genius web support

I love to write. I’m frequently seen scribbling in my journal, or typing away on my laptop with a big smile on my face. I don’t even realize I’m grinning. That creative space is one of my happy places.

My competency at web page management, however, would generously be described as “developing”. You’re seeing my new website only because I know my limitations, and when to go to the expert.

This is Darya Slobodyanik, super-genius. If you look carefully, you can see that she’s smiling. Yes, she’s actually smiling, migrating my old Blogger posts to this new website.  blog Darya web genius She created my first ever website, a few years ago. She’s the lady to whom I turned when it was time to move.

It will take me about a week to organize the posts from my previous site and publish them all here. There are pieces on shoulder surgery, mindfulness, travel, life on both coasts, and even thriving in DC beltway traffic. Meanwhile, thank you, Darya, for giving me the freedom to simply write!

Practical Tips For Women’s Shoulder Surgery

Woman to Woman ~ Part 2.

(Disclaimer: I am SO not a doctor! Check with your own M.D. for any questions.)

I first posted on this topic in 2012. Here I go again. This time, the right shoulder. So, in part for you, and in part for me, I am revisiting practical shoulder surgery preparations for women. Many of the things I learned also apply to men, but not all. Although some of my guy friends would look cute in the camisoles.

I learned a few things from my previous shoulder surgery. Planning helps! What purchases and preparations can you make ahead of time in order to be ready? Here’s a photograph of a few things that I found helpful.

The sling can feel rough after a few days. I lined mine with a silk scarf. SO much better!

Childproof bottles were impossible. That is not a good thing if your tylenol or prescription painkiller is trapped inside. Keeping them safe from children, store any important medicines where you can retrieve them easily, and actually get to the medicine. I used small open containers on a shelf I could reach with my uninjured arm.
sling linersling foamthe right lid

 

 

 

Hibiclens body wash was recommended for use at home right before surgery. Scrubbing well with this, said my doctor, would help prevent infection.

My sling was made with velcro straps for adjustments. Do you know all the things you can stick to a sling with VELCRO? My cell phone was on the strap near my mouth. All I needed was a velcro cup holder.

Facts:

  • I cannot make a ponytail with one hand. (I would have cut off my hair with one hand and garden shears if not for butterfly clips).
  • You can’t take a shower right after shoulder surgery.
  • I can sleep very comfortably in a recliner.
  • A bag of frozen peas inside a lightweight plastic bag makes a great ice pack.
  • Painkillers cause constipation in some people.
  • You can attach adhesive velcro tape to almost anything.

I invested in pump bottles of shampoo, body wash, moisturizer, sunscreen, and anything else I use. You can’t take the lid off bottles with one hand! At the time of my first surgery, I was using an old-fashioned ice cube tray for ice. Ever try getting ice out of these with one hand? Thinking ahead about this sort of thing will make your life easier.

Which takes us to bras. It is impossible to hook a bra behind your back for quite a while after shoulder surgery. If you want a bra for support or coverage while you still have dressings on your shoulder, cami tops with a shelf bra can be pulled up and the strap worn over just the other side. Shelf bra cami tops were a life-saver for me. I bought a couple of front-closing T-back  bras for the later weeks, when I could get my arm through a bra again (surgery side first!) but a strap over the shoulder or reaching around my back to hook them was still uncomfortable. 
shoulder supplies (2)
camis

Humor made everything easier! My friends are hilarious. When they aren’t around, there are very silly YouTube videos of goats.

Shoiulder cards

DON’T TRY ONLINE BANKING WHILE ON PAINKILLERS. Just trust me on this.

For an independent woman like me, asking for help was a big step, and I learned to do it with grace and gratitude. (See ice cube tray comment, above) Planning limited what I needed help with. So, I just:

  • bought a pack of butterly clips
  • installed a hand-held shower head
  • bought Hibiclens
  • bought a pack of velcro strips
  • bought dry shampoo
  • bought a bag of frozen peas
  • made and froze Mom’s bran muffins
  • paid all my bills.
  • Let my friends know what’s happening.

IMG_1337 This helped me to settle back, rent the movies I wanted to see, read great books, and practice mindfulness, just accepting the gift of enforced time to just be. I followed doctor’s orders, and healed well. When things were difficult, I went to my “Happy Place.” And this time, just before my surgery, that is where I am headed for a few days, to carry that peace with me into and back from surgery. I downloaded movies that don’t require much attention for the first days, and new books. I am actually looking forward to this part of the process. I hope this is helpful to you. If you are reading this for your own surgery, best wishes, and good luck!

sunset

When You’re Told To Forgive

A childhood friend of mine is struggling. He was wounded, and is recovering physically and emotionally. Someone told him he needs to forgive. She said to my friend, “Holding anger and grudges only destroys your own peace and God forgives us as we forgive others.” 

My friend told us, “I’m trying.”

Dear Friend, you are so beautifully gracious for trying.

Forgiveness is an act of extending compassion to another. We are told to forgive others, but the speaker forgets to stop and reflect on exactly how to do that. They’re skipping an important step. How can we extend Godly grace to another if we haven’t learned how to do that for ourselves?

We humans often need to practice self-compassion first. That self-compassion, patiently, lovingly given to ourselves, remembering that we are beautifully and perfectly loved, can often eventually expand to a level that can be extended to another.

So sorry you, and any of us, have to experience the things that require such hard lessons.

With loving kindness <3

Winter Sonnet

Crystal Chandeliers

imageimage

My maples woke as crystal chandeliers,

Dangling diamonds delicately hung,

Suspended pendants strung along glazed arms,

Winter’s prismic greeting to the dawn.

Bright sapphire jay and chickadees appeared,

Accompanied by ruby cardinal’s song,

Symmetrically arranged for morning’s rays,

Pendalogue jewels perched before the sun.

Maple’s teardrops glisten as they fall,

Leaving watery trails where they’d begun,

Nostalgic for the chandelier’s clear glow

Now feeding Spring beneath dear Winter’s snow.

image

Mountain Girl’s Lessons Learned ~ Winter Driving Tips

You can take the girl out of the mountains, kicking and screaming, but you can’t take the mountains out of the girl.

I learned to drive in Pennsylvania’s mild Pocono Mountains, where I called 911 to report the state snowplow I’d just passed stuck in a blizzard. I moved to Vermont, where I studied in college,when I wasn’t skiing or having other mountain fun. Finals were a breeze compared to learning to drive a stick shift in Burlington, VT. I moved to Colorado, at 8,000′, completed my Master’s, and, depending on I-70 traffic, drove west to the Continental Divide for alpine, or south for Nordic (cross-country) skiing. I checked on the driver of a snowplow who flipped, yes, flipped, his snowplow in Conifer, CO. Really.

We stopped to help a driver whose precariously balancing car teetered on the guard rail of Berthoud Pass. I’ve avoided rockslides and avalanches near Georgetown, CO, and made a dorky (according to Hunk) survival kit for my car. I drove Oh My God Road (which SO lives up to its name) in the snow. When Hunk had to head through a snowstorm to Aspen for business, he asked me to make a survival kit for him. Haha.

Most recently, I lived in Northern California, hiking, skiing, and snowboarding the Sierra Nevada. I crossed the country by car, in all kinds of weather, over the Sierra and Rockies, six times in the past two years, once in my convertible in a blizzard (car top closed). I’ve made a few observations about driving in ice and snow. Even though I am currently writing from just north of DC, I hope you find these tips credible, and helpful!

  1. 4WD helps you go, but it does not help you STOP.
  2. Cleaning your windshield of snow is just the beginning. I clear my headlights of snow, and turn them on in bad weather. I also appreciate when other drivers clean the snow from their cars’ roofs, and side and rear windows, so they can see me and not splat my windshield with snow. Seeing is good when you drive.
  3. Road spray uses up your windshield wiper fluid. Keep some in the car for winter travel. That same dirty film covers your headlights, but worse, since they’re closer to the road. I clean them, too. Otherwise, I’m left thinking my alternator is failing because my lights are so dim.
  4. Same rules apply for driving as skiing and boarding. Plan ahead for icy spots. Slow before you hit them. Don’t try sudden turns mid-ice.
  5. Underpasses, bridges and even culverts allow colder air to circulate under that part of the road, enabling black ice to form on roads. Anticipate that possibility when the temperature gets near freezing, even if it’s just raining.
  6. Where gravel is used for ice and snow, remember that it adds its own degree of marbles-on-the-road when trying to stop.
  7. I never assume that the other driver can stop, even if I have the right of way. In bad weather, I always assume the car traveling downhill has the right-of-way at intersections. Likewise for people traveling fast in 4WD vehicles. See #1.
  8. That dorky homemade Girl Scout survival kit in my car? A flashlight, mylar blanket, pocket poncho, waterproof matches or a lighter, tissues, canned camp candle, some hard candies, protein bars, XL plastic trash bag (can double as rain poncho), a couple of small ziplocs that can be used for water or anything else. The small items I store in a metal cup, which I could heat over flame. I always have some water with me, regardless of weather. In winter I add a shovel, scraper and sleeping bag. In a pinch, your credit card or similar card can double as an ice-scraper for your windshield.
  9. If you do get stuck in deep snow, #8 comes in handy, but also remember that your tailpipe exhausts carbon dioxide when the engine is running. Balance staying warm with being safe – you may need to clear the tailpipe area, but try not to get wet – more danger of hypothermia when wet.
  10. And one more on being safe: if you need to pull off the road, please remember that other drivers in snow and ice may skid or simply not see you. Standing outside your car on an icy roadside? Nope.

More next time. Until then, have fun in the snow, and be safe out there!

From Metacognition to Mindfulness

Early in my teacher training we focused on metacognition: helping students acquire knowledge about their own cognitive processes. When students understood how they perceived and processed information, they could use this understanding to help themselves best learn.

I think of mindfulness as metacorpulcognition: understanding how our bodies and minds interact. I notice how this interaction affects the way I perceive and process information. Neuroplasticity, or flexibility of the brain, allows us to reshape the physical structures involved in this interaction. I am amazed at our brains’ ability to form new neural connections, particularly the positive changes that can result from mindfulness practice. I like taking caring of my brain, along with the rest of my body, mind, and spirit.

If you want to read more about this, you can check out my page on the science supporting mindfulness.

In the meantime, just breathe deeply. Pay attention, on purpose, to what you are experiencing right now. You are taking care of yourself, which is good for you on a deep level, and for those around you. Just pay attention to what you’re experiencing right now. And right now.

And right now.

 

Weather-related writer’s block

Washington’s weather slunk in today with freezing drizzle. The kind that requires chipping away at the iced-over car door just to get into the ice box.

For good or bad, when we stop and pay attention, we might notice that the weather affects our writing. Our thinking. Our motivation. My poet friend lamented; it’so awful out that she can’t compose.

Instead of kicking ourselves, another option is no blame. Just loving observation. Does the weather affect your internal go-meter? Does anything else?

When I have a cold, my sinuses swell into my brain and steal my IQ. I make tea. I walk around dragging the tail of my electric blanket’s extension cord tethering me to the wall. I wrap Julie’s lovingly knitted scarf around  my sore throat  like a hug. I invent new comfort foods. Then I write the recipe. I tell myself: I wrote.

What do you do, mindful writers?

WORDS

trapped crystalline in
my frozen mind
burrow under blankets
like my doughnut doggy transforming
air to lead if anyone tries to
drag her out
from under
quilted covers.

Sleep, baby.

It’s okay to curl up
snug and warm.

The squirrels will still be there tomorrow.

Weather-related Writer’s Block

Washington’s weather slunk in today with freezing drizzle. The kind that requires chipping away at the iced-over car door just to get into the driver’s seat.

For good or bad, when I stop and pay attention, I notice how the weather affects my writing. My thinking. My motivation. My poet friend laments: it’so awful out that she can’t compose.

Instead of kicking ourselves, another option is no blame. Just loving observation. Does the weather affect your internal go-meter? Does anything else?

When I have a cold, my sinuses swell into my brain and press against my IQ. I have to make tea. I walk around dragging the tail of my electric blanket’s extension cord. It tethers me to the wall. I wrap Julie’s lovingly knitted scarf around my sore throat like a hug. I invent new comfort foods. Then I write its recipe. I tell myself: I wrote.

What do you do, mindful writers?

WORDS…

…trapped crystalline in
my frozen mind
burrow under blankets
like my ammonite doggy transforming
air to lead if anyone tries to
drag her out
from under
quilted covers.

Sleep, baby.

It’s okay to curl up
snug and warm.

The squirrels will still be there tomorrow

Three weeks to NaNoWriMo 2013!

When Chris Baty and twenty-one San Francisco Bay area friends held the first National Novel Writing Month in 1999, I was preparing materials for a year teaching kindergarten in Colorado. Curriculum-writing, not fiction, was on my mind. 

But mountain lions, hiking, wild fires, white buffalo, and avalanche survival were part of my life in the Rockies. Someday, Fiction-writing, I would face you, armed with material. 

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, has been held every year since 1999. And for the last two years, I have written.

I’d love to say that I finished writing last year’s novel, sent it out, and instantly was rewarded with a contract. But I’d be lying. 

The truth is I did something equally important. Last year’s NaNoWriMo helped me break a bad habit. I once heard that the average number of revisions on a first paragraph is twenty-five. So I was about average, with twenty-five revisions of my opening paragraph. Except I had gotten into the habit of revising my first paragraph twenty-five times BEFORE writing my second paragraph. Which leaves a lot of second paragraphs never written. 

I had to replace my bad habit with a good habit.

NaNoWriMo helped me rediscover fluency – writing without stopping for correction edits and better idea revisions. NaNoWriMo helped me to WRITE; to get a wealth of material on actual pages. And some of it was really good material. It worked with Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (interview).

This year’s goal: Fifty-thousand words in thirty days. THEN revision. Then submissions. Then a contract. 

Three Weeks to NaNoWriMo 2013!

When Chris Baty and twenty-one San Francisco Bay area friends held the first National Novel Writing Month in 1999, I was preparing materials for a year teaching kindergarten in Colorado. Curriculum-writing, not fiction, was on my mind. But mountain lions, hiking, wild fires, white buffalo, and avalanche survival were part of my life in the Rockies. Someday, Fiction-writing, I would face you, armed with material.

St. Mary's glacier

St. Mary’s Glacier, CO

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, has been held every year since 1999. And for the last two years, I have written. I’d love to say that I finished writing last year’s novel, sent it out, and was instantly rewarded with a contract. But I’d be lying. The truth is I did something equally important.

Last year’s NaNoWriMo helped me break a bad habit. I once heard that the average number of revisions on a first paragraph is twenty-five. So I was about average, with twenty-five revisions of my opening paragraph. Except I had gotten into the habit of revising my first paragraph twenty-five times BEFORE writing my second paragraph. Which leaves a lot of second paragraphs never written. I had to replace my bad habit with a good habit.

NaNoWriMo helped me rediscover fluency – writing, without stopping for correction edits and better idea revisions. NaNoWriMo helped me to WRITE; to get a wealth of material on actual pages. And some of it was really good material. Later I can revise it . Later I can edit. Now, I must let my characters speak, discovering what they want to say, to what sights, sounds, and scents they attend, where they want to go, unhindered by my inner editor. It’s a happy habit to have. This experience worked with Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen (interview).

This year’s goal: Fifty-thousand words in thirty days. THEN revision. Then submissions. Then a contract.