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  • Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 13

    These days it doesn't take much to send me back under the covers, googling medical terms, and hiding from the world. Last week was grey and super windy as Hurricane Jose twirled and whirled just off the Cape. This week it's 80 something degrees and humid. Everything seems disjointed, out of season, and just off. Even the things that usually soothe my soul, like snuggling with my boo or planning our next trip to a warm place, aren't working. Writing often helps. So here goes ...

    Thinking About:

    • The devastation in the Caribbean. One of my Facebook friends was on the first flight to PR. I cheered her on as she posted photos of gathering her mother and bringing her right back to Boston. She shared a video of everyone clapping when the plane took off. It was the first bit of good news out of Puerto Rico that I've seen. Please, please help if you can. Here are some resources:

      -Watch this list of Caribbean tourism updates. Best way to support their recovery is to go visit when they are up and running. We usually bring donations with us in our suitcases (a lot of resorts have "pack with purpose" programs so you can bring exactly what is needed in each area.)
      -How to Help Victims of Hurricane Maria
      -What You Can Do to Help the Caribbean Now -- and Later.
      -Give to The Sato Project. Before we found Stephen, the Mr. and I put in an application for a sato named Muffin who had been rescued by this group. Muffin ended up being adopted by her foster mom and we were rewarded with His Cuteness, Stephen. But I've continued to follow the efforts of this incredible rescue group.
    • This tweet from Anne Lamott: "Don't let anyone get you to hate them." Just sit with that a moment. 
    • When things come into your life just when you need them. It's amazing, isn't it? I'm going to have to be cryptic here (at least for now) but I was listening to a podcast that I listen to only occasionally and at the very end was an interview with someone who had just gone through what I was currently grappling with. I cried. And then I followed all the breadcrumbs left for me in that interview and found my way through some of the struggle. 

    Thankful For:

    • My Cape Cod medical team. When I lived in Boston, I lived RIGHT NEXT to the best hospital in the US and was surrounded by the best medical professionals anywhere. But I rarely needed them. Fast-forward to our move to the Cape, and all of a sudden I needed doctors and specialists for all sorts of issues. I've amassed a team of thirteen now and every single one of them is TERRIFIC! There's something about the care that is a little more accessible here, a little less factory-ish. I get more than 3 minutes with them (swear to God, one appointment I had with a dermatologist at MGH was less than that -- and included her freezing something off my head!). And they are getting to know me as a person, not just my medical needs.

    Watching:

    • This video for Above & Beyond's "My Own Hymn." I kind of want to live inside it! And I highly recommend all of Above & Beyond's music when you need to feel some positivity in your life. Someday I will go see them live.

    • Gaga: Five Foot Two. I watched this the day it came out. I am grateful I do not have a chronic illness like she does, but I do have chronic pain. I am amazed by her artistry, the way her mind works, and how much of an inspiration she is to people. She suffers, though. It's tough to watch.

    • The Sinner, Top of the Lake: China Girl, and The Five. What a triumvirate of intriguing murder mysteries! Line 'em up for some good binge-watching.

    Creating:

    • My chronic pain library. I've been busy behind the scenes writing content for the chronic pain section on this site and have just published a resource list. I spent so much of the past two years figuring things out on my own and would like to share this with people who need it. There's more to come, including my own pain story, how I manage "painsomnia," a list of tiny lifestyle changes that have added up to big impacts for me, travelling with chronic pain, and other topics.

    Reading:

    • Dangerous Boobies. There's nothing funny about cancer. But this young woman makes the fear of getting cancer very real and actually very funny. While I chuckled through her book, I cried through her docuseries, "Screw You Cancer." I also recommend you read "Know Your Body, Know Your Risk, Know Your Plan" to figure out what you need to do now to get on top of breast and ovarian cancer. 

    • Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. I've only just started this but I am finding it mesmerizing. I always thought surfing would be an amazing thing to do, but I'm terrified of sharks. And those jerks are all over the place out here. One was only 10 FEET from the shoreline last week. That's two of me!

    • Moominsummer Madness. Did you read the Moomin books when you were a kid? It's kooky and kinda weird but I just love those plump Moomins.

    Listening:

    • The audiobook version of Hillary Clinton's What Happened. Oh boy! What to say? I felt like I needed to hear her read me this story so I opted for the audiobook. You can really tell what pisses her off the most. I was especially compelled by the chapters on the Russian intervention. I've always deeply admired her, have been in her corner, and will continue to be, no matter what anyone else says.

    • Sincerely, X podcast. These are anonymous TEDtalks! The stories are potentially dangerous or embarrassing or hurtful to the people telling them so the identities of the storytellers are protected. 

    • Grapefruit Sound Lab. These guys came to Ptown this summer (I missed them when I was in NYC.) I love their 80s New Wave sound!

    Eating + Drinking:

    Learning:

    • New words.
      -revanche -- noun. revenge; especially a political policy designed to recover lost territory or status
      -discorectangle -- noun. Or, a stadium, is a two-dimensional geometric shape constructed of a rectangle with semicircles at a pair of opposite sides

    • Being Fearless Conference from Omega Institute. After 9/11, I went to the first of these conferences in NYC. I saw amazing speakers like Carolyn Myss, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Mia Farrow, and Valerie Plame Wilson. This year's is totally ONLINE and costs only $5! Here's the incredible line up: Van Jones, Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman, Cornell West, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Opal Tometi, and more.

    Hygge-ing:

    • Yep we're done summering and are back to hygge-ing! Storm preparations seem to have cut short our deck time as we put stuff away a bit earlier than usual. Our tomato plants are just about done, some of my summer plants are turning, and the leaves are starting to accumulate in the yard. This year, though, we have a LEAF BLOWER! No more raking and sweeping the deck!

    Loving:

    • Pouches designed by independent artists. A unique clutch can totally make a simple outfit extraordinary. Since I can no longer wear super fancy shoes, I've turned my attention to this little accessory. Here are a few that I found (and I bought the Frida Kahlo one in the large size!)


    Top from left to right:1. Cool Giraffe 2. Mid-Century Lime Green Minimalist Sunset 3. Frida Kahlo Portrait
    Middle from left to right 4. Surrealists 5. Orange in a Rainbow 6. Sunny Rainbow 
    Bottom from left to right 7. Indigo Floral 8. Hipster Hillary 9. Orange Split Sun

    Eliminating:

    • Wedding ring rash. A couple of years ago I started to develop a rash under my wedding bands. Apparently, it's pretty common. For me it usually happens when I'm not careful washing my hands and get soap stuck under there. I have to go without my rings for a bit and I've found a little Lucas Papaw Ointment on the rash helps.

    • Noise. I'm super sensitive to noise and finally bought myself some industrial strength noise-blocking ear muffs. I wear them when I'm writing mostly, but sometimes for reading and sometimes just to give myself some space.

    Expanding:

    • New FitBit. The Mr. bought upgraded our Fitbits and I have to say I love being able to see how much of each type of sleep I've gotten. The other night I spent 28% of my time in REM sleep and woke up feeling super refreshed! Wish I could figure out how to make that a nightly thing.

    Planning + Organizing:

    • My Three-Day Reading Marathon Retreat. I did not plan ahead well enough on this one. Originally, I was hoping to recreate the reading vacations I used to have in the summer. When we lived in Boston and we'd come to my moms' place here in Ptown for vacation, I always arrived with a tote bag filled with books. I would read 10 in a two-week period. Now I barely read 10 in a year. I also didn't have more than three days in a row in the summer that didn't have obligations. Turns out I'll be having some enforced down time shortly, which may lend itself very well to a reading "retreat."

    Fur Mama-ing:

    • Easy Walk Harness. Stephen, all 28 lbs. of him, used to be a nightmare to walk. He'd pull constantly on his harness, like a sled dog trying to get to whatever was in his sights at the moment (usually a squirrel or a seagull.) I switched out his usual harness for this one, which attaches in the front, and we have not had a problem since! It completely changed our walking experience. 

    • Early greying. So Stephen is just about 4 years old and his muzzle is greying. It's on my list to discuss with the vet next month at this annual visit but I, of course, checked it out online. Turns out greying before 4 is common in anxious, reactive dogs. Stephen is most definitely NOT that. (As I write this he is four paws in the air on his back, snoozing away.) In any case, I read that playing light classical music is very soothing to dogs. Turns out Stephen loves it and we both have super chill days when the music is on.

    Resisting:

    • My finger hovered over the "deactivate account" button on Facebook again. My latest frustrations were around the fact that I saw very few posts about the healthcare battle or the lack of attention on the plight of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico. BUT people came out of the woodwork to share their opinions about the NFL protest. Did this happen on your feed too or is it just mine? 

    • "The First White President." Ta-Nehisi Coates is right again.

    • Hellbent podcast. You all know I LOVE my Crooked Media guys but sometimes they can just be a little too, you know ... bro-ish. The ladies at Hellbent give the same kind of commentary with just a little less of that guy thing.

    Extra Credit:

    Thanks for reading! I hope to be back here soon with more recommendations and distractions!