Writing 101: A Character Study

characterwelcome

 

Shortly before this course started, I posted a blog about 4 incredible women that I have met in the years since I’ve been ill, but I don’t want to talk about them today.  Today I want to describe a man that has touched my heart and my life in ways that no one else has and probably never will.  He isn’t my boyfriend or my husband or my partner, but he is my truest friend that I could ever wish for.

I met this man close to 20 years ago when we both worked for the same company and we have both changed a lot since then.  I remember being intimidated by his stature at first, because he was an ex navy officier, who stood up straight, walked with a steady and deliberate gait (even in his cowboy boots) and had the biggest belt buckle I have ever seen.  His thinning hair was covered by a 10 gallon cowboy hat and his silver trimmed glasses highlighted his kind eyes. Beneath all of these clothes was a man who exuded positivity, warmth and love.

When he walks into a room, he commands respect, but not in a snobbish, pretentious way.  You just sense that this man has something important to say and that being around him will make you feel good.   He speaks in a calm and gentle tone and in all the years we’ve been friends, maybe he’s raised his voice once.  When he speaks to you, you believe in him and in what he has to say.

He is a protector of people and I have been protected by him in many ways, both on the job and in my personal life.  Since I’ve been ill, he has come to my rescue on so many occasions that it’s hard to recall them all, but he was the one that took me to my disability hearings so that I wouldn’t have to go through it alone.  When I had to stop working and go on disability, he bought me an ipad, so that I could keep myself occupied and during the first holiday season that I was sick, he came and picked me up and drove me around NYC so that I could see the holiday decorations.   When I had to move because of my illness, he handled the movers and made sure my apartment was empty and clean.  He makes me feel safe whenever I am near him and he doesn’t even have to do anything but be himself.

But he doesn’t only protect his loved ones, he was the last man out on our floor when our office buildings were evacuated on 9/11.  He made sure everyone else got to safety before he left the building and then he made sure to secure our computer and data systems, so that our company would be protected from downtime and data loss.

His approach to life, when I first met him was very foreign  and strange to me, but as time went on, I began to start to see life as he did.  He was an example of the “law of positive attraction” and he taught me to ask the universe for things and to change my thought process.

Although I am still working on this, as it doesn’t seem to come easily to me, to him, it’s second nature and there is no other way. He never seems to worry about little things, such as checking the bus or train schedule.  He believes whenever he gets to the station, there will be a train waiting for him.  He never worries about finding parking spots because they always open up when he drives on a block.  He  never worries about how much things cost because he believes everything will even out in the end.  He is generous to a fault, to the people that matter to him and I am lucky enough to be included in that group.

This man is one of a kind, and I thank my lucky stars ever night that he walked into my life that day.  When he greets you, he encompasses your body with a big warm bear hug or when he calls you on the phone and says “Morning”  in his southern drawl, you know things will always be alright as long as you have him on your side and in your corner.

 

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Doctor – Patient Relationship

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I was brought up to respect my elders and to listen to what they told me.  I always looked at doctors with awe and listened intently to anything they would tell me and to always follow their directions.  But lately, I am realizing that they too are just people, doing a job. Unfortunately, they are not fully invested in helping me get well.  I am just another appointment on their calendar to get through.  Heck, they don’t even show up on time for 90% of the appointments.

As I sat waiting in a doctor’s office yesterday afternoon, I had plenty of time to think.  The appointment was at 1:15 and I was seen by the doctor at 3:45.  The doctor is a genuinely nice man, highly respected in his field and his staff is exceedingly friendly (which is a big plus), but I still had to wait over 2 hours.

I will continue to see this doctor, as I value his advice and he is very respectful and courteous and doesn’t rush you during the exam (which is why you have to wait so long), but their are other doctors that I am currently seeing that I am seriously considering severing the relationship with.

I recently read an article about the relationship with your doctor and it stated “With a good doctor, you always leave the office feeling that they care about you.”  I can’t say that is true in most of my experiences.  I guess I’m not alone in feeling like this because the article also states that 2/3 of patients worldwide say that they are dissatisfied with their doctors, but many stick with them anyway because they assume all doctors will treat them the same way.  The other major reason we stick with a doctor is because we are worried about offending them or we are just so overwhelmed by the idea of finding someone new and starting all over again.

I am guilty of these 3 reasons of sticking with doctors, long after I know I should move on.  Recently, I had a test done at a lab and sent copies of the results to 2 different doctors (Dr. E and Dr. G).

Dr E. called me back within a week to discuss my results and a plan of action to help me improve the situation.  It involves starting a new medicine, with major possible side effects.  Dr. E spent a substantial amount of time on the phone with me answering my questions and then gave me her email address and said if I have any side effects or any additional concerns, just drop her an email.  I have always loved this doctor and her handling of my current situation is just another reason why I am glad I did change doctors, because the previous specialist I was seeing was so rude and dismissive to me, that I left the office in tears (that’s the first and last time I hope that happens).  But even after I left the office in tears, I told myself that maybe she’s having a bad day and I should give her another chance.  I did use her one more time and while she wasn’t as rude, I just didn’t like the experience in her office, even with her help.  They weren’t understanding of my needs and I promised myself I would look for another doctor.

Getting back to my current results, Dr. G’s office called me back two weeks after the test was done and the assistant requested that I make an appointment to see the doctor to discuss the results.  I explained my situation and asked if the doctor could get on the phone for 5 minutes and I could discuss the treatment plan my other doctor suggested.  The following day the assistant called me back and said I have to come in to see the doctor and that she wouldn’t be giving me advice over the phone.

Now which doctor do you think I’m going to continue to see?  In this situation, it’s really cut and dry, but many situations aren’t as clear. The article stated there are 5 common signs that suggest you need to change your doctor.  They are:

  1. The doctor. doesn’t tailor recommendations to your life
  2. The doctor is always running late
  3. The doctor rushes you
  4. The office is disorganized
  5. The doctor is arrogant

So from now on, I will periodically reevaluate my satisfaction with the doctors I see (and unfortunately there are many).  If I don’t feel as if I’m working as a team with my doctor and that we are not partners in this important relationship, I will look for another doctor.

It’s easier to find a doctor these days, then it is a potential mate, so why suffer with either relationship when you know in your heart it’s time to move on.

Writing 101: Be Brief (The Letter)

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As I walked home I saw a woman walking quickly ahead of me and then I noticed something fell out of her pocket.  I called for her, but she didn’t hear me and her pace was quickening so I couldn’t catch up to her.  I bent down to pick up the paper and it was a letter addressed to her boyfriend:
“Honey, I have so many mixed emotions and feelings when I think of you and I.  Yesterday was such a pleasant afternoon and the person that I fell in love with was present, but  lately I haven’t seen much of that person.  I talk about you sometimes as if you are 2 people, because that’s what it seems to me.  There’s the sweet guy with a heart bigger than anyone I’ve every met, but there’s also the angry, negative one that sucks the life out of you and who has hurt me more times than I care to remember.  I’ve come to realize that promises of “your heart” are fleeting because you are such an emotional being and this emotion makes you act irrational at times.”
The rest of the letter must still be in her pocket as it just ended abruptly, or had she decided not to continue writing the letter.  I guess I will never know, but I think about that girl and the emotional pain she was feeling that afternoon.

Writing 101: A Room with a View (or Just a View)

http://www.nyhabitat.com (photo NY-14516D71)

 

I live in New York State, currently in one of the 5 boroughs, less than 10 miles from Manhattan.  Until I became ill and had to move out of Manhattan, I lived in NYC for 20 years, in the same apartment building.

Manhattan was great when you are able to walk around, take public transportation and have enough money to order in meals. But once I became confined to my apartment because of my illness, Manhattan became a horrible place to live.

Parking was a nightmare and none of my friends or family  could come visit me during the day, even on weekends it was difficult. I was a prisoner in my apartment, when I lived in the busiest city in the country, the city that never sleeps.  I sat in my apartment day after day,  looking out my window, seeing the world pass me by, as I tried to figure out what my illness was.

If I had to leave the apartment, I would count the steps required to walk up the block to the bus stop and then would picture in my mind how many steps were required to get to the doctors office that I needed to get to on that particular day.  My social life consisted of doctor visits and occasional phone calls when I had the energy.

My living room became my solace and I can still picture every last inch of it.  It’s etched in my mind and I loved being in that room.  I had lived in my apartment prior to my marriage and then remained there after my divorce.  Once my divorce was finalized, I redecorated the place so that I would have a fresh start.  I love to decorate and to pick out colors.  I don’t look at this process as work, or as a chore, like so many people do.  I was enjoying this process and everything I choice, I loved.

So if I could be transported back to one place, I would love to be able to go back to my old apartment in NYC and be healthy and once again enjoy what Manhattan has to offer.  I would visit the WTC Museum and have lunch at my favorite neighborhood place, which served the best grilled chicken salad, with hearts of palm and roasted artichokes.  Then I would walk cross town and go see the Broadway play Aladdin.

I probably wouldn’t have wanted to live in Manhattan forever, but I would have wanted to leave on my own terms and not be forced to leave because I became ill, went on disability and got fired from a company where I worked for 15 years at a job I absolutely loved.

Women Power & Purpose

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We have just passed the sad anniversary of when I went out on Disability.  I have been thinking about the 4 years since that happened and what has occurred in my life.  And what has stood out to me, has been the stand out and stand up Women I have met in this time.  I have met 4 women, through the course of my new journey that are Powerful, Grateful, Kind and Loving all in different ways, but all in ways that reach out to you.

3 of these women, I am proud to call my friend.  The 4th is a recent addition to my world, but she is unlike anybody I have ever met, as she is a Nun, who is also a Licensed Massage Therapist.  I went for a massage yesterday and also received a blessing as she prays at the beginning and end of the session.  I am not religious and not even Catholic, but yesterday I felt the presence of God during the session.  I so wish this woman was my grandmother, as she has spunk beyond her years and a twinkle in her eye.

All these women have their own life stories to tell, filled with their own trials and tribulations, yet all show up every single day with a welcoming smile on their face and are just grateful to be here another day.  Another one of these woman is a Reiki Healer and being with her is like transcending time.  When you are with her, an inexplicable peace just fills your body and you feel calm and relaxed.  There is an energy emitted by this woman and it too envelopes you beyond which any words can describe.

The last 2 women, are either struggling with their own illness, or the illness of a close loved one, yet they are grateful and appreciative for everything good thing in their life and try not to dwell or drown with the bad part.

I am so eternally grateful that my illness has brought these 4 Amazing Women to me.  They are role models and mentors in many ways and I hope they all know how much their friendship means to me.  I think about how they struggle, yet always sound cheery when we speak and never complain about these troubles, just talk about them as part of their life.

When you are struggling with a chronic illness or dealing with a chronic illness the illness creates your “new normal”, in such that now it is part of your new life and going back to your old life is not even possible.  Right now all I can do is accept my “new normal” and be thankful that I have these “new friends” to share them with.

 

The Happiness of your Life

thehappinessofyourlife

I have been listening and watching  self help, gratitude and positive affirmation videos and I really must admit what a positive and refreshing experience it is to hear uplifting thoughts about yourself and the universe.

The real trick is to keep replaying these thoughts in your head and start to belief them.  It’s hard when real life interferes with your perception of how you should be living, but based on what I’m learning if we change the texture of our thoughts, our life will change.

It is hard to change thought patterns when you are in your mid 50s (can’t believe I am in my 50s, but I am).  You have grown up believing certain things and have been doing things in a certain way for so long, that it is hard to change.  But if change means improving your life and being happier with your life, than that is worth trying.

I am going to follow these beliefs and see where my life takes me:

  • All is well in my world and I trust the Universe to take me where I need to go
  • What is right for me will come to me at the appropriate time
  • I am loving and I am loved
  • I am willing to grow and change and I am always open and receptive to new ideas
  • I know I can become more than what I am now, not Better but MORE

Life is as it is.  It’s all about our perception of our current situation and our level of gratitude.  I am grateful for so much in my life and will not dwell on what I can not change.

Gone Fishing

gone fishing

 

I’ve been on a self imposed vacation brought on by Mother Nature’s ways and have been inside for the past 7 days.  I wasn’t at home and was staying with a relative and decided to check out from my everyday routine and pretend I was away for the week.

I gave myself a mental holiday, even though physically I wasn’t able to do much.  I must admit it was great to be out of my home for a week and to change my routine ever so slightly.  I had company 24/7, had someone to eat meals with and someone to hear whatever thought popped into my head when it did.  I had forgotten how nice it was to live with someone and have someone in the home with you.

I have lived by myself since 2006 when I got divorced.  I kind of felt like I was living alone for some of my marriage too, so really I have lived alone for a long time.  I had told myself that it was best that I did live alone because who would put up with my crazy and stringent rules for myself.  Resting after cleaning, resting after showering, resting, resting throughout the day.  There are so many times during the day I just need absolute quiet and can’t think of interacting with anyone.  I couldn’t imagine being around someone for so much time.

This week showed me that if I had the “right” someone perhaps I would be able to live with someone again.  It’s different when you are already in a committed relationship and become ill.  Your life partner should be there “in sickness and in health” and while a chronic illness does put a huge strain on the relationship, a truly compassionate and understanding partner will stick by you.

It’s a whole other story, when you meet someone when you are already ill.  They really don’t owe you the love and support you get from a partner in an established relationship.  I think it takes a very, very special person to fall in love and move forward in a relationship with someone who has a chronic, life long, debilitating illness.

I’m not saying these people don’t exist, but considering the dating scene for a healthy active individual and how hard it is to find someone late in life that you are compatible with,  it’s nothing short of a miracle to find someone when you are dealing with an illness.