Sunday, January 23, 2011

Granada and The Lost Boys

January 23
I arrived in Granada this morning, met up with the rest of the group of volunteers and got on another bus to Laguna Apoyo. It sits under Mount Mombocho, a dormant volcano. We swam, ate and generally chilled out.

Once back in Granada, we split up and a small group of us wandered around the mercado after a cup of lovely Nicaraguan coffee, mas fuerte!

After dinner we were standing in the hotel lobby and an American man approached us. He feeds some of the homeless boys and is working to help them stop sniffing glue. Two of the boys had a high fever, would one of us come take a look? There were eight or nine raggedy, skinny boys ranging in age from 8 to 13 or 14. Three of them had fever, sore throat, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and a cough. One just had fever and lymph nodes. They all wanted attention and love. There wasn^t much I could do except hand out ibuprofen and hugs.

Grammatical caveat. The Central American computer keyboard has many subtle differences which is causing me to pull my hair out. So if you see punctuation that doesn´t seem quite right, just bear with me this week.

January 24

We started clinic today. The day started with a trip to a pharmacy to purchase medications to give out. All together I saw twenty five patients from the ages of 4 months to 80 years. Just a regular day. Paula, an RN from North Carolina, worked with me today. Boy was I happy to have her. After work, we went to a boy´s orphanage for our daily mass. It was in spanish today. My language skills are picking up! We took all the boys for pizza afterword. Tomorrow we go to a girl´s home called Calcutta. I wish I had time to record everything that´s happening here. Every minute feels significant.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bienvenidos a Nicaragua

There is a certain joy that comes with traveling to the tropics in the winter when one has been freezing their tushie for the last couple of months. I´m on the hotel computer at the Best Western hotel across the street from the airport in Managua, Nicaragua, waiting for my room to cool off.

There are all sorts of flowers blooming in the courtyard and the moon is up. In the morning Í´ll be catching a shuttle to Granada, where I´ll be staying for the rest of the week. The plane was loaded with Minnesotan women who were coming to volunteer with an orphanage through their church. All of them very blond and tall and thrilled to be leaving the artic temps behind. I sat next to a gentleman from Monroe, Louisiana who was here on his fourth trip to Acatal, bringing medical and building supplies. He still had a four hour bus trip into the mountains after reaching the airport.

It still feels unreal that I´m here and I´ve got that "just traveled for 12 hours" sort of manic feeling. A good night´s sleep followed by some Nicaraguan coffee should fix me right up.

Stay tuned. Hopefully, I´ll be able to get an internet connection on my laptop tomorrow. If so, there will be some photos!

Buenos Noches.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birthdays, Triathlons, etc.

First off; the triathlon! I finished and won first place in my age group. I'm pretty sure I was the only woman in my age group, but whatever. I didn't even know how to swim when I started training for this thing in July. The run was my fastest time ever, I was completely shocked. My bike, Fabio the Italian Stallion, developed a flat from a slow leak in the rear tube. This made the bike section but slow and excruciatingly painful. I still finished thanks to the handy-dandy CO2 cartridges that I was given and finished the swim in record time. Technology is our friend.

So I think I'll do another one. The people that I met were friendly and supportive beyond words. The feeling that I came away with is that my body, with the appropriate amount of preparation, would do anything I asked of it and that my mind can get around just about anything.

Tomorrow is my 40th birthday. I'm not sure what 40 is supposed to feel like but this is not bad. If this is the ramp up for the rest of my life, bring it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

My family made the trek to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. It seemed like there were a lot more of us than usual, but it was hard to tell until we actually all sat down for the meal. My father came from Albuquerque. His wife, Kay, stayed behind with her parents. My middle brother, Josh, brought his wife and all four children and my youngest brother Aaron brought his wife and three year old son. I think the final head count was around 10, but I only fed 8ish. The three year old was at the end of his rope by the time we ate and my nephew Jaden, who has Down's Syndrome, takes his meals through a J-tube.

It was complete chaos and I loved every second of it. Of course, I was in the kitchen the majority of the day. That meant that I didn't have to manage the children. My niece, Alyssa was a huge help. She set the table, snapped the beans, and took out the trash. My nephew Brandon peeled potatoes, took out the compost, and also helped with the table. Dad helped me cook.

My turkey was fabulous. I tried something new this year: a citrus salt rub on the outside. It sounds kind of strange but the salt seals all that moisture inside the bird so that it's incredibly juicy and tender. It was the first time I've cooked a turkey in many, many years and it was spectacular!

When it was time for people to leave, it was bittersweet. I was reminded all day of my sheer good fortune. I have so much love in my life, a beautiful family, great friends, work that feeds my soul, and great health. I only wish I'd taken more pictures.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Self-medicating is the way in which people use mind altering substances to manage anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Schizophrenics smoke cigarettes at much higher rates than people without mental illness and have a harder time quitting. Let's face it; most of us have sub-par coping skills and need something to help us through the scary bits. This doesn't have to be getting high, getting drunk, or smoking. It can be religion, relationships, sex, food, shopping, or gambling.

I have a long history of getting involved with men who are addicts. They had the easily recognizable type of addictions: mostly alcohol and prescription painkillers. We'd do the usual codependent dance before I'd get dizzy and nauseous and then I'd be surprised when the relationship ended in disaster. I've been trying to sort out the reason why this particular cycle keeps repeating itself. It's because relationships and sex are my addictions. They are the way that I cover up the anxiety I feel, the darkness of loneliness and my fear that I won't be loved. That I'll die old and alone and my fifty german shepherds will devour my corpse because no one will notice that I'm gone.

One of the first things that a person who is self medicating has to do is stop doing what she's been doing because it isn't fixing the problem. The solution is making the problem worse. Then she needs to address the underlying damage, the "why". The why is low self esteem and fear. The real solution is love.

I'm not talking about more relationships, more sex. I'm talking about loving yourself and recognizing the love that's already there under our noses. Our friends, families (as dysfunctional as they are), our pets, your particular version of divinity. These are all sources of brilliant, warm, unflinching adoration and love. Holy cow! Most of the time we don't even recognize how lucky we are. It's an embarrassment of riches!

The other major part of recovering from addiction is abstaining from the thing that has been covering up the fear in such a self destructive fashion. Alcoholics have to stop drinking. Drug addicts have to stop using. Relationship addicts have to be single. We all have to go through a period of detox in order to deal with the frightening darkness. There's no way to deal with the darkness without the light of love.

I'm going to keep working on this. I'm no longer willing to do the codependent hokey-pokey. I'm going to learn some new dance steps.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm Ba-ack!

Well, hello there. I'm sure all three of my followers have long since given up on me and my blog. I'd nearly given up on it as well. But it's been an interesting year+, I'm about to turn 40, and I figure there's some self examination coming due.

Here are the highlights of 2009-10;
1. Relationships with two lovely men that, in the end, I could not commit to for various reasons.
2. Bought the midlife crisis mobile, a 2002 sunburst yellow mazda miata.
3. Katie turned 16 and we went to New Orleans in July. Hot. No joke.
4. A couple of near-misses with family members. Fortunately, they are still with us.
5. Another trip to New Orleans last December and a Southern coastal odyssey in March that began in North Carolina and ended in Florida. We rescued that trip from the flames and don't ever want to repeat it.
6. Started training for my first triathlon.
7. Learned to swim to prepare for first triathlon.
8. Moved from my house in the country to a cute little place 4 blocks from work. It's not nearly cold here but it's only November.
9. Three patients died by their own hands.
10. Began to examine my spirituality from a different angle.
11. Rode 40 miles in the Santa Fe Century, farther than I'd ridden ever, then went to bed for ten days with the flu.
12. Chickens. Wanda. No Chickens.
13. Ran my very first 5k race, the Duke City Marathon. I started training for that race when I was twenty, hurt my knee, got distracted with several cute guys and finished with big 'ol grin on my face, faster than I though I would. With food poisoning and 3 hours of sleep.

What's Coming Up:
1. Polar Bear Triathlon. If there's a hard way to do something, I'll do it. A triathlon. In December. Non-standard distances. Instead of a 5k run, it's a 7k. Instead of a 12 mile bike ride, it's 20 miles. And the swim is at the end. My goal is not to drown.

2. My 40th Birthday. With it, a big party with friends coming into town from all over and free lift passes from Sipapu Ski Resort.

3. Big Christmas Vacation. Beach, Katie, good friends, fish tacos.

4. Living single for a while. Yeah, I know I've said that before.

Yes, it's been an eventful time. There are a few goals for the upcoming year;

1. Grow my community here in Las Vegas. I'm going to be here, it seems, for a while longer. The people that I've met are wonderful, warm, and fascinating and I want more of that. I'm not sure how that's going to work, but I'm keeping myself open to opportunities.

2. Compete in more races; triathlons, 5k's, 10k's, whatever. The thought of a 1/2 marathon crossed my mind, but let's not get crazy. Crossing that first finish line with the cheering crowds with the endorphins kicking in was an unbelievable experience. More of that, too, please.

3. 2011 is a travel year. The itinerary is a little vague right now, though.

4. Continue to explore the interesting turn my spirituality is taking. More on that as we go.

5. Take some time to really be alone. Previously, I've removed myself for three months from relationships. Now a year or more may be in order. This will be discussed ad nauseum for the next 12 months or until I get my head screwed on straight. Not for the delicate constitutions.

6. Rebuild my savings account. I'm not broke by any means, but my accounts took a few hits this year. A little more discipline is in order.

So, there.

See ya in a few days.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where did I put my summer?

I've been out of the blog-o-sphere for the last two and a half months. Katie came for the summer and it seemed like every waking minute was packed. We went white water rafting, she had friends come to visit, and we spend a few days in Pagosa Springs. Katie got some babysitting gigs and took art lessons. I got a new bike, a fabulous Bianchi Volpe that I ride all the time. I rode in two charity events in Albuquerque; one for the American Diabetes Association and the other for NM AIDS Services. In September I'm planning to ride the century in the Durango Fall Blaze and Celebration. Hopefull, 'll be up for the mileage and the crazy climbs!

My twenty year high school reunion was last month. Whoah! That was a little weird. There were a few folks with whom I was glad to reconnect, most I already had via the magic of Facebook, but others I didn't remember. It was like one of those strange dreams where you are supposed to be taking a test, but it's in a language you never studied.

Anyway, the activity isn't looking like it's going to slow down. I'll get some pictures up pretty soon and try and keep the blog interesting for the three of you who read it.