Seriously? What’s Next?

Things were going on as swimmingly well as possible, even as this global pandemic still has us sheltering-in-place.

Zion National Park

Until….yet another challenge presents– in what seems as another mountain to climb– to get to the other side of a semblance of normal (whatever that is anymore.)

And yet, mine is minuscule compared to many stories with devastating outcomes.

That said, still…in the middle of the night, when pain was shooting through my left eyeball, I found myself whispering that if I didn’t have any bad luck I’d have none at all.

To recap the last month: first there was the root canal less than a month ago. Peachy keen fun that was. Then there was a tooth extraction and bone graft a week later in preparation for a dental implant. None of this planned of course! The silver lining in all of that was four days of being face down in mashed potatoes. I honestly thought that was rather lovely as eating bowls of mashed potatoes is not normal fare for me.

I even sailed through the post oral surgery stuff quite nicely, without the need of taking strong painkillers.

I’m so badass!

Until this weekend.

It began with strange headaches…quite unusual for me…progressing to pressure and tingling. Then Saturday morning I wake up with a rash on my forehead.

“Lord have mercy this hurts,” I tell my husband in passing just before leaving the house on our early morning walk with The Poodle.

“What hurts?” he asks.

“I’ve got this stupid rash that showed up overnight.”

He takes a look and his response is immediate.

“That looks like Shingles.”

I thought my head was going to explode….and not just from a bout of shooting pain. Shit! Why now?! Why at all?! And, why on my face of all places!

For the love of God what’s next?!” I yelled, as I chugged down a glass of water and Tylenol.

“Well…It is the year of the cicada.”

In fairness, he was immediately consoling and understandably worried too. You’ve got to get that looked at before it gets closer to your eye.

My thought in that exact moment?

I need to make a trip to the store for Bob Evans garlic mashed potatoes.

So kind reader….This morning I had my first ever virtual doctor’s appointment. It was surprisingly pleasant though admittedly, for this 62-year old, surreal.

“Yes…it looks like shingles is what you’ve got alright.” confirmed the lovely young doctor. I tell her I had received a shingles vaccination six years ago but, after a quick Google search, I learned that particular type vaccine was only good for about five years. The new vaccine, Shingrix, I learned, works wondrously better but it is not always easy to find. The doc this morning confirmed this.

Hopefully, as soon as this bitch of a development clears up I will be able to get the new vaccine.

Lest you think I might be ready to throw myself off a tall mountain, fear not! Yesterday, for the first time since March 14th I was thrilled beyond belief to able to purchase this much coveted item. I am, over the moon with gratitude.

Who knew toilet paper could elicit so much joy and excitement?

Bliss-out peeps any way you can!

Working on… Joy

My azaleas are still happily blooming, in October!

My azaleas are still happily blooming, in October!

My azaleas are still blooming and here we are into October.  Crazy, I’m thinking.  Still, like most things Southern (meaning SLOW) it is beginning to feel like fall.  While fall foliage in “Bama”-land is varying shades of boring brown the temps are finally inching down.  Just the other morning the chill was enough to kick my walking pace up a notch so as to keep my hands warm.

“Time to get the Uggs out,” I happily say to The Poodle. The sun has just poked its head over the mountain in the distance as we walk down the hill in the quiet of the early morning.  It’s also windy, so The Poodles’ ears are flying straight back.  He looks like he is ready to take flight.

As soon as that thought passes my lips I let out a heavy sigh.  I can feel my mood already taking a turn and not in the direction that I want.  The changing season means swapping out summer clothes for winter.  In my glee for our anticipated move, back in March I packed away books, odds and ends and winter clothes filling three small wardrobe boxes.  I taped and marked those boxes with the full expectation that the next time I opened them I’d be moved.  Well, we know how that’s all going.

No Bueno.

In an effort to soothe my soul, I marched myself over to Barnes & Noble®.

and yes….
I bought another book.

What spoke to me this time?

The Book of Joy: Finding Enduring Happiness in an Uncertain World, published by Doug Abrams.  The book is co-authored by two great spiritual leaders: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. Apparently, they’ve been friends for many years.

What I'm reading now.

What I’m reading now.

So far, it’s been a good little read.  These two souls have certainly endured adversity and hardship in their lives and yet they are filled with joy, wonderment and deep compassion for all souls. How do they live joyfully given the pain and suffering all around them?  I want to know!  The conversations between the Archbishop and the Dalai Lama are refreshingly sweet and simple, their banter back and forth playful and even mischievous, like two little boys playing in the schoolyard.   I’ve been reading a page or two every morning over coffee in an effort to step outside of my head more and to gain greater insight into how best to cultivate more joy and gratitude—and therefore less complaining about things great and small.

It seems deceptively simple: Joy and happiness are both within reach at this very moment if I simply look within (not externally).   Intuitively, I know this.  Consistent application and execution of a few commonsense principles (including meditation and even prayer) seems to be quite another matter, especially now as I look at those packed moving boxes with heals dug in: I WILL NOT UNPACK THESE BOXES BECAUSE WE ARE MOVING.

Lately, the more time I spend in my head the more stress there seems to be.  Well duh, right?  Running everyday was my one and only “drug” of choice that kept most tension at bay.  Running allowed me to zone out.  Well…I can’t do that anymore so it’s a bit more challenging to keep stressors at bay…especially as my life seems to continue to be in limbo.   It doesn’t take long for a single thought about my parents or former friends, (ex-anyone!), or even my children to spiral into past-centered thoughts.  So too, when in the wee hours of the morning I find myself almost dizzy from some video-loop playing in my head… filled with notions and emotions that certainly don’t do anyone (especially moi) one bit of good.  And, when I’m stuck in my head I’m also reminded of that stark reality that there are—and always will be— assholes just around the corner and around the world.

Nothing is gonna change that so… breath deeply… get over it…forgive (not forget)…and then move on.

The Dalai Lama says that “the only thing that will bring happiness is affection and warmheartedness.”  IMHO, I’ve got those attributes covered—most of the time.  It’s when buttons are pushed that the little Purple Minion monster surfaces in a snap-of-a finger-kind-of-moment.

I’ve clearly got work to do…but so do about seven billion other people on this planet.  I am not alone!  Yoga—and well, OK…. a punching bag too—helps knock the purple beast to the curb.   The moment I close my eyes and take a deep, long breath, releasing it with slow and purposeful measure, that Purple Minion moment passes and centering (and forgiveness) returns.

And, when I’m in a complaining rut, I’m comforted knowing that even the Dalai Lama complains.  It cracked me up that he thinks the Japanese can be “too formal”:

“The worse thing is the formal lunches.  I always tease them that the meal looks like decoration, not food.  Everything is very beautiful but very small portions!  I don’t care about formality so I ask them more rice, more rice!  Too much formality, then you are left with very little portion, which is maybe good for a bird.!”


Made me smile.  Made me laugh out loud.

There you have it.  A moment of bliss (been lots of them today) and even better… JOY.

My Ugg boots are not packed in a box!