Monday, February 18, 2013

In Training

Discovery Bay: there's an eagle on the pilings; look closely!
I have shared with a few close friends my plans for this next phase of my life, but it seems like when you put energy in a new direction, if it is for the highest and best good for all concerned, the Source (God/Universe) jumps in and gets things moving - sometimes faster than you are really prepared to have it happen!

I returned to Washington State with the intent of healing my back issues, and beginning to re-structure my life in the U.S.  I have not given up on my Colombia life, but it has to take a back seat while I get my health in line with my vision. That, dear readers, is to continue to be of service, and many, many years ago, as a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse. My father's clear message was that it was a 'dirty job, not for the faint of heart.' And he certainly discouraged me. I wonder if I had stood up to him back then where it might have led me.
Eagles are all around here on the Peninsula... I think this is a youngster.

Instead, there were hours of being a Candy-Striper in Monadnock Regional Hospital as a teenager, then I took an Emergency Responder Course, which eventually led me to train to be an EMT (so very satisfying!) but because I got married and went to live aboard a sailboat, I only used that experience on the water, not on a squad. It served me very well in a number of circumstances, but clearly I wasn't done with medicine yet. Many of my clients with my consulting business in Public Relations and Marketing were hospitals! My very last job was at the VA hospital in Lake City, FL, and with my background in communications, I became the driving force behind their objective to get their Emergency Response Manual finished. Right after I retired from the VA, I was called to be a First Responder with the Red Cross for the Katrina disaster.

And there are all the alternative therapy courses and education I've acquired with becoming a Reiki Master, learning about nutrition, and other healing arts. Plus I have a rather (undesired - because of how I got it) extensive knowledge of MM which might be useful for some situations.

In fact, I have a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in the medical field, emergency response, and health in general, both intellectual as well as on-site, and it seemed a shame to not listen to a call that incorporates that into my life or service at this point in my life.

It does require me to step out of 'retirement' for awhile, so while I will continue this blog, it will obviously not be as a full retiree as I have been for the past four years. But perhaps that is part of what retiring is about, having and taking the time to discover and focus on those things that rushed past you while you were doing what you thought was more important.

Reflection on my life as I approach a milestone birthday has caused me to see patterns which cannot be ignored. All my life I have enjoyed 'doing for others' as my Aunt Iva (Nini) used to say. She was my care provider when I was little and an early teacher of what love really is. Perhaps nursing would have burned me out from being a responder and perhaps the overuse of adrenaline as being part of a EMT squad would have taken its toll as well, but it seems to be in my nature to be a care provider, so I am enrolling in a program to be a professional one.

It will not be a full-time job, leaving me time to continue my artistic endeavors, and I will have time once the training is completed to go back to Colombia, but I will be then a licensed Home Care Provider which means I will have a way to express my desire for service to others, because it seems there are a lot of retirees who do the job of cooking and tending for others who can not manage it now. And I will have, as long as I am able to do the job(s) well, a small source of extra income.

Because the facts are, Social Security does not really provide an after-job living wage, except in Colombia. But even the Colombian officials know that although their cost of living is less than in the U.S. retirees there have to have three times the base cost for income parameters to be allowed to retire there.
A not-so-great shot of Trumpeter Swans and possibly
young Tundra Swans, but it was too far away to tell for
certain. Audubon Master Birder said the flocks do mix.
This was near Dungeness Road in Sequim, WA.

My concerns, after living there for nearly three years, are based both on their infrastructure for providing health care and my ability to utilize it given that my Spanish is still very elementary. I had a pretty bad fall last year, smashing my face into the very hard floor - caused by lack of attention and a poorly identified second step down. I was treated at the local hospital and it went very well and was affordable, too. But it was my wake-up call that if I was faced with anything more serious, how well could I communicate my needs?

No one in our small village hospital speaks English very well. They are all learning, and while some Latin medical words transfer over, it has the potential to be a serious situation until their language skills achieve the parity needed - at least as far as I am concerned.

This brought me gradually to the realization that being a solo retiree in a country where my language skills were less than ideal might not be sustainable. I love the people in Barichara, and I don't like that as time progresses I will have to make hard choices for myself that will necessarily exclude them from my daily life, but never from my heart.

So as I get my back issues resolved, I am in training. And not as a greeter at one of those large corporations as Jeyhu once suggested I could be. Who knows? Perhaps I could end up caring for someone who likes to travel as much as I do... anything is possible at any age, if you believe - and train!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Healing and Low Ceilings

Part of my retreat to Washington from Colombia has been to find some solutions for my persistent back ache and I am happy to report that the various activities, one of which includes regular trips to the local whirlpool, seem to be doing some good.
Looking toward the upper end of the Olympic Peninsula under grey skies.

It has been a bit of an adjustment to wake up day after day in the dark, and sometimes grey, skies. That also seems to be making a turn as the days get a little longer and the low clouds occasionally rise up above 1000 feet. Today, while coming back from attending to some things in town, I could see Mt. Rainier very very clearly. The skies surrounding this massive ancient volcano were the palest of blues and the top two-thirds of the mountain are white with accumulated snow. Truly impressive.

There are signs of spring coming here with medium green shoots of narcissus and daffodils trying to push up through the earth, the lilacs and rhododendrons are filling up in preparation for their colorful displays and on my table, as a valentine gift to myself, is a lovely blue hyacinth - a reminder of the ones that used to pop up long ago in our NH garden, sometimes still with snow around their little roots! (The scent of it is just divine!)
Blue Hyacinth on kitchen table offers up hope of spring.

Due to sightings of cougars in the woods nearby, and the movement of male elk with their spring-time desires overriding their good sense about staying away from humans, I have not been able to do much walking out and about. The malls are too small for any really good striding, but I am making friends with people who have some safe trails so gradually I am increasing my outdoor activities.

My watercolor art classes are intriguing and I really enjoy the teacher's methods, even if she does go on a bit about things unrelated to art. Tonight I went to the Museum of Art & History in Sequim and heard a presentation by a quilt artist on how to incorporate photographs into a quilt... it is totally amazing what people are doing with fabric and thread and other things here! The local Episcopal church, St. Luke's, has created over 50 quilts this past year and had them blessed and delivered to people in the community who needed a prayer quilt. An astounding amount of work, in my opinion. So there are vast groups of artistic people here on this 'spit' of land in western Washington, motivating me to be even more creative.
The ancient volcano called Mt. Rainier loomed out on the horizon as
some of the grey clouds lifted for awhile from the Olympic Peninsula.
The biggest challenge has been that I am not doing much photography as the greyness makes the images less than sharp, more often than not, and I never seem to have my tripod ready for those days when I see something worth photographing. But the Sequim-ites (??) assure me that sunnier days - or at least brighter ones - are just around the corner. So come back and see if they were right and if I have indeed started finding some interesting things to photograph.

Ohhhhh, and lest I forget... my sister is celebrating a big "0" birthday today. In order to protect the innocent, I am not going to reveal which number precedes the zero, but I am intending it is a day filled with happy surprises... hugs to you, dear little sister!

Friday, February 1, 2013

February is National Heart Month in the USA

Already the valentines are flooding the card sections, Colombia is hopeful that the annual demand for flowers for lovers will help balance out the export column for the country, and I am sighing my annual sigh of angst for the flowers or cards that don't grace my door. In Colombia, it is in mid-September that "Special Friends or Lover's Day" occurs, so February there is simply a month to recuperate from Christmas and New Year's celebrations and to embrace the quiet because there are no long weekends with tourists.

But in the U.S. it is everywhere - movies, TV, internet, magazines, newspapers - and in schools across the land there are going to be little boys or little girls who, for one reason or another, don't get what they are expecting or hoping for on Feb. 14th and it will, I promise you, leave a lasting memory of what disappointment is all about.

I am personally against doing the card-exchange in schools. It is a chance for the bullies to work their particular kind of wretched behavior on those they have already targeted for abuse, and it is that kind of torture that young children do not need to experience.

Who really benefits from these so-called expressions of love? And why do the schools perpetuate something that does not really teach the students what love is?

John Gardner, Stanford '33 and MA '36 wrote an essay for the Stanford Alumni Magazine in March 1994 entitled 'The Road to Self-Renewal' and if you want to read it in its entirety, here is the link. He wrote, "We build our own prisons and serve as our own jail keepers, but I've concluded that our parents and the society at large have a hand in building our prisons."

His premise is that the roles that get created for us by parents, teachers, our peers and yes, even the bullies, can stick with us for a lifetime until or unless we as individuals take on the task of self-renewal, dealing with the ghosts of the past; failures, traumas, grievances and resentments. These injuries, imagined or real, take their toll both in limitations and frustrations sometimes causing illnesses that further limit us.

Gardner adds, "Life is an endless unfolding and, if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery."

Hearts by Danilo Rizzuti
In this month of February, the U.S.'s national focus on the heart, I hope my readers far and wide will take the time to think about what love really is, and how we are all responsible for our own lives. In the Episcopalian Order of Service, there is a prayer that serves as a reminder to me that I am not perfect, never will be, but I seek His forgiveness and try again to forgive those who have caused me pain.

"Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone." But most especially I have 'sinned' against myself in not letting go of those past ghosts allowing me to be more loving, more giving, more of who I am supposed to be. Forgiveness is not really for the other(s), but for me, so that I am free.

The message of Jesus Christ was "Forgive them for they know not what they do." For me He is the icon of true and untrammeled Love and without pushing my beliefs on those who have their own, many of the religious sects have in their concepts an image or icon that represents the energy of Love.

I hope these words fall on fertile ground for you to renew your contract of living and loving and find your way to forgiveness of Self and that you can celebrate this month of the heart with great joy and love!