Monday, April 22, 2013

Heading South

Day 2

Spring seems to have finally arrived here in the Pacific Northwest, and the trail is calling.

Fishnets being prepped for the season
Flicker in net yard

Starting point today, Teddy Bear Cove, our only UNofficial
nude "beach" if you don't mind 55 to 60 degree water in the summer.

Some two months after Day 1, countless headaches, med changes and a bout of pneumonia, I am finally heading south again.  The Interurban Trail is an old rail bed that used to connect Bellingham in the north with Mt. Vernon to the south.  It's like the highway of coastal mountain trails, packed, more or less level with beautiful views everywhere.

Chuckanut Bay

Since I last set out, my neck and shoulders have become so sensitive that I can no longer tolerate a back pack, so I've resorted to a big fanny pack.  It's not ideal, but not bad for day hikes.  I carry water, some food, emergency meds, my camera, cell phone and a little money.  Today, my husband dropped me off about 4 or 5 miles south of town where I ended up last time, and I set out walking at a good clip.  As I settled into my little journey, I began to realize that I was going to tire quickly at my usual pace.  It's been a tough couple of months, I had a headache yesterday morning and another, with aura, in the afternoon.  I slowed down to an easy stroll, stopped to take all the pictures I wanted to and just enjoy the scenery and the fantastic sunny weather. 

I ran into a friend, chatted about family and work and ambled on down the path seeing what there was to see, smelling and listening.  I have ridden my bike down this trail many times before, but you see things on foot that go by too fast on a bicycle.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly, often the first butterfly you see
at winter's end in the Pacific Northwest.
Slide that covered the trail a few years back

This trail runs along the side of Chuckanut Mountain, which is really one big hunk of sandstone.  In the winter and spring large pieces of it are perpetually sliding down, down, down the mountain, tumbling onto the highway and on further into the cold waters of Puget Sound below.

Chuckanut sandstone

Among my current photographic fascinations are - puddles.  That's a fine thing because there are a plethora of puddles in this part of the country.  Amazing what I see in a puddle when I take it easy and go at a pace that works for me.  


I finished my slow southward journey at the end of the Interurban in the Clayton Beach parking lot, 4 miles from my starting point.  I called home for a pickup deciding to leave the hike down to the beach for another day.  

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hope: how do we do it?

This is a great, juicy topic

My masters thesis in the bad old days, long, long ago was actually on hope. My thesis advisor and head of the Occupational Therapy Dept. at USC was a crusty old Irish dame named Mary Reilly.  She made it clear that what I was to focus on was 'lowly old hope' - the kind that gets you from one day to the next, and not on 'self actualization' or the like, one of those buzzwords for the latest self-help or self improvement fad that came out of the 70's.  My task was to suss out what keeps people going in spite of the worst possible circumstances like a devastating stroke or spinal cord injury that leaves you paralyzed.

One day at a time

Fast forward 40 years or so and here I am with the same topic under the microscope.  How do we do it when we're having daily or near daily headaches, when we lose our jobs, social life, the ability to care for our families, when we lose not only entire days, but sometimes entire weeks or months or even more?

La te da da da.......

All I can do is tell you how I do it.  As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, just take it 'one day at a time.'  My personal strategy is, in a way, the same on the bad days as the good ones.  If I'm heaving into the toilet at 7:00 am, then running back to the futon with an ice pack on my head, I tell myself that all I have to do is make it through the next few hours or the day.  Tomorrow will be another story because things never stay the same.

When I'm pain free or the pain is tolerable, I make it a point to enjoy those good days or pieces of days and then to affirm or remember that morning or afternoon hanging out with friends or the great time I had taking care of Liam, my 2 year old grandson just a couple of days ago.  I take advantage of my up time to do many things:   hang out with friends or family, do art or write, walk or be outdoors, tutor English, work on low key projects or chores.

UH Oh!

On bad days I hope for the seemingly relentless pain to ease off by midday or later in the afternoon so I can enjoy a piece of the day.  I lie there planning my next trip while assuming I'll be able to take it.  I know it's not a sure thing, but the process of planning it makes me feel better, like things are still possible.


There are times when it all seems overwhelming, like I've just had the rug pulled out from under my
feet yet again.  When that happens, it's hard to maintain hope.  Then I try to keep in mind that I have yet another plan or just an idea of what to try next.  I keep a series of these in mind, not written down anywhere.  I change or prioritize them at will, add one, take one away.  This has been a particularly difficult couple of months for me, the slap down period for sure.  A severe virus in Jan. set me back, made the headaches worse.  Just as things were beginning to look up a little, I got pneumonia.  I'm still recovering.  But I have plans.  A road trip with my husband in a van we don't yet have.  (How's that for speculative!!)  And I have treatment options including neck injections, a couple of possible new preventatives, some body work and, if all else fails, a possible return to the Michigan HeadPain and Neurological Institute.

Planning what to do next presumes, requires hope, hope that something or someone, some idea or form of therapy, treatment or practice will improve the quality of your life.  It requires that you be self observant, creative, persistent as hell, critical, selective, and that you prioritize among all the possibilities, the one to try next.  For example, I've had an idea, for years, that I might take a class or go on a retreat to Hawaii and do music therapy with Kimba Arim.  She is a renown musician and therapist, and for me, sound is such a key to my responsiveness to both negative and positive stimuli.  But I have not yet chosen to pursue this idea for a variety of reasons.  My budget is limited, and other ideas have always come before - so far.

Simple Hope

Is not so simple.  But, I try to keep it basic. One step at a time, and stay open to possibilities .........