what happens next

Piping Plover by Mike Morel/USFWS
piping plover by Mike Morel, Puerto Rico

The details don’t matter – they belong to all of us – and loss, after all, is mostly a story about what happens next. What’s next for me, it seems, is the story of realizing that if there are answers at all, they might not be found in the broadest expanses. I find myself mostly lowering my habitual gaze-out-to-sea and settling down to rummage in these greenish-brown, often stinking, bug-infested wrack lines, the likes of which I must have skirted or stepped over thousands of times in my younger-me rush to get to the water. Sometimes I notice what lies tangled within them: the moon snail with its grotesque foot, trash turned into sea glass, driftwood, egg cases, jellyfish. And sometimes I notice what’s gone. Not just my grandiose quest, but also the vanished tangible.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts & What Remains)

contradiction and paradox

“Little Girl in Blue” by Amedeo Modigliani
“Little Girl in Blue” by Amedeo Modigliani

How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one is fully aware of the blood, the horror inherent in life, when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? If there is a stage at which an individual life becomes truly adult, it must be when one grasps the irony in its unfolding and accepts responsibility for a life lived in the midst of such paradox. One must live in the middle of contradiction, because if all contradiction were eliminated at once life would collapse. There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light.
~ Barry Lopez
(Arctic Dreams)

vegan ♥ paleo
4.6.12 ~ Jekyll Island, Georgia

To look for a “healthy” diet can be as discouraging as a search for the “true” religion. I spent many years extricating myself from a belief system which had at one time seemed to have all the definitive answers my teenage self was yearning for. One would think I might have learned a lesson or two about words and ideas that sound too good to be true.

Some of my readers may remember a few passionate posts I wrote back in October of 2011, when after reading several convincing books by cardiologists I decided that Tim & I should become vegans to try to reverse his heart disease. In my mind it was a done deal, the final answer. But in the months following our change to a vegan diet, Tim wound up in the hospital twice, which left me feeling demoralized. It was as if eating plants was making things worse, not better.
4.6.12 ~ Jekyll Island, Georgia

One day last fall, I happened to catch another cardiologist being interviewed on TV, and he was talking about the evils of gluten and wheat, and how consumption of grains leads to obesity, heart disease and diabetes. And so began another round of research for me, more books, more websites, more theories to contemplate. To make a long story a bit shorter, we have switched to a paleo diet, or caveman diet. Wild game, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry. Lots of vegetables. Nuts and berries. Hunting and gathering. No wheat or grains. Keeping our fingers crossed.
4.6.12 ~ Jekyll Island, Georgia

This time around I’m not looking at this change as The Answer carved in stone. It’s an Experiment to see if anything different will happen. I’m the daughter of a scientist after all. Maybe the food we choose to eat has nothing at all to do with heart disease, though somehow I still think it might. But cardiologists don’t seem to agree on the best diet for heart disease, so I won’t list all the authors of the books I consulted. Staying off of the bandwagon for the time being.

Last week we did have some encouraging news after Tim went in for a checkup. He lost some weight and his progress pleased his doctor for the first time since his original heart attack five years ago. Let’s hope we’re finally on the right track, although I am keeping myself carefully skeptical, just in case…
4.6.12 ~ Jekyll Island, Georgia

learning by ♥

"Learning by Heart" by Nikolaos Gyzis
“Learning by Heart” by Nikolaos Gyzis

It’s funny the twists and turns the course of our lives takes sometimes. Last month we were concerned with moving my failing 97-year-old aunt from elderly housing into my father’s house where my sister, her husband and a couple of home-care aides could make her last days as comfortable as possible. Auntie is hanging in there for now, even perking up occasionally now that she is settled in her new digs.

Sometimes we find ourselves bracing for one event when another unanticipated one appears on the scene. Toward the end of August my hard-working, stressed-out husband had an attack of angina late one night (or was it early one morning?) and landed himself in the hospital. Zounds! But the silver lining to that cloud was that son Nate flew up from Georgia and daughter Larisa came by train from New York and we found ourselves swathed in comforting layers of love and support.

This setback in Tim’s struggle with heart disease has left me frustrated and angry with his doctors. Predictably, I went on a search for a new book to give me some fresh ideas about how to proceed from here. After nearly a year on the vegan diet there has been no improvement in Tim’s health which has been a bitter pill for me to swallow. Truly, there are no simple answers.

The book I found, published just this year, is scientifically way over my head, but I’m learning. Learning by heart. About the endothelium layer of the arterial wall. About endothelial dysfunction, inflammation, oxidation, hypertension, and blood sugar. That there are more kinds of cholesterol than you can shake a stick at!

It seems the traditional 5 risk factors for heart disease (elevated cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smoking) are not the only ones doctors should be paying attention to. Of the 20 top risk factors there are, elevated cholesterol does not even make the list. Hypertension is #6, diabetes is #11, obesity is #19, and smoking is #20.

For now I am focusing on #1, endothelial dysfunction and what we can do about it. We can do nothing about #8, genetics, but it is interesting to know that there are myriads of genetic mutations causing different biochemical reactions that each play different roles in the development and progression of heart disease.

On a heart happy note, in the middle of all the other excitement, Larisa and her boyfriend Dima got engaged! It’s so nice to have a wedding to look forward to next year, and I’ve been told it will be very unique, non-traditional and unpretentious. Yes!!! ♥

different answers

“Meditation” by Odilon Redon
“Meditation” by Odilon Redon

Why not let people differ about their answers to the great mysteries of the Universe? Let each seek one’s own way to the highest, to one’s own sense of supreme loyalty in life, one’s ideal of life. Let each philosophy, each worldview bring forth its truth and beauty to a larger perspective, that people may grow in vision, stature and dedication.
~ Algernon David Black
(Universal Nexus: Secret Notes on the Sum of Life)

stars that guide us

"Trapezium Stars" image by NASA & ESA
“Trapezium Stars” image by NASA & ESA

O star of wonder, star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading, still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light
♫ (We Three Kings of Orient Are) ♫

Are you looking for answers, to questions under the stars?
If along the way you are growing weary,
You can rest with me until a brighter day
It’s okay
~ Dave Matthews
♫ (Where Are You Going) ♫

There’s the wind
And the rain
And the mercy of the fallen
Who say, “Hey, it’s not my place
To know what’s right”
There’s the weak
And the strong
And the many stars that guide us
We have some of them inside us
~ Dar Williams
♫ (Mercy of the Fallen) ♫

open pathway

1.2.10 ~ Groton, Connecticut
1.2.10 ~ Avery Point

When one soul meets another kindred soul, a great surge of energy rushes through the weaving of the universe as an important connection is made. In the unexplored regions of human consciousness, another light has come on, revealing shared territory. This is the work of dedicated souls on the spiritual path: their individual light illumines the universe for everyone, brings hope, and keeps open the pathway to understanding. This sacred trust is maintained by all who have consecrated their existence to spiritual wisdom; it is a kinship that runs like a golden chain from one age to another. That golden chain comes now into our hands, a sacred trust not only to our ancestors but to our descendants and every inhabitant of the universe. It is our turn to make the next link, trusting that others in turn will complete the circle until the whole cosmos is connected in one bond.
~ Caitlín Matthews
(The Celtic Spirit: Daily Meditations for the Turning Year)

Two years ago on this day, Tim and I drove down to Avery Point to see the beauty of a recent snowfall by the water. I was trying to photograph the lighthouse, framed by a tree’s branches and the blanket of snow. After snapping the shot I looked on the view screen and gasped in surprise! While I had seen orbs in the photos of others before, and was curious about the phenomena, this was the first time orbs had appeared in one of my own photos! And there were so many of them!

As a person who has in the past often gotten myself into trouble by insisting on absolute answers to all questions, this marked one of the first times I was content to accept a gift of mystery and magic from the universe without demanding an explanation, satisfied to embrace not knowing. My intuition has some ideas but I’m not clinging to any particular theory, scientific or mystical.

If you have any orb pictures you’d like to share, please let me know. Perhaps I will post them here on my blog, or link to them on your blog. I have since had a few more pictures with orbs in them, though none as spectacular as this first one!

harvest moon

"The Harvest Moon" by George Hemming Mason
“The Harvest Moon” by George Hemming Mason

Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

~ Carl Sandburg
(Under the Harvest Moon)

there to cheer you on

“Young Mother Contemplating Her Sleeping Child in Candlelight” by Albert Anker
“Young Mother Contemplating Her Sleeping Child in Candlelight” by Albert Anker

All the things you treasure most will be the hardest won
I will watch you struggle long before the answers come
But I won’t make it harder, I’ll be there to cheer you on
I’ll shine the light that guides you down the road you’re walking on
~ Dar Williams
♫ (One Who Knows) ♫