Monday, January 31, 2011

exceedingly grateful

Yet again, my big post today is about the kidney thing. I mentioned, quickly, that there are glimmers of creativity slowly creeping back.

They are.

I'm feeling the flow revving up.


For more that I'm grateful about, please read on:

kidney adventures

Sunday, January 30, 2011

advice from unlikely places

These days folks - so much is about, because of, inspired by my kidney story. And so, I'm love for you to read more:

the adventures of my kidney

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

when the past meets the present

(this post is up on my kidney blog but it's about far more than that experience so I thought a double post was worthwhile)

Yesterday I spent time talking to the 3 psychiatrists at the nephrologist's office about my eating disorder. I'd say we spent 8-10 minutes out of 45 on the topic. I gave them a brief timeline, an overview, insights on why I thought I developed anorexia, treatment I received, and  how I recovered to this point. 

Cramming more than a decade of pain, self-flagellation, disgust and frustration into mini-monologues was close to impossible. 

The hardest part though, and the summary I didn't pull off so well was how I got better. 

I am better. So much better. Better to the point that when the head inquisitor observed that I'm no longer thin and how did I handle that, I handled it. 

I had a fat moment or two this morning but was able to let it quickly go and enjoy my decaf mocha with whipped cream. 

I now know my body is my home. It's my responsibility to take care of it, respect it, cherish it, not punish it. I accept who and where I am (for the most part). It is what is. 

But how did I get here? To this reasonably healthy, sane place?

If I had hours to talk I don't know that's a question I have an answer to. 

Being a mother made me let go of so much. The illusion of control. The concept that my issues were all important and should take precedent over everything else. Anorexia is quite the selfish, egotistical disease. 

Going to art school and finding my voice after too many years of not having one. 

There's yoga. Finding space in my mind and learning I don't always have to spin out of control. Not to mention being stronger than I've ever been. Who would ever have thought that neurotic me would ever be able to float into a headstand in the middle of a room. 

Getting older. I'm finding age brings wisdom and acceptance. There are downsides but with this too, I'm learning to accept what is. 

But I think the biggest thing is that I'm grateful. Grateful I'm here. Grateful for my family, for where we live, for the life we've created. For the opportunities I've had and the ones I made happen. For the many amazing people in my life. For my delicious puppy. 

Grateful that I have a sense of humor that keeps me sane in the insanity. 

Grateful that I can give. 

Giving my kidney is a way to pay forward all I've been blessed with in my life. A thank you to the universe. A tip of the hat to the forces that be. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

overcoming Jewish superstitions

you can read about it on my kidney blog (where I'm trying to let go of old habits):

adventures of my kidney

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

rejecting rejection

As I was just walking to yoga, on this icy, wet, slush-filled morning, I was thinking about what to write about. I was thinking about how easy it is to say you're going to let go of what you know, how you (I'm talking me here) can understand, conceptualize, "get" it, but the reality of letting go is just about impossible. While contemplating this I was also pondering the negative spaces that take over me. How lost I can get in being angry, feeling slighted, ignored, hurt - whether it was intentional or not. I trend sensitive for those here who haven't noticed. I can spin things that happened or might possibly happen over and over. And over. As if there's a replay button in my brain that can select out my most painful moments and put them on high rotation.

I'm really good at making myself feel really bad.

As I wandered the aisles of the Container Store, gazing at tiny boxes and packs of tissue paper this deep, way deep, so deep realization hit me.

Perceived rejection has to be one of my first feelings.

Whoa. Perceived rejection.

Growing up healthy in a house with a very ill sibling meant I got less attention. Not maliciously. Not with awareness. But I was ok and he wasn't. Reasonable, rational, logical. But not really when you're less than three.

From that, from there I think I internalized not being important enough and became comfortable with, accepting of people treating me with a certain sense of disregard.

I seek out those relationships.

To be put at the bottom of someone's list of priorities is where I know I'm supposed to be.




This is a huge one for me.

Awareness is the first step.

Maybe this slight shift will help me to fight those ingrained tendencies and I can start letting go of something I never even thought of as a thing.

It is what is.

But I want it to be what was.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

letting go of what you know

Lately, this blog and my kidney adventures definitely mix and mingle.

Today was one of those days, should you care to pop over and read:

kidney adventures

Friday, January 14, 2011

surviving an anxiety attack

I just survived an anxiety attack, although, the way I'm feeling it could start back up at any moment. My hands are still shaking. There's a strange heat, tingling in my head. My jaw is clenched tight. My stomach is knotted.

Yup, it's still here. But I'm still not giving in.

It started in the supermarket. Standing on line with Jack I got dizzy for no reason. Scared. Panicky. I made it home, barely holding it together. And then, as I stood in the kitchen, the unease started. The knowing that I wouldn't be ok, that I was about to lose it, that I would fall apart at any moment.

I didn't.

But I thought I would.

I grabbed ice cubes out of the freezer and held them so tightly I could hear them cracking. That didn't stop anything (I'd heard that holding ice cubes would stop a panic attack). I held them up to my checks until it felt they were numb. That helped slightly.

I remembered what the transplant social worker had said the other day—that I had to look at my history and know that I always survive in the end. That, and that anxiety was a learned response from my earliest years.

I don't want to react to stress with anxiety attacks anymore. I hate this.

HATE this.

So much unknown, so much stress, so many things I've never dealt with are in my near future and I want to find a healthier way of dealing than this.

I will not fall apart. I'm stronger than this. I have to find a way to know that at my very center and not fall back into this dark place.

Or, maybe I've been having a hot flash.

All I can say is oy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

the fringier part of me

Last night I was the first to arrive for dinner. It was my monthly book club which rarely talks books but manages to cover a vast range of other topics. I arrived at the restaurant, an old neighborhood standby that had recently relocated to a deserted stretch of 8th street. Not feeling like waiting outside in the cold, about to snow dark, I looked around to see if anything was open where I could browse for a few minutes.

Right next door was a piercing shop. Glancing in the window I recognized almost none of the shining bits and pieces but I ventured in. The man behind the counter took one look at middle aged me and looked back to his magazine. Apparently a funky vintage coat and cool boots don't make much of an impression.

Still, I walked the dimly lit gauntlet to the back of the store and asked if they had any nose jewelry. He glanced at me again, spotted the gold glimmer in my nostril, and pulled out a black velvet display studded with the tiniest of jewels.

He got friendlier as I asked about different options and which were easiest to change and why. I then screwed up courage to ask if he could explain how to get my own piercing out. There's a mysterious labyrinth living inside my nose that's a puzzle I afraid to attempt.

Excitedly he explained how to remove the u-shaped stud, even drawing a diagram to refer to. I then learned that should I buy something there, the salesperson would help me remove the old and insert the new.

I gave a secret moment of silence to those whose job it is to stick their fingers up other people's noses all day.

I saw what I want. A bezel cut tiny diamond set in white gold. Simple. Clean. Sparkly.

I'm thinking that should all my kidney testing go as planned, I'm treating myself to some new nose bling on the way home.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's a kidney kind of day

Last night I had a sizable kidney freakout—you can share it with me here:

Friday, January 7, 2011

life changing change

Yesterday morning, while having coffee with a friend, we spent a lot of time talking about potential change. Going back to a conventional job versus staying home with kids, what that juggle might be like, how we felt about where we are, where we could be, where we should be. And then, as we were walking home, we ran into another friend who looked stricken as we said hello. On the verge of tears. She'd found out the day before that her best friend had breast cancer.


The trajectory of that woman's life changed in one sentence. Nothing would ever be the same. Out of nowhere she, her husband, her kids, her parents, her support system were plunged into the unexpected, the unknown, a dark, scary place where there were no guarantees everything would be ok in the end.

To be honest, no one can ever know all will work out but we live (or at least I do) in this place where we can pretend to have control.

We don't. Not really.

Not at all.

Another friend of mine lost his apartment this week. The recession hit him hard and he can't afford to keep his home. After years he's starting completely over. He'd tried, for too long, to maintain that everything was fine while his foundation was being worn out from under him.

I too, am standing on a precipice. It's not coming out of nowhere—I'm choosing this road instead of it choosing me. No, actually, it's not that black and white. I'm not choosing this out of nowhere. I'm choosing it because I have no choice. There's no way I couldn't give my brother a kidney. Put more plainly, of course my kidney is his.

Of course.

But this road is fraught with unknowns. My first physical is next week. It could be that I'm a relatively healthy 46 year old. It also could be that there's all sorts of stuff going on in my body I don't know about. Yet. But soon I will. And after all that gets sorted out, once I have the green light to move forward, once we're tested and matched and tested again, once we're in the hospital and prepped for surgery, I still won't know. I won't know until I wake up whether I'll have one kidney or two. My brother's body is so compromised they won't know until they open him up whether he'll have room for a new organ.

All this could lead to nothing. Or a life, two lives, could be drastically, dramatically changed.


Life smacks you in the head sometimes and leaves you reeling. But, still, it's better than the alternative.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Today was an old-fashioned, juggling, various pieces of my life colliding kind of morning. 

After walking the dog, getting 2 kids out and to school, and having a super quick coffee and even quicker conversations with various friends I hadn't seen since before the winter break, I had a FLOW documentary brainstorming session with several writers and producers, one of whom is an old friend, someone I adore but hadn't seen in awhile. After the meeting we spent time catching each other up and in a matter of minutes we touched on cancer, breakups, breakdowns, death, parenting, work, and kidney donations. 

There's been a lot going on. 

Head-shaking, daunting, soul-shattering stuff going on.

We sighed. We empathized. We nodded our heads like 2 little old ladies sitting out on a stoop in the Bronx, wearing babushkas, sharing the drama and illnesses and challenges we'd be living with.

In spite of everything we're both relatively ok. Dealing with what is. Appreciating where we are. Hoping the worst is over.  

It's life and it's not always easy. Sometimes it's impossibly, painfully, heart-crushingly hard. 

then went yoga where the theme was all about letting of of expectations and the challenges of being. Just being. After a lovely class that ended with a heavenly shivasana I had a remarkable conversation with my teacher about being present and letting go of trying so hard/too hard to get there.

From there I headed home where my puppy was waiting for me. I scratched her belly until we were both blissed.

Yes, it was quite the morning. Full of connection, movement, emotion, thoughtfulness, creativity, love, enlightenment, sympathy, pain. 

My life is so extraordinarily full. Sometimes all I can do is step back and take it all in. Sometimes I'm swimming in it, drowning in it, barely able to stay on top of the water. Sometimes I'm so overwhelmed by it all, all I can do is sleep more than usual to keep from losing it.

I'm feeling anxiety creep in. 

I'm scared of the road I'm on. There are times I can hold onto being in the moment and letting go of expectations, of the future, of control, but the truth is that more often I want to, need to know everything will be ok. That I'll be ok. That all will be fine in the end.

I once wrote something called "The Everything is Fine Book" and that's the mantra I need to hear when life gets to be too much.

Everything is fine.

And truly, everything is fine. Or at least it is the way it is and one can fight it or be fine with it.

I'm working on the being fine part. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Home is where the hot water bottle is

Last night, after a mind and body numbing day of travel, of cars and buses and planes, of endless sitting in cramped spaces, I slid into bed at 10, too exhausted to do anything but gratefully lie there.

I had a moment. A delicious, blissful moment. My sheets were soft and smooth from countless washings. I was surrounded by fuzzy pillows and blankets (both something my family can't live without). And as I burrowed down my toes hit my almost burning hot hot water bottle.

I intended to read for a bit but I was so happy, so cozy, so comfortable I laid there letting the warmth seep in.

I was home.

No matter how lovely a vacation is, I'm always so happy to be back home. To drive through NYC in the twilight, street lights reflecting on the wet sidewalks. To breathe the crisp, fresh air. This time, for the first time, to open the door and see a super happy puppy literally vibrating with excitement. To walk crowded sidewalks knowing I'd find a good cup of coffee. To hear the noises of the street as I fall asleep.

Dorothy was right about this one.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Vacation take aways

I wrote this yesterday but had no Internet connection to post with. And so, while I'm sitting in the dark, docked at port, not yet ready to gear up for a big travel day, I'm happy to relive yesterday for a moment or two:

I'm lying here, on a heated chaise, water from the fountains trickling quietly, nothing but ocean and clouds and blue sky and warm sunshine beyond the floor to celling windows.

I was drifting in and out of empty, a gratifying place to be for me Vacation take aways

I'm lying here, on a heated chaise, water from the fountains trickling quietly, nothing but ocean and clouds and blue sky and warm sunshine beyond the floor to celling windows. 

I was drifting in and out of empty, a gratifying place to be for me as it can so often be so hard to get to. But thoughts kept cropping up at the edges. More actually appreciations and I wanted to make them more concrete before they slipped away. 

My parents are remarkable. I am so grateful for them and I don't tell them that enough. They love me so whole-heartedly, they make things possible that otherwise wouldn't be, they are accepting and supportive and thoughtful. 

I'm better at doing nothing than I thought I was. 

The older I get, the less things bother me. 

My kids have remarkable manners. 

My clothes will soon be shared with a child of mine who already looks better in them than I do. 

I can still pull off a bikini. 

My body lets me know when it's had enough. 

I finally learned all I need on a cruise are comfy pants and a long sleeved t shirt. 

Whipped cream in coffee is heavenly. 

I can survive without technology. 

I'm getting better at letting go of the illusion of control. 

Zeppoles stuffed with raisins are far more delicious than one could possibly imagine. 

And I'm starting 2011 with no concrete resolutions except to walk up 10 flights of stairs once a day.