It only matters what works for you.

Archive for the ‘philosophy’ Category

Unico 20.87- Unplugged

 

20171025_182511

Riviera Maya let us unplug. That’s not to say that Unico didn’t have complete wireless access everywhere on the property. It did. They also assured me that they offered free long distance calls to the States and Canada. But we had agreed that we would treat it as a cruise, where internet or phone access is ridiculously priced so we opt out. I checked my email twice a day to see if there was anything from my cat sitters and that was it. We unplugged. No phone, no news, no social media.

I don’t realize how much all the frantic activity wears on me until I opt out of it. I ‘knew’ that I’ve found this year to be particularly stressful, but I didn’t really ‘know’ until I got away. And now that I’m back, I’m very reluctant to completely reconnect.

I really enjoyed reading for long hours. I enjoyed having good conversations with my Beloved, and several with the random other people I met in the pool, or at the spa. I loved feeling that I had plenty of time to just sit back and watch the clouds and listen to the wind.

Where do we balance our need to be informed citizens and the desire to participate with our friends and loved ones, even if only online, with the need for quiet introspection and space to just think? Daily meditation practice, even when I’m good about it, isn’t quite enough.

One thing that surprised me was how distressed I felt watching other people at the quiet pool be on their phones. Not talking, that would have been rude, but intent on their screens. I thought it was sad. To go to such a beautiful place and stay connected to the electronic tether. To miss out on the moment while glued to the every day world by screen. That may not be at all fair. Maybe they were e-readers and no different from my own vacation choices. Not that it was any of my business anyway, but it bothered me quite a bit. Such an amazing moment was offered, and it seemed like they were missing it.

The other thing I didn’t notice until we returned was how beautifully quiet it was. I live outside DC and even though my neighborhood is thoroughly suburban and could be anywhere, you can always just barely hear the sound of the traffic, of airplanes. Of neighbors tending their lawns. It’s always something. The only mechanical sound I really heard there was the constant hum of the air conditioners, and honestly, I’d have really missed those if they weren’t there.

I wonder if there is a way to find that quiet and peace at home, or if it really requires stepping out into another world? The holiday season is almost upon us, so I guess I’ll have time to experiment.

20171025_182755

Advertisements

Unico 20.87- The Quiet Pool

The quiet pool was really the focus of our vacation I think. After a leisurely waking and a nice walk to the breakfast buffet, we retired to the quiet pool. It was a bit cooler than the two main pools and it was tucked off to the side. The music was lower, easily talked over. There was no beer pong. All the beer pong was over in the main pool.

20171028_110524

This really sums up our vacation. The clear cool water of the pool. Blue sky with decorative puffy white clouds. Palm trees swaying in the breeze. The swim up bar opened at about 11, or maybe 10:30. But we didn’t have to actually swim to the bar because the amazing Bianca would come by every little bit to refresh the ice buckets keeping our water bottles cold and see if we needed another pina colada, or maybe another daiquiri, or a chi-chi, which is what Bianca told me a pina colada with grenadine is called, although Google differs.

When we got warm, just hop up and take another dip in the pool. Gustavo, a young man not long out of school and saving for University, was tasked with making sure our umbrella constantly moved to keep us out of the sun. We didn’t take advantage of the lunch delivery, but it was available.

Partway through the morning our Host, Leonardo, would come by to see if we needed anything. Dinner reservations? Spa reservations? Could I please have an electric fan in our room? Certainly! No problem. Everything we could possibly need, including change for a $20 on the last day to tip our favorite servers, he made possible.

They were running some great specials, so after a leisurely morning reading and swimming at the pool, and a late lunch, I took myself off to the spa. Daily massage has become a goal. Some were good, some were amazing. Volcanic hot stone massage is a favorite, but I tried some of everything.

One day Beloved took off on an excursion to see the ruins at Tulum. He came back full of excellent educational details. He said the quality of the excursion and the education was much, much higher than the cruise excursions we’re used to. I didn’t think I’d be up to the walking, so I was in the spa and then had a lovely reading day.

After the pool and the spa was always a leisurely dinner. Beloved made extensive use of the jacuzzi tub on the deck every evening.

But when I plug into the memory to relax and bask in the joy, it’s laying on a sunbed at the quiet pool in the breeze that is the strongest memory. That’s what I look forward to in our next vacation.

20171025_182908

 

 

Is it giving up or living the fullest?

We just got back from an amazing trip to Mexico, so of course I’d like to talk about wheelchairs.

Let me back up. Last year I finally saw pictures of my arthritic knees. Poor knees. They need replacing, but I am both too young and too fat, so that isn’t an option right now. What I may, or may not be doing about that is for a different day. Today is about how can I make the most of life with the knees I have today.

First step involved the cane I got for my trip to visit family in Missouri. I got the cane last year for the trip that got cancelled in favor of my beloved having heart surgery. So I was able to use the cane for innumerable trips back and forth to the hospital. And everywhere I’ve gone since when I’m concerned about how far I’ll really need to walk. It makes a surprising difference. I thought it would just help for things like stairs, but it makes me much more stable and limp less. Who knew?

Next stop was upping my regular workout at the pool. Walking mostly. Stretching. Practicing range of motion with my weight and gravity taken out of the equation, although the inertia is higher, so that’s an adventure. Walking in water gives the same benefits as land walking in terms of joint mobility and gaining strength without stressing the poor damaged joint. The goal is 45 minutes 4 days a week.¬† I usually get close to that.

Next up, extend the timing out a month and get my quarterly cortisone shot in October instead of September, two weeks before leaving so my knees are at their best. It does the job for now.

My insurance covers a certain amount of physical therapy, so I asked my doctor to send me. I got really lucky with my therapist and he did much better work than the people I saw last summer. He explained that my worse knee doesn’t fully extend, and he was able to dramatically improve my range of motion in just the number of visits my insurance would approve. And he gave me stretches and exercises that will help me continue improving on my own going forward.

And then there was the wheelchair. That’s a tough call to make, because it trips some sort of mental switch. My beloved is pretty unhappy with the idea. But it works like this. I can use up everything I have and all the work I’ve done struggling through airports, or I can accept help, get rolled through concrete floors and have a place to sit for long lines, and save my endurance for walking to the pool, to the spa, and to lovely places for dinner.

So it is not, in fact, ‘giving in’, it is making the most of what I have. Can I just point out that Beloved’s step counter said he walked about 3 miles yesterday. Just dealing with airports.

There are lots of places the same lesson applies. Figure out what you can do, and what you can’t do, and then figure out how to close the gap. If you need a wheel chair, or a wheel barrow, or whatever, get one.

When they make it right: why fat people should fly Southwest Airlines.

Once upon a time in 2010, Southwest messed up but good. They kicked a fat guy off a plane in a ham handed decision to unevenly apply their rule about larger passengers who encroach on other seats.

They picked the wrong fat guy, because that happened to be Kevin Smith of Mallrats and Dogma fame. He’s a fat guy with a rabidly loyal fan base and a mouth more like Jay than Silent Bob. So, seriously bad move on their part.

On the other hand, every business will eventually publicly make a horrible decision (United anyone?), so what will set them apart is how they fix the issue.

Southwest claimed at the time to have a written policy, and their FAQ says their policy has been in place 30 years. I don’t know. I don’t really need to do that much research on the past when I know they are getting it right today.

Today, Southwest has a clear policy that is easy to find, and actually makes sense, and has worked for me exactly as advertised.

If you need a third seat, you can negotiate at the counter with staff and they may, or may not have one to issue you. Flights these days are often packed completely full. Also, with their boarding method, it doesn’t guarantee you early boarding if you check in later. So the only other spare seat may be in a different row, which is not useful and awkward and embarrassing to fix.

Buy a third seat. Just do it. And when you get home from your trip, call Southwest, give them your details, and they will refund the cost. In full. Super easy. You’ll get your money back in about a week. No fuss, no hassle.

A third seat will guarantee you have the space you need. You’ll even get an extra boarding pass that says reserved seat that you can discretely place in the empty so the Fight Attendants all know why that seat is empty and not include it in the empty count on a full flight.

Your third seat will also allow you priority boarding, meaning you skip the lines and you can pick your spot. It will allow one companion to join you in priority boarding, so you can claim your whole row (not the exit row, don’t be ridiculous) with minimal fuss.

I know it’s an extra expense up front, but it is worth it. My stress levels about travel have fallen dramatically. I have never had a Southwest employee be anything less than professional and pleasant about what I need, and frankly, my extra seat is more comfortable for everyone.

That’s how we got here:

20171024_170244

 

 

 

What do you get out of it?

Your food, I mean.

We’ve been told over and over that if we eat a healthy diet, then we’ll be healthy. I think most of the people who read this know it’s completely untrue, but it persists as a lie. Of course the average person doesn’t do it anyway, so does it really matter?

One idea is that we don’t need to take vitamins if we eat a healthy diet. Hence the war on vitamins and supplements. I’m not sure I really understand the government’s constant attempts to over regulate them. Someone is making money off them right?

Despite my new-found soup way of life I still came down with some severe low iron symptoms. I went through a period where I ate red meat twice a day because I craved it. How much of that was me not absorbing the iron present in the food? Thyroid can cause low stomach acid, as can age, and that would interfere with absorbing the nutrients.

It’s a little gross to discuss, but many people don’t chew nearly enough. Part of that is because our food is more highly processed. It’s also because we rush everything in the US so we’re eating in a hurry. It’s a problem. A friend who had bypass surgery told me that chewing was the number one instruction her doctor gave her as she recovered to make sure she didn’t have problems with regain. I constantly have to remind myself to slow down.

Then of course, there’s the idea that there is no food in our food. That the soils in the US are very depleted by modern farming methods so the trace minerals that we should be getting out of our healthy eating aren’t there to begin with and no amount of chewing and stomach acid will pry them out of food they aren’t in.

Even though I eat mostly organic, with healthy choices, my kitchen table is still covered with various supplements and I can tell you that I notice if I miss even one for more than a day. ¬†Some times I wonder if buying the good stuff in the first place even matters, but then I remember the chemical taste of commercial fruit and remember that it might not be what I do get out of it, it might be what I don’t.

Appreciate the journey.

Not long ago I got philosophical about the difference between gratitude and appreciation. I think we all need more appreciation in our lives. Certainly I do.

An issue I’ve had for a long time is the admonishment to ‘enjoy the journey’. That life isn’t about the end result. It’s extremely difficult to ‘enjoy the journey’ when you are limp and in pain, but now that I’m feeling better and moving forward with my life again, I’ve come back to that idea with some new insight.

By taking time to appreciate things in your life. To “to understand the worth, quality, or importance of something”, really can help you to slow down and enjoy the journey by reminding you that each minute can be precious, just like the books say.

We have a practice in our house where, should you see a moment of amazing natural beauty or a particularly adorably sleeping cat, then that moment should be mentioned immediately so that the others in the area can admire and appreciate it too. This does not count as an interruption of whatever is going on around it, rather it’s an elevated moment that is much more important that what was going on.

It can be very difficult to do that with more prosaic things. It’s easy to give thanks for the amazing spread at a special holiday meal. We’ve lost, many of us, the habit of giving thanks for the smaller meals of every day. It used to be a very common part of religious observance. The understanding of religion is changing, but maybe we should look back at some of those regular observances and see what they still have to offer.

A recent topic of conversation in our house has been the untempered need in American society to increase. Every business must get bigger. Every person must become richer and more successful. My beloved’s company has been small and doing extremely well. Somehow they determined they had to grow, and suddenly things haven’t been doing nearly as well. The partners were all making a very nice living and running a company that did excellent work and had very happy employees. Why did they have to decide that wasn’t enough?

Have we always been that way, or have we lost the understanding between wanting to be more versus wanting to have more. Certainly if I look around it isn’t difficult to see that the dollar has become the bottom line for everything.

I’m pretty sure the value in the journey isn’t supposed to be about the price tag. How do we get away from that? I guess I’ll stroll along for a while and see if I can figure it out.

 

Positive outlook, positive outcome.

That’s what they say. Attitude is everything. Create your reality. You get what you expect.

Well, here’s my chance to prove that. I recently got a letter saying that the doctor I like and trust and worked so hard to find is leaving practice to spend more time raising her children. I completely respect her choice. But my first reaction to that letter was panic. It took me 5 tries to find her.

I could continue to panic. To rehearse in my mind all the various problems that I’ve had in the past. How much trouble others have had.

Or.

Or I can take this as an opportunity to walk my talk. I can trust that I’ll be given what I need. I can believe that this is an opportunity to improve my situation, rather than an irredeemable tragedy.

I’d like to think I deserve better health care than ‘pleasant’ and ‘non-obstructionist’. This could be my opportunity to find someone who will invest in working with me to figure out how to optimize my health, rather than just keep it from deteriorating. Dare I say, someone I can trust to actually know more than I do about what is currently not functioning correctly?

I am definitely up for something better.