Monday, November 28, 2016

Artist: Helen Boggess 


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

“Why do we all say we prefer honesty but rarely give that courtesy to others?” 

― Aziz Ansari, Modern Romance 

"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore." - Vincent van Gough

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Prairie Road is one of my main daily commute passages. Farming fields varying like my Netflix top picks.  I look to my stereo clock with green lights that have started to fade making out 3:36 pm. I roll down my window as the breeze picks up my long hair and pushes it into the back seat. My car starts to fill with strong smells of mint as I pass by dark green fields, dreaming of peppermint patties. My gaze shifts quickly between the road I should be concentrating on and the large glooming clouds rolling slowly over the ideal blue sky. I continue to drive straight into the lightning and hail storm hoping it will awaken something inside me. This expectation is quickly shattered as the hail starts to pound my windshield making it difficult to see. I pull over my car and suddenly my surroundings come into focus as I stare out over the open spaces. I take a deep breath, realizing this old black Subaru carries my down this prairie road the best she can. This is just another daily commute. 


Thursday, August 4, 2016

"I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still. It’s always changing and is always on the move. And over time the river itself changes too. It widens and deepens as it rubs and scours, gnaws and kneads, eats and bores its way through the land. Even the greatest rivers- the Nile and the Ganges, the Yangtze and the Mississippi, the Amazon and the great grey-green greasy Limpopo all set about with fever trees-must have been no more than trickles and flickering streams before they grew into mighty rivers...

Do I change like a river, widening and deepening, eddying back on myself sometimes, bursting my banks sometimes when there’s too much water, too much life in me, and sometimes dried up from lack of rain? Will the I that is me grow and widen and deepen? Or will I stagnate and become an arid riverbed? Will I allow people to dam me up and confine me to a wall so that I flow only where they want? Will I allow them to turn me into a canal to use for their own purposes? Or will I make sure I flow freely, coursing my way through the land and ploughing a valley of my own?” 

"But even when the memories fade What we have is still ingrained It's written down inside" -Jon Foreman

Thursday, July 28, 2016

 Bob is thin, standing no taller than 5'10 when his shoulders aren't slumped over. He has eyes that look at you softly with real depth behind them that seem as if they could tell stories and express every emotion. This is almost impossible though because of Bob’s aphasia as a result of a stroke and because of his stoic personality.

The first time I met Bob, obviously, I changed his name for HIPPA reasons. I couldn't read or gage if he liked me. It was unnerving. Usually I can tell fairly quickly if a patient likes or dislikes me. Bob was indifferent. Right before leaving my first session with him I made a little comment under my breath "welp I don't know if you enjoyed this session... or me." I knew Bob wouldn't hear me due to the fact that I have to yell and exaggerate my mouth movements every time I talk to him. But his daughter heard me. She laughed and said if you get a wink before you leave you will know he likes you. So I finished up my treatment session and thanked him all the while staring him right in the eyes waiting for that confirmation. He winked and Bob was no longer indifferent but it still wasn't enough. I wanted to see him enjoy therapy. I wanted him to show me literally any emotion, anger, excitement. Anything!

Whenever I first meet a new patient I usually ask them about their hobbies or things they enjoy. With Bob I never really asked because he never spoke. As our treatment sessions went on over the weeks I learned that Bob used to enjoy golfing. I thought to myself "perfect!" I asked his daughter multiple times to pull out his old clubs and golf balls and each time she would eagerly agree but always forgot to follow through, which I don't blame her for. She had a lot on her plate. 

Over time I forgot to keep asking until today. Today was my last treatment session with Bob. I was halfway through my treatment session when I remembered my original goal: to get Bob golfing again. I mentioned it one more time to his daughter and left it at that continuing on with therapy. No longer than 5 minutes later I looked up and saw his daughter standing there with a club and a golf ball. My eyes lit up. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a recycled cool whip container I had seen on the counter and preceded to set up a putting green. When the course was ready I brought the club to Bob and motioned for him to golf. He motioned for me to "get out of here" in a playful way cracking a closed half smile. That half smile was all I needed. 

"Come on Bob. I need you to show me how to golf" I yelled, probably louder than I should have but I had all this excitement boiling inside of me. He stood up slowly using the club as his cane as he hesitantly lined himself up to hit his first golf ball in years. He stared at the club and then back at the cool whip container repeating this a couple times and then he ever so lightly tapped the golf ball and it went rolling across that carpet and into the cool whip container knocking it right over. Everyone in the house broke into cheering and clapping.

There are very few moments that cause the hair on my arms to stand up and my throat to knot up simultaneously causing tears to line my eyes, but as I turned and looked at Bob he had the most innate elated smile stretching across his face. Then he looked right over at me and winked. 

Bob stood there for about 15 minutes putting around his living room the longest I had ever seen him stand at one time. Golfing wasn't just good for his balance, activity tolerance or muscle strengthening; it was good for his soul. 

There are these big spaces between my mundane workdays and moments of pure happiness, but when those moments hit they are worth every mundane workday. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

morning prayer

Sunday, June 19, 2016

"decide on me, yea decide on us."-Lumineers

Friday, May 20, 2016

I was sure
through triumphs that fueled
warmth, fondness, and confidence
something that felt so pure.

I was unsure
through the deluded
ache, lust, and apprehension
that was ready to lure.

It's the liability of love
that you could one day be forgotten
or settle in
either one arduous to think of.

It's the reward and curse of caring for you.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The shower has always been that one place in my world where I am able to physically be alone. Where I can stand stark naked and not even think twice about it. This place of vulnerability and nakedness isn't something I am willing to share any time soon, especially with an acquaintance. 

My work often requires me to enter my patients' place of vulnerability with that usually comes a bit of awkwardness, sadness and a whole lot of humility. It simply doesn't matter how "professional" you are with reassuring patients with phrases like "I have seen it all, no need to be embarrassed." Despite my best efforts there is always some level awkwardness because I am entering their home, their space, their vulnerability. 

The conversations usually start about weather trying to find some common ground, smoothing out the sharp awkwardness that is piercing the steamed air. Then sighs of frustration and apologies for their bodies shape and state start to surface. Their heads turn down humiliated as they try to reminisce of the good ol' days, hoping I will catch a glimpse of the person they use to be. This is where the sadness starts to fill me, "why are they apologizing to me?Is this what I have to look forward too? Someone helping me wash my folds and curves as I feel ashamed?" It feels impossible to find the right comforting words to put someone at ease who is literally baring everything out in the open physically and emotionally because simply they have no other choice. My first response is to frantically throw a compliment at them, half the time unrelated to them, "you have nice conditioner." I know that if my compliment was directly related to them they probably wouldn't believe me. With how many times I have already faced this situation you would think I would find the right words to say but I still stumble around trying to avoid what I am really thinking, afraid it won't come out right. 
I wish I could tell them that their bodies may be old and fragile but I believe bodies are marked from living life's battle, a battle that some are not lucky to fight. It may not be glamorous now but every scar is a souvenir representing their life. 

Those scars are reminders of where her breast once were, how they were able to fed each one of her children or how they were felt up for the first time. The colostomy bag that makes you think a skunk would want to plug his nose is a medal of surviving your fierce battle with cancer. Parallel scars that divide your knees are reminders of how hard you powered your legs across the court to earn basketball player of the year in 1943. That loose skin that hangs from your arms were filled with strong muscles that took you adventuring all over the world. 

This has been overwhelmingly humbling for me to share this vulnerable place with my patients. I watch them as they still struggle to let go of the person they use to be, not wanting to forget who they once were. Embarrassed of the hand life has now dealt them. I can't say that I wouldn't have the same response if the roles were reversed and I was the one sitting in the shower chair. It's hard enough to let the ones we love the most see our flaws let alone a stranger. 

I still don't know how to respond in these situations, so I encourage reminiscing and I listen. There is often some odd familiar comfort I see in their eyes when they remember their past and their victories. Their marks show a life that was lived bravely, giving it their all at each stage in their life and now I see their strength through their vulnerability. A strength that can be easily overlooked as weakness. I wish they could see the strength I see in them, not measured through muscle testing or time trials but through their ability to be seen through their stories and souvenirs. 

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; 
it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when
 we have no control over the outcome.  
It’s our greatest measure of courage.” 
-Brene Brown

Friday, April 8, 2016

"Every head is its own world. 
I come for my dreams, and he comes for his."

- A guy from this American Life 'same bed, different dreams'-

“The most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.” -David Foster Wallace

Thursday, January 21, 2016

There are few things I enjoy more than a good quote. Probably because it makes me feel more connected, less bad about myself and inspired to live more consciously. Words on paper often carry more emotions and impact than words that come from someone's mouth, maybe it is because I have time to sit and digest their intention vs. the next phrase rocketing towards me out of a mouth. 

Last Night I watched The End of the Tour, a movie about one of the greatest writers of our time, David Foster Wallace. I had heard his name before, but no significance was attached to it. The movie was moving with so many insightful thoughts to reflect upon but instead I found them chaotically floating around in my head. So naturally after the movie I researched him and started reading through the 67 pages of quotes on his Goodreads page, because I am a sucker for a good quote and he has a lot. I am not even going to try to explain the movie except that it struck many chords from inside me, and probably inside others, hence why people love his books. I admire his raw but thought-out insight of everyday matters, probably because I am the opposite, a nervous thinker and talker; scattered everywhere. When I read his words I feel connectedness, understanding, and awareness, the perfect recipe for any good quote. 

“It’s a very American illness, the idea of giving yourself away entirely to the idea of working in order to achieve some sort of brass ring that usually involves people feeling some way about you – I mean, people wonder why we walk around feeling alienated and lonely and stressed out.” 

“If you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves. To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it” 

"The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able to truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day."

“There’s been time this whole time. You can’t kill time with your heart. Everything takes time.” 

“There is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote.” 

“I'm not afraid of new things. I'm just afraid of feeling alone even when there's somebody else there. I'm afraid of feeling bad. Maybe that's selfish, but it's the way I feel.” 

“But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.” 

"I've come to know that memories were the best things you ever had." -Ben Howard

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Nana and You at Prom 
It's almost been 10 years since you have been gone and it is hard to believe. I don't particularly like cold snowy winters except for the fact that it reminds me of you, papa.
As a little girl I was a light sleeper waking up to little noises, very little has changed in my older age. I remember in the early mornings I would listen for your loud boots to hit the kitchen floor creaking along as you made your way throughout the house that had not yet awaken. I would rush to get bundled, hoping I wouldn't wake my sister and cousins, hoping I would be the only lucky one to join you plowing the snowy roads. You would often give me a smirk of a smile confirming it was ok to ride along. We would head out to the cream- colored pickup truck knowing that the task of hoisting myself into the biggest truck in Stevens County, or so I thought, would not be easy. It was a requirement to be tough to ride along, so I never asked for help. The black vinyl bench seat would freeze our backs, butts and thighs but it was just another test of toughness. Looking over at you behind that big wheel I would sit in awe of all the knowledge you would spout out about life and driving that you had learned over the countless years of working for the county. I remember thinking to myself I will never forget your advice when I start driving and sure enough I haven't forgotten. Maybe I haven't forgotten because those are the last little pieces of you that I actually remember, so I cling a little tighter.
My job now requires me to drive ample amounts daily and your words stick to me just as the snow is sticking to the ground. Just the other day I was stuck in a patients steep driveway in a borrowed van that was front wheel drive, I didn't think I was going get out. Then I remembered a story you use to tell of your truck that wouldn't make it up the hill to pick up nana for a date, so you would back the truck all the way up the hill, I tried it and it worked. My patients husband the next day could not believe that I had thought to back the van out of the driveway and I told him I had you to thank as I shared your story.
I wish I could call you up and glean some more wisdom from you with all your driving experiences on the snowy county roads, but really I just wish I could get to know you better. Be able to ask you questions my 8-year-old self was not concerned with or cared to know or listen, that now I wonder how you would respond. With every plow truck that passes I picture you and ultimately strong feelings of missing you arise. I could wish all day for things that can't be changed so instead I am going to try to pass on your stories, your wisdom, the man you grew to be and the man that has impacted my life so greatly for the short time I was lucky to love and know you.

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