Enduring Friendships-Getting Ready…

Have you ever had friends for what seems like a lifetime? I have.

I first met the Hatfield family as a young girl. My two older sisters and I babysat their three children. I was around twelve when I first joined the cue of available babysitters. On longer than one day assignments I would join a sister and take on the Hatfield kids. They were wonderful and very rambunctious children and it often would take two of us to actively babysit for them.

As we grew up the Hatfield family moved away. First, they moved to downtown Wilmington, Delaware (I grew up in the suburbs), and then halfway across the country.

As we, my sisters, and I grew up we got active in our own lives, and eventually, we lost touch with the family, except for the catch-up Christmas Cards every year.

Fast forward to 1975. I became a Vista Volunteer in northwestern Wisconsin. As the only nurse in the local program, I was sent for special training for disaster emergencies. I went to Milwaukee for a two-day training session. I knew the Hatfields lived nearby in Mequon, thanks be for Christmas Cards with return addresses. On a whim, I called them, and at the end of my training, now as a young adult woman, I reestablished my friendship with them.

It has been a blessing, profound and wonderful as I established a friendship with all of them that has endured over the years. They have loved and supported me unconditionally. Sharon, the mom, has been my mentor, teacher, astrologer, friend and so much more. In many ways, she has helped me shape my life. When I think of Sharon and her family my heart is full. 

When we were still babysitting for the kids, Sharon was an early example of an independent, strong, honest, and loving woman. We thought she was cool because she worked for Planned Parenthood, played the guitar, and had all the Joan Baez and Bob Dylan albums. For a mom in the 60’s she was cool. She was outspoken and voiced her opinions and beliefs without hesitation. As I look back to this early connection I realize now that she was shaping my life, even then.

Eventually, we met up, again, in Minnesota. I lived in the Twin Cities and they lived in Marine on St Croix, east of the cities. I would go visit when I needed to talk to someone. I would go visit when I needed to feel love. I would go visit and housesit while Sharon and David (her husband) traveled the western part of the USA. David was a hospital administrator and with his help and support, I was able to get a job at St Paul Children’s Hospital. Specialty jobs were hard to come by for nurses at that moment in time.

After a few more moves around the country, Sharon and David retired to Rockville, Utah, just outside the west entrance of Zion National Park. The “kids” were grown and had established themselves in different parts of the country.

Over the years all the kids and I have stayed in touch, at least through Facebook.

So why am I telling you this? My friend Sharon is celebrating her ninetieth birthday on June 23rd. They are having a party in the park in Rockville. Friends and family are coming to celebrate this milestone. Truly I think everyone is coming because they love her. She has shaped many lives with her honest and giving nature.

When I first received an invitation to join the celebration I said no. It is a thousand-mile drive and blah, blah, blah. Then I stopped and thought if this was eight years ago and I had just bought this rig, would I hesitate to go? Well, No. I would hop in my rig and hit the road.

I changed my mind. On June Ninteenth I am on the road. I head south and east. First stop, Pendleton Oregon, where I will join David Jr and his daughter and we will convoy to southern Utah. I am as excited about this meet-up as I am about the party. David is Sharon’s oldest son. We have had our own adventures over the years, getting stuck in a blizzard in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, northern Minnesota in the middle of the winter being one of them. He helped outfit me for my first backpack and along with a friend from Vermont introduced me to hiking and camping the backcountry. I could go on but I will not.

I am telling you, this family has helped shaped my life.

We will head south in my rig and his car. His daughter Taylor Rose will ride between the two vehicles and keep everyone company. I will have time to catch up with them as we stop to rest and spend one night at a hotel. Them in a room and me in my rig.

As the time draws closer (8 days today) I am getting excited to have a new adventure to head towards. My rig is ready. My refrigerator is ready and I too am ready.

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea of people as I have been pretty secluded over the last year and a half. It is good to have my RV, If peopleing is too much for me I can disappear into my very own space and even shut the door. The party is set up for social distancing and I am sure the mask will come out. This is the first chance I have really taken in a long time Yet, How Could I Miss This Celebration.

Adventure awaits and I am going to embrace it. Adventure awaits and I am walking into it with my arms and heart wide open. Adventure awaits and I look forward with excitement and love to seeing Sharon and her family again.

It is Exciting. Life is An Adventure.

Finally!! The Desert!!

Tonight I was texting my sister and I realized I have not blogged in a while. I also realized that very few people know where I am or what I am up to.

After a month at the RV facelift hospital-my rig is minus some major dents and bumps and is back where she belongs, with me. It was a good time to get some of this work done as I had a place to stay (thank you Cynthia and Ward). EmmyLou is home and looking spiffy.

I usually spend every winter wandering the desert southwest. If it is too cold in one spot I move to the next. It is a good way to spend the winter. I usually find interesting and unique places to visit and meet interesting people.

This winter was a bit different with the RV in the hospital getting a makeover. I had to stay a bit more stationary, sheltering in place during this Covid time. My annual medical and dental appointments seemed to stretch out more than usual.

Peggy Hiking Into a Slot

I really wanted to get to the desert, even if the time was limited. A week ago I departed for the closest desert I could find. Here I am in the California Desert. I started in Anza Borrego State Park near Borrego Springs. Most of my friends did not come to the desert this year due to Covid. Two of them did. I met up with Peggy and Roger who have been safely distanced camping in the parking lot of a church. It was fun to see them. Masks up and all. Peggy came and joined me for a few nights. Two little rigs parked together at a boondocking campground. We had some girl time and did pretty cool hikes. It is exciting to see people.

Now I have left the State Park and have moved on to the Salton Sea. It is rather a unique and unusual place. I come here because of birds. I love birds. I love to take photos of them and watch them. The Salton Sea is a major migratory stop and wintering ground for over 400 species of shorebirds and other birds. Today the Snow Geese were the stars of the birding experience. At one point there were so many coming in for a landing on the water, you could hear their wings. It was so cool.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am here for a few days and then will move on to the Squaw Lake, part of the Colorado River, to get a little bit of Kayaking in before I have to return to San Diego.

I will be returning to San Diego on February eighth to get my second vaccine. After a few recovery days, I am off to Santa Barbara to get some interior work done on my rig.

Dan Neeley the owner of Dan Neeley RV Service specializes in Roadtreks. He travels from San Francisco to Los Angeles. He is really good at what he does and I am thankful he comes far enough south that I can reach him. Now that EmmyLou has had an outside job, it is time for the RV part of her to be checked. Once that is done I bet you think I will be hitting the road.

Not so. I have to return to San Diego for a little over a week so that the final part of my post thyroid cancer screening can be completed. So far everything looks good and I expect that these tests will look good as well. I still get nervous and wait anxiously for the results. After these results come back I can take a deep breath, inhaling and exhaling, and be ready for another year of adventure.

I think that covers it. I have been learning to rest and relax. I am thankful each day for wonderful friends who continue to love and support me in whatever way they can. I am thankful each day that I can venture off for a hike, see delightful and awesome birds, and catch a good sunrise or sunset along the way.

 

Did you know that if you click on any picture it will enlarge?

Did you know that if you click on the different colored words that are underlined, it will take you to the web site?

Coming Full Circle

Idaho Summer

Last June I left San Diego and traveled north. I spent most of the spring living with two good friends, Cynthia and Ward. I initailly moved in to help Cynthia after elective surgery. I ended staying with them through the emergence of Covid and our country in some form of lockdown. I sheltered in place with Ward and Cynthia from early March until I headed north, in June,  for a summer in Idaho.

Every year I return to San Diego to get my medical and dental work done. I get busy with appointments, doctor visits, a mammogram, and lab work.

This year I headed south driving ahead of cold weather. Eastern Idaho, nope, too cold. Northern Utah, nope, too cold.  When I reached Nevada it became much more tolerable, despite the high winds. Eventually, I made my way into San Diego and after almost two weeks at my friend, Pat’s house I have moved back in with Cynthia and Ward. I will remain here through the end of the year.

La Mesa Sunset

It is really good to have such kind and wonderful friends. I feel so honored to be part of such a good network of people throughout this country, Canada, and further. Like attracts like.

When I stayed in La Mesa I had amazing sunsets and I was close enough to walk to the “Secret Steps of La Mesa” (489 steps). It is a workout. There are actually more than one set of stairs. I would climb one and return on the other set, completing a loop back to the house.

La Jolla Shore

Bay Park (I am here now)  is close to Mission Bay and not too far from the Pacific Ocean. I can walk to the Bay. It is only a few miles away. I can hop on my bike and complete a 15-20 mile ride from my current home without a problem. Today I drove the short distance to La Jolla Shores and walked the beach at low tide. It is nice to be near the water.

I am back sheltering in place with two other people. After spending five months mostly alone, it is nice to be with others again. I enjoy the company and hope they do also. We got along well when I was here in the spring and I am sure that will be the case this time. It is nice to move into a place where I am wanted. The nice thing is if we get tired of each other, I can go camping for a few days, come back and everything will be fresh again.

Here I am for the holidays. Enjoying my semi-nomadic lifestyle, visiting friends and completing things that need to get done before I head east at the New Year and take up residence, once again in the desert.

Today I am thankful for good friends, beatiful places where nature abounds and my willingness to explore all of it.

 

 

Back in San Diego

Every year I return to San Diego for my medical and dental check-ups. On October 30 I arrived back in the city. I thought it was going to be a hard entry returning to a big city, with Covid still rampant in this country. It turns out that I had a much easier entry than I expected.

Cold weather spurred me southward. I am talking cold weather. One day in Idaho, it was in the ’70s and the next day I awoke to 14 degrees F. Well, brr…it was time to head south. By the time I reached northern Utah they were predicting single digits for the low, I kept moving south. When I reached Lake Mead in Nevada the weather was definitely more acceptable. I meandered my way south. I did a little hiking and some biking as I camped each afternoon.

Lake Mead

Hoover Dam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met up with a friend, Peggy at the Sprouts Parking lot near Palm Springs. Practicing safe social distancing, we sat on the side steps of our rigs and chatted. Even if I can’t hug my friends I can at least visit and enjoy their company from a distance. Masks were at the ready if we needed them. It was a good visit.

As I traveled south I began to communicate with friends in San Diego. If I want to visit with my local friends I needed to let them know of my pending arrival. Pat is a very good friend of mine. We worked together, meditated together, and over time have become close. When I let her know I was on my way she offered me her San Diego home for a few weeks.  She and her sisters own a home in San Felipe, MX. As the weather cools off her family spends more and more time south of the border. She is there now and she offered me her house in San Diego. I am here until November 10. This house sits on a hillside and I get amazing views of the sunset every night.

A friend of mine said I am lucky to have such good friends who offer me their homes and other opportunities. I don’t know if I consider this luck. I believe like attracts like. I am offered these opportunities because I am a person of value and worth. My friends are people of value and worth. I am honored that people offer me wonderful and unique opportunities and their homes. I value each gift that comes my way. It makes me feel treasured and loved. I treasure and love those that are part of my life.

 

Each and every day I am thankful and grateful for my friends. I am grateful for their love and ongoing support. I treasure them.

 

 

Tour Guiding-A Stolen Bike & A New Bike

Guiding at Torrey Pines Golf Course

In 1997 I quit my career as a nurse. After taking a year off, going back to school and having fun,  I began a search for a new career. A small ad in the local newspaper guided me into a career that continued until I retired. For fourteen years I was a Tour Guide in San Diego and a Tour Director, taking seniors and other ages, on tours throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska, Mexico, and South America. It was a great job and one I was well suited for. Often I was the one who stood at the front of the bus with a microphone in hand, giving tours, maintaining a sense of humor, and guiding everyone to have a good time.

What makes up a good tour guide or director:

  • Knowledge. One has to be willing to research often on the places they guide. Guests expect you to know every rock, tree, flower, and more. In San Diego, I took avail of any local tours, refreshing myself on the local facts and lore. I read books and asked lots of questions. When I was planning an outbound tour, I was often busy for up to six weeks before a trip, preparing and refreshing my knowledge.
  • Humor. When all else fails a good sense of humor will push one through the roughest of patches.
  • Kindness and Caring. What made me so well suited for this job was the fact that I really cared about each person, even the difficult ones, on my trips and tours around San Diego. My goal was to make sure everyone had the best experience possible. I always hoped there might be a “wow” moment for each individual.
  • A willingness to lose sleep. Long after my guests were off to dreamland I was up studying for the next day. If someone was ill in the middle of the night, I was up with them.
  • Flexibility and no I don’t mean that I can touch my toes. When things go wrong on a trip or tour, a good tour guide or tour director needs to be able to change things on the fly.
  • Generally, we need to know how everything works. Where do we meet guests at the airport? Where can the motorcoaches pick up and drop off? How do we register these guests for a conference? What roads do I take to get from point A to point B? The list goes on.

What really made this job worthy of my time, especially on a local level was the sense of community among the local tour guides. Part of work, was meeting up with the other tour guides. I looked forward to seeing everyone I worked with. The tour guides in San Diego are a tight-knit group. We all know each other, we lament with each other, share the joys and gossip, and enjoy hanging out with each other. I love the local tour guides.

My sweet red bike

A few days ago my beloved road bike was stolen. Sigh. As with almost everything I own, it carries a story with it. It is a fast little red Jamis road bike.  Jim, my now deceased husband bought it for me. I loved that bike. I loved riding it with him. After he died I found that riding my bike was the type of sport I still loved the most. When my bike disappeared I was heartbroken and at a bit of loss about what to do.

I immediately discovered grief, again. I know I have to grieve for the loss of this precious bike. Life is about impermanence and this is being taught to me again. Sigh.

I know that I will get a new road bike. I love riding too much to be without one. Until then what was I suppose to do? I went on Facebook (yes I know some of you are not fond of social media) posted on my personal page that I had my bike stolen, and was wondering if anyone had a bike I could borrow until I could buy another bike. Within an hour, yes an hour, a fellow tour guide, Jay, posted on my page that he had a bike that was given to him by another tour guide, Bev, and he wanted to give it to me. I went to his house which is very close to where I am staying, took it for a ride, and came home with a Cannondale M300 mountain bike.

My New Ride

How incredibly cool is this? How kind and caring. The tour guide community in San Diego is strong. Even though I have retired from guiding, I still meet up with guides, catch up on all the gossip, and know that if I need anything at all, I can reach out to most of the guides I know and if they can help, they will. I want to thank Jay for stepping forward and being generous and kind and caring to my need. It is not unusual that people will step forward in a crisis (big or small). It brings out the best in most of us. It certainly brought out the best in Jay and I will be forever grateful for to him and to this blue mountain bike, currently getting tuned up.

In a few days’ time, I will be out on my new bike, learning the ins and outs of a completely different style of bike. It will help me gain new knowledge and skills. I am anxiously waiting to ride it around the bay. I am anxiously waiting for my first ride.

Today and each day I ride that blue Mountain Bike I will be grateful for Jay’s gift to me. I will be thankful for a job that gave me the opportunity to meet and know such fine people. Today and as always I am grateful.

Thank you, Jay. You are the best.

 

It Takes Just One Person-It Takes a Village

Today I went on a bike ride. This is my last day in Borrego Springs for a bit and maybe until next year. I decided to bike to Henderson Canyon Road to see what the flowers looked like. Were they there? Were they big? Were they small? And off I went.

When I arrived at Henderson Canyon Road there were paper napkins all over the road. It appeared that a crate had fallen off something and smashed and it’s contents, the napkins were scattered far and wide. The wind was picking them up and blowing them into my desert. How could that happen? I propped my bike on a sign and decided to take action. I was going to collect every single napkin. I didn’t care how long it took. They were not blowing into my beloved desert.

I knew it was going to be a chore, but I got started. A few minutes passed and another bicyclist rode by. He looked back, turned around, got off his bike and started to pick up napkins. Two more saw us, they got off their bikes and joined our effort. Four more came saw all of us, got off their bikes and started picking up napkins. Before I knew it, every single napkin was in someone’s hands.

What to do with those napkins? Someone had a bag and in they went. Others got stuffed into a day pack. The rest got stuffed into pockets. Except for the smashed wood bits no one would have ever known that a few minutes before there were hundreds of napkins on the road, blowing off into the desert. We picked up every single one.

When the first biker stopped, I laughed when I saw him start picking up napkins. When the others stopped my heart glowed. None of us talked very much, we just went to work. What a team. I enjoyed this moment in time. I truly had no idea this would happen.

One person’s action can have a chain effect. And that is why I titled this post “It Takes Just One Person/It Takes a Village. My action triggered everyone else and for those few moments, we became a village. It was companionable and fun. And when it was done, we thanked each other, mounted our bikes and left. I was proud and delighted.

If I hear someone say, “What difference can just one person make? What difference can I make?” I now know it can make a difference. It is a simple lesson with impactful insight.

It was a good day today.

 

 

 

 

 

Friends in the Desert

A majority of the time I travel alone in my Roadtrek. I hike alone. I bike alone. I have gotten used to my own company, quirks and all.

On January 6, I left San Diego for the desert, Borrego Springs and the Salton Sea (all part of the California Desert). I love to visit the desert to breathe the air, hear the quiet and contemplate. The gentlest of breezes catch my attention. It is my time to renew, refresh and think things through.

The past two years have been different. I meet friends, travel with them, hike with them and more. Most of them I only see once a year, in the desert, in the winter. They arrive from Washington, Oregon, California and further. They come for a few days, a week, or the season.

I feel like I have been a social butterfly.

Peggy and Roger greeted me as I arrived. Peggy and I met traveling in our small B class RVs. Peggy has moved up to a larger rig since she met Roger. Usually, they are here for the winter season. This year they changed it up as they are heading east to take a cruise out of Miami in February.  I had about a week and a half with them before they started the meander east. It’s always fun to meet up with Peggy, she likes to play Bananagram.😁We talk and chat our way through hikes, catching up on everything.

Upon my arrival, Cori was here for a night in her Roadtrek Zion. Cori, like me full times in her little rig. Although our visit was brief we were able to get an evening hike in before dinner and a visit. The following day she pulled out for Quartzite, AZ.

Hiking with Sandy & Pat

On Jan 21 I had to leave for San Diego for a few days. Dr appointments waited. Three days later I arrived back at my free campground to meet up with Sandy and Pat. They own an older Roadtrek and travel each winter. I love these people. Last winter when we met up I had a hard time keeping up with them on the trail. They used to be ultra-marathoners. This year it was much easier. I am in better shape and have been hiking or biking most days since I arrived here.

I never know where I will meet up with Sandy & Pat. One July they were traveling from Britsh Columbia back to the United States and they found me in northern Montana camped next to a lake. We celebrated the Fourth of July together, got some kayaking in, hiked, and had a good steak dinner, then we were on our way in different directions once again. I have met them in Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and California.

Forster’s Tern

Salton Sea

 

Sora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After they left I headed for the Salton Sea. I love birds, all kinds of birds. At this time of year, the Sea is full of migratory and stationary birds. This winter, I have been there three times. It has yet to disappoint. I went for a day with Peggy & Roger (see paragraph 3), once on my own and this time to visit Rhonda and Jim at the Fountain of Youth RV Resort & Spa. Michigan is harsh in the winter so these folks head south in their Roadtrek for a few months every winter. A benefit of the Fountain of Youth are the mineral hot springs that are available when one lodge’s there. They are delightful people and I am glad to have met and become friends with them. I also like that they are up for any adventure. While we visited and caught up, we hiked to palm groves with thousands of palm trees, known as the Dos Palmas and Adreas Grove.

Jim, Janet, Rhonda & Cricket

We also had time to explore the eclectic and funky town of Bombay Beach, and have dinner at the American Legion (the lowest one in altitude in the United States).

I also had serious conversations on this visit with them. I miss Jim, my husband who died from cancer seven years ago, I miss having someone to hash things out with. I am glad my friends are willing to come forward and fill that role when I need someone to talk to. They asked the right questions and hopefully, I found the right answers.

Another day we bird watched along the marshes of the Salton Sea always ending with a visit to the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge to see the resident burrowing owls. Beyond cute! While I was visiting there Gary, another full-time RV’er came in the night before I left to say hi and visit for a couple days. Gary gave me his knee scooter when I broke my ankle five years ago. He and Penny have been on my radar ever since.

Karen & Larry

I left The Fountain of Youth and drove up the street about twenty miles to meet up with Karen and Larry. I met them through my friend, Zee, who is in Mexico for the winter. I first met them on a river trip in Northern Montana on the North Fork of the Flathead River. This is my second year of meeting them in the desert. They are from Oregon and travel in the winter months. The added attraction of my meet-up this year is they have two kitties that travel with them. I needed a kitty fix.

Solei

They followed me back to Borrego Springs and we have been hiking and four-wheeling and of course, talking. There are marvelous things to explore everywhere I go. It is often much more fun to share it with someone else.

The flow of people in and out of my life is something I miss when I am traveling solo. This winter has more than made up for the social side of myself. On days I when I want some solo time I am able to say “I am going biking today” and I get that alone time I need in the desert. It is also nice to retreat to my Roadtrek and close the door when I need to. We all seem very respectful of the time we spend alone and together. Friends do that for each other.

Friday I am returning to San Diego. I am camping posh at an RV resort in Chula Vista for a few nights and then will be camping in another friend’s driveway for several days as I finish with the treatment for thyroid cancer.

I have family that I love and care for and hopefully, they feel the same for me. Yet, I have a true family of friends all over the country and Canada. I am grateful that they include me in their adventures, great and small. I am thankful they open their arms in greeting. I am thankful that they accept me in whatever shape I am at the moment.

Today I am thankful for true and good friends. Today I am thankful.

Conversational Narcissism

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”                      Epictetus

Sunday I took myself out for a late breakfast at a restaurant near where I am camped in San Diego County. The Trails is becoming a favorite of mine. The menu is good and even though it is often crowded and there is a wait, as a single I get to sit at the first come first serve counter. I love sitting there. I never know who is going to be sitting next to me.

The first time I went I met a young man who shared with me all of his favorites on the menu. We had a delightful conversation. Since then I have seen him again. As I walked in he was walking out. Yesterday I met Dan, an older man, an author, and quite the conversationalist. I spent almost two hours chatting with him, learning about his unique and interesting life. For two whole hours, I left my cell phone ignored on the counter, and when it did ring I simply set it to message. I don’t do that often enough these days. It is definitely something I would like to do again and a bit more often.

Lately, I have had some sites cross my Facebook page regarding the topic of Conversational Narcissism. When I reposted it I was amazed at the responses I received. It appears many of us saw a little bit of ourselves in the related post: The Mistake I Made With My Grieving Friend. This article and further articles I have researched on this topic have made me very aware of my human fallacy when attempting to support and listen to my friends and others.

“Conversational Narcissism was coined by sociologist Charles Derber and describes the tendency to turn a conversation back to yourself. Conversational narcissists tend to keep the focus on themselves, so you’re getting attention but not giving any away. It invalidates the other person and what they’re trying to share. The problem is, talking about ourselves is natural, so it’s hard to notice when you’re overdoing it.” (Marissa Lalibert)

I have experienced this with Jim’s death, my own experiences with cancer and currently with the loss of Elsie the Cat. Many times the conversation was turned around to the person who was attempting to listen and support me. There are times that this made me feel unacknowledged and uncomfortable. Never, please never tell someone to move on. Need I say more.

Part of being human is recognizing my own frailties and learning how to change and grow from this recognition. I recognize that I have also been the one turning the conversation to myself. I hope that it happens less now. I am more aware of this conversational tendency and I can catch myself, take a deep breath and turn the conversation back to the person who is needing my support and love.

In my twenties and thirties, I studied medicine and spirituality with the Native American culture. I valued the “Talking Stick”. The Talking Stick is a tool used in many Native American traditions when a council is called. It allows all council members to present their point of view. It is passed from person to person as they speak and only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk during that time period. Using an object, any object is a visible reminder to those of us not holding the stick to be quiet and listen, really listen. The person holding the stick is able to complete a thought or idea. The speaker feels his opinion is respected and valued and considered.

The Society of Friends, more commonly known as The Quakers also practice this art of listening in their Silent Meetings for Worship. “During worship, a message may come to us. Friends have found that messages may be for our personal reflection or for sharing on another occasion. Or they may be led to stand and speak. Friends value spoken messages that come from the heart and are prompted by the Spirit, and we also value the silence we share together. Following a spoken message, we return to the silence to examine ourselves in the Light of that message. Meeting for worship ends when one Friend, designated in advance, shakes hands with his or her neighbors. Then everyone shakes hands. No two meetings are ever the same.”

Back to Dan at the restaurant on Sunday. He was a delightful man with a very interesting past. The longer I sat there, I realized he never asked me anything about myself. For almost two full hours Dan spoke of himself and his life experiences. Dan never even asked me my name. Although I enjoyed hearing of his life and the history of Los Angeles, where he grew up, and what he had achieved in his life, he never once asked me about myself. What was I doing there? Where did I live? The usual conversation openers when people meet for the first time were not present.

In certain circumstances, maybe Conversational Narcissism is OK. I learned a lot from Dan. He was a storyteller and wove the stories of his life in an interesting and ear-catching way. I had a delightful two-hour conversation with him. I did not feel devalued or left out. Even recognizing that he never asked me anything about myself, the two hours were delightful. I had no expectations just a good breakfast companion.

I also think that what we see as a one-sided conversation, maybe contributed to loneliness. Dan lived alone, I live alone. Sometimes when I am around others I will tend to talk more than when I shared my life with Jim and even Miss Elsie the Cat. Yes, I do get tired of my own company. Yes, there are ideas I want to share. I do try to catch myself when I feel like I am talking too much. I believe I do better at this today than when I was younger.

I am sitting in a coffee house as I write this. My ears are a little more tuned into conversations around me. The art of conversation is hard. Unless we have taken classes in the art of conversation, all of us struggle just a little with the whole idea of communicating with others. I was not taught how to converse as I was growing up. You just did it. Sometimes it was successful and others, well, not so much.

As we approach the holiday and we gather with family and friends, our conversational awareness will be tested. The family often is the ultimate test of conversation. They can be the most critical and the most supportive. As I approach Christmas day I hope that I can remember to take a deep breath and truly listen to the joy of others in the celebration of this day.

 

Impatiently Recovering

Walking the Beach-Helps in Healing

It has been a week since I had the other half of my thyroid removed. I am recovering well. I tend to overdo it a bit, then I have to rest up for a day and try again. Sitting still or lounging around has never been me. I like to hike. I like to bike. I like to walk on the beaches. I like to be busy.

Today I went over to my storage unit, yes I do have one of those, and by the time I got there, I did not feel so well. I sat inside my storage unit and pondered why I felt so awful. Oh right, I had major surgery a week ago. Oh right, I have not been drinking enough liquids. Catching a ride with Lyft, I found my way back to the RV park I am staying in and have been lounging the afternoon away and drinking lots of fluids.

The really, really, really good news is that I am cancer-free. The biopsy came in at the end of the week with no trace of cancer. Yes!!! I immediately felt a bit lighter on all levels of my being. The decisions are not done as I have to decide whether I will do the radioactive iodine treatment. I will see both doctors over the next few weeks and will listen to their advice, yet this is a decision I will need to make for myself.

One of the phrases that has been a part of my life since I was diagnosed with breast cancer is “Get all the input you can, make your decisions and then don’t look back”. With that in mind, I am researching radioactive iodine.

Elsie and I moved back into our home on wheels on Tuesday. I am hidden at the back of the campground at Santee Lakes. Although the water is a distance away, I am enjoying the low visitor impact in the back. Each night I hear the coyotes, so you know that Miss Elsie is in before dark.

I am feeling very grateful for my friends, Cynthia, and Ward (who took care of me) and Nancy (who took care of El). Because of their caring and support, I believe that everything went much smoother. My recovery would be flawless if I had remained at my friend’s home. I may not have found myself pushing too far too quickly. That is a lesson that I continue to need to learn.

My friends have been calling and reaching out. I am glad to be remembered. It reminds me, that even at my lowest moments, I am loved and supported by many. I am remaining grateful and thankful for such good friends.

I am so thankful for a No Cancer Moment.

 

Surgery Complete-Recovery Mode in Full Swing

The New Kaiser Hospital

Surgery is done. I am in recovery mode at the moment and feeling very thankful and grateful to my friends who are helping me and Miss Elsie the Cat.

Here are a few things I have learned. Because I had a similar surgery done last April, no two surgeries are alike. Removing half a thyroid is different than removing the other half. When one has half a thyroid left there are certain things that one doesn’t have to be as concerned about.

A few logistics are needed here. I won’t detail it too much as I prefer none of you to get funny or pass out.  There are these little glands, four of them that sit on or next to the thyroid, known as the parathyroids. They control calcium in our bodies. Most of us know that calcium is important to our bone growth. Did you know that calcium is important to muscles as well? Those little parathyroids sometimes like to go into shock when they are manipulated or handled. It can cause a dip, sometimes a big dip in the calcium and our heart may not work so well if that happens.

Why is this important? I ended up spending the night in the hospital post-surgery so that my calcium level could be monitored, just in case. Everything went well and I was discharged the following morning. I was surprised to find out I would be staying. Cynthia, my major support person was surprised as well.

An example of the rooms in the new hospital.

In view of the larger picture, this was just a small blip. If I had to stay in a hospital for the night I could not have been in a better place. The Kaiser hospital in San Diego is brand new. On the floor where I stayed, every room was private. Cool. When they wheeled me in I discovered a beautiful view of Mission Trails Regional Park and Miramar- the Marine base. There was the hugest TV I have ever seen hanging on the wall in front of the bed. I could watch TV, I could watch movies, I could surf the internet, I could watch videos about my health. I could even order my meals, all on that screen.

Remember that I live in about a 200 square foot space so this room and all the amenities were amazing. Drawn behind the TV screen was a picture of the Santa Rosa Mountains in the Anza Borrego State Park. I love the desert, so it was nice to see a view I know well and love.

Beyond all the amenities was the staff. The nurses, aides, and student nurses were amazing and kind and generous with their time. They let me sleep through the night. Yes!!!! Everyone cared for me well and lovingly. I was in good hands with people who appeared to love their job and cared about me.

Now I am back at Cynthia’s and Ward’s, recovering, being fed and loved. Today I am achy and sore, tomorrow I am sure I will be better. It is hard to be patient and allow myself the downtime to recover. Usually, the body wins out and off I go to take a nap.

Miss Elsie, meanwhile is hanging out with Nancy a long and good time friend, who Elise has always liked. I am sure she is getting loved and cared for. I hope Nancy is enjoying her company as well. Elsie can be Miss Personality when she chooses.

So, there is an update. I am still alive and working on thriving again. I will know the biopsy results in about ten working days. My main job currently is to rest and recover and enjoy the attention.

Thank you, all of you for your support and caring and loving thoughts as I worried my way into and out of surgery. Today I am thankful for every single one of you, known and unknown who encourage me and support me through my life.

Yes, I am still breathing.