Symmetry

Symmetry

I was surprised when this dragonfly didn’t take off as I was fumbling with a cucumber stem less than a foot away from him/her/it. A dragonfly’s gender doesn’t matter to me, does it? Not that I can ID them in that way. But I hate to call it “it”. Just feels too distant. But this one was very close. He just sat there. One wing is mangled and curled, and half a front leg is gone, also. If he doesn’t go away, some bird is going to figure out there’s a good chunk of protein there. I don’t know enough about dragonflies’ life cycle to even guess what else might happen. How long will he sit there before he falls down to the ground dead, ready to fertilize my plants with nitrogen and minerals?

My first photo was crap, so I went out and took another. I’m very surprised he’s still there two hours later and hasn’t been eaten. We all die in the end. And I already felt quite morbid today, but since I’m sharing this amazing dragonfly discovery with you, I’m going to also share my experience of life.

See, yesterday I had to go to the hospital, my first ride in an ambulance. I knew what was happening, kind of, because a lot of people in my family have problems with atrial fibrillation. I knew what was happening, but I didn’t really know the ramifications, so I didn’t have the sense to call an ambulance first thing. My heart’s rhythm was way off. The top and bottom halves weren’t in sync the way they should be. Basically, a bunch of heart spasms.

It settled down, I thought, after 40 minutes, but when I went off to do chores, I still didn’t feel right and got out of breath easily. A trip to the clinic turned into a trip to the hospital. It’s easily fixed with some drugs that reset the rhythm, and if not, then there is always the defibrillator. The ambulance ride was enough like being in the movies without having to go all the way to the paddles on the chest.

The ambulance guys, Sean and Tyler, did an awesome job and I thanked them for the lovely afternoon.  But they didn’t need to reassure me I wasn’t going to die. That’s not what I was crying about. I was crying about being born, that I ever had to live through all this crap for 55 years that really hasn’t been worth it. I’m seeking glory because I’ve never had any glory. Other people around me are retiring in contentment. No, not me. And not just because I can’t really afford it, either. Life has not been good enough. Playing Scrabble, gardening, and experimenting with grooming and sewing projects is not enough for me. I could live another 40. Yikes. I got stressed out numerous times at the hospital, but not because I was scared for my life, at all. No, as I told paramedic Sean, the thought of death doesn’t worry me. Rather it’s a comfort and it has been for a long time.

The stress at the hospital also came from nurses walking up to me and poking at me without acknowledging me as a human being first. If it were to save my life, that would be different – if I’m pushing someone out of the way of a deadly projectile, I don’t have to ask first. But if some guy that turned out to be a nurse, after I asked, is going to reach under my clothing, I’d like some eye contact and a few words, first. Then the other nurses got all bitchy, telling me every little thing and complaining that’s what I expect. No, I just need some acknowledgment before you touch me. I hate people touching me, bumping me, grabbing me, poking at me. The massage therapist knows better than to do that, and he’s there specifically to touch. He asks first. Stressing someone out by violating their boundaries doesn’t help achieve anything good.

Another stress was the accursed beeping on the heart machine behind me. Yes, my heart was going too fast. My BP was too high. And getting higher because of the ear-stab. Luckily I always have earplugs on me, and I put one in on the beep-machine side. And I shut my eyes and thought of blackness, my entire body turning black, then turning to mush and sinking into the ground, silently. Yup, while they were doing their best to keep me alive, I was consoled by thinking of death. I thought, “This might be it. I could die.” That was a comforting thought.

This morning, I wish I had died. Not an unfamiliar morning feeling for me, actually. I don’t even care that I’d be leaving a mess. I haven’t made any glorious progress here, anyway. I haven’t heard back about that plum job, and I don’t expect to. It seems designed for me, but I’m old, and no one wants that. Atrial fib isn’t exactly a giant health risk, but my health slate doesn’t feel quite as squeaky clean as it did before yesterday.

The way you can die from atrial fib is that a clot can form and then go to your brain and cause a stroke or worse, like a fatal heart attack. So, I’m lucky I came out of it with no heart damage and have no need for a prescription. The excellent doctor told be that a baby aspirin a day is a good idea to prevent clots in case a-fib happens again. I expect it’ll happen. I will probably take the aspirin, because as I told the paramedics, if you’re in a car accident, it’s better to die than be mangled. I don’t particularly want to live, but if I’m gonna live, I’m gonna take care of this machine I live in. I’m horribly healthy – my blood work was all perfect, doctor said. This despite diabetes-cliche levels of obesity. My body mass isn’t morbid, but 20 pounds or so would take it there. But I’m healthy. And that’s better than having a stroke and dragging half of my body around like dead weight for the rest of my life, or being parly paralyzed like my dad was. All that smoking and drinking he did. I don’t do that.

Wish I had a security cam to put on the dragonfly and see what happens to him. Insects die every day. They never go to the vet’s office. There is no emergency care for insects. They just get mowed down, squashed, poisoned, or eaten alive.

 

Edit: a few hours later, the assymetrical dragonfly has disappeared. I’ll never look at them the same way again. They’re like birds – you only ever see them as young and beautiful, because any injured one is killed off fast. A rare exception I can think of is a neighbourhood pigeon I have seen limping around on a damaged left foot, not just this year but in previous years. I assume it’s the same bird. I should watch it more carefully in future and try to ID it.

 

WCCMT – a secret

WCCMT – a secret

West Coast College of Massage Therapy is an awesome place in my town. (And in a few other towns, actually.) See, the students work there in a clinic, and it’s incredibly inexpensive to get an hour’s treatment. Discount for seniors. I don’t feel like a senior, but I’m over 55, so I got the discount. I can handle that a lot better than being offered the senior discount on my 40th birthday because my hair turned white rather early. Yes, that really happened. I especially liked stepdad’s comment, at the time, on the hat I always wore in those days, a canvas canoe hat which I indeed was wearing during that senior incident: “Well, it does age you.” Somehow that cracked me up.

So, this week is the last week at the school, and the fifth term students are off to their professional careers. They will be RMTs – registered massage therapists. They do relaxation massages, but they specialize in therapeutic ones. Not if you have a WCB/ICBC claim, of course, but if you have a problem area. I have quite a few. I learned the most awesome and helpful things!

I learned that if you have a painful muscle, maybe you should not stretch it but rather look at its opposite, which may be so tight it’s pulling and making the other one sore. Story of my hamstrings. Hurt to sit on them. My pelvis had other tight muscles that were pulling on them.  Now the pain is 95% gone.

I learned that for my inflamed tendon on one side of my foot, I need to strengthen the muscle that opposes it, on the other side of my foot and leg. Wow, the tendon pain went down by about 3/4 and I am going to keep doing my leg days and strengthening those muscles.

But it’s also important to stretch. There are certain muscles I’ve trained for years – chest, triceps are two groups – but I never stretched them. Unlike a lot of women and especially dancers who well know about lengthening muscles, instead I thought like a man: it feels good to be strong, so build up those muscles with weights, strength training. Clearly we need both, and my student RMT has a great depth of knowledge. He’s one of those lucky people who, though young, knows what he wants to do and has dived in and is doing a wonderful job of it.

I went to two different people there, but the first one was a fifth term student, and for a bit I had a fourth term one when the fifth wasn’t available. He was better than she was, so I went back to him when he was available again. The term ends tomorrow, and the mood in there today was like floating on a cloud. They had their last exam this morning. But in September, a new term begins, and a new calendar to fill up with lovely massage bookings. And, yes, I am also going to be a private client of my fave student. He wants to go independent in a year, and I am happy to help him out with that and also get the benefit of his excellent skills and sensitive touch in my healing journey.

If you check out their webpage, you’ll see they actually do some spa type things as well. I saw these offerings and signed up for one on a whim. I have never done a spa thing. It was just a crazy idea: Salt Glow. So I’m lying there naked with a towel wrapped under and over around my crotch to cover the crack and all, and getting scrubbed with basically sodium chloride and some essential oil. It was rough, like sharp sand. It was different. It was okay, but as he pointed out, it makes your skin incredibly soft. A week later, it’s still softer than I ever remember.

So, apparently exfoliation is a thing. As you can tell, I’m really not very girly and never experimented with exfoliation nor had girly friends to tell me I had to do it. I guess I’d like to try a facial now. Maybe it’ll make my face skin similarly soft. Not that this place offers those. But I think I’m on a roll here, of self care as well as self–pampering.  If you want to do the same, move fast as I understand the school is phasing out the spa stuff and sticking with the higher value (my view) therapeutic massage stuff.

To the grads… and next term! 🙂

 

Freedom from

Freedom from

It’s not okay with me that people modify their vehicles to make excess noise. Do people not understand that noise causes stress? I think they do understand, as it’s evident many people who make their vehicles noisy, whether by pipes, bass, or loud music, get a kick out of bothering other people and pushing their buttons. Not saying it’s the prime motivation for all, but for jerks it’s part of being cool.

So, I was trying to work in this heatwave, with the window open of course, and I heard something like a straining semi-truck or a revving mud-bogging truck with no muffler. It went on and on. I mean even if it went for five seconds it’d be enough to interrupt me.

And, no, I can’t wear earplugs and a construction earmuff on top as I do at other times, because I have to listen to recordings to do my work. And it’s ridiculous I have to double down on soundproofing to have peace, but I do. I realize other people block it out wih TV and their deafness, but I don’t have a TV, and I’m not deaf. It’s a blissful hour when I can play my doumbek music and dance. I don’t notice crap noise much during that hour.

So I look out to see what monstrosity is making such a racket and it’s the nondescript vehicle above. A nondescript young person exits and waits outside the building for apparently a girlfriend. I guess when you appear utterly bland in every way, having the most obnoxious sounding car in town helps you stand out. Not sure obnoxious is better than bland, but that’s just me.

While writing this post, I heard thumping again. Tracked it down a block away at the teen centre. Some deejay thing. Nice waste of time and getting overheated for me to walk over there to whack a mole and get freedom from putting up with a second heartbeat in my body for no good reason.

 

Sexy

The title is wrong. Sexy means something that turns you on sexually, right? Or, maybe… maybe it’s just a feeling of being alive and fluid in your body, okay with it, enjoying it. My body ain’t perfect by far. Last post I called it FatBoringOld like the Monty Python sketch of Mr. and Mrs. Git.

Sexy is the sun on your back and a breeze on your sweaty lower back, cooling, despite the sun. Feeling free and comfortable in your body, despite its gross imperfections to those concerned with such things. It’s heat and cool in best proportions.

It’s fabric that hangs or clings comfortably, and I stumbled upon this the other day.

Ridiculously, we had an old piece of nightgown fabric to block the drafts from the door. It was the bottom half of a nightgown, the bodice cut out and thrown away. So, less than half a metre of cotton fabric, with a lettuce edge. After the separation and divorce, I inherited this scrap, which had been rolled up to block the door. I washed it, thinking it’d make a good cleaning rag, being cotton.

In some moment of whimsy I tied a knot in it and made a shoulder baring top out of it.  It’s my favourite cool summer top to wear. Should take a pic and post it. I actually walked around the mall in it, one day. I saw male eyes glancing at my shoulders or perhaps the audacity of Ms. FBO Git walking around half naked.

Cool cotton, and I love the way it drapes. The folds conceal the belly bulge. The knot enhances the chest. Despite being roly-poly, none of that is in my chest, proportionally. The knot does the trick, bulging outward, competing with the belly.  If I could make this into a product, I’d make millions.  Maybe I shouldn’t post this moneymaking secret!

But I sure enjoy it. I’m wearing it now. Gonna make more like it out of other fabric. It’ll be my uniform. Bare shoulders in the breeze. Mmm.

Rant Dance Orthotics

Rant Dance Orthotics

I’m glad I got orthotics; they really helped ease the pain. I could walk up the steep hill from the river without suffering a day or two or weird leg and hip pain afterwards. It’s a 90-m climb up to where I live, called “Uptown” as opposed to “Downtown” which is five metres up from the Fraser River. That was a few years ago now.

I’m taking my second belly dance class, with Angelina from Scarlet Lux. I saw their show last month in Richmond, and she wrote this article about 10 songs every belly dancer should know. I’m a bit of a song fiend, so I saved that article to my desktop. After my first class with Angelina, I looked at the article and realized, hey, it was by her. She had mentioned in the class she’s a music geek. I thought I was, but she sure knows more about belly dance music than I do.

She introduced me to new soloist drummers, Hassan Ramzy and Issam Housham and then coincidentally I stumbled upon an awesome dancer who was dancing to their music. Check out Tito Seif, and have your mind blown. He also does a crazy thing where he stands ON a doumbek drum and dances, including squatting way down and doing piston hips at the same time on there. A major stunt. He has acrobats in his family background, and that’s not surprising when you see his body and what he can do with ease. I haven’t seen any other dancer that can get down and up with such ease and grace. He’s built like a brick shit-house, pardon the language, but still has tremendous flexibility and grace.

So anyway, about me and my orthotics, my physiotherapist, a few years ago, told me to do some Thera-band exercises, but I didn’t understand why, and they didn’t feel like anything special, and so I didn’t do them. Now that my wonderful student intern massage therapist at WCCMT a massage school here in town, taught me a few things, I’m highly motivated to do these exercises every other day as recommended. (Thanks, Matthew H. and I expect you’ll have a happy career ahead of you.) See, they are muscle strengthening exercises, so you do them every other day, just like weight lifting, so your muscles have a chance to recover. It’s just boring dorsiflexion with Theraband and also ridiculous easy exercise to strengthen gluteus medius, but the reason I’m doing it is because now I understand.

I get horrible muscle cramps at night. I didn’t used to get these. They started about 10 years ago, i.e. in my 40s. This is past the point where either you do something about y our body or you ride it out as it rots underneath you. In other words a lot of maintenance work is needed after age 30-40. I’m pushing 60, aka 55 and holding. 55 is the new 35, but only if you work at it, and I’m willing. I don’t mind getting old and dying, but I wanna minimize the suffering. I want to get rid of the muscle cramps and be strong and balanced overall so I can enjoy dancing more and more without pointless suffering.

So, wonderful Matthew H taught me about agonist/antagonist muscles. To cut to the chase, if you have a muscle that’s cramping, it may  be because the counterbalancing muscle is weak. This allows the muscle in question to get very tight, because it’s strong and there’s a weak muscle pulling on it. Now I have to strengthen the weak muscle, and that’s where the boring exercises that are no longer boring come into play.

So, tight and cramping calves means I gotta strengthen the anterior tibialis with those dorsiflexion exercises. And agonizingly cramping adductors (inner thigh) means strengthen the gluteus medius with some weaksauce easy side leg lifts with bent knee. Later I’ll graduate to tougher exercises based on my googling.

Thing is, I have orthotics and wickedly flat feet — of course they’re gonna be flat at that length (11.5 inches, almost 30 cm) and my weight — but I wanna strengthen them so I can do lovely dead lifts again and more squats than just a few. I wanna be strong, not hobble to my damn grave. Maybe I can live 20-40 more years, but no matter how short/long it is, I’d rather be strong all over than crumblingly weak, thanks.

 

Anxiety

Anxiety

Well, I done good as my old high school principal used to say. “Ya done good,” a verbal backslap.

I’m cultivating my own peace within, on top of maintaining the body connection. Sure, I just screamed aloud at the Nth irritation here, someone who keeps walking past my window with a crying brat, which happened half a dozen times today. But other than that, I’m doing great with this hyper-alertness that has plagued me.  I recently realized it’s a form of anxiety.

There was a selfish elephant at the swimming pool this morning that joined my lane and hit and kicked me every time he passed. And other annoying behaviours, including when I confronted him on it. There was a selfish neighbour emptying her dust pan several floors up. Her balcony is the source of the sunflower seed shells I get daily, and now apparently this filth that coats my plants, also. And now apparently a boomcar parked outside my apartment. But, no! No, it was over 2 blocks away, believe it or not, a deejay at the outdoor pool. Why and WTF ever for? It was an amazingly long walk, with the ground reverberating through my shoes. And they have turned it down quite a bit. And I left a note for the landlord about the dirt-neighbour and talked to the lifeguard about the elephant-swimmer (someone who takes more than half the area within the lanes) and the swim-slob kept the lane and I got a big lane to myself over in the deep end. Didn’t know there was a lane there! Fine. I’m not scared of the deep end and no more elephants or other nonsharing selfish people joined.

But the main thing is writing that didn’t make me hotter under the collar. After confronting the boom-bass at the swimming outdoor pool, my body was not in a high state of alert, like it always has been in the past. I wasn’t trembling with anger. Apparently my week of cultivating calm, no matter what, is working. And the shitty things I’ve dredged up just now seem relatively far away, even though they all happened today. Today I focused on getting things done and not wasting time in rage and amazement at how shitty people can be.

Triumph and glory. Despite those people.

 

Gratitude

Lately, I’ve realized that despite feeling quite alone and unsupported, actually my various friends have given me quite a lot of support. One gave me a big monitor, bigger than the one I have. It’s nice, makes work easier and play a little richer. Two others let me stay at their homes while I travelled to a conference. They appreciated talking to me. They fed me. Thay had time for me! Even my ex wanted to help me.

One of them even dumped out three days of my urine and toilet paper from a chemical toilet in the camper. Now, that’s a true friend, no? Last time I made sure to empty that toilet myself. I had to ask for help how to do it. I bet usually she does it for everyone, but I felt like I should take care of my own bodily fluids, ya know?

And then today I got a chunk of good luck, a bit of freedom. My divorce papers came through. There was some technical glitch with the format, so they were refused last month, but the kind registry clerk took pity on me and resubmitted it to another judge, who ended up approving it. Whew! I’ve been hoping and hoping for that all month, because my ex got into blaming mode and didn’t want to redo the papers, even though it was all by consent. Even though I redid the papers and printed it for him. But now it’s done, and I feel numb. I never wanted to be divorced, but since that’s what he wanted, I’m glad it’s finished.

So what about gratitude? Yes, I’m grateful for the luck today and when the clerk took pity on me, but I’ve talked to people who say gratitude changed their lives. I need my life to change! I don’t want my life the way it’s been. I tried to practice gratitude, but it didn’t do much for me. I read a lot about it. I tried the exercises repeatedly. So… anyone of the very few rarified people reading here have the solution? I don’t know. Life ain’t worth living, and I’m trying to change that.