Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I allow myself to heal on all levels
I allow myself to heal on all levels
I allow myself to heal on all levels

That's the mantra my new cranio/sacral guy had me say out loud
as he worked on me yesterday on all levels. Lots of talk about nourishing myself on all levels as well. One day at a time I am learning to focus on me more than I ever have.

I saw him right after my second visit with my acupuncturist. A needle in my hand, a needle in my foot, needles along my spine and needles threaded an inch under my scalp, like knitting a sweater. Laying on my stomach for half an hour focused on my breathing, relaxing my body, and opening my body to nourishment.

I am trying to teach myself to pray out loud as I know I am suddenly on many prayer lists all around the world, at the same time I need to save my voice and talk less.

The ironies in my world are unlimited.

In the meantime life keeps happening every day with many moments of joy:

The best biggest laugh I have had in a long time was standing and leaning against a wall at the restaurant we were in last night. We were getting ready to leave and Jackie was standing there with me as we waited for the car to warm up. And I said, "I love walls, that's why I voted for Trump." I said this pretty loudly and I almost fell down laughing so hard.

The day before that was Peg's birthday and I took this picture of my angel Jackie and Grandma Peggy:

and then yesterday morning :  How many Big Sky Legends does it take to unscrew a meat slicer?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

What I am grateful for

That stuffed to the brim turkey on the kitchen counter
My three sons, Andrew stuck at work
Micah and Howie doing backflips on opening day
Fantasy football and the Redskin players that did well for them
My mother-in-law who loves the Lions and Dancing with the Stars
My Jackie – need I say more
My friends who laugh at my jokes
            We were talking baseball and Ivy league colleges
            And I made a speech:
“Bill Bradley went to Princeton      
Ron Darling, Mets pitcher went to Yale
            Lou Gehrig went to Columbia
            Yeah, Lou Gehrig and I have a lot in common
            Or even funnier than that – figures I’d get a Yankee disease
            Big lifetime Mets fan with a Yankee disease
Love and laughter
Pain in the Buddy who always wants a walk, and spends every meal
            under the table at my feet
New friends who sent down their Polaris Mule for me to take for a ride
A phone call from a dear cousin
For some fresh snow and lots of sunshine
For a walk down the road
For Spotify, Sonos and infinite music
For Grandpa Sandy’s stuffing recipe
For adventure traveling and dinner stories 
           Micah and Howie told a NYC story of losing a phone, 
           getting separated on the subway 
           and in the end figuring it all out and getting lucky
For loving friends, family, and community
Surrounding me with love, laughter and life...

Micah takes over carving the turkey with Howie's help

Friday, November 18, 2016

two poems from Moab

Election Day 2016

I’m sitting in front of a t.v.
waiting to hear Hillary’s concession speech

I’m in shock
it feels like I’m living
in an alternative universe
that I accidentally entered
through a wrong door
and I can’t find my way back

Everyday when I wake up
in the morning and I struggle
to get out of bed
I know that this is my reality
and there is no way out
except to be strong and positive
and to surround myself with people
I love and enjoy
focus on fun and  joy
love and laughter
and beauty

Two months ago I was diagnosed with ALS
it started as weakness in my right hand
and then weakness in my legs
I can still use my hands
I can still walk
but now use walking poles

Jackie and I spent election day
in Canyonlands National Park
in beautiful southern Utah
we drove around
and took a couple of short hikes

The longest hike of the day
was 1 kilometer to Pothole Point
it was like walking on the moon
little craters on a rock surface
I stumbled and fell twice
tripping over the potholes
but I got up both times
with Jackie’s help
bruised and sore, but still walking
we sat and picnicked
in front of a massive majestic expansive view
two ravens joined us
squawking, kissing, grooming, hovering by us
only a few feet away
we enjoyed our lunch
and took in the beauty

we hiked the one kilometer back to the car
slowly and carefully, arm in arm
mindful of every step
those two falls were new to us
and scared us
but we carried on

we drove around the park
and stopped at another short hike
this one  1 kilometer round trip
mostly on a dirt trail
to an ancient Native American granary
a store house for corn

the sun set in the distance
behind the red rock walls of Canyonlands

we drove back to Moab
an hour or so away
back to cell service and radio
to slowly find out
that Hillary was not winning
and as the night progressed
that Trump had won in a stunning upset

and so my alternative universe
marked with tears and fatigue
will continue on

but I will prevail

I will be strong
I will have fun
and I know that despite all this craziness

I will always be surrounded by love

My First Visit to a Bookstore

I’m out on a walk
in downtown Moab
with my walking sticks
I adjust my backpack on my shoulder
my water bottle falls out
and rolls away on the sidewalk
towards the street curb
a young man passing by grabs it for me
I stop and lean against a wall and
put it back in my pack
half a block later it crashes to the ground again
this time I somehow pick it up myself
lean against a picket fence and put it inside my pack

I continue on to the bookstore
I drop my backpack near the door
and wander around
without a wall to lean on
I struggle to look through a book
without falling
I lean on my sticks, but I really need a hand to do that
and its hard to look through a book with only one hand

in front of the Western section
there is the back of a couch
that I lean on while I look
Bass, Doig, Harrison, but I still can’t reach
down to the bottom shelf
without risk of cramps or falling
or the inability to get back up
so no Stegner for me

I look at a book by Thich Nhat Hanh
“How to Walk”
the entry I read is about being mindful of every step
I put it back before I stumble and fall
I pick up my backpack by the door
thank the bookseller
and wander back onto the sidewalk
where I find a bench to sit and rest

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Delicate Arch

Yesterday we went to Arches
we were hiking on the Upper View Trail
to Delicate Arch, the iconic arch
that symbolizes the beauty of southern Utah

as we walked up the dirt path
me trekking along slowly with my poles
we came upon a sharp ascent
of stone stairs and a steep upwards path
Jackie, Andrew and Erin continued up
and I turned back

I walked back down the path
to the very short and flat
Lower View Trail
and to the lower view of the far away Delicate Arch
the blue sky and the red dirt
and the specks of people

I stood there at the park sign
marking the official lower view point
with an up close photo
and the explanation of mother nature

I stood there supported by my trekking poles
gazing at the expansive view
took a deep breath
read the sign and snapped a photo

then wandered back to the parking lot
sat at a picnic table

and waited for my family to return

earlier that day at Balanced Rock


Dear Family & Friends,

Life is a crazy thing. Every day is a blessing.
I think of all of you, of all the people in my life and I know I am a very lucky man.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
I am overwhelmed with joy. 
This might be an odd thing to say, but I feel it is true:
I have chosen for whatever reason to work very hard and many hours so far in my life. Maybe it was the example my parents set when I was young. Who knows?

But as hard as I have worked, I have also had a lot of fun. I have many treasured moments in my life, many unbelievable experiences at home and all over the world.

I plan on continuing to work as hard as I am able and moreover I plan on having as much fun, laughter and joy as I can.

I also truly feel I am a good person. I care about others. I have always tried to do my best for my family, my friends, my community and myself.  I plan on continuing to do just that.

I have been diagnosed with ALS.  It started happening this summer. I developed weakness in my right hand and I started walking funny. It took me a while to figure out, but as all my symptoms started to bother me more and more I took myself to the doctor. How fast it is progressing, or how much time I have for “normal” living, who knows.

Things are going to get harder for me. Things I have always taken for granted are going to be more difficult for me. The pace at which I have become accustomed to living is going to slow down a lot.  That’s a good thing. My life is going to change. My body is going to change. I am still going to be me.  I am writing this letter to help me process what is happening to me.  I am writing this letter as a way to let everyone I love know what is going on with me. I am writing this letter to let everyone know I will be O.K.

Life is a blessing. Every day is a blessing. I am surrounded by so much love and beauty every day. I am a very lucky man.

Love you all,