My Bubble Life

Reprinted from “Letters to My Children 9/8/17

On August 2 the temperature in Medford was 109. My husband and older daughter and I escaped the heat to enjoy a friends’ beach house a few hours from home. it was paradise – walking he beach in the ocean breeze, drinking fruity cocktails on the deck while watching the sun set the ocean, sleeping with the sound of waves…

I had a few weird feelings coming back from I’m outing to Paul Bunyan, but thought it was from riding in the car. My right foot felt heavy when I went downstairs to the bathroom in the night, but I went right back to sleep. Then I woke up at 6 o’clock and my right side wouldn’t move as normal.

I joked with my daughter and my husband while we waited for the ambulance. Crossing my arms over my chest, I quipped, “I’m ready for my casket.”

Everyone was kind – the nurse who took care of me as I lay on the gurney and the doctors who visited with me intermittently throughout their shifts. Still, I lay in the emergency room for 10 hours while they decided my immediate fate. A teleconference with the doctor at UC Davis ruled out the miracle shot for strokes. I had a couple of CT scans and an MRI.

I could shakily sign my initials when required. My family, including two sisters and a brother-in-law who had been on their way to join us, were frightened and uncertain.  But I was in a protective bubble.

That bubble surrounded me as I left the hospital in an another ambulance bound for the airport. It protected me on the medical flight to my hometown where I was taken by ambulance to the hospital which had accepted me. I was the new commodity, A stroke victim. I did not do things myself. Everything was done to me.

The next morning I understood that it wasn’t over – my right side was completely flaccid. I began to realize the truth of my life being different.

For now though, I was protected.  I was fed, taken to the bathroom, kept warm, discussed in my presence. My limbs were bent, placed where they were wanted, massaged, examined, and frowned over. My daughters (in turns) slept in my hospital room and were at my side whatever happened. Voices were hushed in my room. There were doctors, nurses, therapists, and chaplains. All visits were short followed by nods of the head or quiet conversations near the door or in the hallway. My husband looked tired and drawn.

After I was moved into inpatient rehab the protection continued. I received different therapies, each three times a day. There was occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy. I  was fitted with braces to shore up my weakened limbs. Each day was a pattern – rest work eat and sleep.

My view of life outside.

I had a corner room with view. My meals were delivered. My life was still a bubble.

The nurses and doctors became my family. I heard about their lives, cared about what happened to them, and formed some great associations.

My doctor tried to re-orient me to real life. He was sure that I must have cabin fever and needed to go out. I wasn’t so sure. I left with my husband and drove through the valley which was encased in smoke from left forest fires nearby. I still couldn’t see the outside as any better than inside.

But time came to leave. All my family members of my family had been trained to walk me to help me in the car.  Other than hot food and help with my exercises, I was fairly independent. And so with trepidation I left the hospital. They took me home.

The bubble burst!


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This Moment

“Present-moment living, getting in touch with your now, is at the heart of effective living. When you think about it, there really is no other moment you can live. Now is all there is, and the future is just another present moment to live when it arrives.” Wayne Dyer

The concept that the present moment has all that we need has been confusing to me. I am now, however, at peace with it.Thich Nhat Hanh‘s quote resonates  with me. “Find joy and peace in this very moment.”

If I didn’t have all that I need in this very moment, I would not be breathing. I would not be thinking. I would not be analyzing.  I would not be here writing.

I find great peace when I can be here.

I’m not worried about my loss yesterday. I’m not worried about what I need tomorrow.

Many years of practice have not perfected my ability to stay present. I don’t often look back, but I can easily leap into the future. I can plan. I can calculate. I can anticipate.

Nothing is better than this moment.

The Student


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Lessons of the Ego


“What has the face of the ego taught you? Which of its aspects are you still struggling with: fear, attachment, control, entitlement, or the need to be special?” The Second Half of Life, Angeles Arrien

Hello ego, you are obviously still my best friend.

Well, this reflection isn’t about having eradicated these aspects of myself. It is about what I have learned, isn’t it? I could probably write an entire post about each of these. But, instead I am capsulizing my thoughts.

Fear: Here I am again, a seven on the enneagram, a part of the thinking triad which experiences a great deal of fear and anxiety. Knowledge is the first step, however, and I am aware. I question my motivations when I am scurrying about – distracting myself. What am I dreading? What is it that I am avoiding and why?

Attachment: One of my highest levels of work at this time in my life is to detach in a healthy way…without distancing. Attachment to things? Well, I am losing that gradually. “Stuff” becomes so much less important to my life. It is my attachment to outcome that is my greater struggle. How to be open to the mystery (per Richard Rohr) is a lesson I am trying to learn.

Control: Well, there’s that attachment to outcome again, isn’t it? I have lived a long life as a control freak and can only say that I am stepping back from that role in baby steps.

Entitlement: This is not an easy reflection. I believe that as a white woman my entitlement is so deep as to be invisible to me. I don’t see myself with the outward manifestations of entitlement. I certainly am not demanding to the detriment of others, I don’t consider myself better than; but I am constantly scouring my thoughts regarding ingrained racism, biases against groups, belief systems, etc. Entitlement at any level can’t help but be gained at the expense of another.

Need to be special: Another trap of my enneagram type. It’s hard to see myself as ordinary. This trap grips me the tightest and holds me back in my progress. I don’t need to stand out, necessarily. It isn’t always attention that I seek. I clearly want to stand apart, however. I want to be smart, capable, stylish, well-versed…the list goes on. Okay, I know my assignment here!

The Student

*The Thinking Triad: “Types 5, 6 and 7 ….Underneath their ego defenses these types carry a great deal of fear.” The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Riso and Hudson

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