Friday, May 27, 2011

Coping with Change

Writing in a vacant C4, no longer a home but a real estate parcel primed and ready for the snatching. I’m a guest, not resident. Accessory, not integral. I didn’t want this change. I’ll just admit – it’s been excruciating.

Intuitively, a part of me has known for a while that the end of this chapter was coming, although not long ago I thought I'd return to this same place, life post-Alaska. Variables redirected fate. I lived here longer than anywhere of my choosing, changed this place to reflect something of myself, was changed by it in return. Yet all the comfort, investment, and desire in the world couldn’t keep me within these walls. I’m back to rolling stone status, moving forward on the momentum side of the summit having survived the upslope, aka the ‘shove for your life against gravity lest ye be trampled’ part. Even though it’s passed now, that’s what I want to write about – the hard part, and coping.

I’ve babied myself at times, said sweet and supportive words internally to keep the motor running and spirits afloat in all this, and been not only better off for it but surviving and capable because of it. Days ago out of a similar need for comfort a child displays toward a blanket, I wanted to wear a specific jacket, black, zippered, soft lining. An easier option – polyester, pull over, green, not what I wanted - was in arms reach; my pragmatic side said take it and move along, but the part of me needing comfort wailed in revolt. I wanted to do the tasks, knowing I had to – just wanted to do them while wearing that jacket. Went out of my way to accommodate myself, happier inside and comforted even in such a small gesture.

I slept in a few days, saw some movies, let other people make most of my meals, made a trip to Boise I didn’t have time for, chose to just be with the people I love, enjoying the moments without dragging the upheaval in. I’ve finally, after all these years, learned the value of escapism as well as kindness to self. And, letting things be. Crucial lessons I was desperately in need of.

For the record, I’m not going ALL soft. I went to the dentist this week. Overburdened and breathless, I was running late. They didn’t know if they’d have time for the procedure, but were trying to accommodate knowing that I’m leaving for the summer. To save time, I asked them to skip the anesthesia. They looked at me like I was crazy or kidding but proceeded to drill, commenting on my apparently remarkable tolerance, lack of flinching/whining/tears. If they only knew that those ten minutes were the easiest and least painful of the day, a respite of sorts. Moving really, really sucks.

However, I’ll blow my cover, anesthesia comes out of a needle - I really am a bit of a pansy. ;)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Making, Taking, Breaking Waves

I'm back on board as a card carrying, Wilderness Medicine Institute certified Wilderness First Responder - may I help you? :) That's our a patient pickup line - and one I'd rather not have to use, for the record.

Been thinking of cumulative life experience lately, and the little things I'm grateful for. Even boring and tedious things have significance and transferability into bigger experiences. Everything counts.

The WFR experience has been a good one and provided a wealth knowledge drawn on in many moments following my initial certification in 2006. Aside from first aid stuff on the river and in the mountains, I've been first or nearly first on the scene of three major highway accidents and treated a half dozen strangers for shock while waiting for urban medical teams to arrive. Shock is a fascinating biological response; when the body experiences trauma, ie blood loss, it responds by shunting (my new pet word) its juices (literally, blood) to the vital organs. 

 I've thought often about this idea of shock, the shunting of energy to where it most matters - and how that goes beyond physical survival and into the broader picture of my life. You know, you put your energy where it counts kinda thing. Something I've mentioned before. So much of this winter has been seismic, shifting, grand scale changes in my mind and heart. Shock comes in many forms. 

This past week I was sitting on the banks of the flood swollen Bear River just over the Idaho border north of Logan, renewing my Swiftwater Rescue certification. It was raining, a cold dreary kind, a pervasive dampness sank past the layers, through the neoprene and flesh of me into my bones. I'm sitting there attempting not to shiver, mentally preparing myself to dive sidelong (never head first!) into the current, swim for my life through a wave train, hop on the bank and ready myself with a rope to stage rescue for the next swimmer. It crosses my mind that clean warm fresh folded laundry, making hot meals and nursing babies might not be so terrible. Whoa. Did I just think that? 

I've loved every minute of this gypsy life. This is who I am, where I've been, what I've gleaned from the earth and my presence on it and how I've chosen to actively live. I'll love life still, no matter where my paths carry me, but I think a part of the fight in me has outgrown the wanderer's shoes, and that I have nothing further to prove on this front. This has been a long time coming, often in my blog I've spoken of travels, love, independence, futures unknown and moments ripe for the relishing. Of making space and making waves.  I've seen more than a few of my ilk go into a headlong battle against growing up, loving and being loved, settling down - and people have lost that battle, or won it in a way traditionally not accepted, depending on your perspective. I don't know the meaning of all things - but I do know that in me there has been a shift in willingness, intention, and a death of a former aversion - and I'm okay with that.

I'm in the rounds of final preparation for Alaska, takeoff is in nineteen days. Certifications are finished. Still have some gear to purchase, much to do. A surprise not wholly unanticipated cropped up in the game plan: I have to move out of C4. Like right now, before I leave for AK, rather than parking my car and domestic implements there in my absence and walking right back in the door of my established life and domicile upon return.The HOA has decided to take action on some issues and as a result, they'll be demolishing part of the apartment I've occupied. I can't stay even if I want to. I don't love this, it's not what I had intended - except in that there's nothing I can do about it, so I'm just going to take it head on with acceptance and see what the future holds. That's all you can do with some things in life. Like a medical diagnosis, a death, a devastation - walk forward with juicy loving acceptance and faith in the unknown.  

I know this beautiful woman, a poet, a dreamer, a teacher - in the throes of a personal tragedy, she tattooed a symbol of sap into her arm to represent active healing, bleeding willingly, having capacity to recover. It's stuck with me and I've thought often of that idea as even minor things have come up on the horizon. Much of my supposed anchors have been cut loose in the past few months, and though I feel sort of adrift in this freedom - in other regards, I have never felt so sure that my course is being divinely guided and directed for the best outcomes. 

AK, here I come. The countdown is on. 
Much love, y'all.