Friday, July 31, 2009

Saving Up Joys

Sometimes when the world weighs heavily, I realize that I've forgotten a very important element in life: to remember the simple warm pleasures that keep us going from day to day without contemplating homicide.

Today, I took a short walk at lunchtime (really, 2 p.m. but that was as soon as I could get out). I expected unbearable, stifiling heat and humidity as predicted, but as I walked toward the "river" (it's smaller than what we called a "creek" back home), a little breeze stirred the leaves and a breath of fresh air moved through. For that moment, I enjoyed the sensations of being outside on a beautiful day. My heart felt light and I closed my eyes and filled my lungs with the bright air. Can you smell sunshine? A little bit of a smile crept onto my face and my death grip on the stresses of life loosened just a little.

As I walked back up the hill toward the city square, the sun on my face and my eyes half closed, I focused on the lightness I felt in my chest and vowed to keep a piece of it there to guard against stress.

I think that we take way too few moments like this, to feel really GOOD inside, and we should probably all try to slip away and seek such things out more often. I think I'll make it a challenge to myself to do so. I'll keep you posted on how I do.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Best Things

I'm going to call it a success. We just got back from a family vacation to the Grand Canyon and other fun spots in Arizona. I had fun, hubby had fun, even my teenage alien son had fun--at least he admitted enjoying a few things on the trip. But the real success was in the tiniest things. Said son voluntarily helped carry luggage on several occasions. He was overheard telling animated stories about our trip to friends on the phone (the one that has nearly become a part of his ear over the last year). He did cannonballs into the pool near my head. He helped us into and out of the boat.

And one moment I won't forget. We rode an old school bus back from the Colorado River rafting trip and the stars were more brilliant than I've seen them in years. Perfectly framed in our window was Cassiopia and I pointed the constellation out to him. He studied the stars for a minute, asked a question to confirm that he had identified the right 5 stars, and responded that he could see it. A few minutes later I commented on how brilliant the stars were there, in the desert--and his response was "Y'know mom, we could still drive back to that place [Lowell Observatory] and look through the telescope tonight."

Despite his teenage alien status, he had been listening--when we couldn't go viewing 3 nights prior because of the weather, and when we toured the Observatory the previous morning--and not only that, he realized I hadn't been able to do something I would have loved and he cared enough to offer to do it that night after a full day on the river.

Of our whole week, I think I'll remember that moment as the best.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Cat Can Talk

No seriously, she can. Not in English, mind you, but in a fairly straightforward dialiect of feline that's easily translated. You laugh, but she can.

Some very basic background is required. We have 3 cats. Two of them ("the twins") or actually the quintuplets--of which we have a brother and sister--are 6 years old. He, Tiger, is an orange tabby and she, Storm, is an amazing mixture of colors and patterns, of which black, orange and white are the most prominent. The third is Frankie, all white with blue eyes (she can hear) who came along as a stray with a bullet in her femur (that's another story for another day.)

It's been a while since I first noticed that Storm's vocalizations are quite complex. She will sometimes give half to almost full meows, high to low in pitch, with churps and gurgles interspersed with some purr/growl noises. It's easy to recognize that she's talking to you when she does this--she looks at you and even cocks her head for emphasis at the right places.

One night not long ago, Tiger and Storm went out to our attached garage to look for mice (or generally explore) before dinner. Unfortunately for them, we went to bed and forgot to let them back in the house until the next morning, when my husband let them in for breakfast. When I came downstairs a little later, a very indignant Storm was sitting on the counter, in the corner you must walk by to get to the coffee (she doesn't get on the counter often). Boy, did she ream me out for leaving them in the garage!! She lectured me with for minutes with meows, chirps, growls, nodding and cocking her head, looking straight at me--and I knew precisely what she meant.

Ok, you say, but that doesn't prove she can talk.

But wait, there's more: fast forward 2 weeks, when Tiger went into the garage but Storm didn't, and "somehow" we forgot him out there. I got up early the next morning for work, and Storm met me before I got to the chair where I put my shoes on. She started in with the same cat lecture, the exact same meow/chirp/growl/mew in the same tones, with eye contact and nodding for emphasis, and I immediately knew that she was telling me that her brother was left in the garage all night. Without shoes I went out to the kitchen and let him in--and Storm had nothing further to tell me. She licked his face and went back to watching me put my shoes on.

She's one smart cat!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What Doesn't Kill You--

As I started my blog, I had quite a few ideas about what I wanted to write about; different interests, "causes" (such as they are), events. Yesterday, however, I had a wake-up call while at my allergist, in the form of the news that my blood pressure is high. So today I've watched it and it's even higher.

Hypertension. From my medical background, I know it's not something you mess with--they don't call it the "silent killer" for nothing. I've had a stressful week-plus, been very poor with exercising regularly for several months, have had regular alcohol intake, and have not lost that weight I'm supposed to be losing. All can raise your blood pressure. I'm scared. I've given myself a week to two weeks (since in a week I'm leaving on vacation) to exercise, relax, eat a better diet, etc., until I report myself to my internist. If that happens, I know what she'll do. It's not where I want to go, as a 'kid' just over 40.

So I'm dedicating myself with new purpose to regular exercise, diminshed indulgence, and increased awareness of stress relief so I can get back to where I need to be!