loved one, they would smile at a memory before the tears came.  And that would be a beginning.  Vice President Biden may well have saved some lives with this “straight talk.”  I am so proud of him.  The last thing these families need is platitudes.  They are in the trenches of grief and loss.  Vice President Biden essentially lit a lamp, held it high, and perhaps offered a path through the darkness for these families.  I will be praying hard for our vets and for the families of our vets this week end.  

Lighter matters:

Today I went to the Kennebunk plant and pie sale at the local hardware store.  I came home with some lemon basil and some chives.  I learned that the chive flowers (supposedly) can be used as an edible garnish to add taste and color.  I will be adding both the chive and the lemon basil to this week’s rice salad.  So, the base will be brown rice and lemon juice.  Add-ins are fresh herbs, red sweet peppers, aduki beans, scallions, corn, sweet peas, zest of lemon and orange.  I will put the rice dish on a bed of Arugula or I will sprinkle watercress on top.  Both of these greens are loaded with vitamins A and C.  Watercress has as much vitamin C as an apple.  In fact, it  has so many nutrients that it is known as nature’s multi-vitamin.  Check these greens out if you like the bitter greens of the early growing season.

Late night snack.  Oh, I have missed having milk and cereal before bed.  At last I have found low salt replacements.  Try Mom’s Best Sweetened Wheat-fuls.  An entire cup has only 10 mg sodium.  Wow!  And they taste great.  Really.  For a milk-like substitute, I am using Westsoy’s organic unsweetened soy milk that has only 30 mg sodium per cup.  It  isn’t quite as tasty as milk or other milk subs, but the salt content is far less.  Oh, both of these products pack a great protein punch.  5 and 9 grams, respectively.  I actually fell asleep before the sun rose this morning and I think this snack helped.  In addition, I tried some melatonin.  That seemed to help as well.  i’m hoping I can get my sleep cycle back in order.  I had forgotten how beautiful the morning is!!!  Ah, but I have already gone through a lot of my water supply for the day.  It is amazing how fast that 2 liters can go.

That’s all for now.  Gus is asleep on the couch.  Marc and his Dad are out having coffee.  Phyllis is relaxing and enjoying the day.  I hope you all have a great week end.

What a difference a day makes

Tomorrow night I increase my medication again.  This post goes out to my friends and family:  Please remind me that I will feel better as my body adapts.  If you get a call or a text or a post from me in the next few days, and I am having trouble, just remind me of this.

THANK YOU

xo

Rush Limbaugh and Me

If you want the scoop on trashy novels, I’m your girl.  I  have had to pretty much give up literary fiction in favor of escapist novels (and I use the word “novel” loosely) that don’t require much  in the way of thinking or feeling.  My son, Jordan, loves hearing this.  Years ago, he commented that all Marc and I did was “watch depressing movies, read depressing books and listen to depressing music.”  Turns out, he was right.  I’ll never live this down.

I have been rotating through genres and in the last month or so have been reading political thrillers and mysteries.  I had worked my way through the books my father-in-law had around the house, noticing as I did so that these books seemed invariably to be about  American agents pitted against Muslim extremist groups, basically terrorists, who could only be stopped through the use of torture.  I ran out of books a few days ago and asked Marc to pick up a new one for me.  He came home with American Assassin by Vince Flynn.    I read the first few pages, noting the usual plot lines.  I decided to check the copyright date, thinking perhaps all of these books were written right after 9/11 in an attempt to capitalize on a narrow definition of patriotism.  Nope.  Dated 2010.  At that point, I happened to see a quote by none other than Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, stating that the book was “fantastic” and “just fabulous,” respectively.  Hmmmm.  I’m now reading the same novels as these two.  And, since Beck and Limbaugh are the FIRST two people quoted in the accolades, it seems fair to say that other people reading this type of book value the opinion of these gentlemen.  Sigh.  Look how far I’ve come.  I need some help from my friends.  That’s how we get by, right?  Send me your reading suggestions…any genre.  Just so the overall take away isn’t, to quote Jordan again, “soul crushingly depressing.”

 

Heart and Soul

Welcome to my new world of learning to take care (and share) ways of keeping my heart and soul healthy.  I thank every reader for taking the time to read about my journey and, hopefully, to share some of yours.  Today I am celebrating the lovely flowers my husband sent to me for our tenth anniversary, which is tomorrow.  I’m hoping to share a picture of those flowers, just as soon as I figure out how:)  Also, here is a simple recipe for you.  I will be cooking this tonight.  Recipes will always be:

tasty, simple and extremely low salt.

This is to accommodate my tastebuds, my reduced energy level (due to dilated cardiomyopathy), and my salt retraction (500 mg/day).  Also, I am on fluid restriction (32 ounces/day) and that includes everything, even things like ice cream ( if it melts, it’s fluid), yogurt and even the water i use to swallow pills.  If you or anyone you know is on a similar diet, perhaps these recipes will help  Oh, and thanks to Anya for the great tip about freezing beverages.  I make my fluids “count.”  This means I freeze apricot juice, which is high in vitamin A and C, and pomegranate juice, which is high in iron.

Baked Salmon

4 ounces fresh salmon

1 t olive oil

1 T lemon juice

fresh basil, 3 leaves, chopped

Take a sheet of aluminum foil and bend edges up.  Put olive oil into foil.  Place salmon in olive oil, then turn salmon over so that both sides are coated.   Tear or chop basil leaves and set on basil.  Fold foil up and seal around the fish.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes or until cooked.  You can make as many packets as you need servings and there is no mess to clean up.

 

Happy eating, and I will talk to you tomorrow:)