The destination or the journey?

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Sometimes, when on vacation, the lines tend to blur and I’m not sure which one is supposed to be the point. When speaking of life, one often hears that saying “it’s the journey not the destination” … the creepy implication of death being the destination … or the afterlife if that is your belief. And since so much our lives are consumed by work, taking a vacation is like stepping away from our journey for a side trip. In that case, the journey can become as much a part of the experience as the destination.  Unless, you’re like me and tend to pack your vacations so full that it becomes a mirage of rest, and the journey less a stroll and more a marathon. I checked off 10,000 steps before lunch! I get lost in the journey so that only the thought of my destination keeps me plodding along, blind to the surroundings of the journey. I tend to turn a vacation from work into working at my vacation, the only difference being not chained to a desk and I get to sleep in. That’s the downside of traveling solo … no one to stop you from trotting off to yet another museum, no one to grab your arm and say, “Slow down, let’s get something to eat” or “how about a rest?”  So, this time I’m going to try something new and actually vacation, slow down, be in the moment instead of always planning ahead to the next one … and enjoy both the journey and the destination.

The price of helping …

It’s a good thing to help someone, right?  I think so … but have you ever encountered a situation where, by helping one group – you’re hurting another?  This happened to me, quite by accident, and now I’m in a real quandary as to what to do.

For ages, I’ve been a blood donor … not the most regular donor, but I hit the one gallon mark years ago.  It’s important, for me, to donate blood.  I know someone who, because of her particular type of cancer, depends on occasional blood transfusions.  And it’s not just putting a face on the need for blood donations – it’s the fact I’m very popular with the Red Cross.  They call me, email me, text me … it’s somewhat akin to being stalked by a jealous ex-lover.  In defense of the Red Cross, it’s not them – it’s me.  I’m O negative, the universal blood donor type.  Anyone can receive O- but, here’s the rub, O- can only receive O- … how unfair is that?!  Anyway, because it doesn’t hurt (except the part where they stab your finger for a tiny drop of blood for iron levels testing) and I like adding to my growing collection of Red Cross t-shirts, it’s a very small and super easy task.  You just  sit there (or lay there) and read a magazine or cruise facebook for about 20 minutes.  According to The Red Cross website, one pint of blood can save potentially 3 lives, and every day (yes, every day!) 56,000 pints of blood are needed.

Here’s the unfortunate pickle in which I find myself.

Last year, I went to Haiti with the mission team from St.Timothy’s Episcopal Church.  We support 25 children in Chapeteau … a village which, well, is barely a village.  There are no roads, the shacks have no electricity and no running water.  They are the poorest of the poor.  We support local industry, we don’t go in and -shazam- build for them, we help with resources to help them build.  We go to maintain that physical connection, to show them by action rather than just words, that someone cares.  Someone out there in the big world knows and cares.  You are not alone.  That is why we go.  Last year was my first trip to Haiti and every day since, I feel changed by the experience and can’t wait for the next trip.

And that’s the problem.  That is where the crossroad of help one and hurt another meet.  As long as I go to Haiti, I cannot donate blood.  According to the Red Cross, one must wait a year after traveling to certain countries in order to donate blood.  If I go to Haiti every year, I’ll never have that one year buffer, and I’ll never be able to donate blood.

Haiti is very important to me, for many reasons – but so is being a blood donor.  I cannot do both.  I have to choose.  But how?  And who?

Enough is enough …

I can’t take it anymore.  The lies coming from the white house and the republican establishment are mind boggling in their sheer nerve and volume.  While trump continues to blindly maintain it’s not his fault, children and their parents are being forced apart, held separately, having no idea when they’ll be reunited.  There’s no such law, contrary to what trump seems to believe.  According to the Washington Post, it’s not so much a law as it is “a collection of policies and court rulings”.  Of which, trump summarily decided to lay down the no-exception edict … of of which trump can rescind anytime he wants to.

Where are the republicans?  What’s with the silent majority?  They appear to fuss and fidget and wring their hands with concern and dismay … but where is their action?  Where is their outrage?  Where are their balls? The republicans own the house, the senate, and the white house, for crying out loud … and they say the democrats are the holdup?!

Actions speak louder than words and their lack of action speaks volumes.  Come mid-term elections the actions of the voters may just leave them speechless, and they’ll only have themselves to blame.

That magic moment …

when every fibre in your body is screaming “buy it now, buy it now, BUY IT NOW!” and you know there’s only a thin filament of resistance between you and the object of your dreams.  You can feel your hand inching towards your purse and the credit card within.  It would be effortless …

Oh, the torture of it all.  I was in that teeter-totter moment, standing there looking at the e-bike.  The very bike I’d broken my shoulder riding to take a look at.  It was something of a moment of trump.  Seven weeks to the day after my little mishap, I’d finally gotten to test ride the e-bike.

Wow.

Going up a hill, the electric assist kicked in.  It was like magic.  Like an invisible hand pulling me up the incline.  If I wasn’t hooked before, I was now.  In my imagination, it was all so simple.  Ride the bike, buy the bike.  Not even the $2,500 price tag would get in my way.  12 months same as cash you say?  It was on the tip of my tongue “I’ll take it!”

But, surprise surprise, I left without the bike.  I didn’t give in to the rush of temptation, didn’t throw financial caution to the wind.  I put my inner child to the side and waited for the inner tantrum.  Another surprise … the impulsive “want it now” part of me that was sure I’d be leaving with a new bike was silent.  Could it be that my inner child was growing up?

Oh, I’ll be buying the bike … just not today.

Pardon me …

I’m getting ready to take a vacation … first one in … um … three years?  People have been coming to visit me the past few years.  One of the perks to living near the nations capital. Welcome your guest, hand them a metro map and see you later!  This time, however, I’ll be the one traveling.  And, to be honest, I’m a bit nervous.  No … not afraid of flying (just afraid of flying coach), it’s not one of your typical travel phobias.  I’m nervous because of the idiot trump.

Our global reputation is, well, kind of in the toilet.  We back out of the Paris climate accord, tear up the Iran nuclear deal, and piss off who knows how many foreign leaders.  We label every Mexican refugee as a murderer or rapist, automatically separate parents and children at the border … we pick a fight with Canada   Canada!  The worst thing about Canadians is … well, nothing.  Some mental dustball in the trump administration accuses Canada of “stabbing us in the back”, yet North Korea’s leader?  He is called honorable, and someone who loves his people.  Yeah, loves them to death – that kind of love they could live without.  Literally.

When did we start sucking up to ruthless dictators and shoving loyal friends to the side?  I’m just glad I’m not traveling to Canada.  As it is, I feel like wearing a t-shirt that reads, “I’m sorry, I didn’t vote for him”.  This man represents us!  For better or worse, our president is the face of our country and, in the case of the idiot trump, it’s definitely for worse.

When he’s not cozying up to Putin, he’s pardoning everyone in sight.  Now, Jack Johnson, that one I agree with.  And, the first time offender grandmother, a life sentence did seem a little harsh.  But the rest?  He couldn’t be sending a more obvious  message to his co-conspiritators.  “Don’t worry … hold tight and there’s a pardon coming your way”.  I wonder if justice will ever be served?  If it is, for how long?  Putin must surely be chuckling all the way to the bank.

And, now, I will travel abroad … to countries that trump, not so very long ago, just about spit in the eye of.  Sat with arms crossed like a petulant toddler in front of.  Refusing to sign the traditional G-7 summit. I know I don’t judge other people harshly because their particular government might say or do something stupid … I can only hope to get the same.

A new spin on delivery …

Grubhub.  Just placed my first order with this service … a sudden craving for a crispy chicken sandwich with a side of fries combined with the unwillingness to leave the house prodded me to order from Red Robin.  Yes, I could have saved the $6.99 delivery fee by getting in my car and driving less than five miles to the restaurant, but … I don’t feel like it.  I justify it by saying I’ll save gas and it looks like it’s going to rain.  But, mainly, I’m feeling lazy.  Such a first world problem, it’s almost embarrassing.

I’m watching CNN which is currently running a story on how about 10 – 11,000 people in Puerto Rico are still without power, 9 months after Hurricane Maria.  Nine months without power.  Imagine.  It’s hot, it’s humid, you can’t run fans let alone air conditioners.  You certainly can’t hop online and, with a few keystrokes, order a chicken sandwich with a side of fries.  And these people are as much American citizens as I am, sitting here in my comfortable townhouse in Northern Virginia.  Having grown up in Florida, I’m well acquainted with the heat and humidity of summer months … as well as being without power from a tropical storm or hurricane.  It’s miserable.  You can’t sleep for the want of a breath of fresh air, and – even if you had means of cooking – being around a hot stove or fire is the last thing you want.

We should have done better by Puerto Rico.  The idiot trump missed the boat as well as the point, throwing paper towels into the crowd and saying they only had a few reported casualties vs the hundreds lost in Katrina.  Bet the families of those “few” casualties have different feelings on the matter.

So, I sit here … waiting for my chicken sandwich with a side of fries … just a bit more aware and a bit more thankful.

 

Sharing the road …

While sidelined from cycling (due to a broken shoulder), I have been noticing how many cyclist are on the roads.  It’s one of those things where, if you’re prevented from doing a thing – you suddenly notice it all around  you.  Last week, driving to work, I was idly watching a cyclist at an intersection.  We had a red light, and he was in the far right hand lane.  Out of nowhere, he suddenly started forward and for a moment looked as if he was going to shoot the red light, but he stopped as soon as he started.  A few seconds later, the light turned green and off we all went.

This got me to thinking of that bumper sticker, “Share the road” often referring to cyclist (motor and bike).  In that moment where the cyclist seemed as if he was going to run the red light, I sensed hypocrisy in the air and felt a flash of anger.  Share the road, in my opinion, means obeying the rules of road … and if a car were to run a red light, well … an observant police officer would pull him over in a flash.  What about a bicycle?  Probably not, well, not that I’ve observed anyway.

If you’re riding on the road, you’re considered a vehicle and therefore subject to obeying the rules of the road.  This being said, why do some (most, I’d venture) cyclist blow through red lights as well as stop signs?  You might have guessed by my choice of words, this pisses me off to no end.  I’m happy to share the road, but I’d ask a small favor … obey the same rules I do.  Or, if you’re going to blatantly disregard them, stop giving me dirty looks if I’m accidentally block your path when you don’t have the right of way.

According to what I read online, it seems cyclist do this for many reasons, but the main one seems to be to avoid loss of momentum.  Stopping and starting again does require much more effort on a bike, and in some cases the red light works off a sensor that doesn’t register a bicycle.  This has happened to me more than once.  I stop at the red light, another cyclist goes shooting past, while I dutifully wait for the green light which … tick tock tick tock tick tock … it takes a car pulling up to trigger.  Then again, I’m such a girl scout that I’d stop at a red light in the middle of the night with no other car in sight.  I might not stop for long, or completely, but I will stop.

This business of cars and bikes on the road is complicated.  We’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalk, but riding on the road can be a nerve wracking experience.  Given the choice, I pick the sidewalk so …. guess I’m breaking the law as you wouldn’t drive a car on the sidewalk.  Most cities just aren’t pedestrian or cyclist friendly … so, it’s up to the driver and the cyclist to be friendly.  Share the road, but … please … look before shooting that light!

Again.

I was all set to blog an update of my injured shoulder when the news broke, another school shooting.  Another lockdown, another scene of kids running for safety, another scene of police responding, another scene of frantic parents.

Where are you now, you second-amendment God given right to own a gun owners who value your rifles and pistols above common sense gun laws that might have saved 10 lives today?

Where are you now, you lip service to caring for the people politicians who value your re-election race above enacting laws that might have saved 10 lives today?

Don’t send prayers and thoughts, do something.  Take action.  Now.

Enough already …

Photo on 5-5-18 at 4.47 PM #3

One week and two days down … I’m so OVER this broken shoulder business.  It was a novel experience, a “that was interesting” experience but I’m over it.  It annoying to figure out how to do things one handed, although I am quite proud of myself in that I managed to successfully mow the yard this morning!  Granted it’s a self propelled electric mower, and I dutifully kept my left arm in its sling, but ta-da … done!  Full disclosure … I live in a townhouse and have a yard the size of a large walk in closet, but it was a step towards normalcy.

The phrase “single handed” has taken a new and personal meaning.  To do something single handed means turning a mundane task (such as mowing the lawn) into an olympic event.  Vacuuming become Everest, washing one’s hair … herculean … putting on socks … try it and you’ll see.

It’s also, unfortunately, a handy (pardon the pun) excuse for spending an inordinate amount of time on the sofa watching tv or reading.  Can’t practice the violin, or the guitar, or any of my art projects … takes away that guilty feeling of “should” and replaces it with “can’t” … at least for the next 6 weeks and 5 days.

The dangers of “Age is just a number”

Photo on 4-28-18 at 12.01 PM

 

As I sit here, left arm in a sling, waiting for the extra strength ibuprofen to kick in, I mull over some old sayings … “You’re only as old as you feel” and “Age is just a number” and have the strongest feeling of deja vu.

I’ve been here before.

Last time it was the naive exuberance of a first time skier, spinning and crashing across the ski run into a fence, resulting in a couple of cracked ribs and a moment of clarity.  Age might just be a number but it was also a reality – a painful, cracked ribs reality.

Still, I kept my age blinders on, recovered, went skiing again the next season and – yes – repeated my fall and cracked rib routing.  I have been skiing several seasons since with all bones intact, although I stay within my limits and on the green slopes.

During the rest of the year, I kept to more benign activities … or so I thought.  Another saying bubbled up from the depths “… as easy as riding a bike” indicating some task or other, once learned, is a mere trifle to resume.

Perhaps …

I’ve been cycling with intent for the past couple of years, even though I’ve been riding bikes since toddlerhood.  Recently, however, I’ve taken it more seriously, upgrading over the years from beach cruiser to hybrid although I’m far from those “Tour de France” wanna-be’s that shoot past like fighter jets on wheels.  My speed and style is more akin to mom and dad towing junior behind them in that little covered carrier.  I have been passed by joggers.  Still, there’s nothing like a leisurely cruise down the WO&D bike trail … with only the birds for company.

What could go wrong?

Several things, actually.

Aside from mechanical failures, punctured tires, chains jumping of the sprockets as if possessed … there’s the ever present specter of human error.  One error in particular has been the culprit of my “age is just a number” fantasy meeting “you’re not twenty something anymore” reality.  Short of running into a car, another biker, or a cellphone distracted walker, the one thing you don’t want to do, at speed, is engage the front brake. Google Newton’s Laws of Motion.

The bike comes to a sudden and complete stop.  The rider, however, does not.  The first time it happened, I suffered only minor cuts and scrapes and the embarrassment of falling off one’s own bike all on one’s own.  The second time it happened, which was two days ago, was a tad more serious.  Added to the cuts and scrapes and embarrassment was a broken shoulder and a minor concussion.  It was as if the entire left side of my body checked out and refused to take orders from the brain, preferring instead to curl up in a fetal position yelling “Pain Pain Pain Pain Pain…”

They will likely never know how it all turned out, but the 7 or 8 (maybe less, I was seeing double at the time) kind strangers who broke from their activities to pull me and my bike out of the turn lane and onto the soft green grass.  I was less than coherent but remember stating (slurring mostly likely) I’d be find in a minute.  Fall, schmall … no need for an ambulance, ignore the pain shooting from my left shoulder and the double vision, it’s nothing.  I’ll walk it off.

Time to acknowledge reality … and accept a ride from a lovely good samaritan to the nearby Urgent Care center.  Time to admit I needed help.  Time to accept help.  Time to put aside that annoying southern tradition of “don’t want to be a bother, really …” to however many of you are standing/swaying in front of me”.  People genuinely want to help … it’s a refreshing reminder that, while we may live alone or feel alone, when push comes to shove … we are not.  When I needed help, it was provided.  I really felt God was looking out for me … it could have been so much worse.  I could have broken my wrist too, it could have been my right arm (and I’m right handed), it could have been on a lonely stretch of road with no help in sight.

I don’t yet know how long I’ll be in this annoying sling and trying to live life with only one good arm.  But I have kind and available neighbors and a bottle of 600mg ibuprofen. And, yes, once healed up … I’ll be back on that bike!  Trying to remember NOT to engage the brake unless I really really mean to!