Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Amazing Love

This past month at work I did something I have never done before, I started crying in a room with a patient. While some of you might not find this a big deal, in the medical world crying is for pansies. Yet, I couldn't help it as I listened to my attending tell a 79 year-old woman and her husband that the cancer she had was unresectable, and that the only hope  she had was with chemotherapy and radiation. I will never forget as the woman with misty blue eyes looked up and said profoundly with all seriousness, " I have lived a beautiful life. God has been good to me. I have been married for 53 years and we have been through a lot together and we will get through this. I thank you but I am not interested in chemotherapy or radiation." I couldn't help but let the tears run down my face as I watched her husband grasp her hand, with tears in his own eyes as they looked at each other. I could tell they were talking to each other without even uttering a word. I walked away from the room not only  stunned by the intimacy of the moment I just shared with this couple, but also left pondering if I would ever know the depths of this kind of love.

With all the Valentine's Day hype surrounding us it is hard to remember that love is more than a heart shaped box of chocolate or long stem roses, but is one of the most basic and essential emotions that we all need and deserve. Yet, this Valentine's Day, my heart did sink a little  as I went to mailbox and discovered that I hadn't gotten any valentines. Now, I of all people understand that many of my friends are too busy to make  V-day cards, as I am just as guilty. I think the real disappointment though was that there was no card from my grandmother this year. As many of you know my grandmother passed away almost a year ago, but to me it seems just like yesterday. My grandmother has this magical way of making sure a card came for me on every holiday, and she was especially sensitive to Valentine's day since I was her boyfriendless granddaughter. She believed that everyone should feel loved.

 The truth is my grandmother is still teaching me about the depths of love to this day. What you might not know about my grandmother is that she passed away in my bed in my house. Her suitcase still sits in the same spot in the corner of my room to this day. I am ashamed to admit that sometimes in the quiet of my old house, when the rest of the world is sleeping, I will creep from my bed and I will sit next to my grandmother's suitcase. I will slowly open the old zipper of the tapestry  bag and reach in  just to pick up one sweater  of hers. I just sit there breathing  in the fragrance, which is a combination of dove soap and onions. This causes rockets of memories of my grandmother to shoot across my mind. I know it might be immature of me; but what I have learned is that pain is the price we pay sometimes for loving so deeply. 

Yet, recently I have been trying to make a whole lot of life decisions about my future career and my life in general. It is in these last weeks that I have had to be blatantly honest with myself and in the end  the things I want most are love and happiness. I want to experience the love that the man and woman in the doctor's office had that day. I want to experience the type of  relationship my grandmother and I had with my grandchildren. I want life to be beautiful.  It is terrifying for me to think how far I have come. The high strung, type A personality, driven by success person that I used to be has been converted to a person who just wants to experience and take in as much life as possible. Thus, you can understand my disappointment as one of the men in my class told me how disappointed he was in me that I was settling in general surgery and not going for neurosurgery.  I kindly tried to explain to him that I had done some soul searching and had decided that I loved my life too much to make the sacrifice of neurosurgery. I will never forget as he looked at me with all seriousness and said "Jen, life is overrated."  I am sure the horrified look on my face said it all as I looked him dead in the eye and said, "No sir, no its not." 

Thus in closing I want to share the quote that my yoga instructor shared with me tonight that pretty much was the final inspiration for this blog. While we were lying on our mats, in sheer darkness, she quoted Maya Angelou and said, "In life people will not remember the things you say, nor will they remember the things you have done, but they will remember the way you have made them feel."  Thus this week I encourage you to go out and show others your love, may it shine through like the sun on a hot summer day, because giving love can be just as satisfying as receiving. Happy February. XOXO

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Throwing Paint

So my friend and I a couple of years ago, coined the term Fabulous Friday. The purpose of the alliterative phrase was to embrace the day of the week that we all look to with hope and great prospects. Thus we decided, in honor of Friday, to do things that we had never done before, go places we had never went, and in all honesty just celebrate the fabulousness of the work week which is Friday. Thus I did have ulterior motives when asked by a guy, who I will refer to as Mr. Dimples for the remainder of the blog in order to protect his identity, what night I would like to get dinner and celebrate my month of February.  If you know me I think it goes without saying that I am a free-spirit.  I delight in new adventures and thus when I heard the details of the plans for the evening I couldn't help but be intrigued and excited. 

The evening began with Mr. Dimples actually coming to pick me up, which in my book is a huge accomplishment. Most of my outings with the opposite sex have me traversing to Timbuktu, lost, and in the end stopping in some sketchy part of town asking hopefully if they could give me directions using landmarks instead of cardinal directions because I had never been a girl scout. Yet all of the anxiety was alleviated as he found my place with minimal problems. Since old man winter decided to show his ugly face yesterday, the snow had really started to accumulate. Thus, as we are walking down my drive way and Mr. Dimples was appropriately commenting on the wintery white precipitation, I found myself sliding down my driveway, in my super cute outfit, into a snow bank. Yes, friends within less than 2 mins I had already embedded into a soft white bed of snow. I mean it is moments like these that are so perfectly priceless you can't just help, but laugh. He quickly grabbed my arm and kindly pulled me from the abyss of snow.  This is when I knew the night had no where to go but up.

So as if we had stepped back in time to the 1950's, we entered the new up and coming neighborhood of Fountain Square. The square itself has an eclectic collection of contemporary art with an old fashioned exterior. The restaurant he had chosen was a Thai restaurant called Siam Square. As we entered the door you couldn't help to feel the energy that room provided with shades of red and oranges that were screaming from the walls. I actually feel dinner can be the most stressful and most judged area of a date. People say that within 5 mins of a dinner date people can know whether they will end there evening early. Thus my goal was to make it pass those first five minutes. 

So perhaps Mr. Dimples new identity deserves some explanation.  I think in life, one of the most welcoming and inviting things people can do is smile. It is the unspoken hello that needs no introduction. Thus as I sat across from my dinner companion I couldn't help but love his incessant smile and good dentition, thus he developed his new identity of Mr. Dimples. Despite the great conversation, I would have to say the highlight of the dinner was my dabble into Asian dessertery. The waitress really had to convince me, to get the ice cream made out of the tarro root, but I hesitantly accepted and what I was presented with was a scoop of loveliness that was the shade of periwinkle and purple mixed together. It was just the creamy mixture of goodness I needed before the pilgrimage to our next stop on the list Big Car Art Gallery.

So I appreciate art because like clothing to me it is a form of expression. It speaks to our souls. So the gallery itself is a collection of several peoples studios connected by long corridors. Thus it is like a clown house of art, with graffiti like walls, crazy colors, and fresh ideas. As you can imagine I loved every morsel of this place. So my favorite artist was this lady who was in her late 50's who had really taken a great interest in Mr. Dimples and me.  She was describing her work to us, and the things she hoped that we took away from her paintings. She had these misty blue eyes, the kind of eyes that looks like at any moment she might cry, that really spoke to my soul. I will never forget as she told me she really just throws paint and dances with her art. She explained that her constant movement with her work and her flinging of paint is the passion that we feel coming from her work. It is a feeling that transcends from the canvas and captures the onlooker. I couldn't help but look at her paintings and agree with the woman; I did feel a sort of energy that was inexplicable.

We finished the night on a whim, a mere suggestion, of a favorite dive bar in Indy the Living Room Lounge. It is a consortium of different walks of life that are brought together by one thing-- karaoke. Through the thick haze of cigarette smoke, you find a stage where everyone is a rock star. I think that is what I love about karaoke there is no judgement. You can be as serious or as horrible as you want and no one cares. While both myself and Mr. Dimples put on our best performances, I think in honest we enjoyed the characters of the evening more like my new homeless friend and J-Love our bartender. 

In short, I had a memorable and quite Fabulous Friday. Yet, I love that as I woke up this morning all I could think about was throwing paint. I feel in life we all have the ability to throw our own paint, to show others our true colors. It is our willingness to throw ourselves out there to try new things that allows us to reveal the passions that truly motivate us.  Thus I encourage you this week to spatter paint wherever you go don't be afraid to really let the paint fly, because you will find that life is to short to use a paintbrush.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dish and Gab

So I have been talking for weeks about Devour Downtown and tonight I finally had the opportunity to partake in its delight. Devour Downtown is a promotional event for the restaurants in the city to showcase a set dinner menu to allow patrons the opportunity to try their restaurant without breaking the bank. However tonight despite the absolutely delicious dinner, I think I  was more excited by the fact that I was in good company. One of my very best friends from since the time when we were playing with Barbies on the living room floor dined with me this evening. 

I think one of the most refreshing aspects of good friends is the fact that you can go for weeks, months, and even years without speaking, but somehow you can always start off where you left off. It reminds me of one of my favorite episodes from Sex in the City where Carrie talks about the "nook." The place somewhere between the armpit and the clavicle of your guy where your head just seems to belong. It is a comfortable, safe,  and  a familiar place.  And I guess I just find something familiar and right about spending time with someone who has seen you grow into the woman you are today.

Thus, as we slid into the booth of the newly renovated Scholars Inn  we began our dish and gab session. While the food was phenomenal, I believe it was the company that warmed my soul. We discussed the universal topics among women- life, love, and our pursuit of happiness. I just couldn't help this overwhelming sense of happiness for the person, whom I have known for what seems like a lifetime. I think one of the most life changing things that I have learned in the last couple of years is to delight in the successes of others, because like most things in life, your time will come. Trust me it is no easy task, often times you want to think, why not me? or why doesn't that happen to me?  But as I listened to the blessings and accomplishments of my friend I couldn't help but feel this sense of inexplicable joy. She has grown into a gorgeous woman, with a successful job, and a man who loves her. It's the sort of things little girls lay in bed at night talking and dreaming about long after their parents have told them to go to bed. It is so crazy that our childhood hopes and dreams are coming true.

Thus as we were polishing off our delectable desserts, I think we both loved the fact that we had each brought something new to the table for one another. It wasn't a gift you could open, but rather a new opportunity or experience I would have never known about unless we would have had our little dish and gab session. In life I think that this is true with most people, I believe everyone has something to give, to share, or to offer us that we could never discovered on our own.

Thus this week I encourage you to catch up with an old friend.  Drink, eat, and be merry. Delight in the successes of others and don't be afraid to allow others to introduce you to a new facet of life. In return, I think you will find contentment with your own life, love, and pursuit of happiness.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

BEE Resilient

 So as many of you know I had two sisters, Jill and Julie, who were born before me. Yet, tragically and like the blink of an eye they were killed in an automobile accident. The girls were 7 and 8 when they died; leaving my entire family lost and devastated.  Despite all the statistics that point to divorce after a traumatic event, my parents defied the oddsand have remained married for 42 years; as they are some of the most phenomenal and resilient people  I know. It wasn't until after many years of grieving  and soul searching that they decided they wanted another baby, and thus marks my entrance to the story. 

So in honor of my sister Jill there is an annual Spelling Bee in her name. I have been told that my sister Jill was quiet and reserved. She had long straight brown hair with  thick coke- bottle glasses that hung heavily on her nose. She would often tell my mother her dream was to win the spelling bee when she got into third grade, the grade when you could participate. Yet, unfortunately she never made it. So today my mother and I  had the opportunity to go to the  Jill Pasko Spelling bee and present the award. 

Walking through the halls of my old elementary school was enlightening. Many things had changed but much remained the same. I reveled in the multi-colored paint smears that populated the walls and the macaroni pasted sheets of paper that were plastered on the bulletin boards. In all honesty I had forgotten what it felt like to be a kid. I had forgotten how much I loved going to school.

As I took my seat in the gym, I looked at the participants of the bee. They were squirrelly with so much energy and jitters that it made me want to go run a lap or two for them. Yet as the contest began, I watched in amazement at their spelling skills. I mean honestly just the fact they didn't have the spell check option was commendable. The words were challenging with words like rutabaga, absurd, centipede and  affiliation. It pained me to be an onlooker as little boys and girls dreams were being smashed one by one like a fly under a flyswatter. One of my favorite participants though was a little boy who stomped off crying and pouting after missing his word. I initially felt for the kid, but then had to marvel at his resilience as he was laughing and pinching the girl next to him within 10 mins

Which brings me to the resilience of youth, something I treasure and miss so dearly.  When you were little you would fall and scrape your leg and with a kiss you had magically been healed. Yet, one thing I have noticed as I have gotten older is that the bounce back period seems to be a little longer. Our elasticity to the disappointments that life hands us are not as easy to recover from. We are only left trying to reassemble the pieces of the person we once were. I look at my own life since recently I had an incident with one of my attending physicians. He said some really awful things about me. Why is it that saying sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me  does not work for me anymore?  I am forced to hold my head high and move on. Yet, it is easier said than done. 

Just like a contagious cold that is going around, I wish I could just stock up on zinc in order to avoid any pain I might experience from disappointment and tragedy. Yet, I know that this is not an option, as these experiences are the catalysts and shapers of our lives. They define who we are and the essence of our being. 

This week just remember hat the sting of the bee only lasts a few minutes. When faced with the unexpected and the unkind try to make a conscious decision of being resilient. Because being able to bounce back from what the world hands us is our only ammunition when under fire.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Turning Pages

When I was a little girl I had this favorite book I would read ever night before I went to bed. It was no ordinary book though, oh no it was a Christmas scratch "n" sniff book. I cherished this book more than anyone could fathom. I remember as my little pointer finger eagerly scratched each page and the whiffs of pine cones and candy canes danced through my head. I was in kindergarten, and the biggest excitement a girl could have at this age was show-n-tell day. I didn't even have to think about what I was going to bring in, I mean who else had my scratch-n-sniff Christmas delight. I pranced to school that day with my ruffly ridiculous dress, black patent leather Mary Jane's, and socks with bells on them, as I stood in front of the class proud as punch and showed my book. Yet, I will never forget as the big tears crept down my face when the book was returned to me. Because as I opened up the book and began to turn the pages I gasped in horror as all the pages had holes in them. My fellow kindergartners had scratched my book to an oblivion. I cried all the way home that day from school.

Yet, despite this early traumatic experience with reading materials I have come to find something calming and wonderful in the sound of turning pages. Thus, today my friends I took a field trip. I went to the  Indianapolis Public Library. Here, I found myself lost in the loveliness which is 5 stories of splendid space stuffed with books. I am sure I looked ridiculous as I stumbled around the place in awe by the tall ceilings, the gorgeous array of furniture, and the diverse group of people that populated the building. I don't know how to explain the flood of jubilee that came over me as I took in the aromas of  the musty mildewed books. The smell strikes me like a hot stove as it screams caution mental aerobics at work. I was so happy as I stepped up to the counter and applied for my first library card. You might be laughing, but to me this is a big deal. It warms my soul with memories of my childhood and happy times.  Even thought the old card catalogues have been replaced with super speedy cyber search engines I don't care. The antiquated feel remains; and  it wraps its arms around me just like the tender arms of my grandmother after a hard day. Its cozy and comfortable.

I think sometimes in life we just need to be visited by a blast from our past, even if it is the library. Even though the pages of our lives continue to turn, its never to late to revisit those things from our past. It often can be a lovely reminder to how sometimes the most simple things in life, can bring a sense of security and joy. 

So this week I encourage you to turn back some pages and revisit some happy past times. You'll be so glad you did.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Relishing in Rebellion

Perhaps its the fact I love a little spice of life, or maybe just the sheer excitement one gets when breaking the rules, but I love a little good old fashion rebellion. I honestly think it is because I led such an angelically pristine childhood. I mean I was practically  a 5 year-old adult. However, it has been this last month that has reminded me how much I love to walk a little on the wild side.

A couple of weeks ago in clinic, we had  a patient come in who had developed a groin infection after a prior surgery. He was a quirky man with a thick country accent and a charming disposition. He was surrounded by his wife and child when we informed him he would need to stay in the hospital a couple of more days to have the wound drained. The basics of draining a wound include inserting a hollow tube into the netherlands (or at least very close to them) to drain the multiplying pus and bacteria. Over the next couple of days, this man would become my favorite patient on our morning rounds. Regardless of what unthinkable time we arrived in his room in the morning, when asked how he was doing he would always reply "still kickin." The man was discharged home only to return back to the office to have his staples removed. I will never forget with the staple remover in my hand as the doctor asked the man to drop his drawers, the smile that spread across his face is truly inexplicable. He turned a ruby shade of red as he said while letting his pants fall, " I guess I am kind of a rebel today, as I am low-balling." This being said I realized that the man had forgotten his briefs that morning, now there were two ruby red faces in the room mine being the other as I tried to maintain my composure.

So perhaps my definition of rebellion has changed over the years, perhaps it is not about wearing all black and being defiant, but more about being the unique and different. While I will be the first to admit that I have no body piercings or tattoos to talk about I do have an appreciation for the odd and creative soul. I think that adult life can easily become a monotonous quest to conforming to the status quo.  Maybe it is as easy as going bare buns to work, but I believe that toeing the line of what is accepted by the public eye is truly scintillating.  

I think in darkest depths of our souls we all have a yearning to be the next Thelma and Louise. I have lived the life of walking the a thin line and what I have learned is that my world has been painted with bright new colors when I have redefined the boundaries. I may not be a thief, but I am a rebel with a cause. You see I feel that it takes a little bit of rebel to be bold enough to know thy self. It might require baby steps at first, you know, perhaps wearing mismatched socks is a great start, but little by little you will reveal the rebel that ultimately is the best version of you. 

Thus, as I slipped out the back door with bags in tote yesterday, my heart palpating under my shirt, I escaped from a 2 hour lecture on family violence. While I never looked back as I felt the adrenaline pounding through my internal vasculature, I realized I was a bona fide rebel and I loved it.  

Thus this week my hope for you is to dabble in rebel-dom. Don't be afraid to be bold and different. Redefine boundaries. Because what you will find in the process is a better version of you.