Archive for the ‘Connectivity’ Category

DINNER BELL (They Might Be Giants)
January 2, 2020

Since we’re still stuck in the hospital in somewhat of a holding pattern, waiting for the surgery date to arrive, I’ve been doing a lot of daydreaming and plotting.  Naturally, inspired by the new year, new decade, and in part by the outpouring of support from all walks of my life, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to bring my worlds together and to be able to spend real time with people.  Ways to show my appreciation and gratitude for their care.

I love to entertain and I love evenings spent enjoying food, drink, lively conversation and games.  There’s a Barefoot Contessa episode where she’s in Paris and one of the expat chefs she cooks with explains that he and his wife started hosting weekly dinner parties where they welcomed strangers from their neighborhood as a way to get to meet people.  I love the idea.

We actually started doing monthly summer dinners with a few neighbors last year that have been such a fun way to connect with the people around us.  When I’ve mentioned this to other friends, the reaction is always one of surprise.  I’ve found that quite a lot of people don’t really know their neighbors anymore, and if even they know them, they don’t socialize with them.  I’ve really loved our dinners and look forward to this summer when we get back to it!

While I’ve been here contemplating things I’d like to do in the new year, not resolutions, mostly actions, my husband shared a Facebook post from a colleague who lives in New Jersey (his company welcomes people working remotely so their staff are all over the country, and a couple even outside the country).  She and her husband starting hosting monthly pasta dinners when they purchased their home as way to entertain, meet new people, see existing friends, and make use of their new home.  I loved it and wanted to know more about how they came to do this.  Turns out they were inspired by a blog post on Serious Eats, where a couple decided to do a weekly Friday Night Meatballs dinner.

The point of the evenings is to bring people together not to impress everyone with your culinary prowess or to spend a week preparing for these evenings.  It’s about keeping things simple, sharing your space and time connecting with people in your life and connecting people in your life with each other.  The mix of guests can be forever changing even if the meal itself remains the same, dinner after dinner.  Evenings can end up with lively games and other fun simple entertainment – impromptu karaoke anyone?

I’m dreaming of being home and figuring out how this idea can find its way into our routine.  One of the greatest gifts of Cole’s spinal surgery journey has been the recognition that we have a big community of people who care about us.  I really want to welcome them into our real life and implementing a regular dinner night seems like a perfect way to do just that.  I can’t wait to see who will actually join us!  I really hope we have a revolving mix of people open to the magic of togetherness!

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LET’S START THE NEW YEAR RIGHT (Bing Crosby)
December 30, 2019

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is coming to an end – not only 2019 but the decade.  It’s hard not to have this past month define much of 2019, but the reality is there have been a lot of things that happened in 2019 that are to be celebrated.  Perhaps looking back, our current hospital adventures will be celebrated too.  At the very least, our survival of them!

One of the things I’ve worked on this past decade is to be more open to asking for and accepting help.  Somewhere in the last few years I started going to a special needs moms support group, which started opening me up to exposing myself.  I also have a couple of dear friends who encourage the same of me and it’s transforming my psyche.  I’m definitely a work in progress and will probably always be such but learning to be open to change and vulnerability have impacted my life in more ways than just as a mom.

I’m not good at resolutions so my interest in the start of a new year doesn’t really lie in committing myself to do this or improve that.  The usual things like devoting more time to wellness (fitness/healthy eating/sleeping), finding balance in life, being my best self are ongoing endeavors.  A couple of years ago I challenged myself (along with a friend) to try to do new or different things throughout the year.  That too is something I hope to continue to explore.  I was gifted a guitar for Christmas this year so learning to play is on the agenda – I have some lofty songs I hope to eventually master!  I also want to challenge myself to write more – whether it’s this blog, short stories or even letters to loved ones.  The practice is cathartic and I dream of one day having something published, making the practice even more important.

I see 2020 being the start of a movement where I strive to be more present with my time, care and interest in my family, friends and others.  I greatly appreciate the simple, but intimate joy, of spending time with people I care about or am interested to know better over shared meals, experiences and time.  I don’t feel like I do it enough though and really want to have impromptu meals, game nights, afternoons hiking with friends.  I’m at an age where life feels more fleeting.  An age where both peers and parents are leaving us or are facing health challenges.  Time shared is so much more valuable than any purchased gift.  My perspective of this value has deepened as I’ve aged and I feel strongly about drawing my community more into my everyday life, holding them dear and near, celebrating nothing and everything.

On that note, slightly in advance, here’s to a bright 2020!  I wish you all a glorious new year filled with promise, joy and love!

 

 

I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU (The Rembrandts)
December 9, 2019

We’re closing our 6th day of pretty much living at Children’s Hospital LA (CHLA).  Cole was admitted last Wednesday and will be here until the end of the year, maybe just into 2020.  We’re surviving.  Actually better than surviving.  We’re getting into a routine where we’re both hanging out with Cole during the day and then one of us goes home to attempt a good night of sleep and to spend some time with Luna, our poor, needy ten year old Golden Doodle.  Then it’s back to CHLA.

Cole’s days are filled with lots of nurses, doctors, residents, and various support staff popping in for vitals, to add weight to his traction, to help us with anything we need – like transferring him from the bed to the traction wheelchair for an outing or helping with other needs.  He’s also had a barrage of very welcome and much appreciated visitors.  At first it felt overwhelming but now that he’s more settled and doing remarkably well with the traction, the visits have been a great source of joy.  For him, and for us.

It took me a long time to understand that it’s okay to ask for help, support, or care.  Early into my parenting journey, I did my best to be an island.  I have always been a pretty self-sufficient person and in fact often served as the maternal one amongst my pack of friends when I was single. I’m pretty good about jumping in when someone is in need and am always at the ready to help. I’m appreciative when someone recognizes that I am in need, but in the past it was hard for me to fully accept it.

Nowadays, I try to ask.  I reach out to friends when I’m struggling and I have tried to build a support network so that I don’t have to go through things alone (I should clarify that my husband is the biggest part of my support and a great partner – but he’s also sometimes going through the same things as I am such as Cole’s current medical situation).  I was part of a special needs mom’s group for a while, which I think is where I  both realized how much I like having people in my life who understand some of the unique parts of my parenting experience, and how valuable regular sharing is to me.

I’ve learned that being an island is not what’s best for me.  I like knowing that people are thinking of me and wishing my family well, particularly in high stress situations like the traction and looming spinal fusion surgery.  I also really like being able to show the same support and care to my friends, near, far, and in the social media stratosphere. It’s one of the most positive aspects of social media – the strength and heart of many.  I know not everyone feels this way but having gone through some of Cole’s surgeries quietly and the more recent ones more publicly, I can honestly say that the impact of sharing truly helps to quell fears, stand tall, and to make it through the long days and nights.

So keep the love coming and know that if ever you find yourself in need, I’ll be there for you.

COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN (Led Zeppelin)
November 12, 2019

Twenty something years of being together and I’m realizing that my husband and I have some serious communication issues.  Instead of developing a shorthand, instinctual and deeper sense of understanding one another, as couples are apt to do after being together for so long, we seem to be doing the opposite and it’s causing hurt, frustration and distance.

He thinks I treat him disrespectfully, with responses that are mostly piss and vinegar.  I think he takes things too personally.  My being frustrated when I get home from a long day at work, spend three of those hours in stop and go traffic each day, needing just a few minutes of down time to transition to being home and taking a breath, is not a sign that I’m not happy to see him or that I see him as the cause of my angst.  I’m simply not always able to burst through the door, offering smiles and kisses the second I get out of the car.  It’s absolutely nothing personal.

I’m not always kind.  I know this of myself and I’m not proud of it.  I work hard to try to be better but I think the unfortunate nature of marriage or relationships is that we have a tendency to take things out on the people closest to us.  Part of that is simply proximity.  Part of it is a sense of trust – people we love can see us at our worst and still love us.  Part of that is a belief – however wrong it may be – that they know they’re not the root of the anger and frustration just the dumping ground.  I’ve come to understand that these theories are not actually true.  Particularly in the case of my relationship, the latter.

I’m not sure how one goes about changing patterns and habits that are well established from childhood.  I suppose the fact that I can admit to or have awareness of my behaviors is the first step, though I struggle to get past that one step.  I also feel like I can’t be the only one stepping.  I can take responsibility for my words and my actions but I cannot influence how they are heard or taken.  I can’t change someone’s expectation or anticipation of my presence.

The nature of our communication is stunted in some ways because we are almost never together without Cole present as well.  it’s hard to have adult conversation, or even complete conversations about anything without him being there and often not pleased about us talking to one another or the feeling that a particular conversation may not be best had in front of him (like discussing our concerns about his upcoming surgery or my husband’s travels or a night out).  It’s not natural and we rarely pick any of those conversations back up because we’re almost never alone, just the two of us in a room when we can have real conversations.

Anyone else have communication issues?  Any thoughts on how to improve things?

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I recently heard about a colleague’s attempt to do so by having a night a week where she and her husband turn off electronics and spend the evening playing a game and talking, be it cards, Yahtzee, or whatever.  She says it’s done wonders in terms of them appreciating one another more…A fun idea that sounds worth the try!

STAY UP LATE (Talking Heads)
November 6, 2019

I’ve been solo-parenting quite a lot these past couple of months as it’s one of my husband’s big travel seasons.  He’s been jetting from conference to conference with just a couple of days home between.  The biggest burden for me is the push to leave early on work days in order to get home before Cole’s bus returns around 4pm.  When home, my husband is usually the bus greeter because he has a flexible schedule and works just twenty minutes from home. I work in Santa Monica, which on a good day is an hour drive and on a bad one up to two hours (truly, just to go nine miles!!).  I digress…I could bitch about traffic and rude, unkind drivers for days even though I try very hard to be zen about the commute!

So other than the pressure to get home for the bus, and missing my husband, I kind of love having the time alone with Cole.  We start each day with 5:30 cuddles while he has his breakfast, and then plot out the day while getting him dressed and ready for the bus.  He leaves laughing and happy and I sneak in a little exercise, coffee, shower and head out to the office.  When the bus returns I get to learn about his day, give him a shower (which now includes a shave or two each week!), and then hang out with him until dinner and bedtime.  We talk to his dad, sometimes to a grandparent or two and watch some of our favorite shows (Ellen, Modern Family repeats, baking competitions, Queen Eye) and then bed, sometimes later than we should.  On weekends it’s baseball, dance class, time with friends – sometimes mine, sometimes his, errands, cooking and more hanging out and staying up later than we should.  It’s relaxing, not wildly exciting, but completely soul filling.

I’m not suggesting it’s better than when we’re all together, it’s just special because I don’t usually have the afternoons with him and I don’t necessarily do all of the weekend stuff every weekend when there are two of us to split things up.  Being on our own, just the two of us, taking care of each other while his dad is away, brings us closer.  It allows us to just sink into our own routines that I think help him to deal with his dad being away.  If everything were just the same, it would be harder on him.  He loves his routines with his dad and definitely prefers some of them to me – like showering and shaving – but by approaching the afternoons with our own routine, it helps to not miss that it’s not what he does with his dad.  In Cole’s world, there are certain things that require a specific parent whenever possible.

As much as I love our family three, I’ve come to embrace and even need the occasional times when it’s just me and the boy…

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CONNECTION (The Rolling Stones – also Eddie & The Subtitles did a good cover)
September 26, 2018

I took a basic watsu training class this past weekend, spending the better part of Saturday and Sunday in a 95-degree shallow pool with five other women, who were also taking the course.  I didn’t know much about watsu, other than Cole’s aquatic therapist was also learning it and thought it would be useful for me to learn the basics, so I could use it to help stretch and relax Cole at home in our pool.  I love water, and I love learning new things – especially when it’s something that can help Cole.

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I nervously showed up Saturday and met the others.  Three were women who were already in the aquatic therapy business, wanting to expand their practices and knowledge, one was a mom, who is considering a watsu practice when her four kids are all in middle and high school, and me.  We were joined on Sunday by a woman who does energy work already and has already completed about her watsu training.

The first half hour we learned about watsu and its benefits.  Watsu is a form of aquatic therapy that combines muscle stretching, joint mobilization, and shiatsu massage.  It’s done in chest deep warm water, where the “receiver” is continuously supported by the “giver” (or therapist) while back-floating.  The receiver is rhythmically and passively cradled, moved, stretched and massaged by the giver and water.  Watsu promotes deep relaxation and, in my experience, euphoria.

After the basic introduction we all got in the pool and watched part of a training video, so we could see an actual practice.  Then we began learning the stance, moves and an understanding of the symbiosis of the process.  We worked in pairs throughout the day, switching between being the giver and the receiver and working on different bodies.  The better the giver can connect and adapt to each receiver (every body is different, not just in size but in flexibility and trust too) the better the experience will be.  By the end of the day we had learned the entire basic sequence and practiced each element over and over.  We all left feeling empowered and connected by the day.

Sunday we all reconvened and immediately got back in the pool.  We were joined by a woman who does energy work and has already completed about half her watsu training hours.  Having a sixth person allowed us to all work on our technique and practice with each other while our instructor could move through the pool and give us each more hands-on training and support.  We all gave and received three full hours of treatment that day.  It was amazing.  Unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

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There’s something almost spiritual in the practice of watsu.  The relationship between the giver and receiver and water is harmonious in a way that at times you feel at one.  Breath plays a part in watsu as it does yoga.  There are quiet times when the giver synchs their breath to the receiver and as one you rise and fall slightly in the water as you breathe.  There’s a deep sense of relaxation and rejuvenation resulting from the treatment and connectivity that transcends the treatment. I’m completely enthralled with watsu. I plan to take more training even if I don’t complete a program for certification.  I just want to be able to give Cole (and other family and friends) the best experience I can.